In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks about returning to work after her husband’s death, and Wharton management and psychology professor Adam Grant discusses research behind building resilience.
Pain hurts like hell. The feeling of losing ground, helplessness and despair take their toll and the ability to think positively, clearly and behave “normal” are a distant dream. The claws of grief hold the mind so tight that light appears far away in a dark tunnel. Family, friends, colleagues and other forms of support come and hold the sinking ship of a mind and heart. Connecting with people who have similar stories of struggle and hope are uplifting and it is in these moments that one can find gratitude for every small and big gift of life.Whether it’s the loss of a dear one or a huge challenge with health, relationship or finances, the bullet can come from any side. Some of the most precious tools that I have learnt to swim from the bottom to the top are the skillful use of breath, meditation, silence and the knowledge of the Self.
Time and More
Time has its own way of healing and one can wait for time to bring relief. This period can be long and is unique to every individual. One can also learn to use breath and meditation to accelerate the pace of recovery, alleviate pain and find the strength to overcome challenges. The breath is a powerful tool for regulating the mind and eliminating stress and impurities. Inhalation brings vital energy to the body, and exhalation relieves stress and eliminates toxins. The breath is also related to the vital life force or bio-energy. Every emotion creates a specific rhythm or pattern of breath. When someone is anxious, under pressure or stressed there is a deviation in the natural rhythm of the breath, which limits energy and mental clarity. When centered and relaxed, the breath becomes more full and light, and efficiency and enthusiasm increases. There is plenty of hard data supporting the value of the Sudarshan Kriya tehnique.
Books on the power of positivity give the fillip to go through the day, yet when you scratch the surface, you could find pain residing in the deeper layers. The practice of meditation allows one to confront each and every negative emotion, and let go! Pain is nothing but an intense sensation and irrespective of the trigger outside, doing Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation regularly allow one to let go. Because letting go is the ambrosia to bouncing back.
Global humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says,“We use only 30 percent of our total lung capacity, yet 90 percent of the impurities in the system are thrown out through the breath. When you put attention on the breath, it has immense potential to heal. Doing meditation and Pranayama can eliminate the cause of dis-ease.”
The Elastic Mind
The human mind is like an elastic band and each of us have great elasticity and tenacity to stretch - hold the space - to overcome barriers and do what is to be done. To achieve the big and the small. To fight back, but not with feelings of anger, frustration or loss but with joy and acceptance.
Several years ago, when I didn’t have this toolkit with me, I used to tell my father that he coached me on everything - from driving a car to dating a boy - but I never learnt how to be a warrior. But armed with the toolkit of managing the mind, I gained the confidence that I was still powerful and had this incredible ability to bounce back!
Expansion of Consciousness
Today, I teach meditation myself and am amazed to see transformative stories of people finding true rest, joy and grit to move ahead. My students have seen improvements with depression, anxiety, relationships, dealing with loss of a loved one and more. Not only are they living with vigor but also inspiring others to move along.
The regular practice of meditation leads to expansion of consciousness which improves perception, observation and expression, raises intelligence and gives freedom within. When consciousness shrinks, the sensation of pain and suffering come up. Suffering is the shrinking or contraction of consciousness.
Caring for oneself at a deeper level is very important to being joyful inside and tenacious outside. Grit and stamina come from the diligent practice of meditation. Just a few minutes meditating everyday builds the resilience muscle over a period of time.
Complementing Reliance on External with Internal
The support from the world externally is precious during times of turmoil. Yet we live in an inner world of our mind and emotions too— and resting in the unshakeable space of the Self through the diligent practice of meditation brings much comfort, joy and tenacity.
I call it Option C. And it works every single time.
It’s Time to be happy. To succeed. To be truly fulfilled.