Freedom From The Prison of Feelings

Prison

Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts. ~ Og Mandino

  • He irritates me to the core
  • My friend doesn’t make me feel special
  • She brings the demon in me
  • My boss punctures my confidence in meetings
  • My blood boils when people don’t keep their commitments
  • I feel ignored when he doesn’t talk to me for a day

Most of the statements cited above are familiar to us. Either we have uttered them or we have heard someone else do that. Two things stand out from the above lines.

  1. The person saying this is holding the other person responsible for their feelings
  2. There is an underlying assumption that our feelings are remotely controlled by others’ actions

These 2 beliefs can shackle us in the prison of feelings and label us as victims of other people’s behavior. Others’ action definitely can be a stimulus for our feelings, but not the cause! Let’s dig this deeper through an example. When I say “My boss punctures my confidence in meetings”, do I mean my boss has a pin in his hand and he pricks that on me? Is there a physical pain in my body due to the prick? Do I hear the sound of balloon bursting? What’s the drama here?

Our reality is colored by our invisible beliefs, values and expectations/needs. When my boss challenges me in meetings, he is doing something that is not harmonious with my needs. The greed of meeting our needs is the real cause of emotional hurt. Our unmet needs trigger negative feelings in us and we verbalize them as if feelings are remotely operated. Blaming others for our feelings is just like languishing in the prison that is unlocked and unguarded! Freedom is just a few feet away if we decide to walk out.

All we need is a clear awareness of our needs and the assertiveness to state our needs. When we state our needs there is a possibility of fulfilling them, rather than depending on others’ telepathic skills (to read our minds). Even if being assertive doesn’t help, at least we can be content that we left no stone unturned and make peace with reality of life.

We can break free from the prison of feelings only if we take responsibility and understand that the locus of control is within us.

We have no control on what happens to us; we can only control how we respond to the situation!

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Renewing My License to Embrace Stillness & Enjoy Silence

Vipassana1

As soon as you start to observe a mental impurity, it begins to lose its strength and slowly withers away.

~ S N Goenka

I attended a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in Aug 2014. I wrote a blog post to explain my experience. Below is the link for some background.

pramodavyasarao.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/my-vipassana-course-experience-10-days-of-noble-silence/

Starting tomorrow, I am attending a 3-day Vipassana refresher course culminating on Sunday evening. The goal is this refresher program is to get established in this meditation technique and ensure that the practitioner is doing the right things. What I learned in 10 days last year will be taught again in 3 days. But there is a big difference this time! What’s that? Keep reading…

During the course our day starts at 4AM and the last meal (you can call it dinner or snacks) is at 5PM where we get some fruits and tea. For this 3-day course, the last meal is at 11AM, yes you read it correctly! There is no food intake after 11AM and the participants will get a glass of lemon juice at 5PM. That means close to 20 hours (11AM to next morning 6.30AM) there is no food consumption! It was hard for me to digest this idea at first. After a few days I accepted this is a challenge and registered for the course.

Upon investigation I found that this process is to help participants to experience a deep meditative state and get the best experience by keeping the mind alert (and the body light). Also there is no influence of food on the mind in those 20 hours.

The course starts at 2PM tomorrow and finishes on Sunday (2nd Aug) at 5PM. This time the Bangalore Vipassana is providing individual rooms to participants. That’s a great opportunity for participants to experience privacy and avoid any sort of distractions during the course.

I am grateful to my family for their support in this adventure. Thanks to Anusha, mom & Samyak (he reminded me to pack my meditation block this morning).

I am looking forward to develop self-awareness & equanimity!

3 Days – 72 hours of Silence – 30 hours of Meditation!

4 Aspects Of Thoughts : Volume|Velocity|Variety|Veracity

Thoughts

The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colors, which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts. ~ James Allen

While reading an article on ‘Big Data’ last week, I stumbled upon 4 aspects that distinguish ‘Big Data’ versus ‘traditional data’ stored in information systems. These 4 aspects are: Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity. I was fascinated to realize the same 4 aspects apply to the realm of thoughts in our minds. This article extends the analogy and provides my perspective on how these aspects influence thoughts.

Volume

Psychologists say we think about 60,000 thoughts per day. I wonder how they measured this 🙂 it’s an interesting number regardless. No wonder we all feel overwhelmed at the end of the day trying to swim in the ocean of thoughts. How many of these thoughts are productive/empowering versus unproductive/debilitating?

Velocity

To experience the velocity of thoughts, sit alone for 5 minutes and observe your breath. Within seconds, you will be hijacked by a new thought and it will take a while for you to come back & notice your breath again. There is a simple Buddhist meditation technique to experience this process. In this technique, you start counting your breath from 1 to 10. With each cycle of inhaling and exhaling increase the count. You will be lost in thoughts by the time your reach 6 or 7! Try this out.

Variety

Like a monkey jumping from one branch to another, our mind moves from one thought to another. Sometimes these thoughts are related and sometimes they are totally unrelated and distinct. As your notice your thought pattern, it’s astonishing to find the variety of topics your thoughts can meander through.

Veracity

As you notice your thoughts, you might find yourself imaging the future or replaying the past! Either trying to re-image the past and changing it or fantasizing a better future or worst yet imagining a potential personal disaster in future. It’s hard to keep our minds here and now! How many of these thoughts are veracious? How many of these are based on unverified assumptions, colored perceptions and self-fulfilling prophesies? Perception is reality.

One of the best ways to understand our thought pattern is to capture them in a journal. Every hour open your journal and write down your thoughts & feelings at that point of time. As you do this persistently over a period of time you will elevate the level of awareness. Kindle this flame of awareness via contemplation, self-observation, silence and meditation. The journey and the results will be equally rewarding & fulfilling!

PS : I acknowledge the graphic from the net.

Seven Years with Biwi and without a TV

7years

When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom.

~ Dr John Gray

Today Anusha & I are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary. While chatting this morning, we pondered over crucial events and decisions that shaped and molded our relationship. Undoubtedly eschewing Television in the year 2008 has been the turning point in our life. While setting up our new apartment after marriage, we bought everything except the entertainment box.

It wasn’t a difficult decision for me as I wasn’t a TV buff anyway. However this was a significant diversion from Anusha’s interests & lifestyle. It was so nice of her to agree with my proposal for 3 months and then buy a TV if needed. I also committed to reach home by 6PM every evening and plan a family activity once I reached home.

First two weeks were easy to manage and we did things like visiting temples, attending family functions, chatting, going for a leisurely walk etc. After that it was really difficult to pass time. Just imagine how much can we talk? We started wondering what else other couples would do after wedding 🙂

Fortunately we didn’t budge and buy a TV. We listed our values and interests and started indulging in activities that brought joy to both OR one of us. The activities included watching inspiring movies, reading self-help books & magazines, yoga, going for long walks in Lalbagh, trying various cuisines etc.

The more we stayed away from constant exposure to media, the better we became as individuals. We started discovering our dreams, needs & values and more importantly we began expressing them to each other.

Now that our son Samyak is 3.5 years young, we continue to enjoy our life without a TV at home. Samyak enjoys watching animated movies and some selected videos on Youtube on my laptop. A common question we face from friends & family members is ‘When are you buying a TV?’ Our answer always is ‘We don’t know’.

My clients from Coaching & Training assignments think that I am missing a lot in my life by not owning a TV and depriving titillating entertainment to family. Some have said that via their facial expressions and very few have also verbalized these thoughts to me. Opinions are subjective and as a family we really have gained a lot by losing just one trivial thing.

By this article, I want to express my gratitude to Anusha for supporting me in this decision and willing to try new experiences in life. Life has become better in all areas in the last 7 years and the future looks even more promising and peaceful!

I don’t intend to bash TV watching and unsettle anyone reading this article. I agree that there are some benefits of watching TV for a limited time (underscore the word limited).

Why don’t you try this for a week and stay away from TV? It will be challenging and fun-filled. If you don’t enjoy that week, you have the remote control in your hand anyway 🙂