Personal Growth - A tryst with spirit
by Life Positive
L to R: Swami Sukhabodhananda lights the inaugural lamp as Life Positive's Aditya Ahluwalia, DR Kaarthikeyan and Suma Varughese look on. Smt Jaya Row deconstructs desire. Swami Tejomayananda on transformation. Mr Madhavan Nambiar, secretary of civil aviation, inaugurates the exhibition Space of infinite possibilities
Usha Gopalakrishnan an 80- year-old retired school teacher from Kerala remarked with deep satisfaction. “I have enjoyed myself thoroughly and am so happy to see so many people interested in these matters. It convinces me that the world is not degenerating, as I had thought.
Anu Mishra, a 38-year-old psychotherapist from Delhi, said earnestly. “Often I would doubt if my faith in goodness and compassion was practical. After the Expo, I have no doubts about it at all.”
Sampriti Mukerjee from Jamshedpur has the unique status of having attended every Expo since its inception. “The Expo keeps me on a positive high the whole year through,” she explains. “It touches areas of my life that are normally not touched and helps me live more awarefully. It particularly helps me work on my relationships.”
The potpourrie of workshops, discourses and the services and products available at the Expo, blitzkrieged the mind with fresh possibilities, life-expanding ideas and tips. “The most important purpose in life is meditation,” declared Maa Gyan Suveera firmly in her Self-healing workshop, offering a unique form of meditation, CI Plus, which she conceived herself. “Whenever you are angry, take a pillow, wrap it around your face and scream as loudly as you can,” advised G.L. Sampoorna in her Heal Yourself workshop. “If you roll your tongue and touch it to your roof, you will find thoughts diminish because all thoughts are accompanied by imperceptible tongue movements,” informed Swami Sukhabodhananda, in his discourse on clarity and vision in life. Learnings were to be had at every turn, even as delegates bonded and blended into a large and happy Life Positive family. A report on the workshops and discourses at the Expo.
Living in balance
Peels of laughter rent the air as Swami Sukhabodhananda launched into a discourse that deftly mingled transcendental humour with nuggets of Vedantic wisdom, in the inaugural discourse on Vision and clarity in life at the LP Expo. Before the discourse, the Swamiji inaugurated the lamp along with Life Positive chairman Mr Aditya Ahluwalia, Life Positive Foundation chairman, DR Kaarthikeyan and Life Positive’s editor-in-chief, Suma Varughese.
“Can we see fact as fact and fiction as fiction?” asked Swamiji robustly, illustrating the point by inquiring, “If Bhimsen Joshi sings the bhairavi raag and a buffalo does not appreciate it, is the problem with Bhimsen Joshi or with the buffalo? If your boss calls you an idiot, are you an idiot?” adding drolly, “And if you are, then you should just accept it as a statement of fact.”
Our central problem, Swamiji said, was that we amplify situations and facts by investing them with an overload of fears, worries, resistances and regrets. “Our mind is not an abiding mind, it is a spinning mind,” he explained, illustrating his point with a joke about a 50-year-old man who is asked the time by a young man with whom he shares a compartment on a journey from Chennai to Delhi. Fretfully, the man begins to imagine that this would lead to an intimacy which might bring the young man in contact with his daughter. “Right now I am telling you that you cannot marry my daughter,” said the anxious father. Absurd as it was, he made a telling point. Who does not get a small bump in the skin and amplify it into cancer, or embroider an innocuous quarrel with a spouse into lasting alienation and divorce?
Urging us to make the mind into a friend through meditation, he gave a profound insight into the art of being balanced. Explaining that we have needs that may appear in opposition, he said that the art of life was all about learning to balance them so that instead of annulling each other they could strengthen the other. For example, he said, we have a need for security which goes hand in hand with a need for adventure and for venturing into the unknown. “Address these needs from a space of goodness and by being principle-oriented,” he said. Participants streamed out marvelling at Swamiji’s piercing clarity and depth.
Transformation before technique Swamiji launched into his talk on Vedanta’s transformational tools by questioning its very premise. “The subject makes it appear as if technique leads to transformation but I declare that transformation comes first and only then do the tools appear.” He illustrated his point with numerous examples. One was of Mahatma Gandhi being thrown out of a first-class compartment in a South African railway station, which brought about his transformation into a freedom fighter.
Yet another was Sant Tulsidas, who was so consumed with lust for his wife that he swam a river in spate to get to her during the monsoon. Her words that if he could desire God as much as he desired her flesh, he would get enlightened, stung him into transformation. “Many may have been thrown out of railway compartments or been chastised by their wives. But why did these two transform?” he asked answering that transformation is a happening over which we have not much control. What we can do, however, he explained, is to prepare for it. He elaborated that we can transform ourselves into better people through our five senses and thinking and perceiving faculties. By eating right food, by being with right people, by listening to right things, by reading good literature, by spending each day in a productive way: all these habits can help us prepare for transformation.
Smt. Jaya Row
Desire: a mass weapon of destruction
“Desire is a strategy of the thinking mind to fill an inner emptiness,” stated Smt Jaya Row in her commemorative discourse on the last day of the LP Expo on the subject, Desire: Friend or foe. Her characteristic Vedantic capacity to penetrate to the root of the problem was evident in almost every word in this wonderfully insightful analysis of desire. She added, “We have fulfilled innumerable desires from the time we have been born, but has the inner emptiness ever been filled or even reduced? Why is that? Because the emptiness is illusory.” We wrongly believe we are empty when in actual fact we are fullness itself, paripurna in Vedantic terms. The question then becomes one of how to gain knowledge of this fullness. Reflecting that unfulfilled desire kept the mind in a state of agitation, she defined happiness as the cessation of mental agitation. After outlining a number of negative consequences of desire such as bondage, destruction of relationships, and so on, she summed up pithily, “Desire is a weapon of mass distraction and destruction.”
Standing the law of attraction theory on its head, she declared, “Rise above desire and the object of the desire will come to you.” She added, “The truth is you get what you deserve and not what you desire.” How can we deserve? By service and sacrifice.”
Another technique is to outgrow desire. She pointed out that we no longer crave for playthings because we have outgrown them. In the same way, we must learn to outgrow the playthings with which we adults surround ourselves.
Moving on to solutions to the problem, she proposed strategies at managing it with the intellect. When the intellect has power over desire, then lust and craving convert into ambition and aspiration. The ultimate weapon against desire is spiritual knowledge and she urged those present to fulfil material ambitions to be sure, but also to feed the soul with regular spiritual practice. She concluded with a formula for happiness: Happiness is equal to desires fulfilled divided by desires harboured. We can either increase the number of desires fulfilled or decrease the number of desires harboured. Eventually, the denominator needs to be reduced for lasting happiness and when the number of desires harboured becomes nil, happiness becomes infinite. On this uplifting note the Expo came to an end.
Learning, healing, growing
In search of our past selves
“Why should we do PLR?” asked Dr Newton, rhetorically, adding, “PLR helps you to complete unfinished business and unresolved issues. To live in the present you need to understand and let go of the past.”
With this promise, Dr Kondaveti launched into his one-day workshop on past-life therapy. Participants were familiarised with the concepts of karma and reincarnation. “We are students who come to Planet Earth to learn our lessons and also to have fun,” said Dr Newton. From infant souls we progress as we grow in wisdom to the level of the transcendental soul who is here to help others grow, and the Infinite soul, an avatar of consciousness. Asked to operate from their heart chakras participants were made to connect with their neighbours and intuitively guess each other’s past lives, which many did with uncanny accuracy. One participant intuited, for instance, that his partner was a badminton player and a Bharat Natyam dancer.
The fitting finale was a session where participants were invited to visit a positive past-life and integrate the skills and talents from that life into the current. Many emerged as artists, musicians and healers.
Perceptions create reality
Consider this: The five human senses are bombarded by two million bits of information every second. Out of this, however, the human brain is capable of processing only 144 bits of information every second. As a result 1.9 million bits of information do not get registered in the brain or are either distorted or deleted. Therefore we cannot fully rely on our perceptions as they are inaccurate or incomplete and the brain filters or selectively zooms in on information, reasons Dr Somesh Chadha, well-known NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioner and Time Line Therapist.
At a one-day workshop at the Life Positive Expo, Dr Chadha reiterated that all human behaviour is the result of perceptions and said that NLP teaches people how to create and modify perceptions.
In an experiential session with participants, Dr Chadda demonstrated several NLP tools to effect behaviour change such as the use of anchors, minimising negative experiences, maximising positive experiences, use of auditory and kinesthetic cues, and interrupting neuronal networks.
“All of us are born with a brain but do not have a manual on how to use it,” said Dr Chadda quoting Richard Bandler, one of the co-developers of NLP.
Infusing the sacred into the mundane
In keeping with the Osho tradition, this was a meditation workshop with a difference. Led by Ma Amrit Sadhana, one of Osho’s most senior disciples, the workshop began with the premise that contrary to popular belief, meditation and everyday life are not watertight compartments but rather need to flow into and seamlessly bridge the current divide.
The articulate and compassionate Maa Sadhana led participants through a series of experimental activities that consisted of practical do-able tools that could be incorporated into everyday living. The central premise of the workshop was that the body is a gateway to spiritual wisdom. Therefore any attempts towards spiritual enlightenment that ignore or deny the body are pointless. Breath work, reconnecting with our bodies though the sense of touch, tantra meditation, silencing metal chatter, dynamic meditation, joyous dance, and heart-centred communication were some of the transformative tools that could imbue our everyday lives with the spirit of the Sacred. The piece de resistance was the gibberish technique to silence the mind and a glimpse of the energetic dynamic meditation evolved by Osho.
“We need to daily cleanse our minds of mental garbage. The gibberish technique is a powerful detergent that helps us do this,” says Ma Sadhana about this scouring technique.
Love is the highest healing force The slight and elegant GL Sampoorna’s workshop on Heal yourself, based on the work of Louise L Hay, was filled with exercises and interactive sessions that facilitated deep healing even as people made heart connections with each other. Positive affirmations and songs helped participants deeply imbed thoughts of health, joy and peace into their subconscious. Stressing that selfacceptance and self-approval are the keys to positive change, she facilitated exercises such as looking into the mirror and affirming our love for ourselves. “Love is the greatest healing force,” she affirmed but unexpressed anger and resentment often obscures this force within us. She led participants through an anger exercise consisting of pummelling a cushion vigorously and even screaming while experiencing withheld anger. Later, participants were led through a forgiveness exercise that enabled them to put to rest the anger and deeply experience the love they bore the other.
The final exercise was a Write your script exercise where participants were invited to write down all that they wanted from their lives.
A range of techniques
“You cannot really heal anyone. All healing is self-healing,” said Maa Gyaan Suveera, developer of the Cosmic Intelligence (CI) Plus Meditation and who heads the Ki Research & Training Institute (KIRTI) in Rishikesh.
Initiating participants into the vibrant and powerful CI Plus Meditation, Maa Suveera explained that we are bubbles of living energy and self-healing utilises the princi- ple of healing by aligning with the Universal Energy that pervades us. She explained the chakra systems of the body, the three layers of the body (gross, subtle and causal) and healing as harmonising the chakras and thereby restoring the energy balance in the body. Participants were spellbound as Maa Gyaan Suveera effortlessly introduced the CI Plus meditation technique. The experiential session included three rounds of CI Plus meditation, several hands-on healing, EFT (Emotional Freedom technique) and the effective use of affirmations.
Discovering the thread of oneness
Anil Bhatnagar, an expert on relationships, drew a heap of applause and roars of laughter with his humorous yet insightful remarks in his workshop at the Expo. He said that the kind of relationships with oneself gets reflected in all the relationships we have in our lives. “The real purpose of relationships is they help us rediscover the thread of oneness running in all of us. They also help realize the power and divinity all of us possess,” he said.
Stressing that most of us fail to value the happiness relationships bring in our lives he said, “It is only when we lose our near and dear one or are about to lose him that we begin valuing that relationship. Till then we just take it for granted.” Elaborating on why some people attract harmful people in their lives, he said, “The root cause lies in their own sense of unworthiness. They derive a peculiar pleasure in getting pain from others.”
For half-a-day, participants inhabited the happy world of childhood as they tried out different modes of walking, and imitated a bird and a fish. The fun exercises helped leave the mind behind and immerse oneself in the moment. Moving smoothly from the playful to the profound, Fr Prashant and his associate, Hazel, made an imaginary altar in the centre of the room where participants were invited to throw in their intention for their lives. The duo then proceeded to invoke divine grace through a sacred and moving dance ceremony. A few participants joined in and a sense of being blessed filled the room. Said one participant, “It was a novel and memorable workshop.” Thomas, a delegate from Kerala commented feelingly, “I have never seen a priest like Fr Prashant. It is my firm conviction that he should be a role model for all priests.”
We will carry a detailed report of the exhibition in the next issue of Life Positive.
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