June 2014 By Life Positive If we could recapture the stillness buried within the restlessness of the outer world, we would touch our power, says Amrisha Ahuja They say that nature teaches. My learning with nature began when I started noticing the stillness of water, wind, the earth, and the flame. Each of these move, yet are still within themselves. When we become aware of their movement they foster the same within us. Stillness has the quality of ease, peace and calmness despite turbulent external situations. A student once approached his master: “Master! Why do people leave me? Why don’t they understand me? Instead, they accuse me of not understanding them!” “They leave you because you abandon parts of you that you don’t like and they don’t understand you because you don’t understand yourself,” replied the master. “This is ridiculous. I love myself and of course I understand myself. I’ve been with me for 30 years!” exclaimed the student. “The time has come to show you the Mirror Room,” said the master. He took the apprentice to a huge room, with an adjoining washroom. The room and the washroom had mirrors all over the wall, the ceiling and the floor. Mirrors of different shapes and sizes reflecting each other back. At the centre of the room was a lighted lamp. “This is going to be your home for 11 days. Your job will be to keep this lamp lit 24 hours for all the days you’ll be here. You will be provided food inside the room. Nobody will disturb you. This room is a place where you will get to see all of you. The reason why we have mirrors everywhere is so that you don’t escape seeing even a bit of you. In fact wherever you turn, you will be able to see your eyes as well as your ass,” chuckled the master. “About the lamp, well, you figure it out,” he added. The student decided to start his meditation ritual in the room right away, eager to unlock the secret as soon as possible. On the morning of the 12th day, the apprentice came out of the mirror room, his eyes barely able to takein all the different colours in the beautiful garden before him. He walked up to his waiting master. Looking at him deeply for a few seconds, he spoke. “Thank you. Thank you for all that you have done for me.” Taking a deep breath, he began sharing his experience, “I was fine the first few days. I knew this was a test and kept telling myself it must be some silly puzzle and tried ignoring any insight. Then slowly I couldn’t lie to myself for long. ‘Stuff’ started showing up. I saw myself in every mirror. Something really strange happened. Everytime I would look into my eyes I would get scared. And then I would try to look for something to keep my soul calm. The lamp in the centre was where I would go to every time I would get too scared of my thoughts, or the visions that came. Something seemed to move. Initially, there was a restlessness, an urge to cry and scream but as the days passed, I began to become still. My dreams while sleeping became more vivid. I could clearly see parts of me I had abandoned; the jealousy, the treachery, the low self-worth, the pride of being chosen as your apprentice. I couldn’t believe what I had in me. In the beginning I was disgusted, and shocked, but now I feel I am at peace with myself, at peace with all these parts in me. In the last few days as I decided to just gaze into the lamp, I noticed a certain stillness residing within me. As if the stillness of the flame was just a mirror to the stillness in me which I couldn’t see initially.” The apprentice became silent for a while, waiting for a response from his master who had a tender look on his face. The look on his master’s face told him that he wanted to hear more. He continued, “I noticed something. Even the slightest movement of air would affect the flame. I realised that similarly, any change in my thoughts would affect my mood. And when my feelings changed, I would lose my stillness. Yet, it was my responsibility to get it back. Just as we put our hands around the flame to protect it from the movement of air, we can shield our stillness by surrounding it with pure compassion and a heightened awareness of our being.” “I am glad you are beginning to see,” said the master, smiling. “The fire takes on different forms. The flame in a lamp seems so serene and divine. But if the same fire were to rage in a forest, it would appear monstrous.What changed? Same form, same essence, but different intensity. Everything in life is just that, a matter of intensity. The intensity of a situation, a conversation, a remark, a blame is inversely proportional to our inner calm or sense of peace. In the stillness of the diya or a tea-light, the fire looks soft. It’s just about this stillness. What would it take for us to be still and watch ourselves, our emotions, in times of sadness, hopelessness and even happiness? If we could just fine-tune the intensity of our emotions when something triggers them in us, it results in stillness, which further leads to greater clarity in our thoughts, and an ease of being with oneself. When faced with an unpleasant situation or a remark, how about reducing the intensity of impact of the comment rather than reducing the intensity of the relationship with that person?” The master pointed out two very important things: One, the aspect of stillness leading to clarity, and second, about the world being a mirror. We have both in us, the stillness as well as the restlessness. They are two sides of the same coin, and are incomplete without each other. We must flip the coin of life, sometimes to stillness or to restlessness to be able to find ourselves in the purest form of our being. What human beings don’t wish to see in themselves they project onto others. In the previous story the apprentice believed that the world didn’t understand him, whereas in reality, he himself didn’t understand parts of himself. The world was just a mirror, showing to him what he had within. As the saying goes, “As within, so without.” The unrest in the world, the power struggle, the wars, are what we wage within. That is why they say that if even one person chooses to become more conscious he is a great gift to humanity since he uplifts others too along with himself. Here is a meditation technique, to come to this place of stillness. Light a diya, or a candle, or a tea-light and gaze into it for 15 minutes everyday for 21 days. Keep your gaze soft with the intention of burning away all fears and mindless chatter. It would be ideal if you could perform the meditation in a relatively dark or dimly lit room. Try to choose a particular time during the day for this practice. Wishing you a warm stillness in your heart. Amrisha Ahuja works as a hypnother-apist, and psychologist at her healing centre in Delhi, The Healing Island. Her other loves are acting and writing.
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