The Path of Practise

“Life is not going to be a bed of roses. You will have to tread thorny paths and face many obstacles. You may even feel confused and lose your sense of direction in the overwhelming darkness. But then, it is a matter of will. You should fight till you establish dharma, even if it means you have to make sacrifices.” Amma

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In the last year I have experienced a life altering transformation in my life. Despite being on this path for what seems to be a very long duration of time, it was only in the last few years that many changes and perceptions started to shift. In the last few years, I have been going through some dramatic and life changing experiences that deeply brought me to question what was important to me in the life that I was living; what was I truly and irrevocably seeking at the deepest level of my being. Through the perceived inner emotional turmoil with a loss to my ego’s self importance, I began an inner journey that felt like an epic battle being waged, in the hopes of finding the treasure that I was seeking within the deeply guarded barriers of my inner heart sanctum. I found myself at the shores of extreme dispassion with the life I had been previously living, thus when your plans fail to manifest, the only path left is to move fearlessly towards what you truly seek in life.

With this understanding, my life started to move into the deeper current of what had actually been driving me throughout my entire life, my search for the Truth; to seek and find the spiritual numinous. Even more pronounced was a deep desire to move beyond the limitations of who I had been in my life, through inculcating more equanimity that allowed less of an emotionally reactive nature. Even though on the surface I could appear very self controlled, I had lived my entire life as a very emotional person, deeply feeling and easily prone to emotional reaction. Often I was able to conceal such reactions as fear or anger, yet on an inner level they were like explosions going off, disrupting the terrain of my inner self. Being an emotionally reactive person can be exhausting, especially when dealing with the numerous reactions that are prone to take place on a regular basis.

A few years ago I started to do a great deal of sadhana (spiritual practice), much more than I had done for many years. I realized that there was no point living a worldly life and doing these practices. I then made the very easy decision to release any sense of security, thus my husband and I then went to our spiritual teachers ashram in Kerala India where we both enjoyed a deeply rich experience of doing massive sadhana, volunteer work, puja’s, and everything that ashram life has to offer. Our time there was like being in a divine abode, where each day was like a blessing to wake up to and behold; truly words can not convey such an experience. Almost half a year passed while we enjoyed this life, leaving us with the intention and permission from our teacher to move back and eventually live.

As a spiritual aspirant, it is not our times of being in a place of like minded people and experiencing a sense of bliss, peace, and joy. The real value of attempting to live a ‘spiritual’ life is who we choose to be once our time in paradise has come to an end and we must return to the material world. We left India to deal with a bureaucratic claim that I had been fighting for several months. It was this passage into the liminality of extreme challenge that revealed to me the power of how much I had changed as a person. I found myself in a place I never previously would have ever fathomed that I would be, living in the sprawl of my parents in laws home. The word ‘challenging’ does not give justice to the extreme test my husband and I were up against.

Similar to the last few years, both my husband and I have built up a very solid and regular sadhana practice that we do mostly everyday, its very rare that we miss a day. In this duration of time, feeling a sense of loss of independence was one of the strongest feelings. Yet, a profound shift had taken place, the ability to become a witness to my own mind, as well as in a potentially explosive situation. Both my husband and I had developed this sense of deep inner strength. He is much more naturally this way, however I too noticed that I was able to rest in this inner space of stillness, regardless of what transpired on an outer level. I was able to observe the onset of my own once emotionally reactive nature, yet very easily diffused the reaction. Not only did I experience this a few times, but in almost every situation that I encountered. This was the first time that I obviously confronted a tremendous change that had taken place, within the person I used to previously be.

Another aspect that had changed was that regardless of the obvious chaos of where we found ourselves, there was a place within that allowed me not to get caught up in the spinning chaos of trying to figure out what the next move should be. Thus, when you can find the inner tranquility of inner stillness, even if its just a small island, it facilitates a tremendous oasis.

Therefore, within the perceived darkness there is a powerful light that emanates from within. When we are able to find a deeper sense of inner stillness and calm our active minds, then we can experience a very small perception of this endless peace that pervades all of us. Through the storm of the last few months, I realize that regardless of what challenges life brings, when you make your focus in life a process of inner cultivation, there will be a ripening that allows us to access a far truer sense of ‘Self’ than we previously had access to. Thus, the beginning of becoming the witness, rather than the actor slowly starts to take place, where we can find a place of inner stillness that nothing can touch. When you can find this place, that exists within all of us, it gives a refuge to the constant changeability that life often provides, for we never really know what calamity the future may bring to our door step. Yet, if we persevere with our practices with focus and dedication we can slowly begin to emanate some inner transformation, even if its very subtle. Even if we tread this path for many years and there is no perceived change, we have to have faith that the inner transformation is indeed taking place, even if we are not consciously aware of it.

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