Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's right?

A beautiful face with radiant skin. A single acne mark. Chances are, the girl to whom the face belongs, complains about the little blemish each day instead of feeling gratitude for what is already right.

A wonderful relationship. So many beautiful memories. A single acrimonious quarrel. Perhaps you have actually considered ending the relationship for just that.

When I asked myself, some years ago, why I was so often, so miserable, the answer stunned me. I had expected some complex, deep, karmic revelation. It wasn’t. It was simple. Since childhood I had trained myself to look at what’s wrong, and not at that which was right.

If I got nine out of ten in a spellings test, instead of celebrating the nine rights, I complained about the one wrong. If I had three good friends in class, and there was one girl who didn’t like me, I focused my entire energy on that girl. I didn’t know at that time that wherever goes attention, wherever goes energy, there goes life. Little wonder, by the time I came to the tenth, I had a larger number of people who disliked me and whom I disliked than true friends!

If I did something for my health on five days of the week – and became lethargic on the last two days, I would be upset with myself for that. I would never appreciate what I was doing right, rather I would keep focusing on the wrong, not realizing the profound law of life: wherever goes attention, wherever goes energy, there goes life. Every part of my body was functioning perfectly – just a slight disorder in the right ear and instead of stopping and thanking Life for a beautiful body, I would complain and focus on the little aching part. Little wonder, my entire body had started giving way just a few months ago.

There are hundreds of books on the laws of attractions and scores of gurus who speak of only, and only, focusing on the right. And yet, it has taken a lot of time for this intellectual understanding of the law of life to become a part of my DNA. Perhaps because the training of focusing on what is wrong, began with so many of us as kids itself. In all probability when you were blissfully playing in a room full of adults, no one so much as glanced towards you, but the moment you opened your mouth wide and howled or cried, you were immediately the centre of attraction. Such experiences repeated in and out perhaps trained your subconscious, like they did to mine, to believe that if you need attention you need to be in pain, or be unhealthy, or be unhappy.

Thank God (literally!)  I now realize that life is perfect because it is and not because it fits my definition of perfect. I am able to find something to be happy about by looking for what is right, even on the worst of days. I am able to feel healthy, even if just one part of my body is not functioning to its best capacity. I am able to look for something to appreciate in almost everyone. And what abundance is unfolding into my life. My book, Thank You Cancer, is doing better than I had expected, I feel really good about myself most of the time, my classes for children is a big hit, my relationships are deepening. And I am just waiting… to watch more magic unfold. The mantra is simple, wherever I go, whoever I meet, whatever I do, I will ask myself, what’s right?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why define.. Why confine?

“Ma’am, Ma’am, come fast”.

Little Shourya held onto my shirt and dragged me towards the object that had caught his fancy. I had taken my little 7-year-old students to a lush garden to show them the beautiful world of insects.

“Ma’am, just look at his beauty. Ma’am, just look at his colour. Woow, I have never seen anything so beautiful. I love him, Ma’am”.

Expecting to see a fluttering butterfly, I gazed at the point where he was trying to draw my attention. And I shrieked! For it wasn’t the colourful beauties of the garden that the little one was so smitten by, rather it was a cockroach. Argh, a cockroach! Almost upset, I wanted to move him away and tell him how ‘yucky’ cockroaches were and how they gave me the creeps. As I was about to take him elsewhere, I noticed Shourya’s expression. He looked stunned. Amazed. Excited. All because of a cockroach. There was open admiration stamped upon his face for the tiny maroon bug. In that moment, so many of my definitions dropped. Why had my adult mind got trained to believe that a butterfly was beautiful? And a cockroach was ugly? Why had my definition of beauty become so limited? I sat right there in the grass and began to pen down all my thoughts.

I had always loved definitions. As a child I had labels for all my friends. There was ‘friend’, ‘good friend’, ‘best friend’ and even ‘bestest friend’. I had neatly packaged them into groups. And I loved it. However, the problems would start coming if a friend started becoming a good friend, or somehow, a ‘bestest’ friend started moving towards being a friend. Caught up with theory, I would ignore the practicals. I would resist with all my might and ensure that the changing relationships stayed in their specific categories… and today, I am barely in touch with any of them. It’s only now, sitting here in the garden, that I realize that I hadn’t allowed the river to flow along its natural course – rather I had tried to build a dam here, and one there, and tried to control its flow. In the bargain I had completely lost out on the river and its natural beauty altogether. I was too busy deciding where it should go, rather than just jumping into it myself and flowing along.

Even as an adult, I was constantly caught up with definitions. I had a particular idea of love. I probably picked it up from one of the self help books which had fascinated me. “Love is that which brings out the best in you”, it said. And there, a definition was ready. As I thought deeply, I realized, that love brought out not just the best but also sometimes the worst in me. Did that mean that it was not love? Did that mean that I didn’t love my mom, dad, sister, husband, guru? No! I did and I do. The people don’t have to be dropped, the definitions have to! Love is this… and love is that. When there is ‘and’, when there is inclusion of two opposites, how can a definition be possible?

A rush of realizations seemed to sweep me. All my life I had feared death because I saw life and death as two opposites. And since life was beautiful and exciting and thrilling and colourful, death seemed to be its exact opposite. Today, for the first time I realize, that everything in life comes in pair. And the pairs just are. It is I who defines one as good and one as bad. To her day could be splendid and to me night. To him winter could be unbearable and to me summer. Life just is. It is this. And it is that. So putting definitions will only limit my experience as I will see one thing as positive and the other as negative… I will accept one with open arms and reject another with all my might. But both are life. Both have something to teach, something to experience.

I want to break my life out of definitions. I want to just be. Let each moment unfurl a new experience unto me. Let every idea, every pre-concieved notion be challenged. He is cunning. She is jealous. He is wonderful. She is terrible. Life is tough. My health is bad. I will only get something after a lot of efforts. Oh, who gave me all these definitions? I, myself? But then, I too am beyond definitions…. Tell me, can you define yourself? I sure can’t! Than why this urgent need to define everything, everyone… why not flow with the river and allow it to carry me?

Shourya shook me and broke me out of my reverie. He was asking me if he could take the cockroach home and keep it as a pet. He would call it Ben Ten. I smiled and said, “Sure, darling, why not? After all, who ever defined pets to only be cats and dogs?”

Megha Bajaj

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

The children’s class was in full swing. I had asked the ten year olds to write about one attitude that they would want to have for life. As they bent their tiny heads and pinned their flying thoughts, one at a time, I observed them. There were four of them and each represented a world in itself. Shruti, the pretty one came from a very affluent family. Raghav, was the intelligent boy wearing spectacles and a serious look. Garima was the cute, chubby girl who loved to giggle. And then, there was Dhruv. He had half a smile on his lips as he wrote. I couldn’t define him. I couldn’t label him under a type. Dhruv just was.

When he read out his paper and said, “Ma’am, I would like to develop the attitude of gratitude. Now and forever.” I asked him why. And he looked into my eyes and shared, “Because I am alive.” Taken aback, I just looked at him. He spoke softly and said, “Ma’am when I was five I had leukemia. I am now ten. And I am alive.” I couldn’t utter a word. The other kids surrounded him and began to ask him questions, but I couldn’t join in. I could just hear a few words like ‘two years treatment’, ‘blood transfusion’, ‘18 injections’, and the other kids kept gasping every now and then. Dhruv had unknowingly become a hero – but he didn’t seem to care, he just gave honest answers and shrugged his shoulders when Shruti asked him, “Can you get it again?”

When all of them left, I just sat with the little paper in my hand in which Dhruv had written, “I would like to develop the attitude of gratitude. Now and forever.” His childish handwriting seemed to contrast with the profound message that it contained.Conceptually, I liked the term gratitude, however, practically, I had two issues with it: One, I childishly believed if I was grateful, God would stop giving me more. And two, I believed that while some aspects of my life were great, there were always enough areas which were challenging and they took most of my time – so how could I be grateful?

Dhruv had shown me. The very law of life suggests that life goes wherever energies go. So the more grateful I am about something, chances are the more of it I would create in my life. Closer observation proved this to be true. Off late, I was just feeling too good about my health and often spontaneously the words would flow, “Thank you God for this feeling of absolute lightness and well being.” And the feeling was just growing. I was feeling better and better with each passing day.

Consequently for all those issues which I kept grumbling about – they indeed seemed to be growing in magnitude, I wasn’t enjoying my relationships too much and often felt like I was giving much more than I was getting. Dhruv’s words shook me and I began to focus on every little thing that my close ones were doing for me and the perspective shift led to phenomenal results. Suddenly I felt loved, cared for and protected. Magically, the more I relished the tiny gestures and expressions of love from others, the more they came my way!

Gratitude seems a bit too simple to be life transforming. And yet, it is. Thank you Dhruv, for changing my prayers. These days as I sit in meditation, I ask for one thing alone: Dear God, help me to develop the attitude of gratitude. Now and forever.