Epiphanies of life

Journeying within our own selves is one of the most awe-inspiring, fulfilling and adventurous one. Sometimes it feels like an uphill task where the peak seems to be ever so far and some other times it has the excitement of unwrapping a gift or like meeting someone on a blind date when there is a charged anticipation to meet someone who will ‘click’ or like reading a mystery book with each page bringing me closer to a clearer picture and some other times it even feels as soothing as gardening! A lot of times I have felt like

I wonder whether this journey within should have an age to it. Should a 30 year old be more spiritually aware than a 20 year old? Or should a 70 year old be totally aware of his life’s purpose because he is nearing the end of his life? But then these are just beliefs. And my belief is that there cannot be stringent rules about timeline or degrees of this spiritual awareness as it is a personal journey. And I certainly believe that circumstances and situations in life does go a long way in help in making such journeys possible.

As with everything else that matters it starts with being aware. I have been aware of what is self realization, spirituality, knowing yourself and the journey within for quite sometime now. But honestly these have only been words and actions that happen to people and would be great if it happened to me but unfortunately it has not happened to me. So my initial belief was that knowing my real self is like a back-end process which I do not get actively involved in and that it will happen someday….just wanted to know when will that be! Moreover I used to search for more gyaan outside and not within, completely oblivious that it will be only ME who needs to go within and search for the real ME. I thought living independently, being self reliant and having opinions is what ‘makes’ me. My knowledge about me was extremely shallow but enough to live like any other person. There were things which I didn’t quite appreciate in me but that was because “others” or “situations” were the culprits all the time. It was because of this person that I reacted this way…..or because I am going through this so I behave this way and mixing up my beliefs with other peoples beliefs and considering them to be facts or “this is how it should be”. But I also know that I was looking for help, some guidance on where to begin and how to go about searching the real me. Reading books didn’t help me as much as I would have thought. What I was looking for was to know a process to dig deeper into my thoughts, beliefs and values. How does one do this? I wish there was a beginners crash course to help me out to do this 😉 After1.5 years of messing up myself and those who loved and cared for me and feeling constantly sucked into this spiraling well, going through hell and basing my responses on people and situations rather than myself. No amount of reading the books, listening to the saints or anything at all help me in this journey. I just knew I was stuck for a long time somewhere and this is not my natural response and yet I was the one who reacted in situations the way I did. But I felt directionless, I didn’t know who to approach what to do and how to untangle the maze. And then it was like the prayers were answered. It felt like going through the Karma but eventually also getting an opportunity to transcend. This led me to also think why do we associate Karma with sadness or pain? Is it because pain has a long battery life and happens more than a Happy Karma…this will be in my blog soon. I also got my opportunity to transcend through the pain, I began to attend a life-skills training program which introduced me to what, who and whys of me and my being. It felt like a series of Ahaa moments one after the other. This led to the next stage of my life – Awareness.

Awareness if coupled with enough experience and/or a thirst for further knowledge leads to the stage of knowing. This knowing can be a very impressionable stage much like the teenage where there is rebellion, there is a need for experimentation, even turmoil as one is faced by ones own belief system. This time is rather unsettling for people and a lot of them do not like to go further in this journey as it is a very challenging period. This is the phase when I realized what I have been believing is not something that I actually believed in or that they were not my beliefs. I realized a lot of me was still in what I call the Embryonic belief system. I had not discovered what I truly believe in. This is also a time when I began to meet my real self. I did not like what I was discovering about me though. I wanted to believe that I stand for the good values, good belief systems, right attitudes and sometimes considered them to be so right that I also considered it as being a fact! Because facts are not challenged isn’t it? Facts are facts because they have been duly challenged in the past and are now where they stand. But challenge it was. To understand and accept about the past behaviors, mistakes and conduct is BIG deal. To know that it is always easy to blame someone else, the situations, the people, my parents, my culture, my lineage, the organisation, the weather, the mood and even the hormones is something that I have always been doing. Awareness of following the “easy” way out in this case blaming has been what I have been doing all along. I realized I have based some of my beliefs on things pre-approved and followed by others. I was in shock when I realized this because all along I believed I have created my own beliefs and that I have finally become this independent woman who knows it all. In a few cases I think I am not even sure whether I have beliefs or whether I have the wisdom to recognize them. This pricked my own identity and I found it very difficult to accept. But the LST course did help me recognize my behaviours, my thoughts, my feelings and I could also understand that not knowing and not accepting and not understanding does not change what is the reality. Even acceptance of what is after all is emotional maturity. Emotional Maturity has been my pet peeve. I had been given this feedback a number of times at work but would fail to recognize, acknowledge, understand and accept this feedback. One of the reasons which I can clearly point out was my inability to question the basis or further advise on what exactly they considered emotional immaturity. This is because I was caught up too much in the “criticism” rather than take it as a feedback and started labeling these people and disliking them. Maturity is a very relative term and it always will vary at what degree and level one considers maturity to be maturity. What is fine for me may be considered as immaturity for others. But the fact is that ability to be aware, know, understand, rationally use them and control them from spilling over is what is considered to be emotional maturity. It’s not as if I have been emotionally immature all along, its only on those certain moments or situations wherein I demonstrated a different “eye-brow raising” behaviour. So emotional immaturity occurs when we do not know what are our values, beliefs and our comfort zone in other words what is acceptable to us and what makes us tick! Which meant I had either not understood what was my belief or value for that particular situation or I had not encountered that situation ever or I just was unable to recognize my responses. One of the most important aspects of recognizing what one believes in and doesn’t is by being aware of the body responses – what is the speed of the breath, hands and feet getting cold or warm, sweating, twitching of the nose, throbbing temples, butterflies in the stomach, any aches or pains or discomfort or any other bodily expressions. This can happen only if we observe us, if we have the patience to listen and feel what our own body is saying. We most often don’t do that especially for deeper emotions. We can immediately recognize the grumbling noises in our stomach when we are hungry or headaches or yawns when we are sleepy or our heart racing when we are scared but we don’t listen or observe that our heart also races when we are about to break bad news to someone or when we are anxious of a decision or that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach when we meet a person who does not give us “healthy” vibes. I personally consider these examples of being first level feelings, meaning they are easier to recognize and understand. But what about jealousy, security, helplessness, rejection, loving, creative, bold? There are a host of emotions that a normal human being not only experiences but expresses and has the ability to recognize! Amazing! But we cannot recognize it in others before we recognize it within. We limit our feeling vocabulary only to being happy, sad or irritated or angry..

Onward Ho!!

Sophy finished the revision of “Howard the Shepherd” with her students. They always enjoyed acting out the stories that they learnt at class. Sophy thoroughly enjoyed the gleaming faces of the 5 year olds when they had to re-enact whatever they learnt at school. She couldn’t believe that she had spent 3 years in the same standard. She loved the innocence and the energy of the 5 year olds. Her tick-tock teaching clock sort of got stuck at 5 year olds. They were the most lovely lot! She had spent 7 years teaching in this quaint sleepy town of Jacksonville and had adopted Jacksonville as her home as much as it had accepted her warmly. Sally often asked her to start teaching the other classes, after-all everyone needed some sun-shine she used to say!

Sally was her best friend, her sister, her mother, her neighbour, her confidante. Quite a package! She had long stopped missing her family, all because of Sally and her younger brother Pete. Sally and Pete had almost never stepped out of this part of the country and while Pete had his ways to see the world, Sally never had any dreams of going out of this place. Sally was this blonde, tall and shapely woman of 30 while Sophy was a slender brunette of average height all of 35. Sally and Jason were a couple forever and were to get married next year. Sally was getting worried about Sophy since she was not even getting bothered to find herself a guy or settle-down, and it was not even that this town had anymore eligible bachelors left. They often had conversations for Sophy to move to Austin where her other cousins lived, at least a different place would probably bring a change in Sophy’s life. But Sophy did not want to leave Jacksonville just to find a man! That would be a waste! And besides she believed in destiny. Que Sera…whatever will be … will be.. She ran down to Sally’s bakery for scones and some tea and to unwind. Pete was back after a month long biking trip and was at his noisiest best with his biking stories.

Pete was 28 with a tall, handsome man with a boyish charm and black hair. Girls and even teenagers loved his rugged but ‘home’ boy looks and that perfect smile made many a woman weak in her knees! He loved flirting with Sophy and she enjoyed his harmless charm more than his loud stories. Somehow bikes and she were never quite a thing! She couldn’t understand how could men ride on these seats for long trips what about the rear which would either be numb or completely in pain. She was just waking into the store cum private dining area when she heard the deep throat laughter of a man. A visitor? Here in Jacksonville? She thought and slowly opened the door to find gray-green eyes meeting her black ones with a question mark and a smile on the face. Who was this guy? She thought…never seen him…maybe a cousin of Sally and Pete’s. Pete ran towards her and gave her tight hug and a peck on the cheek and became his charming self..what with having missed those lovely eyes and the thick hair. Sally quickly introduced Sophy to Jude the guy with a heavy stubble and gray-green eyes. A firm warm handshake, wow, this was good or was it? She thought. The talks went on for a bit and it was not until the first customer landed for her warm bread-loaf that they all realised it was already 1 in the afternoon and the breads were not ready to be sold today!

Pete and Jude sat out on the porch for the rest of the afternoon talking about their trip and what an adventure it was. Apparently one of the bikers had lost control and skid on the rough road on their way back which had delayed them for 2 days. They decided they needed to be more careful on who should join them next time. Sophy joined them for the afternoon tea and got some time to know Jude. Jude was 42 and loved the vagabond life that he had been living since he was 22. Twenty years of an unsettling and vagabond life…Sophy just could not understand such men. What went into their psyche? Did they really enjoy this life or were they just constantly avoiding the eventual responsibilities. She couldn’t tell. Was she too one of them? She didn’t ride bikes but she hardly ever thought of settling down with a guy. Was it the same? She did not want to know the answer. She brought her attention back to Jude. He was this tall rather big guy with dark brown thick hair and a constant stubble and was it a cleft? Yes he had a dimpled chin! He had a tattoo of a bike on the right arm and she couldn’t help but notice he had very strong hands. She noticed how her heart skipped a beat when she thought of how it would feel to touch him, no no to be in his arms. Oh my God! she panicked this was not good. This was so not good. She got up and ran up to her room giving an excuse to prepare for the act tomorrow with the class and how excited she was about it.

Jude couldn’t help but notice how warm and slender Sophy was. He liked the way her eyes twinkled when he looked at her and how she brushed her hair each time the dark lock came up-to her eyes. He was pleasantly surprised to notice that she had jet black eyes but almost red hair. He wondered whether she too had a temper like the other red-heads he had come across in his life. It would be quite endearing to find that out. So many red-heads and blondes and what not’s had sauntered in and out of his life. He remembered Kate the only love of his life who left him for the businessman from uptown. That was the worst year of his life, he was 28 about the same age as Pete then. Kate and Jude had known each other since they were 17 and it was heart-wrenching to see the love of his life to walk away with someone else. Kate was not ready to commit to a guy who could not commit to himself, is what she had told him. Kate wanted him settle-down and start a fixed income job so that they could spend a less action-packed life. Jude could not give up his free life to settle down at one place but somehow knew that Kate would never leave him and that they would always be together. That year he immersed himself in drinks, drugs and women. Nothing managed to keep his mind away from Kate and he decided never again to let anyone come as close as Kate had been. He managed to keep the promise he made to himself. Would Sophy change that? He did not want to think about it and walked up to walk around and know more about this town. That night Sophy slept with many thoughts in her head. She wanted to know where Jude was from, where was he sleeping tonight, was he going to stay longer, should she talk to him at all and again her mind was drawn to the brown hands that she had wanted to touch.

Next morning she woke up with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. She looked at herself in the mirror and thought she was not beautiful but attractive and her hair was her asset. Her slim lips and firm chin were admired a lot when she was younger. Did she look her age? How had time just passed and she was 35, no longer this 25 something who loved love and the love stories. She had always been this dreamy girl but always determined to get her way in life. She took her shower and got dressed in a mauve summer dress. Walking up the school she couldn’t help but notice that both the bikes had gone! There was no noise from Sally’s place too…could it be possible that they had left for some biking trip this morning. But they had not discussed this at all. She did not like this sinking feeling and ran up to the school hoping the kids would make her day. And so they did. They were beautiful today. Joe and Michael had been at their best today! The children never let her down. She loved being around them. She was once again in a good mood forgetting that the bikes were not parked outside. She was about to finish giving them their homework when she saw Jude standing outside lazily with a bright smile on his face and was listening to her all this while. She quickly wrapped the day and the kids ran out wishing her good-bye and wishing her a good weekend.

She was looking forward to the weekend more than ever now!

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