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August 16, 2005


The check-ins:

Vijay said that historically, men have displayed strong left brain characteristics and women, right brain (left being intellectual and right being emotional). When it comes to behavioral changes, often it is men who are asked (usually by women) to choose between being right and being happy.

Since men and women don�t seem to have difficulty in understanding that being wrong and being sad go together, perhaps it is time to see that being right and being happy go together too? But often, for the sake of being right, men argue and create unhappiness. And for the sake of being happy women avoid knowing what is right, which allows a wrong to grow unchecked for a long time resulting in a bigger unhappiness.

Instead of men chasing what is right and women running away from it, may be there is a way to let what is right to come to us. And happiness might follow us!

Saujanya shared her experience in dealing with the headaches that she used to get frequently. She said that for quite a while she would just get frustrated and dislike the pain. Then she started keeping a journal to record what happens to her before and after she gets the headache. She then made a connection between stress at work and the onset of the headache. By not getting stressed, she could reduce the frequency of the headache. Then she started just accepting the headache whenever it happened without getting frustrated and that helped deal with it much more peacefully.

So that journal helped her observe her external behavior and accepting the headache helped her observe her internal behavior. That looks like a great approach to create harmony outside and inside.

Manju talked about the four-pronged dilemma one of her friends is facing. The friend, she said, is pondering on which one of the four paths to take: Sainthood, Family, Career or Service.

Prasad said that often we create artificial boundaries in our minds and wonder why there are conflicts. Whereas, he said that a person could have a family and a career and be saintly and do service � all in the same life. To do that, one has to go beyond superficial definitions and go deeper into understanding the qualities of the paths which will allows one to see how one complements the other. Also, lack of family or lack of career do not automatically make one saintly or service oriented.

Manvi said that for a long time she had accepted her tradition and religion as the truth. One day, she read a quote that made her put a question mark to what she had accepted all along. She said that earlier, her beliefs were like a static picture. But now, the questioning is creating some movement in the picture. Instead of settling for any answer, she said she is just being with the questions.

Going from acceptance to questioning itself is an unsettling situation for most people. The knee-jerk reaction is to quickly find an answer. Being with the questions, with the movements and noticing the changes in the picture is a big leap. If she manages to control the urge to freeze-frame the picture, however beautiful it is at a given moment, then she would have mastered the �art of life�!

Mark said he has been traveling non-stop around the world for about three weeks and said that that is forcing him to be in a strange state of mind. He said that though he knows he is the one who booked the tickets and has the itinerary, he feels like he is not in control of his travel. He said that it feels like he is going from one dream to another and on reflection, his whole life seems to be like that.

We never get to see a 90 minute movie of our entire past. If we could, then we would notice that larger forces have been at play in deciding our journey. Perhaps traveling around the world non-stop, because of the rapid changes in everything (geography, food, time, people etc), has helped Mark to hold the experiences together and watch them as if he is watching a movie of his three weeks� travel and hence is able to become more aware of how much of his life is not in his control.

I shared an experiment I am doing for the past year: Am trying to learn whatever I am interested in by not seeking knowledge from external sources (books, people etc) but by seeking it within myself through meditation, questioning and contemplation. This has already given me just about enough knowledge to trust the process. I am excited what I could learn from myself!

Sreekanth said that he is being under-utilized at work and that is creating frustration. Besides, he said that there is no sense of belonging and caring between him the organization and hence there is no initiative on his part to be fully engage himself. And since he derives most of his satisfaction from work, the situation is even more grim.

Perhaps Sreekanth has summarized the feelings of most people in the Silicon Valley. To just recognize what is going on is itself the first step. If he can be with the awareness, he just might find an answer for the rest of us too.

Prasad said that he shares Sreekanth�s feeling and said that he too feels good when he is �used up�. Other times, he said that all the feelings he keeps holding on to (anger, hatred, boredom etc), whether valid or invalid, creates frustrations.

Prasad then made a spontaneous decision to blow out one of the candles in the center (we light candles before we start the session) and with that, let go of some of the strong feelings he is holding on to. He then invited Sreekanth to try it out.

In fact, several others followed suite.
When I look at all the check-ins, the theme that emerges is that all of us are holding on to our conditioning. Time to time, something - a journal, a quote, traveling � helps us become aware of our conditioning and change our behavior.

By blowing off the candle and letting go of some conditioning, Prasad seems to be saying that may be we do not have to wait for some external stimulus to make us aware of our conditioning. May be we can consciously hold our conditioning in our mind, and by sincerely intending to let it go, just by that volitional act, we could create changes in our behavior and life.

As a practice to take, pick one conditioning that you know you have. Fully bring it to your awareness, inhale deeply and with the exhalation, l e t i t g o.

Posted by Ragu at August 16, 2005 01:33 PM

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