Feeling Lightness of Heart

I would love to start a complete blog entitled something like,  “Beautiful Things to Make You Feel Good.”

Imagine that:  a whole compilation of beautiful things, ideas, etc., to bring joy into people’s hearts, etc.

Today was a bit of a hard day.  But, there was one thing that made me feel extraordinarily wonderful.

I was listening to something upon first waking up, a kind of audio on the “Insight Timer” app,  and it exhorted me to “… Feel freedom.  Feel a lightness in your heart, a lightness in your body, and know that you are free…”

This incredible idea:  — “A lightness in my heart?”  I thought,  “What on earth does that feel like?”   I could imagine feeling light in my body, but not feeling “lightness” in my heart.    (Maybe warmth of heart… heaviness of heart… but for some reason I could not remember ever feeling “light” of heart)

In any case, I tried then to viscerally feel what it would feel like to feel a lightness in my heart…

And, lo and behold,  what an incredible feeling!  And what an accompanying Memory!  I HAD felt this way before!   

Indeed, it brought me back to when I was in Dharamsala in 2013,  a beautiful town (home of the Dalai Lama, etc.,) in the foothills of the Himalayas (India).

That Lightness of Heart!  That was something I used to feel almost continuously and every day while I was living in India at certain times,  relatively free (studying, not working in a kind of daily grind as a teacher day in, day out).     It brought back that lightness and I felt —  I hoped, I felt, I was sure, that I could get back to there and feel that lightness again.

I hope to be recommitted.  (shall I be committed for writing this post?)    I hope to be recommitted to go back to India and to feel that lightness again.   To get out of the daily grind, and get back to a life of study and writing (more or less) at my own pace.

To be Free (again) is a goal I have.   What a blessing to be reminded, that it is possible to Feel Light of Body and Light at Heart.    Thank you.  

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Feeling that I simply want to go to the Home Page of my Self, or my Deepest Truth

Do you ever have this feeling? I am on my computer, on the internet, and feel like I just want to go to the Home Page of my SELF.

The Home Page of my Deepest Truth.

Like I just want to go HOME. Wherever or whatever that is.

Not my physical home, but I just want to go to the deepest part of myself. Just want to sit quietly, with myself.

Writing this here just now actually helped me out…

I don’t want to type in: mail.google.com;

I don’t want to type in: facebook.com.  I have already checked my email, and have seen my facebook messages and the latest. And even if I hadn’t, it is not what I want at the moment.

As a friend said to me some time back: when he turned on his computer and logged onto the internet, he tended to type in facebook, and to check his emails.

Why?

He said, “I am not sure why – it is like my fingers are just used to moving around those keys”

“m…a…i…l…. mail.google.com”

“f…a…c… facebook.com” (no need for me even to type in the whole address, thanks to my browser already knowing precisely what I am going for!)

And I seem to have the same experience, quite often.

A concept that really interests me: a page on the internet, that our fingers are accustomed to typing the keys for – which doesn’t take us out of ourselves. Which brings us back to sit quietly with ourselves.

As sometimes that is what we really want (I know sometimes it is what I really want), but don’t quite realize it.

I haven’t yet quite found this page yet.

But maybe I can try and do a service and link to some pages that come close. {update: I just posted two videos; there are many more, similar to this, that might be effective. Peace and love.}

You are Peace, Love, Infinite Joy; You are the Self; Rest in your One-ness! ; )

[These are the first that come to me at the moment. Any other suggestions for reminders of the Self — for pointers back to simply being with Ourselves — are highly welcome. Love.}

Some notes on my first experiences with Amma

I did not quite know what to expect before coming to Amma’s ashram. I had heard all manner of things. I came here not as a devotee of Amma, not even entirely as a spiritual seeker (though certainly partly that), but largely as someone who had been told a lot about Amma and was “curious.”

I have now been here about 5-6 days or so. It has been an ever-changing, at times quite blissful and peaceful, and at times quite uncomfortable or hectic, experience.

As it is the high season (high season begins, I believe, roughly this precise month of December (the beginning of high tourist season in India)), and as Amma is in the ashram presently (of course, the ashram is far far more busy when Amma is IN), this is shaping up to be one of the busiest times at this ashram.

As it approaches Christmas, I am told that more and more people will come – making having a private room all but impossible. I am actually very lucky to have only one roommate.

Amritapuri ashram
Amritapuri ashram

There are hundreds of people milling around this ashram – perhaps a thousand.

So that is the principal downside, or negative (for me) aspect of being here that I have experienced – the sheer busy-ness of it all. I am someone who is not fond of crowds.

That said, almost all of the people are generally kind, peaceful, and good natured (relatively speaking); so despite the great numbers of people, these are largely happy people; which is a good thing.

Why are they happy? A strong intuition, might suggest to me that a not-un-important reason is that they are here with Amma.

There is a strong current in the Indian tradition (and indeed, in a wide range of traditions involving saints and mystics worldwide), maintaining that: simply being around such holy persons, makes us feel happier. That we become more “spiritual,” more “in touch with ourselves,” more connected (with our deepest self? With others? With the source?) – and often, just happier.

Stories of this abound. Gandhi spinning

Visitors to Gandhi’s ashram in Wardha used to note the remarkable fact that all of the people working there seemed singularly happy. One journalist asked one of the ashram’s ladies why she was always singing. “Because I am happy,” she answered; to his “Why are you happy?,” she replied simply “Because I am near Bapu [Gandhi]!”

Visitors to Ramana Maharshi’s ashram used to come visit (from nearby towns, or from cities hundreds of kilometres away in India, and even from places thousands of kilometres away worldwide), simply for the chance to sit close to Ramana.

Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi

Often Ramana did not speak at all (for an entire day, he might say very little, besides answer a few questions at his leisure). Pilgrims often came just to be close to him.

There is the fascinating account by Paul Brunton, who logged his ever-beguiling travels in India in the early 20th century. Brunton arrived at Ramana’s ashram, far more of a skeptic than a believer.

And indeed, Brunton was rather unimpressed and a bit baffled by the scene greeting him there – a nearly naked man sitting silently, staring apparently into space (or into the depths of his own Self), with a handful of Indians sitting around the room doing apparently very little also.

As Brunton recounts, he sat there for a good amount of time, feeling the scene increasingly odd. “But,” he writes,

it is not till the second hour of the uncommon scene that I become aware of a silent, resistless change which is taking place within my mind.  One by one, the questions which I have prepared in the train with such meticulous accuracy drop away.  For it does not now seem to matter whether they are asked or not, and it does not seem to matter whether I solve the problems which have hitherto troubled me.  I know only that a steady river of quietness seems to be flowing near me, that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some rest.

(Paul Brunton, “A Search in Secret India” (on his experience with Ramana Maharshi)).

Brunton, originally a skeptic of such silent gurus or saints, within a couple of hours found his thought-tortured brain beginning to arrive at some rest. He went on to spend significant time at Ramana Ashram, and wrote with enthusiasm about his experiences in his books.

My experience with Amma

I hope you will excuse this digression from my discussion of Amma’s presence. But I could not resist drawing attention to just a couple of the many many historical antecedents to this concept – of Darshan, or of the efficacy of just being near a Spiritual person or teacher.

In any case, my experience with Amma, while perhaps not quite as striking as Brunton’s with Ramana, I have felt to have a few shared characteristics with these.

Frankly, as I noted at the outset, I was initially quite put-off by the busy-ness, and Rajas and so on, of this ashram. One of my principal thoughts during my first two days (before I was able to meet Amma) was – “When can I get out of here?”

But that thought pattern changed, I would say, upon my first coming close to Amma.

I have had two darshans now. The intimate act of Amma’s very unique darshan itself (hugging) – (or rather, being hugged – or rather, having my head and shoulders hugged, while she whispers, “My Darling, My Darling, My Darling!” quite urgently in my ear, amidst all the hubbub on the stage!) – has tended to be rather quick, and pleasant, but not exceedingly memorable. I think there is a lot going on during this act, and it is hard to fully understand it yet (for me personally).

(Though a good friend of mine, Meera-ma, from Dharamsala, has told me that often the effects of the darshan, even the very quick ones, will come to fruition afterwards (?). A very interesting thought. I want to blog more on some of the apparent “miracles”, or simply “acts of grace” surrounding Amma, sometimes later.) amma smile small

But for me what was the most visceral and noticeable experience, was: as I came closer and closer to the stage on where she sat, something very much like Brunton’s “Steady River of Quietness.”

I experienced (and the man sitting next to me during our progressive musical-chairs approach, testified to always having precisely the same feeling), what felt like a collection of powerful energies flowing through the body (or my own “energy field”). This was accompanied by a great quantity of peace and happiness. I felt what I might term a significant “softness” inside, and all around (for lack of a better term — for some reason “softness” is the term that comes to mind repeatedly…) (and actually this softness was felt from first being in the darshan hall). A great amount of peace and happiness.

And I found that meditation of any kind came extremely, extremely, easily… Closing my eyes, my attention seemed to go to my breathing – “in… out…. in…. o—u—t…..”

And I noted that my breathing had been shallow and somewhat quick (as it probably often is during typical days)…. And as I became aware and dropped into it, I became aware that I was slowing it, that it became slower and more peaceful.

Much like a typical practice of breathing meditation, but this seemed to come so spontaneously.

I saw Amma’s eyes as the line drew very close – the spaciousness, the luminousness, the joy of those eyes – they were so empty; the vast space somehow reminded me of “outer space” — such as galaxies, with the odd planet occasionally coming into view…

I am not sure precisely what Amma is — but she certainly seemed to me at least, to be some sort of very special being.

(Of course, anyone who could sit for 15+ hours, five days per week, embracing an endless line of people well into the night, never stopping to use the bathroom, to eat, or for any other reason at all — well, those, besides a mundane explanation of a very strong nervous system, would seem to be some very strong siddhis or powers indeed. This lady, saint, or avatar, or whatever she is, does indeed seem to be a boundless, upwelling source of love, joy, and compassion…)

I am feeling tired at the moment, and feel that the quality of my descriptions are suffering. But I want to get outside and walk for a few minutes, and further expand on these notes later.

In short, I had not known what my experience of Amma would be like, but yes — I feel there is something subtly powerful occurring around this special being… I still feel happy when I manage to get near the stage.

Thanks for reading. Peace and Love.

The wish of the HSP or Empath to “Help the World,” and preliminary thoughts on roles as teachers

[Appended Note: though this post came from the heart, it is of something of a low quality, largely due to the feelings of mental fatigue and residue of slight overwhelm referred to in the narrative. The quality of the thinking or writing may not be top-notch, and I have not yet been able to take this and edit it for improvements. Just wanted to let you know. Peace and goodwill.]

I have been very tired today – actually, mostly this afternoon. It has been a good but busy day here at Amritapuri, Amma’s Ashram in Kerala.

In the morning I did my laundry (handwash in a bucket as always), before going off to do my Seva shift with the compost team.

After this I had lunch, prior to coming back to my room. My roommate, Didanath, is a really cool and nice guy; he has been affiliated with Amma in some way since 1989, when at the age of 5 he met Amma with his mother. At that time Amma had only a handful of followers.

Amritapuri ashram, by the  Kerala backwaters
Amritapuri ashram, by the Kerala backwaters

Now of course, Amma must have thousands upon thousands of followers worldwide. I am not sure precisely what is the population of this ashram, but at any given time, particularly on weekends, there must be at least a thousand (perhaps a couple of thousands) of people here.

This must be one of the largest ashrams on earth, if not the very largest.

What actually tired out and overwhelmed me perhaps the most today, was talking at such length with my roommate Didanath. As I said, he is a really cool guy. That said, perhaps many HSP’s can relate to the notion of being thoroughly worn out by certain conversations, particularly with extroverts, particularly at certain times of the day, or in certain circumstances.

As it stands, this is not quite the easiest circumstance for me – that of sharing a room.

I think many HSP’s will recognize this feeling – the difficulty of lacking one’s own, completely private space to spend time in.

My situation is not so bad, as I am very lucky and blessed, that as Didanath is in many ways part of Amma’s own “inner circle” he actually spends very little time in the room itself. So a lot of the time it is my room.

But, I really like to have my own space, as I believe is the case with most HSP’s. It gives a feeling of security, of safety.

In any case, I could have just not spoken to D very much this afternoon. I was very tired – after doing my morning’s work, and then having a substantial lunch, I had entered what felt like a “siesta/rest” time of the day.

But, how to say…. I guess, since we have been roommates for several days already, and have barely spoken at all, I just wanted to “get him on my side,” so to speak. To show that I was a good person, and to develop some camaraderie, friendship, or at least good feelings, between us.

And in that, I think this being – this Highly Sensitive Person, with ulterior motives – was pretty successful.

We all want to be liked. And we all want others around us to think and to know that we like them as well (at least, HSP’s generally feel this way).

And so that was good. It tired me out, and it prevented me from perhaps being productive in other ways that I had planned.

But perhaps it is all for the best.

The Purpose of HSP’s here on Earth?

This discussion tunes me into and reminds me a little bit of the wider subject of higher purposes, particularly of those who are HSP’s or what are called in some circles, “Empaths.”

I get the impression, reading the literature on HSP’s and Empaths, and also speaking to the HSP’s and Empaths whom I know personally, that HSP’s/Empaths above all tend to have a strong sense of their purpose and drive as being some destiny or importance to help others or to help the world.

There seems to be a strong element and desire for selfless service in the HSP or Empath.

(In this sense, life at projects like Sadhana Forest, as well as at Ashrams such as Amma’s Ashram, where there is a focus on karma yoga, or the yoga of action – manifesting as Seva or selfless service (that is, work not for one’s own personal good, but work as spiritual practice, or work for the good of humanity, etc.) would seem to be something that HSP’s and Empaths should give a try to sometime during their lives. I personally highly recommend trying to get into some sort of voluntarism or selfless service – that said, I tend to believe that likely the majority of HSP’s are already involved in some kinds of voluntary work already)…

I have noted in myself, even when it comes to something as mundane as “conversations” – that often there will arise in me a strong drive, simply, to “make the other person happy.”

Often, there will be a feeling on my own end, that a conversation, that talking, is really not something that I want to do right now.empath thing aura bubble

I feel like it will wear me out, suck out my energy, etc., etc.

But there is a feeling that it may be good for the other person.

So it was in part this early afternoon with Didanath. I wanted to make him happy, and make him feel good about the arrangement in his room.

Though of course there was also my own personal ulterior motive previously alluded to – that of making my roommate “like me” – and become an ally and friend of mine, particularly useful early on in this relationship, prior to any possible issues arising with the room and energies surrounding it.

This leads to the interesting question, of whether we, as HSP’s or Empaths, are really helping people, by simply making them feel happy (even when it is done through an activity that we may experience as draining).

I believe this is a complex question, and may depend on the individual situation.

That said, I was very inspired to read at one time, in this direction, something about the mission of HSP’s and Empaths in general, “on earth.”

As Empaths, we tend to be able to take on the negative feelings and energies of other people.

We can sometimes absorb all of their energies like a sponge (and generally do).

That said, I was reading (and now I wish I remembered the source), that the real mission of HSP’s is not simply to absorb everyone’s energy, and give back love and light.

But that rather, in particular, the mission of HSP’s is not simply to alter people’s moods, in the moment, but —

To show people how not to be attached to their changing moods; or to show them how to bring out positivity in themselves, by themselves or for themselves.

(A little bit like the simple old proverb – that to give a man a fish is to feed him for a day, but to teach him to fish, is to feed him for a lifetime.)

I was struck and inspired by this notion and image of HSP’s and Empaths as teachers. As teachers in particular of how to avoid negativity, and how to bring out the sensitivity, positivity, and light, which are the true homes of HSP’s when they are in balance.

Thoughts for Later On

As I am wearing myself out a little bit writing all of this, on this long day, perhaps I should pause here for now.

That said, I wish to take this up in more detail in future posts – I wish to continue to look along the lines of, how specifically HSPs or Empaths can be teachers of these disciplines… And what sort of disciplines in particular these are.

The first things that come to me are that the disciplines of mindfulness, of equanimity, of meditation, and so on, would seem to be largely central in this regard.

That Empaths and HSP’s – so prone to getting caught in the world-wide-web of emotional energy, that is all around us, themselves – could, if they are able to master certain techniques for handling these powerful emotional energies – end up being individuals who can pass on this knowledge to the rest of the world.

Perhaps HSPs and Empaths can, then, help the world in this way. I like the thought that this can be the kind of positive outlet for the desire for selfless service that is native to the HSP temperament.

I am very interested as always to hear your feedback. Love and peace. : )

Sleep as a form of Meditation?

I recently read someone asking a question to the effect, “whether sleep can considered a form of meditation?”

I felt a pull to give a bit of a response, which began to expand and expand, and which I feel could be expanded indefinitely. I want to reprint a bit of my response, with more points added, for all who may also have interest in this fascinating topic. I am also interested to hear points from others.

Sleep has long been a fascinating and important topic for many of us. Sleep is quite mysterious — we spend, as is often said, nearly one-third of our hours in this incarnation, in the state of Sleep (or maybe better to say in the states (plural) of Sleep — as there are so many stages and phases of sleep). But it is something that remains a bit of an enigma. How intriguing, for our waking awareness to experience being awake, and seemingly a short time later, to re-emerge feeling refreshed….

Emerson, in Nature, listed sleep as one of the phenomena that was “thought [to be] not only unexplained but inexplicable” and thus still in need of explanation and theory (“language, sleep, madness, dreams, beasts, and sex”).

Now many [phenomena] are thought not only unexplained but inexplicable; as language, sleep, madness, dreams, beasts, sex….

Sleep as Meditation?

A few points maybe one could make in response:

There is indeed the quote by His Holiness the Dalai Lama — “Sleep is the Best Form of Meditation”

I often feel that quote is directed towards this busy world, where many of us are often sleep-deprived. I feel like HH Dalai Lama is suggesting — if you need more sleep — then get it! That is a great form of mediation for people who need the sleep!

That said — too much sleep, can be negative for spiritual practice, I feel and many others do.

This may be more of a pitfall though, for some particular people than others.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda (the ancient Vedic (Indian) system of medicine) would say those with many “kapha” characteristics, may be more likely to sleep too much or oversleep (can look up “kapha” online, to see if you think it pertains to you)

For Kapha types particularly, Ayurveda recommends not sleeping too much, and actually in particular, being sure to rise quite early in the morning. It is recommended for everybody, actually, to try and rise before 6 AM; this means it is best to try and get to bed by around 10 or 10:30 PM or so.

For otherwise, too much sleep can lead to lethargy, dullness, and inertia — factors which are not conducive to meditation and which meditation specifically seeks to avoid.

(I want to write much, much, more in this direction soon — there is a lot you can read online about Ayurveda’s fascinating teachings on sleep).

Buddha

There is also this well-known Buddhist story:

(Thanks to the blog Junkyard Paradox for the precise quote — I knew this one but had to look it up, and found it nicely reprinted there. Thank you dear friend):

Yuan once asked: Do you make efforts in your practice of the Way, Master?
Hui Hai: Yes, I do.
Yuan: How?
Hui Hai: When hungry, I eat; when tired, I sleep.
Yuan: And does everybody make the same efforts as you do, Master?
Hui Hai: Not in the same way.
Yuan: Why not?
Hui Hai: When they are eating, they think of a hundred kinds of necessities, and when they are going to sleep, they ponder over affairs of a thousand different kinds. That is how they differ from me.   From The Little Book of Buddhist Wisdom compiled by Richard and Diana St Ruth

This is very important I feel: sleep becomes practically a form of meditation, particularly if we slowly “ease” our way into sleep, doing so with mindfulness and peace.  Myself, and many many others, recommend (what may seem obvious, but so many of us do not do it regularly, in today’s “busy world”), that one unwind and have peaceful time prior to going to sleep.  Do something relaxing, read spiritual books, sit in quietness, (or even meditate), just prior to sleep — and you should find that your sleep is deeper, far more nourishing, fulfilling, and refreshing, and indeed — virtually a form of meditation in itself.

Avoid stimulating activities before sleep! Sit quietly, read from a book, preferably one of which you would not mind the content of which to merge into your subconscious (what you do or take in just before sleep, is quite likely to be imprinted more thoroughly on the subconscious mind).

Enjoy your sleep, enjoy your life. When you eat, eat. When you sleep, sleep.   🙂

How to Get More Sleep

Finally, this video on “How to get more Sleep”  (and better sleep, I might add) by Brendon Burchard, is surprisingly perceptive, simple, and full of jewels.  Following these suggestions helped this overtired empath to get more and better sleep on a more consistent basis  (video below).  Thanks for the great content Brendon!