There are two things in life that I get back to every time I struggle to thrive in difficult situations. One is advice from my parents which I didn’t pay attention to for a long time and second is the rich knowledge from the ancient Indian scriptures. As a child growing up in India, I was always surrounded by verses from Ramayana and Mahabharata and other Vedic texts. The practice of yoga and observing fast has been a part of my lifestyle a long time before the world convinced me about the idea of intermittent fasting.
Now, when I look back at those times, I feel quite fascinated to have that knowledge available to me already. Stories from those scriptures have been my guiding force a lot of times in life. And this time when I am dealing with this new normal phase of staying at home the whole day, those knowledge sutras are here for my rescue again.
In this article, I have written about the three main sutras which are quite relevant to the situation we are in right now. Written by saints ages ago, they still have huge power to keep our lives and minds disciplined during this crisis.
The Best is Available!
Three years ago when I was in Rishikesh for a 4-day long silence meditation program, our teacher referred to a chaupai from Ramayana for describing how one should observe isolation and silence.
गुहँ सँवारि साँथरी डसाई। कुस किसलयमय मृदुल सुहाई॥
सुचि फल मूल मधुर मृदु जानी। दोना भरि भरि राखेसि पानी॥4॥
He further added, “When Lord Rama went into exile in the forest, He left behind all the luxuries of royal life. This chaupai describes that He was offered a bed made out of leaves and grass along with some fruits from the people living nearby the forest. He was content with whatever was available to Him.” He continued, “The idea of telling you this is not to prepare you to sleep on the ground but to silent your mind. Be in your own company for the next three days and avoid all forms of communication with the outer world. Make the best use of this time to experience complete isolation and silence which will not only deepen your meditations but will help you to be at ease with yourself. Rejoicing in your own company is the highest life skill you can have. Just know that whatever is best for you is available to you. Don’t let your mind grumble over petty issues.”
Well, there were times during the program when I was upset over things like people jumping queues in the kitchen or someone stepping on my yoga mat while I could just give them a tough look. But now when I think of my teacher’s words from the course that the ‘best is available to me’, it immediately silences all the questions in my mind. While it is challenging to stay put and not worry about my career, this faith does give a lot of strength which is the best thing one can have right now.
Learning is Evolution and Saviour!
We all have a big list of things or skills we want to learn but we struggle to find time to do so. We can’t complain about that now. With the availability of the Internet, we have access to an ocean of courses which makes it handy to learn a new skill or strike the chords of your guitar.
As the sage Chanakya says,
कामधेनुगुना विद्या ह्यकाले फलदायिनी। प्रवासे मातृसदृशी विद्या गुप्तं धनं स्मृतम्॥
“Learning is like a cow of desire. It, like her, yields in all seasons. Like a mother, it feeds you on your journey. Therefore learning is a hidden treasure.”
Source: Chanakya Neeti 4.5
Self-learning is like a personal act of evolution. For instance, you can start by learning to boil rice first and then try fried rice and then a more complicated rice dish like vegetable biryani. Why not use this time to evolve from your present self to your expectations of your ownself?
Don’t Skip the Exercise Part!
There’s something that hasn’t changed since the lockdown started. The sun didn’t stop rising in the morning. It has been there every day despite the clouds, storm, my mood swings, or my grumbling mind.
I guess that’s quite a good source of motivation to keep up with a disciplined routine especially when it comes to body and mind.
As Sage Patanjali has described in his Yoga Sutras-
Source: Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2.29
The eight important aspects of Yoga popularly known as Ashtanga Yoga include Yama (ethical codes), Niyama (self-discipline), Āsana (Yoga postures), Prāņāyāma(regulating the breath and prāna with techniques), Pratyāhāra (detachment from senses and outer world), Dhāraņā (concentration), Dhyāna (meditation), and Samādhī (the stage of enlightenment and transcendence).
Of the eight steps of Ashtanga Yoga, Āsana, Prāņāyāma, and Dhyāna hold the most important place in routine life as they have the power to bring the soul, mind, and body in unison which is what Yoga stands for. A short session of yoga in rhythm with your breath followed by meditation can keep both the body and mind happy. The least we can do at this time.
And remembering one thing always, Etadapi Gamiṣyati, this too shall pass!!