Living in Awareness

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Last Saturday, I decided to do the morning prayers as a walking meditation instead of sitting like I normally do.  Fairly quickly, I discovered I was “receiving” a series of “tests” or “lessons” in the midst of the prayers.  I stayed in the moment and worked through them without missing a word of the chants! I enjoy these types of challenges and decided to share what I learned. 

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I went to bed early Friday night because I was going to be teaching a class on Stopping Critical Self Talk the following morning. My “plan” was to get a full 8 hours of sleep so I would be at my best when I taught the class. Needless to say, I was not pleased when I woke up at 3:00 a.m.

I lay awake for a while grumbling and then realized it would serve both me and my class if I got up and went to the morning prayers (I have been sporadic in my attendance lately).

Lessons I had the opportunity to address:

  • Don’t hold on to plans.
  • Be in the moment and look for opportunities as they present themselves.
  • When something is for the higher good make it a priority.

While that choice seemed right, I wanted to think about it.  At that time, my back was still bothering me, especially when sitting or standing in one place.  I knew it was important that I not do anything to hurt my back before the class.

Lessons:

  • Trust the process. God’s direction is usually the first quiet voice you hear. It is often followed by a flood of discounting messages telling you why the plan won’t work.
  • Come from the place of “If this is what you want Lord, make the way.”
  • Use discrimination.

It occurred to me that I could go to the temple balcony and walk as I chanted. That is an acceptable practice here as people often do it to stay awake!  And when I chant these prayers in Seattle, I usually do it as a walking meditation.

Lesson:

  • If you stay open to the answers, they will come.
  • Over thinking can get in the way.
  • Focus on quieting the mind and creating space for the answers to emerge.

My next consideration was the need to wear shoes or thongs.  From the beginning of this trip I have had pain in my feet when going barefoot, and walking barefoot also triggered the pain in my back. I knew wearing footwear in the balcony was allowed, but normally I wouldn’t wear shoes during the prayers.

Lesson:

  • Lessons often challenge our conception of what is right and wrong.  We learn to reduce our rigidity and our “shoulds.”
Amritapuri0006
Photo credit: Part of a photo album I purchased from the ashram in the early to mid 90’s

I decided chanting the prayers was more important than the shoe issue, so wearing my thongs, I headed for the temple. I starting walking back and forth on the left side of the balcony as I chanted.

As you can see from the picture above, the railing is curved.  Most people sit in the curved part of the balcony leaving plenty of room for people to walk by.  Early in the chant, a woman sat down in a place where the pathway was most narrow. She then put her purse against that wall, taking another 12 inches of space.  That left the walking path only about a foot wide.  I believed she had no awareness of the limitation she was creating for me..

Lessons:

  • Watch for ways I make life difficult for others by being unconscious.
  • Let people be where they are in their process of becoming aware. It is not my place to judge them.
  • Don’t expect the world to change to meet my needs.
  • Practice flexibility.

Before long she put her water bottle in the middle of the path. That blocked my way completely. In most situations I would have asked her to move it, but that did not feel right, either because of the time and place, or because I was to learn something else from this situation.   I decided to handle it by standing next to the bottle and continuing my chanting. She moved the bottle.

Lessons:

  • My needs are important and it is okay to let them be known.
  • I can be flexible and still get my needs met.
  • I don’t have to suffer to get what I need.
  • Correct action can often come as a sense of “knowing” rather than “thinking”.

The next time I passed that area, she was gone. It seemed like she had disappeared into thin air!

Lessons:

  • Lessons come and lessons go.
  • Stay aware that another lesson could make itself known at any moment.

At one end of the pathway there was a beautiful tapestry of Amma, baby Krishna and some young girls. Each time I approached that area, my eyes became transfixed by the face of Amma or baby Krishna. The sight of either one of them melted my heart.

Lessons:

  • Keep my eyes on the goal.
  • Know what feeds my heart and soul and make doing it a priority.

Next, my foot caught on something. I looked down and saw it was a thin red rope barely visible against the red floor. I shook my foot and freed myself from it.

Lessons:

  • Obstacles will also come and go.
  • Stay active in solving problems as they arise.

On my way back, I saw that the rope was attached to some folders in a rack. It was a potential danger to other people so I leaned down, picked it up and put it in a safer place.

Lessons:

  • Do what needs to be done. Don’t expect someone else to do it.
  • As a citizen of the world, I have a duty to act responsibly.

As I started another round, I wondered why I hadn’t tripped on that rope before. As I passed that area, I noticed that a new woman was sitting there. I hadn’t even seen her before.  To get by her I had needed to walk close to the rack.

Lessons:

  • Adjust to changes as they come.
  • Stay conscious of my surroundings

When she noticed that she was partially blocking me, she immediately adjusted her chair.

Lesson:

  • Be thankful when people are kind.
  • Remember that people do the best they can do.

A while later, I noticed the same person staring at my feet. I assumed she was seeing my thongs and disapproving. I felt defensive.

Lessons:

  • My way of doing things is okay
  • I can know what is right and what is wrong for me.
  • I have no way to know what others are thinking.

The next time I passed her, she grimaced at me and got up and left. I assumed it was a reaction to my wearing thongs and went into judgment of my own. I judged her for judging me. I judged her for coming late and leaving early.

Lessons:

  • My judgments of others are most likely about me.
  • I am not the center of the universe. Others have problems or reasons for doing the things they do.  Those reasons more than likely have nothing to do with me.
  • What I think others are thinking or feeling is often wrong.
  • What others think and feel about me is their business, not mine.
  • I am okay even if others disagree with me..

I left the temple soon thereafter, full of gratitude for the journey I had just made.  There had been a lesson in almost every moment.

As I close this post, I will add:

I am thankful for God, Spirit, Amma for guiding me.

I am thankful for my feet.  They serve me well on my life’s journey.

I am thankful for the thongs that allowed me to take this particular awareness walk.

I am thankful for receiving a NEW experience about the importance of living in awareness.

Last Lesson for this moment:

  • Live in Gratitude

 

Written in part for the Weekly Photo Challenge: New

Description of challenge: Use your photo this week to show us something new-to-you for 2015. It could be a photo that tells us something about your dreams: a place you hope to travel. Something that represents a new goal you’d like to reach — the house you’re saving up for, the gates of a school you’d like to attend, the cover of a magazine you’d love to publish in. Highlight a new person in your life, and all the possibility that relationships contain. Or keep things lower-key, with an image of an favorite gift you received, an inspiring book you just started reading, your new puppy, or the hiking trail you hope to master. New year. New opportunities. New adventures. Let’s inspire one another — show us what’s new.

 

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14 thoughts on “Living in Awareness

  1. Thank you, Karuna. I printed this post down for future reference. As I begin this new year, I want to be mindful of going within to process before i express. Gratitude, kindness, and a non-judgmental attitude is what I seek.

    Like

  2. I found this post very inspiring. I enjoyed the layout a lot. The different situations, external and internal observations. The learnings you received from them and what i sensed as your holding yourself with gentleness, empathy and understanding. This is a piece that i want to come back to as a way of supporting myself on staying self connected and present.

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  3. Great post and your ashram sounds wonderful. You have many wise nuggets in here and I especially love this: “My judgments of others are most likely about me.” How much trouble and misunderstanding does projecting onto others cause? I must do this a lot because it stood out 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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