And I’m back. After two days of missing my morning meditation, it’s good to be back. It took a concerted effort to get back, and now I know why I missed the light, the lightness, the peace of the condition of the heart that is often established, and more. There is no reason to feel shame, or even guilt for being derailed, as long as I learnt from the experience, recover, re-heart and reset.
I had to ask for all the masters for help, and then wait. I didn’t have to wait long, for the help did come, and it came quickly. The bonus was that there was additional help from my beloveds who have passed, and the loved ones who are present.
The shame receded, I worked through the guilt, I decided to abjure blame, which inspired accountability. It was only after transitioning through the shame, blame, guilt and accountability, that I felt ready to acknowledge what derailed me, and then make a renewed commitment to my practice, with a revised plan of action.
After all of that groundwork, came the invitation to healing, and moving on towards growth. I paused to introspect and ask. What if I had bypassed all the intermediate work and jumped straight from shame and to try and effect healing, even growth?
I believe it would have been a lost opportunity for engaging in deep introspection. I would have buried the guilt, taken no accountability, and forgotten that I had ignored the warning flags being waved by the station masters of the stations that my freight train of the mind filled with anger had passed through on my way to derailment.
The unprocessed anger would have led to more guilt, perhaps even rage and bitterness, and I would have left myself vulnerable to being even more easily derailed the next time around. In the words of the great Ramakrishna Parmahansa,
“The three things that we have to get rid of in spiritual life are shame, hatred and fear.”
How do we begin to get rid of them? Introspection is part of the process. According to step five Patanjali’s eightfold path of Yoga, pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses helps quieten the mind, which then opens the door to dharana (concentration) and then comes dhyana (meditation). Very often, we want to bypass the first six steps, and go straight to meditation. We run into all kinds of obstacles, we get derailed, we tell ourselves we failed, we start believing we are failures, and plant seeds of self-blame, guilt, and even shame.
We then get well-intentioned advice like, “if you don’t succeed at first, try again” or “get over it and move on.” I say that if you’ve tried enough times and are stuck in a whirlpool of shame, hatred and fear – then consider pausing your freight train at the next station and refueling for some Introspection. Ask some questions.
Who am I? Why am I here? What do I stand for? What won’t I stand for? What do I want my inner life to be like? What are the strengths and weaknesses of my plans and actions? What resources do I have to accomplish my purpose? Do I need help? If I ask for help, and I am offered it, will I receive it with good attitudes? Add your own questions.
As answers emerge, Introspection helps us polish the mirror within. We may even see some dark, ugly truths that we don’t like. Acknowledgement of those long buried truths is the invitation to excoriate shame, fear, and hatred.
Or we can simply keep driving our freight train, ignore all the warning signs, and get derailed again. To introspect or not, is our choice. There is great power in our choices. The consequences are often greater. Your move.
P. S. Join us for our weekly chat on Twitter with the #SpiritChat community. We will introspect through some questions as we pause for some tea and cookies. All are welcome. Namaste – @AjmaniK