They say that it takes twenty one days to create a new habit. The corollary would be that it takes twenty one days to break an old habit, yes?
The sixteen days in India were a great start to breaking the habit of the need for hyper-connectivity and hyper-awareness of the events of the world around me. Awareness is a good thing, but hyper-awareness? Perhaps not so much. When does awareness turn into hyper-awareness? It happens when we engage with the granularity of the details of a particular event at a very fine level, when moderation falls by the wayside…
Take the war in Ukraine. We can make it a hyper-aware event in our life if we follow and then get caught up in the constant coverage of all the minute details of the major and minor incidents of the war. This can put us into a state of constant stress, with our nerve stretched out in a hyper-elastic state, ready to snap at any given moment. Despite my best efforts at self-moderation, I found myself moving towards such a state in the two weeks leading up to my trip to India.
Needless to say, this was having a negative impact on my daily life. I was finding it increasingly difficult to stay calm during my morning meditation. I was getting more and more irritable about inconsequential things. I was even considering postponing my long-awaited trip, driven by the fear of the possibility of ‘what if the war becomes much worse and we can’t get back to the USA?’
However, once I got on the first flight of the trip, it was as if I went into a wormhole and got transported into a different world. I quickly learnt that fear and hyper-awareness are close cousins. Sometimes, one needs to go ‘cold turkey’ to break the cycle of fear, and to allow for new awareness to come through.
Somewhat by design, somewhat by lack of connectivity, and mostly due to lack of time, I mostly stayed off of twitter, there was no TV news or NPR or perusing newspaper web sites to feed my hyper-awareness. The fire-hose of news and information got turned off, as my time and energy got re-focused on family and friends. I stayed in touch with the macro events, but the desire to know about every single detail fell off like a snake shedding its old skin.
As a result, I was fortunate to be able to quickly go from hyper-awareness to a new, simple awareness. The large-scale shift in focus towards the people in front of me, in-person sharing of our life’s major events from the past three years, mini-celebrations, laughter and tears, all created a new awareness. The cycle of fear-led hyper-awareness had been replaced by love-focused caring and connection.
One pleasant result was that I had some of the best morning meditation experiences during my two weeks in India. The second week was particularly spectacular, being that I was on a beach resort where the evening walks by the Arabian sea set up the morning meditations. The birds would wake you up way before sunrise, which was the perfect time to sit and practice. Morning walks on the beach with my sister followed, and were invariably accompanied by watching the sun rise over the coconut palms.
I was still aware of the world, but it was a different world for sure. The slower unhurried pace of people in the tropics, the softness of the sand and warm waters, the rhythm of the tides, the beauty of flowers woven into hair-braids, new friendships with staff and a cat at the resort – all created a beautiful new awareness. I became aware that kindness, softness, tenderness, grace, honesty, humility and beauty still do exist in the world – we just have to be aware of and then get out of the spiral of pain and negativity that we sometimes tend to get trapped in.
As I write this, I am exactly twenty one days away from when I first landed in India on the family trip. I have been back ‘home’ for six days. I remain keenly interested in the world, but my interest in it has shifted towards awareness of its goodness and love-filled-ness. These three weeks have been a reminder to me that the Yogi, the practitioner of Yoga, of union between the lower and the higher, is the one who can practice awareness without being driven to the opposite extremes of exhilaration or despondency. I have been reminded of moderation in all things, including and particularly in awareness.
It is perhaps in moderate living that lies our path to the state of awareness where truth, consciousness and joy become our permanent home. In that home, we arise to discover that the morning bird still sing while the dawn is still dark – in her knowing through and beyond faith that the dawn is imminent.
May that new awareness be ours.
P. S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat, Sunday April 10at 9amET / 630pm India, with the #SpiritChat community. I am happy to be back hosting after a gap of three weeks, and am grateful that community leaders stepped up to fill the hosting gap while I was traveling. I will have new questions, new goodies, and new experiences to share. Namaste – AjmaniK