Self

This might actually be fiction,

The words I write right now

Feels very real as I carve them,

But so does a dream when you are dreaming ,

Who is to say that this is not a very surreal dream that the self is dreaming;

Who is to say that this is not just one of the form the self has taken that is me;

Who is to say that that self isn’t you, isn’t them, isn’t me?

World is on fire, Again.

The fated or the random events that happens around us,

Catch us off guard.

They do,

because of the state of comfort before the fire,

and the assumption of the permanence of that comfortable state.

When that comfort is swept away as it has always been the case,

We throw our hands up in the air in agitation,

Sometimes metaphorically and sometimes literally.

It is all to human to do that, to feel that.

The fact that the world has been on fire in the past as it is now

and most certainly will be again lit,

Does not stop us to keep hoping that it doesn’t;

Such is the Sisyphean condition of human nature.

Amor Fati

How different are you than the person lost in space without an anchor,
This place, this earth, our home is also moving in space untethered.
I,  sitting on a bed, on an apartment floor, on the ground of earth, in the vast cosmos.
All moving towards an Unknown Fate.
Just the difference is that I am in the thickest of the comfort of known
While the person in space is heads on with the unknown.
Both are eventually facing the unknown fate, me in the bubble and the person outside of it.

The Curious Case of Existence

Is it more contenting to organize, The way you exist in this life?

Is it better to micromanage it’s every aspect, Or just live through the chaos and let it unfold ?

But doesn’t it all just end, for all those perceived ‘victors’ and ‘failures’ ?

It all just end.

What is the “accepted” way of existence?

It is birth, getting fed and hopefully protected,

And then left into the wild after being taught, What is what, how it is what it is, why it is what it is.

However,

The ‘Whats’ are defined and falsely stated as facts,

The ‘Hows’ change with time and convenience,

The ‘Whys’ gets shallower than the puddle of water.

If our choice is to exist even after all this,

How we are going to conduct ourselves?

Should we shed the burden of what is “expected and accepted”?

Will it then make this win-win or lose-lose state of existence less boring, less scarier, little less absurd and painful?

Virtue

Stars shine in the sky,
They look pretty to your eyes.
No eyes to see the sky,
Stars still shine
Careless to any prize.

Flower blooms, scents and withers,
Everyone around seem to be bewildered.
Nobody to be bewildered,
Flower still blooms, scents and withers.

You create what you need to, to be you,
Applause, Reward and Adoration follows.
No soul that knows and follows,
You still create what you need to, to be you.

Logophilia

Language is used to communicate with others, words and the capability to form sentences help to formulate ideas and thoughts, making them easier to get across to others and ourselves. It makes it possible to express the concepts that we may understand but can’t put a finger on it. Sometimes concepts, feelings and thoughts can be like that thing you are trying to touch in your dream, but cannot quite reach it. The anxiety of knowing but not being able to tell what it is that you know, can be comforted by the beautiful friend, Language.

Language fills that gap between thinking and expressing.

Language is an art of expression and knowing different languages give you the ability to interact and understand people who speak those languages. Knowing many languages means an opportunity to go beyond the experience of your mother tongue and having the wings to explore different worlds of experiences and perspectives.

“आई” and “Mother” have the same meaning but the signature that “आई” has on my mind is much more intimate and embedded in my foundation as an individual. It is the power of mother tongue which we hear when we are new to this world and our foundation, subconscious is building.

Familiarization with the words Mother, मां, માતા, आई, मातृ, mère can help me to empathize with other people’s experience of the same word, same concept but a different background. It’s a superpower that leads to empathy, compassion, kindness, and the feeling of oneness, a realization of our shared humanity no matter which language we speak.

Not sure, when a sinister thing happened and language started to mean something else other than a device for communication. Its representation became more about class and status, determinant of development, literacy and rank; it became a sign of privilege, an entry ticket, an assigned identity.

Which language you speak, how do you pronounce, do you have an accent, how is your accent perceived by the majority, How many languages can you speak, Are those languages among the desired languages of this economical, commercial, capitalist ‘global’ world?

The above questions do not need to be answered as they are not really important when it comes to expressing ideas, thoughts, and concepts. The goal of language and expression is making sure that anything which is born inside of you as a gift for this world, takes birth in this world.

The questions questioned before may still arise time to time and you may be judged for that accent, for not knowing that most spoken language of your time, for not having the most “accepted” language as your mother tongue, for not knowing more than one language.

However,

Expressing what is meant to be expressed is the main priority, always; which tool is used and how it is used does not really matter until the flower bloomed was from the original intended seed.

Big words and complicated sentences are not the showstoppers of the written text. The context of the words and the honesty of the pen make the read significant. It gives the reader, a comfort of the reminder of our shared humanity and the joy, suffering, loss and strangeness of our beautiful existence.

Language is not a limiting factor; rather it’s the most incredible gift that can liberate you. You may get answers for your strangest experiences in distant languages. Weltschmerz is a German word that can loosely be translated as world pain, a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness. How beautiful it is to finally be able to put a word on something we all feel but cannot explain. Samadhi, Nirvana, Déjà vu are among many words that are an experience in themselves.

By exploring other languages, we might be able to uncover and understand another part of ourselves that we can’t explain right now.

Story teller’s tale

The story I tell myself is how I want to see myself and the world, The story I tell others is how I want them to see me and then there is how the things actually are. Stories are interesting and gives meaning to me, you, the sunflower, the stone; by itself everything is just, is. We all, conscious, thinking, feeling beings crave a story, crave a meaning and we are doing or trying to do that since our conceptualization of the self/identity and this world.

Our birth for instance, the story can be a miracle, a good news or a bad news and a burden depending on the meaning associated to the birth by the people involved in the birth. There is the third option of a chance event which is the physical process of fertilization of the egg by the correct sperm without any intention or story behind it. Some math calculation estimating the probability of this chance event’s occurrence 1 in 400 trillion.

For the one who is born, it just happens without one’s intention to be born. One may give meaning to that event as a gift or as a tragedy based on the story that they tell themselves or the story that they want to be associated with. Then there is the option of the possibility of having no meaning for one to be born, to live and to die. The last one is rather grim and wasteful, it makes us feel an existential angst. We are like a lost traveler in a strange land without any knowledge of the destination, goal of the journey and no memory of home if there is any.

How can anyone live with that existential angst of not having a meaning to the existence? Miserably.

So hence comes the meaning, the story of you, me and all of us. The story is taking shape from the birth with the nurture to the nature of an individual and the perception of those by that individual. The perception is essentially the story one tells oneself. It is the understanding of things, it is the truth, a subjective one. It may be influenced and shaped by belief system, faith, religion, spirituality, science, self inquiry and so many others that are considered to be The Answer.

Subjective truths are everywhere, the truth of a hand raise by a student is an initiative for one teacher, the other teacher’s truth is that the hand raise is an interruption while the truth of the student is that they just want to use the washroom. Everyone has their truth, their story. The objective truth is rather boring, its inanimate and lacks meaning, purpose and it just is.

I am a good person. It is a subjective statement and is conditional. I would hurt someone unintentionally and then sleep at night thinking that I am a good person or I may hurt someone fully aware and then give some reason to why I have done that and then sleep at night thinking I am a good person. This proves that there is nothing like a good person or a bad one, we just do things and go along with life by telling and evolving stories of our life.

We all coexist together which means collision of those stories in a cohesive way or a non-cohesive way. When coexisting with others and with yourself, harmony is the smoothest way to go. It is disturbed by the dissonance of the subjective stories and gets stronger with the resonance of the subjective stories, giving it a disguise of an objective truth. The objective truths are harsher and detached like sun is always there in its place and doesn’t rise or set for us to carry on our life and the meaning of life.

Let us now forget that our existence is a chance event and the story you tell yourself about that one event that changed you, may play out completely different in other’s story. We need the story and the meaning to conduct ourselves forward, till we stop existing or whatever it is that happens. We are capable of finding meaning in everything, our resilience and craving for life is so strong that we do find meaning in our most painful experiences as well. We were not given the choice to be born but we are given the choice to have a narrative about the events that unfolded till now and how we want the story to go forward, It will end for us all one day but at least, we can decide what it means before it does.

Now the year 2021 is here, and the only way I see the story going forward from 2020 to 2021 can be previewed as follows:

STOMP STOMP CLAP!

STOMP STOMP CLAP!

WE WILL , WE WILL , ROCK YOU!

Lift that weight and throw it away…

These past few days, I have been actively thinking about, talking to people and trying to understand forgiveness and it hasn’t been pretty or a smooth ride. Whatever I am about to write is just the initial understanding of the concept of forgiveness and more importantly the anatomy of forgiveness.

After posting my last post, I was searching for a topic to write about and then it just fell into my lap. Series of events happened during the weekend that destabilized me and I felt things that I do not like to feel. Feelings like being wronged, loneliness, feeling unappreciated and worse of all, not able to do anything about it. So I decided to research and write about forgiveness, hoping that it would help me to understand forgiveness.

I googled forgiveness like a good citizen of 21st century and the first article was from Positive Psychology website. The definition of forgiveness is “an individual, voluntary internal process of letting go of feelings and thoughts of resentment, bitterness, anger, and the need for vengeance and retribution toward someone who we believe has wronged us, including ourselves.”

The definition of forgiveness is like a picture of lasagna, yes I can see that its delicious and how it is suppose to look but the picture does not tell me what are the ingredients, what are the step to turn those ingredients into that delicious lasagna, the instruments I need, temperature, time to cook it and the little secret tips to get that perfectly cheesy treat.

From the definition, it looks like a one person process, which does not include the so called offender and is an internal process by the person who has perceived him/herself being wronged. Ideally, We are suppose to let go of the feeling of injustice and forgive the person without an apology, without any change in behavior from them or even any realization about the damage that they have caused.

By the definition, it sounds like a selfless act and the talks about being the bigger person and forgiving is the best argument I found online where they are like Just do it! And I am like But How?  

I read articles which were research based and opinion based, I want this one to be experience based. I will be honest with my struggles along the journey towards forgiveness which (spoiler alert) is still going on.

Step 0:

Ughhhh, It hurts

The process of forgiveness starts with an incentive and that is the experience of suffering that has occurred due to the event and the person. The pain and suffering makes you not want to be in that state and the only choice to overcome that pain is forgiveness. Everyone knows that it’s never a good place to feel victimized, it may feel like a familiar place and in a twisted way a negative comfort zone but it’s never a life flourishing place to be at.

Step 1:

What’s your story?

There is a universal view that forgiveness starts with the decision to forgive and has been called cognitive or decision based forgiveness. This is where you decide that you want to forgive the person and the event that has made you feel wronged. To do that, you change the narrative. As they say, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Recently, I experienced that a certain individual was consistently treating me in a way that was unacceptable for me and I felt unappreciated by them. One day, I took the decision to stop the cycle and go to a distance. On that day, I felt it in my bones that I was unappreciated and my presence in that person’s life was not important. It made me feel hurt, lonely, angry, rejected and a little worthless. When I actually saw it in different light, I could see it as a moment of hurt but a moment of freedom as well. That person helped me to free myself from that viscous cycle of non mutual interactions.

Step 2:

Body Switch

The next step is little difficult, which is usually named emotional forgiveness. This is where the bigger person argument comes into play. This step is achieved by compassion and empathy. They say hate the sin but don’t hate the sinner. It is to separate that event from the person, understanding why someone would have done something hurtful, empathizing by being in their shoes.

This can be a little tough and before going into it, I need to first specify what forgiveness is not. For me personally, resistance towards forgiveness came from seeming too weak and not standing for the injustice that happened. There is no apology, no change in behavior, if I forgive then it would seem that I lack self respect and they would hurt me again. If I forgive then, they won’t value my forgiveness and I would look too easy.

If you have to deal with that person again and they behave in hurtful way again, it can make the forgiveness process much more difficult.

Let’s be clear then, that forgiveness is NOT

  1. Pardoning, excusing an offence and complete reconciliation like nothing has happened.
  2. Tolerating, denial and suppression of emotions that emerged due to the hurt.
  3. Justifying the hurt
  4. Reconciliation with the person ( varies case to case)

Empathizing is a way of understanding why someone would have behaved in a particular way, we all behave in our own unique ways because of our nature, nurture and how we perceive that nature and nurture. If you ever have privilege to know anything about anyone then you can actually track it in the way they act, talk, think and conduct themselves.

It is really difficult to accept but the way people behave is less about you and more about them. It is not far-fetched that hurt people hurt people. I personally have done and said so many things that do not represent who I am and who I want to be as a human being but I still did them. Similarly people can also do things that they may regret or do them unconsciously due to some hurt or perception they have. In this journey of forgiveness, I do ask myself whenever I feel hurt by someone that if I were in their place and had similar upbringing, same values, morals, similar perceptions and similar growth; would I have done the same thing and the honest answer is Yes.

Step 3:

Restoration of relationship?

In many articles, it is mentioned that forgiveness in not complete without restoration of original relationship between the offender and the forgiver and is ONLY achieved when the forgiver has no resentment towards the injury. To be honest I do not see the restoration part as that black or white.

In real life, relationships mutate upward or downward after each injury, breaking of trust, hurting someone has consequences even though the forgiver forgives. The forgiving is done by the forgiver but the fate of relationship will vary depending on the actions of both people involved.

When someone does not realize that they have hurt someone and do not take any action to make the relationship work, then even after the forgiveness the forgiver may not continue the relationship as a relationship is a two way street. Every person deserves forgiveness but it’s up to the forgiver if they want to give someone another chance and how many chances were given before. No one wants to get burn again and again, so depending on the events that play out after the injury the restoration of relationship will occur.

Opps, the relapse!

No matter how hard I try to simplify this pursuit of forgiveness, relapses happen and it’s absolutely alright. Forgiveness is not a burden and not a forceful choice that we have to make because we want to do the right thing. It is actually the opposite of burden; it is unburdening ourselves from the hurt and resentment that occupies our mind and body. There are so many health benefits of forgiveness, which are linked to letting go of the toxic emotions of anger, helplessness, unworthiness, resentment, vengefulness. By letting go, you give yourself what you deserve, Freedom.

 You deserve to feel happy, relaxed, worthy and not occupied by something that has made it difficult to feel your best. Many people say and I have experienced too that by letting go and forgiving, you feel so much lighter. If you got hurt, then it’s not your responsibility to keep that burden and hurt with you; you deserve to feel better and it’s your right to let go of anything and anyone that doesn’t make you feel precious, which you are!

The thing about forgiveness is that when you have affection for someone who hurts you, forgiveness comes easy. But the bitter truth is that sometimes, just sometimes, giving those chances is not enough and for the sake of your sanity and well being, you have to stop and go to distance.

I have found that forgiving the person you still have affection for, means letting them go as well and then the restoration of relationship is sadly going back to the time where your relationship with that person was of stranger-stranger.

But because you are the awesome you!

You wish them well as you would to any fellow person in this universe.

And just like perfect lasagna may not be made in first trial, forgiveness is the same but do not give up because you deserve happiness , calmness and contentedness and Not anger, hurt and resentment.

Unburden yourself one kg or even milligram at a time.

Unclench

Feels like an out of body experience,

when you are too much in your head.

Surrounded by them

but a feeling of a strange land.

The discomfort and the sensation

that you do not belong,

The feeling and the surety about the feeling

that you are the odd one out.

An outsider, A visitor

Almost invisible.

You see smiles wide,

but the tears are creeping outside.

The regret of being there,

the want to be anywhere else.

The replay of the unheard cries,

the injustice,

the wrong never made right.

The projection of outside on the inside,

you may not be worthy if this is the sight.

The going back inside and coming out of the mind,

Releasing the breathe,

you have been holding so tight.

Observe the body and heal the mind,

Feel your body and unclench your mind.

Phase 1

Feel

There is a moment when you feel something trigger in you, you were feeling alright, carefree, in balance but then click; it changes to something unpleasant. You feel a discomfort in your body and your mind is overactive, filled with thoughts.

It can be the present moment where something is said to you, happens around you, a sight, a smell, or just something that reminds you of a memory, an experience, a flashback. Whatever that something is, it is associated to a specific emotion; grief, hurt, anger, resentment, fear, contempt, disrespect etc.

It happens so quickly as if you are swept away by the wave of emotions, sometimes a tsunami of emotions. You are caught off-guard and your body starts to react accordingly. Your body stiffens and the life force is focused on the train of thoughts which just keeps on honking, taking you into an extremely alert and anxious state, the mind is terrorized and the body is now compromised.

When you are in this hyper alert state, almost fight or flight state, its not time to relax and the our consciousness is focused on that moment. Based on the intensity of the emotions triggered, we are in that moment after it has already passed, replaying it and prolonging the state of discomfort. This emotional hijacking manifests itself through body in the form of shallow breathing, rise or fall of body temperature, rashes or allergic reactions, clenching of jaw, stiffening of the muscles of neck, shoulder, face and increased pressure near the eyes.

Phase 2

Process

So now that you are in this state of stress, the next best thing is to swim along the waves or at least try your best to, hence processing what is happening. You may want to skip the this part but it can be a counterproductive move as it will come back haunting you in other ways, in other emotionally challenging events in future. Research also shows that unprocessed emotions, traumas and stress are the very cause of chronic illnesses, so its a smart move to deal with it heads on.

I have few steps that could be helpful to process the ongoing or any previous stress or trauma:

  1. How do you actually feel?
  2. Accepting that you feel how you feel.
  3. Why you feel the way you do?
  4. What can be done to make it better ?

Scenario

Lets say,

1. seeing a red carpet makes me feel sad.

2. I need to accept that I am sad and the sadness is due to the red carpet.

3. I feel sad because I have red carpet at my parental home and seeing the red carpet reminds me of home and eventually missing my home.

4. I can call my parents and talk to them, I can video call to see my house. I can tell myself a different story, a different narrative rather than the narrative of missing my home. The red carpet that makes me miss my home, actually represents home and pretty soon, I will go back home. Till then, the red carpet is a reminder that I do have a home where I am loved and will always belong.

Phase 3

Mindfulness

The third stage is to get out of the zone, swimming back to dry land or at least finding an anchor and that is mindfulness. It is time to bring your focus to your body, your smart vessel. Bring your focus to your shallow breathing, take a deep breathe and then breathe normally. Walk if you were sitting, sit if you were walking anxiously. Relax your jaw, your neck, your shoulder. Feel your body relaxing as you focus on your breathe. Your mind will try to go back to the intrusive thoughts, its alright, bring your focus back to your breathe and observe yourself as you relax.

I know that it is more like a balancing act on the rope than the flicking of a magical wand. The main goal is to come back to a relaxed state and you can transition from the feel, process and mindfulness phase by different ways as they work for you individually.

Some of the ways that works for me are:

  • Remove yourself physically from the situation, so that you can breathe.
  • Go out for a walk and some fresh air.
  • Write it down, it does not have to be proper sentences. Write hurt, if you feel hurt, then tired, angry, pizza, puppy, stars, annoyed, angry. The aim is to flush it out, do whatever it takes.
  • Talk to a anyone who you know from past experience that can appease you or just listen to you, you need to feel safe and heard.
  • Read something interesting.
  • Watch a funny video, laughter is indeed the best remedy, Friends bloopers always work for me.
  • Listen to music and sing along.
  • Get some sleep.
  • My personal favorite, move your body. As they say dance like no one’s watching.
  • Meditate, head space is a good platform, you tube has many guided meditations and its free or close your eyes and just breathe.
  • Eat a fruit, possibly a citrus fruit; be color smart!
  • And remember that you are enough and loved no matter what happens to you and around you. We were all born precious.


Phase 4

Calm waters

It is less of a phase and more of a state, a desired state. It is knowing that it will eventually be alright, no matter what.

Even though Phase 4 is the most loved one, we should not underestimate the power of previous 3 Phases as they make the calm state sweeter and makes us a little more stronger.

The Extraordinary Vessel

The Body knows what is good for it. It knows when there is a need for food, water, warmth, by making the stomach ache, throat dry, hair stand on the skin and jaw shiver. It detects the parasitic attack on your body by making the skin itch, body temperature rise, eyes to water and nose to sneeze. It is so attuned to the environment that it can detect a threat outside and take necessary actions to protect the life. It may run and hide or it prepares to defend against the possible attack.

In the larger terms, the body make sure that the species survive by motivating, reinforcing and sometimes flat out pushing reproduction. As in the case of women’s menstrual cycle, the hormones secreted and the internal biology is aiming for one goal, one most important goal at least in the term of a human body is the fertilization of the egg that is released along the cycle. The hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are released at the specific time and in specific amount to regulate the body to reproduce. A manipulation of the internal chemistry to encourage fertilization during the time span of the release of the egg/eggs and making the internal chemistry a little hostile when the body knows that fertilization is not achieved better known as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Our body is extremely intelligent and capable of self regulation. We do not have to do awful lot to sustain it, it just needs support to stay intelligent. It can function to its optimal capacity if we eat well, sleep well and exercise well. In prehistoric times, eating well was easy and a natural choice because whatever food source available in the environment was natural, not adulterated and the over indulgence was not the way of prehistoric humans. Settlements encourage humans to have more food than necessary, the life of travelling and exploring does not lead to over indulgence, accumulation and storage of resources. As the settlement increased and civilizations begin, accumulation of resources including food started and then came the food processing.

Human’s body and organs have not evolved anatomically in a larger scale since 10,000 years, so considering that we have inherited out prehistoric ancestor’s bodies, the more natural the food is, the better support it gives to the body to function. The more processed the food is, the more alien it is for the body and less it can metabolize it.

Getting enough rest is absolutely a defining factor for the body to start again every day with full capacity and reach its potential. Overworking the body without rest is not the sustainable way for a body to stay intelligent. Going back again to our ancestors, we can intuitively tell that their way of life had a lot of physical work including gathering food and going places by foot. To get more restful sleep, it may not be too far fetched to think that to get a body to exhaust to a restful sleep, we need to carry out physical activities to make our body feel that it can take the well deserving rest at the end of the day.

One factor that did not play a dramatic role in our ancestor’s lives was stress. They did face life or death situations that caused fight or flight responses which was necessary stress for the body’s survival but the body went back to the normal relaxed state after removal of the threat. Now is a different story, we are triggering our body into stress by merely our perceptions of the outer world. It can just be a person that is not a physical threat to us but mentally is associated as threat, therefore triggering a fight or flight response. It can be work, relationships or a memory that puts you in the stressed state. When our bodies stay in these prolonged state of stress, the result is disease, allergies, mental health issues and overall hostile internal environment.

It is so crucial for the stress to be managed as stress may hamper the other factors mentioned before as well. Stress impacts the eating tendencies, motivation to do physical activities and sleep patterns to put it most simply. The stress level impacts the chemistry of the body, immune system and organ function that holds us back from having a flourishing life on this earth.