Thursday, December 3, 2009

Responsibility - an ugly word?!

For years I have hated the word responsibility. In fact I have taken on as little responsibility as possible! In the last few months however life/ existence/ god! have been sending it my way in small doses. Taking responsibility has turned out to be a good experience and not at all the awful ugly burden I thought it to be..:)

Responsibility comes from 2 words: Response and ability, simply meaning your ability to respond. During my Yoga teacher's training at the Santacruz Yoga Institute, it was always emphasised that we need to learn how to react less and respond more and more to the various situations we face daily. Below I have tried to explore the reasons why responding is so difficult for me.

DO WE SEE THINGS/ PEOPLE / SITUATIONS AS THEY REALLY ARE?
Unfortunately NO! Even though it seems like a perfectly rational thing to respond instead of reacting, it is not easy as the mind is constantly judging, creating diverting fairy tales or horror stories or jumping to conclusions or being far far away in an entirely different situation; all of these and other similar antics of the mind prevent us from seeing a situation as it is. From this warped perception, any thoughts, emotions or actions which come up are all REACTIONS!

THE MIND- A BELLIGERENT TEENAGER?!
All my experiences with yoga and meditation have only served to emphasise the fact that my mind rarely listens to my wishes and most of the time does its own thing! For example, I decide to sit and work, suddenly I feel like tea and a snack, I give in and come back with food in my stomach which was probably not needed! All right, ready to work- oops did I leave my geyser on? I really need to call for groceries...my boy friend has been so grumpy for the last few days - is there another woman?! .. I realise I need to be working and bring the mind back. A chore which should have taken 10 minutes ends up taking me hours to do because I lack the ability to control my mind and to concentrate on one given task!

IS PATIENCE & TRAINING REQUIRED?
For years the mind has played master of the house and now if I suddenly expect it to do my bidding, its an unrealistic expectation which is going to lead to so much frustration. The mind needs to be treated with the firm and gentle patience which one has when dealing with a child. But first we need to develop awareness to recognise that the mind has wandered away to do its own thing. Most of the time I end up rolling in thoughts and emotions for a while before I realise that my mind is not doing the task given to it. This training is an ongoing project which for me is coming through Vippasana meditation and yoga. For a few hours everyday I keep the mind on the breath or the sensations or the body movements and this I find actually works wonders.

TOO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE?
One of the things which led to frustration for me was that I wanted to do too much in a limited amount of time. Now I recognise this also as another of the minds many tricks to distract us from taking back the reins and being masters of our own houses again!! Imagine wanting to be immediately able to make the mind unlearn traits which have been strengthened over lifetimes (or if you believe in only one life - over a period of 33 years!). In the words of Freddy Mercury - I want it all and I want it now! This is our biggest shortcoming which leads to impatience, frustration, so much unhappiness, stress, and disease.

As last note on responsibility, I would like to quote Goenkaji: An ignorant person always lays 100% blame outside (on external factors such as - other people, the weather!) for one's suffering. As one grows on the spiritual path, one starts to take more and more responsibility, eventually knowing that 100% blame is on me.

What is beautiful about being responsible for your suffering is that you hold the key to coming out of suffering into a blissful, joyful world in your own hands!

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