The seventy-something speaker was a clinical psychologist-turned . He was going to address a group of 100 meditation students. But suddenly he blanked out. He forgot what he was supposed to do. He didn’t know where he was and why he was there. All he knew was that his heart was thudding furiously and his mind was reeling chaotically.
Still, with face flaming and sweat streaming down his neck, he slowly put his palms together in front of his chest and started groaning out aloud what he was experiencing : “Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I am failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, utterly lost…”
For several more moments he spoke with his head deeply bowed, continuing to name his experience of what it meant to be in the mid-throes of Alzeimer’s disease. Then as his body began to relax, like mist falling upon a sighing sea of grass, the mindful awareness of his talk began to return, in fragments and snatches.
This too he noted out aloud.
Then at long last, the speaker lifted his head, opened his eyes wide and looked into the eyes of those gathered around him and softly, ever so softly apologised for letting them down.
Some students were in tears. No one had ever taught us like this. His presence and courageous performance had become the deepest teaching. “Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation , Jacob (the speaker) had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of,” writes noted Buddhist trainer and healer Tara Brach in Radical Acceptance, “and most significantly , to bow to his experience. In some fundamental way, he didn’t create an adversary out of feelings of fear and confusion. He didn’t make anything wrong.”
She relates this practice of meeting whatever that’s happening inside of us to the quality of unconditional or universal acceptance. Yoga terms as Mudita or utter friendliness, which aspirants are enjoined to use to counter and disarm opposing feeling of imbalance and disarray.
“Instead of turning our jealous thoughts or angry feelings into the enemy (what the Buddhist term as the God of Negativity called Mara), we pay attention in a way that enables us to recognise and touch any experience with care,” Brach explains. “Nothing is wrong – whatever is happening is just ‘real life’.
This article appeared in the Economic Times dated 2nd Oct.2010 and is written by Vithal C Nadkarni. (Posted by Mr M K Peerbhai)