Dancing was a recurring theme during this seminar. One of the participants shared his story of learning to dance and how, over many years, he had learnt to trust in his ability when leading each partner across the dance floor. He explained that every dance is unique, and by sharing his experience he made a contribution to me. His story highlighted the uniqueness of every experience and how, if we can relax and rely on ourselves – trust ourselves – we will discover that we are more capable and more equipped than we thought.
Here is a brief summary of the seminar’s contents, with links to the relevant blog entries. (The corresponding page numbers of the book are in brackets.)
Often without realising, we comply with the tricks our mind plays on us. We believe everything it says without question, and we allow it to take our hand and lead us wherever it wants to go. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, with a little practice we may even notice that its willingness to lead us astray is not the mind’s purpose at all, just as a child’s role is not to annoy its parents. Sure, it’s part of the mind’s nature to be unruly, but there is so much more to it. As with any tool, once we learn to use it properly, it can astound us with its possibilities. (Just like the mathematician I talked about.)
Gathering Evidence (p.224)
One of the things we can do for ourselves when endeavouring to conquer the mischievous aspect of the mind, is gather evidence of the reality of situations. Rather than accept or believe what the mind says, seek evidence of what actually happens. Furthermore, keep a record because, even when you have evidence, as time goes by your mind has the capability to persuade you you’re mistaken. During the discussion, people offered other suggestions for how we can distract or calm the mind:
- Physical exercise
- Look at something beautiful
- Be with animals
- Focus on something (such as a photograph, or even just a metronome or a finger moving from side to side because it has been shown that the eye movement involved in such a simple exercise helps to calm the mind.)
- Exhaust your body
- Get more sleep
Listen To Yourself (p.289)
Having looked at the less attractive aspects of the mind, this piece addressed the power and potential each one of us has when we allow the mind to work for us, and when we listen closely to its influence. It links back to the first paragraph and the effect of trusting that we know what to do, that we also know what is good for us, and even more powerfully, that we have all the answers.
The Exponential Curve (p.444)
This came up during a discussion about how difficult it can seem to reach the kind of goals we aim for in anything we do. The main problem is that it seems such a long road when we start off. A fact that is compounded because progress at the beginning can seem painfully slow; almost unnoticeable. At times like those, we need to remind ourselves that we are always making progress. Expectations and desire get in the way, but if we practice, persevere, and we’re patient, we will eventually turn a corner and progress will be much more noticeable.
I ended the seminar by sharing my learning from a Satsang I had attended two days earlier. The subject, delivered by Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati had been: ‘Making Friends With The Mind’. She confirmed that, before we begin with meditation, it is wise to become acquainted with ourselves through reflection and contemplation. Then she delivered the simplest and most powerful lesson:
The mind is always talking anyway, so ask it questions!
I had left her session feeling closer and more allied to my mind than ever before. So, together with the contribution I received at the seminar on Tuesday, I offer you this: Ask your mind questions. Ask it things you want to know. Engage with it. Relate to it. Support it. Commit to it. Become friends with it. And, who knows, maybe one day you’ll dance together.