Yes, if you use this time and occasion to learn about the working of Nature and a simple technique based on Its rules. Best of all, people of all ages , children as young as 5 years to grandmothers, all can benefit from it equally.
‘How is life?’ The answer to the question depends less on what you have and more on how you feel about what you have or are facing. Our focus is always on the net feeling that will ensue from a life event much more than the event itself. We always talk in terms of a payoff – मजा आयेगा या नहीं आयेगा! On the other hand, we also know that people’s feelings are shaped by their attitude more than their circumstances. So, if life is about feelings, feelings are about attitude.
Whether our feelings and attitude are random intellectual positions that we adopt in a whimsical manner or is there a much deeper psycho-physical aspect to them. Have you ever wondered about this? For the most part we think these feelings are triggered by outside events and that our attitude is our destiny that can’t be changed.
Leaving this for the moment, how are we feeling about this twin situation of: being locked in and the fear of COVID 19? Reacting to it in the same habitual manner. Blaming the origin of the virus, or whatever. With depressed, angry and anxious feelings!
If so, we are being naive that instead of arousing feelings that can help us remain safe and help others we are acting in exactly the reverse manner. Not realising that anxiety, negativity etc., reduce immunity dramatically when we need more of it.
But advice like this is all over the social media. What is different here? What is different here is the insight that change in behaviour and attitude requires something deeper, something that would have universal applicability.
Insights and technique taught by one of India’s earliest and the greatest scientist of the mind can be handy here. This knowledge can be life changing in these circumstances.
A quick summary of his knowledge:
No behaviour can change unless the change is experienced.
- Believing and experiencing are very different. He therefore told his audience ‘don’t believe me or any other persuasive advice but believe only your own experience and be guided by the quiet reflection on that experience’. Only a truly great scientist would say that!
- Any feeling is not a single event. The trigger may be outside or inside, such as a memory, but the feeling itself arises only after a lot of other activities (attention, recognition, judgement, etc.) occur inside our mind, popularly referred to as the sub-conscious. It is only after we decide at an intermediate stage in this flurry of activity, we decide to indulge in a feeling that we actually experience it. The feeling is not a mere mental phenomenon as it appears.
- A sense of rush, elation, restlessness, heat, cold, freezing, etc., arises in the body depending on the nature of the feeling – love, fear, anger etc.
- This effect on the body is very powerful and it lingers in its blood supply and nervous system. This in turn becomes the trigger for more feelings. We have all seen, how an angry person keeps on getting angry again and again, even after the source of anger is removed, due to such triggers in the body! It is even more common of a person habituated to depression.
- These in turn will become a legacy that manifests on their body and in behaviour sometimes over lifetimes as they become deeply wired psycho-physical layers in the consciousness. This pattern will create a predictable behaviour in response to a particular trigger, similar to a dog being drawn by a piece of food or children feeling relief from the day end bell in the school.
- Patterns of feelings become hard wired and layered beyond comprehension. Only when we have learnt to journey within do we directly see these layers and appreciate why we need to take innumerable births before we can hope to be fully liberated.
- However, the moment one directly experiences the process of creating feelings and their effect, the power of the layers gets shaken and start weakening, as though the layering wheel is pushed in the reverse direction! Or how a child holds back mischief when watched and if watched continuously gives up completely!
- Since these patterns are settled deep inside our body and mind it takes intelligent and persistent effort, actually, a kind of surgery of the mind or a serious clinical procedure. That is why mere talks, reading, rituals, entertainment etc can not bring about a meaningful change in our behaviour.
- Thus, he explained in detail that no one else can rid us of a feeling pattern, created solely by us. Only we can liberate ourselves from it! The feeling, the actions that it induces and its consequences as per the laws of Nature are all ours. Truly the moment one realises that it is ‘My action, My creation and My destiny’ is a fortunate and joyous one!
- He famously said ‘ I am my own master, I decide what course my life will take’.
We know that all this theory may be testing your presence but it is necessary to make you understand that what we are about to suggest has elaborate and ancient knowledge behind it.All you want to know is, whatever be the nature of our feeling patterns, is there an easy way to become the master of our destiny as this scientist said?
Yes. Fortunately for the mankind, Buddha the scientist, didn’t stop at theoretical insights and preaching but discovered, practised and taught a simple technique that can perform that surgery and liberate the peace and power that lie locked within each human being. A technique that can develop the power to do the right thing as we learn to see the reality as it is and not as guided by the compulsive reaction patterns.
One thing that has to be kept in mind is that greater the impact expected greater the resistance of the layers will be. Also, what you have taken one or many lives to form can not be expected to change in one or few sessions. Yet it is almost a guarantee that the promise of the method will be established with little effort and that itself should make one immensely hopeful. In the practice of Aanapan, during the next few weeks, just 10 minutes, every morning evening (and later 10 day Vipassana courses) you have at least a certain way of achieving these results. And compared to almost any other thing on offer, with the least effort.
The experience of millions of people from around the world, be they scientists, doctors, religious and political leaders or students, housewives, prisoners, all have benefitted from the scientific method and that too should encourage you to try this seriously.
Aanapan Sati means observing the reality of your own breath. Quietly observing the phenomenon of breath. Not judging it, not controlling it, not changing it. This practice can bring profound changes for very scientific reasons. It brings, peace, purity and power over self immediately. More you practice more you benefit at all levels- physical, mental and emotional. Why? Simply because these qualities pre-exist in us! We have locked them under our habits to judge, control, change what we experience! Our habit patterns have ensured that these wonderful qualities are not available to us. As is happening even more in these stressed times.
Just as Buddha who showed us the path said ‘ don’t believe me….. believe only your own experience and peaceful reflection of that experience, we too say –
Don’t believe us, just check it out.
How to practise Aanapan? Sit in a quiet place and play the following audio tape.
Avoid doing it soon after meals. Don’t mix the practice with any other ritual or religious practice. No suggestion, no visualisation, no adding any mantra or image, no pranayam.
Or you can log on to dhamma.org (http://www.dhamma.org/en-US/about/mini_anapana) and play Aanapan with S N Goenka, in Hindi or English. The 10 minute version. Ideally, listen to the longer one of 20 minutes’ introduction a few times and then use the 10 minute one for practice.
Those who will write to us after experimenting it for a week, we will be happy to solve their queries and explain why the change comes.
Those who will write to us after experimenting it for a week, we will be happy to solve their queries and explain why the change comes.It is hardly a wonder that the Govt of Maharashtra has been teaching Aanapan in all its schools. India’s largest jail, Tihar, has a permanent Vipassana center as they found Vipassna to be the most effective tool to bring about a change in the prisoners.
Please do try this and make your ‘prison’ term a productive, bearable and life changing one!
And one final tip.