Awareness

Guruji gives a monthly Satsang (spiritual talk) at Kashi Kriya Yoga Centre, and occasionally he talks after one of the weekly yoga classes. A few weeks ago, I wrote down the message he gave us after yoga as soon as I got home. It went something like this:

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“People may say that they are peaceful, they will think and believe it in their minds – but they are not aware of how their thoughts are coming and going all the time. There is no real peace. That is why today you learned a very important practice. You were sitting with closed eyes and “watching television” in the space between your eyebrows. You had to imagine that Pure Self is the seer. I asked you to watch your thoughts coming and going.

“In daily life, the mind is moving constantly. There is no break between thoughts. One rises to the surface at one point over here, and disappears over there. Another one rises, and so on. Energy is created, like a gas, and if we are not paying attention, anger, jealousy, and so on are created from those thoughts and can do damage to our system. They become like clouds.

“But if you do this practice regularly, what starts to happen is amazing. When you are watching your mind, you are turning a spotlight on the gap between your thoughts, and you can also see where the thoughts arise and disappear again on either side of the gap. At first you will see that there is no gap. But slowly you will observe a gap between them. This is the start of meditation. No doubt it will be very short at first, but with practice that gap will become bigger, and you will begin to understand the meaning of true peace.

“You are not your thoughts. This practice, this spotlight, gives you the light and power to analyse the cause of your mind and see where your thoughts are coming from. And you will notice that we are always pointing the finger at other people. “You made me angry!” and “You hurt me!” And so on. But actually no one can make you angry, or cause you to suffer.

“There are two things in this world only: Pure Self and mind. Mind is the cause of all suffering. I have told you that happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin. It is the same with wealth and poverty; light and darkness. One cannot exist without the other. We have to go deeper; we have to go beyond the mind to find peace inside. You have to become like Jesus. On that level, you will be indifferent if people love you or try to harm you. Jesus gave an example. People think, “I can never become like him”, but why not? He was telling people that ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.’ It is a truth for all human beings.”

I have news! The school where I teach (Gisborne Secondary College) have kindly allowed me to do an album launch in the Drama Room on 6th November. With this event just two weeks from now, it’s all systems go for posters and press-releases, and planning! This is the first time I have ever done a “proper” album launch in my life so it’s a pretty intense and interesting time right now…!

For the past six or seven months or so I have been practising hard with one aim in mind: to be able to perform my songs with confidence and learn some cover songs for variety at the album launch (and afterwards too, hopefully!). I had no idea how hugely time consuming all this would be, but singing makes me happy and there is the motivation to share my songs and take each opportunity as it comes.

My first chance to play in front of a crowd this year came on the festival of Gurupurnima, when I was asked to play at Kashi Kriya Yoga Centre back in July. Although I was still making a handful of mistakes whilst running through the ten backing tracks of the new CD, I jumped at the opportunity. Having not performed in front of more than a handful of people for about 18 years, I was shaking in my boots and feeling a total newbie at all this again.
Several interesting lessons were learned that day about the art of performing. The observations were duly recorded in my diary, and I’d like to share them all in due course. For now, this was the first:

A Lesson in Awareness:
I was supposed to give a mini-concert before lunch but circumstances ruled otherwise, so I ended up being the ‘background music’. By the time I started playing, everyone was chatting away happily over a delicious meal. No problem.

But as you have seen from Guruji’s talk, we learn in yoga to observe thoughts in the mind and analyse where they are coming from. And after a while during my performance I distinctly heard my rather worried mind saying, “If they are talking, it means they are not listening.” (I figure it must have come from the teacher part of my brain!) Then a few minutes later, “Maybe they aren’t listening because they don’t like it…?” Well, believe it or not, it didn’t strain my brain to figure out that Mr. Fear of Rejection was trying to gatecrash the party with Mr. Lack of Confidence!

Anyway, after all that chit-chat in my mind, it was quite a pleasant surprise to hear at the end that everyone had not only heard the music but also enjoyed it. And it was encouraging to think that confidence lost might be won back again in steps and stages. All in all, a good thought to ponder over the coming weeks…!