Dr. Henry Gregory, Jr.
“Treat your mind as if it were your child, lovingly but firmly guiding it in the proper direction. That training has to be done with patience, humor and resolute strength! Mind is capable of running off if it is not attended to properly! Like an errant child, it can suddenly get lost in whatever chaos surrounds it. “ Shree Vasant
I met a man the other day in a workshop who declared that he knew everything about himself. As the workshop, which was on communication, proceeded, he went on, through his actions, to communicate his anxieties. His intensities, sensitivities, and priorities made it more and more difficult for others to receive his messages as he was much more invested in being heard than in listening to the messages his fellow participants were trying to give to him. Even after the workshop he followed some members to the car, still trying vainly to make his point.
The point is that without a connection that comes from listening and attending to the other, true communication is not possible. The fellow thought that he was communicating, but in actuality he wasn’t. Communication requires a connection. It is the same with people as it is with technology. The connection is the first piece and it must be maintained in order for clear and effective communication to occur.
So, what is it that breaks connection? How is it compromised? What are the barriers to true communication?
Let’s put it this way – One cannot communicate any better to other people than one can with oneself. Communication with the self is a byproduct of inner connection between one’s body, mind and spirit.
If we look at the body as the vehicle, the mind as the tool, and the spirit as the essence, it becomes clearer that a harmonious connection between the three optimizes our functioning. For example, many of us have experienced the distraction that physical pain or dysfunction can bring into one’s life. It becomes difficult to focus and attend when you are hurting physically. That’s why it becomes so important to maintain physical tapas i.e. regular movement, healthy diet, proper rest, to keep the body fit for connection with mind and spirit. Internally, healthy bodily functioning might be considered to be effective communication between the organs, fluids, and structure of the body.
The mind has two major components, the cognitive and the affective. The task is to have a balanced connection between one’s thoughts and feelings. It is not uncommon for people to suffer because they live in their heads, following their thoughts without the active check and balance that connection to the heart brings. Conversely, one can also be overwhelmed by the emotions if there is insufficient cognitive influence to balance a flood of emotions. It is only by continually listening and attending to these systems that we are able to monitor the mind’s functioning and modify it according to the needs.
At the spirit or soul level, life is always communicating with each of us. Living is an interactive process. Life continually gives us feedback to affirm our direction and decisions or to express caution and encourage examination when needed. “Sometimes clearly, sometimes not so clearly,” life sends us messages. Our ability to receive these messages depends on the shape we’re in, our focus and our ability to indulge in the subtleties of listening.
“Mind is quite capable of efficiency in action, but it also requires that its counterparts, body and spirit, be in balance with it, so that all act as one force to achieve the goal. Body has to be tended like a flower, fed, nourished, given water and rest. Spirit has to be fed as well, via meditation and self-study.” Shree Vasant
Listening is both art and science. It requires vulnerability, openness and courage. Vulnerability is the willingness to be touched or influenced. When we have “made up our minds,” we are not as available to influence. It is really a protective or defensive mode. Genuine openness requires surrender, i.e, “Thy will be done.” Courage is required because everything has a price, a cost. Being open to life’s influence may require us to change priorities and/or behavior in order to be consistent with life’s messages. Courage is necessary because when we hear, “Ask and it shall be given,” there is a part of us that will ask, “Yes, but what will I have to give up?” It takes courage to live freely, unattached to outcomes.
Life is communicating with us all the time.
It is in the interactions, it is in the wind, it is in the synchronicities.
Life is continually unfolding and it wants us with It.
What does it cost? Nothing but our security in what we think we know.
I’ve heard it said that, “Prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God.” Meditation is a listening process. When we train our minds in stillness, it becomes possible to listen more consistently within. It becomes more possible to tune in and connect to Life’s continual messages. Agnihotra is an aid, a tool. As such, it helps clear away pollution, static and distraction that interferes with our ability to listen, and genuine connection is more possible. Agnihotra will intensify the connection with whatever the mind is focused on during the process.
It becomes our choice whether or not we actually listen or just sit and space around. I am not suggesting that we fight with our restless minds, only that we gently work to discipline our minds so that meditation becomes a reality. Remember, meditation is not something you do; it is a state or byproduct that results from our efforts at concentration, contemplation and focus. Shree Vasant used to say, “Make the effort and let the Divine do the rest.”
Exercise: Pain is the body communicating problems, dysfunction and its effort to correct some situation. Our normal response is to resist pain, and often we unconsciously communicate our disdain to the area that is hurting. We even try to get disconnected from that area. For a moment or two, focus on the area that is hurting and send messages of gratitude to that area for its effort to communicate and correct the condition. Send waves of thanks to the painful area and see if you don’t notice a difference, even if only temporarily.