On the third day of my cleanse at The Omega Institute in Upstate New York, I met Dr. ShamRang Singh Khalsa or “Dr. ShamRang.”
I was sitting in a sauna with five guys that worked on campus. In the dimly lit heat, the group was idly chatting, when all of a sudden in walks a distinguished looking man with a full beard and long hair wrapped up high. He proceeded to move to a top bench and sit lotus style with his eyes closed, perfectly erect and still, as he sank into meditation. Conversations came to a halt, as his presence demanded respect. But, just as the noise level ebbed, it flowed and picked back up, as the new person was forgotten for more exciting topics. Coming back to our senses awhile later, one of the exceptionally loud individuals spoke directly to the meditator and said, “I’m sorry if we are messing up your meditation.” Without losing a beat and with no trace of irony or irritation, the bearded Yogi said, “Not at all; you’re part of it.” And went on meditating in the dry heat.
Dr. ShamRang’s response immediately struck me as wise. So often in our daily quest to have everything just right, to eat the best foods and secure plenty of space around our yoga mat, to have a tranquil space to meditate with no distractions, we lose sight of why we do these practices in the first place. We strive to be able to bring our practice off the mat and into the word. What good is a perfect pose or blissed out moment, if we are unable to maintain our sense of calm amidst the noisy fluctuations of the modern world?
Can you stay calm and centered in line, in traffic or on hold? Can you fully embrace what you’re experiencing as a deepening of your meditation, a part of what is happening, or do you do everything in your power to resist it?
Accepting what is happening right now, in the present moment with all its fluctuations and uncertainties, is an integral part of what sages have been pointing to for millennia as the gateway to spiritual realization. The Power of Now! Be Here Now!
Embrace your experience fully: your feelings, your breath, even your anxiousness. And by accepting the loud person talking next to you, you can let go of the resistance and open to the reality of the moment. In doing so, you drop deeper into your meditation (or whatever it is you are doing). Use what is happening instead of denying or resisting it. Who cares if you can sit still for an hour in complete silence, if you can’t be calm when confronting a difficult situation? Everything is connected and the meditation is not meant to live in isolation.
Many of our afflictions are born out of resisting and suppressing unwanted emotions. Only by embracing and moving deeper into the sensations and feelings are we able to let them go and be free. That’s why it’s important to embrace a noise or distraction for what it is: an opportunity to move deeper into the experience of being fully alive.
This week, practice fully embracing the moment by allowing yourself to experience your feelings as they arise. Try not to suppress or encourage emotions of anger, jealousy or sadness, but allow yourself to be with whatever comes up. Let emotions and feelings arise naturally and be expressed—with tears, sound, laughter. This is how we heal and are able to move onto new experiences and life lessons with grace.