The 'we' mantra

The 'we' mantra
Why are we so stressed out? It’s because we don’t stop thinking about ourselves. Consider these thoughts... “The sun rises and sets, so that I may wake up and sleep.” “The bus hasn’t arrived and I will be late.” “This institution has not paid my dues.” “The shopkeeper spoke rudely to me.” However, as a wise cat said, “Where there’s a ‘me’, there’s an ‘ow’!”

This all-about-me attitude keeps us disturbed, tense and edgy all the time. By seeing things so subjectively, as if nobody and nothing else exists, we destroy our mental and physical health. Sure, pills calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, reset heart rhythm, alleviate headaches, but… we still need to get out of ourselves.

We try to de-stress. We eat, shop, accumulate things and go on vacations, when what we truly need is a vacation from our ego. It’s possible to de-stress in two simple steps.

Step 1: Think of others compassionately. The bus is late because the driver may have rushed his sick child to the hospital. The institution is probably short-staffed and holding up everybody’s dues. The ceiling of the shopkeeper’s house may have collapsed. Compassion instantly cools your fevered insides and mellows the situation.

Step 2: Find a heart to bless and cherish people. Remember, we all want to be happy, and our well-being depends on the well-being of people around us. The great poet Rabindranath Tagore called it dharma — “that principle which holds us firm together and leads us to our best welfare.” Stepping away from self-absorption, will free you from your ego, making you a lot less hassled and a lot more at ease. That’s what the great poet-sage Rumi meant when he wrote, “I prayed for change, so I changed my mind.” When you step out of yourself, you relax, exude goodwill; you see, not seek, create not crave, flow not hoard.

When your spirit moves out of the egocentric world, the small easily-disturbed sense of entitlement is replaced by a great easily-awed sense of celebration. You celebrate a tree. You celebrate music. You celebrate people. You look at the sunrise and sunset with newly-awakened eyes and intellect. You see a great, grand plan silently at work, and you discover that you are a small part of it. It’s not humbling, it’s exhilarating. You experience a deep sense of belonging, feel at peace, in harmony with something that is neither external nor internal, but magnificently eternal.

Recently, I met a gentleman on the London tube. He said he was 92 and off to Oxford Street. “That’s too crowded,” I told him. “Bond Street is better.” He replied, “I prefer Oxford Street. Seeing so many people walking energetically and briskly fills me with energy.”

I marvelled at this gentleman’s wisdom — to choose to belong rather than to isolate himself from others. And I was flooded with this beautiful insight — that the blessing of wholeness is always present, always ours to claim. And we can claim it daily by simply forgetting every 24 hours our little worries that isolate us. It’s a fantastic practice to live by. Just exchange the divisive thoughts of the separate ‘me’ for coherent thoughts of engaging in wholeness.

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