Q. We live in an image-obsessed society, and gadgets and devices have virtually become an extension of ourselves. How does one create a balance to cultivate peace of mind? For example, I have work responsibilities where I can’t avoid devices, even if I want to. I know it keeps me anxious, but I still can’t help but do anything about it.
Ans: You say, “I know, but I can’t help do anything.” Who knows? Examine it. Who finds it difficult? Who has concluded that something or nothing can be done about it?
Q. It’s me.
Ans: Who is this “me?” From what I see, your mind convinces you that there’s an entity here that cannot do anything about it. If you can observe your mind, you’re much ahead in the spiritual path because beyond the mind is the spirit.
Many people are not even aware of their obsessive thinking and excessive use of the devices. Examine your relationship with the devices.
See how and when you use them. For many years, I compulsively checked my emails multiple times a day. That was the ploy of my mind to avoid uncomfortable feelings that resided in deep trenches in my mind.
In another instance, I would randomly pick up cookies from the shelf and stuff them in my mouth. For many years, that was my way of self-soothing. I did some other stuff that I’d rather not talk about here (laughs). The point is that this unconscious behavior led to a lot of psychosomatic issues.
Q. So, how did you deal with these issues?
Ans: By cultivating discipline without a forced routine. I examined my mind for many years without trying to fight my urges. I never forced my will to change an unhealthy habit. I’ll give you an example.
There was a time when I desperately wanted to improve my physical health cause I had gained weight because of compulsive eating. It had reached a point where it was hurting my bones.
Now I knew that my mind would never stick to a strict workout regimen. It’s a part of my conditioning. I had tried that for years and failed every time.
For some people, that’s easy. It comes naturally to them. But many others struggle with this. Even when I did stick to a routine and lost weight, it all came back with double the amount. Again, we all are different; some naturally adapt while others struggle.
Over time, as I became more aware of my internal state, I could witness my thoughts – all the excuses that the mind would make to avoid working out. So I lied to it, and I continue to do that to this very day. I work out in the evenings on my terrace.
When it’s time, I tell myself, “I’m just going wear my shoes, go up, and come back.” And every time, I end up working out for an hour or so. Sometimes, I do fail. But that’s okay. If I can do it, that’s fine; otherwise, no problem. Many times I would witness myself giving in to a craving.
Witnessing means non-judgmental watching. As you become more aware of your unconscious traits, they begin to lose their hold on you. While you may not be able to exercise willful control every time, the light of awareness itself begins the healing process.
Kundalini heightens this awareness to such levels that the individual, with all his limited thinking and preconceived notions, dissolves into the infinite conscious presence that is felt as unconditional peace or pure love.
All the unconscious patterns simply drop away. The body-mind complex continues with its quirks and habits, but there’s no judgment toward oneself because the limited wave merges and becomes one with the infinite ocean of love.
The petty things that we take so seriously in life lose their grip on us. The Kundalini gives access to the reservoir of infinite potential and brings out the highest creativity.
This creativity is the expression of the divine source expressed through the mind-body organism, but the fear disappears cause there’s no “me” concerned with it.
When fully integrated, we feel the pleasure of our accomplishments but not pride, and at the same time, we also feel the displeasure of our failures, not guilt and shame.
As Nisargadatta Maharaj pointed out, true peace of mind happens when we unconditionally accept duality – a river of life that flows between the banks of pleasure and pain.
Q. If someone is interested in Kundalini Yoga, what should be their approach?
Ans: As I mentioned earlier, one needs to inquire why they want their Kundalini to awaken. Why do you want to wake up the serpent that’s going to bite you (laughs)?
From what I’ve experienced, most people, deep down, want to live in a state of peace and harmony with existence. And for that to happen, one must examine all the concepts.
The thought of moving towards spirituality typically comes to those who have been through a lot of suffering in life. It usually starts with the idea of transcending the “less” to become “more.” And that is a pitfall because it’s the same chase game they’ve been playing in the past.
Earlier it was wealth, fame, and recognition. Now it’s “becoming” spiritual. The idea of self-development is an identification with a perceived self.
In my understanding, self-development work is essential, but only to allow the energy to express itself without friction through the individual mind-body organism and not to enhance the perceived self.
We can never enhance the perceived self because it is fictitious. Although, the ego will keep reinforcing the idea of enhancement cause it fears annihilation.
Let me explain with an example. If you’re passionate about something, such as writing or any creative artistic endeavor, it’s perfectly fine to hone your skills in that area. It’s also okay to feel pleased when people appreciate your work, but it shouldn’t lead to pride and arrogance.
Pride and arrogance arise when you’re too attached to the outcome of your work. In some cases, the outcome may be favorable, and it may not be so in others. When you let go of the sense of doership, you relieve yourself from the load of the outcome.
Therefore, the approach to Kundalini Yoga should be similar. Suspend your sense of doership and let the energy do its work. This book is an expression of the divine energy that chose a mind-body organism called Jagjot.
That said, in all honesty, I’m going to be pleased when people appreciate this work and also disappointed when they don’t, but it’s not going to lead me to either pride or guilt, respectively.
By doing self-development work such as Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, HIIT workouts, and developing writing skills, I’m only removing blockages to facilitate the unobstructed flow of energy and not enhance my sense of personal identification.
We’re not the doer of our actions. All phenomenality is the interplay of energy. If you approach Kundalini from this perspective, you’ll spontaneously open up your energy channels.
Honestly, I’m never concerned about Kundalini; having fully functional energy channels is more than sufficient to live a peaceful life. If the energy has to rise, it will do so of its own accord. It has no obligation to serve the fantasies of the mind.
Q. What do you think about Tantra Yoga?
Ans: I don’t know anything about Tantra. As I mentioned earlier, there are many paths to the same destination. I have learned that many Yoga practices are prevalent nowadays, especially in the West, like beer Yoga, nude Yoga, cannabis Yoga, orgasmic meditation, etc. Have you tried any of these?
Ans: I proposed the idea of orgasmic meditation to my wife. She wasn’t thrilled (laughs).
Q. What are some of the safe practices one can perform not to trigger the Kundalini but maintain chakra health?
Ans: Please don’t look at Kundalini as something dangerous. This energy helps us live to our full potential. There is no doubt that Kundalini rising is life-transforming.
The only challenge is that one needs to have a harmonious mind (Sattva) to facilitate unrestricted movement of energy. Kundalini may awaken anytime, irrespective of your practice.
It’s only a problem when the mind is highly turbulent. The idea is to live consciously with as much awareness as possible.
When you start living with awareness, you’ll notice the covert ego mechanisms to seek validation to self-perpetuate. The understanding will dawn on you as this awareness deepens.
And what is this understanding? A quote from Buddha that Ramesh would often recite in his talk is, “Events happen, deeds are done, consequences happen, but there is no individual doer thereof.”
This understanding, in my opinion, is far better than any abstract idea of enlightenment that is the projection of the ego. I don’t know if the above quote was indeed Gautama Buddha’s words, but it perfectly summarizes the understanding.
I don’t have a set of fixed practices, but I’ll give you a few pointers for a conscious living since you’ve asked. Please note that you are not to force yourself to perform the following activities. Let them happen naturally, as and when the awareness happens.
When you push too much, it’s just your ego trying to convince itself that it’s doing the work that will lead to a favorable outcome (whatever it desires). It’s not about “doing.” It is about living in the moments of awareness as they arise in your consciousness. These moments of understanding will increase in duration with time.
Here’s a small list of pointers:
- Remind yourself to take deep breaths every now and then and relax. Don’t put reminders on your smartphone. Let it happen naturally.
- When you feel anxious, suspend all activity and stay still with complete attention to the uncomfortable feeling (not the thought). Notice all the sensations and bodily discomforts without resisting. Again, please don’t force it.
- Try to spend some alone time in nature without gadgets or other distractions.
- Rest in the thought of “I AM” whenever the awareness kicks in. Not that I am this or that, but just the I-sense. Over time this creates a sense of separation between the contents of experience and the “I” or “me” experiencing the objects. It is also known as “residing in the being, or your natural state.” The I-thought stands alone by itself without identifying with an object of experience. It is the impersonal aspect of consciousness that leads to the final realization or understanding. It’s a constant that exists in both waking and deep sleep.
- The final pointer is to self-investigate if all the actions you perform during a day are really your doing. Did “you” think, or did the thought arise in your consciousness? Even when you meditate and experience the bliss of silence or emptiness, who’s experiencing it? What’s the background of all experiences? Investigate that!
Other than the above pointers, you can practice meditation, Yoga, Pilates, aerobic exercises, cardio, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), pursue hobbies and interests, work on a social cause, and so forth.
Allow exhaustion of body and mind to have a sound sleep. If you need help building a routine, read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Please remember that all of the above activities are only to fine-tune the instrument (mind-body complex) for energy ascension. So don’t get fixated on any one particular activity. There was a time when I was fixated on meditation.
No doubt it has helped me tremendously, but there’s a pitfall here that one needs to be careful of. I lacked the flexibility to sit in meditation for long hours from the very beginning.
After reading some spiritual literature, I convinced myself that spending long hours practicing meditation was the key to liberation or final understanding. So I used to force myself to sit in uncomfortable positions (lotus), which almost cost me my knees.
You see, the mind is very tricky. If you measure your progress in any practice, the mind will adapt to your timings and convince you that you’re making progress.
It will remain silent during meditation, but the thoughts will rush when you open your eyes and get up. It may even show the most blissful states, but all of that is temporary. Your true nature does not reveal itself as an experience in time.
Any state – even the absence of thoughts that you notice in meditation is an object created by the mind. Nisargadatta Maharaj would say that one can “know” the self through negation. Examine the I-sense and its relationship with the objects of experience.
Are you the thoughts? Or do the thoughts happen? Are you the feelings? Or do the feelings happen? When you witness, you repeatedly see these arising, playing, and disappearing, and hence, you realize that you cannot be your mind as its contents are impermanent.
I’m not saying that meditation is useless. I practice meditation myself. But don’t get fixated on a single practice or the outcome.
When you learn to reside in your natural state, the chakras open effortlessly, and the energy moves without friction. It is perhaps the safest way to raise energy.
The whole point of meditation is not to become a good meditator but to make the meditator disappear. The truth does not reveal till there’s a meditator meditating in the hope of discovering it.