Finding our inner center in the new year

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Every spinning wheel has a center that is still. Maturity is about discovering that unmoving center in the wheel of life, writes Param Srikantia. Published on on January 10, 2021. logo

Spinning car wheel
Image credit: Saed Hindash | For lehighvalley

The words of Damien Barr ring so true: “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us differently based on our life’s circumstances. The challenges we face are both unique and yet similar.

Globally, the pandemic has unleashed social isolation (loneliness from social distancing), powerlessness (recognizing that our destiny is not in our own hands) and meaninglessness (the loss of meaning and a sense of confusion from the colossal disruption of our lives).

Hopefully, the worst is behind us. Yet, the damage from the pandemic could unravel over decades. Inspired by the legacy of the Indian mystic Osho, who left behind over 2,000 books on creatively responding to life’s challenges, let’s explore one approach to develop resilience.

Circumference and Center: Like a wheel rotating at 70 mph down the freeway, our daily lives appear to be spinning wildly, with stressful work, Zoom meetings and anxiety about the future. But as Osho said, every spinning wheel has a center that is still. Maturity is about discovering that unmoving center in the wheel of life.

How do we do this? Normally, we forget ourselves and are lost in activities that make up our day. We need to grow our capacity for witnessing, to not just act but also to observe ourselves without judgment.

When we learn to watch our thoughts and feelings as if they are clouds floating through our inner sky, we don’t get sucked into the stress that our minds create.

Even for those with zero interest in meditation, there is something very simple, practical and freeing in the process of witnessing. If you can just relax with eyes closed, you will experience what feels like the “inner sky.”

In your inner sky, start watching the constant flow of thoughts and feelings. Never try to clear your mind of thoughts or feelings. Let them come and go. Don’t argue with them or agree with them. Just become a pure witness as if they are clouds floating by.

Let feelings of fear, sadness and joy also come and go. The watcher in us is the center while the crazy, everyday world (including the traffic jam of thoughts/feelings) becomes the circumference of the spinning wheel.

Even when setbacks occur, you can keep watching the drama of life without it harming the watcher in you. Osho says we often watch a movie as if it’s real life. He challenges us to do the reverse – to watch our real life as if it’s just a movie. Even disappointments can make our movie (i.e. life) richer!

Osho’s book, Meditation for Busy People: Stress Beating Strategies for People With No Time to Meditate offers several techniques to achieve peace even during turbulent times.

The next step is of unconditional self-acceptance. You may notice, says Osho, that there is an “internal condemner” in you, constantly criticizing you. Instead, shower love and compassion on yourself for everything you have been through. Celebrate who you are!

Self-acceptance can help reopen our hearts. When our hearts open, we can see the world anew through eyes of love and compassion. Life becomes more peaceful, our problems become lighter and we see life’s beauty.

Our gigantic empire of financial, technological and military superiority was, paradoxically, so fragile that a weightless virus could hurt it. Now, an awakened heart is what will help us heal in 2021.

Param Srikantia aka Deva Anugraha

Param Srikantia, aka Deva Anugraha, is a professor at the Baldwin Wallace University School of Business.

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