Shifting the moody life

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

This life is a rare opportunity to make the most of the great.

Have you been through difficult times that make you question whether this life is really worth it? Let me tell you, it is. Trust me, this life is worth it.

Some days, the alarm clock goes off and I just don’t want to get out of bed. I am weighed down by all the work that I still have to get done, all the demands that are pressing on my shoulders and all the hopes and dreams I am burdening myself with.

But then I am reminded of all the greatness that I am surrounded by. The wonderful people who light up my life. The fun work that I am able to do. The energising sunlight I can enjoy and the refreshing air I can breathe.

When I am reminded of all that, suddenly the troubles of life seem to no longer weigh heavily on my shoulders. Suddenly I feel ok about getting out of bed. Suddenly I look forward to starting my day.

Wash away the pain

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When the pain of loss feels too much to bear, wash it away by getting in touch with water.

Life’s overwhelming emotions

With any kind of loss in life, the emotions that arise can become overwhelming. You may feel lost and confused. Or angry and resentful. Or guilty and distressed.

Perhaps all you want to do is hide under the sheets or run down the street shouting and screaming.

This is understandable and will pull your mind in one direction and your heart in another. It will feel like you’re being torn apart, right down the middle.

But there is something simple that will settle the inner turbulence, just when you need it the most.

One thing that has always brought me great calm is getting in touch with the calming force of water.

Water washes away the pain

Last year I was running a business with a very close friend. The business wasn’t working out and we mututally decided to end it and focus on other things.

At the end of one of our closing business meetings, I was hit with a variety of powerfully negative emotions such as guilt, frustration, lack of self-respect and lack of self-acceptance. As I cowered back to where my car was parked, tears of shame gradually rolled down my face.

Suddenly, without warning, the heavens opened up and heavy rain poured down. As the rain got heavier and heavier, visibility reduced more and more. I paused, stood tall, closed my eyes and let the water fall on my hair, my face, my clothes and what felt like every last inch of my body.

I could hear the heavy raindrops crashing on the tarmac. I could feel the coolness of each drop of water that landed on my skin. I could smell the green grass as it allowed the rain to quench it’s thirst. I could see the rain create a film between me and the world, almost as if it was protecting me from the worldly suffering.

As the drops of rain water gushed across my face, they merged with the tears streaming from my eyes. As each raindrop fell on my face, I gradually felt lighter and lighter. Each drop that fell on me slowly and surely cleared away every last bit of my pain.

I stood there, on the pavement at the end of the road, totally drenched, but more alive than ever before.

This is the cleansing power of water.

Getting close to water

Whenever you feel the overwhelm of emotions, you don’t have to wait for the thundering gods to unleash the heavy rain. Consider some of the following ways to get in touch with water to bring calm into your life.

  • Sit by a lake or stream: Just sit by a calm gentle lake and let your mind settle on that peaceful setting, or allow your feelings and thoughts to flow along with the stream.

  • Water the flowers in your garden: Get a bucket or turn on the spinkler and treat your garden to some much deserved water. Quench it’s thirst. Give water to help another life live with less suffering. Through that, heal your own.

  • Take a hot shower: Perfect for waking up to commence a new day or wash away the distressing emotions you are carrying with you.

  • Have a warm bath: Run a bath, add your favourite scented bubbles, perhaps a yellow rubber duck and immerse yourself into the cosy gentle sensation of a warming bubble bath. As you settle in the warmth, let your troubles lift away.

  • Wash the dishes: This one never fails me. It gives me a clear task to focus on, lets me play with water, and each dish I scrub, rinses away another troubling emotion.

  • Install a water feature at home: You can buy a small electrical powered water feature to have within the home, or have one built in your garden outdoors, creating your own mini-haven at home.

  • Imagine a waterfall: Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting near or under and flowing waterfall. Let each drop quench your inner thirst for peace, love and happiness.

  • Listen to the flowing water: Download the sound of flowing water and play it on your computer or music device. Better still, lay on your bed, gently close your eyes, and play the sound, while drifting to another land where your troubles have faded away.

I hope each of these watery ideas help you find greater calm just when you need it the most in your life.

To be an ocean of love

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

This one’s to all the ladies who calmly endure pain and hardship, and to their husbands who lovingly care for their wife’s every single need — I salute you.

We’ve had a bereavement in the family. My wife’s aunt (we’ll call her ‘masi’) passed away at the age of 51. She had been facing an ongoing battle with cancer for many years. Masi leaves behind her husband (we’ll call him ‘masa’) and a 17 year old son.

At the prathna sabha — a prayer meeting where the community come together to take strength from detachment-cultivating songs and pay their condolences to the family — members of the family and community spoke about masi’s life and her virtues.

Samta bhaav: calmly enduring the ups and downs of life

Masi’s cancer was advanced. It had gotten into her bones and affected every part of her body. She was constantly in so much pain and yet her focus was clear. She knew she needed to remain calm, stay strong, persevere and raise her son to become the wonderful young man he is today.

In Jain dharma, there is a term known as “samta bhaav”. It means to have a feeling of calmness and peace in any given situation. It means to have equanimity regardless of the pushes and pulls and ups and downs of life.

Samta bhaav arises from a knowing that everything around us is merely temporary — it will come and go as appropriate, based on the knots we have bound to ourselves through our previous behaviours. Those knots we have bound in the past bring rise to these present situations in our life.

Samta bhaav is a feeling that arises as a result of knowing in the depths of our heart that we are wholly responsible for the situations that are manifesting in our lives right now. Our present behaviours — the way we endure the situations we face — will determine the knots we bind and the subsequent situations that present themselves to us.

Masi, through the day-to-day endurance of physical pain, demonstrated samta bhaav to us.

Despite what she was going through, she would have a smile on her face and not let talk about her medical condition dampen the vitality of her life and her family.

We can take inspiration from that, learn to ease our own suffering and eventually free ourselves from our own self-made traps.

Pyaar ka saagar: being an ocean of love

During the prathna sabha, there was a devotional song performed, titled ‘Tu pyaar ka saagar hain’ (external links: music video; lyrics translation).

The song expresses devotion towards the great souls who have experienced their true limitless inner bliss and freedom from suffering.

These great souls are an ocean of love, overflowing with compassion. We look to them to give us just one drop of love (from that ocean of love) to quench our thirst, our thirst for freedom and ultimately cure our otherwise endless suffering.

Pyaar ka saagar means ‘ocean of love’. By taking a drop from the ocean of love, may we also be free to fly across our own ocean of suffering.

During the words from family members shared at the end of the prathna sabha, masi’s eldest brother spoke briefly about masi’s virtues and then directed our attention towards masa (masi’s husband) — an embodiment of ‘pyaar ka saagar’, an ocean of love.

Masa, in all these years, stood firmly next to masi, taking care of her every single need. From the ups and downs, the holidays and the hospital visits, and everything in between, he was right there, by her side, supporting masi through the journey.

He would work hard at the office all day and then tend to masi in the evenings and throughout the night. He is someone who clearly understood his duty and continued to diligently fulfill it.

Masa personified an ocean of love by consistently being at masi’s side, helping her endure what life presented her with.

Striving to be an ocean of love

As the upcoming years and decades unravel, I hope that my wife never has to suffer any physical pain, emotional turmoil or mental anguish.

But if she has to face any of this, then I hope I have the strength, stamina and diligence to care for her every need and soften her day-to-day suffering.

I look towards masa, my father, grandfather and other great men out there, and seek to become an ocean of love just like them.