Being a modern Indian girl has many advantages, those that come out of having more independence than one’s predecessors. But the concept is still in transition — there are many things we have to tackle that have not changed as quickly as we have. Be it at work or at home, managing expectations, your own and those of others, requires a certain agility of mind that can at times give way to stress and exasperation.
In such times, I find refuge in several quarters, one of them being animation films, which are often surprisingly filled with wisdom. Recently watching Kung Fu Panda 2, I saw Po, the overweight yet agile panda, determined to obey his master’s command to find Inner Peace. Unable to sleep while on the mission, he steps on the boat deck and closes his eyes and chants inner peace several times only to be disturbed by drops of cold water from the boat’s roof! I could so relate to his dilemma because I have been in his place figuratively, as I am sure, have many of you.
In times of stress or confusion, every book, well-wisher or poster I come across speaks of inner peace as the solution. In good times, inner peace helps you to not get overly excited and in bad times it helps you ride the wave with equanimity.
As Indians, we are acutely aware that inner peace is almost an ‘invention’ of our ancestors. We have given the world Yoga, the Vedas, the Gayatri Mantra… we are the ‘connoisseurs’ of peace.
So, where is it for the modern Indian girl?
I must admit I have tried many things to find it. I’ve attended Vedanta classes, religious discourses, and yoga retreats, done massage and meditation holidays, tried destiny workshops, and read authors from Brian Weiss to Thoreau. I have looked hard for the mentor promised in the Chinese saying ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will arrive’.
Many times I have left a class only to be greeted by my fellow seekers in the anteroom talking of housemaid problems. The contrast between what I was seeking and the urban world I inhabited was an amusing reality. I realised that whatever solution I sought would have to work on this terrain. I cannot retreat into a cave every few days and expect to tide through regular life cheerfully for the rest. It was, in fact, the very things that regular life threw up that tended to throw me off balance.
So I gave up on the ‘try all till you find what fits’ approach and started again. It became a DIY project that I started to enjoy for what it was and one that I continue to work at everyday.
Even for inner peace, working with what you like rather than what has worked for someone else is what gives results. Here are some things I swear by:
Deep breathing 11 times (10 is standard and 1 extra just in case) — for immediate relief
A morning routine (30 minutes at least) preferably before the household wakes up when you can contemplate/ meditate/ read / anything you like
Keeping a diary, where you jot down your favourite quotes and record moments from your life that have made you smile
Reading Bertrand Russell’s Conquest of Happiness — practical and philosophical advice.
Having a ‘Brown Paper Package’ — a goody bag of things that make you happy, photos, music CD, book and a piece of chocolate. Tap into it when you are happy or sad. It works both ways!
Phone a friend.
And the surest method of all — a good night’s rest.