Sadhana for Week 21
Body Level: Walk Alone
Everyday spend atleast 15-30minutes in a walk alone in nature. Have no other distractions. Be with nature.
Artificial charms are harmful and ephemeral,
Natural beauty alone is beneficent and lasting.
If you cannot enjoy your own company, why inflict it on others?
During Poojya Gurudev’s Swami Chinmayananda’s study under Swami Tapavanam, it had become a practice for them to move up to Gangotri for summer and then come down to Uttarkashi/Rishikesh during winter.
These journeys were very special to Gurudev. Often along the way Swami Tapavan would stop and point out, “Look at those clouds Chinmaya! So beautiful is all of nature. How can anyone not believe in the grace and beauty of the Lord when they see his form manifested in this wonderful world of nature.”
Poojya Gurudev later wrote of those blissful days with his Guru:
When we used to move back and forth from Uttarkasi to Gangotri, Swamiji would often stop abruptly in the trail, alert and thrilled, tense and silent. I watched him – now lost in wonder at the snow peaks, now aghast at the thundering laughter of the Ganga in her panting speed – even a long, tailed tiny bird fluttering across the path was sufficient to tickle Swamiji into a visible rapture. At these times he would bathed in a vivid glow of joy, whispering silently his homage to the Creator.
During his pilgrimage to the holy centres in Himalayas Poojya Gurudev took great delight at the awesome beauty of nature there: the rushing, leaping rivers, the snow-capped mountains, and the flower decked meadows. At the end of the first week, he wrote in his journal –
As we turned the corner, we suddenly heard the familiar music-the inimitable, celestial music of the Ganga as she rolls over the rugged rocks, just a loop of green water gurgling in silver form, but sufficient to refresh the tired pilgrim and to bring into him a feeling of exultation and utter peace. Automatically the pilgrim stops, leans on the mossy mountainsides, gazes across the tall pine groves and, drinking in this strange nectarine happiness, is refreshed beyond words. The music soothes away his exhaustion. Wave upon wave of the mountain breeze gently takes away his weariness.
Why walk alone?
Swami Chinmayananda would often suggest – “Walk Alone” to the youth and elders who would attend his spiritual camps at Sidhabari, near Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. There would be a specific time set aside in the schedule for it and he would instruct everyone to strictly walk alone and not in groups and reflect on the teachings of the camp or be quiet while being in nature
Often “alone” and “lonely” are confused and used incorrectly to mean one and the same. Aloneness is different from loneliness. “Alone” is to be by oneself, feeling complete, fulfilled and happy in one’s own company. This is called solitude. While “lonely” is the feeling of emptiness, incompleteness, the need for another to fill in the void.
One can be “alone” in a busy market place full of people or in solitude. One can also be lonely sitting amongst friends. There is a difference – it is in the attitude of the mind.
Most of us cannot be with ourselves for even 2 minutes. We will either be engaging with someone or something like a gadget – cell phone, laptop, TV. To be able to sit quietly with oneself without any thoughts or action is the highest sadhana. In such a quiet and alert mind, subtle truths are revealed.
Our first step towards this sadhana is to be able to spend some time with ourselves without any external dependency. Walking, other than being a good form of exercise that will increase the supply of oxygen in our brains, is an action that can help us connect with ourselves easily and without causing duress. It is very easy to practice.
Why amidst nature?
“The mighty Himalayas seemed to symbolize the almighty himself,
And the Ganga looked as if she were overflowing with milk.”
Pilgrimage is a very powerful means of self-purification; for if the pilgrim has eyes and ears to watch and experience the beauty and majesty of nature, then his capacity to contemplate explodes within himself and he reaches hitherto unknown depths.
- Swami Chinmayananda , 1982
Nature, unlike man, knows only to give, there is no selfishness, expects nothing in return. The sun shines daily spreading light and heat everywhere. Whether we appreciate it (when it is cold) or curse it (when its too hot), it continues to do its duty. The tree gives us shade, yet we stone it to get the fruits. It continues to grow and produce more leaves and fruits, uncomplainingly. The sandalwood tree perfumes the axe that cuts it down!
One need not go on a pilgrimage to experience the beauty of nature. Where one is, while walking if the attention is shifted to all that is around, one can experience the same joy and contentment even in a small sapling, a bird chirping, the sun rising and setting, in the sound of waves, the cool morning breeze, the colors of the sky…..every moment nature is calling out to us, we just have to be quiet within to observe, to listen.
Is this also not a form of escape? Tuning with nature outside slowly turns our attention within and we transform.
1. Decide the time and route for your walk. Choose a place where there are lots of trees, or grass, birds, or the sea, open air space.
2. Wear walking shoes and loose clothing so that you are comfortable and not distracted by foot aches and uneasiness.
3. While walking keep a brisk pace and breathe deeply and consciously.
4. Avoid all gadgets.
5. Look around at the trees, the grass, the sky, at nature. Initially it may seem boring as you may not be used to walking without headphones or a companion. But continue the practice.
Infact you may feel anything but peaceful because the mind is longing for something to do, it is not used to just observing especially nature which appears to be static and mundane.
Slowly after a few days you will enjoy the solitude and come to appreciate small, but beautiful aspects of nature all around like the different colors of the flowers, their soft petals, the fragrance, the way they move in the breeze, the sound of the waves, constant but never the same etc.
1. Connect with oneself.
Most of us are afraid to be just by ourselves, because we get lonely or bored by our own company.
That is because we have forgotten what it is to be – just be.
2. Quietens the Mind
A quiet mind is most powerful for in it comes forth ideas, ideals, solutions etc. Creativity emerges from our core.
3. Manifests true potential
More quiet the mind, more we discover our potential.
4. Unites with the Lord
Once the art of quietening the mind at will is mastered, easier it will be to sit in meditation and contemplate.If one is not able to do that just yet, the joy that one experiences while watching nature helps us appreciate the Creator of the universe, it brings us closer to the Lord.
Beginners and Advanced:
1. Do as advised above.
If you are doing the above you are ready for the next step.
1. Try sitting still at a spot or stop on your route for a few minutes observing something you admire but without any other thoughts or psychological commentaries. Eg. watching the sun set, watch the sun set moment by moment without commenting on it psychologically or thinking about yourself or some memory.
2. Do this everyday, try and stay still longer everyday.
3. Observe how you feel daily, especially on the day you miss out on your solitude time.
UNTO HIM OUR BEST