Becoming Mindful:Practicing The Presence

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh

It has been a really long time since any new posts have been added to our Nihaal website. Simply because things went through a great change during the lockdown and we were having online webinars and we were simply adding materials from the webinars. Now that we are back to a more or less normal pace although so much has changed, there were requests for more posts. Even though so many of the ‘kids’ using this blogpost are now ‘grown ups’ there are new batches of younger children in the very same place they were a few years back.

I received the following letter from one of the ‘kids’ attending a recent samagam. I have permission to share it anonymously so that the questions/answers asked here could be used as teaching guide for others who may be in similar position.

Dhan Guru Nanak,

I am currently in the process of becoming a pilot. 

Dhan Guru Nanak

Congratulations!  Both for your career path and for reaching out – it takes a brave soul to do so.

Thank you!

As a result of a debilitating back injury during physical training, there have been problems sitting or bending over for long periods and there is constant pain. This makes it near impossible to focus during Simran and sit down during kirtan. At the Ottawa samagam, you talked about giving gratitude for the smallest things like having a back that supports you to sit in kid’s class. That really resonated with me given my current condition and it made me realize how much we actually take for granted.

I am really sorry to hear about the constant physical pain you are enduring and how this is affecting concentration while sitting for Simran and kirtan but may I remind you don’t have to always ‘sit’ to focus or listen to kirtan. Find the most comfortable way – lying or sitting or even standing- important thing is to be comfortable, so that your mind is not frittering away, focusing on the pain. Start with just 5 min of simple mindfulness, gradually bring to mind the glorious omniscient nature of the Divine. Fill the 5 min with gratitude if the mind will not focus.

I’ve been receiving medical guidance but I’m at a stage where I require spiritual guidance as well. For example, how do I practice mindfulness when doing so amplifies the pain I’m feeling in the moment?

As mentioned above – make yourself the most comfortable you can first and then start the process of mindfully reminding yourself about he attributes of PRESENCE. Accept the pain, don’t dwell on it… don’t get carried away with the thought of it. I know – you may say – easier said than done. It’s a process, it will happen slowly but surely. If the mind is still too unruly find another activity in which your mind gets focused. Our thoughts are dissipated in many directions and in order to cultivate and develop their power, they have to be focused to a single point -like sports, painting etc

Essentially mindfulness is becoming aware of what is, in the present moment. There are many things we might become aware of. We might notice our senses, our surroundings, our emotions, our pain, our breath.

We might even practice becoming aware of the stream of thoughts passing through our minds – ideally without getting caught up in them. What is important is that we are aware of what is actually happening in the present moment.

The longer you can stay in the present moment the better.

I joined because I wanted to do something different and out of my comfort zone… because I want to pave the way for people of visible minorities to have equal opportunities in the workplace.

You are certainly out of your comfort zone – and that is wonderful! We become too complacent when we are in our comfort zone. Your intentions are great but always remember to check in within if you are happy doing what you are doing and at what cost?

I sometimes wonder if this is the right place for me being so far from Sadh sangat and surrounded by an often-toxic environment, but at the same time I want to make it a more inclusive space. 

By doing so, am I setting myself back on my own path to Sikhi? 

The most important thing to remember is that you are never far from Sadh Sangat.

In the lekhs on  SANGAT- (KHOJI) explains :

If you can find the time to read through these Gurbani Vichaars – one or two pages at a time, making your own notes – you will begin to understand that you are never far from sangat if you immerse yourself in constant remembrance through the many options available.

At the same time, I have realized that it has made me value sangat so much more. Experiencing discrimination, culture shock, and loneliness, I yearn for sangat and I have become closer with Sikhi. In one of the classes, you spoke about controlling your surroundings. I find it really hard to do -people turn to unhealthy vices to escape the stresses from our everyday lives.

Experiencing discrimination/culture shock/loneliness – are fertile grounds for planting seeds of anxiety and must be examined. If necessary, help can be sought from trained personnel. If you have chosen this path to make a difference – then it begins with sacrifices from you.

Endurance – Acceptance- Resolution-Forgiveness begins with our thoughts.

You have to find all these within yourself by recognizing the Divinity of ALL – OMNIPRESENCE –

Ik Onkar - Wikipedia

in spite of illusory appearances.

Begin each day with these loving thoughts to all who are causing feelings of discrimination. You are in battle grounds but your weapon is not a bullet but thoughts of love.  Sure, you may miss the target but we never leave the grounds until we score!

I feel encouraged to hear you say that you have become closer to Sikhi and you yearn for Sangat?

How wonderful is that? Be grateful for both!

Now let’s examine the motive behind this -Why?

Is it because you have a place to turn to within yourself – to seek help and guidance and you are convinced that    “GURU MERE SANG SADHA HAI NAALEY”?

If this is so, then all I can say is ‘shukar shukar shukar’ – because I know of many who are right in the midst of ‘sangat’ and ‘Sikhi’ but the yearning is not as strong.

So, your conditions have become a blessing to you. You are exactly where you need to be.

I have one spare a week which I use for physiotherapy so I’m often stumped for time. In addition, we have mandatory physical training hours, inspections, and other related activities. I still take out time every day to play my Dilruba as it is one of the only spiritual coping strategies I incorporate to manage stress. But given my lack of resources and time, what can I do to stay on the path to oneness?

Sports, exercises and related activities are all fertile grounds for mindfulness – attention, focus on what you are doing, is in itself ‘mindfulness’. Great! You have SO MUCH time – don’t feel stumped – it’s precisely during these times you take your consciousness on a ride of Presence as you concentrate on the activity at hand with all your heart and soul.

That is meditation.

So dear one these too are your spiritual coping strategies just like playing the Dilruba…wow!! Fantastic!!

I graduate in May, after which I may be sent anywhere across Canada, potentially even farther from sangat. I realize that given my choice of career this may be something I have to adapt to accordingly. I think one of the recurring questions I have is how do I manage without sangat and amongst the wrong sangat, if that is even possible?

I think we have already addressed the question of sangat – who, where, when and how we can and do sangat – please read the Gurbani vichaars attentively. You will then hopefully conclude that you don’t have to manage without sangat at all – yes perhaps of ‘bodily’ sangat but you can always try to attend a samagam wherever and whenever you can.

As for the ‘wrong sangat’ – keep yourself occupied with other things – you do not have to participate with them to be accepted and liked. It is just a fallacy. YOU be the leader.

Make friends who have some similar ways of thought and communicate with them – even if it is online. Read books that keep you grounded.

I understand that these are some complex questions, so I thank you in advance for even reading through a fragment of what I am feeling right now.

If any of the above manages to help you and bring the Presence to your consciousness even in a small measure then it is all due to Him.

Dhan Guru Nanak

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