Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joy Cures All!

A few days ago I was reading a small book on a British man’s life-transforming visit to Mt. Arunachala, the home of the Sri Ramana Marishi, who lived there until his death in 1950. Ramana was reknowned for his inner joy and light, which he shared through silence. As I read on, I particularly enjoyed the detailed description of life in the small town of Tiruvannamalai, at the base of the sacred mountain, because I spent a couple of weeks there earlier this year with my son Stuart. The little book allowed me to relive some of my wonderful experiences there.

Among the many treasured experiences amidst days of meditation was a magical event that occured while passing by the portrait of Ramana positioned in a chamber of the Ashram in which he spent many years of his life.

After morning meditation in a cave in the mountain, the chamber in which Ramana lived for several years, I was feeling particularly happy and light spirited. At the end of the walk down the mountain, passing monkeys and pilgrims along the way, I stopped at the ashram for a cool walk through it's stony chambers - it was hot outside.

As I passed the portrait of Ramana he suddenly became three dimensional, as though he was lifting off the canvas, and smiled at me. I stopped, blinked my eyes a few times and looked again. Again, he lifted off the canvas smiled and winked. A smile to match his spread across my face as I thought "he's having some fun with me!" Joy filled my heart.

A few days later I mentioned to Stuart what had happened and he told me that another person we developed a friendship with while in Tiru, Michael,  had the same experience. He had asked Stuart not to tell anybody, lest they think he was crazy. My smile turned into a laugh.

A few months later I met with Amit Goswami for an interview. Off camera we were speaking of Mt. Arunachala and Ramana. He said that a devotee of Ramana was said to have cried out in despair to his master Ramana, who was now on his deathbed, “Please do not leave us.” To which Ramana reportedly said “And where would I go??” Amit followed by telling me that it was known that at least some part of Ramana still resides at the sacred mountain assisting in the transformative process of the thousands of people who make pilgrimages to Arunachala each year.

Back to the little book. As I was finishing the last pages a sudden heavy trance-like state came over me. I could not resist as it became more and more difficult to keep my eyes open, so I put the book down and said “Okay, if there is something for me to see, show me.”

After a minute or two of sitting passively with no thoughts I began to experience a feeling of deep joy in my heart such as what I experienced during my days at Mt. Arunachala. It became so strong that I thought I would have to get up and move around to release some of the energy, but I could not get up or even open my eyes. A minute or so later I began to see that this feeling in the heart of pure joy was the cure-all for everything.

I was then shown that if a person can retrieve a moment in their lives when their heart was soft or full of pure love or joy, this feeling could be applied to any other situation. For example, if there was a task that one didn’t enjoy doing, they simply needed to take a few minutes and connect with these deep feelings of joy and then proceed with the task. The net effect is that the neural pathways that create habituated responses to the events and endeavors of our lives would be re-routed to a positive, rather than negative, set of feelings. Brilliant I thought! So simple.

As the tutorial progressed I was shown that each time a person accesses the ‘happy place’ inside, it becomes easier and easier to access this feeling. As the ease builds, it can be applied to feelings that are more challenging or traumatic in nature. Again the result would be to break the old emotional responses by breaking the neural connections that were previously so well entrenched that we no longer had a choice as to our reactions. This habituated type of response happens with each and every one of us. Just listen to my interview with Dr. Joe Dispenza (availalbe Nov. 1st) to understand how this works.

As one example, I saw how applying joy to eating not only changes our choices of what to eat, but helps the body assimilate whatever we do decide to eat with much greater efficiency because of the positive brain chemicals flowing during the eating experience.

At the end of the meditation I thanked whatever guidance, be it my higher self or another of the 'forces that be' (I secretly thought it might have been Ramana visiting) for showing me such an elegant and simple solution to reframing our life’s experience. It was clear, however, that this process takes repetition. That said, it becomes easier to achieve with each attempt and the outcome, whether it’s applied to addictions, over-eating, fears, judgement, performance or anything else, would be well worth the effort. I had learned that joy cures all!

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