Welcome back and congratulations to everyone who took part in my two-week challenge! I hope you enjoyed it and gained new insights. The title of my last blog was “A culture of Silence”, and after reading it, you might have wondered about my use of the term. Isn’t this expression used to describe a toxic environment which enables abuse and silences victims? Indeed, it is. However, by now, you probably have an idea about the reason why I used this particular term.
What is commonly described as “a culture of silence” can only exist because of the communication gap between individuals, and a widespread emotional disconnection. Imagine that we were all deeply connected to our emotions and that we would communicate authentically. In that case, we would be building strong relationships and deep connections with each other daily. Do you think that it would be possible in such a society to ignore the suffering of victims, let alone enable abuse of any kind?
Compassion and empathy are at the heart of a healthy community, and it starts with ourselves. We can’t empathise or experience connection with each other, unless we are aware of ourselves - of the needs, fears, desires, thoughts, feelings and emotions that swirl under the surface. We can only build a better world if we first create a better relationship with our own body, mind and soul.
The understanding of the importance of having a good relationship with oneself to relate to others in a balanced way has been spreading for quite a while now. In the past year or so, the term “Self-care” has been appearing more and more often on social media, in book titles and other publications. Being busy to the point of exhaustion used to be a matter of pride for many, while taking care of one’s physical and emotional needs was looked down upon. It was considered self-serving, even egotistical. Now, the tide is turning, and the expression “You can’t pour from an empty cup” has become commonplace.
However, what does self-care really mean? Spontaneous associations of the term are often things like taking a bubble bath, eating your favourite food, spending time alone, going on a holiday, treating yourself to something special etc.
While I think that getting enough rest, prioritising your health, and spending time on activities you enjoy is undoubtedly part of a good self-care routine, I wonder. Is that all there is? Does such a view on self-care go far enough?
I consider it to be a good start because it means that you think how you feel, you get in touch with your body and reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Your focus is starting to turn inwards, and a journey of self-discovery is beginning. But I would urge you not to be like the swimmer who paddles in the shallows and never ventures out among the waves and into the depths below.
For me, self-care is a phase of healing on your spiritual journey. When self-abandonment has led to a way of life that goes against your nature, it eventually causes a crisis. We are forced to get real and be honest with ourselves by answering questions like: do I lead a life that is congruent with my hopes, dreams and values? Am I happy? What went wrong? At what point did I buy into someone else’s idea of what is important? Answering those questions with honesty, but without judging or condemning yourself is the key to healing. It means taking charge of your life, your decisions and the resulting consequences. The ultimate form of self-care is self-empowerment: taking your power back by taking responsibility for your choices and actions.
In the context of Naad Yoga, we explore self-care and self-empowerment through the medium of sound and communication. It can look like this:
You wake up feeling out of sorts, and the thought of getting up and facing your day makes you turn over, pull the blanket over and go back to sleep. You will either be late or, if you rally at the last moment, you will be stressed and frustrated for the rest of the day.
Instead of going back to sleep, a Naad Yogi would ask the question: what is it about this day that makes me feel so overwhelmed and anxious that I want to run and hide? The answers to those questions will give you a choice of options.
Now, imagine that the reason for your feelings of anxiety is a meeting with a person who makes you feel small, helpless and incompetent. You can explore the relationship, the triggers for your feelings and over time and decide how to deal with the imbalances in the relationship. But right at this moment, you need a way to overcome the emotional block and get out of bed. If you already have studied Naad Yoga for some time, you can pick one of 60 Raags which best addresses your emotional distress and counteract feelings of helplessness and insecurity. Good options for this would be Raag Asa, Raag Asa Kafi and Raag Dhanasri. However, if you are still a novice to this ancient science, you can pick any piece of music that instils in your feelings of confidence, strength, and trust. The critical step here is to stop, shift your focus inwards and listen. Once you understand what is behind the feelings in your body, the thoughts in your mind and the emotions flowing through you, then you can empower yourself by making a conscious choice.
Naad Yoga is so much more than just chanting Mantras to feel spiritually elevated and serene for a while, just as self-care is more than bubble baths and candles.
I invite you to continue to explore and observe the reality you are creating through your communication. Don’t be satisfied with easy answers, dig deep and listen hard: there is an entire universe concealed within, just waiting for you to discover it. Always remember that you can change the world through your choices and the power of your voice. You are not powerless.
I will dive deeper into the world of Naad and the Alchemy of Sound next time, so stay tuned!