Manisha Melwani https://www.manishamelwani.com Knowledge, Inspiration & Tools for REAL Life Solutions Wed, 21 Jul 2021 19:50:44 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 Extraordinary Stories of Healing from Addiction https://www.manishamelwani.com/extraordinary-stories-of-healing-from-addiction/ https://www.manishamelwani.com/extraordinary-stories-of-healing-from-addiction/#comments Wed, 21 Jul 2021 15:59:40 +0000 https://www.manishamelwani.com/?p=19617 After reading my article on divine grace, some people contacted me with their own extraordinary stories of healing and transformation.

Here are stories about the power of prayer that helped two people heal from addiction. The first is the story of Vasiliy, a former alcoholic and drug addict and the second is of Laura, whose prayers healed her mother’s addiction to alcohol.

Vasiliy’s story

The seeds for Vasiliy’s problems with addiction were planted when he first tried smoking pot and drinking alcohol in high school. His occasional forays into these substances led to a serious addiction in the future.

His addiction began in his early twenties. He only indulged on the weekends just to have a good time.

In the beginning, he didn’t think his addiction was a problem. He felt healthy as he exercised regularly, had a job and a girlfriend. And it was still something he did only on the weekends.

But gradually, he became addicted to harder and harder liquor and drugs. The situation dramatically turned for the worse when he started taking cocaine. His money started to disappear, he began to miss his workdays, and he ruined his relationship with his girlfriend of three years.

Eventually, his addiction began to control his life and it took him down a dark tunnel from which there seemed to be no escape. He felt helpless. He never thought that it would come to this. He had always thought he would be able to overcome his habit.

Burnt out matches to symbolic of the consequences of addictionFinally, burnt out by his struggle with his addiction, he admitted that he needed help. It had taken him twelve long years.

He enrolled in the 12-step program of Cocaine Anonymous. There, he was paired with a sponsor who was instrumental in helping him out of his addiction.

Vasiliy told me that once he started on the 12-steps, he realised that this was actually a spiritual program. In the first step, he had to honestly admit that he felt powerless over his addiction and that his life had become unmanageable.

In the second step, his sponsor asked him, “Do you believe that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity?”

Before he answered it, his mind went back to his teenage years when he used to question the meaning of life and its purpose. When he couldn’t find the answers, he escaped into drugs and alcohol. They transported him to another world where everything seemed rich and meaningful.

He also recalled how, in the last year of his addiction, he would often find himself awake in the middle of the night, soaked with his own sweat. He had felt that he couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to die. He would call out to God to help him find peace of mind and control his addiction.

Since he had always felt that there was a God, he answered, “yes” to the second question.

spirit of man in the sky asking fro healingThen, his sponsor asked him the third question. “Are you ready to surrender your will and your life to God as you understand him?” Vasiliy didn’t hesitate. His answer was an immediate, “yes”.

At that time, he didn’t fully understand the implications. It just felt right, and he was desperate to recover. When he surrendered himself to God and sincerely asked for help, the transformation began.

He felt an inner connection that dissolved his many long years of obsession with cocaine. Life suddenly took on new meaning. He felt that up until this point, he had been swimming in the murky depths of a polluted lake and now, he finally surfaced and gulped his first breath of life-giving fresh air.

When the following weekend came, he was surprised that he didn’t feel the usual craving to use drugs. The compulsive obsession for drugs was suddenly absent. This was the first weekend he was sober in over ten years.

The transformation

As he continued to work with his sponsor, more weekends came, and he still remained sober. Such is the power of surrender and divine grace. This was the start of his spiritual journey.

Later, someone directed him to the Self-Realization Fellowship Centre in Toronto. There he found his guru in Paramahansa Yogananda. Very soon, Vasiliy cleaned up his life and started a regular meditation practice.

Although he was on his way to recovery, the road there wasn’t always smooth or easy. There were several times when he became weak and thought he would give in.

But he learned that he didn’t have to struggle to control his cravings; what he had to do was to pray and surrender to God. That gave him the strength to stay sober. He also continued to work with his sponsor, attended the weekly meetings, and meditated everyday.

Today, Vasiliy is a fully recovered drug addict and alcoholic and a certified meditation instructor. You can watch him describe his journey on his YouTube video and connect with him on Facebook.

Laura’s story

Here’s another story of how the earnest prayers helped to heal and transform someone’s life. This is the story of Laura and her mother Brenda*.

Laura remembers being a young child of six when her mother started drinking. Over the years, the habit gradually declined into an uncontrollable addiction. From a glass or two of wine per night, it slowly became a bottle or two.

Brenda’s drinking had always been the cause for much upset in their household. Laura’s father, who was a kind soul, tried to convince her to stop but without success. He suffered from a poor heart and did not have the strength or ability to stop her when she became loud and violent.

By the time Laura was twenty, daily arguments within the family became the norm. One night, Brenda started shouting abuses at her husband and complaining about his family after a long bout of drinking. At that time, he was recovering from a stroke and feeling too weak to respond.

His unresponsiveness and inability to defend himself infuriated her and she started yelling even more. Laura and her older brother, Michael tried to calm their mother down with no success.

Brenda then lifted her glass and was about to throw it at the TV but Michael intervened and firmly gripped her arm.  At that point, Brenda completely lost it. How dare he stop her! “I’m going to call the police!” she growled.  She strode over to the wall where the panic button on the house security alarm was and pressed it continuously until her son pulled her away.

The signal from the panic button summoned the police who arrived within a few minutes. As soon as they entered and saw Brenda and the family, they quickly understood the situation.

Somehow, their presence diffused the tension in the room. They left as they realised this was not an emergency.

Things then became suddenly quiet and the whole family dispersed to their rooms.

Totally shaken up by what had just happened, Laura went to her room where she had set up a small altar for prayer. She kneeled in front of her altar and started sobbing.

“Enough!” she cried. She had had enough of her mother’s drinking. She just wanted it to stop so everyone could live in peace.

“Please, please dear Lord, please do something to help her stop drinking!” she begged. “Please change my mother!” She prayed over and over again.

She spent the next several hours crying, praying and pleading to God to make her mother stop drinking.

Finally, at about four a.m. Laura fell asleep at her altar with a blanket around her.

The miraculous healing from addiction

Later the next morning when Laura, Michael and their father were in the kitchen, Brenda slowly walked in with her head hanging low.

She said she was ashamed of her behaviour and was deeply remorseful. She promised to never drink again. She repeatedly asked her family to forgive her.

They were surprised at her transformation. Their hearts melted on hearing her words. They all hugged and cried together.

It was years before Brenda ever drank again, and when she did, it was always only a small drink. Never did she go back to her old excessive habits.

What had happened?

Nothing had changed since the previous night except for Laura’s heartfelt prayers. Laura firmly believes that God heard her fervent prayers and enacted a miraculous change in Brenda’s mind.

Divine grace

Divine grace is always present, ever ready to flood into our lives. But we have to be ready to ask for it. It doesn’t come unsolicited. Just as we have to draw the curtains to let in the sunlight, we have to pray and ask for help.

man on his knees in surrenderThe beauty of sincere prayer and surrender is that it always invokes divine intervention and help. Vasiliy and Laura both turned to God at a time when there was no other hope.

This is when true surrender happens.

All genuine prayers for healing and transformation are heard and answered. Miracles then happen. This is an unfailing truth.

*not their real names

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A Miraculous Story of Divine Grace https://www.manishamelwani.com/a-miraculous-story-of-divine-grace/ https://www.manishamelwani.com/a-miraculous-story-of-divine-grace/#comments Wed, 23 Jun 2021 16:01:05 +0000 https://www.manishamelwani.com/?p=19572 When we invoke the divine, which is the source of all power, benevolence and love through earnest prayer, grace flows into our lives.

open empty hands with palms up asking for divine graceDivine grace brings many blessings such as peace of mind, inner strength, protection from harm, and freedom from fear and sorrow.

But divine grace does not come unsolicited. It has to be earned through humility and sincerity in our efforts to improve and grow.

For example, a teacher may be more likely to give a couple of extra marks to allow a student to pass a test if she knows that he is sincerely putting in efforts to improve and has come a long way in a particular subject. It will encourage him to keep up his efforts.

A story of divine grace

Here’s a story of divine grace that a dear friend of my mother once told me. Her name was Padma, and I used to address her respectfully as “Aunty”.

Aunty was a kind and gentle soul who had tremendous faith in her guru. She loved and revered him as divinity itself. She once told me a story about how her prayers and faith offered her great protection and solace.

One day, Aunty decided to clean the crystal glasses in her china cupboard. As she was unable to use a stool to reach the top shelf, she asked her granddaughter to climb up and hand her the glasses one at a time. She sat on a chair and wiped them down with a clean cloth and then handed them back.

As they were working together in this way, her granddaughter accidently dropped one of the large, heavy-bottomed crystal glasses. It fell on the tiled floor with a loud crash and smashed into smithereens. In a freak accident, one of the larger glass pieces bounced off the floor and flew directly into Aunty’s left eye, leaving her bleeding profusely and in excruciating pain.

She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors told her that her cornea was badly damaged, and she would likely lose sight in her left eye. She was rushed into surgery to remove the glass fragment.

Silhouette of hands invoking divine grace.After the surgery, as she lay on her hospital bed in tremendous pain, she prayed to her guru. She implored him to relieve her of the pain. With great anguish she asked, “What did I do to deserve this? Am I not sincerely trying to live in your service and faith?”

With such thoughts in her mind, she fell asleep. She had a dream in which her guru came to her, took her hand and together they travelled back in time to when she was a little girl of four in India.

She and her six-year-old brother were playing in the shed when they found an old light fixture lying on the floor. It was filled with twigs and straw and as they peeked in, they saw two newborn baby birds in a nest. Their eyes were still closed, and they had no feathers on their body.

Out of curiosity and childhood innocence, her brother picked up a twig and nudged the babies which then started to rasp and wheeze. He giggled and then poked at the large, bulging eyes of one of the birds which made it cry out loudly. He laughed and poked even more.

Seeing her brother laugh and thinking that this was fun, she too, picked up a twig and started poking the eyes of the other bird. Something inside told her to stop and not hurt the birds, but she didn’t listen.

As Aunty witnessed this scene in her dream, she was horrified at what she had done. She sobbed in pain and remorse. Her guru gently told her, “You blinded both eyes of that bird, I only allowed one of your eyes to get hurt.”

On hearing these words, Aunty immediately woke up. She realised that the accident with the glass was not an accident but something that happened as a result of her past actions. She thanked her guru for his love and compassion. She begged for forgiveness and prayed that she would never hurt another soul ever again.

Later, Aunty told me that even though the surgeon had warned her she would likely be blind in her left eye, she actually did recover an astonishing seventy percent of her vision in that eye. She attributed it all to the grace of the divine, her guru.

When we call upon the divine and surrender in faith, we invoke its grace and protection. Read, 4 Reasons for developing divine devotions on your spiritual path

Staying close to the divine invokes grace

When we keep a constant remembrance of the divine, we are saved from the sorrows that come from our worldly attachments and past karma.

fisherman casting a net while standing inwatern To illustrate this, my guru, Swami Tejomayananda once described a fisherman casting a net in the sea while standing in shallow water. He said that the net would catch the fish that are further away from the fisherman. But those that swim around close to him will not get caught.

Through faith, prayer and righteous living in alignment with the divine, we invoke its grace and benevolence into our lives.

Related articles:
9 ways to develop divine love
How to cultivate faith in the higher power

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Giving—the Greatest Gift https://www.manishamelwani.com/giving-the-greatest-gift/ https://www.manishamelwani.com/giving-the-greatest-gift/#comments Wed, 09 Jun 2021 16:00:01 +0000 https://www.manishamelwani.com/?p=19535 Life is a gift. Giving back out of a sense of gratitude fulfills the purpose of the gifts we have.

Giving from gratitude not only helps others, but also brings blessings in the form of joy and peace within ourselves.

It is because of this that giving is a great gift.

Aside from money and objects, we can share our talents and skills. Small things such as a friendly smile, kind words, a gentle touch, hugs and a listening ear can be great gifts. Even our thoughts expressed as prayers and blessings can help to uplift others.

When it comes to giving, it’s important to remember that how we give matters more than what we give. In other words, our intentions and attitude behind giving are more significant than the gift itself.

The highest form of giving comes out of love and gratitude. When giving is motivated by these noble emotions, it expresses in the following ways:

Signs of the highest form of giving

Giving a sunflower.

1. The giving is unconditional

When the giving is unconditional, you have no desire to gain anything in return. Giving itself is its own reward. You give simply because you want to give. You gain joy and satisfaction from the act of giving and ask for nothing else.

You can help in small but important ways. You may use your computer skills to help someone learn how to use the programs on her device. You may help an elderly neighbour take out his trash every week or babysit for a friend.

And when you give something tangible, you don’t insist that the recipient use it in any particular way. She is free to keep it or not, use it or not, and basically do whatever she likes with it.

In contrast, when giving is conditional, it comes with many expectations—said and unsaid. “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” is the attitude.

The giver offers gifts, services and even flattery so as to gain some monetary rewards, special favors or privileges in return. When the giving is not reciprocated, the giving stops abruptly and the relationship is broken. This is often the case in the business world.

In conditional giving, the giver may insist that the gift be used in a certain way, place or time. For example, if she gives you a vase as a house-warming gift, she expects that you like it and will use it. She may hint that her vase would look perfect on the table beside your sofa, or that it would be more suitable for the flowers you have in another vase.

In unconditional giving, you make no demands whatsoever about how your gift should be used.

2. Once given, the gift is quickly forgotten

When your giving is without strings, your gift is a sincere expression of gratitude, friendship, or love. There is no pride or self-congratulation. You quickly forget what, how much and when you gave.

Young woman giving her attention to an older woman while sitting on a sofaVery often, the recipient or others will have to remind you of your gift. This may happen when you give your time and attention to listen to someone in need of a listening ear and encouragement. You may not think much of it at the time, but the one with whom you shared your time with will cherish your gift and not easily forget it.

On the other hand, when someone gives to get something in return, the giving is never forgotten. She often reminds you and others of her gift, implying that she is waiting for you to reciprocate the favour.

Even if she may not want any tangible reward, expecting praise from others also counts as conditional giving and spoils the joy of giving.

3. Giving is done readily with sincerity and enthusiasm

Another expression of the highest form of giving is that you are eager to give and share. When you find someone to help or a genuine cause to support, you waste no time in giving. You give readily, sincerely and with enthusiasm. You never need to be reminded to give.

However, someone who is not genuine in their desire to help will not readily part with her time, money or expertise.

She will have to be asked many times to give or donate. Even when she agrees, she will keep postponing, making up some excuse or the other. Finally, when she does give, she gives reluctantly, resentfully and with a lack of concern.

4. Giving is done with humility and respect

A humble, modern day saint, Rev. J.P. Vaswani once said that when we get a chance to help others, we should thank them for giving us the opportunity to help. Without someone to receive our gift, we would not gain the benefit of being of service. What’s more, the recipient of our generosity is allowing us to earn karmic merits for our actions.

Young woman hands holding elderly person's hands.When you have such an attitude, you will feel that you are actually giving to yourself when you give to others. Naturally, your giving will be done with humility and respect. This promotes your inner growth and helps to break down the ego. Read, The REAL reward of giving.

By comparison, someone who only gives to get something in return will feel she is doing you a favour. Inwardly, she expects something back for her “generous” gesture. So, she may feign humility and respect, while inwardly feeling disdain and impatience.

5. Only the best is given

When you feel a strong sense of gratitude for the blessings in your life, you want to give back to serve and uplift others.

And so, you give the best of what you have and don’t hold back on the quantity or quality of your gift. The items you donate are what you would want for yourself and more. They may be food, clothes, household and personal care items, gift cards—practically anything that is useful and needed.

You give generous monetary donations remaining anonymous when you can. You may volunteer in the community, or you may mentor and help others in need of your unique skills and talents. You enjoy giving your best to others.

In contrast, a person who does not feel any gratitude or obligation to give back to others will not give. When she does give, she will only give what she doesn’t like or want. Her donations may be in bad shape, poor quality or in need of repair.

6. There is a feeling that one could be doing more even when much is given.

A generous giver never feels satisfied that she has given enough. With love and gratitude in her heart, she feels she could be doing more. She goes out of her way to give and serve others.

By comparison, if a miser is made to feel obligated to give her time, energy and skills for others, she does so grudgingly and only the barest minimum required of her. She will certainly not go out on a limb to help others. She guards her time, energy and resources with a fierce tenacity.

The gifts of giving

Pink rose blossoms in love shapeGiving that is motivated by love and gratitude cultivates humility and an inner sensitivity to the needs of others. It helps to break down selfishness and attachment to material goods. All these things advance our spiritual growth. Read Give, serve and grow.

The joy of a selfless act lies in the act itself and not on any outer rewards.

Such selfless giving is indeed noble and a great gift.

*Read more about the highest, mediocre and lowest types of giving:

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6 Quick Meditation Tips https://www.manishamelwani.com/6-quick-meditation-tips/ https://www.manishamelwani.com/6-quick-meditation-tips/#respond Wed, 26 May 2021 16:00:03 +0000 https://www.manishamelwani.com/?p=19498 Do you find it difficult to meditate? You are not alone. Meditation is an advanced spiritual practice. However, the instructions aren’t difficult to learn. They are quite simple, really. It’s a difficult discipline to master because you’re trying to quiet your mind.

Like a river that is constantly flowing, the mind cannot be easily restrained. It is always chattering, restless and unable to focus on one thing for long.

While it is difficult to quiet the mind, it’s not impossible. Here are six quick and simple meditation tips that will enable you to effectively calm your emotions, still your thoughts and remain as a peaceful inner witness.

 Meditation Tip #1: Sit with your back straight

This first tip sounds pretty obvious, but many people don’t sit with their backs straight. They may prefer to sit slightly slouched in bed or on a relaxing sofa or chair.

While they do feel relaxed, they may not be able to effectively quiet the thoughts. This is because a bent vertebral column interferes with the functioning of the nervous system. This can result in a loss of focus and scattered thinking. Think about how alert you feel while sitting on your comfy sofa when compared to a straight-backed chair.

Use a chair that is not too soft or too hard—firm yet comfortable. Place your feet flat on the ground or use an armless chair and cross your legs.

If you’re sitting on the floor, you can make your own seat using a folded blanket or shawl, or a low cushion.

Hold your back straight without straining any muscles. You may use a cushion or pillow to support your back. May sure you don’t lean into it but use it to hold your back erect. Keep your body as relaxed as possible, especially your neck, shoulders and arms. Place your hands comfortably in your lap.

meditation tip: keep the body very still
Meditation tip #2: Hold the body still

While you can’t actually catch and restrain the thoughts, you can quiet them through an alternative method—by sitting absolutely still.

The body and the mind are intricately connected. You may have noticed that when you consciously hold your body still, you are better able to quiet and focus the mind.

Most of us are not conscious of the many small movements that we do. Stay alert to these movements and do your best not to give in to the urge to touch or scratch any part of your body. Resolve to not move even an inch this way or that.

Sitting still is an important discipline. You can’t meditate without it. Read, The very first discipline for meditation.

Meditation tip #3: Take slow, deep breaths

Sitting upright and still will help considerably in calming down the thoughts. To relax the mind and make it very quiet, take slow, deep breaths.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs making sure you take the air all the way to the very top near your collar bones. Hold the air in for a second or two. Then slowly breathe out. Hold the breath out for a second or two, before breathing in deeply again.

Do this slow, deep breathing for a few minutes. Your mind will naturally become quieter.

To understand the connection between the breath and the mind, read, Why deep breathing calms the mind.

Meditation tip #4: Don’t initiate new thoughts

Once you still the body and regulate your breathing, you will find that the mind’s chattering has quietened down to a great extent.

At this point, don’t congratulate yourself, “Wow! this is so peaceful,” “I’m actually meditating!” etc.  You’ll only be disturbing your quiet mind with unnecessary thoughts.

Sometimes, you may not say anything, but the mind that was so quiet suddenly starts gurgling with thoughts.

As soon as you become aware of a thought, don’t get annoyed that your peace has been disturbed. Don’t judge or criticize yourself. Relax. Simply shift your attention back to your breathing.

Meditation tip #5: Use a timer in the initial stages of your practice

You may find that you are able to quiet the mind and remain silent for only a few fleeting seconds. Your mind wanders away without you even realising it. It’s only after several minutes have passed that you notice, and you snap out of your reverie.

In the initial months of your practice, a timer can be a useful tool in easing this problem.  The mind is more alert and obedient when it knows it only has to remain quiet for a short period of time.

Start with one minute and gradually add a minute to your timer as you are able to hold the inner silence for a longer time. Don’t be surprised that you may stay with one or two minutes for many months. It isn’t easy to quiet the mind and you have to be patient and determined.

Meditation tip #6: Keep a notepad handy

You may find that when your mind is quiet, you start getting ideas and solutions to your everyday concerns. Or an important errand or task may come to mind.

If this happens, relax. Don’t worry that you will forget them later. Simply jot down your thoughts in brief on a notepad. Once you’ve written them down, put them out of your mind and resume your meditation practice.

You can set aside another time to gain creative solutions for your projects, concerns and goals. But for now, be serious about quietening your mind and meditating on being the inner witness or observer. Read more: Meditation on being the witness of your thoughts.

Rewards of meditation

The inner witness is your true Self. This real essence is blissful spirit, untouched by the changing body, emotions, thoughts, worries, desires, fears and everyday concerns. You are the source of all peace and happiness.

The more you practice identifying with your true nature, the easier it will be for you to view and handle your everyday concerns in a detached manner. You will become happier and more peaceful in life.

This is certainly achievable, and you may find the six tips in this article a good place to start or enhance your meditation practice.

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Visualization for Inner Peace https://www.manishamelwani.com/visualization-for-inner-peace/ https://www.manishamelwani.com/visualization-for-inner-peace/#comments Wed, 12 May 2021 17:22:51 +0000 https://www.manishamelwani.com/?p=19485 The ocean is constantly in motion. There are tides, big and small waves, sprays, ripples, bubbles and all kinds of activity on the surface of the ocean.

But deep beneath the noise and dynamic movement on the surface, the ocean depths are silent and calm.

It’s the same ocean but two very different perspectives.

Similarly, we have two identities—an outer personality and a peaceful, inner Self.

When you identify with the personality made up of the body and mind where there is continuous change, there is agitation, anxiety and stress. When you dive deep within, you tap into the tranquility of your own essential Self.

The Self is unaffected by the changing conditions of the body, emotions and thoughts. It is the detached witness of them all. It is your real Self.

To find peace, all you have to do is to turn your attention away from the concerns and attachments of the body and mind and place it on the Self within. Read, Being the Detached Inner Witness

Listen to this guided visualization to direct your awareness inwards to the source of inner peace, your own true Self.

Guided Visualization for Inner Peace

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2 Ways to Avoid Fear and Regret https://www.manishamelwani.com/2-ways-to-avoid-fear-and-regret/ https://www.manishamelwani.com/2-ways-to-avoid-fear-and-regret/#respond Wed, 21 Apr 2021 17:28:03 +0000 https://www.manishamelwani.com/?p=19455 Fear and regret—two things in life that we all want to avoid. Fear is an emotional reaction to a situation that we are frightened by; regret is feeling sorry for our past decisions, words or actions.

The former feels unavoidable while the latter can be avoided. Both bring us great angst in life.

Fear

Fear can be placated if we know that what we fear will not happen or that a particular situation, thing or person will not harm or frighten us. This can happen if we somehow feel safe and protected.

For example, a bear in an enclosure at the zoo or safely under the care of its handler doesn’t frighten you. But if a bear shows up while you’re hiking alone in the woods, it’s terrifying.

Aside from the fear that comes from the outer world, we also experience the fear of not being enough or not having enough.

We feel incomplete no matter how much we have. Even after gaining many material things, enough wealth, power, positions, skills, degrees and desirable relationships, there remains a sense of, “what next?”— “What more can I be, do and achieve?”

This nagging sense of incompleteness plagues our lives, and we can’t seem to shake it off and be content.

Regret

Regret comes when we act in haste or act against our truth or what we know to be right.

We wish we knew better or stopped to think carefully before saying or acting in a certain way.

Our conscience is always communicating with us through our inner knowing and feelings. It is always guiding us to make the highest choices that will be for the good of all.

But we often get carried away by the flood of our desires and emotions and disregard this guidance. We drown out our inner voice and justify the reasons why we are right, or why we “need” to do or get something that we want.

When we do this, we suffer the pain of looking back with regret.

Two remedies for fear and regret

Fear is worrying about the future, whereas regret is agonizing over the past. Both rob away our peace in the present. How can we overcome them?

Fear and regret can be overcome by two powerful practices—surrendering to the divine and cultivating discernment.

1. Surrender to the Divine

What does it mean to surrender to the divine?

It begins by first accepting that there is a divine intelligence with infinite power that creates and controls this entire cosmos. You Ant touching human fingerand I are mere specks in this vast creation. Our intelligence and power are laughably finite and miniscule. In fact, they are not even ours. Like the waves that rise, exist and die away in the vast ocean, our existence and power come from the great divine source of creation.

Inwardly, we feel small and limited. This sense of limitation and inadequacy comes from thinking ourselves to be alone and separate from our great source. Think of how powerless a wave would be if it thought itself separate from the ocean.

The ego, our sense of individuality, holds us captive in fear.

There is potential danger in everyday life and regularly fearing the unexpected can be debilitating. But there is one way to always feel safe and at peace, and that is to humbly surrender our worries and fears and place our entire life in the protection of the divine.

The divine—call it God, the Universe, or any other name, is the source from which we all come from. The divine is the ultimate controller—the handler of the bear, so to speak.

By surrendering to this great higher power, we are better able to mentally handle whatever happens.

The way to do this is to invoke the divine through prayer.  Prayer tunes the mind to this infinite source of power. When we call out for protection with full faith and sincerity, we are indeed protected from harm. Read How to cultivate faith in the higher power.

Prayer helps us surrender our fixation on specific outcomes because we feel the presence of a benevolent hand directing our lives. Even if something “bad” happens, its impact will be lessened because a mind that is keenly focused on the divine loses fear and gains inner strength to effectively meet life’s difficulties.

What’s more, prayer and surrender help to erode the ego and its constant inner narrative that we are not enough, and that we need to do more and be more.

Surrender brings inner peace.

2. Cultivate discernment

Regret can be avoided by cultivating discernment. Discernment comes from gaining the right knowledge of life and then acting on it. This is how we gain wisdom.

Gaining the right knowledge isn’t always easy. Sometimes we aren’t looking for it or we can’t find it. And so, we make a decision without having the full information about a situation and then regret it.

When you make a mistake because you simply didn’t know any better, it’s important to accept what happened, forgive yourself and move on. Learning from mistakes is how we grow in life. Read, The way to forgive and be free.

Making mistakes is unavoidable. But the regret that we feel when we knowingly act without carefully considering the consequences is what we want to avoid and can avoid.

To sharpen our discernment and ability to make the right decisions, we must be mindful about our higher goals in life. We have to learn not only about worldly matters but also strive to gain spiritual knowledge.

Our choices must reflect what will eventually be for the higher good of ourselves and others in the future. This is what Vedanta calls taking the Path of the Good. The Path of the Good can be difficult, unpleasant, or inconvenient. It requires making a sacrifice now but brings happiness in the form of peace of mind, satisfaction and inner growth in the long run.

Conversely, when we take the Path of the Pleasant—the choice that brings us immediate pleasure or gain but is detrimental in the long run, we find ourselves wallowing in regret.

To get a better understanding of these two paths and how to avoid regret, read, How to make the right choice.

Regret can also be avoided by surrendering your worries, fears and your entire life to God or the divine. You can read a prayer of surrender and forgiveness in The way to forgive and be free.

Keep spiritual company

 There is a special daily discipline that will help us learn how to surrender to the divine and avoid regrets. Through this discipline, we gain the knowledge about our inner Self, true purpose and connection to Source. It also promotes our spiritual growth. This is the practice of keeping spiritual company or satsang in Sanskrit.

Satsang means being associated with the truth, or that which is good and noble. To be in satsang is to read, listen and learn about spirituality, our innate spiritual nature and the purpose of life. We can listen to talks given by spiritual teachers, meet with other like-minded people to discuss spirituality, or read spiritual books, magazines, and articles on our own.

Everything that we take in through satsang positively influences the quality of our mind. It instills it with higher ideals and noble emotions that help to keep us inspired and on path. To read about the transformative effects of satsang, read, The squirrel who became a prince.

Vital discipline

Fear and regret come only when we wander away from the knowledge of our true spiritual nature and our connection to the divine. The way to come back on track is through satsang.

Satsang is the vital discipline that teaches us how to avoid fear of the known and unknown through surrender to the divine and helps us gain discernment in life that will help to eliminate all regrets.

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