Meditation And Living With Grace: My Journey On The Path Of Vipassana
It has been twenty five years since macrobiotic nutritionist Shonali Sabherwal discovered the ancient meditative techniques of Vipassana. In her latest book Vipassana: The Timeless Secret to Meditate and Be Calm, she explains how living with resilience and in the moment has allowed her to find grace and purpose.
‘Learning to stay’ is the basis of humility and compassion.
Meditation strengthens this aspect of ‘learning to stay’ and in it, you allow for grace to happen. When I first got started on the path of Vipassana, thoughts would come to me gathering a lot of strength to shake me. Thought too is a stimulus for the mind to generate a response; a craving or an aversion happens, as each thought produces a response to the sensation it creates. Initially one engages in them and their drama. Slowly when I was deeply entrenched on the path of Vipassana and I learnt how to ‘stay’, not 'scratch' my thoughts; in that stillness I created the 'space' for 'grace'. I became softer, more 'yin' as we say in macrobiotics: gentle, forgiving, understanding, humble, generous, lightened up. Pema Chödrön says, ‘If you want to heal you have the willingness and enough love for yourself, enough trust. Then your wisdom is activated more and more. You yourself say I don't have to die scratching. What we are doing by "learning to stay" is we are being open to our life and our own wisdom begins to come forth’. Which then takes you to the next stage on the journey I went through on becoming who I am, that of 'trusting the process’.
The benefits of what I am trying to explain did not happen to me till after my one-month Vipassana course. Mind you, I am not advocating you do a one-month course, but I think when I started Vipassana twenty-five years ago and kept up year after year with daily practice, I started really living every moment. My capacity to take up work, create, innovate and challenge myself into unknown spaces grew immensely. I no longer operate from my past, but live each moment and take it as my first moment.
Trust the Process
If someone asks me today, 'What's going on? All okay?' My answer always is, 'I am exactly where I am supposed to be'. This answer comes out of the core of my being, because I trust the process of my life and how it's unfolding. I am the plan, there's no God out there who has written my script. You write your own script, and you are re-writing it every day. You can just choose to write it better. Which means you need to have immense 'trust' in the way your path and life is unfolding. We cannot just say 'this is my path' and then refuse to walk on it with integrity. This aspect gets deeply ingrained when you sit to meditate. This happens because you simply live in the moment and the truth of everything in your life is just that moment. No past, no future: just that moment. The acceptance of this moment is where all the magic starts to happen when you need to bring in 'trust'. You give up controlling everything. We all have fears, but what are we fearful of? Some future event we have no control over, some past event that is now just a memory. What we are fully in control of is the moment: this moment. If there is one quality that made me who I am, it is my 'resilience'. I have deep gratitude for this one quality. It's made me surrender to the moment and also trust the process of my life.
Excerpted with permission from Vipassana: The Timeless Secret to Meditate and Be Calm, Shonali Sabherwal, Ebury Press.