(An active volcano – New Zealand – from www.worldharmonyrun.org)
In April, I travel to Jamaica, Queens, New York for a meditation retreat with my friends in the Sri Chinmoy Centre. It is a great opportunity to forget work, and the usual business concerns and spend time meditating and other spiritual activities. As I was preparing to return home, I heard news of flights cancelled and an erupting Volcano. My first thoughts were – that will soon pass, I mean who has ever heard of airplane flights been cancelled because of erupting volcanoes? But, as it got closer to my departure day, it dawned on me that Mother Nature is never bound by our fixed routines and expectations.
Suddenly all your plans, routines and expectations are tossed aside and you are left with a very different experience. I was fortunate, in that I had a nice place I could continue to stay and many friends around me were in the same boat, so to speak. But, the nature of our mind is to dislike any disruptions to our plans and routines; and the worst is not knowing what if anything will happen.
What can we do when our world is turned upside down?
Keep Things In Perspective
Not being able to get to work on time, is not the end of the world. Temporary material discomforts will make us appreciate a return to normality. If we can keep things in perspective it will avoid unnecessary despair. Even the worst experiences are not for ever. It is even more important to avoid speculating on an apocalyptic turn of events. Sometimes things look bleak in the present time, but, turn out to be less bad than feared.
Of course, when you’ve spent three hours trying to get through to Virgin Atlantic on a cold pay phone, on some New York side street, it’s much easier to talk of detachment and keeping things in perspective than actually practise it. But, nevertheless, we do need to try and be detached.
Comfort and Progress
Sometimes discomfort can bring unexpected qualities forward. It can give people opportunity for self-giving and concern for others. Severe challenges give us an opportunity to make progress by forcing us out of a comfort zone. When life is easy and predictable we can become passive and more easily bored. I’m not saying I would ever choose to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no means of getting home. But, when difficult experiences come, they can be turned to a useful and beneficial experience so long as we don’t panic and concentrate on the negatives.
An unavoidable necessity
Can quite often be
An unexpected opportunity.
Don’t feel guilty or frustrated about something you have no control over. It’s tempting to start blaming airline staff for somehow being unable to control the eruption of a volcano. An event like a volcanic eruption merely shows that there will always be things in life over which we have absolutely no control. We can’t stop a volcano, we can only stop our depressed thoughts.
If we can’t return home because of some event beyond your control, it is absurd to start feeling guilty, even if we have an unsympathetic boss.
If we can remain cheerful and positive in a crisis, it will be a source of strength to others. Often thinking of others, is the best way to stay positive and cheerful ourselves. It prevents us becoming too introspective.
(1) Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 93