by Sandra Radja
A friend called me upset. During one recent evening she was chatting with a stranger that had told her stories of his sexual abuse and then, in her weakened mind state, couldn’t stop the thoughts from whirling in her own mind and had a terrible night of insomnia, from which she had a tendency towards. She couldn't help but worry about anyone else that had gone through the same issue and took the anguish on herself.
I knew another friend that had severe panic attacks she was working on calming. During the worst episodes, she was trying to help a friend of hers that needed someone and in turn suffered herself.
In the fortunate position I find myself in, to be able to see emotions and their detrimental effect when used in an abusive state, I want to make a call out. This goes out to the women of the world. Because although the situation is not exclusive to our gender, we have certainly honed the art of chatting about our woes to our gal pals.
There was a story that I have held dear to my heart about the Buddha. I am paraphrasing but it goes something like this. A thief knocked on the Buddha’s door thinking since it was the Buddha he would allow anyone into his fold; he was a spiritual man, kind to all and he would surely help a poor beggar needing food and shelter. The thief had decided to use this angle for his benefit and take from the great soul since he felt there would be no repercussions – the Buddha surely doesn’t need material wealth! As he knocked on the door, he was greeted by the Buddha. When the thief asked to be let inside, as he was cold and hungry, the Buddha placed his palm firmly in a stop position and told the thief he was not welcomed. The thief was confused and asked the Buddha why he would not help to eliminate his suffering. The Buddha replied to him that he came to him with insincere intention.
Again, in my interpretation, the Buddha from beyond may sue for misrepresentation, however the point is, to be mindful of allowing energy into your fold that does not serve your highest good. We talk about the pollution of our environment and yet we allow negative talk that inspires drama into our lives on a regular basis. Working a problem out and thriving in the "drama" of a situation are two different things. It's an honest check in to see which you are doing. Feeding the mind with how terrible men are or how your boss is an ogre or how your mutual friend has a huge ego can inspire excess Pitta in the mind creating the habit of being critical. And the act of destructive criticism requires the attention diverted away from checking in. You, in effect, weaken the ability to hone your "wisdom or intuition".
Protect your Ojas (immunity) beyond everything else. And if you find yourself in a situation that involves another dumping their “stories” onto your lap, decide right there whether you have the capacity to take it in. Politely ask to review the situation when you feel you're up for it. Creating the space between the force of the criticism may be all that's needed to diffuse the situation.
Being there for someone can also mean advising a friend to seek professional help. As professionals we prepare ourselves to listen objectively and to detach at the end for our own well being. We also ideally look after ourselves with diet and lifestyle choices to be able to do the work.
So the next time you feel sad or in need of a friend, ask them first if they can hear it – be kind to their situation. And maybe shout them lunch or some flowers as an offering. If you have joined the Ayurvedic journey we offer Dinacharya or a daily routine that can help to soften the intensity of your troubles. Keeping this practice up on a daily basis comes in very handy when the proverbial hits the fan, so to speak. Keeping diligent on your own self care means that troubles that do arise do not seem to be such a big deal - you at least have the capacity to step back and consider your options. This is true preventative care - we keep our immunity strong not just to avoid the common cold but to avoid spreading our toxins to those that didn’t ask for it or may not be prepared for the onslaught.
Remember that your perception is like the wind and can change with a bright and sunny day. Ensure you give yourself the space to allow the full range of emotion, like the weather, before committing to a conclusion. As the awe-inspiring Dr Lad tells us - Conclusion is Confusion.