Excerpted from Feeling Great: Creating a Life of Optimism, Enthusiasm and Contentment, a guidebook for a lifetime of satisfaction by spiritual practitioners Dadi Janki, Peter Vegso, and Kelly Johnson.
Freedom means that no one can stop you from doing what is right or persuade you to do what is wrong.
Can you imagine a situation where you might feel really great but not be truly free? Is it possible to experience even a feeling of contentment, yet be suppressed or restrained at the same time?
Not likely. Freedom is that liberating feeling that you can be who you want to be and achieve anything you want to achieve without constraints.
Real freedom begins with you. It means that you cannot blame others for what they are doing to you. It’s a waste of time to examine their actions repeatedly and become angry; you need to control the situation—and that means examining yourself by asking two simple questions that require very honest answers: “What am I doing to myself?” and “How long will I continue to live like this?”
It’s important to understand that we’re all actors in the unpredictable Play of Life. People will do whatever they want to do and live however they want to live—you cannot control them. But you can choose how you react to that and in which direction you will move. You can decide whether or not to be influenced or be used by others. Ultimately, you write your own script, and as you learn and grow—and change—you can rewrite the story. A better way of life is in your hands, not in the hands of others—no matter who they are (or think they are).
To be renewed, you don’t have to go anywhere except inside yourself, away from the obvious.
Be the master of your own life
One common stumbling block to freedom is letting others throw their trash into our lives. Why do we allow people to do that? We may even make excuses for it, “because of this,” or “because of that,” but “because” statements only help us to justify feeling miserable. How can you ever feel great when you’re complaining and letting someone else determine how you feel? You can’t feel great if you’re not free to be the master of your own life! Protect yourself—don’t ever let the negative tendencies of others prevent you from being truly free.
One of the best ways to guard and protect yourself is through regular yoga practice—by thoroughly immersing yourself in your spiritual identity. Yoga will allow you to dissociate from negativity completely and achieve what is known as “the power of detachment.”
Most people have no idea what “yoga” really means. They only know of the poses and chakras that are commonly associated with it as exercise, but it should be more than that—it should be an indispensable, wonderful part of your physical and spiritual practice. The term “yoga” is actually derived from the literal meaning of “yoking together,” or connecting. “Yoga” applies to the yoking of spirit, mind and body. Even a short meditation or prayer can be an expression of practicing your yoga or connection to the Divine.
Recalling and meditating on a good experience within your true Self can put you back in touch with your goals and your real identity. The more you experience that—and give it expression—the stronger it gets. Eventually, you will learn how to use these personal experiences as a buffer against negativity. You will be able to detach yourself from the actions and situations around you and find your balance—and the pathway back to feeling great.
Another stumbling block to freedom is allowing your energy to be depleted so that you become vulnerable to the moods and actions of others. When you become impatient as a result, your anxiety builds; you become annoyed and maybe even angry, and that will only take you farther away from the path to achieving balance and joy. This, however, is one of the most crucial times to practice your yoga—it will calm you and help you put things in the right perspective. If you can stand back, detach yourself, and see the whole picture, you will know what to change and what you must do. There’s certainly no way you can feel great if you have lost your patience, and worse, the damage it can cause may be long-lasting and severe.
An uncluttered mind
This is the antidote to anxiety and negativity and an important element to achieving freedom and happiness. A busy mind harbours confusion, and where there is turmoil there is no peace, and therefore, no freedom. By now you know that without freedom, you can’t discover your true Self, and mastering your own life becomes impossible.
When you learn to settle down and unclutter your mind, you will be able to uncover your true identity, and you can rise above negative people and situations. And that in itself is a great feeling!
The parable of the advocate’s turban
An advocate was leaving his house in order to go to court. Just as he stepped on the road, he found that his turban was loose and as he took the next step, it collapsed. The entire length of the turban’s cloth lay on the ground. The advocate started tying it up again on his head, but he couldn’t do it. Every time he tried, he failed. He looked around and discovered that at the foot of the staircase to his house was a light whose dome was about the size of his own head. He ran toward it and tied the turban around it, telling himself that it was an actual head. This time he was successful. He removed the neatly tied turban from the dome, placed it on his head, and walked away to the court.
The advocate, trying to leave this worldly place of pain and death to go to the Court of the Supreme Monarch (God), finds that his turban (mind) is loose; it is out of shape, it is all over the place. He tries to gather it together and remake a turban for his head out of it, but every time he tries, he fails. The advocate looks around himself, he finds an image that is a good representation of the Supreme Consciousness (God), and he fastens his mind onto that image. When his whole mind is firmly centred on the image, he quickly removes it from the image and raises it to the Supreme Consciousness. Now he finds it easy and he walks away happily to the Court of the Supreme Monarch, God.
|Dadi Janki is a woman of wisdom. Her life’s journey has been a fulfilment of her early childhood longing to know and come close to God. At the age of 21, she joined theBrahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and has since dedicated her life to the spiritual service of others. Since arriving in London, England in 1974, Dadi has overseen the expansion of the Brahma Kumaris’ work in more than 70 countries and is now the university’s co-administrative head.Peter Vegso is an entrepreneur and pioneer of self-help publishing, best known for being the original publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Vegso has been having a diverse and open dialogue with God for most of his life. His appreciation of Dadi Janki and the mission of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University led them to this special collaboration.
Kelly Johnson has worked in the publishing industry for many years reading, selling and marketing other people’s books. When the opportunity to write Feeling Great with Peter Vegso and Dadi Janki came along, it was an unexpected honor. Johnson gratefully lives near the sea in Satellite Beach, Florida, writing and doing the work she loves.