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BHARAT SAVUR | Updated on May 17, 2012 Published on May 17, 2012

A young man jogs with his dog. - N. Sridharan   -  The HINDU

Get off the competing treadmill and walk mindfully in your comfort zone.

When a relationship is based on a struggle for domination, it's not really a relationship because there is no relating, only competing. The competitor is the ego, which imagines itself overtly to be the better one who must rule, or covertly the inferior one who must follow or keep up. So we have this ongoing aggressive and passive-aggressive tussle that robs us of peace and health.

Consider this typical scenario: The husband dominates. The wife drops all her interests to help him in his business. With his excessive need to control and have things his way, he goes against life's natural flow and creates inner blockages. This attitude results in constipation, piles, digestion problems, hypertension.

The wife develops an undercurrent of resentment that she's not her own person, that she's living not her life but his. This conflict of not-wanting-to yet going-along exerts pressure on the joints and hinders their natural mobility. Thus, her knees hurt with a hint of arthritis, the shoulder joints freeze, migraines surface and so do bouts of depression.

Ironically, as their comforts increase, they become increasingly uncomfortable! These conflicts, this competitiveness can be between colleagues, employer and employee, anybody. It batters the spirit, hurts the body, inflames the mind, pollutes the environment.

This happens because the ego judges, criticises, opines, calculates. If we are not watchful, we begin by putting down our rivals, then this habit turns its fangs on us — we put down each other! Criticising others turns inward and becomes self-criticism. Ego-boosting by exaggerating our assets and others' lack of them now infects, spreads and becomes an internal husband-versus-wife or colleague-versus-colleague affair. We must understand that these negative egoistic pronouncements contract our awareness.

When our awareness is expansive, we know that it is natural to be relaxed, to be full of joy, contentment, gratitude; that it is natural to give space to others; that there are enough opportunities in the world for everyone. In a state of high awareness it is also easier to forgive. A friend says that when he feels he's being treated unfairly, he thinks of Buddha's philosophy: “Events happen, deeds are done, but there never has been an individual doer of any deed.” It blunts the personal edge. As well it should. For, by remembering and applying the wisdom of the sages to our situation, we expand our awareness, we leave behind our small sectarian mind and expand into the vast spiritual mind.

Overall, living wisely with an accepting mind and a large heart makes for sweet relating. A few tips:

Get off the competing treadmill and walk mindfully, each in one's own comfort zone. This balances the ego and helps give space and respect to the other.

Drop the delusion that happiness results from adding. The truth is: happiness comes from subtracting the excesses that go to the egoistic head and cater to egoistic greed. As a monk said: “To be proud of your bank balance and properties is like the condemned man being proud of the vastness of his prison cell.”

Say no. This short, simple word is your passport to relief, freedom and, most important, anchors you to your chosen turf.

Every night, write in a Gratitude Journal, “I'm grateful for…” Jot down specifics — positive attitudes, wonderful people, good health and so on. End with “Thank you. I'm grateful for everything.” This is not a formula, it's a higher fact. Everything has been laid out for us — day and night with no electricity bill, a body that breathes, lives, grows hair without any effort put in by us, a world brimming with natural resources… Thus, expand your very focus until you feel the world's magnificence in you.

Exercise daily to strengthen your immunity and banish discomforts. It's amazing how absence of pain increases your enthusiasm and energy quotients. Walk the dog. There's something wholesome, wholehearted and uncomplicated about canine companionship.

Eat regular, nutritious, balanced meals. Cut down sugar — it does give instant energy but it also causes a sudden dip. Get sufficient complex carbs and proteins — whole grains and pulses. These calm the brain, provide sustained energy through the day and improve decision-making and trouble-shooting abilities.

Breathe consciously every hour. This stabilises hormones and emotions, and increases awareness. In the awareness space there's a pleasing alertness, neither wanting to dominate nor to be unduly submissive but rock-solid balanced stability. In such a beautiful state, you just can't create an explosive situation, get into a mutinous mode or play the blame game.

Emotion orders, “Listen to me, live my way.” Emotion blazes, “How dare you!” So, snip the emotional cords: Close your eyes. Visualise silver cords running from brain to brain. Silently say, “I snip off and release all our emotional cords.” Snip them. Visualise re-connecting these cords heart to heart and say softly, “Now only love connects us.” Watch the cords turn into a glowing gold.

Meditate and access deeper levels of relaxation, creativity, healing.

Ah yes, re-shape that relationship — no competitiveness, only unconditional, pure relating …

The writer is co-author of the book Fitness for Life.

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Published on May 17, 2012
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