Minding my retorts

Of late, I have been making conscious changes in my thinking process and ways of responding to situations in my life.

Recently, we got into a ‘parking spat’ with a neighbour. Even as the other lady argued aggressively, I found myself completely calm and inwardly focused despite the tense situation. I observed my own heart rate and found it relatively normal; I wasn’t breaking out into a sweat or feeling breathless. And all this ‘mental checkup’ was casually going on while I responded to the shouting woman in an even tone of voice. I finally decided to ‘give in’ to her unreasonable demand for the sake of the morose security guards. While walking back home, my partner pointed out that I seemed quite unruffled by the turn of events. I replied: “All this is insignificant in the scheme of things.” (The next day, the guards made sure that the lady was officially asked to vacate the spot as it was rightfully ours. So I achieved my purpose without getting worked up or doing much about it.)

At home, my younger one complains that I’m not the same mom any more – I don’t lose my temper nor holler at them as much as I used to. She finds me ‘different’ somehow and I have no explanation for this except, “Perhaps it’s the yoga.” When one of the kids comes to me with a tale of sorrow or a face of gloom, I find that I am able to completely detach myself from the picture and respond from an objective perspective, without getting all shrieky and mommy-paranoid on them. By reminding myself internally that I do not own my kids, that they are eternal, safe and infinitely protected, I am able to somehow ‘let go’ of my kids a lot more, allowing them to make their own mistakes and learn their own way around in life.

And this inward focus has changed my responses in my relationship too. My partner and I had an argument over a very trivial issue on G-Talk. In a bit of temper, he typed out: “I am deeply frustrated by your accusations.” If an argument like this had happened a few years ago, I would have probably sulked or lashed back or defended myself. Instead, I first fixed my own slightly turbulent emotions, brought myself to a neutral state, and then carefully typed back, “Why deeply frustrated? Shallow frustation will do.” We both then burst into digital smiles, and the situation was diffused.

Observing myself was a skill I learnt at a Vipassana retreat two years ago. Minding my reactions, retorts and reflexes has come with some practice and internal training since then. And suddenly, everything feels new, wondrous and beautiful. I can’t believe I am living where I am, doing what I am, feeling and thinking what I am. I feel so incredibly blessed – it’s raining abundance this monsoon. An abundance of contentment and peace.

Life changes when I change.


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