Take Off the Mask: A Key to Living Authentically

#boise #idaho #spirit #mindfulness

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Take Off the Mask: A Key to Living Authentically
We’re coming up on a very strange, yet neighborly, holiday. Halloween, the night when we invite our neighbor’s children to venture up to our front door and accept candy from us. What’s even stranger is that some of us like to make their trek as frightening as possible. Some sweet little Cinderella and her 2-year-old baby ninja brother ring the doorbell and we jump out, wearing a creepy Richard Nixon mask. Yes, nothing says, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” more than Halloween, does it?

I’ll confess that I don’t know much about my neighbors. I keep intending to get to know them better. In my mind’s eye, I have this idyllic picture of me taking a fresh-baked pie over and having quality coffee time with them. But that would mean, first of all, me learning to bake a pie. Secondly, it would take time out of my already packed schedule. And, let’s face it, it would take courage to knock on their door. After all, who knows what kind of people live behind those walls?

In truth, most of us know very little about our neighbors. And what we do know, or supposedly know, is more than likely gossip based on a bunch of big, fat lies.

Well, talking about neighbors and about lying leads me to some ancient instruction about how to live authentically. It’s found, believe it or not, in the ninth of the Ten Commandments, which says:

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

“False witness.” That sounds like something from the days of powdered wigs, doesn’t it? Like “Hear ye! Hear ye! Thou hast been a false witness! Off with his head!” But a simple definition of false witness would be “one who presents misleading or mistaken information.”

Another word in this edict that we’ve heard used quite a bit lately is the word bear. “To bear,” means, “to harbor, or to carry, like to carry a heavy burden.” So if I may, in my Pollyannaish way, reword this decree into a more positive declaration, it would read like this:

“Don’t give safe harbor to false information and mistaken ideas about your neighbor.”

I was always taught that the ninth commandment said, “Don’t lie.” But, looking deeper we find that it’s not so much about telling lies as it is about believing them.

Why would this be important?

First of all, believing false information about your neighbor keeps you in a place of fear. I call it Foe Fear, or should I spell it Faux Fear? It’s the fear that what you think is good, right, and acceptable might not be the same as what your neighbor thinks. So, you piece all sorts of mistaken ideas together, convincing yourself that whoever lives on the other side of that backyard fence is up to something and you just know that it can’t be good. So the walls go up.

By believing false or misleading information about your neighbor, you can’t possibly see them honestly and clearly. In a way, you’ve put a mask on them.

But digging even deeper we find a much more important key to authentic living. You see, the truth is that your neighbor is who you are — an expression of Pure Truth. So when you rally your forces to be on the lookout for dishonesty, deceit, and deception in others, you keep your mind in a stressful condition contrary to who you really are. You might as well be wearing a mask.

At the core of this cosmic credo is The Principle of Authenticity. It challenges us to take back the energy we’ve been expending on fears and false beliefs and to connect with the truth about Life, ourselves, and about others.

So, take off the mask. Erase all doubt about who you really are and what you’re here to do. Allow yourself to clearly see yourself and your neighbor and it will, in the words of the wise, set you free — free to live life the way it’s meant to be lived — peacefully, truthfully, authentically and successfully.

Investing in Mental Health
Today, the issue of mental illness affects an estimated 350 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Depression will be the second highest cause of disease burden in middle-income countries and the third highest in low-income countries by 2030 (1). Statistics reveal that 26 percent of the population in the United States has some kind of mental illness (2), and 25 percent of Europe is suffering from depression or anxiety (3).

Unfortunately, many people don’t even acknowledge that they are depressed, and nearly 50 percent of major depression goes untreated (4). Neither at school nor at home are we taught how to our handle negative emotions. We teach dental hygiene but forget to teach mental hygiene. Stress does not go away by just talking or advising. We need to learn some techniques and tools to get rid of stress and calm the mind.

Why does an individual get depressed? Some depression may be because one is hanging onto the past or is over-ambitious and anxious about the future. Life, however, is a continuous process of teaching one how to “let go.” Change is the only constant. When one does not acknowledge the phenomenon of change, and becomes stuck to a position, then one can experiences frustration, depression, and so on. Often, you are not aware that you are connected with the whole universe, and you think you are just some small person wanting small little things. How do we get out of this small mind? We must look to enquire into the core of our existence. What is life? Who am I? What do I want? This spirit of self-inquiry can awaken something inside you. Negative emotions can make you sink into depression, and wisdom of the Self can take you out of depression. This is where meditation and breathing techniques can play an important role. They are the tools that help you calm your mind, and make you feel happy from within. Many illnesses can be helped through meditation and breathing techniques. In fact, I would say that meditation is food for the soul.

Meditation has many benefits. When our mind is calm, we are able to make better decisions, thus creating a more harmonious and positive atmosphere around us. There is a significant body of research on how meditation helps improve conditions such as
hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, sleep disorders, and nervous system disorders, among others (5).

Apart from benefiting physical health, meditation improves concentration and helps one be in the present moment. If you observe, the mind vacillates between the past and the future. We are either angry about the past or anxious about the future. Meditation helps bring the mind to the present. When the mind is calm, we are able to perceive things better. When the mind is disturbed, our perception is also disturbed. In daily life, one comes across situations that can be challenging and require us to take effective decisions. These situations often influence to the state of our mind — so much so that we cannot take effective decisions. Neither events in life nor the states of our mind happen with our permission. In fact, the events and states of mind often occur in direct defiance to our wishes.

Meditation can bring about a balance between the different states of the mind. One can learn to switch from the tough aspect to the gentler aspect within you. One can be firm when appropriate and at the same time let go when needed. This ability is present within everyone, and meditation enables you to switch between these states effortlessly. With a few minutes of daily meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques), our thoughts become powerful, and our tasks are accomplished more effectively. Through meditation and breathing techniques, we can cleanse our mind of negative emotions and effectively address mental illness and depression.

Meditation can bring about a big transformation in society.

Footnotes:

(1) See http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2010/mental_disabilities_20100916/en/index.html

(2) See http://www.thekimfoundation.org/html/about_mental_ill/statistics.html

(3) See http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/mental-health/news/news/2012/10/depression-in-europe/depression-in-europe-facts-and-figures

(4) Ibid

(5) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070

For more information on the author visit:
www.srisriravishankar.org
For more on breathing and meditation programs, visit www.artofliving.org
To register for a program with Sri Sri at the International Center for Well Being and Peace in US, visit
http://www.artofliving.org/intl-meditation-center-usa
Follow Sri Sri @SriSriSpeaks

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