Revisiting India — Returning Home

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.
James Baldwin

The Bitter-Sweet Return

One of the first things I noticed upon arriving back in the United States was the abundance of street lights and stop signs telling me what to do and when to do it. It was a bit overwhelming in contrast to India where there are very few street lights, no noticeable stop signs and a lot more room to breath (metaphorically, not physically). Although uncomfortable, this itch of angst became a wondrous lesson about life and I quickly pondered what the pounding effects of this place must be on us. For the most part, we as humans in the United States, are constantly being fed what to do, what to think and how to live. This places a tremendous amount of pressure on us, creates deep grooves of mistrust and an overall belief that we don’t know what we are doing. And with television, media, advertising and society screaming at us all the time, propagating what is right and wrong, it must be hard to hear what it is we are actually feeling. I am not arguing that this structure is bad because we live in an amazing country with abundance and opportunity, but the result of such a lifestyle is the destruction of trust and underdeveloped emotional maturity. To combat its effect, we must take specific steps to regain our self-trust and inner knowing that what we feel is right.

Practices such as yoga and meditation, or even work with a psychologist or therapist (which is a practice as well) can build up self understanding and a belief in our intelligent nature. Through learning to listen and receiving feedback, we can begin to decipher which voice is ours versus the plethora of other voices imprinted on us.

When a small child falls down, the first thing he/she does is to look up towards mother (or father). In that moment the child cannot distinguish how he feels and relies solely on the parents response. If there is a glance of terror or fear, the child immediately cries. If the response is impartial or with pride, the child gets up and moves on. This is not a learned response but a hardwired reaction we are born with. I believe this is also why we are easily susceptible to what others throw at us.

As we mature emotionally some of us learn to strip away this pattern. They tend to be the innovators, “outside-the-box” thinkers and entrepreneurs that don’t just accept things as they are. But even for them there are moments of doubt. For others the work is continuous and quite treacherous. Trusting yourself is not easy and the only way to move in that direction is through trial and error. My suggestion to you is to get quiet. To stop thinking so endlessly and just listen. Not to the thoughts but to the feelings within. This is the practice.

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