Over the course of the next three blogs, I will weave my personal story on how I learned to thrive from life’s unexpected lockdown and the twists and turns leading to my life dedicated to liberation. The beginning blog offers insights on how I developed awareness to make more conscious choices in life, the middle blog offers my stories on how I developed a spiritual mindset to persevere during challenging times in life, and finally, I share how I developed trust to facilitate my liberation. Within each blog, I offer life experience-based anecdotal lessons.
I clearly remember that it was a Wednesday. The limited news channels and media outlets confirmed it was not a rumor. In a time of political corruption and instability, it was hard to tell the difference between fact-based news and fake news. Could reports of looting or burning, and extreme social injustice including genocide or outbreaks of murder be true?
As news of the unease spread, suddenly schools were sending kids home, many businesses were closing early, while some store shelves were growing empty. Soon curfews were imposed to subside the riots.
My small world appeared to be closing in on me, as the country gripped by violence shut down. I’d stare out my window, barely understanding how long this would go on. Were we talking about isolating for just a few days, weeks, or months?
My Inner lockdown had begun.
It was October 31st, 1984, and Indira Ghandi the then prime minister of India had just been assassinated. While the television news channel graphically displayed Gandhi’s dead body, it made little or no mention of the genocide of Sikhs taking place in Delhi.
The tragic incident sent an immediate ripple effect of tension throughout the country. Like a wildfire, disharmony quickly spread, disrupting the routines of daily life, all leading up to a mandated lockdown.
During the summer of 1984 – a few months before this tragic news – my parents and I had recently migrated from the United States to India, to begin my high-school studies. Overnight I found my world go from culturally confusing to chaotic. A dystopian world that appeared to be the playbook for George Orwell’s novel, “1984”.
Adapting to new places was nothing new to me. Prior to our big move to India, we had moved nearly a dozen times between U.S. cities or states.
Yet very little prepared me for this new normal. This particular move was an absolute culture shock, requiring an entirely new level of emotional and psychological adjustment.
Adjusting to the environment, languages, and customs triggered a spectrum of emotions including the feeling of isolation.
When we moved from what I considered my homeland, I also left behind some of the significant sources of self-validation that provided positive feelings and a sense of self-worth and meaning in life.
While I remained socially withdrawn, during my years in India I developed a new means to connect to the outer world through greater awareness of myself and my surroundings.
I started to really become aware of the scents and flavors that eventually would become moments of nostalgia. As a family we would communicate more regularly in our native language, revealing untold stories that would shape me.
I paid closer attention to other relationships and realized that friends and neighbors – all of society – appeared to sustain and celebrate life as a cohesive unit. Annual festivals such as Diwali – the festival of lights – brought people together through food, music, and colors.
I became aware of the strong influence of nature all around us animals – sacred cows, mischievous monkeys, and exotic birds – visiting our neighborhood and filling our streets. One morning while my mother was braiding her long beautiful hair while sitting on our front patio, I recall a family of peacocks wandering past our home through the misty dew. The experience served as a surreal bonding moment with my mother. At the time I assumed such a moment would happen again. With hindsight, I am aware that this beautiful memory is accessible to me, as I somehow managed to be present at the moment.
I realized that in this ‘land of extremes’ while I loathed the scorching summer heat, I fell in love with the sounds of the monsoon rain. To this day, shifting my awareness to the musky scents and sounds of rain feels deeply healing. I often find great comfort listening to raindrops while meditating.
Awareness Guided Meditation: Serenity in Rain
Practice this awareness guided-meditation, to train yourself to more be mindfully present in the moment. In this particular meditation, you increase your sense of calm by imagining yourself in nature and visualizing the serenity of rain.
This guided meditation cultivates presence and mindfulness of the body. By utilizing imagination this meditation helps bring awareness to the present moment. Using visualization of nature and the elements of rain, this meditation and creates a feeling of inner serenity, while calming the breath and entire body.
Why is it important to develop spiritual awareness?
- You become present in the precious moments: As a teen, I was more focused on getting to the next chapter of my life with the “anywhere but here” attitude. Rarely consciously aware to be present at the moment. Yet I somehow I formed fond nostalgic memories, perhaps by being present to those moments.
- You maintain a life-perspective: While the growing pains from adjusting to a new culture were profound, those years in India were not permanent. I eventually moved on to a new chapter of my life in the U.S. and learned that many challenging circumstances of life are temporary.
- You realize you can persevere: As a teen, I lacked awareness of my own inner strength. Over the years I faced many other challenges. My days of struggle were not limited to my high-school years in India. The setback and failures taught to develop character traits like grit, self-discipline, and will power.
In my next blog, From Lockdown to Liberate: Developing a Spiritual Mindset I share my journey as an adult wresting between seeking to live a spiritually meaningful life while balancing external expectations and demands. Through my anecdotal experience, I offer three reasons why developing a spiritual mindset is imporant in order to persevere.
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