Uma Spender (previously Jessie Neave) - name in transition - new website coming soon!
kindness & the liberation from within
During one of my trainings in India I had the life changing opportunity to experience deep mounam. Mounam is a sadhana - the practice of silence, or conscious intention to not speak out loud. It’s a pretty standard part of ashram living - most ashrams I’ve visited observe mounam during the early part of the day, at least some of the time. If you are familiar with Vipassana you will know silence is an essential element to the meditaition program. During this particular Teacher Training the mounam increased throughout the weeks. Every morning we would wake at 4 and go through our morning sadhanas in silence, we would listen to a lecture with the Swami and eat our 11am meal without talking. Then it went back to ‘normal’ for the rest of the day…but 'normal' changed, over time we became more comfortable with the silence. Silence became safe and expansive. Over time mounam increased gradually until by around the 8th week we were in mounam pretty much all the time. During the first weeks there is occasional frustration as you get used to it, but generally a sense of deep peace - almost as though you are ‘detoxing’ from all the superfluous words that are constantly cluttering your mind and your interactions with others. You begin to realise how much of what you say is completely unnecessary. You write stuff down to flag for later and then mostly let that stuff go too…it’s kind of dreamy, at least it is at the beginning…. Towards the end of the training I was overwhelmed with the hidden words that started to make their way to the surface. Because I had consciously cultivated space by removing all of the unimportant words, I had made way for the huge things that needed to be said - you know, those massive conversations that you avoid unconsciously and cover up with thoughts and mind chatter…words. All of a sudden those words were bubbling up - and there were a lot of them, and, it was no longer dreamy but quite heavy! Heavy, but so important.
That was 10 years ago. I wasn’t prepared for that - but I was grateful.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that experience as I come to the close of ’30 days of kindness’ (if you’re new to my ramblings I’ve been taking part in this challenge with a studio I work at). During the first couple of weeks I was experiencing a beautiful, dreamy, kindness-infused haze. Enveloping all situations in kindness was kind of like sweeping all the unnecessary behaviours, responses and reactions out of the way. It felt natural & effortless. I was able to always choose kindness, and I learned that it didn’t mean necessarily always being selfless. I could put my own needs first, it was how I communicated myself and executed the act in question that determined it’s degree of kindness. I learned that kindness isn’t only an act but a behaviour, and that your behaviour is absolutely yours to control in EVERY situation. A couple of weeks in to this steady, conscious, choosing of kindness I began to feel a deep sense of something else happening, something I couldn’t ignore. During meditation I was aware of some buried emotions and questions rising up - almost as though I had begun ‘detoxing’ from unkindness and had started to awaken and stir up the much deeper layer of what had been unaddressed, perhaps ways that I had been unkind to myself, unconsciously or otherwise, or perhaps unkind to others.
Again, I wasn’t prepared for this, and again, I am grateful.
I’m learning, with time, to humbly kneel and receive all teachings as they arrive - and I’m constantly amazed at the many forms of the true guru. I went through some frustration when I became a mother, as we all mostly do. Frustration that I wasn’t able to easily attend trainings and immerse myself in deep ‘spiritual’ teachings from great ‘spiritual’ teachers. I guess I was still searching for 'the guru’… Over the years as I continue my search, more and more I feel the depth of possibility for learning in every situation - the every day encounters and the sometimes mundane routines. I find incredible daily teachings from my children, from my garden, from my interactions with people…true gurus (teachers) lead you back to yourself - it’s all about being open to what comes up, and not shying away when it isn’t always shining and dreamy.
I’ve been ending all my classes recently with the mantra - Hari Om Tat Sat - simply translated as “the liberation from within” or “the liberation from the ego”. It’s a mantra that is used to clear away the false guru, and, the longing for an external fix, drawing us ever closer to our own depths.
Have a great weekend
Hari Om Tat Sat