In the midst of day-to-day life, it's often difficult to pinpoint all the times we've used the eight points successfully. Easwaran's eight points are nothing if not practical, which means that we can have lots of successes every day, but often they can go by unnoticed unless we actively look for them. A great exercise is to look back and identify successes, especially little ones!
We asked the YA eSatsang (our email fellowship group) to share some of the little successes they've had with the eight points in the past week and we were inspired by all the different ways they're using their spiritual practice in their lives.
We'd love to hear about your successes! Share a small success with us in the comments below.
Gary from Santa Cruz, California
I was struggling recently with choosing a gift for a friend's birthday. It is a work friend who I have struggled in the past to get along with. I have written my mantram for her before and it seemed to help us both, so I decided to write my mantram for her on a big sheet of paper, take a picture of it (shown below) and use it as a cover for her birthday card. In the card I explained a bit about mantram writing, how you can dedicate it to others, and the benefits for all parties involved. She seemed to really appreciate it, and our relationship has improved from it.
Brad from Seattle, Washington
A small success of mine lately is a rather subtle one, but has had the powerful effect of reducing anxiety and worry. I have simply begun using one-pointed attention more often. For example, when doing dishes I often find myself making plans, worrying, and holding my body somewhat tensely. I am not even there doing the dishes!
My new habit is to slow down slightly, and bring a gentle focus in to my movements. One aid to this is holding my gaze gently on whatever dish I'm washing, and every time I pick something up, or place it, follow it with my eyes. Basically, my attention is withdrawn from my mind, and focused more on the sensations of sight, touch, etc.
I'm also doing this more often while driving, speaking with someone, and waiting in line. A subtle shift, but such a burden to lift from my mind.
Lisa from San Francisco, California
The school I teach at is going on spring break in about a week and I've been planning what to do with my time. Though I won't be in the classroom I have loads of preparation and curriculum development to do and I've been watching my break days fill up and up and up with meetings and to-do lists!
I've been struggling to maintain a good work-life balance this quarter so I had been hoping to go out of town for some down time, but my break doesn't line up with the time off with people I know so I'd resigned myself to maybe just taking a day or two to lounge around my apartment. However, I realized that even if I was just lounging around I'd be too close to my laptop, to my email, and to all the tasks I have to get done to really take the time to completely unplug from work. I really needed to get out of my house and away for a bit! I did a little research and planned a little backpacking trip not far from my house where not only will I be away from my laptop, I'll be away from cell service!
The trip is still upcoming, but I can already feel a little bit of calm knowing that I have this downtime coming up and am looking forward to having some time to memorize some passages while out in nature!
A YA from New York
After a few grueling weeks at work, I had finally reached the event I was looking forward to on my calendar for ages: a fancy dinner out with a dear friend. I had anticipated this for weeks and had a blast getting ready, but no sooner had we placed our order at the restaurant than my friend found out about a personal emergency and we had to leave. I was on the brink of throwing a selfish tantrum or yelling at him for ruining such a big night for us. However, I sang my mantram over and over in the car and then burst into tears. I could see that I was upset at the circumstances and not at my best friend. Instead of leaving him in anger (as I would have done in the past), I stood by him that day and we made sure that his personal emergency got resolved. It was a trying day for us both, but thanks to Easwaran's teachings for making me put others first!
Saskia from Tomales, California
Hearing all these little successes has inspired me and reminded me of how important it is to focus on the positive -- it gives more motivation and enthusiasm for practicing the eight points . . . and, therefore, more chance of future successes!
I'll share a small success from today. I had a medical appointment in the afternoon, and instead of my usual pattern of leaving with just enough time to get there, I decided to focus on the point slowing down. I planned the day so I could leave a whole 30 minutes early, which meant I could stop to chat with coworkers on my way to the car, and then stop again with patience and good cheer as a deer decided to cross the road. I enjoyed the drive more knowing that I had plenty of time. When I arrived, I repeated the mantram as I walked to the doctor's office, and then refreshed a passage while I was waiting. The people I met along the way were really friendly and I enjoyed the whole affair!
The passage I refreshed while waiting is a favorite: "O Infinite Being" by Swami Paramananda:
O Infinite Being! O Supreme Lord!
Teach us how to pray and how to meditate.
Make our thoughts so one-pointed, deep and unwavering
that they may penetrate the inner depths of our being
and perceive Thee.
Lift our mind to that plane where there is no heaviness,
where there is no darkness, but only illumination and bliss.
Lead us from delusion to the Light of Wisdom.
Grant that we may feel Thy Divine Presence within us;
That our soul may awaken from the sense-slumber of unreality
and be ready to hear Thy call;
That our heart may be full of tolerance and compassion;
That peace and tranquility may pervade our whole being.
May Thy peace and blessing abide with us and protect us
from all unworthy thoughts and actions.
Peace! Peace! Peace be upon all living beings.