Those who have visited this blog recently and read my ‘News from Repos… and me’ are aware that the last two weeks have been quite difficult here, with two major problems happening at the same time, both vying for our attention:
– the urgent necessity to find the extra money needed in order to pay our workers their full wages for November, month which because of the welcome but heavy ‘big monsoon’ has seen only very few guests come and stay here, and so, very little income for Repos;
– the urgent necessity to get the needed protection for our place and our houses, suddenly threatened by waves having, just a few days ago, become for some reason much more aggressive, and having started to destroy the last portion of the fence, together with the tiny cliff-like remnant of beach on top of which most of our guest-huts and our own houses stand, right behind the fence. The very last hut lost its terrace and will have to be rebuilt further back, the land in front of it being now too short.
It has been difficult for me to maintain at all times the ‘no worry’ inner state of being that I wish would be my permanent state of being.
Well, to be living in ‘Repos’ has considerably helped me:
The choice we make of the place we will live in may seem of secondary importance – and to some extent it is. But even after choosing to live in a very special place like Auroville, the precise location within Auroville where we choose to settle may add something more to our life, perhaps particularly to the realisation of our personal spiritual goals.
Anywhere in the world, the names of places are often meaningful, sometimes downright revealing. In Auroville, we happen to have a number of settlements that received their name straight from the Mother, a spiritual being able to feel the specific atmosphere and inner vibration of a place, just as she could do it also with plants, flowers, and people, including newborn babies.
I happen to have chosen to live in one such place within Auroville, the name of which, given by the Mother in French, is ‘Repos’, that is, ‘Rest’.
For many years I didn’t really pay much attention to that name; until a few years back when activities started being organized here by some other persons, that were not in conformity with the restful atmosphere that was normally kept, quite naturally, in the place. Luckily those persons understood after a while that this was not appropriate for the place and stopped those activities
But that this could have happened at all is what made me realize that the restful atmosphere natural to the place wasn’t to be taken for granted; the name in itself too wasn’t enough: unless we living here and using this place were aware of that name and chose to respect and appreciate the special gift it meant for us, that gift was wasted, by our own fault.
This, I suppose, would be true of any place in Auroville that has a Mother given name too; but as I happened to live in the one named by her ‘Repos’, I started reflecting more and more on the role and importance of ‘Rest’ not only for ordinary life, but also for spiritual life, particularly the evolutive kind that is necessary for Auroville.
As always when reflecting in that way, I ended up learning a lot, in this case about Rest, that could be applied inwardly by me too – especially given my oxn name, as we will see:
Rest concerns primarily the body. It is a must for the body. Only when at rest does the body get a chance to relax and recuperate.
The night hours are the best, the most natural time daily when our body can get its indispensable period of rest, through sleep.
Not only is sleep absolutely required by the body for the dreaming function through which our consciousness reorganizes itself daily in order to keep our inner balance and well-being, but our hours of sleep are the only hours when our body-cells too, not being ordered by their boss (your or my awake consciousness) to do one thing or the other, more or less constantly, have at last time for repairing and rebuilding in the body whatever organ or area is out of order and needs care.
Rest is usually seen simply then as the contrary, or rather the absence of any outer activity. In the same way, it is mostly associated with lying down idly in bed, or sitting in some armchair or other reclining seat especially designed to help provide rest.
But that is the usual understanding of the word, not its wider or deeper meaning.
Each of us may have noticed times when we were having some outer activity, yet instead of being caught in effort and straining in order to do it, for one reason or the other we were doing it with complete ease and effortlessness.
This is not just a subjective feeling.
Scientists in the last century, with the electronic era, have invented more bio-feedback devices than the simple ones (mirrors are a good example) that we humans had been already using since long to check objectively if we were doing some inner or outer action correctly or not. The newly invented bio-feedback instruments could monitor for us and show us on a computer screen how some of our organs were functioning – in real time, so that we could use that simultaneous feedback to deliberately correct or improve the way that organ was doing its work.
After the electro-cardiogram, or ECG, came the electro-encephalogram, or EEG; and it was discovered that people in a state of meditation have their brain functioning on a certain characteristic slow frequency, which was called ‘alpha’; while most people in a state of activity had their brain functioning on a faster, ‘beta’ frequency; in deep sleep were recorded the ultra slow ‘delta’ and ‘theta’ frequencies.
The most interesting and puzzling observation was when some people were recorded as producing an alpha inner rhythm even though they were not meditating, but doing some outer activity that normally shifted other people’s brain rhythm automatically to beta.
In that way was discovered and recorded scientifically a very important fact: that it is possible to be active outwardly while remaining inwardly in the alpha frequency indicative normally of rest, that is, of non activity – which showed that rest is actually not the result of an absence of outer activity, but simply a state of consciousness in itself, independent of the person being outwardly active or not.
This is of utmost significance: it means that our inner state of being, whatever it is at a given moment, doesn’t depend on outer circumstances and isn’t really the result of them as is generally believed. The way we feel, the state of consciousness we are in, is actually generated from within, by our consciousness itself, and can be generated at will, whatever the outer circumstances.
So being inwardly at rest is something we can potentially achieve any time, just at will – nobody is saying its easy to get to that point, but to know that it’s possible is a starting-point!
This inner condition happens to be extremely beneficial to our physical body: gone is the strain, gone is the quick fatigue that the strain entails, gone is the haste which doesn’t give time enough to do properly, thoroughly well, the thing one is doing.
One of the main problems well-meaning people like me encounter in their practice of the Integral Yoga is a self-generated problem: being too anxious of doing things perfectly well. This hardly noticeable anxiety produces at the muscular level a sort of constant tenseness akin to the one coming from fear of some objective danger; but in that case there is no real danger, there is only that kind of vague anxiety which we call worry.
At the cellular level, worry manifests as restlessness, a microscopic agitation within the cells down there, with at the same time all the rigid appearence of soldiers ‘standing to attention’.
If one is too often in that state of worry, to stand to attention tends to become the automatic way of being of our cells, all the time… precisely because, ironically, of their good will itself and their very efforts to do their work well.
But as all armies know, even soldiers cannot stand to attention all the time, they need also time to relax and rest, and if at all possible, to enjoy themselves!… Without that, exhaustion sets in, with diminished performance as the totally counter-productive result of this excessive and too long tenseness.
In our cells as well, perpetual tenseness, instead of leading to better efficiency, produces on the contrary toxins which then poison the entire system, invading blood and lymph and being carried by them to every other cell all around the body. The organs too, then, start functioning in a diminished way, and a vicious circle is created.
The only way my own cells are able to go back to the needed state of inner rest is by putting their entire trust into the Divine Protection.
As they happen to be doing since years, to my own bewilderment, their own yoga of conscious evolution, they are as much aware of the Divine Protection as I am; their problem (just like mine…!) is that in their daily life they tend to fall back into the state of consciousness that was normal for them before, the way of being that is normal for all the ordinary cells in all our bodies.
But when they remember the true Reality, their faith in the Divine grows so intense that it becomes their entire focus, the fear then disappears totally – and then it has happened several times that the threatening physical conditions themselves start to change and disappear.
So this inner state of rest can truly make the whole difference.
Well, it is a part of the overall training of my whole being, that my cells too try to find ways for remembering more and more often the true Reality and the total Protection it offers to them. Among the ways they have found are what is called in India ‘mantras’, of their own choice, that I will speak about in my next post.