If you know me at all, you know I would have laughed out loud in your face if you said something corny like ” How Wonderful!” in a situation where the usual response is “I hate this” or ” This sucks!”. And I have kind of been with people who say such things and more – and I don’t really make fun of them because I like them. But I need to share this cool experience the last couple of days related to this.
OK wait. Let me start from the beginning. So I randomly follow this awesome ex-monk called Nithya Shanti on FB and had a chance to meet him through some dear friends in the last couple of years. And then attended one of his retreats for 2 days called “Joyshops”. I must start by admitting I am not someone interested in the whole “guru” concept and I take everything that comes from “too sane” sounding people with a pinch of salt. But Nithya was different – kind of seemed more interesting – he is cute looking, to begin with ( I will be crucified for this I know!) and then he is our age and has suffered through similar circumstances of a good MBA institute and the corporate world. All his posts on FB and talks seemed very relevant and fun. However, that didn’t make me become a convert. I have been wishing I could write “it changed my life” kinda post since I attended in February but didn’t happen. So there was respect and love and gratitude because he introduced me to a very cool bunch of people ( I know I like people easily but these are better than some of the best I have met in 40 years) but that was all. As you are probably getting the hint: my life didn’t change. I remained a beggar – waiting for someone to drop more pearls of wisdom to feed my soul endlessly.
Life goes on. Someone very dear to me is unwell and I had to suddenly take an overnight to Kolkatta last Friday ( I still have the fear of flying alone since 2016). I did the usual deep breathing, meditating, reiki stuff to keep calm as I was travelling alone in a train probably after 15 years and had to leave my three boys “alone” for the weekend. After boarding the train and settling down on my upper berth ( reduces contact with people and lets me read in peace ), I had dinner and was excited to sleep and relish the next few hours of solitude – if you have ever tried parenting a nine-year-old, you would know the “joy” of being woken up at any time suddenly and while you wonder why it felt like the sky fell, a sweet charming face will ask you a simple question ” May I take your phone to call T?” or “Where’s the iPad” or simply ” I had a bad dream. Can I sleep in your bed now?”.
And just as I switch off the music and try to sleep, I realised I was in “Light sleeper’s hell”. There were people snoring ( was almost like an uncoordinated orchestra with four five different kinds of broken instruments), kids screaming and people listening to music without headphones and high volumes!I was just so shocked that I started smiling to myself and said “How wonderful! there goes my sleep “. The phrase “How Wonderful ” reminded me of Nithya: he had started the retreat by saying “How Wonderful ” everytime we were interrupted by a cell phone ring and I had noted how it stopped me from getting irritated at the person who forgot to mute his phone. Don’t ask me why but I wanted to say it in my mind everytime I heard a snore or cry or anything else that disturbed me while trying to sleep. And since I was making an effort to make it pleasant for myself, I decided to also smile every time I said it.
The strangest thing happened: I actually didn’t feel upset/angry / disturbed and calmly fell asleep. Every time I woke up with some loud bang on the door or any other sound, I somehow remembered to try the same phrase and smile.And lo behold! It worked every time!
I am not saying I had the best restful sleep. I am also not saying it was quiet and peaceful eventually ( someone received a wake-up call at 4:30 from his wife and he spent thirty minutes explaining the train was running late and he could sleep till 10 am if he wanted as he couldn’t possibly reach his destination before noon). The point is: I was calm and actually kind of happy and peaceful. Something magical happened with those words and smile. A journey which could have been termed as super stressful and irritating and tiring turned into a happy experience.
It seems there is more magic in Nithya’s teachings than I have given him credit for.Maybe he is the Guru I need. Maybe I don’t need one. But I do want to try saying ” How Wonderful” and smile when something irks me and see how it goes – might be a simple beginning to an evolved me :).
P.S. For more on Nithya Shanti , click this link .
P.P.S. This is not a license for the family to disturb me while I sleep. I will not say ” How Wonderful” and there will be dire consequences.