Aki was happy to enlighten further, “Before we do anything our mind starts seeing the event; how it would occur and what would be the outcome. This is ‘visualization’ and we do it all the time. Unfortunately many visualize a negative result of their task, project, game, or meeting. The negative visualization is also called ‘worry’, and creating ‘worry visuals’ in mind often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you had to walk on a log of wood that’s on the ground, it’s easy. But if it were placed on a chair it’s more difficult and if it was placed in between two buildings, you would imagine falling. However acrobats would never imagine that. That’s how ‘visualization’ works. You could visualize your performance; how you would treat your employees, how you’d take care of the house, and your behaviour and dealings with your friends. This gives you tremendous confidence when the actual event takes place, because you have already enacted the situation in your mind.
“Having first lived out the event positively in mind, it’s easier to translate it into reality; the pressure is off and the performance smooth. You can take ‘visualization’ a step higher. Whether you are an athlete or a manager in a company, visualize your life ten years down the line. How would you live your life? Who would be your best friends? What values and principles you’d like to live by? What relationships really matter to you ten years from now? As you envision the future, ask how much is your present life in line with what you desire to achieve. Will your material achievements, be they a gold medal or a billion dollars help you earn love and peace? Is becoming the most popular and respected person on planet really worth it? Would you trade your real self for the fleeting promises of this world?
Remember the Italian saying, “After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box” Keep the visualization realistic. Know that time would invade your bodily and mental faculties; you couldn’t be a sporting hero forever. Ask what really matters to you and are you living your life in accordance with these aspirations. Instead of ‘going’ through life, seek ‘growing’ through it. William Stacy, the 18th century American war hero said, “We should give meaning to life, not wait for life to give us meaning.”
Äki paused. His eyes were now moist, and with a choking voice said, “I am saying this because I went through a life changing experience myself”
“Tackling challenges in the ashram I remember trying this exercise a few years ago when I was packed with services for over twelve hours a day, and could hardly devote quality time to my spiritual activities. As I felt dissatisfaction despite my busy work schedules, a serious confusion arose in my mind; what am I doing in life? Where am I heading to? I was about to leave the monastery in disgust; the world ‘outside’ of me had taken a heavy toll of my ‘inside’.
“I was saved by guruji. He asked me to take a break and write down an answer to the question: “What do I want to be ten years from now?” The answer to this question was candid, notwithstanding my then lifestyle and services. As I envisioned a balanced life of service and worship of Lord, things became clearer. After the half hour exercise, I compared what I had written with what I had been presently doing in the ashram. The incongruence was obvious and appalling; the flight of my life was way off track. It didn’t take me long then to come back on track. Since then I have been much more peaceful. Even now I do get lost sometimes but I get the plane of my life back on course. There is a priceless diamond waiting to be earned in solitude and prayer. I remind myself gently, ‘Dear Aki, don’t let the fleeting gold medals of this world rob me off this diamond”
“And to be honest, I have no time for visualization”, Shyam was now cynical.
“You are really pissed because of the errands you run for everybody in the ashram, aren’t you?” Venky, his good friend judged the situation immediately.
“No, I don’t mind the errands. It’s just the ingratitude that I can’t take. I do all sort of things like wash clothes of seniors, get food for the sick, rush off to the market for small things. But I feel they just take me for granted”
“All right, all right”, Aki took charge again. “I know Shyam, you are really stressed. And besides, South Mumbai is a crazy place, very passionate, with people rushing all around from morning to night. You are a victim of this frenzy; you too have been swept away by Mumbai’s cyclonic lifestyle. Why don’t you try to slow down?”
“And pray may I know how do I do that?”
“Hmm let’s see”, Aki became thoughtful.
“He’s going to go off on a tangent again”, Venky whispered to Kishor.
To be continued…