Living Well in a Toxic World
By Ime Morales
What’s normal nowadays is waking up to Messenger, replying before we even brush our teeth. And then scrolling through Twitter for news and getting bombarded with information about the war in Mindanao, the latest number of EJK-related deaths, or an inappropriate exchange between a high-profile ex-couple. To balance things out, we go to Instagram to look at what “friends” are having for breakfast. We click on a few hearts and then we reply to a couple of urgent emails. We check the weather, we take a series of “woke up like this” selfies, play a bit with the filters, and post the best one online. And then we check the time and finally decide to get up from the bed, feeling just a little bit fulfilled by what we had done with the first few minutes of our busy day.
What is normal these days is probably the worst way to start the day, if we are to go by what BK Gopi Patel teaches. Sister Gopi is an experienced meditation teacher, inspirational speaker, and spiritual educator from the Brahma Kumaris. She was recently in Manila (August 23-24, 2017) to give a series of public talks on peace and freedom. Sister Gopi says that if we are not careful, we’d get overwhelmed by the toxicity around us, and it all may lead to a feeling of emptiness, stress, lifestyle diseases, or depression—all the typical modern day afflictions. Let’s take a look then at some of the tips she shared to help us shield ourselves from the chaos of the world.
1. First of all, self-care.
“A big part of self-transformation is self-care,” says Sister Gopi. More than caring for the physical body, it is very important to take care of the mind. It simply means being careful about what we think about, what we say, what we do, and when we think, say, or do these things. She also encourages everyone to enjoy some Me Time every day. “99% of great leaders have a personal practice of Me Time,” says Sister Gopi. This is our space and time for the self, which we can spend in meditation, writing, thinking, or doing whatever it is that nurtures our soul. One hour should be enough, however, the first 10 minutes of the day should absolutely be spent “elevating our thoughts”—not going on social media—because this brief window of time will affect the rest of our day.
2. Understand, and then release ego.
The ego is developed early in our lives when we start to become self-conscious. Sister Gopi believes that the ego is “probably one of the most slippery of energies that make us heartless.” It feeds anger, it makes our body conscious (as opposed to being soul conscious), it could destroy our peace, it colors our perception, and it is incredibly deceptive. When the ego is at work, the superficial, the labels, take center stage. For example, we might think that a lot depends on us and this might give us a false sense of self-importance. Let us take a long, hard look at this energy, and then release it. And, always remember: “When there is love, ego melts.”
3. Be careful what you feed your mind.
Where attention goes, energy flows. Whatever it is that you feed, will grow; it is a natural law. So BK Gopi advises everyone to pay attention to the quality of thoughts that we allow in our minds. For example limiting beliefs will indeed make us smaller; the more we think about our difficulties, the worse things get; our thoughts become our reality; or, worrying about the future makes us lose our energy to deal with difficulties when they finally do come. Many of the thoughts in our heads are actually useless data that rob us of much-needed focus.
Negative thoughts create restlessness in the body and may even lead to disease. Be extra careful because whenever we allow even just a single negative thought inside, more will come. “They come like a tsunami!” Sister Gopi exclaims. And she’s right, it usually starts with a single, small, seemingly innocent thought and before you know it, it has become an all-consuming monster in the mind.
4. Stop pleasing people.
People pleasing is another dimension of the ego, says Sister Gopi. It is disguised under “making other people happy,” but what it really does is it makes us more unhappy. People pleasers end up losing their discernment, and the people being pleased will end up depending on the people pleaser because their (the receivers’) weaknesses are being fed. The unfortunate truth about it is that they don’t really appreciate what you do for them, no matter how hard you try and how much you give. Sister Gopi likens it to “pouring your resources down the toilet.” And when you stop giving, they don’t like you anymore. But do you know whose fault and problem it is? It is most definitely not theirs.