AMIT VAIDYA tries hard to find order in the midst of chaotic city life.As our cities become more of concrete jungles, there is even less space to breathe. We are left gasping for air, hoping the sun that peaks through industrialised clouds will warm our hands and energise our lives. To do this, we have to let go of the fear of darkness and welcome every emotion as though it has come from the sun.
So how do we let go in a city where there is no room to rid ourselves of anything? I prefer to call this an urban detox. There are countless over-the-counter treatments for cleansing the body of the poisons we take orally via the foods we eat or the pills we consume. But ourmind needs to detox once in a while too!
This release comes through meditation. It also comes through exercises whether as austere as yoga or as carefree as dancing. These days though, my release comes from getting involved with others and being there for them when they need someone. In our busy lives, we often forget that selflessness is the first step towards letting go. Only when we let go of ourselves, can we truly be there for others.
Living For Others
I lived away from cities for two years and then returned to urban life. I found it hard to maintain the disciplined life and routine that I had established for myself there. After some attempts, I was able to stick to the routine, but it was difficult to find meaning in the midst of city life. I soon learnt why — here I was busy focusing on myself and was not thinking of anyone else, at all. When living in simplicity, your needs are minimal. But city life requires more of everything. There is very little time left to spend on meaningful activities.
I understood this when I started helping cancer patients navigate their medical treatment. I am a recovered cancer patient myself and finding something to do that had greater value pushed me to change my priorities. All of a sudden, the importance of the work trumped my own desires and needs. Finding an avenue whereby I could create order within chaos provided me an appropriate way to let go in the city.
As a result, even the structured life I had adapted for the city got reinvigorated as I now had a purpose and needed to stay healthy so as to walk along this new meaningful path that I had chosen to tread on.
In the concrete jungle, an urban detox is ultimately nothing more than finding the right dhyan that permits us to break away from our own needs and focus on the present that includes others. We are all equipped for being there for others. It’s ironic that the more time we spend with ourselves, the greater likelihood is that we will actually be there for others. And ultimately, you feel an inner glow when you help someone through a difficult phase or when someone bestows you with blessings. We need these warm feelings to rid ourselves of the toxins we blindly ingest while navigating city life.
My morning routine in the city is now consistent. It consists of waking up, doing my meditation, my yoga then going for a run and finally returning home to have my breakfast. The order with which I start my day is the supplement I need to face the challenges that lie ahead. It also ensures that nothing tampers with my happiness. In essence, I’ve let go even before the day begins.
Let Go of Darkness
In theory, this may sound utopian, but its practical application is hard because urban life can wipe out a lifetime’s worth of Zen in a few minutes. For that reason, spending a good portion of my daily time and efforts with others shields me from losing this awareness.
The sun gives strength and we simply cannot live without it. Yet we hold onto the darkness even in spite of the light. It’s imperative to warm our souls internally and externally by this daily detox that enables us to exhale the poisons and inhale the goodwill our lives need in order to make sense of madness.
Ultimately we don’t need physical space to get away nor do we need privacy to feel at peace. We can let go so long as we focus on our breathing and in turn help someone else to catch up with their breath.