Recently I had the pleasure to speak with Hindol Sengupta of Grin News. Hindol is journalist who recently won the Wilbur Award in 2018 for Being Hindu: Understanding a Peaceful Path in a Violent World. We talked crisis and the many benefits of meditation.
You can listen to the conversation here:
HS: Why did you write this book?
BJB: The book came about in a way that shows it was clearly ready to be shared in the world through my experience and expressed what was wanted and needed by the collective. I’ve always liked to write and I’m an avid reader. I’ve always wanted to write a book but didn’t know what to write a book about. Once I started to go into a meditative state and pose questions to solicit guidance from my Higher Self and the All Knowing Presence, information started to drift into my awareness. However, I couldn’t remember what was coming through. So I brought a notepad and pen to the meditation session and recorded what came into my awareness. That recorded information along with everything that was going on surrounding the difficult financial situations is what ultimately led to the book.
HS: Take us through your journey from crisis to meditation.
BJB: I’ve always like to read, but when my husband had a medical situation that almost led to him having a stroke at 33 years-old it sent our life into disarray. We were not prepared to deal with that financially. We weren’t prepared for him to be out of worth for such a long period of time. He was the primary financial provider. So the situation brought about a lot of stress. We didn’t have a lot of money to buy food, to support ourselves or to pay our bills and we were very scared and angry at ourselves and each other. Although I am someone who would have gone to see a therapist, we couldn’t afford it. What I had at my disposal was reading. I read a lot of books about self-help and spirituality. I noticed a common theme in the books. What they all offered and suggested were the benefits of meditation — how helpful and how calming it can be. I had that at my disposal and no one could stop me from turning within. Every day I would sit down in a meditative state and I could literally feel my muscles relaxing. I felt calmer. This helped me to interact with my husband and my children in a way where I wasn’t so tense and worried. As I continued, I began to notice that the effects of being calmer and clearer lasted for longer periods of time. So I started to go deeper and deeper.
HS: How did you discover meditation?
BJB: Meditation was, and continues to be, pivotal in addressing the emotion of fear. The situation of losing a home — a house that had been in my family for decades — brought up a tremendous amount of fear, shame, vulnerability and resentment. When you deal with something like this your credits is ruined. We didn’t where we would be able to live or how we would could afford to live anywhere. I felt a tremendous amount of fear in my abdominal area. I carried it with me. Meditation was instrumental because when you sit in silence, in quietude, there is going to be a moment when you have stillness-thought-stillness-thought. I was able to note how my mind continually tried to create more problems and give me more situations to be afraid of. I noticed fearful thoughts continuously coming up which helped me to identify there was within me a consciousness of poverty, and consciousness of fear. All of this is intertwined. I became aware of the Monkey Mind during meditation.
HS: Did you follow any book or a personal guide or guru?
BJB: When I sat in meditation, I really just honed in on what my body intuitively felt like it needed. Sometimes I felt like I wanted a prolonged period of silence. Sometimes I felt like I wanted to inquire — like I wanted to know. Bu ultimately, underlying all of that was a deep, deep sincerity for me to connect with the Higher Presence and develop and intimate relationship with the Presence. I didn’t follow the guidelines of a particular master, although I read some of their books, I literally just listened to what my body felt like it needed. Sometimes I wanted prayer, so I would go with that. Even now that remains my practice. I sit in periods of silence, in prayer, to offer gratitude and send blessings to other people and also to (sometimes) pose questions. My questions now are very different than they were from when I first started. The practice essentially emerged from within.
HS: What do you mean by ‘radical gratitude’?
BJB: When you’re being grateful, in the midst of a crisis, it’s not that you’re being oblivious or irresponsible by not placing all of your attention on what you see as the problem. It’s a conscious decision, a conscious choice to be radical in a loving and informed way of where you are going to place your attention. “I’m going to place my attention on the fact that there is still something for me to be grateful for. I can be grateful that I have my life, that there is an opportunity here to explore love in a deeper capacity. I can choose to go deeper to see what this is trying to tech or reveal to me.” It’s a shift of where you place your attention on a higher quality.
HS: How did meditation help you change your idea of fear?
BJB: When I first started all of this, when we were losing the house, I was so afraid. So many of my prayers were to beseech help, to grasp for help, pleading for anything outside of myself to intervene. As I moved through this with more reading, contemplative practice and being a part of a spiritual community with a support system, my way of praying completely transformed to look at the blessings in my life despite the external conditions. We still had a place to live, even after losing the house. I had loving support from my parents and healthy children. Focusing on what I had to be grateful for helped to transmute the energy inside of my body from fear-based save-me-please energy to a consciousness of abundance.
HS: Has your idea of God changed from before and after going through this journey and discovering meditation?
BJB: Yes, my idea of God has changed. When I was younger, I viewed God as a person living somewhere in the heavens that judged me and situations. As I moved through this situation and over the course of the years, my idea and perspective of God changed. I believe God to be an energy — a consciousness of the Highest, the All Knowing Presence that permeates all life. My role in meditation, in prayer and being incarnate on this planet is to be in the highest connection I can with this energy, this God Consciousness; with heart-centered consciousness as much and as long as I can.