Tag Archives: inner peace

Himalayan Life

From March 2015 until September 2018 I lived in the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh in India. I went on a six-month visa to expand my horizons, and hoped to gain perspective and wisdom. The Buddhist towns and villages high up in the Himalayan foothills were a perfect place to remove myself from the demands of living in a capitalist society, and the accompanying thought patterns. The sound of mantras, the smell of incense and the colourful prayer flags imbibed calm on an overworked western mind, allowing a deeper connection to the elusive realm of spirit.

The journey that began as a three to six month sabbatical, ending up as a three-and-a-half year life changing experience. With intermittent return journeys to the UK and Nepal for visas, life in the main was lived simply among the people and creatures of the Himalayas. It was not an easy journey from the outset, my conditioned mind patterns tripped me up at every turn, nagging me about comforts, or lack thereof. The ego doesn’t welcome change unless it’s on terms it understands. Being thrown into a completely different culture with reduced conveniences does not bode well with the ego. The haranguing inner dialogue often kept me awake long into the night demanding to know if I had a death wish, doubly so when I had to side-step a scorpion on the way to the bathroom.

Relationships were also tricky. Trying to interact with Buddhist, Hindu and Sikhs from a western framed mindset leads to more than just a confusion of language, but an emotional frustration when the ego-self is met with a calm shoulder shrug or bemused head wobble. Navigating a relationship with a man brought up in the Tibetan-Buddhist tradition was a real challenge for me but also an immensely rewarding one for the soul, as time and time again, it had to make several leaps forward to overcome the ego’s sabotage of love. Humility alone, was the one saving grace for my fledgling soul as it bowed its head to the long list of wrongdoings levelled against it while under the duress of the ego. Living an authentic life is not for the fainthearted.

Meditation and retreat does not guarantee an immediate blissful transcendence into inner peace and love, true it provides an opening, but for me the journey was both turbulent and humbling as I faced my human flaws in the mirror of self-reflection.

Long periods of self-isolation and reflection in the Himalayas prepared me for my current circumstances during UK lock down. As I sit and reflect on our current situation as a national and global community, I am eternally grateful for the self imposed quarantine of my ego in a Himalayan village. It gave me the tools to face any situation with equanimity. The old ego pattern still has its say, but it fades quickly without the energy of unresolved fear. Lifting the lid on old behaviour patterns revealed childhood fears of lack, abandonment and inadequacy. Facing past pain released me from slavery to an ego formed from circumstance and necessity in order to cope with unresolved emotions. I felt tethered to a role that I was sick of playing, and its continuous rehearsals playing out in my head. Casting aside my role has been the most challenging and liberating experience of my existence.

I hope you use this time of self-isolation to face some of your unwanted behaviour patterns and kick them into touch with the help of humility and kindness.

Collette O’Mahony 13/04/2020

The Himalayan Caves where Padmasambhava gave his Buddhist teachings in the 8th Century.

Finding inner calm in a time of crisis.

What can get us through this time of fear and isolation?

It is true that worry never amounted to a solution, and fear never nourished a single heart. There is a lesson to be learned in our current situation as we wall ourselves off in our homes for fear of catching the virus, or to save others as we wait for our immune system to fight off an infection.

How can we access our eternal being when the mind is crowded by fearful thoughts as ego struggles to make sense of its crumbling world?

It is important to remain informed of new developments in our nation and globally but avoid being saturated by it. Take in the essential information and leave the rest. The ego thrives on fear just as the virus thrives on human contact. Ego and self are comparable terms in spiritual texts. Self isolation (ego isolation) can lead us to a deeper understanding of our eternal being if we take the time to tune into our ever present, underlying peace. This inner peace is generally obscured by mental noise caused by anxiety and stress, never more so than in the current financial and global uncertainty. Yet, when you can take a few moments to check in with your feeling body and allow emotions to pass like waves across deeper still waters, a space opens up where everything is calm. Sure, the waves of uncertainty continue to crash upon the surface but this is not who you are, it is merely a current created by the fearful ego.

We all play a part in the unfolding universe. Mental well being is crucial to our experience in an ever changing world. Clinging to foundations built in sand leads to drowning. Our seemingly solid world, our expectations, hopes and dreams all seem to crash against these fragile foundations creating more fear and anxiety. If your house was about to be flooded, you would evacuate. The ego is the house with shaky foundations, we are being asked to evacuate, to move to safer ground. Thankfully, this safe place is not outside of us, it is within. Go deeper into your inner space, let that safe place envelop you and reassure you that all is well. Flow with the universe, let it lead you to safety, trusting that everything is unfolding perfectly.

Collette O’Mahony

26/03/2020