how to stay aligned in times of distress


shades of raags

In Sanskrit, the term rāga refers to coloring. Rāga is the art of coloring with emotions. We color our consciousness with emotions. While most of the music nowadays is subjected to conventional formats and the obligation to deliver a given message in a predefined frame of time, mostly a little over 3 minutes, raags lets us dive freely into a state of consciousness. A soundscape to be explored for it is ever expanding. If music, generally speaking, helps us find an outlet for our unexpressed emotions, raags allows us to explore the different shades of a wide spectrum of emotions, from passion to ecstasy, from devotion to delightfulness.

Most of conscious living consists in finding out who we are. We are by definition, the expression of the Infinite, temporarily evolving in a finite context. Our main purpose then, is to express this infinity through our potential, and for that we must be in alignment with our power without letting setbacks throw us off the path of self expression. 

One of my early misconceptions about conscious living, was to think that as I was becoming more aware of the frequencies I was tuning into, since I was becoming a more positive person, I would never again attract misfortunes or the like. I rejoiced in the possibility that this would make me immune to negativity like a spiritual firewall. To me, expressing positivity meant that nothing negative belonged in my energy field. However, I quickly learned that just because you know how to sail a boat, it doesn’t guarantee a quiet sea. In fact, what makes us skillful sailors is being able to sail through the worst weather conditions. It is our ability to stay serene and in doing so, to remain in full control of our actions, no matter how bad it gets. Things don’t happen to us. Things just happen.

Sometimes an unidentified projectile gets stuck in our energy field, and as a result of that, we get thrown off the track for a bit. But just as rain falls or the sun shines, things are simply unfolding because that is what they do. They are impersonal by nature, and it is up to us to maintain clarity so that we do not act out are fears. Everything comes down to a choice. We can choose to engage into a negative state or we can make the conscious decision to let this pass. It is our personal responsibility to do so and our responsibility to the world, to effectively learn how to snap out of negative states. By law, what we give out, we receive. A negative state is never in alignment with our true original expression. It is not who we are. Only when we are living in accordance with our true nature, can we be an asset to the world, and fully enjoy the well being of our natural state. This is what gives us power and makes us fully functional human beings.

But how do we go about staying in alignment, or at least effectively snapping out of a state of negativity? The first thing to keep in mind is that as we are by nature the expression of the Infinite in a temporary finite state. We are ever expanding, which means, that it will always be an act of balancing. It just gets easier with time to come out of a state, where we feel affected by the things going on in the physical world. We are indeed the creator of our experience, even though in the beginning, it may feel that we are too fragile and easily get carried away.

In times like these, deep breaths, meditation, and yoga most certainly help. However, when we get caught in our own pattern, getting out of it may require an extra gentle nudge from the outside. Think of it as a car that has gotten stuck in the sand and needs to be pushed out. How can we enter a state of full detachment from our emotions, when we are in the process of acting out these very emotions? 

Consider a glass of water and ink. You will see in this image what raags do to our consciousness. Raags naturally slow down our breath. Something about our consciousness naturally attaches itself to the gradual unfolding of the notes played on the bansuri and thus, we are gently being redirected towards a more contemplative state. We finally become observers. We observe our emotions, just as we would observe the ink being poured into the glass of water. We see how these emotions unfold within us. We feel how our body responds to them. We learn to read the physical signs in our jaws, cheeks, eyebrows, and in our guts. Little by little our consciousness is being colored by the raag and we rise out of that state that was holding us stuck. We are now finally moving on just as anything else in the beautiful dance of the universe.

Raags can be used in meditation or during yoga practice. There are morning, afternoon, and evening raags. Each of them carries an energy specific to that time of day. Raags are a means to bring our consciousness back to where it belongs, that is to say, in the present moment. They ground us and fill our inner well, at the same time as they clean our energy field. More than anything, raags teaches us about conscious detachment and awareness.

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