Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay
If It Walks like a Duck… It’s a Duck
As I exited Nileshwar Hall I was greeted by a female duck standing near the edge of the bush just in front of the door. It is not common for me to see a duck here in the middle of all the office buildings and parking lot. It is not common for me to see a duck here ever. We don’t have a pond at Nileshwar Hall. So, being that she was out of place, I paused for a moment and observed her.
I crouched down to her level and uttered that I was not going to harm her but wondered if she was okay. She looked like she was out of sorts and anxious. Her mate was nowhere in sight which concerned me as I understood that ducks are normally with their mate, especially this time of year. Keeping her distance, she stared me down and then retreated to an open spot under the bush. I observed her agitation level increase as she adopted a puffed-up posture with her feathers. She wanted me leave her alone. I got into my car and left. How was I going to help this duck anyway? I have no idea what a duck needs.
All I Could Thin of Was This Duck
During the day all I could think of was this duck. The encounter consumed my thoughts which then lead me to have feelings about this duck and what her plight might be. Having these feelings caused me to engage in worry, rumination, and contemplation over this duck. I was concerned for her safety, wondering if she had babies. I wondered if her mate had been killed and she was alone.
As I went about my mundane tasks, while continuing to ruminate over the duck, a thought popped into my mind.
This encounter with the duck could have simply been an encounter with it, void of any excess mental and emotional energy. But instead, I allowed this encounter to cause me to slip into a pattern of thought and feeling that led to worry and fear, without any awareness that I had done so.
I then had an awareness that her presence was to share this realization of how easily I jump into worry and slip into habits of being emotionally driven, especially with interactions like this where there is no need for such things.
Reading more about the symbology of ducks, I learned that ducks are very social and amiable. They are capable of showing a range of emotions, and are easily impressed upon by imprints on them. From this, it appeared that she was asking me to evaluate my state of emotional resilience and emotional tendencies that cloud my awareness and discernment. I immediately considered this to be a message when it comes to engaging with family.
Part of the message was also to consider what slipping into this cycle of emotion, fueled by feelings and thoughts was doing to me daily and even moment to moment with regard to my experience of joy. Am I handling my emotions with grace and equipoise? Or am I allowing these emotions to eat me alive?
My examination began with the contemplation of when I have been experiencing this condition of being out of place emotionally and emotionally distraught. When had I been puffing up and pushing away help? When had I not been letting go to be in joy?
Oh boy! I could share so many examples of this statement! I have been an emotional wreck for over a year. On further investigation I observed that this state of emotional upheaval is connected to the understandings and thoughts I hold and how these have been made an imprint on my mind.
I am now experiencing the consequences of lack of emotional resilience and have become a slave to my emotions. This is all due to not being vigilant in the practices for arresting such feelings before going down the rabbit hole.
This awareness is showing me that I am so used to contracting in this state of emotionality that it shuts down my discernment and inner strength. I am so used to reaching for the emotional roller coaster that it has become pleasurable to be in this state of pain. I seek to associate happiness and comfort with riding this emotional roller coaster.
Are You Enjoying Your Emotions or Are They Enjoying You?
In the pursuit of life, we are all just looking to be happy. No matter what, we want to enjoy life but there are things that get in the way of experiencing all that life can be. One such obstacle is out of control emotions or what we refer to here in Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga as riding the emotional roller coaster.
Ducks return to where they feel safe and comfortable. I know this as I have 2 ponds in my yard and the same pair of ducks come back each year to nest and have ducklings. They pick the same spot in my landscaping for the nest, and they even have a very predictable routine of moving from my pond to a neighbor’s pond on the next block during the day to swim and eat.
In spite of the fact that I have a fox living in my yard, a cat and other neighborhood cats, coyotes, hawks, and cars zooming about, they still return to this place where they feel safe and comfortable. They must have some understanding that my pond is safe.
Attachment to Emotional Comfort
So, like the ducks, my habit, my tendency to pursue and attach to emotional comfort, even in the face of danger to my experience of joy, outweighs the danger because the perceived benefit of emotional comfort is more compelling.
This is similar to the experience of riding the emotional roller coaster in a pursuit of emotional comfort, at the expense of emotional resilience.
In Sadguru Kedarji’s 3rd pillar of Joy In Daily Living he addresses emotional resilience and riding the emotional roller coaster. He shares that emotions are a gift, a tool to be used to express our humanity without impacting our inner state. And that we should use our emotions to recognize and relish in the true heart. We can experience the Ultimate Reality through our feeling. Emotional resilience is the ability to express emotions without being a slave to them.
Are You Enjoying Your Emotions or Are Your Emotions Enjoying You?
I was performing the Guruseva of attic cleaning when my cell phone rang. I had taken it with me to use the flashlight to see into the dark spots in the eves for mice and forgot to turn the ringer off. The caller ID said Mercy Health which is our local hospital. I wasn’t going to answer it as I was performing Guruseva, but it said Mercy Health. My mind raced and my heart sunk.
I immediately went into worry and fear over who was sick, hurt or dead. Sadguru Kedarji teaches us a 3-step Dharana to arrest the wandering mind – take three deep breaths, recall the form of the Guru into your mind and then repeat your Mantra. In that moment I chose those emotional habits over the practice of this 3-step Dharana and off on the roller coaster ride I went.
So, I answered the phone and it was a wrong number. I sat there for a few moments in contemplation of what just took place. My emotions were enjoying me. My mind finds comfort in its worry and satisfaction in thinking of ways to respond in preparation for an outcome that may never happen.
Emotional Resilience Is a State
Sadguru Kedarji shares that emotional resilience is a state. He says that, “it is not possible to attain emotional resilience without first improving your mental state. If you have a lousy mental state, you cannot attain a state of emotional resilience. These two work synergistically, in conjunction with The Spiritual Power.”
Contemplating this utterance and my emotional outbursts over the year, I can clearly see the truth in this statement. I have had a very restless mind that I have allowed to wander. I meditate on fear and worry that directly correlates to poor understandings, leading to a roller coaster of emotions.
The High Cost of Runaway Emotions
Sadguru Kedarji shares with us that the 4 Pillars of Joy In Daily Living form an ecology, a delicate, harmonious balance. This balance must be struck and maintained for us to attain permanent spiritual transformation that also embodies vibrant health.
Emotional resilience, the third pillar, is a key component of our Joy. Being a slave to emotions, being constantly dragged back and forth from one emotion to another, degrades our spiritual attainment by causing stress, which further impacts our Joy, as well as our physical health. When we become slaves to our emotions, we place ourselves under a great deal of stress. This stress has a direct impact on every aspect of our existence.
If It Walks Like a Duck, It’s a Duck
After waiting several months to get in to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for chronic ear pain, that was his diagnosis to me. “There’s nothing wrong with your ear but is sounds to me like Temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMJ disorder is hard to diagnosis, but if it walks like a duck, it’s a duck. So, let’s go with that.”
I was not thrilled with his comment and his quick, somewhat dismissive diagnosis. Yet considering my recent experience with the duck and his use of this phrase, I thought about my overall well-being and health issues of late in relation to my lack of emotional resilience and stress level. TMJ disorder is made worse by stress by way of clenching the jaw, radiating pain into the ear. I was doing just that most of the day and in my sleep.
I began to recount my recent health issues and could clearly see a connection to my living in emotional contraction, worry and fear, translating into a degraded physical body. I was downregulating myself by emotional eating and not getting enough rest. This led to weight gain, inflammation, allergies, heart issues, and reoccurring long haul Covid infection.
It’s That Simple
Sometimes the root cause is that simple. If it walks like a duck, it’s a duck. Finding comfort in a restless mind and roller coaster emotions, living in this state of constant stress was normal for me. So much so that I simply disregarded the very evident root cause; Lack of Emotional Resilience.
I now see the way to improving these ailments is to address the “duck”, the emotional habits that I engage that create stress in my life and degrade my spiritual attainment and physical well-being.
Here in Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga we have many practices to aid in cultivating emotional resilience – the third of Sadguru Kedarji’s 4 Pillars of Joy In Daily Living. I use Japa or Mantra repetition. I am always amazed at how effective this practice is at helping me put my ducks back in row.
Rev. Deana Tareshawty performs her selfless service as Vice President of our public charity, The Bhakta School, in addition to serving as a program leader and harmonium player. She also serves on our Board of Directors. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a double minor in Biology and Chemistry. She is a certified Ecology of Well-Being practitioner and the owner of Inspired Wholeness. She is also a trained Reiki Master in Usui Reiki.