Editors note: This fantastic article is by Fran Vanderloon, a regular at our Self Development Class. Wherever Fran goes, she lightens the mood with her humour and we love her for it.
Ah, mid-life crisis! Don’t you just hate it! All the physical and emotional challenges that come with ageing – not that I ever had a problem with the number of birthdays, just with the number of wrinkles associated with them!
Throw into the mix the kids leaving home, the death of my mother and the collapse of a thirty year marriage – all in the one year – I was about ready to fall into the very crevices appearing on my face!
Of course I went down all the usual avenues people do in this sort of situation – psychological counselling, self-help books, getting sozzled with my mates – nothing like a few inebriated 50+ year old women to solve the problems of the world!
All were of some assistance, but nothing really filled the void I was feeling or made any sense as to why my life had turned upside down.
I was like a lifeboat cast adrift on the ocean – drifting nowhere in particular and longing to be rescued.
Vedanta Filled The Void
Fortunately for me, along came Vedanta – the ancient philosophy of India.
I tentatively attended a class and although I remained somewhat sceptical, being a “nuts and bolts” personality type, I was soon drawn to the plain common-sense of its teachings.
Vedanta, being based on science and logic, was the key to filling the void I had been experiencing.
As time (and a lot more classes) went by, my perspective on life started to change. I gradually learned to accept and love what is, rather than wish things were the way I wanted them to be. I ceased looking for personal gratification and found happiness in giving and sharing with others.
Most importantly, I began to understand the aim of human existence and how necessary it is to strive to live a life of peace within and harmony with all.
“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.” – Deepak Chopra
Ten years down the track, my friends and family remark on how well I deal with life’s trials and tribulations. I rarely sweat the small stuff, bar the sheer frustration I experience when the lawnmower won’t start – but hey, I’m blonde and therefore not good with mechanical things by definition.
By applying the principles of Vedanta in my daily life I am able to work through most of life’s challenges with reason and logic, changing that which I can and accepting that which I cannot.
Life isn’t a bowl of cherries for the majority of us and curve balls will continue to be thrown, but knowing that all things will eventually pass, I appreciate that a problem is no longer an insurmountable mountain, but rather a speed bump in the road of life.
This was never more apparent than when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a couple of years ago.
I didn’t voice any surprise (after all, why not me instead of why me?) or shed a single tear on being given the diagnosis. Although I will confess to not being overly impressed when they warned me the cancer had spread so extensively that following surgery I may never be able to speak again!
Thanks to all I had learned through Vedanta, I could only think that I had so much to be grateful for – a wonderful husband, children I adored and who adored me, fabulous friends, and a past life I now looked on as one hell of a ride. I really had no cause for complaint. And as it turned out, thanks to a very skilled surgeon, my voice gradually returned to normal.
Through Vedanta I have learned that everyone is different, with diverse reasons for seeking what gives their lives meaning and what eases their path through it.
From my observations in class, whether it is endeavouring to be a better person for no other reason than one should, learning to be objective in one’s attitudes and decision making, understanding the implications of cause and effect, striving to be non-judgemental and accepting of all, seeking inner peace and a higher mental plane, or simply, like me, making sense of why we are here at all, Vedanta provides the answers.
Certainly it has turned my life around and I wouldn’t be without it!
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Image Credit: tucoba