Swami Kriyananda has often mentioned that one of the best antidotes against a mood is going out to help someone else. Whether we like to admit it or not, a mood is a state of being over absorbed in our own little self, the ego. We feel sorry for ourselves and our thoughts go in a downward spiral, bringing us to lower and lower states of consciousness. The world becomes as small as our own self, not being able to relate to the realities of others. We might think that the world owes us something that it is not giving us, and in our feeling of lack we look for others to fill this gap.
Looking for this fulfilment outside of ourselves is just what keeps us stuck in this loop. Because if we cannot find it in ourselves, we are never going to find it. But when already `overcome´ by a mood, we cannot reason ourselves out of it any more, so we have to get our energy moving in an upward direction, and one way to do this is by helping someone else. In this way we expand our sympathies, we expand our sense of oneness and that automatically raises our consciousness.
I´ve had a first direct experience with this principle when I was in college, studying to become a Waldorf teacher. During the period that I had to do an internship, which meant being in a classroom with children five days a week, assisting the teacher and also giving some classes myself, I went through a very painful heartbreak. Whenever I was alone, I was not able to function properly, too absorbed in my own ´misery.´ I felt horrible all the time.
But then I had to be with children all day, and I knew I had to `drop` my personal issues outside of the classroom. Because I knew that whatever I would bring into the classroom, the children would subconsciously pick up and be influenced by that, and I knew that, as the adult, I had to be the one to assist and guide them, not convey my heavy energies to them. And the moment I interacted with the children, all burden and all heaviness was gone. I was so completely in the moment, being there for the children unconditionally, that I had no time to even think of my own problems, even less to be absorbed in them.
A similar situation happened while I was guiding children activities at an Ananda retreat. For days I had been feelings nauseous, and that day wasn’t any different. In fact, on top of that, a very intense headache overcame me. But the fact that I wanted the children to have a good day, and wanted to serve them in whatever possible way I could, helped me to raise my energy and be able to make it through the day, in joy. Only at the end, when my responsibility was over, I had to sit down and take it easy.
What these situations taught me is that there is more strength and energy within us than we think. When we don’t necessarily have to put out the energy, we think we don’t have it available. We might collapse when we think we have to, whereas actually putting out just a little more energy might have lift us out of our `weakened` state, mentally as well as physically.
I believe that parents know this to be true. I am now, since a few months, an expecting mother. Sometimes, I suddenly have a little voice in my head asking me: “Can I really do this?” “What if I am sick, what if I lose all my energy? Will I still be able to take care of this child?” Then I remember these moments that I spent with children and the strength that suddenly awakened within me. That makes me believe that when one has children, you learn to tap into that source of strength and I will be able to do so as well.
This also tells me that we, as devotees, should do this, not only with children, but in any situation. There is a huge potential of strength within us that is just sitting there, untouched. The strength of God is within us. What we have to learn is to tap into it, and put ourselves in situations wherein we have to do exactly that: going beyond what we think we can handle, so that we practice to be able to do it all the time.
As Yogananda said: “Bite more of than you can you, and chew it!”.
This doesn’t mean that we should strain ourselves so much that we get all burned out. But to give our bodies and minds a proper rest we also need energy. If we just choose to collapse, we’ll most likely come out even more tired because we are affirming that tiredness. But if we can access at will our energy supply, we can direct it to conscious relaxation.
Unlimited strength and joy are already ours. By using our energy to help others and raising it by putting out more and more energy, we will naturally find it growing bigger and bigger within us.