Last Saturday’s thoughts on Etiquette of Grief brought in an outpouring of messages from concerned friends and well-wishers. Thank you so much for checking on me. As my faith was tested severely in the last few days, your words of comfort helped me get back on my feet. I lost someone to a bizarre, freak accident. When she was battling for her life, I was on an emotional rollercoaster.

Every time I would break down, it was my daughter who became my rock. When I told her to pray, she replied she didn’t need to. She said she believed and urged that I should too. I tried. Despite the prayers and the belief, my friend didn’t make it. And yet I have survived.

I still can’t believe that I’ll never hear her cheery voice or see her smiling face ever again but I am calmer now. Is it my belief that sustains me? Possibly. There’s no logical explanation to it. I know what happened was unfair and cruel but I don’t want to question it any longer. Is it that when I submitted myself to a power that is higher to me, I got the gift of acceptance? I call it a gift because it helps me in achieving serenity.

My father often saysRaazi hain hum usi main jis main teri Raza ho. It used to frustrate me as a child. But the futility of reacting (often over reacting) is a realisation that has dawned on me with experience. I now understand that nature seeks equilibrium, a balance, and so do we. Our quest for happiness passes through the road called serenity.

I write this today because I received countless messages from mutual friends who were upset at the unfairness of it all. They wanted to scream and so did I.  I want them to know that I held myself back because I’m aware that screaming wouldn’t help me or the situation either.

My favourite prayer to God, for the longest time, has been to ‘grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’. It is probably this belief that helps me step back and take stock of the situation.

The trouble is that we take Newton’s third law, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’, very seriously. So, every time we are in an unlikely situation, we are wired to react. But our actions often take us farther away from the state of calm. Which brings me to another favourite line of mine-

Step outside for a while – calm your mind. It is better to hug a tree than to bang your head against a wall continually.

Rasheed Ogunlaru

In the chaotic world that we live in, the need to be centred is becoming imperative. We should be choosing serenity if we want to stay sane. For me its my belief in a higher power that helps me hug a tree. I’m curious to know how you calm yourself when faced with storms. Is it a ritual, a favourite spot or a chant that you resort to? I look forward to hearing on this from you.

Have a blessed weekend!

-Dr. Shivani Salil

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