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Eye of the Storm

We all know what the eye of a storm is. It is the peaceful area around which a whirlwind is blowing in full swing. It is a safe rounded pocket around which the storm is howling with full force. The tornado is sweeping around in full force but the ‘eye’ is quiet and peaceful.
How nice it would be if we too could be calm and serene in the midst of chaos – in the eye of the storm!
Surprisingly enough, it’s much easier than you might imagine it to be in the eye of a “human storm”. I learned the trick after experimenting with it a number of times. All my life, I had the habit of jumping into the very center of the storm of a discussion, debate, heated argument. I would become a ‘party, a ‘partisan’, a committed person to one side and thus open to onslaughts by the other side. Now, pretty late in life, I have learned the ‘trick’ of remaining in the eye of the human storm till I find the most appropriate moment to step calmly into the debate.
Suppose you are going to a family gathering that is likely to be chaotic. You can tell yourself that you are going to use the experience as an opportunity to remain calm. You can commit to being the one person in the room who will be an example of peace to others. You can practice breathing while others are shouting. You can practice listening. You can let others be right and enjoy the glory of that moment. You can do it if you set your mind to it.
In the house of your Mom’s eldest sister in Jabalpur (10 members of the family when I visited it in 1975), everyone spoke loudly, nay, almost at the top of their voices. I asked my “my b-in-law”, the head of the family, how one could make others hear him in this din. He smiled and said, “I use a trick. When everybody is shouting, I keep quiet. Then choosing a moment I say something in undertones, almost a whisper. My whisper is out of tune in the top range of their mutual bickering, and, therefore, they all hear it. Then they become relatively quiet, and it is then and then only that I give my opinion.”
By starting out with harmless scenarios like a family gathering, cocktail parties, and birthday parties for children, you can build a track record and enjoy some success. You’ll notice that by being in the eye of the storm, you will be more present-moment oriented. Once you have practiced (and mastered it) in the microcosm of your own family, you can practice on more difficult areas of life – dealing with conflict, hardship, or grief. If you start slowly, have some success, and keep practicing, pretty soon you’ll know how to live in the eye of the storm.
My precious children! Please do not think, even for a moment, that I am preaching what I don’t practice myself. I have been wrong all of my life in shouting, letting others know, and acknowledge my presence, and it was only in the last two years that I have learned this technique. I am writing these missives to you only because I want you not to learn these hard truths of life the hard way I have.

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