When I’m sitting (or standing, wedged in!) on a London Tube train, I’m consistently amazed by how well we don the mask of don’t-smile-at-me-let-alone-talk-to-me city dweller. We’re surrounded by people, just like us, with the same joys and sufferings, but there’s no acknowledgement or empathising with that similarity. And when there is a moment of connection, when gazes accidentally meet, it’s quickly averted, eyes shifted hurriedly away. Newsflash: under no circumstances must anyone in here connect!
Mask? What mask?
We practised the Meditation To Break The Mask to commemorate Yogi Bhajan’s birthday recently (thank you Sat Shakti and Rashpal for holding such a beautiful space for it). The key to Yogi Bhajan’s teachings is to live authentically, from our heart, minus the nonsense and fluff – masks – we sometimes decorate ourselves with in order to be loved (read admired, appreciated, needed, wanted) or protected (read fear of being rejected, seen for who we really are in all our beautifully messy, vulnerable glory).
The Meditation To Break The Mask takes a sledgehammer to all the layers we’ve constructed over our true self. Masks that have been given even more of a platform with social media, where we get to paint a picture of exactly how we want others to see us, minus all the shadowy uncomfortable bits, the vulnerable suffering bits.
The continuous breaking of my mask…
I did the Meditation To Break The Mask in 2015 for 40 days with Nish. I had some pretty interesting revelations during this time; a big one being that my destiny is turning out to be very different to the one I grew up formulating as I tried desperately to fulfil what I thought my family wanted of me.
I found the first 20 or so days full of anxiety – bone-shaking, plate techtonic-shifting anxiety that squeezed my lungs into tiny balloons. The anxiety sank into a leaden exhaustion for the second half of the 40 days. And the common denominator throughout the six weeks was long-forgotten random memories had a tendency to bubble up unbidden out of the blue, and incredible insights about motives, habits and character traits, seeded in childhood, cemented through experience, would often drop like precious pearls into my awareness.
For me, the magic of the Meditation To Break The Mask really happened after the 40 days, and continues to happen! And a lasting revelation for me is the mask that we adopt with each other as strangers in a big city, and what an utterly ridiculous mask it is! We’re all human, we’re all intricately and exquisitely connected, so why on earth would we pass up on the opportunity to connect with each other? How much are we missing?!
So nowadays I smile at the impassive face sitting opposite me on the Tube, or at the person who happens to catch my eye in the street. More often than not, they reflect it back, taken by surprise, unguarded, unmasked. Sometimes they don’t, but it really doesn’t matter. There’s been the tiniest moment of openness. And the rest is up to whatever magic weaves together our crazy existence.
Here’s a great version of the accompanying mantra by Gurunam.
Sat nam x