Diyanat Ali, a A Self-Transformation Coach, Leadership Facilitator, Outbound Trainer and Experiential Educator, lives with his wife and children in Hyderabad in South India. He and I first met on Zoom several months ago when he contacted me about joining one of our courses. Already in that first connection, I was deeply moved by his presence, his humility, and his profound reverence and respect for this journey called Life. A few days ago, I reached out to check on his well-being in the face of the dire situation with COVID in India. He replied within hours with a beautiful email letter. I was once again profoundly touched, this time by how he is finding deep presence in the midst of crisis.
We shared several emails back and forth. With his permission, I share portions of Diyanat’s email letters here for two reasons. First, to share a brief first-person account of the crisis conditions on the ground in India right now. And second, to share his remarkable personal response to what is happening – how he is keeping his own center and finding inner peace even in the face of such difficult times. Through his personal practice, he is tapping into the incredible resilience of the human spirit, choosing to live from a place of conscious intention and expanded awareness.
In response to my check-in email, Diyanat replied:
Happy to hear from you. Grateful for your connection, care, and kindness. It matters to be seen and heard at this time of distress.
It has been overwhelming with not just the news across the country but seeing close friends and relatives going through the COVID infection and suffering.
The agony and pain of limited healthcare, hospital beds, and oxygen availability brings a deep fear and helplessness. Secondly hospitals are charging an exorbitant amount of $1000 per day for treatment for those that are able to manage to get a bed. A lot of people are also dying because of panic, nervous shock, and hopelessness.
I am being peaceful among all this, spending my time in yoga, breathing, tai chi, and meditation. Nature observation and connection is supporting me to connect with the larger, richer, and brighter side of life.
I am being witness to the human suffering around and sensing the pain within. In my practices, I am able to connect deeply with my inner presence where I can find peace that is distinct and not affected by anything else that is happening outside. There is balance and healing in that. This self-connection practice has been a blessing at this challenging time. I feel privileged to know these self-centering and connection practices.
I am being calm, and in acceptance of the moment and the life situation emerging in it. I am taking self-care, feeling supported by life and doing my best to support others as safely as I can. My family is safe, too, and they are mostly at home all the time.
Hoping this phase will be over soon and there will be safety, health, and stability for all.
Thanks for your connection.
I wrote back to Diyanat, acknowledging how tenderly he expresses what is happening in India and the overflowing suffering and pain, while at the same time, describes his own practice and how he manages to keep himself balanced and calm. I asked permission to share what he had written as a way of inviting awareness and lifting up the people of India during this time.
In turn, Diyanat wrote:
Thank you for your kind words and for connecting with the depth of what I shared.
I am honoured that you choose to share my expression with others. I am deeply touched by your deep integrity of asking consent to share. It honours my expression and values that I shared with you. I am ok with you sharing my email and happy that it would give a personal perspective to others to understand what is happening here, and how I am choosing to respond to the situation. You may feel free to use my name as I believe it will add a personal presence to the words expressed.
Yesterday as I was talking to a few of my international friends, I shared the thought that whatever is happening is happening for me and not to me. This brings a sense of deep relief and awareness of the life situation I am in. It fosters an understanding to accept and flow with the shift in consciousness.
Thank you for seeing, hearing, and understanding. A part of me is sometimes apprehensive of appearing insensitive to those in different stages of grief in the current situation. I am hopeful that many will resonate and understand the larger meaning in the future.
Grateful for your connection.
Happening for me, not to me
I am particularly struck by Diyanat’s statement:
Whatever is happening
One of my first spiritual teachers taught me that nothing happens to us, but rather happens through us, and touches the lives of at least six other people. Diyanat takes this understanding a step further when he says that “whatever is happening is happening for him and not to him.” He chooses to accept what is happening as if it is a gift to stretch his awareness and presence.
What an incredible example of the Transformational Presence concept of Push Against or Partner With. I doubt that Diyanat would have consciously chosen this experience for himself, for those he holds dear, or for his country. And yet it is happening, with conditions continuing to worsen every day. Instead of getting lost in it, he chooses to partner with it for his own learning. He chooses to be fully present with the grief, suffering, fear, and pain, accepting that it is all around him, yet does not define him. He chooses to experience all that is happening from a larger perspective in consciousness. He chooses how he will show up as the crisis continues to unfold. In the Transformational Presence Four Levels of Engagement model, he chooses to be in Choice and Opportunity rather than in Drama and Situation.
Although Diyanat is clear about his own choice, I am touched by his sensitivity to the many layers of suffering and grief all around him. He holds respect for each person, wherever they are in their process. He meets them in compassion and love. Yet he also holds space that all people, in time, will be able to sense a larger picture – a more expansive view.
Gratitude for Being Seen and Heard
Finally, I am moved by his expressions of gratitude for being seen, heard, understood, and respected. It is such a simple gift that we can give to others. Not just the people in our close circles, but to all people everywhere – especially those whose life experiences we find difficult to imagine. Perhaps there was a time in your life when you felt not seen, not heard, not understood or respected for who you were or for what you were going through. If so, then you know that it is a lonely place to be – a place that can lead to hopelessness and despair.
More than once, Diyanat expresses thanks to me for me reaching out to him. Yet for me, our unfolding correspondence brings a powerful gift to me. His message calls me to even deeper presence with whatever is happening. He calls me to even greater compassion for all people in a multitude of circumstances. It doesn’t matter where they are or whether I know their names, or speak their language, or know their stories. They are human beings on their own journey. We’re just on different paths for now.
A Learning Edge
This has long been a learning edge for me. Over the course of my life, I’ve experienced loss, grief, judgment, character attack, and difficult circumstances, yet my experiences can’t compare to many of the challenges that so many people endure every day. I have been incredibly blessed, and for that, I am grateful. And I continue learning about compassion and being present with whatever shows up.
Many of us want to make a difference, whether locally or globally or in between. Thankfully, we all have different ways that we can do that. We all bring different gifts, talents, and resources to the table. We are all drawn to different kinds of service.
There are immense challenges in our world. Certainly, the challenge of COVID is particularly difficult right now in India, in South America, and in other parts of the world. Richer countries need to support poorer countries with vaccines and supplies. We are all interconnected. Yet there are many other challenges besides COVID. We can all become more attuned to what is happening in the world and lend support in some way.
What can I do? What can you do?
First, from Diyanat’s example, we can choose how we will be present with what is happening for us, through us, and around us. We can choose to define ourselves not by our circumstances, but by who, in our greatest potential, we know ourselves to be. We can choose to partner with the inherent wisdom within what is happening – to co-create with what is in front of us.
We can also hold space for people, places, and circumstances that need help and support. We can hold them in our hearts. We can hold them in their strength and courage, not in their challenge and fear. We can hold them and what is happening in love. We can breathe love into the spaces between the people and between the people and their circumstances. We can be intentional in our thoughts, attitudes, and presence.
Some of us have the resources to send money through recognized and trustworthy local, national, and global relief organizations. Some of us can volunteer a service or offer pro bono support in our areas of expertise.
And all of us can continue to raise our awareness of the realities of the full spectrum of the human experience. We can be grateful for the abundance in our lives and offer some part of our talents, skills, and resources in service of others.
Navigating this COVID crisis in India, Diyanat is a living example of choosing how to show up to what is happening. Moment to moment, day to day, year to year, we can choose how we will engage with one another and with our circumstances. We can choose. Perhaps this is the greatest gift of all.
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Related Blog Posts:
- How much can you hold in your heart? Maybe more than you think.
- Three Questions that Can Help No Matter What is Happening
- This, Too, Shall Pass – Choosing How You Will Define Your Life
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