Category Archives: OCD

Frustration

There are these moments in life where you feel frustrated and disillusioned. You don’t know whether to run or hide or whether you should take the bull by the horns or just let things fall where they may. Right now, this is how I feel. I’m frustrated because I have a psychological disorder that affects my life, because I have several dietary restrictions due to food intolerances, because I haven’t been unable to find a decent job, because I am stuck living in a country where I will always be an ‘expatriate’ no matter how long I live.

It is the last thing that frustrates me the most. I was born in Dubai and while I love this country, I’m never going to be able to call it my ‘home’ simply because they don’t grant citizenship. This leads me to worry about the fact that one day, when no one is able to sponsor a visa for me, I’m going to have to leave this country. My family and I have given our lives to this country yet it is still not our ‘home.’ I am trying desperately to look for an opportunity elsewhere, in a country that is safe and stable, so that my parents can eventually retire peacefully, and so that we can build a life somewhere new.

I have been out of a job for the past few months. I’m not even keen on working for someone because of how abusive and manipulative employers can be. I feel like I’ve been through quite a lot, in the sense that my patience was really tested at my previous jobs. I don’t want to get into the details but lets say I have seen how companies can be unethical and blatantly lie to their clients, and I have had my employers be so controlling even when it came to things like taking lunch breaks and even a 2 minute break to drink water. Feeling abused and disheartened, I left my job because I felt like I was not being respected as a human being. I wouldn’t be surprised if things like this happened everywhere around the world, too. These are tough times we’re living in.

The reason for frustration, as I understand it, is when something is lacking. I mean this on a deep level, not in the sense of material desires like having the latest iPhone or the biggest house. I mean necessities like a job, security, shelter, etc. Frustration stems from this lack of security and protection. It leads to anxiety of the future because there is uncertainty and a lack of stability. While I am sitting here, feeling waves of frustration wash over me again and again, I thought I’ll have a look at what the Bhagavad Gita says in order to deal with my feeling of helplessness.

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form–to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.      BG 9.22

Such deep consolation, knowing that Krishna will be there to assist you, by maintaining what you have and by making up for whatever it is that you lack. Everyone feels some sense of lacking in one way or another. Lack of strength, confidence, self-esteem, money, intelligence. So many other things. Let Krishna be your strength, your confidence, your pride, your wealth and your intelligence. Let him provide for you what you lack.

Anyone who prays unto Me and takes shelter from Me becomes My ward, and I protect him always from all sorts of calamities.     Lord Narasimhadeva, Narasimha Purana

This uncertainty of the future, of the state of my career, my wellbeing, my family, etc. are causing me great distress. I must remember to seek shelter of Krishna, and he will protect me from calamity.

He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.     BG 9:31

Ah, the peace that we are all looking for. Peace and promise of everlasting life.

The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not in union with the Divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.     BG 5:12

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been praying and asking for things, asking for Krishna to get me out of this mess that I am in. Then I remembered that I must not hanker for the fruit of any activity. I must let Krishna decide the outcome, and I must offer the results of my activities to Gopinath and work for his sake. Do the best you can do and do what you must, but leave the results to Krishna.

Perform your duties to the best of your ability and offer the results to Krishna. He will preserve what you have and should be lacking anything, he will provide it for you, as he sees fit. All the while, he will protect you as he promises and he will give you peace. Frustration will rear its head again and again because it is the nature of this world. But lucky for us, Krishna is on our side. And we all know which side is going to win.

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OCD and the Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 11-20

“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.” [2.11]

If life and death are not worth mourning over, are these anxieties and hygiene concerns worth it? Absolutely not. We are forgetting that the purpose of life is building a relationship with Krishna and understanding Him to be the Lord of Creation. The purport says, “The body is born and is destined to be vanquished today or tomorrow; therefore the body is not as important as the soul.” Cleanliness is important, but not so much that it occupies all my time! I ought to be spending more time feeding my soul with knowledge of Krishna!

Krishna goes on to explain more about the nature of the soul. Krishna says that there never was a time when we did not exist and never will there be a time when we will cease to exist. The body is continually changing. It grows, it becomes ill, our souls change bodies… But our souls are always the same. Our souls are indestructible. The body will change its state of being clean and dirty at different points in time, but our soul remains pure. Krishna says that self-realized souls are not bewildered by such bodily changes.

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” [2.14]

Yes. This is Krishna’s golden advice to us, applicable in any situation. We live in world of duality. Hot or cold, happy or unhappy, clean or dirty. Vaishnavas must overcome this duality and tolerate them with a steady mind. Yes, yes, yes. We must remember this. All of this arises from sense perception. I remember learning about this in my Psychology class – the way we feel is due to our perception of things. What psychologists have started realizing in the recent past, Krishna spoke thousands of years ago! Timeless wisdom, don’t you think? Krishna goes on to say that those who are steady in this world of duality are certainly eligible for liberation. So there we have it – further motivation to rise above this duality!

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Hey All!

Hey guys,

It’s been a while! Just thought I’d update you all about what’s going on with me right now.

I’ve recently started working. It’s a 3-month internship at a large firm here in Dubai. The job is hectic and the pay is very very less, but I’m grateful because I’m getting to learn a lot and it’s quite suitable for me considering my health.

On the first day of work, I wanted to quit because the washrooms were terrible. But luckily, I asked my friend about other washrooms in the vicinity and she directed me to one which is quite alright, thank God. It’s obviously not up to my standards, but it’s manageable. The fact that I am able to manage is very encouraging. I felt like most people thought I quit my previous job because it was all in my head, and my expectations and standards of hygiene are insanely high. People thought that rather than the equipment being the problem, my perceptions of everything was the problem. At one point, even I thought that it was just in my head and that OCD is getting in the way. However, now I am SURE that it is not my perception. The washrooms at my new office are more or less the ‘normal’ kind and function well. They are one of those funky designed ones that look so fancy, like at my previous job. And the fact of the matter is that I can handle it and I don’t complain as much! This just proves to me that I am not insane and that in normal circumstances, I can really manage. Even if I didn’t have OCD and had to use the washrooms in the previous office, I would have complained a lot. This is just so reassuring to me and makes me feel sane!

I take a long time when I visit the washroom but at least I feel relatively clean. And another amazing breakthrough I had since I started working is that now I can get out of the house without showering, which is something I haven’t done in a year! I usually take about 1 – 1.5 hours to shower (yes I know, that is insanely long but I have many rituals to go through when I shower). So I have to be ready to leave for work by 6:45. In order to shower and have enough time to get ready and have breakfast, I would have to wake up at about 4 am. Then I would have to shower, and then go to work. And obviously, I will get dirty at work so I will have to shower again when I come back home. This would waste about 3-4 hours of my day everyday just showering. My skin is already chapped and wrinkly, and often sore with burns from strong soaps. My hair too would get weaker than it already is with the constant washing. So I figured I’d just shower at night right before bed. On the second day of work, I had showered before bed so when I woke up I was still feeling clean. Then I went to the washroom to freshen up and nothing went wrong, to my surprise. No water splashed on me, I didn’t accidentally touch anything dirty, etc. so I decided not to shower! It was amazing! The feeling was amazing! Then I just showered when I came home from work and this is what I do now on most days. On some days when I feel dirty in the morning, I just simply take a body bath. This is also something I haven’t done in a year! All of this is thanks to Krishna’s mercy. A few months – no a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of taking only a body bath or going out of the house without showering first.

I am also now able to pick up things from the floor (without touching the floor), thanks to the exposure exercises I was doing on my own. Now I can even not care if my clothes touch the ground when I’m putting them on. All of these is truly amazing and I can hardly believe it. I am also wearing new clothes again. I had stopped wearing new clothes and simply wore my old, safe-to-wash clothes before because I was afraid of ruining my good clothes. I still wear only those clothes that can be safely washed but I’m making an effort to buy those clothes that look good too and won’t get ruined in the washing machine. I have been shopping and trying on new clothes, which is something I haven’t done in ages because of the fear of making them dirty. My counselor says I should be proud of myself because I have come a long way and now that I think of it, I actually really have. There is still a long way for me to go, but it is not as long as it used to be. And this is all thanks to Krishna, to my friends and family, and to all you dear devotees who supported me and prayed for me, so thank you 🙂

Another good thing is that in my office, most of the people are Indians/Hindus so I have the liberty to put up wallpapers and posters of Krishna at my desk which I have done with so much pleasure. I enjoy working and then looking over to my right and seeing Krishna’s beautiful face smiling down at me 🙂 Truly, His mercy knows no bounds. I was disheartened at taking this job because it is just an internship and the pay is so less, but my friend says that perhaps God wanted me to get this job so that my OCD would come under control and I would get used to working and then I would be able to handle other environments. Who knows? Krishna has His own plans for me and all I need to do is surrender to His will!

I just hope now that I either get a permanent job offer at this company soon, or that I get a good job after the duration of my internship in a company where the environment (i.e. the office washrooms lol) are good and suitable for me!

I am also working as a blog writer for a new company here in Dubai. This truly is a dream come true. I have been hoping and waiting for a chance to do some official writing and get my name published. In University, I had hoped of publishing papers in collaboration with University professors but never got an opportunity. Now finally, I can WRITE! I am so thrilled about this and so thankful to God for this! It is an unpaid job, but I don’t really care because I really want to make a name out of myself in the writing world!

Until next time, everyone! 🙂

Hare Krishna!

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OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 1-10

Verse 2.1 mentions that Krishna is filled with mercy and compassion upon seeing Arjuna’s state. Similarly, we can understand that Krishna is merciful towards us when He sees us in this miserable state of confusion and doubt. We need to understand from this verse that Krishna does see our suffering and He is merciful and compassionate towards us, even though we may not realize it.

The verse further addresses Krishna as Madhusudhana. The purport by Srila Prabhupada explains that this is significant because Krishna vanquished a demon named Madhu thus giving rise to this name of His. He is addressed as Madhusudhana because He destroyed a demon and now Arjuna needs Him to destroy the demon of doubt and illusion. We too need him to do the same for us. The purport further explains that compassion for our outward bodies will not save us. Isn’t this what we are doing? I know I’m doing it. I’m wasting a lot of time everyday trying to keep myself clean, and I worry constantly and germs and getting dirty. I don’t know why I’m trying so hard to be clean and why it bothers me so much. But I do know that I am catering to the needs of my external body, rather than my spiritual needs.

Then Krishna says, “My dear Arjuna.” Oh, if only I could hear Him addressing me like this, all my worries would go away! Whether we hear Him or not, the fact of the matter is that He is always talking to us and addressing us in this way. Krishna asks Arjuna how come he is thinking such things. He might as well be asking us how we can be focusing so much on such mundane issues – worrying whether my hands are clean, whether the doors are locked, that germs are bad… Obviously, these are good things to do but people with OCD do these things a lot more times than needed. The Lord has given us intelligence and wisdom. Most of us now have the opportunity to be educated and work and build careers. So where do these thoughts come from? Krishna says, “Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.” So this is what me must do. Forget why and how things have come to be as they are. Krishna has instructed us to be strong and fight.

Again, Arjuna is confused. I can relate to his confusion by my doubts which arise, saying it is better to be clean. It is good to be clean. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Maybe my hands didn’t touch anything dirty, but can I take the risk that it did? Then I am stuck. Torn between deciding whether to shower again, wash my hands again, change my clothes again… Because I know that once I start cleaning, it’s going to take a while to stop. And I will feel even dirtier than before.

Arjuna says in verse 7:

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

This should be our prayer. This should be our state of mind. We are weak and flawed, but God isn’t. He is the only one who knows what is best for us and what is the best plan of action. So through this, Arjuna is teaching us that we should always surrender to Krishna. Humbly go before Him, as His disciples, ready to take instruction from Him and do what He says. Surrender to Krishna, the way Arjuna is showing us how. And like Krishna led Arjuna out of the battle victorious, He will lead us out of this victorious too.

Arjuna then goes on to express his grief. The degree of his grief and lamentation is immense which only adds to the fact that no matter the problem, God can clear all obstacles. Arjuna is teaching us again that only surrender to Krishna can solve all our problems. Arjuna then says that he will not fight. And Krishna smiles in response, in the middle of a battlefield. Can you imagine? Arjuna is bewildered, there is about to be the greatest war of all time, and Krishna is smiling compassionately upon Arjuna. Here we are, lost and confused, fighting our own wars, and Krishna is smiling down upon us.

The next post will cover what Krishna says to Arjuna and us as He compassionately smiles at us.

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OCD and the Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 1 Verses 21 – 46

So we stand now, with our chariot drawn by Krishna in between the two armies: ours and OCD.

Now we face Arjuna’s dilemma: we lose the will to fight. OCD and other illnesses, anxiety, depression, all of these have become so in-built in us now. They are like a part of us and we are hesitant to fight back. It’s going to be hard to fight this army. What if we lose? What if our conditions worsen? What if nothing gets better?

In the beginning of my struggle with OCD, when I had realized that I had a problem, I didn’t think I needed to fight it. I thought it was just a phase and that I would get over it in some time. So I didn’t do anything. Arjuna didn’t want to kill his family members so even he put down his weapons and thought he would do nothing.
Must we also do this? Must we remain inactive and thus let OCD win?

Explore what Krsna has to say to Arjuna and to us in the next post.

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OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 1 Verses 1-20

As promised, here I am starting a study of the Bhagavad Gita and applying it to OCD (and other undesirable physical/mental states, if you will).

I would like to mention here that the information that will follow in this series of discussions is in no way authorized by Vaishnava scholars. It is most definitely not a literal interpretation. It is simply an attempt to take Lord Krishna’s words seriously and use the knowledge He has distributed to overcome problems in my life. Readers can similarly fill in the blanks with their own personal problems and try to approach it through the lens of the Gita. I have searched online for such an application of the Gita’s wisdom but never found any. Similarly, lots of search results have appeared on my blog, looking for advice from the Gita with regards to OCD. Thus I hope and pray this will be a learning experience for me as well as fellow sufferers who are seeking support from Krishna and the Gita. I hope this does not offend anyone in any way and beg your forgiveness if I accidentally do so in the future. In which case I would appreciate being made aware of my errors so I can correct them.

Before I begin, I would just like to say a little prayer: Dear Krishna, I want to thank you for you have mercifully given us this eternal knowledge in the form of this scripture known as the Bhagavad Gita. I am starting a new study of it, applying your teachings to overcome my poor health and OCD. Lord, please help me to understand your teachings and to apply them well. Please help me to avoid offending you or anyone else. Please let this be a great learning experience for all those who take part in it and let it strengthen our faith in you. I pray, God, that we may be able to overcome these problems with your help. Lord, fill us with divine revelations from you through this study and give us the senses to hear, see and understand you. I realize that your pure devotees do not have any requests from you, except devotional service, but I am far from being a pure devotee. I am in distress and I have come seeking your refuge. Please give me shelter at your feet, Lord, for there is no one for me but you.

Text:
I am going to be referring to Bhagavad Gita As It Is by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. A good website for it is: http://www.asitis.com

Bhagavad Gita Verses 1-20

Dhritarastra is asking Sanjaya about what is taking place on the battlefield who sees it through his special gift of vision. He describes the armies on the battlefield to Dhritarastra.

So here we are, ready to fight. The question is: did you choose Krishna to be on your side or did you choose His army? If you chose for Krishna to be on your side, let me tell you now, you will emerge victorious. This is Krishna’s promise to us. Let us get ready now to face the demons, with Krishna on our side to guide us and support us. As Sanjaya describes the armies are on the battlefield, ready for war. So right now, let’s step onto the battlefield, ready to take on OCD.

Our army comprises of Krishna, knowledge, light, truth, balance, sensibility, rationality, humility, patience and tolerance.

The opposing army comprises of our problems, OCD, poor health, illnesses, stress, anxiety, depression, dishonesty, and lack of will power.

The opposing army is strong. They have proven to be victorious over and over. Duryodhana believes that our side is limited in strength and prowess and that the enemy will surely emerge victorious once again like they have over many others before. Like Duryodhana wanted to rule over the Pandavas and their kingdom, our problems want to take over us. They do not want us to be free. Many people have given over their lives to illnesses and depression. Some have given up their lives because of it. Others have lost their lives to it. But we shall do neither of these. Krishna is on our side and we will emerge victorious, no matter what Duryodhana or OCD or our problems think!

The war is about to begin. We are about to take on the enemy. Everyone draws their conch shells, signifying the start of the battle. The conch shells of the opposing army are no doubt mighty, but the conch shell of Krishna is the mightiest of all! Thus when our army blows the conch shells, it shatters the heart of the enemy (BG 1.19). OCD, illness and depression don’t stand a chance against us. Already just with the blowing of the conch shells, they have weakened. Victory belongs to those who surrender to Krishna!

But like Arjuna stumbled before them, hesitating to fight them, will we? Should we? Should we also refuse to fight in the battle and simply give up? We’ll find out in the next post!

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Janmashtami 2011

Happy Janmashtami! This post is late and unfortunately this time I have no photos to upload but let me tell you something you already know – it was breathtakingly beautiful.

The best part was that I got to take my grandmother and uncle with me. I have been so eager for them to come and see the empty halls that become beautiful with the presence of Krishna, His associates and His devotees. It truly is the Lord’s mercy because I am always keen to take my grandmother out on festivals but I don’t always get the chance to do so.

Anyway, we couldn’t stay very long so we just planned to take darshan. And I also desperately wanted some of that glorious charnamrit! Yum yum. So we entered the hall, and I was feeling good to be amongst devotees again after so long in this festive atmosphere. Then I started to hear the kirtan that was going on, and my heart started to swell. We took darshan of Krishna and I found tears in my eyes. How does this happen? Everytime I go to the hall feeling normal and fine and when the kirtan starts and Krishna appears before me in His infinite glory, I am just taken in. Then I want to stare and stare and beg Him to love me even though I know He does. I wanted to stay there forever. It just felt so amazing to be there!

Darshan ended quickly as there was a really big crowd so we had to keep moving. Then we got amazing prasadam and I got my long desired charnamrit! Ooh I can taste it now. I never liked it before but now I am just crazy about it! It’s the best!

There were many devotees doing seva like handing out gifts, prasadam, and keeping everyone’s shoes/sandals in a bag. It was so endearing to see little kids of 10 years doing their bit to help out. The Lord is so merciful that He has engaged them in serving Him like this. When we were taking back our sandals, this one devotee did something so sweet. The person volunteering to give back sandals emptied out the bag and so our sandals were on the floor. My grandmother turned over my sandals and I wore them and the next thing I knew, I saw a devotee bending down turning over my grandmother’s sandals and helping her wear them! She didn’t really need the help but he thought she did and without hesitation he proceeded to help her. Now this was truly amazing for me to see because since I have OCD, the idea of touching shoes and sandals, that too someone else’s, really puts me in an anxious state. And here was this devotee of the Lord, looking to serve another devotee. And he wasn’t worrying about germs. He didn’t care that they were someone else’s sandals. To him, he just wanted to serve and help. My grandmother too was touched by the act. I was simply amazed. It’s really true what they say about kind deeds – no matter how small they are, they sure do go a long way. I have no idea who that devotee is but may Krishna bless his heart.

This Janmashtami reminded me that I needed to spend more time with Krishna and it also gave me something to think about with regards to my OCD. Sometime ago, I was praying for good health and I felt like something inside me said that on Janmashtami, the birth of Krishna, I will also have a new birth. I took this to mean that all my health problems will go away since that’s what I was praying for at the time. But now I’m starting to think perhaps it was more a spiritual rebirth. Maybe the idea of rebirth was just in my head and not really the Lord promising me something, but on Janmashtami, I realized that I still have a connection with Krishna even though I haven’t spent a lot of time with Him lately and He is still resting in my heart. I haven’t felt an emotional connection with Him in a long time, and that was just a such nice gift from Him on Janmashtami. Moreover, it was really crazy the things I had to do that day! Like walking barefeet! That is something I haven’t done in a really long time because obviously I dread the idea of germs even on my feet. But the Lord gave me enough strength to do it. And later, a flower they gave us at the program fell on the floor, and of course, I dread picking up things that have fallen on the floor. Even if I pick them, I try not to touch the part that touched the ground. But this was a flower. Plus it was used in Krishna’s service. If anything, instead of becoming dirty, it would purify me. So I picked it up and didn’t bother about which side had touched the ground. Again, my strength comes from Krishna. He says in the Gita that He is the strength of the strong, and the only way I can be strong is through Him. So you see, He helps me in these ways to get over my fears, and from time to time, he rekindles our relationship tirelessly, despite the countless number of times that I put the flame out. And I know that He will always do so for us, out of His unconditional love.

I hope all of you had a blessed Janmashtami too. Share your Janmashtami stories in the comments section if you please 🙂

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