A few years ago, I was going through a bit of a tough time. Nothing specific. But life felt hard. My children were babies. I worked full time. They didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep. The expectations from my employers were, quite rightly, that I should be firing on all cylinders.
I don’t think that anyone talks openly about how hard it is to have young children and be sleep deprived. The impact that has on you. And it doesn’t matter whether you stay at home, or are working. Essentially, you are working all the time. In fact, if you’re working, you get a designated break time. You have other adults you can speak to. There is a break from the monotony of routine, that is nappy changes, feeding, nap times.
Although I sound completely miserable about it and it was incredibly hard work – I blinked. I blinked and the girls are not tiny helpless beings anymore. They talk and are actually quite funny. They help. They are good company. At times, they are wise beyond their years. And it made me realise – situations do not stay the same forever.
I was blessed. I wasn’t on my own during the periods that I found hard. My husband did everything in his power to help me. My mother would check on me two or three times a day to ask if I needed anything. She would come and give me respite whenever she could. My in-laws would check on us and provide help if we needed it. I was never alone and I’m acutely aware so many incredible women do this and more all on their own. However, it was my brother who gave me a gift that helped me to calm down and see things differently. He would ring me as often as he could and would try to be as supportive as he could. But in 2015, New Year’s Day, he came around and said, ‘I’ve bought you something.’ I unwrapped the gift, and he had given me a copy of ‘The Bhagavad Gita’.The Gita is a sacred, holy text for Hindus and let me explain the context behind it. Lord Krishna was on the battlefield with his disciple, Arjuna. Arjuna and his brothers were about to take part in the biggest battle of their lives – fighting evil. But the power-hungry evil people that they were fighting were unfortunately members of their own extended family. This epic story is described in the holy book of The Mahabharata. As Arjuna gazed across and looks to the opposing side of the battlefield, he has a crisis of confidence and conscience. He sees his uncles, cousins, teachers – people he grew up, people he loved dearly at one time – and he tells Krishna – I can’t do this. This is wrong. I can’t do this. The Bhagavad Gita is the conversation that Krishna has with Arjuna. Krishna advises Arjuna that he has a job to do. The people that he is going to fight may be family members, but they had many opportunities to change their ways and do the right thing. They chose not to – they made their choice and they must face the consequences.
Krishna proceeds to give Arjuna, and the rest of humankind advice about how to live life, particularly during times of difficulties.
To my shame, I haven’t read all of the Gita. The original text is in Sanskrit and even though it has been translated, to read and understand each verse is hard going. Each line is full of wisdom and to understand it, even slightly, requires a huge amount of concentration.
It has been said that if you are going through any difficulties in life, you only need to concentrate and open The Bhagavad Gita to any page – the verses should provide some guidance and advice to help you. When my brother left, I put The Bhagavad Gita in a safe place, returning to it some time later…
The girls were asleep. I had just had a shower. I sat on the floor in my back room and started reading. Very slowly and full of intense concentration.
The biggest thing that I took away from The Gita, and what has stuck with me ever since was this – Everything is temporary. Happiness, sadness, easy times, challenging times – everything is temporary. It doesn’t last.
I realised that prior to reading that passage – that I have explained in incredibly simple terms – that I had had suffered a few setbacks that I wasn’t finding easy to deal with. Had I been feeling stronger, slept better, felt more like myself – I would have felt differently. But reading the passage gave me strength that the difficulties that I felt that I was facing – were they even difficulties? Or were they life lessons? But most importantly – I was given hope. Whatever I was going through was temporary. The feelings, the emotions, the difficulties – were all temporary. Things would get better. I just needed to remind myself and believe it.
The Gita was right. I sound hilarious don’t I? Thousands of years this sacred text has existed, and here I am in 2019, giving my seal of approval, 5 stars rating to Krishna! Krishna, you were right.
Whether it was because I had a sudden change of mindset and began to feel more hopeful – or whether it was a different reason – things slowly began to change. For the better.
Life is a roller coaster, so since that time, there have been ups and downs. Ecstatic moments. Moments of helplessness. Times that I have felt despondent and been pushed to the brink… Offset by times filled with immense gratitude.
I know that some people reading this will be feeling sceptical and uninspired.
Others will be feeling as low as I did at certain parts of my life. My advice to you is to hang in there. Keep going and keep believing. Nothing in life is permanent. Everything is temporary. And if you are going through an incredibly difficult time in your life – have faith. Because if life has taught me anything, this too will pass.