THE POLAR BEAR EXPERIENCE
Pic.: Anima D'Cunha
For last couple of Sundays, I found Kannan to be quite. It is Almost two years now since we first met at our Tai Chi class. I never found him as quiet – as withdrawn – as I found him recently. He always had some interesting and inspiring stories to tell… he hopped from one to another and yet another… All this would happen either during those few minutes before our class started or during our short breaks… None of those stories came planned nor would he remember them once told… But, I would remember and come home and weave a nice blog out of them…
A quiet Kannan, therefore, was just unthinkable…
So, yesterday, during one of the breaks in our Tai Chi session, I asked Kannan, “Sir, we have hardly interacted during last some sessions…. Unusual, isn’t it?"
‘’No Gerry, not unusual,” Kannan quickly brushed aside my observation. “Most of us go through these moments of withdrawal and low profile… and, I really think it is a natural cleansing and rejuvenating process.” He continued, “I see it happening inside me very regularly… I would be bursting with energy, talking spiritedly, telling a hundred stories, travelling, advising, debating and even aggressively approaching everything in life… And, I have also seen me going into a shell, totally withdrawn… as if I am bereft any energy or enthusiasm… I come about indifferent and laid-back… even a lot insensitive…. But, I think it is Nature’s way of balancing and recreating… We shouldn’t’ take offence.”
Kannan, then, came up with this interesting analogy. “Do you know how polar bears hibernate?” he asked me.
I had not heard of the term ‘Hibernate’ and hence, replied, “No sir… What ‘hibernate means?”
“The polar bears on the northern-most Arctic region are known for hunting aggressively on ice seals… they are very active, energetic, and aggressive and full of life during four months of the year… and for the next eight months, they go back and lay there doing nothing… without taking any food or water… as if there is nothing to live for… no energy, no enthusiasm and aggression… they simply live on their fat reserves for eight long months until they become skinny… But, that’s how Nature has planned for them… That is called hibernation… They have to go through this withdrawal phase in order to come back again with mighty zest, energy and aggression… So, we shouldn’t assume that polar bears are ‘dead’ looking at their plight during the period of hibernation… We should not take offence.”
Yesterday, our Tai Chi teacher, Rakesh sir, was repeatedly reminding us while he was leading us through one of the Forms (a special Tai Chi exercise)… “This Form is all about ‘yielding’, just yield, just flow…”
Yielding doesn’t come to us that easily… We are so used to controlling, holding on. Being quiet – consciously, by choice and gladly – too, doesn’t come to us that easily…. Silence scares us… Rest scare us… withdrawal really, really frightens us!
I was able to get in touch with this fear in me as I heard Rakesh sir reminding, “Just yield, just flow…” and as I was glued to Kannan’s polar bear story…
“Don’t take offence,” Kanaan had reminded me.