Jan 27, 2023

Ladder of Wellness

 I came across a speech by Thalaivar (Superstar Rajnikanth), where he spoke about how the combination of alcohol, smoking, and non-vegetarian food is deadly. I'm so glad that he shared his thoughts on this topic and his honest declaration of how he had these habits and how he overcame them.

I agree with his point but would also like to add another angle.

I have come across people who never had these three habits and yet don't lead healthy and peaceful lives in their 60s and 70s.

I have also come across people, whose food habits aren't 100% healthy. It is worth noting that how foods are categorized as healthy is quite subjective, given the confusion prevailing in the media. Nevertheless, the point is that even though they may not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, they enjoy a healthy and vibrant life in their 60s. A good social circle, active hobbies and interests, extended family support, and meaningful conversations - are the possible reasons.

A simplified interpretation to understand the different facets that impact our well-being is this Ladder of Wellness. Please note this is my perspective and not scientifically validated.

We all start to climb this ladder, but some of us get stuck in the realm of physical well-being (food and exercise).

Are we getting obsessed over food and ignoring the more powerful thoughts? The role of our emotions and our thoughts supersede the effects of food.

If we take a moment to introspect about what we feed our senses - day in and day out, we realize the quantity and quality of inputs that influence our thoughts.

A few days back, I watched a Malayalam movie, recommended by many - Mukundan Unni Associates. The protagonist is an evil, vicious character, who gets away with murder and violence. The movie is driven primarily by his mind's voice. I was hoping that towards the end, he would pay for his deeds, but nothing of that sort happened. He is shown to become an even more successful lawyer cum businessman. The movie made me feel so disturbed. 

There are many such movies off late, where you don't feel good after watching them. 

Let's be aware of what we feed our eyes, ears, and mind. Not only our mouths.

Jan 26, 2023

Book Review: Yoga for Women by Swami Muktananda

 I love the books from the Bihar School of Yoga. When I visited Blossoms bookstore a few weeks back, I picked up this book - Nawa Yogini Tantra - Yoga for Women.

As the name suggests, this book is focused on women - their connection to spirituality, physical well-being and relevant Yoga practices.

The initial chapters provide a basic understanding of the hormonal and reproductive systems, the role of ida/pingala nadis, the summary of chakras, and the pancha koshas. The author then moves on to the topic of menarche and menstrual cycles.

On the topic of seclusion and the origins, this point made a lot of sense - "This retreat was a psychological protection at a time of heightened emotional sensitivity". I wish the intention of this custom was conveyed with this meaning rather than making the young girl feel impure/polluted/disgusted.

As I started to tune inward with my body, I could so resonate with the point of increased sensitivity and awareness during my monthly cycle.

I have been quite curious to understand the four stages of life described in the Vedas - brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa.

The author elaborates on how these four stages relate to a woman's life. Menopause provides the ideal transition point for women to move onto vanaprastha and develop spiritual practices, though vanaprastha doesn't necessarily depend on menopause. Also called karma sannyasa, Vanaprastha "does not encourage us to retire from the world, but to live in it with a different philosophy and a wider deeper awareness."

The author also breaks a lot of myths and misconceptions about the role of women in society.

"That women must bear the children is a biological fact. That they must carry the chief burden of tending to them is not a biological necessity, It is convenient, but convenience is not a necessity. There is even less reason for women to maintain the household just because they are females."

"The most effective and happy individuals are those who have developed both the masculine and the feminine sides of themselves"

"Closely following traditional sex patterns is not consistent with optimum mental health."

I found the first half of the book to be super insightful. The second half focuses primarily on various health ailments concerning women and the corresponding Yoga sadhanas that will help address the symptoms and the root causes. This section will be useful as a reference guide.

Jan 20, 2023

Melancholy and music


Melancholy - As a word, it may not be too popular in our everyday conversations, but as a feeling, I'm sure all of us have experienced it in some point of time.

According to how I have interpreted it, it resides in that space between feeling normal and feeling sad. Many women might have experienced it in their fourth week of monthly cycle. You don't feel normal, at the same time, you are not too sad either.

Sometimes, it is easy to pinpoint a reason (or many reasons) on why you feel this way. There are also times when there is no reason that your conscious mind could decipher.

When such a feeling occurs,
Sometimes you try to distract your mind by watching TV / scrolling through social media feed / eating an indulgent dish etc.
Sometimes you try to go deeper to understand what triggered this feeling in the first place - a contemplative walk / journalling / talking to a friend etc.

I'd like to bring to your attention those rare times when you just want to sit with that melancholic feeling without distraction or introspection. Just let it be. During those times, I find music to be a perfect companion. Mind you, music isn't intended for distraction here. The genre matters.

When I was a kid, I often used to wonder why my dad used to play his collection of sad songs on the tape recorder.
His two favorite songs in this genre - "Manidhan enbavan dheivam aagalam" and "Mayakkamaa Kalakkamaa"

I now get why we sometimes intentionally seek out sad or melancholic songs.

Last evening, I went through a similar feeling and I started to listen to ARR's Bollywood songs in this genre. Started off with "Agar Tum Saath Ho", "Rihaayi De" and I continued to listen to more such gems from ARR.

I didn't resist the melancholic feeling and let it subside on its own, with the help of ARR's soulful music.

And a new playlist titled "ARR Melancholy" is ready!

Jan 17, 2023

Thank you, planet Saturn

If you don't believe in astrology, please kindly skip this post.

I'm a beginner in the field of astrology. Apologies in advance if there are any mistakes in my interpretation.

Today marks the day of the transition of planet Saturn from Makara to Kumbha.

When Saturn is in the 8th place from a person's Rashi (moon sign), the planet will influence certain events and challenges that will teach valuable lessons. This period can also be a significant period in a person's spiritual understanding, as planet Saturn is considered as the planet of life lessons, Karma, hardships that test your resilience and help you gain new perspectives on life.

Since 2020, there have been back-to-back challenges in my life. As a person who used to be extremely analytical and expecting logic in every aspect of life, I was clueless when certain events happened one after another. One morning, when I was under serious stress, I came across a video recommendation that talked about the monthly rasi palan (predictions). I viewed the same and realized that the date when an emergency situation came up out of the blue matched with a certain planetary transition. I was shocked and it made sense at that time.

Though I haven't taken steps to learn the deeper science behind astrology yet, I'm now a believer that everything in the cosmos is driven by energy. Just like how the Moon influences our mood during new moon / full moon, the planets and the stars have an influence on certain aspects of our lives as well.

Along with teaching important life lessons through tough situations, planet Saturn has also helped me in kindling my interest towards spirituality in the past 2-3 years.

Acceptance, surrender, trust in the Universe, destiny, karma, everything happens for a reason, everything is interlinked, every experience happens to teach us something - these powerful concepts are added to my mental vocabulary only in the past 2-3 years, all thanks to planet Saturn. 

Jan 14, 2023

Book Review: Living Spirituality by Meetu Bisht


First book review of 2023. I'm so glad that this book picked me at this time of my life. I have been following Meetu Bisht 's posts for the past few months and I find them very insightful. I bought her book "Living Spirituality" on Kindle sometime back but didn't start reading it immediately.

A week ago, I had written a post on spirituality and how we shouldn't blindly succumb to influencers' ideologies. That same night, as I was casually browsing through my Kindle, I stumbled upon this book and felt a strong urge to start reading it right away.

The first few chapters just spoke the same words that I was trying to convey through my post. The author elaborates on the various misconceptions about spirituality and the myths and beliefs surrounding the same. Her explanation of the differences between religion, philosophy, and spirituality was super insightful.

The subsequent chapters set the context on what spirituality is and what it isn't. Spirituality isn't focused on external actions, but is a way of life - the "being" instead of "doing".

Living meditatively vs Doing meditation for 10 minutes - the same point emphasized in the book "Atmamun".

The author unravels spirituality layer by layer - the prerequisites, hurdles,  challenges, when to start exploring, essentials required on this journey, etc.

Spirituality is for everyone since the "spirit"/soul is within each of us. As we turn inward and start to listen to our conscience, our soul starts to speak to us. Seeking external solutions through spiritual leaders might act as a catalyst and provide a slight push, but it is up to each of us to understand our soul's desires and patterns.

The author elaborates on the role of Karma and its influence on our lives. She also brings an interesting linkage between Karmic baggage and our birth chart that astrology helps in decoding the set patterns.

Karma, past lives, rebirth, destiny, soul's desires, astrology - I have started to resonate more with these topics in the past few years and this book connects these aspects so beautifully.

The chapter that just wowed me is the last one where the author talks about the qualities of the spiritually inclined. I seriously couldn't put down the book once I started reading this chapter. The list kept going on and on and at the end of it, there were 99 qualities listed. If each of us starts working on this list, that in itself is a life-long project.

I could resonate with many of the qualities - the ones that I consider are my strengths and the ones where I want to improve. This chapter reinforces the path and gives a clear direction.

If you are on the journey of self-awareness, I'm sure you'll find this book insightful and eye-opening.

Sharing a few powerful quotes:

"As long as one remains caught up in external practices or the mere act of following something or someone, one's spiritual self will not manifest, as true spirituality is more of an internal thing".

"We awaken only through our own will, determination, and sense".

"The role of the body is to act as a carriage that helps the soul journey from one lifetime to another".

"For life is not what happens to us, life is what we become as a result".

"Spiritually aligned people are energy transformers because their inner composure adds power to the collective consciousness of their immediate environment".

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