Apr 27, 2021

When life answers your question

 It was 5:40 PM. I just freshened up and was about to step into the kitchen. I noticed D playing with her dolls and Lego blocks. Instead of heading to the kitchen, I sat down with her. She then asked me, "Can you play with me for some time?". I replied, "Sure, I can play for 15 minutes". She immediately looked at the clock and then asked me, "Can you sit with me till 6 o'clock?". I responded with a Yes. While playing the pretend play game, she kept on checking the clock every few minutes. I asked her why. What she said gave me the answer I needed to hear. Her answer was "I want some human to play with me". It just broke my heart. For the past few days, I had been busy, stocking up groceries, cooking, doing dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc. Though I have conversations with D throughout the day, I wasn't dedicating my complete time and attention to her. During her playtime, she reads books, plays with her dolls or our kittens/cats (we now have 6 of them at home). We played together till 6:15 pm and both of us felt so happy.

Now you might wonder what my question was. I had been pondering over how I can contribute to the current lockdown situation. I had been seeing so many posts on Instagram related to providing home-cooked food and I was thinking whether I should sign up. My bandwidth is very limited, given the other home responsibilities. Cooking a few extra meals, ordering extra groceries/vegetables, packaging, and coordinating the delivery require time and effort. I wasn't sure whether I'm ready for it. I had been grappling with these thoughts the whole day and then the above conversation with D happened.

I uninstalled Instagram and decided to take a break for a few days. I don't want to feel overwhelmed. Though I enjoy cooking and love to cook for others, I realized this is NOT the right time.

My 9-year-old daughter needs me. Spending time with her and helping her cope with the current situation is more important. Contributing to others doesn't necessarily have to be through home-cooked food. 

Respecting the norms (wearing masks, not stepping out unnecessarily, maintaining social distancing), 

Being mindful about not sharing unverified/fake news on social media, 

Taking care of my physical and mental health,

Taking care of my family members' needs,

Praying and sending good vibes to the world

These are also valid contributions amidst the current situation. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed about how to contribute, take care of yourself and your family. Charity begins at home. 

This post is in no way undermining the contribution of so many kind souls who have taken up the responsibility of providing home-cooked meals to the affected families. Huge respect to every one of you! 

Apr 23, 2021

Celebrating books


A day to celebrate books. World Book Day is celebrated on April 23rd every year. 

In this age where information comes to us in various forms (audiobooks, podcasts, courses, videos, online workshops, etc), my preferred source is through books, especially physical ones. I love to read on my Kindle as well, but I find that I retain the information much better when I read from a physical book.

I prefer to read non-fiction books on topics related to psychology, nutrition, wellness, health, self-development, productivity, philosophy, marketing, etc. I do read fiction books/novels but I don't tend to gravitate towards them naturally. Childhood conditioning played a major role in shaping my book preferences. 

A couple of years back, I had made a list of my favorite books. I'm sure there are a few more that I'd like to add to this list. "Biology of belief", "The Heartfulness Way", "Many lives, many masters", "Atomic habits" to name a few.

I used to buy a lot more books 3-4 years ago, but these days, I have been reading what's already piled up on my bookshelves. I have also come to believe that a book arrives in your attention space at the right time. For eg, I had bought "Living with the Himalayan masters" a decade back but never read a single page. I picked it up a few days back and am awestruck with how it answers all my questions.

Though I have stopped buying new books, it is hard for me to let go of the old - both the read as well as the unread ones. This is one of the points of conflict between K and meπŸ™‚

While reading a book, I always have a pencil/highlighter with me. Yes, even while reading a fiction novel πŸ™‚ Lines that made me go wow, phrases/passages that I'd like to reflect upon or jot down, inspiring anecdotes/incidents - I tend to grab all of them by underlining. D has also picked up this habit from me.

This is my journey with books so far. Share yours too. In these uncertain times, let's hold onto books that inspire us, provide solace and reprieve. 

Apr 22, 2021

Accept and surrender

 I'm a continuous learner. I seek information and knowledge from various sources. But over the past few months, I have experienced this realization -

Some life lessons are best learned through experience.

Let me give you an example -

I'm the kind of person who loves to be in control of various aspects of my life - be it food, lifestyle, productivity, time management, interests, etc. 

When things went out of my control, I got quite stressed. I tried researching more about why certain issues were happening, watched a ton of youtube videos, discussed a lot with my husband, and tried to gather a logical explanation. 

The time spent in these activities didn't alleviate my stress levels but rather increased them even more.

I couldn't understand the deeper meaning behind these phrases "Surrender to the situation", "Accept it wholeheartedly" and "Let go" when I heard them from multiple people whom I respect and adore.

Once I started to apply these phrases in their truest sense in my life, I felt a huge sense of relief. Things that are beyond my control didn't hurt me as much as they did earlier.

Situations come to our life at the right time when we *can* handle them. They also come to us to teach important lessons. When we accept and surrender, we will be able to sail through that particular phase without much pain (both physical and mental). And, as we introspect more on the situation without distracting ourselves, the lessons become more evident in front of our eyes.

When life pulls you in different directions, sometimes it is better to quieten our logical reasoning that seeks answers to "Why" or "Why me?" The experiences themselves will give us the answers as we accept and surrender to them.

Apr 12, 2021

Book Review: The Search that seeks you

 A question that had been lingering in my mind for decades is finally getting answered in the past one year through various sources. When I heard this answer for the first time, I couldn't accept it. I faced a lot of internal resistance. The answer then explained itself through deeper questioning and serendipitous interactions. The answer became even more convincing through multiple workshops (Durgesh Nandhini's OMW, Tushita's meditation sessions and Anbe Yogam's 4 Gates 1 Home). 

As if these weren't enough, I accidentally stumbled upon this book in my community library and it simplified the answer even further. 

Yes, I'm now a firm believer of karma, the universal cause-and-effect law applicable for everyone. I now understand the deeper meaning of it and it has helped me connect many loose ends.

The main protagonist of this book "The Search that seeks you" written by Sangamithra Amudha is named Karma. It is a simple story of Karma's self discovery through his life experiences and spiritual encounters. 

From the author's words, 
"We create karma through our actions and thoughts. The good and bad things that we experience are all due to karma."

Karma's story is easy to relate to - the incidents, people in his life and their influences. I particularly loved the writing of the first half of the book. The conversations that Karma have with the spiritual gurus are so deep and profound, yet written in simple language. 

The latter half felt a little forced, where situations and conversations were disconnected to the story and didn't sync with the main plot. Nevertheless, there were many interesting insights that I had jotted down to reflect upon further.

A few such points listed below:
"A mind without thoughts is a valuable treasure. In the absence of thought processes, the mind can experience contentment"
"Only when unnecessary thoughts and bad intentions are removed, we can get to the temple's treasures, that is, true happiness in our lives"
"The mind is a driving force that can help you to keep re-emphasizing goals. When you keep re-emphasizing your goal, it tries to find a path to achieve it"
"It is our responsibility to manage our tough times rather than lose our mental strength by thinking about why we have to suffer"
"If it is in your karma that you have to help others, the same manifests as the desire to do so"

Spirituality explained through simplified writing and an easy-to-relate story. Loved reading it.

Apr 10, 2021

Importance of planning on challenging days

 As I shared yesterday, I was going through a couple of unexpected health issues in the past few weeks. Sleep-deprived and at the same time, not enough food intake made me feel quite drained.

Days just went by without much focus. Many good habits that I had incorporated had fallen off the track. After a few dull days, I picked myself up, restarted a few good habits (not all of them) and I could see a clear shift in my energy levels. 

I had a different set of responsibilities (and its challenges) from Oct-Feb. I had presumed that March will be a time when I could focus on a few personal projects, but then these health issues cropped up all of a sudden. This experience made me realize that there will never be a perfect time when everything falls in place the way we wanted.

Our responsibilities and life situations keep changing. We need to adapt our schedules with clear intentions along with a "Terms and Conditions Apply" mindset. That's where planning comes in handy.

We may not be able to accomplish the 100 things we want to get done, but with proper planning, we can accomplish at least 2-3 things on days when we don't have much control over situations. 

"Plan your days even when your days aren't going as planned" - this is the thought I wrote down in my journal a few days back. 

The purpose of planning on such challenging days is not to feel overwhelmed, but to have intentions/hope towards progress. 

No hustle, no busyness. Slow, steady progress. 

Apr 9, 2021

2 life lessons related to Health

 You might have heard of instances like "I bit a murukku and my tooth broke", "I bit a seedai and my tooth fell off". Have you ever heard this statement - "I bit into a samosa and my teeth came out". Well, that's what happened to me 3 Sundays back. After a long long time, I was tempted to eat a samosa. I bought home a piece from my favorite sweet shop, poured the chutneys on top of it, and took ONE bite from my front teeth. My next reaction was OMG! My 4 front teeth dropped off on my plate.

If you are shocked at this point, let me admit - the teeth that broke were my 10-year old ceramic bridge. From my teens, I had many tooth cavities, got many root canal treatments done in my 20s, and had to get a ceramic bridge in 2010. 

I shouldn't be blaming the samosa or the fact that I was tempted to eat it. The incident happened, which was beyond my control and I had to fix the issue. Over the past 3 weeks, after multiple trips to my dentist and various procedures, I got a new ceramic bridge fixed. Thankfully, since wearing masks being the norm, I could manage conversations with people, without feeling awkward.

Because of the dental procedures and lack of front teeth, I could hardly eat much, mostly semi-solid food like kanji, kichdi, or rice-based meals. Around the same 3 week period, I also experienced severe pain in my feet and legs during the nights. Checked with a couple of doctors and seems like the pain was due to Vitamin B12 deficiency. I'm currently on supplements and slowly recovering from the pain. 

These 3 weeks have taught me two valuable lessons. 

(1) Health is NOT only influenced by these factors - nutrition, activity, exercise, sleep, meditation, sun exposure, self-reflection, etc. There will be circumstances beyond your control, which might end up affecting your health. In such situations, surrendering to the discomfort without resisting too much is the key. 

(2) When the factors (that are under your control) are taken care of, the unexpected circumstances become more manageable. The recovery is faster. Though these circumstances might make you uncomfortable, you will have the inner strength to sail through.

As I'm "chewing" a plate of kambu idlis along with tiffin sambhar for breakfast this morning, I feel so much gratitude for my teeth (both the natural and the ceramic ones). 

Apr 6, 2021

7 tips to fix your sleep routine

 I recently stumbled upon this term called "Revenge bedtime procrastination". This implies that we delay sleep on purpose to gain some me-time. 

As I was reading more articles on this topic, this one by BBC had elaborated it very well

"people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours”.

I remember many years back (2012-13) when D was a toddler, I would put her to sleep by 10 PM, make myself a nice cup of hot chocolate and watch an episode of "Castle" on Star World from 11-12. Though I knew I had to catch up on my sleep, I would delay it, just so that I can grab an hour for myself. Fortunately, there wasn't any Netflix/Prime during that time as I might have ended up binge-watching one episode after another.

Off late, I have been observing this sleep procrastination happening among my friends and family. During this past year of work-from-home, it is becoming a much more prevalent practice.

Though most of us understand the importance of sleep in our overall well-being, we succumb to the temptations of social media, Youtube, and streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Sharing with you 7 tips on how you can fix your sleep routine.

(1) Maintain a sleep log

Track the number of hours you sleep. Most of us aren't even aware that we are sleeping less than 6 hours a night. Also, keep a note of the following aspects - how do you feel after waking up - do you feel energetic, do you reach for more cups of coffee/tea to get through the day, do you feel sleepy after lunch, do you have sustained energy throughout the day? These questions will help us become aware of how poor sleep affects our energy levels.

(2) Prioritize your sleep schedule

Fix a time to go to bed. Turn off all your gadgets/devices an hour before your bedtime. Follow this habit at least during weekdays. You might have heard this multiple times but if you are finding it difficult to implement, start slow. If you are used to sleeping by midnight, shift it to 11:30 PM (the gadgets to be turned off by 10:30 PM). Only through conscious habits, we can make a permanent change.

(3) Plan your calming hour

During this one hour before bedtime,

  • go for a short stroll
  • meditate
  • read a book (preferably a physical one)
  • journal about the day
  • write down a plan - tasks/to-dos for the next day

(4) Plan your work schedule

I often hear from many people that in the past year, they have been working longer hours. The commute time, lunchtime, and casual conversations at work with colleagues are now replaced with more and more meetings and work commitments. 

Time-box your day and fix up a clear schedule for various activities (meetings, email, work, research etc). Block a few hours to do deep work without any interruptions.

(5) Set clear boundaries at workplace

Work-from-home doesn't mean that you can be reached at any time of the day. Communicate your availability to your peers/co-workers. Having a fixed work schedule doesn't undermine your commitment to work. 

(6) Block time in the evenings to relax and unwind, so that you don't compromise on your sleep. Allocate an hour to catch up on your favorite series/youtube channels/social media.

(7) Identify *offline* activities that you enjoy and at the same time, give you a break from your gadgets. Me-time doesn't necessarily have to be scrolling through social media feeds. 

Good quality sleep is as much important as eating a nutritious meal / getting an hour of workout every day. Let's not compromise on our sleep for anything else - be it work commitments, catching up on favorite TV shows, etc. So not worth it!

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