Jun 27, 2022

2 issues with Don



 "Why should a person always become a doctor or an engineer? What if that person doesn't want to be either?"- D asked me this question while we were watching the Tamil movie "Don". She had earlier watched Nanban/3 idiots as well. I told her that it isn't that way these days and there are various career options available.

Though we both had fun while watching the movie (especially the scenes where SJ Surya aced it with superb voice modulation and body language), there are multiple aspects of the storytelling which I don't agree to.


(1) Talent doesn't arrive overnight in a parcel

In the movie, the hero realizes his talent one fine evening. He is not shown as someone who consciously works towards identifying his talent. Rather, he is shown as someone having fun, with a wish that he would identify his talent in those 4 years of Engineering.


It creates a false hope in the minds of youngsters. Talent doesn't dawn on you overnight, without putting any effort. None of us are born with a preset talent unless we are child prodigy.


As we progress on a particular skill, we eventually identify that we are good at it and then it becomes our talent. I have experienced this multiple times in my life so far.


I was never good at writing in English in my own words. Though I understood the concepts in school, I used to struggle to write on my own. I ended up mugging the text, to avoid this writing challenge. Many of us who think in our native language face this struggle. When I started blogging in 2004, I faced multiple issues - the words were not flowing freely, there were multiple grammatical errors, sentence structuring wasn't clear, and many more. Because of my consistent writing habit over the past 17 years, my writing skill has improved and has now become one of my talents. I see the same pattern, repeating for other skills such as reading, public speaking, and cooking.


A skill becomes your talent ONLY after you have invested conscious time and effort into it. Love what you do until it becomes your talent. Then you will do what you love.


(2) Hitting a child is not an expression of parental LOVE

Many people liked Don because of the emotional short story in the end - "Untold love". For me, that was the most problematic part of the whole movie.


The father character is portrayed as someone who yells at the child, slaps him, hits him violently in his college, pushes him to get 90% and above, doesn't encourage him for anything. He is depicted as a villain throughout the movie. I don't agree with the ending where child violence is justified in the name of love.


As I was watching the initial few scenes, all it reminded me of was the Senthamarai character in the movie "Adhisaya Piravi" and the dialogue he tells Rajnikanth - "Nee ozhukkam ullavanaa varanum nu dhaan onna adikkaren".


Will the audience agree that Senthamarai had untold love for Rajni? Or is it because in Don, the father character is played by Samuthirakani that we wouldn't mind the shift from villain to hero in the end?


Jun 24, 2022

Tune into this channel



 Which is your favorite channel?

When I was a kid, there was only Doordarshan, for a few hours in a day. Then came DD Metro, Sun TV, and 100 other channels. The 90s and 2000s saw more and more channels getting added to DTH. After the penetration of smartphones, many OTT platforms added more to our list of things to watch. Since 2016-17, Youtube channels also got added to our list - it is no longer 100 channels on TV, we have now 10000+ channels on our smartphone.

We now have access to some fantastic, useful, and inspirational content. My cooking skills have improved over the past decade, thanks to food bloggers and YouTubers.

When Youtube was getting popular in India, many of the channels were focused on a particular topic - recipes, home decor, fitness, programming, personal finance, etc. But in the last few years, vlogging has become a trend - some of them create vlogs daily, sharing every single detail of their day, garnering millions of subscribers. I'm clueless why would a "Bathroom tour" video gain a million views!

As our Agila Ulaga Superstar Shiva says, "marakkaama surprise pannunga", Youtube channels keep giving us surprises for the sake of "content". TV serial makers and ad creators can take inspiration from vloggers.

I used to follow a few such vloggers, back in 2017-18. When I asked myself what did I gain by watching such daily vlogs, the answers that came up were - menu planning, home organization, positivity, inspiration, travel ideas etc. Some of them were for just time pass.

These vlogs are carefully curated, edited and made to look pretty. No doubt, they take a lot of effort. But it doesn't convey the complete picture of his/her life. Moreover, someone leading their lives a certain way can inspire us to an extent, but when the intention changes to copying or imitating a certain vlogger's life template, that's when it becomes an issue for us.

Such an intention (consciously or unconsciously) leads us to desire the material objects they use, places they travel to, restaurants they visit and more. One might argue that such vlogs help us in discovering new objects or experiences. But they also inadvertently increase our desire for things we don't need.

More than the above reasons, what's more concerning is this fact -

The more we spend time looking into other people's lives for inspiration, the less time we spend looking into our own lives.

Sometimes, I wonder if we are consciously using these distractions to avoid watching our "inner channel" with a Subscriber count of 1.

Why do we avoid or ignore our channel?

Is it the fear of facing our thoughts?

Is it boring or uneventful?

Is it the fear of facing uncomfortable questions from our conscious mind?

Is it because of the perceived effort that seems daunting?

When we start tuning into our inner channel, we start to understand ourselves better - our needs, our feelings, our emotions, and our body's signals. Our intuition starts to get sharpened. We feel comfortable being who we are. Our self-esteem improves. We feel confident to take on new challenges.

The benefits are plenty. But to experience them, we need to go within - every single day. How?

By "doing nothing" - Just sit for a few minutes, preferably with eyes closed and just observe.

By consciously reducing distractions and cutting down the external channels we tune into every day.

Techniques like meditation, self-inquiry, journaling, self-expression through art, being in solitude, going for a walk outside, and being amidst nature - prioritize these activities and schedule time for them.

Tune into your inner channel. It will "surprise you" :)

Jun 23, 2022

7 reasons why we feel overwhelmed

Many ailments manifest because of imbalances in our bodies. One of the important reasons for such imbalances is the impact of our thoughts on our nervous and circulatory systems.

Given the busy lifestyles we lead, there is always a sense of overwhelm, that keeps our sympathetic nervous system on active mode for most of the day.

Many of us start our mornings with a 10-min meditation or Pranayama practice, but as the demands of the day take over, the relaxation we experienced in the morning vanishes, and our todo lists and appointments keep us on our toes, leaving behind a sense of overwhelm at the end of the day.

Why do we feel overwhelmed? What causes this feeling? Only when we understand this deeper, we will be able to figure out sustainable ways to come out of it. Here are 7 reasons behind it. There could be more as well.

(1) When we blindly accept success metrics defined by the society and work towards the same

What are those metrics - a few examples below

If you are an employee - pay range, designation/title, material goals, status, lifestyle.

If you are running a software business - valuation, DAUs, WAUs, MAUs, Subscriptions

If you are looking to stay fit - weight, BMI, number of steps, calorie intake, macros

If you are a social media influencer - number of followers/subscribers, likes, comments

Let's question the metrics we value. Does this make sense? How do I validate the same? Am I chasing after this metric, just because someone said so?

(2) When we compare what we don't have with others who have (without realizing that we are comparing apples to oranges)

I read this brilliant insight somewhere - if you are jealous about someone, say ABC because of a single trait and feel, "I wish I had what ABC has", then would you be willing to exchange your life with ABC's life completely? We are not fully aware of what ABC's life is - we only see bits and pieces through social media, hearsay, or our interactions.

(3) When we take up too many responsibilities and put pressure on ourselves 

We don't recognize our limits and end up pushing ourselves to a point of burnout.

When life circumstances change suddenly, we do not want to change our routines and adapt by either taking a break, pausing, or slowing down.

We end up trying to be in 2 places at once, as we don't know which one to prioritize and which one to let go of. 

For eg, I had signed up for the 21-day Satvic Yoga challenge which happens every morning between 6:30-7:45 AM. I also need to get my daughter's tiffin boxes ready. Initially, I had thought that I'd quickly finish cooking and attend the class on time. But I realized that I was putting undue pressure on myself. Since the recordings are made available, I now slowly finish cooking, pack her boxes, get her ready and then start my Yoga practice at 8 AM in a calm state of mind.

(4) When we set an expectation to complete something in a fixed time 

The word "deadline" by itself sounds so scary, isn't it? Either these timelines are set by ourselves or by someone else. Timelines help us to make progress with a goal, but are these realistic? If someone else sets them, are we confidently asserting that these are unrealistic and we need more time? 

(5) When we become so rigid with our values

Values provide a guiding light for our decisions. But when we become too rigid, the same values can hurt us as well. For eg, I usually finish my dinner before 7 PM. Last night, it got delayed and I ended up eating my dinner at 8 PM. I had prepared phulkas, capsicum paneer gravy, and rajma masala. Heavy items, but just because my dinner time got delayed, am I going to skip my meal? I was hungry, and I ate 3 phulkas with the sides. No regrets, no worry over whether the food will get digested or not.

(6) When we want to be in control of other's behaviors

The fact to remember is that we cannot control anyone's behaviors, except ours. If we try to do so, it only causes more stress and disappointments.

I'm sure many parents would be able to understand this feeling in the morning rush hours. If the child takes up more time to get ready OR if he/she hasn't packed the books to be carried to school, we start getting tensed, sometimes yelling at the child too and thinking to ourselves, "I wish he/she is more organized", "I wish he/she becomes more responsible" etc.

(7) When we try to control situations beyond our control

My main reason for getting overwhelmed is this - trying to control and stay on top of all situations. Again, impossible, but hard to accept.

For eg, when D's school started this academic year, her school bus was coming very late. I was getting irritated because of this delay. I was checking my phone constantly to see the current bus location. This continued for 2-3 days, after which I mellowed down and started to accept that this delay isn't under my control - huge traffic, roads dug up for various reasons, inefficient bus routes, etc.

Which of these reasons resonate with you the most?

Jun 22, 2022

Labels on your bottle



 A few days back, I came across a video where I heard this beautiful insight (not able to get the link now)

"Imagine a large ocean full of water. That's universal consciousness. When we fill a bottle with water from the same ocean, the water inside the bottle is our individual consciousness. The bottle is our body that provides space for our individual consciousness to reside. When we eventually depart, the bottle is opened and the water gets released back to the ocean."


As I pondered over this, it made sense to expand on this further. 


Imagine this bottle to be a transparent one made with glass.


As we grow up, we associate with identities or labels. These get stuck on the transparent walls of the bottle, preventing us from seeing the Universal consciousness that we all are part of.


We enter adulthood, adding more and more labels to our bottles. Some of those labels are easy to remove with little effort. But for those identities with which we associate strongly, the glue becomes tighter, making it harder to remove the labels.


When we are unable to remove a label stuck to a new bowl, what do we do? We end up applying heat which loosens the glue. The label comes off easily after a few minutes of heat.


Similarly, for our identity labels that are hard to remove, heat comes in the form of sudden, unexpected challenges and obstacles from the Universe. It is painful to experience this heat but is necessary to remove the label. 


As the label gets removed one after another, the transparency of the bottle brings new sights and fresh perspectives. We start connecting the dots together. We go on a journey within to understand the similarities, although the bottles are in various shapes and sizes.


During this journey, it is imperative that we don't end up adding further new labels that hide our vision. The journey itself can result in new labels being created, with a stronger glue that will be harder to remove. 


We need to be mindful of the fact that every bottle goes through his/her own unique journey to merge with the ocean. No journey is superior or inferior. There is no competition here. It is not a ladder where someone who started this journey many years back considers himself/herself superior. A better comparison would be a maze with multiple doors - someone opens 100 doors to get to the exit whereas another gets to open only 10 doors to get to the exit.


I might be completely wrong in my interpretation here. If you have a different perspective, I'd love to hear.


P.S. It is a strange irony that I wrote about finding your slashes (ensemble of avatars) in Sep 2016. Well, unlearning is a part of everyone's journey. And I accept the perspective that made sense back then and now welcoming this change in perspective as well.


Jun 21, 2022

My Yoga Journey



 My first experience with Yoga was in Jan 2004. With the usual enthusiasm of a New Year, I signed up for a 2-month Yoga class scheduled in a nearby Ganesha temple. The class was between 6-7 AM. Waking up at 5:30 am, getting ready for the class, and walking to the temple which was a km away - with Bengaluru winter, I lasted for 2 weeks 😁 The Yoga teacher was fantastic and he conducted the classes with utmost diligence. The charges were only ₹200 per month (more of a voluntary donation). Yet I didn't continue.

The same session in 2005, continued the practice for around 50 days this time but didn't complete it. 

Signed up yet again for the same Yoga class in 2006, with my husband this time. It was a memorable experience going to classes with him, bunking a few mornings, and making fun of each other while we struggled in balancing poses. The temple atmosphere in the early mornings was so serene, listening to Gan Ganapateye song playing on the speaker and walking back home, feeling fresh and energetic. That year, I lasted for almost 45 days before giving up.

Yoga just kept visiting me now and then after that point - a few days at the Art of Living programme, 2-3 days of practice during holidays in Kerala, and a week-long practice at Swaswara. But I have never been able to consistently follow through in my 20s. 

Often at times, I used to wonder - What if I had been consistent at Yoga from 2004 onwards? What if I never had to go through all the PCOD-related issues?

Pondering over "WHAT IF"s isn't of much help. The important realization for me was this - 

The Universe pulls us in the direction meant for us. We might either end up hearing the call immediately. Or we might be distracted by society's pressures. No matter what, we will pay heed to the call eventually - in weeks, months, or years.

Signed up for a Yoga class in May 2015. Thanks to the Universe and my amazing teacher Arundhati, I understood that Yoga is the path that works for me in improving my physical health. No running, no gymming.

I was mostly consistent until Feb 2020. My strength, flexibility, and stamina slowly improved in these years, because of the guidance of my teacher.

By reading many books on Yoga philosophy, I learned that Yoga is much more than Asanas. I started to experience the positive effects regular Yoga practice was bringing on my body and mind.

Pandemic arrived and I ended up practicing on my own. I managed to keep at it until Apr 2021. And then, a year-long gap (except for a few days of "guilt-driven" practice here and there) came due to family emergencies. Strength, flexibility, and stamina all went for a toss.

Universe brought in the opportunity to sign up for the Satvic movement's 21-day Yoga challenge. It's now been 16 days of daily practice. Yet again, an amazing teacher Radhika - very patient and diligent in guiding us through her online classes. So so grateful to her for rekindling my love for Yoga.

That's been my Yoga journey so far. Wishing all practitioners, teachers, and therapists a very happy International Yoga Day! One day isn't enough to celebrate this profound wisdom.

Jun 20, 2022

Physical Health


 

The mind plays an important role in influencing our body. If that's the case, then why do we focus so much on physical health - food, exercise, movement, and sleep?

According to Yoga philosophy,

When the body stretches, the mind also stretches.

When the body opens up, the mind also opens up.

When the body relaxes, the mind also relaxes.

When the body tenses up, the mind also gets tensed.


Both our body and mind influence each other. Working on both these aspects is essential for good health and vitality.


Starting with improving our physical health makes a lot more sense because

  • Working and correcting our physical body is relatively easier than the mind. There is a physical limit to the quantity we can eat in a meal. There is a physical limit to the point we can push our body. There is a physical limit to the point we can go without sleep. But for our mind, the limit is on the higher side - one can have 10000 thoughts in a day. It is hard to process, analyze or control each one of them.

  • Our choices in our daily lives have a direct and immediate impact on our body. Eat a single wrong meal and immediately, we feel the sensation of bloating, indigestion, and lethargy. Whereas, a single worry has a subtler effect on our mind, though the impression is made in the subconscious.

  • Working on our physical body is also easier to quantify and much more tangible to measure our progress. Of course, the metrics we use should be relevant and meaningful.

  • As the body starts to get in shape, the mind opens up automatically and gets ready for healing.


Our physical body is considered a temple of our soul. As we take up the path to improve our physical health, let's be gentle with our body without putting it through sudden extremes

  • Neither overeating nor undereating
  • Neither overexerting nor being a couch potato
  • Neither oversleeping nor being a night owl

Jun 17, 2022

Book Review: The Effects of Yoga on Hypertension by Dr Swami Shankardevananda



 My ILs were diagnosed with hypertension in their early 40s. As the years progressed, diabetes followed and then a few other ailments got added to their diagnosis.

I have always asked myself this question - "No smoking, no drinking alcohol, no meat. They are vegetarians. Their main meals are mostly home-cooked food. Yes, packaged foods intake was high, central obesity, sedentary life, and lack of exercise. BUT, will these alone contribute to all their ailments? Is it due to the side effects of the progressively increasing dosage of all their medications and health supplements? There has to be something more".

It felt like an important piece of this jigsaw puzzle was missing.

As I started reading up more on the power of our mind and our thoughts and how they influence our body, the missing piece started to show up. And this book "Yoga on hypertension" made it more visible. Hypertension is one of the many psychosomatic diseases of today.

Though the focus is on hypertension, this book is relevant for a general understanding of good health.

The author has first explained the circulatory system in great detail in simple language. After setting the context, he talks about the key topic - the autonomic nervous system and its role in blood pressure. He presents a convincing argument on how excessive sympathetic stimulation is one of the key contributing factors behind hypertension. I couldn't agree more on this, having observed the patterns of my family elders.

He shares the present medical view - causes and treatment protocols. He then presents a Yogic view, where he stresses the role our mind plays in the cause of hypertension. The chapter on the connection between our endocrine glands, Chakras, and our nervous system was so fascinating to read.

As for the Cure, the author suggests a holistic view - eliminating our mental issues (anxiety, worry, guilt) through various strategies, regular practice of Asana, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra, and meditation. Shavasana is beneficial for hypertension through conscious relaxation. Many breathing techniques are also recommended, along with a structured Asana and Pranayama practice plan.

Some of the key takeaways:

"Worry was one of the major factors behind hypertension".

"Both heart and blood vessels respond very readily to fluctuations in the mind and emotions."

"Typical cardiac patients had in common a competitive, aggressive, ambitious, stressful lifestyle."

"The mind is a more subtle component than the physical and subject to faster change. It is impressed or indented, by our internal reaction to external events"

"When we find a place within where we can refresh ourselves, it becomes easier to handle external problems."

Highly recommend this book for all, especially if you are diagnosed with hypertension or if you are on the borderline.


Jun 16, 2022

Uniqueness



A couple of years ago, I attended a workshop, that focused on self-improvement across various facets of life. At the end of most sessions, it just gave a sense of overwhelm, sometimes to the point of guilt and shame for the choices made so far. The strategies being advocated were also on the extremes, leaving the audience with the thought, "Oh, I have to do so much to improve my life".

As I wondered why there is such a big demand for self-improvement - be it books, spiritual gurus, influencers, thought leaders, etc, there were many reasons that popped up:

  • Lack of self-acceptance
  • Unhappy with the current status quo
  • Comparison with others
  • Peer pressure / Social influence
  • Action-oriented mindset, seeking change

While reading J Krishnamurti's books, the answer became more clear. His words were so profound that hit the nail right on the head. Here are a few of his thought-provoking lines:

"We do not know the significance of life as long as we are copying, imitating, following."

"The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another; we mechanically follow somebody who will assure us a comfortable spiritual life."

"If I am all the time measuring myself against you, struggling to be like you, then I am denying what I am myself."

"We are always comparing what we are with what we should be. The should-be is a projection of what we think we ought to be."

"When you accept that you are what you are, where is the problem? There is a problem only when we do not accept a thing as it is and wish to transform it."

Each of us is unique - our thoughts, our life circumstances, our experiences so far, our conditioning, our beliefs, our values, our environment, our family, and much more. Then why do we seek a template from others on how to live our lives?

When we have enough self-love and self-acceptance, it would lead to the following - a strong sense of trust in ourselves, a graceful practice of self-awareness, along with patience and confidence that the Universe will guide us in the right direction.

Seeking inspiration from others is fine as long as it doesn't come in the way of discovering ourselves - our unique nature and our Truth.

Jun 14, 2022

Book Review: Flowers on the Path by Sadhguru



 I bought this book in Apr 2019. I started to read it around the same time but lost interest after a few chapters. I picked up the same book after 3 years and loved it for its simplicity, brilliant insights, and relatable writings. Yet again, it is a testament to the fact that a book hits the reader at the right time.

Having read Sadhguru's Karma and Inner Engineering (and listened to many of his talks), I love the way he conveys his spiritual perspectives in such a simple, easy-to-understand manner. This book "Flowers on the Path" is a compilation of his articles - short, concise, and a clear focus, interspersed with beautiful anecdotes. He touches upon various topics in these articles - religion, spirituality, women, multiple paths of Yoga, comfort zones, health, parenting, destiny, and much more. Some of the questions he poses are honest, real, and worth asking ourselves in the fast-paced lives we lead. For eg, "If you are incapable of transforming yourself, where is the question of you bringing up your child?"

As these articles are 2-3 pages long, the coverage isn't in-depth though. But they provide the reader with enough insights to ponder, depending on the areas or context where they are seeking answers.

I just loved the chapter on worldly affairs, especially this particular passage!

"People who are withdrawing from excessive activity are not causing any damage either to themselves, the society, the world, the environment or the planet. It is only people who are engaged in activity in absolute unawareness who are truly destroying the world."

A few other favorite lines:

"When a child comes into your life, it is a time to learn, because you have missed much in your life and so much of you has become distorted" => So so true!

"Human civilization still views economic success as the primary marker of human achievement. This is a tragically myopic view."

"In our bid to banish discrimination, we will banish diversity as well" => In the context of gender

"You can go far in life only when you can leave your past"

"Choices made in unawareness are compulsions."

"Spirituality is an inner science to create a conductive inner atmosphere because the quality of your life is dependent on how you are within yourself."

Loved reading this book. If the lines above resonated with you, I'm sure you'd love the book too!

Jun 13, 2022

Our daily wave pattern

Yesterday, we visited Lalbagh after so many years. D had a memorable time, eating cotton candy after a long time. D and I were craving choco-bar ice cream ever since we watched KRK🙂 So we treated ourselves to choco-bar, roamed around the garden, sat on the grass, and played a game of Snakes&Ladders. We then stopped for eating Khali Dosa (kal dosai) at Hotel Dwaraka. It was a fun evening, but there were also times when I got triggered for multiple reasons - getting stuck in traffic, delay in getting a cup of chai when I so desperately wanted it, searching for a clean washroom, etc.

As I reflected on the day, I realized how our day can be depicted in the form of a wave pattern.



Imagine a line segment that's starting to move from left to right, as you wake up in the morning. There are multiple forms of triggers we encounter in our daily lives.

If we were a monk/saint, I presume we will not be affected by any of them. Our day will depict a straight, steady line, with no waveforms (ups/downs).

That may not be the case for humans like us. Our reactions/responses to triggers will depict multiple waves of ups/downs. Frequencies might be higher if we react to every little situation. The amplitude of certain waves might be higher if the triggers warrant a serious reaction. This might also be true if they tend to pull up unresolved emotions from the past or create anxiety about the future.

As we become more aware of the triggers and our reactions/responses to them, we can start to reduce the frequency of these waves. We might end up realizing that there is no need to react to every single trigger that comes our way. We may choose to ignore it and move on.

We can also reduce the amplitude of these waves through mindfulness and being in the present moment. We accept our reactions to those triggers and do not feel guilty about it. With awareness, we might consciously choose not to blow it out of proportion. We might even get an insight about ourselves - our childhood conditioning, our values, our expectations, our unmet needs, or the mere fact that we are not setting the right boundaries. In such scenarios, we gladly accept the trigger, and our reaction to it and move on gracefully.

How's your wave pattern today?


Jun 8, 2022

Book Review: Mind full to Mindful by Om Swami



 I first read Om Swami's The Wellness Sense in 2019 and loved it for so many meaningful insights conveyed in a simplistic writing style. As I was browsing through the Philosophy and Yoga aisles in Blossoms book store a few days back, I came across his other books. I so wanted to pick them all but restricted myself to just this one - Mind full to Mindful, because of the interesting title.

The author has explained the concept of mindfulness from a Zen Buddhism perspective. He has included many practices such as Zazen meditation, wall gazing, Zen tea ritual, etc that help us improve our awareness and be present in the present moment. Core tenets of Zen philosophy, virtues, and principles prescribed for Zen practitioners are elaborated with relevant anecdotes and relatable experiences. The way the book is written gives the reader the confidence and comfort to incorporate mindfulness practices in our daily lives.

The deeper concepts of Buddhist philosophy - emptiness, impermanence, and illusion of suffering are dealt with in an easy-to-understand manner for beginners. My favorite section of this book is the one on the four virtues of a Zen practitioner, especially the chapter on forgiveness. It resonated so deeply that I was highlighting almost the entire chapter.

A few favorite quotes, as always:

"Awakening, in a nutshell, is to have a graceful response to everything life throws at you without losing your sense of serenity and inner calm."

"If you are fragrant enough, you will automatically attract all creatures that need that fragrance."

"Pain is an essential part of our spiritual progress."

"Whether or not someone deserves it, forgive if you want peace."

"The test of mindfulness or serenity is in adversity."

"The more disciplined your life, the greater is your freedom."

If you are new to spiritual learning and Buddhist teachings, this book would be a perfect start to your journey. It is also suited for young adults, who will be able to understand the concepts easily through the relatable stories shared by the author.

Jun 7, 2022

Importance of Physical Space



 This is a pic of our Christmas tree plant on our balcony. We bought this plant from a nearby nursery sometime in 2005. It started growing steadily and we had to re-pot it to bigger-sized pots multiple times. After 7-8 years, the leaves started to wither and the plant was looking dull, even though it was watered regularly. Our gardener suggested that we should replant this tree in the ground as it is not getting adequate space in a pot. 

We agreed and he carefully planted it in a spot, where there was adequate space for the roots to flourish and for the branches to grow taller. There was adequate space all around the tree as well and of course, ample exposure to sunlight. After replanting, our Christmas tree is now looking so magnificent, having grown to the height of 4 floors, leaves spread out thick and strong, looking lush green. It is being given a lot of care by the gardeners and celebrated with a lot of lights during Christmas every year.

This 17-year story of our Christmas tree has taught me the value of one important human need - The need for Space and the Right Environment.

Every individual needs physical space for growth. Be it studies, professional work projects, spiritual growth, exercise routine, meditation, reading/research, etc - physical space is essential to make progress.

Solitude, time to be alone with one's thoughts, quiet and peaceful time with no interruptions, ability to focus and get into a state of flow - these are so crucial for all of us (including children). I understood the value of these aspects, especially in the last 2 years. Though the needed space was available earlier, I think I didn't give it a lot of thought. As our human tendency, we only value when something is taken away or no longer available to us.

Ever since the pandemic started, I have been yearning for that quiet space and have cribbed about the same multiple times to my soul friend🙂 The quiet afternoon times when I used to be alone at home while K and D will be in the office and school respectively - the sunlight gently brightening up my living room, almost pin-drop silence with occasional sounds of birds and squirrels, our pet cat W napping peacefully in the balcony, basking in the rays of the sun. Such moments are times of inspiration when I would either focus on a work project, sip a cup of chai, get engrossed in a book, write a blog post or try out a new dish in my kitchen.

In the past 2 years, our WFH routines, Online school, and elderly care responsibilities have made sure that there is hardly ANY space in my 3-BHK apartment to sit and focus.

K, D, and I keep playing the game of musical chair by lugging around our laptops and books to different corners of our home to get work done. I'm sure many of you reading this post would have faced similar space crunch challenges.

As I sit on the sofa in the living room to write this post, the bathroom door and the elder's room door have been opened and closed thrice with such a loud bang in 20 minutes. Every movement might be a necessity and a priority for someone else, no doubt. BUT, wanting a quiet space for yourself for a couple of hours - is this too much of an ask? Isn't this a form of self-care?

Even if we step out of our homes, the current open office environments and co-working spaces, coffee shops with loud music aren't providing the right atmosphere to focus and get meaningful work done.

How I so wish there were small, closed spaces that can be rented at a reasonable price with adequate natural light, fresh air, NO interruptions, and soundproofed walls! Until such options are available, I'll try to make the best use of my terrace or wake up really early to grab a couple of quiet hours.

Jun 6, 2022

Emotional Hygiene


 

After a long break, I restarted my Yoga practice yesterday morning. At the end of a 45-min session, instead of feeling calm and relaxed, I found myself extremely agitated and angry. The surface-level reason was due to the feeling of disappointment when I realized that I couldn't do a few asanas that used to be so comfortable a year back. As I pondered over this feeling, it made me angrier with people, situations, and circumstances of the past year that were beyond my control. "It's because of all of you that I lost my consistency with Yoga practice", I blamed, which added more fuel to the fire. The anger took a while to subside, and then I felt extremely bad for having had such a negative outpour after my practice.

This morning, the Yoga practice felt refreshing. The struggle continued, but I took it in my stride and decided to progress without getting upset about the loss of strength and stamina. After breakfast, I picked up the book I'm reading currently - Om Swami's "Mind full to mindful".

The chapter on emotional hygiene opened my eyes to a plethora of insights. This particular statement from the book was an aha moment for me - "It's when you do the moving that you realize how much is inside you."

The author has shared how we come to realize the sheer volume of physical clutter we have accumulated ONLY when we shift homes. If we are in the same home for years, the clutter keeps piling up inside numerous cupboards and shelves. We may not notice them or choose to stay distracted amidst the clutter.

Similarly, when it comes to our minds, as long as we continue with the same routines without any retrospection, the emotional clutter tends to pile up. When we decide to move things around even a little bit, the clutter suddenly falls on top of us. My sudden burst of anger yesterday was one such release. And now I feel relieved that the bottled-up emotions came out. It also helped me understand and value the pain of loss - years of effort.

With the same logic, it now makes a lot of sense to experience the emotions we (women) feel in the 4th week of the menstrual cycle. It feels like a mental detox to periodically clear out the unwanted emotions. If these are not cleared, they tend to bottle up and manifest as serious physical ailments.

Journaling is one of the most effective ways to process our emotions regularly if you enjoy writing and pouring out your feelings without any self-criticism or self-judgment.

Talking to a confidante (spouse / close friend) is also super helpful. Prayers, meditation, observing your feelings and thoughts regularly, spending time with plants or pets, etc are a few other ways to clear out the unnecessary baggage we carry in our minds.

Jun 4, 2022

Book Review: For One More Day by Mitch Albom



 It's been a long time since I read a fiction novel. Been reading more serious stuff in the past few years and wanted to take a break. As I stood there in front of my home library, wondering what to read next, this book caught my attention, amidst Tuesdays with Morrie and The five people you meet in heaven.

Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie, which I read in 2005 is one of my all-time favorites. His style of writing is simple, meaningful, and relatable. "For one more day" follows a similar writing pattern and starts with an intriguing premise. The protagonist Charley gets to meet his dead mother for one more day. Their present-day interactions and past experiences form the crux of the story. The back-and-forth storytelling provides an interesting platform to build on the relationship between Charley and his parents, his growing-up years, and the life choices made. I especially loved the characterization of Posey, his mother - her struggles and the dignity with which she handled them, her hand-written notes for his son, being proud of her son's every little milestone, and more.

As the story progresses, multiple one-liners make you pause and reflect.

"A child embarrassed by his mother is just a child who hasn't lived long enough"

"Going back to something is harder than you think"

"When someone is in your heart, they are never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times"

"You need to keep people close. You need to give them access to your heart"

At the end of it, the story tugs at your heart with a melancholic feel and a wish to meet your dead loved one for one more day.

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