Aug 24, 2023

The clash between Do what you love AND Love what you do

 I stumbled upon this quote credited to Steve Jobs - 

"If you are working on something that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you".

As I thought about this quote, memories of certain times flashed.

The late morning hours when I would rush to the supermarket to take pictures of nutrition labels and rush back to research the ingredients and write blog posts

The times when I used to take orders and cook weekend breakfast and lunch menus as a home chef

The late nights when I would write SQL queries to crunch data and analyze the nutrition intake of app users in my role as a product manager for a health startup

When you do what you love, external motivation or micro-management isn't required. You experience a state of "flow" and are fully immersed in the process. But such moments are rare and precious.

Many times, you end up trying to "love what you do".

You try to rationalize the reasons and convince your intellect. In some cases, such efforts could eventually lead to figuring out "what you love" after you have developed certain competencies over time. I found my interest in Cooking through this process.

When you force yourselves to love what you do, if you aren't inspired, it takes a lot of internal effort to stay motivated. It can drain the life energy out of you when you constantly try to push yourself through logic. You might give rational excuses like "The pay is good", "I'm doing this for my family", "society values this", etc. But if your heart feels lost or out of place, it is a strenuous effort to stay on the course. As years go by, you will find it hard to sustain. The mental conflicts are stronger IF you know what you love but unable to pursue it for various reasons.

If you can find a balance by allocating time to pursue what you love amidst other things you need to do, your heart calms down, having been "listened" to. 

Allocate a portion of your time to "do what you love" every week. It then makes "loving what you do" a lot easier.

This can be challenging, though, if there are various other responsibilities and high workplace demands.

Aug 22, 2023

Dominance of Rajasic Qualities

 I used to crave a cup of hot coffee or chai by around 11-11:30 AM whenever I used to work for an employer. The key reason behind this craving was that there would invariably be a few meetings lined up between 11:30-1:30 PM. Such meetings not only require focus but also a few other qualities like taking initiative, planning, negotiation, constructive feedback - both giving and receiving, deciding the next course of action, gathering perspectives from others, etc. Some meetings would also involve facing an egoistic attitude from others - unexpected backlashes, interruptions while you try to convey your views, blame games/passing the buck to different teams, etc.

As I thought about this need for the extra cup of tea/coffee, it wasn't because I was feeling sleepy, lethargic, or tired - to conquer the tamasic qualities. This craving was my system's indication to increase the percentage of the Rajasic component. Action, passion, aggression, impatience, power-mongering, ego, achievement, ambition, and workaholism are all expressions of Rajasic tendency.

All of us operate with a certain ratio of Sattva:Rajas:Tamas tendencies.

Today's work environment requires very strong Rajasic qualities as listed above, which skews this ratio more towards Rajas.

The higher you go up the corporate ladder, the stronger the requirements of Rajasic qualities to get work done. Expectations from self as well as from others have gone up tremendously.

The percentage of Rajas in most of us is quite high these days, leading to multiple physical (high blood pressure, heart disease) and psychological (anxiety, burnout) ailments.

With a higher Rajas already in place, we further increase it through dynamic, fast-paced exercise routines (running, HIIT), extra cups of tea/black coffee, spicy and oily foods, lack of sleep, and too many thoughts and tasks on our mind.

Slowing down, prioritizing rest and recovery, identifying our core priorities, and adopting the qualities of Sattva - honesty, compassion, service, joy, humility, and sharing are all ways to control Rajas and bring balance to our lives.

Aug 19, 2023

Letting go of savior mindset

 Many of us tend to adopt one of these two mindsets depending on our life experiences - victim mindset and savior mindset.

As I observed my thought patterns over the past few years, the dominant one between the two is often the savior mindset. I'm not sure about the origin of its roots, though I have a few guesses. One probable reason could be that I have grown up watching Director Shankar's movies 🙂

Embracing this savior mindset is one of the important reasons behind situations that trigger me. Though I'm a calm person by nature, I get angry when I see situations where people get exploited due to their insecurities and fears. As I knew the reason behind my anger, I curtailed most of the sources where I get to receive such information. Social media, specifically Instagram, is the only source where such information hits me.

As I mulled over this trigger in the past couple of weeks, I understood all my posts related to packaged foods, types of influencers, and their marketing tactics stem from that anger.

It was time that I let go of this savior mindset to conserve my inner peace.

We all go through our respective journeys to arrive at our Truth. In these journeys, we might end up falling into the trap of unscrupulous people and get impacted. But the Universe will also provide opportunities to unlearn and readjust our routes. It happened to me, and it will happen to everyone else too. So there is no need to take stress (and give a free entry pass to "migraine"!😉 )

What about those who are behind such acts of exploiting people's fears and ignorance? How to not feel anger toward them?

I got the answer I needed to hear from Sister. BK Shivani (video shared in my Stories 2 days back).

"Content creators have a moral responsibility. If they make money by spoiling people's health, it impacts their karmic account. The money earned through such work comes tainted due to the suffering of others - by spoiling someone's physical, mental or emotional health, by breaking their families....."

This specific point made me realize that there is no need to get worked up due to the actions of certain people, as the laws of Karma will take care.

Aug 15, 2023

Book Review: The Yoga Sutras for Children by Roopa Pai

 A few weeks back, I started reading "The four chapters on Freedom" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. This is a commentary on Maharishi Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Around the same time, I stumbled upon Roopa Pai's latest book "The Yoga Sutras for Children".

Her earlier book "Gita for Children" is one of my absolute favorites as it simplified the sacred text with a lot of relatable examples. Her style of writing demystifies scriptures and makes it easy to approach them without any trepidation due to the lack of knowledge of Sanskrit.

Her version of "Yoga Sutras" is a commentary on commentary by various other scholars. She has brought out the essence, making the reader feel more curious to go deeper. Though it says "for children", it is certainly relevant for adults too, as the issues being brought up related to mind control are something many of us face today.

She starts with the objective of Yoga and its role in expanding our awareness. She then sets the context on the structure of Yoga Sutras and dives deeper into the first 2 sections - Samadhipada and Sadhanapada. The essence of each of these sections is further distilled down into key secrets.

I loved how she beautifully relates vrittis to the trains that come and go in front of a railway platform and we observe these trains without getting onboard. The explanation of the different buckets of vrittis and how they are classified is well articulated. She lays down the qualities required for mind control, the ingredients of a calm mind, and rewards that one might experience through mind control with the help of the relevant Yoga Sutras and their word-by-word breakdown.

The basic premise behind the ladder of eight limbs (Ashtanga) is summarized along with a detailed explanation of the first 5 rungs of the ladder. The examples given specifically for Yamas and Niyamas make it easier to understand for a young reader.

This book will be ideal for children above 14-15 years of age. However, it might be a little too heavy for a young reader (around 10-12 years), in my opinion. If you are an adult and an absolute beginner in learning Yoga Sutras, this book will be a good place to start.

Aug 12, 2023

Changing perspectives

 In 2016, I wrote a post on why it is important to find your slash - different identities separated by /

In 2022, I shared about how identities (labels) prevent us from connecting with the Universal consciousness.

Two completely contradicting thoughts.

I used to display the slashes in my bio earlier. I no longer do so as I'm trying to disassociate myself with identities I have clung to. Long way to go in this journey!

As years go by, we change as individuals - our mindsets, priorities, and perspectives go through a shift. This is a natural process as we evolve through life experiences. This transition accelerates when we consciously avoid being on auto-pilot all the time.

Social media has provided a platform for us to share our changing perspectives over the years. So it goes without saying that what we see on social media isn't a true reflection of the person. So it is better to take everything with a pinch of salt and add a "conditions apply" disclaimer internally after going through every post/tweet/reel/video/workshop etc.

Perspectives are not Facts.

Perspectives are not Truths.

Perspectives cannot be proven under all situations.

Perspectives may not apply to a larger population.

A perspective is a learning or takeaway that applies to me, given my environment, life experience, context, and present situation.

It is TRUTH for me, but may not be TRUTH for someone else.

Sharing of perspectives starts with good intentions. But over time, this intention gets tainted when financial and business motivations get into the picture. Then it makes us question 

whether those perspectives are

- real or made up

- have any unscrupulous intent

- brought up to earn a few extra bucks

- shared to build a business that banks on people's insecurities and fears

I understand these aren't easy to decipher and we don't need to break our heads for the same.

Consume less content.

Let go of FOMO.

Trust that the right inputs you need will come to you.

Spend time on gaining perspectives that require effort

  • Effort on the receiver - reading, thinking, analyzing, introspecting
  • Effort on the sharer - expertise, experience, time invested to shape/structure/present them along with a caveat that it is their perspective and can be biased

Aug 10, 2023

Sources of Right Knowledge according to Maharishi Patanjali

 Over the past few days, I have been grappling with this thought of "being influenced" and the factors that lead us in that direction.

In our parent's times (80s and 90s), it was television and advertisements that played a huge role in shaping their thoughts and decisions.

In our present times, it is social media and the so-called influencers.

While reading "Wisdom Bridge" a few weeks back, the author spoke about how there is more involvement and more intensity in today's parents because of a lack of access to the "village" (a.k.a family support) and wisdom that used to flow serenely from one generation to another.

"Prepare is the new care" => He laid forth this apt statement.

It is not only the preparation of our children for better opportunities and skills. It also means preparation undertaken by parents ourselves, so we feel equipped with the "right" knowledge. Fair intentions certainly, BUT have we evaluated our approach to accessing this "right" knowledge?

In Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali talks about five categories of vrittis (thoughts) that disturb our chitta (layers of mind).

One of them is called pramAna (right knowledge).

The No.1 source of right knowledge is pratyaksha or direct perception - experienced through our own five senses.

When it comes to parenting, most of us are clueless (especially with our firstborn), as we have been brought up in nuclear families and have had no prior experience in raising a baby. Direct perception is NIL.

The second source of right knowledge is anumAna or inference - not directly perceived but we make a calculated guess based on something else that we have perceived.

We might have observed in the past how a friend handled her baby when crying due to colic. We use that experience as an inference to address a crying episode with our baby in the present. The technique may or may not work, as the reason for crying could be different.

The third source of right knowledge is Agama or testimony - "that which has come down" - through scriptures or from other people or sources that we TRUST.

That's where the issue begins.

We don't trust our family elders as their ideologies could be misaligned or misunderstood with ours.

These could also have been tainted due to right intentions but wrong actions.

There is also a sense of EGO within that prevents us from listening to their intentions.

But the MOST important issue is that we don't trust ourselves, and because of this we allow ourselves to be persuaded by random opinions from strangers on social media.

Trust that you have the right intuition within to raise a child.

Trust that you will receive the right knowledge from reliable sources that operate from the space of "aRam" (righteousness) and not from a business motive (charging 1000s of rupees for a 1-hour group / pre-recorded workshop).

Trust that you have enough self-love to accept and learn from mistakes that you might make in being a parent.

Aug 9, 2023

A note to all those who get influenced


Sorry for sounding harsh. I happened to watch a video that exposed the truth behind parenting influencers.

I don't follow the content of these influencers and so I had no idea about the issues that this person who exposed the truth talked about. As I was watching the video, there were quite a few thought-provoking and disturbing revelations that were brought to the limelight.

He also brought out many pertinent questions that were running through my mind as well over the past few years.

We say, in Tamil, "Emaravanga irukkara varaikkum emathuravanga iruppanga" (As long as there are people to be fooled, there will be people to fool them).

Just like food influencers, influencers are sprouting across every aspect of life.

There's no way these so-called influencers are gonna take social responsibility.
They will continue to launch their expensive workshops, write books, travel the world, buy second homes in exotic beach locations etc.

It is up to the people who are getting influenced to take charge of their lives.
This is the message I tried to convey when I used to review the nutrition labels of packaged foods in 2017-18.
This applies even more to today's times when there are "coaches" mushrooming for parenting, health, lifestyle and whatnot.

Your fear is their investment.
Your ignorance is their VC funding.
Your laziness is their profit-making machine.

Why laziness?
Because we don't want to do our own research.
We don't want to do critical thinking and ask questions.
We don't want to seek the truth and gather facts from real experts.

We want to take the easy route - a package deal where someone distills dos and don'ts, where someone can just offer quick-fix solutions, and where our thinking effort is minimal.

I had to use the word "Lazy" here in this context, based on my biased experience. Having written around 80+ reviews of packaged foods, there were multiple DMs asking me to review and answer if a particular packaged food brand is healthy or not. When I asked them to read up the articles and understand nutrition label decoding approach and decide for themselves, there weren't much interest or inclination to do the reading work. Wanted a quick answer. Also, I had written a detailed post about reversing PCOD and the lifestyle changes that had helped me. There were questions on whether there are quicker and easier ways to reverse PCOD than doing so much. There were also questions on whether green tea will help in losing belly fat and are there any quick fix solutions to lose belly fat or overall weight loss. 

I request all who are consumers of content/workshops/courses to please do your due diligence - read, research, understand, critique, and ask questions instead of blindly believing and adopting whatever is being conveyed.

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