Sep 26, 2023

Energy Management - Questions to ponder

 D and I walked to a nearby supermarket around 7 p.m. today. It was dark and there was less traffic on the road. We were walking on the side and all of a sudden, a premium sports car whizzed past us in a second, making a loud noise. The high speed and the terrible noise came all of a sudden. I lost my balance a little bit but I didn't fall. Both of us were shaken and shocked.

We entered the shop and as I was trying to pick up a few things, the packets placed on the same shelf started falling one after another. I usually handle things softly but today, it felt clumsy and I couldn't explain why these packets were falling. This happened on two different shelves.

After a few breaths, I felt better. We finished our shopping and returned home.

We are energy beings. We radiate energy through our thoughts, words, actions, and behaviors. We also grab energies (consciously or unconsciously) from other sources - people, videos, news channels, social media posts, movies, series, etc.

Let's say, we face a stressful situation at the workplace, we carry that stress energy back to our home and end up re-transmitting it onto our spouse or children. We all have experienced this situation at some point or another.

When we watch a disturbing movie, the energy of fear or anxiety lingers in our conscious minds for at least a few days.

When we watch a triggering/argumentative talk show, the energy of anger increases and spoils our day.

The same applies to positive energies as well. When we watch a funny video or an inspiring talk, we feel the energy of joy and motivation immediately.

The kind of energy we put out to the Universe also matters, as it impacts the overall collective energy.

I couldn't have controlled or prevented that rash sports car driver from making that noise today.

But I can control what I consciously feed my visual senses this evening.

Sep 23, 2023

Are we over-glorifying drop-outs?

 A few months back, I was talking to someone who had recently joined the workforce after completing Engineering. During our conversation, he proudly claimed, "I never attended any classes. I would be outside the classroom most of the time but I would somehow sail through exams at the last minute". I didn't intervene or judge him. It is his choice to skip classes.

But what worries me is that this trend of being "the drop-out", "the last bencher", and "the one who bunks all classes" is considered cool and aspirational. Not just that, some of them end up propagating (on their respective YouTube channels or social media pages) that they have achieved big in life after dropping out of school/college/university, etc. This is being glorified in movies to a great extent.

Can one become successful in the eyes of society IF one drops out of college? Sure, why not?

But such turnaround only happens to very few people owing to their specialized skills, networking, financial backing from family, or sheer luck.

Not every person who drops out happens to have one or more of these privileges.

However, this kind of glorification sets bad precedence amongst the youngsters and their attitudes towards learning, knowledge, the importance of hard work, discipline, patience, resilience and persistence to focus on something that they are not so keen on.

Such negative attitudes towards learning also tend to dilute the respect towards those who impart learning.

A teacher once told a class I was part of - "If the students show a lot of interest and enthusiasm in class, the teacher feels special and motivated. We feel inspired to do more preparation before stepping into the class".

In a class, if only a handful show genuine interest and the rest either do not show up or are least bothered about what's happening, it is hard for a teacher to sustain her motivation.

The effectiveness of a teacher is not only dependent on her skills and experience but also on the involvement of the student.

In any course, one takes back as much as one is willing to give in terms of time, interest, effort, and commitment.

P.S. Pic taken on the last day of my MBA at IIMB in 2009. I feel so grateful to have attended the lectures of some fantastic Professors.

On-screen character

Is there a character from a book, a series, or a movie that closely resembles your personality? 

When you read about or see that character come alive, your mind or even your friends and family go, "That's exactly you!".

Hermione from Harry Potter is the closest to my personality. And I see her in myself in all these years.

I was participating in a test today and I raised my hand even before the teacher asked the question (I later realized it wasn't even a question!). It was a bulb-u (face-palm) moment, as I unleashed my inner Hermione! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I exhibit many of her characteristics (knowingly or unknowingly), especially when I play the role of a student - asking questions, answering questions, preparing ahead, voluntarily asking for additional work, etc. I'm sure it would be annoying to a few in the class 🀣

A few days back, K made fun of me, "42 vayasaachu.....neeyellaam innum thirundhaveyilayaa?" ("You are now 42 years old, and you haven't changed yet?")
In Thalaivar style, I replied, "koodave porandhadhu"πŸ˜‰ ("It's my in-born nature")

I remember this conversation that happened a few years back. I was attending a workshop and it was the first session. To break the ice, we were split into 2-member groups. We had to introduce ourselves only through popular characters and the other person would guess our characteristics.

I introduced myself as Hermione, hoping the other person would say "bookworm, studious, sincere" etc. But to my surprise, along with these adjectives, she also added, "You are brave and strong. You have few friends but you would always be there for them". It felt so good to hear about these other qualities of Hermione that do match with mine.

Sep 20, 2023

Stillness Breaks

 The body thrives on movement. The mind thrives on stillness.

But in modern times, we are doing the opposite. This seems to be one of the main reasons behind most lifestyle ailments.

Most of us are aware of the importance of the movements for the body.
We track steps, train for marathons, walk, run, jog, swim, lift weights, do Yogasanas, etc.

But are we spending adequate effort towards stilling the mind?

Distractions are plenty.
Inputs are overflowing through all senses.
The mind is overloaded with sensory input.
In the name of "Content", so much sensationalism is being created.
We are always "wired", which makes our minds so "tired".

Though our body and mind feel tired, we are unable to sleep OR we don't want to give them the required rest.

Infinite scroll (a.k.a. doom scroll) gives us the feeling of relaxation at the end of a long day, but it only makes our minds more restless.

Similar to tracking the number of steps, track the minutes(or hours) during your wake hours when you can just sit with your eyes closed, doing nothing and taking in no inputs through your senses (even good, useful, or inspiring content).

Start with 5 min of stillness and gradually increase the duration.
Practice frequent moments of stillness during the day.

Meditating for 30 min and then going about the rest of the day overloading the mind nullifies the effect.
Take 5-minute stillness breaks every 1 hour (or at least once every 2 hours).

When there are impurities in a bottle of water, you shake them vigorously and then lay it still so the dirt settles at the bottom.

Stillness breaks give the mind a much-needed breather to let the thoughts settle down without further inputs going in.

Sep 18, 2023

Consistent efforts over sudden rush

 When we work hard and achieve something, it feels more special. For every skill we intend to master, there is a Mount Everest / Kanchenchunga / Annapurna equivalent to reach.

A few months back, I wrote about how making Vadai is like Mount Everest in cooking for meπŸ™‚

There are quite a few mountains in my asana practice journey as well. The Mount Everest is indeed Shirsasana, which I hope to reach someday!

Shalabasana is one of my favorite asanas. I remember I was struggling with this pose in 2016 and on one September morning, I finally was able to do it.

I also noticed over the years that whenever I go out of practice for a while or lose my strength/flexibility, I struggle to do this asana. So I use this asana as one of the benchmarks to measure my physical strength.

Strength, stamina, and flexibility can be gained with consistent practice, but it is also easier to lose them when our routines get derailed.

Consistency will help us to sustain the benefits gained for a long time.

Pushing ourselves too much on one day and then feeling aches and pains for the rest of the week isn't beneficial.

When we listen to our body's present boundaries and limitations and align our physical workouts accordingly, the body's ability gradually improves and expands.

Choose time, patience, and consistency all the time!

Sep 13, 2023

Book Review: Why we are Who we are by Meetu Bisht


During quiet moments of life, our minds throw certain questions at us.

No, it is NOT always "What is the purpose of my life?"

These questions usually sound something like this:

"Why did this situation happen to me?"

"Why do I always get caught up in something like this?"

"Why am I like this?"

"Why is he/she like that?"

"Why do I possess (or lack) certain qualities?"

These questions are from our inner self, to gently nudge us to think about why we are who we are. Sometimes, we pay heed to those nudges and ask ourselves these deeper questions. But at most times, we ignore or distract ourselves, as these can get vague or uncomfortable.

In her new book "Why We Are Who We Are", Meetu Bisht helps us find answers to such questions. I read her first book "Living Spirituality" early this year. I found it very insightful as it clarified many misconceptions about spirituality. 

In her second book, she takes us on a journey to unravel our souls, our tendencies, and the Karmic mandates that we need to fulfill in our present lives.

In simple, lucid language without any complex terminologies, she helps the readers understand their inherent tendencies and the reasons that could have played a role in shaping their soul personality.

The book is divided into 3 sections.

The first section lays the foundation to understand the various aspects of the self - our soul, tendencies, karma, evolution, personality, roles, energy, and soul power. Each chapter is short and crisp, but filled with numerous insights that helped me find answers to certain questions. For eg, the chapter on balancing soul personality gave me so much clarity on certain tendencies of mine.

The second section dives into detail on 12 types of souls, their characteristics, situations being experienced and the expected karmic mandates to be fulfilled. As you read through the classification, you will start to relate closely with one (or a few) soul types. This section also helps one to associate our near and dear ones with their corresponding soul types, which would help us become more aware, conscious, and respectful of their individual journeys.

The third section gives more specific guidelines on improving our frequency and factors that help us perform our role well. The 100 Clues to High-Frequency and Low-Frequency Souls was a well-compiled list to reflect upon our strengths and weaknesses.

I was hoping to get more clarity on this point that I came across in another forum - that souls are born together in groups. But the topic of inter-soul relationships isn't covered in this book.

A few of my favorite lines:

"The tendencies of a soul influence the karma it performs, which, in turn, influences the soul's destiny."

"It is the energy of past karmic actions and tendencies that attracts the soul's present-lifetime experiences, lessons, struggles, and triumphs as well as its karmic mandate."

"Suffering is different from struggling as one can suffer, even when one does not need to."

"The more unconsciously and aimlessly we live, the more debts of karma we create."

"True gratitude is in accepting life as a whole, not just the bits and pieces."

If you are trying to understand your life journey and your nature in more depth, this book offers you valuable insights to become more self-aware and raise your soul power.

The author starts Chapter 1 with this quote - "Life is the person we become in the process". Through this book, she offers us a direction on how to approach this process with awareness, acceptance, and clarity.

P.S. This book was sent to me by the author. This review is my honest and unbiased feedback of the book.

Sep 12, 2023

Straddle between two paths

 Have you ever observed yourself trying to stand on two boats?

Straddle between two paths?

Keep your feet on two different walls?

Indecisive about which one to choose?

We end up in such a state when we are unable to make up our minds on what we want.

We also try to optimize, wanting the best of both worlds.

We desire to progress in both paths at the same time, creating a lot of self-inflicted pressure.

In such a scenario, we end up balancing 50:50 on both sides. 

It challenges us. 

It tests our capacities. 

It prevents us from giving our complete self to either one pursuit.

Then comes a point in life when one side starts to appeal to our inner self so much that we slowly start tilting towards it.

The balance now shifts to 60:40, 65:35, and then 70:30, favoring one side over another. Your foot is still placed on the 30% side, but not quite firm.

Even a tiny trigger can rattle you, forcing you to lose your balance.

The trigger can be a slightly challenging situation, a person's rude remarks or reasons that don't quite seem significant if analyzed from a logical point of view.

Such triggers are a way of the Universe telling you that it is time you make the choice and move both your feet toward one wall, one boat, and one path.

As I reflect on 2023, it seems to be the year when I finally decide to place my feet firmly on one wall and let go of the other, while expressing deep gratitude.

Sep 9, 2023

Hanuman Chalisa chanting

 Today being a Saturday, K and I went to a Hanuman temple this morning. We had a peaceful darshan, full of divine vibes. I chanted Hanuman Chalisa there and it felt so blissful.

Around the same time last year, I read the book "My Hanuman Chalisa" by Devadutt Pattanaik and posted a review of the same. After having understood the meaning of the lines, it became more comfortable to chant this shloka. In the last year, the habit of chanting Hanuman Chalisa has been a pillar of strength and support.

Regular chanting of Hanuman Chalisa helps me feel more calm and relaxed. I also feel "supported" in whatever I need to do.

One starts to feel Hanuman-ji's presence, which helps in experiencing increased mental strength and resilience.

The feelings and effects one starts to notice after the regular chanting of Hanuman Chalisa cannot be expressed in words.

The high "Vata" nature of me seems to be under control thanks to Hanuman-ji, who plays an important role in managing Vata as he is Vayuputra. Many of the modern-day ailments are due to increased Vata - overthinking, anxiety, taking on too many responsibilities and goals, and higher self-expectations leading to burnout and exhaustion.

If you experience any such issues/challenges and would like to seek Hanuman-ji's blessings,
Get started with #hanumanchalisa chanting regularly.
Do not worry too much about pronunciation in the beginning.
Listen to the renditions of MS.Subbulakshmi ma, Unnikrishnan, Hariharan, or others available on YouTube repeatedly.

I prefer to chant on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as these days are considered auspicious for Hanuman-ji.

My grandmother taught me another shloka in Tamil - "Vayu Putra namo namo" that I have been chanting since childhood. Couldn't find it online. That's an easy shloka if you are comfortable in Tamil.

Chanting "Jai Shree Ram" also helps invoke the blessings of Hanuman. I usually chant this mantra in my mind while traveling in a bus or cab.

Connecting with the Divine through the form of Ishta Devata feels a lot more comfortable and easier.

I strongly believe in the perspective that #bhaktiyoga is the much-needed path to embrace in times of Kali Yuga!

Sep 7, 2023

Fangirl disappointment

 **Unpopular opinion**

I have been a huge fan of Thalaivar since childhood. His movies, punch lines, dialogues, and songs are a constant "repeat-u" in all these years. I usually watch his movies in the theatre within the first 2 weeks. Watched Annaathe on the first day of release on Diwali day!

Now that the required context has been set, let me talk about my experience watching his latest movie. Ever since the first song was released, it has been a disappointment one after another. I was hoping for a Thalaivar intro song but it was a dance song where thalaivar just popped in and out for a few seconds. When I saw the trailer, it didn't quite intrigue me.

After the movie was released, many of my friends and family members watched it in theatres - Okayish reviews from them, some did say it was violent. Somehow I didn't feel as enthusiastic as I normally would be for a Thalaivar movie and decided to watch it on OTT whenever it lands. 

The movie opened on Amazon Prime today. As the first few minutes rolled by, the villain was so atrocious with the hammer, blood smashing, and acid violence. I paused for a min and was reluctant to proceed further. The fangirl in me said, "Wait for thalaivar to come, it will get better". I resumed watching, next few min of grandfather-grandson bonding were good (the only nice part of the movie!).

The gore and bloodshed then got worse and worse. Head and ear chopping, blood on everyone's face, which gets casually wiped off with a tissue!

I paused and forwarded multiple times to avoid such scenes. There were also moments when I got so bored with that comedy featuring a hero and a director. I had to pause and check how much more time was left in the movie. You might ask, "If you found it so unbearable, why don't you stop watching?".

I have this ridiculous obsession to finish whatever I begin.

Not just that, as a thalaivar fan, I seriously was hoping for some good moments, punch dialogues or some redemption from the unbelievable gore/violence.

To be honest, if I get a chance to meet Thalaivar, I seriously like to ask him this - "As a spiritual person, why would you accept to do such gory scenes? Why did you agree to do such blatant violence scenes in the name of entertainment?"

As a Thalaivar fangirl, I'm deeply disappointed.

Sep 3, 2023

Book Review: Mind, mind management and Raja Yoga by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

 Before we manage something, we first need to understand it. Be it our habits, lifestyle, or behaviors, understanding comes first before we start to take action. The same principle goes with mind as well. Our minds play such a crucial role in our day-to-day lives and choices. Yet, we invest very little time and effort to understand it.

This book gives us a glimpse into the various facets of our mind. The author talks about the four components of the mind - Ahamkara (ego), Chitta (memories), Buddhi (intelligence), and Manas (lower mind). He then deep dives into each component - the characteristics, functions, and ways to manage them. Though these might sound theoretical, it is quite simplified and made interesting with relevant anecdotes and examples.

The classification of mind based on perception range and the gunas were super insightful. I loved the doorway depiction of how the mind operates in the space between transcendental reality and material reality.

This book is yet another reminder of how one needs to be conscious of the inputs we feed into our minds. The author talks about how everyone's mind is "constipated" because of an overload of sensory inputs and a lack of processing and elimination of unwanted thoughts. He recommends certain practices that one can incorporate to cultivate a positive state of mind - kirtans, mantras, and the practice of santosha and shraddha among others.

The characteristics of mind and mind management gradually lead one to understand the relevance and path of Raja Yoga as advocated by Sage Patanjali. The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are elaborated along with the rationale behind the step-wise progression.

Favorite Lines

"It is the mind which guides every action and reaction, idea and thought, desire and expectations in life"

"Chitta (memories) will attract you, but buddhi will attach you"

"Accept what has happened, don't oppose it, but don't allow it to be amplified"

"Bhoga takes you far away from transcendental reality whereas Yoga brings you closer to it" 

"When the attractions for sense objects and sensory fulfilment reduce, the mind becomes peaceful and quiet" 

Sep 1, 2023

Learning Sanskrit

31st August is declared as World Sanskrit day.

Though I've been chanting Sanskrit shlokas since childhood, I never really got to learn the language - pronunciation, grammar, and meaning. It was neither part of the school curriculum (second/third language) nor it was given priority by family members.

At the age of 42, I have now started to get interested and want to learn the basics. It was quite serendipitous when the thought of learning Sanskrit got intense and the very same week, a kind gentleman dropped off his son's old Sanskrit textbooks at my doorstep.

Shlokas/Mantras produce a lot of positive energy vibrations when chanted using the right pronunciation.

If one needs to go deeper and understand our ancient scriptures and spiritual texts, a good grasp of Sanskrit becomes extremely handy.

There are enough resources available online for free.

Learning for the sheer pursuit of learning without any external pressure (grades, marks, certification, etc.) is such a calm and peaceful process.

Will share glimpses from this journey here in this space as and when possible.

If you have any recommendations/resources/advice on learning Sanskrit, please do share.


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