|Posted by [email protected] on 1 June, 2018 at 22:40||comments (348)|
The thought of this topic came up as a discussion with my friends Liz and Daiga. We were introspecting and analyzing our lives. We had self-awareness. Interestingly we also had self-doubt and maybe a little bit of insecurity.
Self-awareness, I believe is honest and keeps us humble. It helps keep an eye on the ego. It is a consciousness and if channeled correctly it leads to connectedness.
Self-doubt on the other hand is the one that always questions. Is this the right decision? It is the master of “what If” scenarios. It thrives on fear. Sometimes, it may protect us but most times, I feel, it brings us down and weakens are intent. Self-doubt feeds insecurity and insecurity feeds self-doubt.
If we watch it, we find self-doubt at all places. Recently we were watching ‘Dancing with the Stars’. The participant was practicing a tough dance. He was self-aware. It was a tough dance and he will need to practice more. Plus, he will be judged and watched by a whole bunch of people! These were just facts. Then, for a moment, he felt insecure and had self doubt on his abilities to perform and he said, “I have to ensure I don’t come in my own way”. He captured the essence of self-doubt wonderfully.
I do believe all of us have self-doubt at different scales and I also feel we use different tricks to combat it whether its using our courage, or taking a few different opinions to gain confidence or in my case, hearing war music to get the courage! Self doubt may come in with either a history of failure or more so a fear of failure. I start fearing self doubt when it moves to self-pity or indifference. In case of self-pity, I feel depressed and in case of indifference, I feel I don't care. In either case, self doubt stays put.
Self awareness is a skill we all need to develop. It’s the first step towards mindfulness. It helps me understand what I am feeling, why I am feeling that way and whether that reason leading to the feeling is true. For example, I feel sad as I think she is not listening to me. However is it really so? Is she not listening or am I not hearing her? Self awareness helps me get in touch with my core being.
As we friends shared both these thoughts, I felt lucky and blessed to be surrounded by people I can be vulnerable with and who would love me anyway. A few questions on these thoughts from my friends helped me take a leap from self-doubt to self-awareness to “Self”-awareness.
I am aware
That I am good
And I doubt
I haven’t been great
I am aware
Of the Presence
I am conscious
Of the connection
I am self-aware
I am Self-aware
I just am
|Posted by [email protected] on 15 April, 2017 at 22:45||comments (274)|
This topic was inspired from a radio talk of a person going on a “Listening Tour”. Implying just go and listen to thoughts, concerns, ideas , without finding justifications but with the mindset of reaching out and understanding. I decided I need to go on my own listening tour both intrinsically and extrinsically. Extrinsically it implies listening to my loved ones and intrinsically listening to my body, mind and soul.
As I started my tour, I was reminded of a quote, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply”. I made a commitment reminding myself of the principle of listening. I will listen. I will not find reasons or excuses to justify myself. I will simply listen and seek to understand.
The question I asked on my listening tour – starting with my loved one, my husband was “Is there anything I do that annoys you?” My husband’s first reaction was “Is this a trick question? Am I in trouble”? He is funny! As I explained my context, he mentioned that I could pay more attention to cleaning and picking up after myself. I have taken the feedback seriously. Part of the issue is, I don’t even notice it. So now, as I leave a room, I put my “Pranav” cap on to figure out what would he see. I think he will say I have improved!
I have then asked my mom if she notices anything that I need to work on. She responded I need to pay more attention to being gentle. As I get crunched to complete an activity, I start getting edgy and blunt. I sure know that is true! I am still working on it.
The other question I ask on the listening tour is – “Is there any advice you would give me at this moment?” My husband would say “Find your happiness” and I would say “Focus on staying blissful”.
I start my intrinsic journey and ask, what is my body telling me? I do the body scan. I listen. I hear the body wants to be pampered (may be massage is overdue) and pushed (exercising).
On the listening tour with my mind and soul, I hear continue to find your quiet time and continue to listen! Let the tour become a frequent phenomenon.
Being on the listening tour has been fun. How would you feel on embarking on your own listening tour?
I am here
I am here
I am here
Asking for your advice
And to grow
|Posted by [email protected] on 23 May, 2016 at 22:10||comments (46)|
This is part 3 of the series “Fill your life, clean your life and Heal your life”. I have always felt and believed that each one of us has our own set of challenges in life. It’s like the obstacle track with lessons hidden in them. If we just look around, we can see the obstacle course whether its health troubles, financial issues, dissatisfaction with career or spouse, struggles to find a soul mate, family drama or just a feeling of melancholy. The fact is, all of us have to face these, rise above them and heal our lives.
Healing takes effort. Changing habits and breaking our own limiting beliefs. The saints have reminded us that we are all a part of God and if we are centered, the obstacles won’t bother us. Note, obstacles won’t bother but doesn’t mean that obstacles won’t come our way. A fine example is Surdasji. He was born blind and shunned by his family. He was centered and this didn’t bother him. Rather, he had divine vision and could see more than what you and me can.
Healing needs love and compassion. As we think of the word nurse, I am reminded of a loving mother who takes care of her children or people like Florence Nightingale. Healing our life implies we are kind to ourselves. We stop judging, we accept what is with love and start the healing process.
Healing requires patience. Not all wounds heal quickly. The lesson is also repeated until we don’t learn it. If a disease is recurring, maybe it’s time we examine ourselves and ask what is it that I need to learn that universe is sending me reminders? I feel at such times our faith is tested and hence at such times we should become even more committed to our faith.
I am a believer of will power and visualization to heal. We can feel sorry for ourselves for a bit, stay in that space for a little while but then come out of it. The will to live is a powerful force. We have all been granted free will by Grace of God and hence its His power that we can put to use to heal ourselves. The trick is to visualize what a perfectly healthy me looks like, talks like, behaves like. Once I have that clarity, healing will follow. Swami Yogananda professes this in most of his teachings too.
It is easy to see wounds on body but harder to identify and diagnose wounds on mind and soul. The word ‘heal’, I believe is derived from health. Health per WHO (World Health Organization) is defined is physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. Let’s heal not just physical wounds but all of these.
Healing is a noble act – whether it’s for us or others. Let’s heal our life.
All of them healing
Miracles don’t exist?
|Posted by [email protected] on 30 March, 2016 at 13:20||comments (93)|
The thought of this topic was inspired by Wayne Dyer’s book “Change your thoughts- Change your life : Living the wisdom by Tao”. He expounds on the 81 verses by Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese saint. In one of the verses, he talks about “Unhurried ways”. I am experiencing this phenomenon of no urgency or unhurried ways myself as I am in job hunt mode and I have the gift of time. As William Henry Davies magnificently puts in in his poem Leisure
What is this life full of care
We have no time to stand and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows
No time to see, when woods we pass
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass
No time to see, in broad daylight
Streams full of stars, like skies at night
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance
And watch her feet, how they can dance
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich the smile her eyes began
A poor life this if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare
I especially like my mornings with this feeling of ‘no urgency’. Usually I am nagging Ashna to get ready quickly so we can rush out, drop her to school and head to work. Now, it’s a relaxed morning. We enjoy a few more hugs before time strikes its call! Pranav calls it a mindset and yes it is one. A mindset of enjoying time flow, enjoying being mindful and not being captured by the clock. Lao Tzu reminds us to trust the Tao and enjoy what the Universe sends your way.
The caution however is not to let unhurried ways lead into inertia and being lazy. Activities do expand to fit in the time. To counter this, I have made a resolution to be productive. I am confident on my ability to find fun things to fill my life.
I now see how saints live and enjoy this mindset of unhurried ways, how they are calm and centered and how they surpass being captured by time! I believe I have to learn to truly be fully present. I am a stickler of finishing tasks (and I am sure this brings a super big smile on my brother’s face as he teases me about it all the time!). With that, my mind hovers around mundane tasks instead of enjoying these unhurried present moments. The goal is clear – have both a mindset of no urgency and being present thus truly enjoying this moment to stand and stare.
How have you experienced unhurried ways in daily life?
Unaware of the
Light its spreading
|Posted by [email protected] on 29 February, 2016 at 14:40||comments (29)|
The thought of this topic came from watching the show “Belief’ on OWN. The show was talking about Buddhist monks who have a practice called ‘Mandala’. Mandala is a form of art using sand and stones. There are various types of Mandalas and each has a spiritual meaning. From what I understand, it has a core, inner and outer circle depicting our spirit, our mind and our circumstances/world. The idea of the Mandala is to learn to evolve from it.
The monks spend hours and hours making this beautiful art. Then, once its done they take a broom and just like that sweep it out! The lesson being, nothing is permanent and don’t get attached to your own creation. As I was watching the show, I was moved. All the hours of work to create this beautiful piece of art and then having the courage to let it all go.
On the thought of nothing is permanent, I see it every day as I see Ashna grow. She is discovering something new every day – a new word, reading bill boards to talking intelligently with our friends.
The thought of being attached to one’s creation reminded me of the story of Lord Brahma (the God of creation per Hindu mythology). When the Supreme Lord asked him to create, he humbly asked for one boon – not to get attached to his own creation. He sure was wise!
I see that all the time, especially in me by getting attached to my creations. Though calling it ‘my’ creation is also egoistic. I get attached to this blog, my work and most so my daughter Ashna. Ideally, one has to be passionate about the activity be it work or art however be cautious on not being overly attached.
Being overly attached implies one tries to hold on things, resists change and wants to control. We become fearful or insecure. Here is where ‘Mandala’ resonates the most for me. The monks passionately work to create the best art-form, concentrating, being mindful of each sand grain. Yet once its done they wipe it off. They have learned to control the urge of attachment and learned to change which may mean destruction of one’s creation.
I feel once I give up being attached to things, its relieving. Its almost as if a weight is lifted. I don’t need to constantly fight to protect my creation! I learn to accept and enjoy whatever is in store for me.
What is the lesson that resonates the most for you from Mandala?
I have worked endlessly
My sweat, blood and tears
Are captured in
I am in love
I will now
I will now
I will learn
To be unattached
|Posted by [email protected] on 25 October, 2015 at 22:15||comments (5339)|
The thought of this topic came from our visit to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. This phrase for depicted in an exhibit. “Eat Bitterness” means when hard things happen, we learn to endure them.
I don’t like bitter foods – whether its bitter gourd (Karela), bitter medicine or beer! Eating bitterness calls for determination. I am reminded of a Gujarati Poem “Kadva Karela na gun, Kadva vachan na hoy kadva” which means though the bitter gourd tastes bitter, it has lot of essentials to stay healthy and similarly even if words are bitter, the intent may not be. The intent may be to push our potential. Hence “Eat bitterness”.
“Eat bitterness” also reminds me of Thomas Edison. He was 67 and he lost everything in a fire– all his experiments, innovations and money. It was devastating. His thought was, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” What an attitude and what a way to “Eat bitterness”!
In the spiritual path, I think this is tested even more and our Gods have acknowledged and eaten bitterness themselves - Whether its exile of Shri Ram or crucifixion of Christ or the hardships for Prophet Muhammad, all of them ate bitterness.
There are 6 kinds of tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. In life, we get all of them. We live with all of them and we eat all of them. Just as I eat and relish sweetness, let me relish bitterness too. Cheers!
The scorching sun
And miles to go
She had said
And I go on..
Or a mirage?
Will come in time
And I go on…
A tiny cloud
Hiding the sun
What a relief
And I go on…
I eat bitterness
And I go on..
|Posted by [email protected] on 19 July, 2015 at 15:35||comments (128)|
The thought of this topic was inspired from the movie “Still Alice”. It is about a woman struggling with an early onset of Alzheimer disease. In a particular scene, she was trying to note her daughter’s recital on the phone. Most of her family asked her not to bother – they will ensure she attends the recital. However the daughter encouraged it – encouraged the feeling of self-reliance.
I feel in disease, other than physical discomfort, it is the feeling of dependence that bothers us. My husband’s grandma, Ba, as we call her, is nearing 90. As I hear her speak and reminisce about her life, it is evident she misses being self-reliant. Funnily, I see the same with my 4 year old Ashna. She has learnt to wear her PJ’s and she wants to do it herself. It bothers her if we try to help! The feeling of self-reliance knows no age boundaries!
I am a believer in self-reliance – both physically, mentally, financially and spiritually. I feel I have made very conscious choices to stay self-reliant. Example financially I have consciously chosen to be a working mom to be self-reliant. For mental and spiritual self-reliance, I read the works of Swami Vivekananda and Swami Yogananda who help reinforce courage of the mind and power of the will pushing self and Self reliance.
Finally we come to ‘s’ and ‘S’ of self-reliance. I am reliant on Self. I trust He has my best interest and I trust Him to direct this life at His will. One of these days or one of these life-times, the small self will merge into Self – I will be truly Self-reliant!
“I do myself”
Says my little one
“I can’t do myself”
Says my grandma
“I can do myself”
Says my ego
“I should do myself”
Says my husband
Let the Self rule
Says my self
Trusting “Self” Reliance
|Posted by [email protected] on 25 April, 2015 at 8:35||comments (527)|
The thought was inspired from a visit of our relatives. We had multiple generations within the room. We had a 76 year old, a 50 year old, a couple of 40 year olds, a 10 year old and a 3 year old. All of us with different life stories and different experiences and unique learnings.
The uncle and aunty were talking about their times when India was quite conservative. They lived in a joint family and learned the art of living and existing with multiple personalities. My parents-in-law reminisced about their life as they came to US in 60’s when there were hardly any Asians. They adjusted to the new life-style, the weather and being so far away from the family. We and the other cousins were talking about technology, work-life balance and challenges of raising children with multiple identities – US and India and our struggle in finding time. All of us with different life stories and all different life learnings.
Interestingly all of us have adjusted. The learning is you can adjust and accommodate to almost anything if you desire to – whether it’s a bossy relative, a new country, distances, weather or any sort of change. The key in my mind is to remember your purpose and continue to work towards it with enthusiasm and initiative. As we adjust and accommodate, we have to ensure we don’t forget our goal and path.
Each life story
Each life story
Each life story
Life stories and
And yet so similar
Each life story
One more path
And one more chance
To reach Him.
|Posted by [email protected] on 8 April, 2015 at 7:05||comments (177)|
This topic was inspired as I was reading Shrimad Bhagwat, a Hindu scripture. The scripture talks about all 24 incarnations of God and stories of his devotees. As I was looking and contemplating on God’s life in the incarnations it is obvious that these are very tough lives! It’s the same theme if you see Jesus Christ’s life.
Think about Shri Ram and spending 14 years in the jungle fighting demons or Shri Krushna who was attacked by demons when he was a baby or Christ and the crucifixion. Even Gods aren’t spared! Would you like to trade in the life you have for the life of these Gods? In the true sense of love, you would trade in if it relieves your beloved.
Everyone faces tough times in life. Sometimes these are external. We continue to hear news where people flee from a country to avoid violence or poverty. Thankfully all of us in the US or in peaceful countries are blessed and we don’t have to worry that atleast from external circumstances we are not in midst of war or poverty.
Recently, many of my close friends are going through their own tough times either with disease or with death. At such times, I am reminded of devouts of God - specifically Prahalad. He was 5 years old and a strong devout of God. His father opposed his devotion tremendously and tried various methods to get rid of the devotion. When that didn’t work, the father tried to kill Prahaladji. God protected his devout in each of the calamities. Interestingly Prahaladji never asked God for mercy. He never asked Him to save him from misery or harm his father. Prahaladji just continued to chant God’s name. With each calamity, his intensity of devotion increased.
I wonder if I could have kept my devotion intact or blamed God or begged God for mercy. Tough times didn’t sway Prahaladji and rather helped him to be even more focused on God.
For me, it’s a great reminder that everyone faces tough periods in life – whether it’s God or his devotees. With toughness of will, grace of God and steadfast devotion, this too shall pass
A rough day
These too shall pass
Laser sharp focus
These ….I will bring
Is all I will need
Let me be centered
Help me increase my intensity
Let tough times
Remind me and lead me
|Posted by [email protected] on 16 February, 2015 at 17:20||comments (367)|
This thought was inspired in multiple ways – a discussion with a colleague, a comment on a TV show about identity theft and a thought for the day on mindfulness – speaking of with what you identify yourself and trying to go above and beyond it.
It all started when we had a massive layoff in our department. It came as a surprise. The gentleman who was impacted had 18 years tenure with the company. His identity was defined by his work at this company. His reaction naturally was of disbelief. He was facing an identity crisis!
I have always believed that your identity should not be solely dependent on your work. We should have different facets to our identity. I am blessed to have different hobbies which help me expand my perspective and the people I interact with. Hence it helps expands my identity as an earthly being. Though its still limiting.
It’s also interesting to view identify from external and internal perspective. Most people, including me at times, start believing that the perception people have about you is true. However, true identity is how we think of ourselves. What is the mirror telling me?
As we think further on identity, I am reminded of Sri Sri Ravishankar. He asks “Who am I?” Are you Ms. ABC? Are you the body or are you the soul? Who am I is a perennial question and it’s amazing to introspect on different answers that come to the mind. He further asks to contemplate on “Where am I” – going at a micro level of each DNA in the cell to at a macro level of a miniscule part of the entire universe. I am reminded of the 'Nirvana Shatkam'
I had read a story of a saint and someone asked him – Who are you? His response was – a servant of the Almighty. I guess if your identity is linked back to the infinite and the limitless there is no scope of identity crisis.
Who are you, again?
The boss called me
And thanked me
For my services
I am fired
I am free
And “I” am lost
The pursuit begins
To find the path
To recreate “me”
The same fallacy
The same mistake
I need to break
That limit me!