The Way to Release

There is a lot of talk about ‘letting go’, especially at this time of the full moon, when the universal energies invite us to make complete and whole, whatever has been lying around as unfinished business by way of forgiving, decluttering etc. to make space for a new energy to enter our lives and slowly lead us into wholeness once again. The moon phases are hence, a wonderful reflection our lives as well.

Washing the lentils today, I noticed the cover of one of the grains of the lentil had come off, leaving it exposed, unlike the others. It was the letting go of its cover that revealed different aspects in the same grain of lentil. It had undergone a transformation. My mind went to the other things in nature which lend a similar experience. I was stunned to find example after example of this process being repeated. The seed covering breaks open to allow the shoot to grow, acknowledging its work is done. It is then that the seed grows into a sapling and then into a beautiful, bountiful tree. How the seed covering is able to hold the part inside all the while before germination is key. Just as the clouds, that burst open to allow the rain to fall in. The process takes a while and the water droplets keep collecting, accumulating over time. The egg of a bird, the cocoon of a butterfly, the bud of a flower are are phases that precede what is called ’emergence’. It is the property of a living organism to transform into something which has properties that are different to what they used to be.

This brought me to the concept of parenting. Just as when we are being raised as children, being cared for and nurtured in our families by our parents, our growth happens based on so many factors that come together to shape us and what we end up becoming is markedly different from who our parents originally were. There are so many other things and people around us that shape us along the way, the experiences we encounter, our thoughts and reactions to those experiences that shape our beliefs and so on. What a wonderful thing that life evolves the same way everywhere, if only we pause and notice it.

I started to think about things that hinder this kind of diverse and unique flowering of life. It mostly entails confinement and stringent structures, rules and procedures, which enforce a certain shape or direction if you will, onto living things. No wonder then that the natural process of emergence is restricted and results in distorted beings that emerge because they have been unable to give life its full expression.

What has been causing this distortion in our world today, where we are now living with an increasing experience of hate, greed and delusion? What is leading us away from our true nature of just being, so as to flower naturally, just as we were designed to be. Perhaps it is the stringent structures and rules that do not allow for us to grow as life wants to grow through us, perhaps it is the denial of the fact that as human beings, our role is really to support and allow this release of life and not to try and contain or control it. The toughest is to make this way of growing and flowering a natural part of our own lives. The way to release is then to just allow, to let things be and to surrender to the natural ways of the universe, to not be attached to what will emerge and if it will contain our original essence. It is being content with the role we have, being able to play it to the best way we can, by not giving in to the ego’s desire to hold on or to control or to own.

The way to release is to just be and to accept the perfection in everything here and now.

A Life of Contentment

Contemplating today, after my morning yoga practice, looking out of my balcony, watching the birds fly out from their nests in search of food again, taking a cue from the sun’s first rays, I started to think about the topic of contentment. The day breaks again with the sun rising everyday, day after day. The time might vary, the sun’s position might vary, but the sun does rise every morning. The birds fly out every morning, in search of food and the same cycle repeats day after day. It almost seems like perfection. What else is there for them to do, anyways? I am sure from there perspective, there are many more complications to deal with but their lives certainly seem much simpler than ours.

To do what one does, to the best of one’s ability, day after day, is that not living a life of contentment? Yes, some readers might frown at this idea, believing this might be a rut and asking then, what about ambition and progress?

Isn’t that really the eternal question? To what end? How much? How much should one exert? When does one say enough? Won’t life be boring and dreary if there were no progress?

Finding this very balance is what the human struggle is, perhaps. Being drawn to new adventures and new explorations is natural. Expanding our boundaries and learning new things is important for growth. Having said that, does that have to mean that one reneges one’s being and gets caught up in the doing? If all of life is about seeking, then when do we make the time to breathe in the beauty that surrounds us?

Making the time for a gratitude practice in the morning and reminding ourselves a few times during the day about our blessings is a wonderful way of bringing our awareness back into what matters, the now. Some people use meal times, some mindfulness Apps while still others might turn to some soulful music or engage in art. Some are simply able to pause their thoughts a few times during the day to completely savour the moment that exists in the here and now. This takes practice and empowers us to come into our awareness at any time without needing anything external.

Isn’t this moment where life truly exists? Time is merely a fallacy if we think about it. We only have memories of the past and visions of our future. The only thing that we know for certain is the now. We can only prove the past to another person to the extent we can recall our feelings about the experience we remember having. The same experience could be recalled differently by another. So there is really no certainty of the past. What is certain is this moment. Contentment with our life, comes with continually bringing our awareness to the present moment with gratitude and with remembering our true nature. This is indeed a key to happiness.

All I need is within me now. I am fulfilled. Here. Now.

Believing Simplicity

Remember those wise old sages that keep harping on the fact that life is simple, yet we complicate it. It has taken me years to understand what they mean by that. What is a simple life? Does it mean not working and sitting in one place? That could be interpreted as simple. Or does it mean simply not having any wants and desires and being in a state of complacence?

What I have come to learn so far is this (and I am still a student of life as many of you might be), the less we have, the simpler life is. Have less of what? The lesser our thoughts, the things we possess, the places to visit, the things to do, the things to say, people to meet and the lesser food we eat, the simpler we make our life. If we think about it, we spend most of our lives, filling up each day with precisely all these things. We line up a ton of things to do on weekends, when in fact, we could very well be doing nothing or just read a book perhaps. We make a long list of places to visit when we go out holidaying, when we could really just be sitting and looking at scenic beauty, taking occasional breaks in between. We do this detailed research on the best of phones to buy, when all we could be doing is just reading a book and managing with a landline most of the time. There is this insatiable need to maximise living, live it up every moment and we fool ourselves into believing that factors external to us can maximise this experience for us, whereas the truth is quite on the contrary.

The heart to soul journeys we undertake by way of engaging in activities like meditation, walking in solitude in nature, listening to a piece of soothing music, gazing at the stars, enjoying a simple home cooked meal with our loved ones or by making a piece of art are often far more rewarding than accomplishing the long list of tasks that we fill up our days with. The latest obsession many of us have is that of health and fitness. Why do we believe that it is only by going to a gym, hiring a trainer, using machines that are designed with so much effort, would we be able to keep our bodies fit? Why do we choose to not believe that simply by practising the scientifically proven ancient techniques of yoga everyday and eating less, eating only when we are hungry and eating local, seasonal and organic foods, we can be healthy and fit?

Why do we not want to believe that walking on the earth barefoot, engaging in the simple act of gardening, working with the soil and spending time in the sun can help us in restoring our health and vitality? Why do we instead, turn to chemicals sold in the name of supplements? Every time we make a choice for something man made as against something easily available in nature, we are choosing to complicate our lives. If we choose to have noodles instead of a banana, we choose complication because someone needs to make the noodles, package them, sell them and then we need to unpack them, cook them and dispose off the waste (which is mostly non bio degradable and that further adds to the complication). We have not only chosen to have so many people spend time in doing some thing which creates a life of complication, but we have further complicated our own health with this choice of food because we chose to not receive the right nutrition for our bodies, to compensate for which, we would then end up taking supplements.

This is not to say that the workings of nature itself are easy to understand. In all fairness, it does take a while to get one’s head around to understanding how trees communicate with each other below the ground and how the black hole collapses everything into it. Having said that, there is a pattern to nature and once we understand it, we can, in fact understand the workings of nature that surrounds us. There are seasons, one follows another. It is simple. Nature does not go around inventing new seasons and saying this is the new trend, designed by a new God who has taken over. Imagine what chaos we might be living in if nature chose to ‘evolve’ in the way we humans believe we evolve (by virtue of our inventions which are many times not needed)! There is an order and sanity maintained because of that pattern. By making simple choices, we can live in alignment with that order. And imagine then how much more time we might have for ourselves and for our loved ones? A weekend meal does not have to mean eating at a restaurant. It can mean a fun picnic or family cooking time. It could even mean just eating fruits all day. Why not?

I have recently been learning about chakras and the ability of water to heal our bodies. Yes. Let us take a minute to digest that. We can heal ourselves simply by drinking water? What? You mean all this complicated machinery for conducting tests, the fancy hospitals, the zillions of chemical factories that are in the business of manufacturing so called medicines, might actually be redundant?

Well, yes. In fact, all of these are big contributors to the pollution of our water, the very thing that was available to us to heal us.  So you see, all our complicated choices are leading us to trashing our planet and then we have this big complication of managing the waste we create, of cleaning up our oceans, or making roads with plastics..you get the drift. Can you imagine how many people would go out of business if you decided to switch over to a simple life? If you are one of those people who might go out of business, please know that your business could even be about simplicity. Yes, earning money living a life of simplicity is possible.

Do you now see why we are made to believe that in fact, it is only by making those complicated choices that we are able to match up to a fictitious character who is living it up? What would your life look like if you were to make the choice of believing that un-complicating your life and living a life of simplicity is indeed in your hands? It would mean going back to the drawing board, starting to look at everything, all over again. It would, however be worth it. The coming new year holds a fantastic promise and opportunity for reinvention. Are you up for it?

 

 

Mattering

I am writing after a long break but it is wonderful I am able to write in this year before it morphs into a new decade! So – yay!

Talking of the arrival of a new decade, I have to say that time is a strange thing. It is something we have made up, to keep track of things we believe we ought to do. Yet, the most powerful moments I remember in my life have been those which render our beings into timelessness, allowing our awareness to flow as if we were air, knowing no obstacles, able to find our way into and through anything that might present itself to us at that time.

Wait, I know I said I am writing about mattering so hold on – I will share how this idea of time links to the subject in a bit ­čÖé

I have been pondering on the subject of ‘mattering’ since a few years now. Often in fleeting moments, sometimes when during the day when the topic has caught my mind space, unprecedented and sometimes during my sleep state perhaps. It is only in the past few days when this topic has take shape beyond my own self that I have decided to write about it. I have always been fascinated with the idea of being able to find interconnections between things and ideas and ‘mattering’ is a subject which seems to impel me to do so.

Britannica┬ádefines┬áMatter as ‘a material substance that constitutes the observable universe and, together with energy, forms the basis of all objective phenomena’. In other terms, what seems to have matter, seems to exist as it takes up space and we can observe its properties.

In my work with women, more and more, I have been intrigued and a bit distraught I have to admit, with the growing phenomenon of educated, talented and very bright women feeling a lack of purpose and confidence. A deeper look into their lives brings to fore this very idea of mattering. Having given into their duties and responsibilities, complying with the idea of what a woman ought to do, bit by bit, some have perhaps let go of pieces of themselves, finding themselves in a state of incompleteness. This often brings with it a sense of vacuum which creates an unexplained dissatisfaction and leaves one feeling less that whole. So how did we allow this vacuum get created in the first place? From a fully functioning, bright and shiny person, how did one end up in this space? I suspect it has to do with mattering. I can say this because I have lived with this void for a while in the past.

As we go along in our day to day chores, buying groceries, tending to the house work, managing children and many times the spouse, we tend to sideline the human need we have for being acknowledged, for being thanked and for being held in the awareness of another. I find in more and more households today, men tend to travel extensively, leaving the woman to fend for herself and the children. Despite being in a relationship, many women tend to bring up their children mostly, by themselves with an occasional guest appearance from the spouse. This phenomenon has become so rampant that I almost feel we need a new word in the dictionary for this kind of parenting that children of today, receive. It is a convenient arrangement I must say. Many times the women are made to believe that this is the only way the household can run. The man must travel to keep up his job else how would the bills be paid? Well…trapped between the responsibility of raising a child and managing the household, having lost their financial independence so as to better manage this added responsibility, women tend to find themselves at a loss of ‘mattering’.

In between travels, home is a temporary stop for the bread winner to repack, refill and restore themselves, leaving little time for things like conversations and love. ┬á‘Mattering’ hangs, droopy eyed, on the window sill somewhere in the house, mostly in the bedroom and slowly, shifts somewhere around the dining area, where half a family mostly gathers to eat. So what is going on? I would like to believe that the men are very sincerely tending to their work during travels but we all do know that a night here and there is easy to extend to make space for having a good time. What that means, is open to interpretation of course ­čÖé

For the spouse back home, it is a reduction in mattering. It is to seek this very completion that many men and women today, indulge in extra marital affairs. They come and go – like breeze. They might or might not be long standing or serious, they might not last, but they are rampant and statistics are alarming.

While people can fret and stomp and go crazy when they discover what is going on in (behind their backs – well, mostly in front of their eyes, if one were to acknowledge the truth), if we were to take a bird eye’s view, there is only compassion to be felt for everyone in the situation.┬áFor this is about – ‘mattering’. Women (and men too, I believe), over time, start feeling a lack of connection with the very person with whom they read the vows. Where there is extensive travel, there is little opportunity to connect. There is dwindling eye contact, mostly due to a lack of physical presence and then over time, it is due to a lack of intentional effort leading to poignant lack of meaningful words. There are sometimes cold wars and harsh periods of silence or words that stumble to make incoherent feelings, caused mostly by an absence of receiving the other person as they are, due to the wall of our own individuality that we build around us. ‘Me, my needs and my desires’, is all about ‘my mattering’.

So what is the point? What is the workaround? Let us start focusing on the matter. Let us create moments of ‘mattering’ and those moments that render us into ‘timelessness’. How? I have come to believe that each of us are complete in ourselves. Before you sign me off as a cynic, know that this is really the ultimate truth. This whole notion of someone, someday will say or do something and life will be happy every after is not only impractical but also unreal. What if we knew that we are complete, now. In this very moment? What if, you knew, that the only person who needs to make you feel as if we matter, is you?

Times are changing and we are living in an era of self-love and self-reliance and that is the smartest way to deal with your big load of ‘mattering’ – by simply dropping it. Be the matter. Because you are the matter. You literally carry all the matter you are with you and in you. Create those moments of timelessness that take you where only you can go. Go watch a meteor shower, watch the sea waves, stare at the sunset, listen to the birds chirp. It is a beautiful world out there. What finally matters is that you are alive, now. You are well and you are able to breathe. Nothing else matters. As for those moments of connection and parts of you which you left somewhere along the way, they will all come to unite with you, in the hushed silence of the night in your sleep.

I am Effortless, Choiceless, Pure Awareness

Where have I been? On a journey. To find myself and to discover who I am.

I am that – is what I have found – effortless, choiceless, pure awareness.

So I am not really a product of my choices after all. The choices never really existed. It was all a play of the ego. We are playing out a script. We are all the same awareness.

There is nothing to be chosen. There is nothing to be considered. Just being in the present moment is what we need. It is the path to peace. Silence leads to this path.

Meditate. Be persistent with it. It helps. With everything.

Thank you Nithya Shanti for sharing this teaching from Robert Adams.

Let go of the box

While decluttering is certainly something I am passionate about, this post is not about that ­čÖé

Did you know, that every day, 7% of our body cells change and replace themselves? In terms of volume, as shared by Tom Chi, co-founder of Google X, that is about one arm of our body. In a year, about 98% of our body cells have changed. Which basically means that every day, we become a new person. In fact, every moment, there is something in us which is changing.

The same phenomena happens with every living being, every moment. Change, as we know, then, is truly, the only constant. It is interesting to note how suddenly, so many things can be explained with this one concept.

Think about a few years ago, the person you remember being, your choices, your ideas, your beliefs – ┬áit seems like a different you, almost like a past life. Well, as explained by science, it clearly was a different you! Now think about the people you live with. For people who stay with families, you can now understand why sometimes you feel disconnected from the same people you felt connected with at one point; why you feel they have changed and you have trouble identifying with them. So much so, that sometimes you start questioning your own self and your set of choices.

Well, there is good news! You probably made the choices which were right for you at that┬ápoint in time and then, change happened, bit by bit, every day. New thoughts led to new experiences and more change happened, every day. During this time,┬ápeople around you were changing too, bit by bit, every day. As Barbara Frederickson explains in Love 2.0, love is connection. How connected you were with our family on a daily basis, would explain how connected you feel after a few years. Robin Sharma says that the secret to your success lies in your daily routine – the same goes for relationships. The secret to a successful relationship lies in your daily connection.

So now, the box.

I find it fascinating┬áthat as human beings, we love boxes. We find a box that we think we fit in and we get into it – let us say it is the box of a working professional, who is also a parent, and so on. Everyday, as we are changing, the box tries to keep up with us and then one fine day, we realise that we don’t fit into that box any more. It clearly happens with women I know after they have a child and then they┬átry to find new boxes to fit in. The mom box is a tricky one ­čśë

Either ways, the thing is, when we outgrow a box and try to find a different box to fit into, what we don’t realise is that we are going to soon outgrow that too. It is just that brief comfort that makes us want to find one anyways. I am going to be off work now and will just be a housewife or I will now be an entrepreneur and will work from home or I will just sit back and enjoy life.

No wonder then, when people ask us for an introduction, we start sharing the labels on our boxes (mostly including past ones, even though we feel disconnected with them), little realising that we are not the box. We have never been the box and we have never identified completely with only one box. And when we have tried to do that, we have felt limited and restricted and whether we acknowledge it or not, it has caused us more pain than giving us comfort.

YOU┬áare not the box. So who are you? An infinite, limitless, abundant being. I know – might sound too blah blah or fuzzy and might us uncomfortable, especially for those of us who love definitions and prefer structures. But well, you are infinite. Everything is connected and you are limitless. Let go of the box. You don’t belong in it. Nobody does.

One million people do not get up in the morning everyday. You did. You read this post. And you still want to go back to the box? Let go of the box. Just be.

P.S. I watched this video that said – How to save the world in 3 simple steps. Do watch it. Bottomline – meditate. Try using Insight Timer. It is an awesome App and will get you started ­čÖé Enjoy!

 

The One Minute Hack

I don’t have time – as I often say – is the world’s favourite excuse. If something does not make it to the top of our priority list, we are forever caught up in our world of excuses. And we all know, that does not help. It only makes things worse as we start getting that feeling of inadequacy, of not being able to do enough, as a result of which, it only reinforces our belief that we cannot do this or that.

So let’s say, you want to start an exercise regime (it seems to be the most common issue for working moms wherever I go, hence I am taking this example). You haven’t been able to do that because of the one hundred reasons you know best. So what do you do?

One of the very powerful things I learnt in a day long session I attended on Veganism by Dr. Nandita Shah recently, was ‘Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything‘. If you think about it, that is really what it boils down too. It is our biggest obstacle. We do not think we will ever be able to make that one hour in a day so we never get started with exercise.

My spiritual teacher, Nithya Shanti, has taught me many things but one thing which I find extremely relevant to all of us who might be feeing stuck, is the power of 1% improvement. Here is what he says – “If we make 1% positive change everyday for a year, which means 0.01 change compounded 365 times, then in a year, there will be an improvement of 37.78 times of what we had a year earlier. There is power in small wins and slow gains. That is why mastering your habits is more important than achieving a certain outcome’.

So let us go back to our original problem statement – you don’t have time to exercise. Give yourself a 1 minute challenge. I am taking 1 minute because I am sure you cannot say I don’t have 1 minute. If you would like to start with a stretch goal, go ahead, take 5 minutes. Stay with that. Can you commit to doing 1 minute of exercise everyday for 3 weeks? Habit changes need 21 days hence the 3 weeks. Can you? What do you want to do for that 1 minute? Pick anything – spot jogging or breathing exercise or a set of 7 super brain yoga. Can you just do this one thing you pick for just one minute, without fail, everyday for 21 days? If you can, you will be able to then learn, that you can, indeed make time for yourself. You can then challenge yourself to 15 minutes and then to whatever works for you. The key is no exceptions. No matter what happens, no matter where you are, no matter how you are feeling, just stick to that time you have committed to yourself.

So there, that is the 1-minute hack. If it sounds oversimplified, it is because it is ­čÖé Who says life is┬ácomplicated? It isn’t, really. Choose to simplify your goals. Nobody is measuring your improvement or tracking your consistency. Only you are ­čÖé Can you do it? Remember –┬áDon’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything!

P.S. If you have watched Dangal and would like some inspiration from a celebrity, look up Aamir Khan’s video on YoutTube on how he lost the weight that he had put on.┬áThat is his mantra too. Don’t worry about the end goal of inches or kgs or speed. Just be at it, one┬áday at a time.