Duck-like!

Long drives have a compelling way of taking your thoughts on uncharted pathways that form a complicated mesh you find yourself helplessly entrapped. That is my mind at work, usually on my long commute to and from work where the heavy thought traffic easily beats the busy roads outside any given day!

So queer are the ways of the human mind that ‘living in the moment’ is a state that is not yet mastered. I often muse if this is an unconquerable feat for human mind, this state of being in the present, where you don’t wallow in the self-inflicted suffering from your past or angst for the future. Come to think of it, a high percentage of our thought process is rather futile than productive. Our brain is effectively a rerun of mindless thoughts of situations that threaten to destroy our ego, security, reputation, power to name a few. We are yet to imbibe the true essence of mindful meditation that offers space to accept any situation the way it is and find solutions for problems with a clear mind. Evolution has rendered us a far superior species at the loss of the art of simple living. What seems like an immeasurable leap from the stone age for human beings in terms of civilization is a battle lost in the areas of conscious living.

As a stroke of relief, my thoughts are interrupted at the sight of the placid lake beneath the bridge that my car moved at snail’s pace on. I spot a few ducks wading peacefully as if to put my over-thinking existence to shame. My mind is now in reverse gear in an attempt to undo the inconsequential thought process, to reclaim the energy wasted on the unplanned detours. These simple creatures teach me a thing or two by modeling the ‘living in the moment’ mantra. There is a sudden wave of stillness and contentment that inevitably strikes me at the daily sight of this natural wonder, it is almost humbling. I look forward to those moments of quietness inside with great diligence and regularity that I find myself craning out of my car window onto the vast water body below for my daily dose of sanity. Thank goodness for such lovely creations in nature, there is respite from the craziness of our over-driven mind. If only we could have such duck-like moments in our lives more often, if only we realized the need to slow down and really see and feel what is around us, the word ‘stress’ would never have existed in our vocabulary!

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Yoga

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Yoga was one topic I wanted to talk about for a long time, since it is close to my heart and I greatly benefited from its practice. I was introduced to this holistic form of exercise for mind and body when I was around 25. Living in the garden city of Bangalore, also notorious for its allergies, I suffered from wheezing and wanted to find respite not through high dosage medications that poisoned my system, but by more natural ways like pranayama* and yogasana*. The search for an instructor led me to a wonderful lady who was a doctor by profession, but a yogi at heart. Her classes used to be 1-hour long and were held on the covered terrace of her 2-storey house, 5 days a week.

The very first day of class itself made quite an impression on me of yoga as a practice for a well-rounded lifestyle. Her simple routine consisted of pranayama, followed by light warm-ups going onto surya namaskara* and then to various asanas* in standing, sitting, lying on the belly and back positions. The sessions wound up in meditations and chanting of shlokas* eventually ending in savasana*. By the end of the first month, I noticed a significant amount of improvement in my health. The pranayama along with the various asanas accompanied by conscious breathing techniques blew in my lungs new life. The shlokas that were chanted in the yoga sessions brought a sense of surreal peace and quiet confidence. That was when I realized how amazingly transformational this modest form of ancient practice was! Yogasana is not a set of mindless exercises but a practice that enhances the flow of elements to various parts of our body, rejuvenating them.

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http://findtot.com

To begin with, yoga in the eastern world in its purest form never had the hype and hoopla that the modern world brought with it. The essence of yoga is when the practitioner is in alignment with the consciousness, and the life energy flows in his/her being. These don’t require any gimmicks or gadgets, rather a highly focused mind in perfect alignment with the  body that embodies well-intended thoughts. That is yoga in its purest form, when it was created centuries back as Yoga sutras* derived from Hindu philosophies, where great yogis formulated various bodily postures called asanas.

The more I learned about Yoga as a discipline, the more intrigued I was about the brilliance of its various formations and the purpose behind them. What other form of practice can be so humbling, still empowering at the same time?! The yogic essence is truly felt, when you realize the flow of energy into every nerve of your body, when you feel the stretch of muscles in every limb, when you sense the measured breaths that blow life into every cell of your body and last but not least when you feel a tingling sensation of cosmic energy traveling through your nadis* to your chakras*. No wonder it is described as a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that translates as the literal meaning of Yoga which means ‘yolking’ or union in Sanskrit. I bow down to the brilliant souls from whose minds this great science originated for the inner healing of mankind through ages…….Om

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http://goyogaamelia.com

*pranayama – formal practice of controlled breathing

*surya namaskaram – sun salutations

*asanas – the art of sitting still

*savasana – corpse pose

*shloka – a category of verse line, like a couplet

*sutra – a distinct type of literary composition consisting of short, concise statements

*nadis – channels through which the energy of the subtle body flow

*chakras – energy points of the subtle body, meeting points of the subtle energy channels

Calluses of the Weathered Mind

Calluses are formed on the skin in response to hard labor, of constant friction on one particular part of your body. It hurts in the beginning by virtue of the skin being soft and vulnerable, but eventually it renders itself harder and thicker to prevent any further pain that might ensue from further contact. That is body’s amazing way of resisting pain or discomfort.

The calluses of the mind are not any different from the body’s. The amount of abuse, grief or disappointment that our mind is subjected to, causes calluses. It is the mind’s mechanism that gives sobriety, sanity and security to brace against all adversities. These calluses hold true witness to the events that the weathered mind stood over years. They make you stronger and fearless when put through the true test of time, the test of fortitude and utmost patience. And once you wade through it all, there is more clarity and purpose to your actions from the calluses that formed since.

The souls who have experienced the pain to become only stronger, are souls of steel. They are the ones who make a difference. The ones who give in and create wounds that never heal only help spread the wave of discontent and disgruntlement and a sense of sheer insecurity not only in themselves, but to others around them. While lot of the healing has to do with the intensity of the experience one goes through or the repeated occurrence of these unpleasant events that render them helpless to stand on their own, any amount of empowerment has to start from within first. Any amount of external help is in vain, until the internal has the realization.

The times I felt dejected and blamed the situation,  I reminded myself of the hapless many around me in much worse conditions that needed more tending and nurturing. That in itself was healing enough. The times I have fallen to pieces in the past have only taught me to get right back up, and wield the bruises for a higher purpose. When I recouped and put the pieces together for the thousandth time, I smiled at the calluses caused from my healed wounds . It is only but fact that most of the pain we feel, is carried within us for an unnecessarily longer period of time, rendering us chronic whiners and depressed souls. They need to be put behind, for you have the sole power to do so. No one else can tread the path for you; the journey is solely yours to endure.

Wouldn’t you agree that there is a sense of sweet conquer when you stand upright at the face of unforeseen and difficult circumstances, be it the loss of a loved one, or abuse at the hands of supposedly loved ones, separation due to natural or unnatural means, or just sheer lack of nurturing. This alone is enough to make you a matured soul, sensitive towards others pain, touch and be touched by others. The calluses remind you of the victorious journey traversed to make you a far stronger individual at heart, yet vulnerable to make a change. Let there be calluses, not sores that succumb to the infliction and turn to wounds that stay raw and never choose to heal. Let the disappointments and adversities build a fort of sheer will power to conquer all negativity and race right through into the arms of possibilities and hope. Let us take charge and act from the unfavorable experiences in the past and turn them into the best we could strive for in the future than crumbling and dissolving to oblivion.

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“When the going gets tough,

the tough gets going…..”

Walk

Finding Your Primitive Self

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“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”

-Karle Wilson Baker.

               It is the umpteenth time I put on my sweatpants and T-shirt, all set for my morning walk. Every day is a new day as I look forward to my tryst with nature. I find myself reaching for my walking shoes with a childlike joy. This habit of mine started as leisure strolls in the neighborhood with my 2 year old strapped in a stroller. That was some 15 years ago. Since then I have been on a roll, thanks to my walking partners – friends, and family and above all love for nature.

There is nothing more healing than going for a walk/jog or hike. You always come home with a sense of well-being than you started in the first place. Swift walk not only burns calories, it also improves metabolism and keeps you active for the rest of the day. It is quite therapeutic and could serve as a great antidote for mental and physical ailments. Nature is a true problem solver. It is a silent listener that reminds you to tread with thoughtfulness and care, to tackle all problems of the day.

It is sad that people are so caught up in the daily rut they forget to acknowledge simple gifts of life. More and more people are walking away from nature than walking in it. Studies have proved that walking outdoors is a big stress-buster. Thirty minutes of daily walk is said to have immense effect on people’s stress and increases their productivity.

Here are some tips that can help you find your primitive self:

  1. Set aside at least 15 minutes a day to be out in nature, mornings if possible. It helps to breathe in fresh, unpolluted air.
  2. If walking is not your forte, engage in other outdoor activities like jogging, biking, or swimming.
  3. Utilize the break time at work to go on a walk, either alone or with a partner.
  4. Give yourself a treat (not food) for completing your target. It is a big achievement for those who can’t unhook from their gadgets and take time off for simple things.
  5. Keep a monthly or weekly goal of walking certain miles. Maintain a log to keep track of your progress. Pull in a group of like-minded people who would like to join, so you can check on each other.
  6. Find friends or walking buddies who are ready rain or shine!
  7. Try to be mindful while walking, feel the earth, enjoy the breeze, observe life around you and smile.
  8. Everything and everyone matters; do care.

My walking explorations that started as short walks around the neighborhood streets led to more detours into the wooded trails and eventually to the walking and hiking trails in and around the city parks and lakes. Every out door endeavor got only more varied and enjoyable! I can vouch on the benefits of this lifelong indulgence in walking, to my good health and cheerful disposition (well, most of the time)!! Today, as I am walking with my two teenage daughters, I think to myself – it’s been a delightful journey from their stroller days to their youthful strides.