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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Independence and free will

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India - my country, home, and motherland celebrates its Independence Day on August 15, every year. We hoist our national flag, offer sweets to each other and celebrate the day with much enthusiasm shunning barriers of all sorts.

Although we enjoy the day, somewhere I feel that we must dedicate at least this day of the year to remember those who laid their lives as martyrs and sacrificed much in the fight for freedom. This will not only help us realize the vitality of independence, but also, make us cherish the freedom that we enjoy.

Flash-back

Rewinding back to the olden times; my grandparents were born pre-independence. They were the witness to our nation's freedom struggle, autocracy done by foreigners, and resentment amongst the masses. My parents were born in the decade following independence. During their growing years they also saw times when the country was in the initial phase of development. I believe they also realised the meaning of struggle and significance of contentment.

The following period (a few decades later) when my generation came up, saw a measurable change in the perception about freedom among the new generation. For generation X, the term seemed to have a relatively different meaning. Freedom, now, meant ' free will'.

Having put forward a caricature of the change in perception through varying times and experiences over different generations, I believe it is important to understand the real meaning of independence.

The meaning of Independence 

The dictionary meaning of the term 'Independence' is 'freedom from control or influence of another or others.' This means that we have the liberty to make our own choices. In that case, what if the choice of one of the citizens is in some way or the other hurting someone else? Will that be the right kind of liberty? I guess, no! Then, how should we define 'Independence' in the real sense?

Here is my take on understanding the significance of freedom.

In-de-pen-de-n-c-e

In (Integrity): the quality of being honest with strong moral principles. Honesty in one's words and actions, brings about clarity in personal relationships and in our social and economic set-up at large. Strong moral principles, if effectively inculcated in the upcoming generations at the right time will take hardly two generations to uproot several vices like corruption, the biggest termite hollowing the foundation of our society.

De (Defence): We do not only need to defend our nation's frontiers, but what is equally important is our protecting the  right from the wrong. We need to make sure that come what may, our minds are without fear and heads always held high. At the same time, it is vital to watch our steps and guide others around us to be watchful in their actions.

P (Pen): Make sure that you teach at least one student at any point in time in your life. Literacy is of prime importance, but education is even more significant. Literacy is the building up of the knack to read and write. Educating someone is further helping him to expand his knowledge base about a subject. If the educated mass of the country starts teaching at least one person, the number of educated people will easily double. And this number can grow exponentially leading to the realisation of a learned society.

D (Development): When the society is educated, every individual will surely seek personal development and this will come through self-discipline. As building blocks of the society, if each individual self-disciplines himself, the resultant will undoubtedly be a developed society.

N (Nationalism): A nation is built by its people. Nationalism simply means having respect for the fellow being irrespective of any social barrier. The seeds of nationalism or respect for fellow citizens should be sown in the minds of children at a young age.

C (Cultural Heritage): The beauty of our country lies in its diverse cultures. From the valleys of the north to the oceans at the south, our vast country supports varied cultures and life-styles. Respect for every way of life is the key to living in harmony.

E (Ethics): Our uniqueness lies in the essence imbibed from the moral of the stories narrated to us by our grandparents in our early years. We all need to revive our memories, brush-up the lessons learnt in our childhood, and be ethical in our conduct in every day to day activity.

If we understand and truly follow these basics, then I am sure we will be independent in all its meaning and our nation will rise and always shine at the top of the world.

Jai Hind!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Youth and happiness


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Youth comes with a dramatic change in one’s life. With the changes taking place in one’s physiology with the growing age, several factors influence one’s emotional and psychological well-being. 

Even in today’s highly modern and competitive world, mental health is an ignored aspect of life. Across the globe in varied cultures and communities, physical health of the youth and individuals of all ages is given more importance over their mental well-being. Ordinarily, people fail to realize that for a healthy society, it is very important for its building blocks that are the people to be mentally sound.

Awareness

Our brain is the embodiment of our mind. It is the Central Processing Unit that controls our actions, thoughts and behaviors. Till date, concern for our own mental health or that of those around us is despised by our society. Despite being aware that we ourselves or somebody we are concerned with, is facing some kind of emotional trauma or psychological turmoil, we usually tend to ignore the first signs in the initial phases of the problem. When facing the issue themselves, people have a tendency of hiding such facts from others and have a propensity to refrain from talking about such a serious predicament of theirs openly or seek help.

‘Mental state’ or any word related to psychology is generally assumed to be negative, but if we think deeply, we can very well realize that there is nothing as important as one’s mental well-being in life. Our mental state controls our emotions, mood and the way we socially connect with others. It steers our thought process, our feelings and the way we carry on with our day to day life. If we are mentally healthy and sound, we can tackle stress as well without much difficulty.


The age group of 15 to 24 years is usually called the youth. It is that age, when success is of prime importance to the individual, but the road to success is difficult to tread. Young masses need to learn the art to deal with the challenges life confronts them with. The desire to gain more in lesser time has spread like an epidemic in the present times. In such a scenario, people find them affected with different kinds of illnesses, which include high number of mental illnesses as well.

It has also been seen that mental unrest not only affects one’s cognition but also impacts one’s physical capacity to carry on tasks.

There can be a number of reasons behind one’s mental weakness, but if affected in one’s youth and growing age, it can challenge the individual’s correct development and have a negative impact on the way he or she connects with others socially.

The way life poses difficulties for people can be intriguing but it is indispensible to understand and have the skills to overcome these problems. Due to inexperience and dearth of knack to solve issues life posses one with, youngsters often tend to fall in the clasps of mental sickness, usually starting with depression and later leading to much serious illnesses, if not dealt with corrective measures at an early stage.

Difficulties or challenges can range from demise of a parent at one’s young age, child abuse, to a difficult childhood. Many times, childhood or teenage of an individual besmeared with crime, can also lead to eventual mental sickness.

The present world youth is part of a rat race, a race to achieve incredible goals and quench the thirst of unfathomable desires. This in turn is pressurizing them to such extents, that the simplicity of life is gradually fading away.

Hard work and no play

It is often said and said truly that, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” At times, even after much hard work and sustained efforts one fails to achieve the desired results or outcomes. What then? Is it wise to lose one’s hope or curse one’s fate? I believe, no.

In such a circumstance, we should realize that to win or to lose are parts of the game. We should develop in ourselves the skill to accept failures and work on our shortcomings to succeed later.

No effort goes in vain

At times, we feel that we are working for no good use. Our efforts in a particular work will not reap us fruits. If you ever feel so, do not stop working, instead, shun that thought at that very moment. Remember, no person, friend or even your neighbor stays with you forever, but that does not mean that you can stay without people around you. On a similar note, your efforts if apparently not doing any good to you will at least do well to others around. So, keep working.

Brain Fatigue

It has been scientifically proved that the human brain’s ability to stay focused and calm can be overwhelmed by the demands of this fast-paced world.

A Scottish study with the help of study of brain wave programs has proved that a walk through a leafy park or green spaces can potentially lessen stress and help enhance concentration.

Never low and solitary

The death of the American actor, comedian and film-maker, Robin Williams came as a shock to the entire world. Nobody could guess that a person, who made the whole world laugh, could be so lonely and depressed within.

If feeling lonely or aloof, it is time to check if we are ourselves responsible for it! As social beings, human nature is to connect. Check if you are building walls or bridges. Loneliness is an alarm or nature’s way of telling us to re-join or re-connect with people.

For this we need to over-power our mood and overcome our own self-built limitations-
1. Do not hold grudges, whatsoever. If you do, such tendencies will make you feel lonelier.
2. Joining a gym can help you keep your mind diverted, make you stay fit and also help you build a positive attitude towards life.
3. Meet and greet! When you greet someone with a smile, a smile comes back to you.
4. Get into networking. By saying this, I do not mean get engrossed in social media networking, what I mean is that leave everything aside and get out of home, meet people, make new friends interact with them. Come out of the virtual world and interact with real people face to face.

Stress and its ill-effects

Stress is a silent killer. It traumatizes you. Acting silently, it becomes aloud and starts reflecting only when it has deeply set itself in your mind and soul with firm roots. It has the potency to shatter you, if not dealt with in time.

Stress can even make you crippled, leaving you unable to think or act wisely. It has a repetitive effect. It drags you in a vicious circle, where stress leads to even more of it. Your performance is affected badly leading to disappointment and even more stress.

A little stress is good for making you perform better in a competitive scenario, but if this stress crosses the margin or limit it has a lasting ill-effect. It turns your thought process in an undesirable, negative direction, in turn making you unwelcome by other folks. Stress affects your system and thought process. Your thoughts control your mind, body and health. Most of the present day health issues are gifts of the day to day stress that we deal with. They have an unspoken role in increasing any and every ailment bothering us.

If you give it a deeper thought, you will realize that more than anybody else the effect of stress on your mind and soul are most evidently felt by only one person and that is ‘you’. Stress degenerates one’s intellect. One tends to lose the power to think properly and take correct decisions. One may plan to do a thousand things but end up doing nothing. It leads to further disappointment to the individual. Though it is an old proverb but it is not to be forgotten that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.

The Relative Approach

A philosophical approach can provide us many solutions to deal with day to day issues and the stress arising thereby. Try to realize that the stress that we are dealing with, are really not as big as they appear to be. With the passage of time, the magnitude of any trouble reduces. It starts fading away and at a later point of time, you realize that it has no relevance in your life. The problem is gone and you do not remember that it even existed ever.

Identify the goal of your life

Never let your self-esteem go down. God has made every creature and non-living thing for some purpose. You just need to identify your goal.

Once upon a time, there was a huge pond in a forest with many different plants around it. People from far across would come and praise the beauty of the plants. A leaf on a rose plant would often notice this and feel sorry for himself as nobody praised him. Eventually, he started feeling low and started feeling that its life was not good for anything. Days passed and one stormy day, many trees fell down near the pond. Suddenly, an ant was blown with the strong wind into the pond and it was struggling hard to save its life. The ant was tired in some time and death seemed sure to the exhausted being. Seeing this, the leaf bent and took the ant over itself to save its life.

As the storm ceased, the leaf sailed to the side of the pond. The happy ant thanked the leaf to have saved its life.

The leaf realized its importance and true worth to which it was unaware till that incidence.

Always try to help others. This way you not only extend a helpful hand to others but realize the meaning of life too.

Change your thought process

You are what you think. Your bones and flesh do not make you the person you are, your thoughts do.

Happiness and sorrow, ups and downs are part and parcel of everybody’s life. Many times, our circumstances lead us to a depressive state of mind. It can affect anybody walking the face of earth, from a millionaire, to your next door neighbor, to even you. Still, we can overcome such a situation by just changing our perspective. The above statement can be understood a bit more clearly with the help of this example.

There was boy named Brandon, who worked in a rice mill. Being affected by polio in his childhood, he would walk on crutches. Still, seeing his zeal for life and diligence towards his work, he was promoted as the manager of the mill. He continued his efforts and worked harder to solve the problems of other workers and help them out.

Once, his boss called him and asked- what made him so happy and content. There were others in the mill, who earned better than him and were much well-off, but still never looked happy.

Brandon’s smiled at his boss’s question. Many of his other co-workers as well stopped-by to inquisitively know his reply. Even they wanted to know the secret to his happiness.

Brandon answered, “Sir, whenever perplexed, I ask two questions to myself that in turn lead me to the way to bliss.” The boss could not understand anything.

Brandon continued, “Whenever I get up in the morning, my mind says, Brandon, you have two choices today, either to spend the day happily or spend it depressed. To this, I choose to tread the happy path. If something goes wrong, my mind again asks a question, Brandon, either feel sorrowful for your mistake or learn something useful from it. To this I think, there is no point in repenting over anything, it is always better to learn a lesson from my mistakes.”

If somebody comes to me with someone else’s complaint, even then my mind gives me two options, either to accept the complaint or to appease the person by telling him the positive qualities of the other person. I believe, every person has some positive attributes, so, why shouldn’t I bring to light those positive traits. So, I choose the blissful path.”

His boss answered, “Brandon, whatever you are saying is true, not an easy task though.”

Brandon replied, “No Sir, this is quite easy, you just have to decide what implication you want to have on your mind, of the things said to you or the circumstances surrounding you. Positive or negative. Remember, the day you succeed in choosing what is it that you want, you will start feeling bright with positivity by driving away negativity away from you.” Everybody listening to Brandon, smiled at his answer, as if, they had had the ‘mantra’ to happiness.

Each one of us undergoes the morbid clutch of negative thought process at some or the other phase of our lives. Give your mind a chance to study and take decisions on a positive note. Trust me, this will help you steer your life in the right direction.





Friday, July 19, 2019

The Beauty of Duality and Meditation

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Conflicts started at the beginning of time. If we look around, we will find duality touching all realms of dimensions touching our lives. A closer look will reveal that there is always a pair of opposite forces in action everywhere. For instance, light and darkness, knowledge and ignorance, duty and righteousness always go together. The presence of only light or only shadow is not conducive for any picture to develop.

On a similar note, happiness and sorrow are integral parts of human life, but we all know that emotions cause turmoil. Eyes dwell on what is superficial, what we observe from our limited perspective. We can obtain proper reflection of an object only when the water is still and deep. If it is not so, a clear image cannot be seen. Likewise, a clear image cannot be formed in a mind in turmoil.

Light and darkness, happiness and sorrow have their designated places in life. When the Sun rises from the far-east horizon, darkness is defeated and disappears in the west. Similarly, after a long exhausting day of work, millions of tired minds and bodies retire in the arms of soothing darkness of the night.

What is Duality?

Duality is the essence of life. It simply means that everything that exists holds opposing truths. Aspects that are all true. The infinitesimally meager is also infinitely big and the other way round. It is all a matter of perspective.

If one says that Earth is an enormous planet but from scratch ignores the fact that it is a mote of dust that is suspended in space, then that person is surely ignorant. Understanding the concept of duality in everything is important, as it allows us to see different aspects of the same thing from other perspectives. Perceptions are relative and not absolute.

The Nature of Duality

Duality brings forth two sides of truth to us. One is what we perceive, that is, the relative truth and the other is, the absolute truth.  Absolute truth is always beyond what we perceive. Why? This is because perception is only one angle of all the different angles from which we can view the truth. It is only one of the filters that we use to view something.

Why does Duality exist at all?

Duality brings in balance. If there existed no duality, we would never yearn and strive for unity, wholeness or oneness.

The Chinese philosophy emphasizes on the combination and opposition of the two basic forces Yin and Yang. These reflect the philosophy of balance. In this principle, two opposites co-exist in harmony. If we observe the symbol of Yin-Yang, we will find that there is a dot of Yin in Yang and vice-versa. This shows the inter-connectedness between two different forces. The Yang on reaching its climax retreats in favour of the Yin and so does Yin in reciprocation. The dynamic interplay of these two forces results in all manifestations of the Tao.

In Hinduism, Ardh-narishwar represents duality. Shakti is the feminine aspect of Shiva. Shiva is a sage and is called the destroyer while Parvati referred to as Shakti is the source of energy in our body, giving us life, movement and consciousness.

Tuning in the Mind

The energy that is being transmitted by the satellite is everywhere. The antenna, fixed at your roof-top receives this energy in the form of signals and you can easily turn on a news station or a weather channel just by the touch of a button. You can turn on a movie, a soap-opera, a drama or a religious channel just by pressing a button. What you are doing here, is that you are accessing a particular frequency.

There exist countless frequencies in the world. By every action, thought, speech of ours, we are generating a particular energy that goes right into the atmosphere. Though subtle, it is very real. The kind of energy that we access depends on what we keep our heart and mind open to. That is how we determine whether we head towards nurturing our good qualities to access the divinity within us or move in the opposite direction.

Let us try to understand this with the help of a practical instance. The world today is getting commercialized in all spheres. A business flourishes only with intelligent proper investments. The future of the business depends on the nature of the investment. Similarly, there is need to bring about peace and stability through investing in the internal nourishment of the mind.

What we have is what we can give back to others. A poor man cannot give wealth to the society. It is said that if we are not a part of the solution then we are part of the predicament. 

Understanding Yoga

‘Yoga’ in Sanskrit means unity. Body, mind and consciousness together constitute a living being. You might ponder, what is meant by the word ‘consciousness’? The energy emanating from the soul is called consciousness.

Yoga means to unite or bring in harmony, the body, mind and soul. To bring in stability within ourselves, we need to understand the complete yoga system. Unification of body with nature is hatha-yoga. To unite mind and body is pranayam. Unifying mind and soul is jnana. In such unified condition, we can naturally feel and express the unlimited love within our own selves through all our visible as well as unspoken actions.

All of us are spiritual beings. We have boundless spiritual power within our hearts. Yoga refers to taping that limitless spiritual power and expressing it in every aspect of our lives with a pure heart.

This would not only bring about a balance in our lives but also help us  overcome many obstacles that appear impossible. To overpower the fundamental disunity in our life, what is required is not a sword to overcome the conflicting mind but the realization that if we have unity within ourselves, within our own mind, we can create unity as well. If the mind is not harmonized with the body and soul, it will lead to a dysfunctional self and then, there will be no real peace, real love or real happiness. The self will not be calm within and if we are not calm inside, we will not be able to feel the same outside. It is to be remembered that nothing external gives happiness until and unless you are content within. There is no end to cravings, but the stillness is to be sought within.

Meditation as a Healing Power

Meditation as healing means to give time to your mind and soul. You must have heard over and over again, ‘You are what you think’ but have you ever had the time to give this idea, a thought. We all know that life confronts us with one or the other problem every now and then. Your positive thoughts take you a step forward towards healing your inner-self thereby taking you above your problems.

Suppose a trivial issue has been nagging you for long. You start thinking about it positively thereby, sending the same dilemma of yours, positive vibes which in turn changes your whole outlook towards it and it turns into a beneficial aspect of your life. So, you have been successful in turning a bane to a boon just with your thought process. Amazing! Isn’t it?

This magic mantra is not a hidden treasure but each one of us has it with him or her. The only thing is that pestered by day to day bothering, we often forget that this jewel or magic lamp lies in our own hands. We simply need to understand its powers and utilize it to nurture our being.

Say, a particular thought is constantly disturbing you. You are finding it difficult to put your mind in anything other than that thought. What do you do then? Ride your bike and run away from it? Can you really do that? I believe that is practically not possible. Then, what is the way out?

Well, there is a very simple solution to it. Try to focus on other aspects of life that give you inner peace. Things that disturb you are not what you are looking for in life. Simply try to concentrate your energy on the aspects or things that you are really looking forward to in life. I say so, because by this act, you are sending energy to your cherished goal and it slowly manifests. It gradually turns up to become a reality.

There exists an unseen power that we refer to as the almighty that responds to all our genuine desires. Through meditation, you can easily connect with that power. This power lies unexplored within you. You need to tap it. Explore it. Let it enhance.

Meditation helps you overcome the duality or conflict within. It brings about stability in your inner-self. It leads you from divergence to convergence. It helps you focus your energy to what you want, what brings peace, satisfaction and joy to your inner-being.

Our problems are not bigger than us. If there were no problems in life, what would be the joy of living? Moreover, nothing lasts forever. Not even our troubles. The issues bothering us are not as big as they appear. We can always take them as a passing phase of life, whose seriousness will dilute with the time to come. The problems are not that many either. If you look closely and do a self-assessment, you will find that ninety-nine percent of the problems are self-created. ‘Self-analysis’ will help us in finding the root cause of our troubles and help us chalk a way out of our dilemma.

Save some time for your mind, body and soul, heal yourself and cherish the beauty of life through meditation and a positive outlook.

How to meditate in everyday life

It might surprise you that one can meditate anytime or anywhere, accessing a sense of stillness, over and above what the situation and surroundings are like.

Practice Mindfulness

You need not restrict meditation to strict practice sessions. You can always choose to be mindful in your everyday life. For instance, if you are stressed out, focus entirely on your breathing and sway away negative emotions or thoughts from your mind.

In your daily activities like taking your breakfast, try to be more aware of the food that you are taking and the sensations that you feel while you eat.

Try to live in the present, in the very moment. Try to be more aware of your actions performed in your everyday life. 

A healthy mind in a healthy body
Healthy eating habits, exercise and ample sleep together constitute a healthy lifestyle and can contribute to more effective meditation.

Guided Meditation
An experienced teacher can be a good support in guiding you on how to meditate when you are unsure about where to begin.

Timing of Meditation
Make it a point to meditate everyday at the same time. This will help you make the practice of meditation a part of your daily routine and you will start experiencing its benefits sooner. It is very good to meditate early in the morning before the mind gets consumed with stress and worries.

Meditation is a journey. Its purpose is to calm the mind, overcome fears, dilemmas and duality within. A mirror shows you your image but what if the mirror has been neglected for a considerable period of time. There are layers of dirt and dust on it. Such a mirror gives you an idea that the filth on it is you. On the other hand, when you clean the mirror, slowly emerges your true image. And you see your actual self as soon as the mirror is completely clean.

Meditation fulfils that purpose and so does spirituality. One can surely feel more connected, wholesome and balanced by filtering his mind through meditation and bringing the consciousness back to its original state which is pure and tranquil.