Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Bangladeshi Renaissance

Muhammed Yunus, successful businessman of Bangladesh has initiated a dramatic turnaround in that country's economy. He founded the Gramin Bank which extends loans to the individuals and small businesses.

Yunus's concept of Microloan is to provide poor people with financial assistance, at their terms, rather than at the bank's. While most other banks give loans in order to generate income, the Gramin Bank exists for the purpose for which it was found- to lift people above the poverty line.

And they are succeeding grandly at that! Congratulations to Mr.Yunus and his team of dedicated colleagues! He has rightly been awarded the Nobel Prize.
Read his interview on CNN here:

One man can transform the destiny of an entire nation.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Your Amygdala

This is a remarkable book by Robert Mauer :One Small Step Can Change Your Life. The Kaizen Way. He brings out many novel concepts based on modern neurological studies. According to Dr.Mauer, a small component of the human brain called Amygdala causes us to persist or retreat in achieving our goals. It is the Amygdala which takes care of the fight or flight mechanisms of the human body, enabling us to survive.

When we start a change in our behaviour pattern, for example, say,studying a new language, we find ourselves in unknown territory.And the unknown causes fear. If the amygdala gives out the signal to flee at this point, we will just escape from the task. It may come in the form of a headache, accident or a decision to stop studying.

I have decided to write one line everyday in order to develop my writing capabilities.If I feel like it, I may write more, or only one word; I am sure to achieve this target; I cannot miss it. It is not a formidable one. For it is the fear of failure that makes one retreat from endeavour. If the targeted goal is ridiculously low there cannot be fear.

Most of us fail to achieve our resolved goals because our amygdala is frightened by the unknown that we are venturing into.Even as I write this now, I am feeling uncomfortable, for I feel I have written more, and that I am expected to continue like this. My Amygdala is making me stop writing and run.

I need to gradually reduce my fear of failure and success.The trick, says Dr.Mauer is not to awaken the amygdala. The key to this is awareness and relaxation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sexually explicit content and children

Is there any thing wrong in children seeing sexually explicit ads and movies?

Would you keep a razor sharp dagger near an infant? An infant does not know what the dagger can do to him. A child cannot learn from such an experience by itself; the elders have to take care that he does not hurt himself through ignorance.

A child does not know what sex is for. It will accept it as a normal event in life, even at that age, and it will definitely lead to actualize in its own life. Forward it to the rape games played by young children and the lurid dialogues of kindergarteners.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Overcoming blocks to studying

Many of us shy away from the task of acquiring mastery of new skills and of polishing up old skills. We are afraid of it; as usual, of the failure, we are afraid of the unknown experiences that come with it; we are afraid of the queasy feeling that comes with failed attempts (perhaps that reminds us subconsciously of the fear that we felt when we were threatened and punished by our elders when we committed mistakes and failed during our childhood). Threats from elders are, to the child who is wholly dependent on them, almost like the end of his existence. Especially when they come from the very sources that affirm him/her, he is devastated.

These unpleasant experiences lie in the subconscious as unvoiced fears. We may not even be aware that they exist inside us. When we fail, the hidden parental voice admonishes us severely, the fear of receiving admonishments and rejection has been rooted in us from early childhood, so we will experience just an over possessing, nauseating discomfort and will want to run away from the situation that causes it. If it is study that causes it, we will run away from studying (physically or mentally). Mentally: we may have opened the book or be sitting inside the class, but our minds may have shut down to study-avoiding unpleasantness.

This kind of fear can affect other areas of life also: Socializing. If you have been severely criticized at each and every movement that your made in your childhood, you will experience an unknown fear while interacting with people later, as an adult. It is the same fear, discomfort that you felt as a child when you were berated.

To escape, some people run away from public to live in their own world, some people numb those feelings artificially with acting out, attention seeking, or with alcohol/drugs.

The relief from these fears comes not from running away from them, but in turning and facing them squarely! You have to give yourself a constant dose of positive empowering self-talk, meditate, practice witnessing, and jump right into the situations you are afraid of!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Real Courage

Did you see this photo of the monk Thich quan duc? If you have seen it, nothing more needs to be said. It is just an example of the few rare brave people in this world who stand up for what is right and are prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of truth.

I find it hard to hold even a glass full of steaming tea in my palm. How did this man manage to do this.And just look at him as he sits calmly, as the petrol flames devour his body inch by inch.

Incidents such as these are needed to shake up the consciences of governments. As a result of his sacrifice, world attention was drawn to the oppression of the Buddhists  South Vietnam, and to its eventual end.

And how did he do it? Buddhists say such extraordinary feats are the results of mindfulness practice.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Healing is Here

In the present is healing. When we come here we are healed of our past emotional wounds. Sometimes theory and therapy alone are not sufficient. Zen stories illustrate this point very well.

“Am I here Now?” is a good question to ask ourselves every now and then. We are very likely to be lost in the past or future if we do not ask this question, as most of us are running in the rat race for money, fame, power and position. We forget that none of this comes with us. None of this can give us lasting peace and fulfillment.

In the present moment we discover ourselves, our true being. Here is a wonderful source of limpid peace. It is inexhaustible. You only have to connect to it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How to become Popular.

“Welcome all who come to you.
Prevent none who leave you.”

This is a fine rule to follow when it comes to relationships, business, and friends…Any aspect of our life which involves people. You may have old friends leave you on reasons known only to them; you may have clients leave you for no specific reason…
Why worry?

This is not to say that we should be indifferent or arrogant to others. We need not be overly concerned (obsessed) about their liking us. Let them make their choice in their sweet time. We know our worth. Politicians who intend to cling to their chairs will have a hard time digesting this. But they need it, in order to remain sane. The chair will be wrenched away. It is just a matter of time.

The essence of this message is condensed in these Sanskrit verses:

"Aagatam Swagatam Kuryat
Gacchantam na nivarayet"
(the meaning is given at the top of this post)

When you are not bothered about how people perceive you, you are relaxed. When you are relaxed, you smile more. You are able to perceive other’s needs and feelings better. When people find somebody who is pleasant and responsive, they will naturally be attracted to him/her.

Shortcut to be Popular: Don’t desire to be Popular!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Healer as well as the....killer

The mind heals when it likes itself.

The mind heals when it focusses.

The mind heals when it visualises wholesomely.

The mind heals when it is active constructively.

The mind heals when it thinks positively.

The mind heals when it relaxes.

The same mind destroys when it does not like itself.

wobbles, out of focus.

when it is inactive and lazy.

when it thinks negatively.

How absurd....but how True!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The thirst to be loved

Most of us have had a hard time adjusting to the demands and fluctuations of our spouses.Sometimes, they just seem unreasonable.We find it difficult to think calmy and level headed, and would like to retaliate,just to get even.

Often we ignore the prompting from within and act rashly.And we regret.Small differences of opinion escalate into arguments, quarrels and conflicts.All because we did not pause to listen.To our own inner guide.Does not that still small voice inside you tell you to wait?

It is hard not to retaliate when you are hurt by cruel words.We are surrounded by such a world. A retaliatory world.The governments, the judiciaries and the entire world acts out their hatred of evil by hating it more, by punishing it.The Gandhis,the Martin luther kings and the Mother Teresas did their best.Perhaps their efforts have not gone to waste.The fact that sane voices still remain here, proves it.

Gandhi used to say:If all of us lived by the rule an eye for an eye, we would all soon be blind.

In the middle of an argument, when you are getting excited, please wait.If you will wait a few minutes, or if possible, a few hours before reacting on impulse, it will be something that you will be glad that you did.

Deep, slow breathing helps to quieten emotions.Counting the breaths and holding to a small count(say 4 or 6) is effective in calming the mind.Do not overdo it.A few rounds will be enough.

Deep within, we are all children who lost the oasis of unconditional love somewhere in our early childhood.Some of us may never have known such an oasis exists.

Remember, your spouse is also a lost child like yourself.He/She is probably expressing a longing for unconditional love from deep within.Try to awaken that feeling of love and consideration inside of yourself, and give love, without expecting. See what happens !

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The value of mistakes

The freedom to make mistakes is the fundamental right of human beings. We have to make mistakes in order to learn anything. Without making mistakes we cannot learn anything.

Parents insist their children should be perfect in everything. My child should be the first in everything. He/She should get it right the first time.
Needless to say, the child soon grows disillusioned with himself as he keeps on hearing the criticism. Do you not agree? Just listen to your own internal dialogue as you do things, interact with people and children. Most people are scared of attempting new things, acquiring new skills because they are afraid of this disapproving monster inside them. It does not leave them in peace for a moment.

I recently attempted to learn typing. Each time I made a mistake, I could hear my own mind screaming: “You idiot! Can’t you do a thing as simple as this right?” It would never quit. It seemed determined to deride me at each and every step. And this, after years of repeating self-talk.

I did not give up. Each time I heard myself talking nastily to myself, I reassured myself: “It’s OK to be not perfect. It is good to make mistakes. Just go on. Does not matter when you finish it”

I am slowly learning it. I am contented with my tardy learning speed. I am happy that I am making mistakes. My target is to make at least a hundred mistakes a day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Smile

A story is told to illustrate being in the present moment.

It is about the time when The Buddha was conducting discourses with his disciples.He was seated in a mangrove with about a thousand disciples. Ananda was among them. Buddha was talking about the ephemeral nature of the world and that the only way to derive joy while being alive was to be here now.He talked at length and at the end he wanted to see if they had got his message correctly.

In front of the Buddha, there was a flower vase with a bunch of fresh lilies placed in it. He lifted one lily out of it and held it up, so that all could see.

There was a hushed silence all round the assembly.Everybody was wondering what he meant by that gesture.

Ananda the monk smiled.He smiled when he saw the flower.

The Buddha was happy that Ananda had understood and experienced the truth of his message.He experienced it when he saw the flower in Buddha's hand.He saw only the flower.There was nothing else in his mind at that moment.He could experience the flower's beauty with his whole being.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Autobiography of a Yogi

This book has been selected as one of the 100 most influential books of the 20th Century. It is part of the course in many Universities, including Harvard.

The Author, Paramahansa Yogananda, comes from an illustrious lineage of seers who had their consciousness permanently rooted in the Eternal.

It includes descriptions of many thrilling encounters with death-defying masters and also a first-hand account of the Cosmic Consciousness state, Samadhi, as experienced by the author.

The book edifies and uplifts, and, could very well be a turning point in the reader's life.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Freedom in the jungle

Rule Yourself, Enjoy Freedom !

Do not rule yourself, get ruled.

Sad truth.

Perhaps you may not agree, but present day human world is very similar to a jungle. A jungle where power reigns supreme.

In the jungle, the greater your power, the more your chances of being free and staying alive.Rabbits, deer, peacocks and other harmless creatures become fodder.For whom ? For the tigers,hyenas,leopards and Lions.

On close examination of these animals we can find certain peculiarities.
Consider the lion and the rabbit. The lion is very moderate in its food and sex.It eats only when it is hungry.Usually, it hunts once in a week.Where as the rabbit can be found chewing all the time, in a hurry.

In sexual matters too, the lion is very self disciplined.It mates only during the season. The rabbit mates all the year round, when it feels the urge !

Could it be that this self control is the source of the lion's position of power in the jungle hierarchy ? Quite possible.
We have seen epicurean kings and emperors lead their kingdoms to ruin.

So self discipline is essential not only for spiritual success but also for material prosperity!

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Head or the heart?

We have a saying in Kerala: when the head is still there, the tail need not rule. The head is place highest on the human body. Every other organ – hands, heart, legs and genitals are below the head. Does this indicate a superiority of the head over the other organs?

Normally we have the higher authority seated at a higher level than his subordinates. If you follow any office seating hierarchy (take, a court for example).The judge is the supreme authority. He is seated at the highest level. The Indian parliament may be the only office where the ruling speaker is seated at a lower level. (Does this explain the unruly scenes that we have in parliaments?)

Apart from these considerations of higher placement, let us see what will happen if the other organs are allowed to indulge as they like, without giving due thought? Obviously, when a man has too many drinks, his intellect is warning him: do not drink. You have to drive. If he doesn’t listen and goes on drinking, he is exposed to a greater danger of a car crash. The reflexes will not be fast enough.

This applies to every other action. Our actions have to be guided by our intellect. This is particularly true so in interpersonal relations. We may have conflicts in our relations. If we react at the level of the heart, that is, just emotionally, we are likely to get caught up in a mess. It soon becomes a retaliatory game. A no-win situation. We need to stand apart, view the situation from an outsider’s perspective, suspending judgment or knee jerk reactions. Then we have more choices. This has to be patiently cultivated.

But sometimes, we do need to rely on the heart. It is to sense the intuition that we need in many situations. Falling in love, for instance. After knowing the person, for a long time. if we keep on analyzing him/her, we will ends up being frustrated, not being able to make a choice.

One is tempted to say it is not a matter of the head or the heart. It is a matter of functioning as a whole person. A balanced person, centered within. This comes about through relaxation and an acquired faith in oneself, in one’s own goodness. Previous articles have covered how we came to disbelieve our goodness.

We will soon discuss how Yoga explains the inter play of emotions and intellect.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Practical tips for Changing habit patterns-1

Whether we realize it or not, it is not lack of techniques or knowledge that prevents us from improving ourselves. It is basically our non-supportive mind that holds us back from surging ahead to greater and greater achievements. The achievements can be in any field: acquiring new skills (improving our present abilities-language/career/social/etc), learning a new skill/sport/hobby, starting a group activity, and making a billion, Enlightenment…it can be anything that you want to do.

Why our minds do not support us? Because we have not been encouraged or affirmed or loved enough till now. If an individual receives unconditional love and support in their childhood, there should not be any snag in their personality. But we have dissatisfied and discontented adults who cannot handle their emotions, wreaking their frustration on the hapless children they are entrusted with. The adults can be: parents, elder siblings and relatives, teachers, servants, etc.
The repeated admonitions and chidings and putdowns burn themselves into the psyche of the child, and become part of his own thinking process:

You are worthless.
You cannot do a thing right.
You are a good for nothing.
You Idiot! Stupid! Rascal! Bugger! Devil...
You will never amount to anything.
You are a failure.
(..Ad Nauseam…)

After hearing this tape with all its vehemence from the plastic years of childhood onwards, the child will start thinking:

I am worthless
I cannot do anything right.
I am stupid.
I am a complete failure.
Listen to yourself as you go about your day. You will know what your mind is telling yourself. This is your own self-talk.

And what we tell ourselves, we will actualize, manifest in reality. For more information on the mechanism of self-talk, read “What to say when you talk to yourself” by Dr.Shad HelmStetter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Laughing in Gaza

Is there something to laugh in the Gaza border ? Could you, when the missiles and bullets fly around you ?

Well,that's exactly what this young lady is up to. Judith Bar-hay Kovatch (see picture) holds laughter sessions for groups of people, enabling them to laugh their hearts out. For no reason whatsoever. They all agree that it releases their tensions and fears of existence, enabling to look at life as an opportunity, rather than as a burden.

If you haven't guessed already, this is Laughter yoga, founded by Dr.Madan Kataria from Mumbai. Obviously Dr.Kataria had to bear much ridicule before he could spread word about his Laughter Yoga around. Our logical minds seek a reason for anything: even laughter.

Well, it is this notion that Laughter Yoga dissolves-for good. In the frenetic rush of the modern day world, man forgets to stand back and enjoy life in a lighter vein. Laughter Yoga enables him to laugh himself/herself out of this deathly trap.

Laughter enables us to be here now, enjoying life; laughter gives energy and inspiration to heal negativities and inner wounds. It makes humans sane in an insane world. Relaxed people respond calmly and shun violence. It is a viable solution to reduce crimes like road rage.

For more information, check Here

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who Creates Our Destiny

A Japanese general by the name of Nobushige was leading his forces against a much larger enemy.Seeing they were vastly outnumbered, his men lost heart and were in favour of retreat.

At this point Nobushige hit upon an idea to rally his men and lead them to victory...
He produced a coin and said to his soldiers, we will toss this coin.If head comes up we will win.Otherwise we lose.

He tossed the coin.It was head.
The men were infused with the hope and spirit of victory.They fought with spirited valour and won the battle.

Afterwards, his confidante told the general, "Sir, we were indeed fortunate today, as foretold by your coin!"
Smiling, Nobushige said,"I think we created our own fortune, this time." He showed him the coin:

It had heads on both sides.

Heal Yourself-Heal the World

Friends, those of us who read about the mishaps happening around us, did you feel anything more than pity for the victims? Did you want to change the state of affairs in society and the world at large? Many of us may have felt frustrated at our apparent inability to do anything to mitigate these problems.

You need not be despondent. You can do something. In fact, many things. But you can strike a winning note by doing just one thing: Meditate.

Yes, that is right. Studies conducted in the US have shown that the crime rate was significantly lower in those cities, which had regular meditation groups. This was with reference to those cities without any meditation groups. Such cities had higher crime rates. This was based on a study conducted on TM meditation groups.

Please note, I am not trying to promote any religion or school of meditation. The end of meditation remains the same, in whichever way you do it: Reduction of thoughts. This leads to peace within. And when there is peace within you, it spills over into your surroundings also. Your responses become more thoughtful, you have more space for yourself, your companions notice your peaceful countenance, an aura of peace surrounds you. You become relaxed. A relaxed and happy face makes others also relaxed.

Wake up, before it's too late !

Read an appalling story about a mentally undeveloped girl being brutalised by 14 boys in Australia.Read it Here .The boys behaved as if the victim(the girl) was a thing, a toy for having some fun.Indicates serious problems.This resembles the content shown in the millions of porn sites worldwide. Women are subjected to humiliations and degradations in them. There are sites which show women humiliate men also.These types of sites have takers, as their proliferation indicates.These sites have incited many sex crimes, as has been testified in court by the offenders.

Punishing the criminals doesnot seem to stem the tide of such crimes.Banning these sites will cause some other media like dvd/cd to come up as a substitute.
Without understanding the cause we cannot treat the disease efffectively.There is one possible theory as to its origin.The roots of this problem lie far deeper than we can imagine. Many children have not received positive love and affirmation while growing up.How many boys and girls grow up in homes of love and harmony.

The truth is that many parents use their children as emotional punchbags.In some families the mothers may treat the boy child brutally, partly due to the mistreatment received at the hands of her husband, which leads to a hatred of males and which she vents on the boy child.This appears as merciless beatings, the nastiest verbal abuses...the victim realises he has been abused only when he feels the hatred for women inside himself, when he becomes an adult.

The same situation can happen to girl children. In fact they are more vulnerable.

If in later years, he/she realises that he has a problem, he may go in for professional treatment to heal the inner wounds. Awareness meditation also can really help.

If somebody enjoys the filthy trash of perversions being dished out in porn channels and porn stories, it indicates festering deep emotional wounds inside him/her.They are in need of urgent help.

This issue is discussed in detail by Mike Genung .

Friday, May 11, 2007

Talking in the Right Way to Yourself

Hi All,

Ever felt desperate about the kind of self-development course or book that really delivers ? Most of us will have.

Well I too thought so until I read Dr.Shad Helmstetter's "What to say when you talk to yourself".

This book has the works.It feels a bit tedous as you mumble the self-talk given in the book, day in day out.It is grinding work, despairing sometimes, but I tell you, it is effective !

What he calls as self-talk is almost the same as affirmations.But he has explained it so covincingly that you immediately will want to try it out. Just keep at it, and you will be amazed at the results !

Another significant book on self talk is "Developing your Personal Power"

Waking up to a lovely dawn

We may have suffered countless indignities in the past. They may all be causing hurt inside us. The emotional wounds that we had suffered in our innocent childhood may have created ugly scars in our psyche that may be preventing us from embracing and enjoying life in its fullness now.

We may be ruminating over yesterdays' bad unpleasant events and carrying resentments into our heart, ruining our own day.

After spending countless money on therapists, counselors, Gurus, books and medicines, we still may be feeling we have not had any significant recovery or transformation.

But there is a way. And it is cheap; it does not cost a penny. You do not have to enroll in any online course, give your credit card details, or fill out countless questionnaires.

The secret is, here...

It is,

This, This, This, This... a zillion times This.

Enjoy your surfing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Centre of the Universe

This is going to be a bit controversial but it seems to be the truth.
Here goes: Which is the center of the Universe that the legions of astrophysicists and scientists have been trying to locate?


Funny.But think about it, how does the universe exist ? It exists because you are aware of it.Why? Because You are.

The centre of the Universe is everywhere, circumference nowhere.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Why Violence ?

Stumbled upon this insightful article on Ask It explains the simmering anger inside many people. We may not even admit it but our spouses, colleagues and most of all, children may tell a different story.
Excerpts from the article:(Link to the article is given below)

"Physical punishment shows that it's all right to vent your anger or right a wrong by hitting other people. This is why the parent's attitude during the spanking leaves as great an impression as the swat itself. How to control one's angry impulses (swat control) is one of the things you are trying to teach your children. Spanking sabotages this teaching.....

Spanking demonstrates that it's all right for people to hit people, and especially for big people to hit little people, and stronger people to hit weaker people....

Physical hitting is not the only way to cross the line into abuse. Everything we say about physical punishment pertains to emotional/verbal punishment as well. Tongue-lashing and name-calling tirades can actually harm a child more psychologically. Emotional abuse can be very subtle and even self-righteous....

Psychologists studied a group of sixteen fourteen-month-olds playing with their mothers. When one group of toddlers tried to grab a forbidden object, they received a slap on the hand; the other group of toddlers did not receive physical punishment. In follow-up studies of these children seven months later, the punished babies were found to be less skilled at exploring their environment....

In a prospective study spanning nineteen years, researchers found that children who were raised in homes with a lot of corporal punishment, turned out to be more antisocial and egocentric, and that physical violence became the accepted norm for these children when they became teenagers and adults....

Have you ever fantasised about beating up your opponents ? Do you enjoy the (bad) guys being bashed into pulp in films ?

Ever wondered where all this anger comes from ? Read Here

If You agree with the author, do please forward the article to your friends and relatives. It may help society.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Psychology of Porn

Modern day porn focuses consciously or unconsciously on humiliation and degradation. What is the psychology behind deriving pleasure from inflicting pain on another human being?

Once while visiting a friend I saw his 8 year old son play the Aladdin game on Computer. Instead of playing through the game, he was making Aladdin jump up and down on the prone camel’s head. When I asked why he was not completing the game, he said he just wanted to jump on “his head”.

In films we have entertainment doled out in the form of beating up people. In porn it takes the form of humiliating people. Perhaps there is an underlying issue here.

Every effect has a cause. This tendency could be an attempt to regain one’s sense of self worth which had been trampled upon during childhood. Recall the put downs that children receive from their parents, elders, siblings and friends. This probably got embedded in the psyche. And when they have a chance to get back, they do it, with a vengeance,  and are not mindful of the consequences.

An awareness of one’s actions and thoughts is needed to be free of any kind of addictive behavior.

Thoughts are creative

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Experience Your Energy Field

Energy fields occur around every living being from humans to animals, plants and minerals. This seems to be a verification of the age old philosophy that consciousness resides in everything. As Jalaluddin Rumi has put it:
“God sleeps in minerals,
Awakens in plants,
Moves in animals and
Thinks in humans.”

Energy has been variedly described as Ki in Japanese, Prana in Sanskrit, Chi in Chinese and Bio plasma in modern new age lingo. We may not be aware of the terms for this phenomenon in other languages, but it being universal, we need not be surprised if we keep encountering this in varied cultures.The human energy field is shaped like a three dimensional ellipse. (the elliptical equivalent of a sphere)

I had my first experience of this energy (I will call it Chi here) in a Tai chi class. The class was conducted by Mr. Marco from Auroville, India.

The practice is simple. The essential thing is to be relaxed.

1. Sit straight on a chair or mat.

2. Wear loose clothing.

3. Attain a state of progressive relaxation of your body as described below.

4. Relaxation is indicated by the looseness of your fore arms.

5. Shake your forearms as you would shake a bottle. The only thing is, you should think it is connected loosely at the joints.

6. Shake your palms vigorously, keeping the forearms still. Similar to waving a piece of cloth tied to a pole.

7. Now move your forearms (one by one) up, do not bother about the palm, let it lie as it is – a piece of cloth that may move up or down as the pole to which it is tied is moved up and down.

8. After repeated attempts, you will feel the relaxation. When the palm is really hanging limp, you will feel the relaxation in your stomach.

9. Do this alternately with the left and right hands.

10. When you feel somewhat relaxed and loose in your stomach (solar plexus), you can start to feel the chi energy.

11. Feeling the Chi: Now holding your forearms still, gently move your palms upward, without any tension.

12. When the palm and forearm are not curved anymore, bring the two palms, gently together, so as to face each other.(They should not touch )

13. As the palms come closer, you will feel a tingling in the finger tips.

14. Other sensations experienced on the finger tips and palm are: a slight warmth, a pulling or pushing sensation(similar to attraction and repulsion of magnets)

15. This is your energy field.

16. You can experiment with your energy field by bringing the palms wide apart slowly, but still facing each other.

17. You can hold one palm still and move the other over it.

18. You can move one palm in a circular motion over the other.

19. The sensations as the energy fields around each palm interact are different in each of these steps.

20. Sensitive people may find it easier to experience the energy field.

21. If the energy field is not experienced, repeat the exercise daily till you do.

22. Afterwards, you can experiment in other ways, like chanting mantras and prayers and experiencing the variations in the sensations.
Want to hire me to write for your blog or online publication? You can find my contact details here: About me
Energy Medicine: Balancing Your Body's Energies for Optimal Health, Joy, and VitalityUpdated and ExpandedChakras for Beginners: A Guide to Balancing Your Chakra Energies (For Beginners (Llewellyn's))The Most Effective Ways on Earth to Boost Your Energy: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about Using Nutrition, Exercise, Supplements, Stress Relief, and Personal Empowerment to Stay Energized All DayOpening the Energy Gates of Your Body: Chi Gung for Lifelong Health (Tao of Energy Enhancement)Life Colors: What the Colors in Your Aura RevealWhat Color Is Your Aura?: Personality Spectrums for Understanding and GrowthYour Aura and Your Chakras: The Owner's ManualThe Healing Power of Your Aura: How to Use Spiritual Energy for Physical Health and Well-Being

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Pleasures of Self-Discipline

In Kerala there is a type of ayurvedic medicine called Kashayam. It is very bitter. People used to sweet and dainty dishes will have a hard time stomaching this medicine. It has even become a kind of proverb to say “it is bitter- like kashayam”.
Certain kashayams have the effect of purifying your blood.

Discipline and any action aimed at improving our living conditions seem to be like drinking the bitter kashaya. You would rather relish the sweetness of languor.
Say for instance, you want to build up a muscular body. You have to work out a program of regular exercise and stick to it, every day. Every day at the same hour, you do the set number of pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, dumbbells, everything in your prescribed routine. And you take the special diet, protein enriched to add muscles to your frame.

In the first few days, your body will scream, “No!”, as you press it into this unfamiliar regimen. You do not give in. You press on.

Then you break though the layer of resistance and actually start to enjoy the work out session. And slowly, the reward starts manifesting …a muscular body.
It repeats at every attempt you take at improving yourself- be it your handwriting, learning to speak in public, overcoming the fear of rejection in socialization, learning to meditate….

After a few months or so, you start to reap in the rewards: a lean, muscular physique, a neat and tidy handwriting that immediately catches attention, a new found confidence to stand up and deliver your message to groups of people, an ability to enjoy the peace and joy of meditation…

The Bhagavad-Gita also says: “Those pleasures which are bitter like poison in the beginning but later are sweet like nectar are the best…” The Gita calls them Sattvic pleasures…the Pleasures of Discipline.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The role of thoughts in shaping our destiny

One cannot over stress the effect of internal dialogue (also called unconscious self talk, thoughts etc) while discussing success, in any field. The age old habit of the mind to hang on to something, the inability to let go and stand by itself, is the root cause of this internal dialogue. (I am talking about unconscious self talk- that which we are not aware that we are thinking)

Right now, take a break and listen to yourself: what is going on inside your mind now? What are the thoughts rushing through your brain? Are there any feelings? Boredom? Become aware. From time to time, take a break and be aware of what is going on inside you, NOW. This can also be the key to overcoming addictions.

If you are like most people, you will find the thoughts rage on within each of us, all the time. Millions of thoughts pass through our minds everyday.Most of the time they are like an undercurrent, like if you are trying to catch a running bus, your mind might say: Will I get it? No, I will not get it. There. It is gone. Damn! Missed again! And we feel bad about it and about ourselves. This is natural, because we will feel good about ourselves only if we tell ourselves good things.

One reason we have been thinking this way is because we have been taught to think like that from childhood. For those who believe in rebirths, it’s been done for ages. Our entertainment media constantly presents us with set routines for reacting to situations. Thus, to resolve a difference of opinion, a fight is the only solution. We are caught in this trap. Wars start because of this set reaction.
To escape the cycle of repeated routine reactions to situations, one has to practice awareness- awareness of everything: thoughts, breathe, sensations, feelings, movements.

Suggested reading: What to say when you talk to yourself
Developing your personal power

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Technique for Relaxation

Relaxation involves letting all the stress and tension in the body and mind drain off us, till we hang like a limp, wet rag of cloth. Or a reclining cat that is the perfect example of relaxation.

Why is Stress caused? Research by authorities such as Dr. Hans Selye has shown that stress is caused when there are uncontrolled thoughts in the mind.
It is also true that it is not possible to control the thoughts as you would turn a radio knob off and on. But it is possible to befriend the mind .And that is the only way of controlling it.

It is similar to dealing with an unruly child. If we tell it not to do something, it will immediately go and do it. But if we give it loving attention and remain calm and watchful the child will eventually come to our side. We should not force it to do anything. Same is the case with the mind.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

True Equality

A husband and wife were walking down the road. He had been a highly successful industrialist, who had tasted extraordinary success in life. He had grown stale with it all-the money, the popularity, the fast cars, mansions, planes, speed yachts, he had them all….His kids were grown up and settled in life. It was at this point that he began thinking: What next?

He could achieve anything he set his eyes on. There was the presidency of the country. Well, he was not interested in dominating a position of power anymore. It would mean more power struggles with lobbies in the administration... He wasn’t that interested in reforming the nation as such. It was a question of survival. Let the fittest survive. As for the homeless on the streets, the prostitutes, the unemployed youth, the drug addicts …well there could be time for that later. Let me first find out the meaning of life. Then if there is time I will try to do something permanently good for this country and the world at large, He thought.

He distributed all his wealth among his children and various charities. With just one set of shirt and pants, he set out on his search for the truth. Oh, we forgot to mention: His wife accompanied him, just as she had through the long 43 years of his eventful marriage. She had been with him through his ups and downs, right when he started as a small time seller. She had been preparing with him for this big day by doing spiritual practices at their home. He had no idea of her spiritual development. He presumed himself to be her guide and mentor in spirituality too, as in everything else. But this day he was going to receive the shock of his life.

They had crossed several towns where they spent time at several temples, meditating and praying for guidance. This day had been particularly hot and they had been walking since morning.

Towards noon they approached a vast paddy field. The green stalks were swaying in the mid day breeze, smiling at the sun. They were walking along the side path when he noticed the shimmering stone that lay ahead of them on the track. He knew it immediately: it was a diamond, rarest of the rare; precious beyond compare. It could be worth several times their entire life earnings. In a moment he regained composure. He discarded it from his mind: nothing could deter him from his set goal. But he was afraid for his wife. She was a woman. Would she be swayed by this jewel and want to possess it? She shouldn’t swerve from the path of renunciation.

An idea dawned in his mind: as they approached the diamond, he scooped a handful of dust and threw it on the diamond, in an attempt to cover it.

What are you doing? Asked the wife.

He had to tell her.

She looked at him for some time. Her eyes seemed to go right through him.

“Do you still make a distinction between a pebble and a diamond?” She asked.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Creating what you want

Which is the most effective solution for creating all the wealth that you need? Saying Affirmations? Writing them down? Giving away money?

Invest in the Share market? Writing books?

Whatever the job/business you take up to increase your wealth, it is essential that you change your mental mind set first. An impoverished mind set can drive away wealth, or for that matter, all good things.

This is funny but true-“To him who has, shall be given (more)”.The thing in question is Faith. The more you search for something, the more it recedes. This holds true in every scenario-wealth, relationships, employment …and finally enlightenment.

That’s right, your own Self experience. Note, it is a capital “S”.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stress Relief Through Yoga

Stress may be defined as the mental and physical discomfort resulting from uncontrolled thoughts in one’s mind. This is the definition given by Dr.Hans Selye, the world famous authority on Stress. He has conducted extensive research on this problem that ails the modern world.

Let us see how stress develops and what its consequences are. The apparent stimuli are the external events that happen around an individual. Examples would be failure in exams, job interviews, failure to meet project deadlines, impending disasters like airplane crashes, being on the battlefront, fear of bomb threats, diseases etc.

We will consider a common instance: A salesman has to complete his minimum quota of sales. As the deadline approaches, he realizes that he has not achieved the required quota. He is assailed by thoughts: whether he will achieve it at all, will he achieve it within the time limit, will he be given a time extension, will he lose his job, will he get another, what will he do for his family’s provision,...As the number and variety of thoughts about potential disasters increases, his anxiety also increases. His heart beat goes up, his B.P. rises. In extreme cases palpitation occurs, speech may become incoherent.

One can well imagine the outcome of such a mental condition on his performance. He will not be effective in achieving his target. He may also end up in the hospital.

Thus stress, if uncontrolled, can result in poor results.

Let us look at how Yoga can remedy this situation. Yoga tackles stress from two areas: those of the body and the mind. Asanas and Pranayama help to tackle stress from the level of the body while at the mental level, meditation is the cure.

Asanas are postures which one assumes and holds for a specific amount of time. For example, Merudandasana is the pose in which one lies on his back, raises his legs up to an angle of 45 degrees, and holds them there for as long as he is comfortable. There are hundreds of asanas available which exercise different parts of the body. But since time is a limited commodity for the modern man, it essential to do only a few select asanas to derive the benefits.

While doing each asana, three points are to be borne in mind: Slowness, Awareness and Relaxation. When one performs asanas while adhering to the principles of Yoga as much as possible, the mind and body become more relaxed and calm. And stress cannot stay in a calm mind. It is akin to the disappearance of darkness, on the arrival of light.

Pranayamas are breathing exercises in which one seeks to develop awareness and control over the process of his own breathing. Inevitably this practice leads to calmness

Meditation: This is the second tool by which Yoga eliminates stress from the mind. This is primarily a mental exercise. In meditation one seeks to directly regulate and reduce the number of thoughts in the mind. We have earlier seen how reduction of thoughts helps to reduce stress. There are many methods of meditation, depending on one’s preferences, beliefs, religion and temperament. One method is to focus one’s attention on one thing. It may be an idea, an image, a smell, a sound, anything. Theists would find it easier to meditate because they can think of their beloved deity’s form. And love helps to focus the mind easier in an easier way. But it is not necessary that one be a believer to be able to meditate. One may meditate on a candle flame, a dot, or even on his own breath.

All said and done, if we agree that Yoga can indeed destress an individual, another question can arise: how is it possible to do yoga and meditation when you are stressed out, right in the middle of your job, say while dealing with tough clients?

The key is to maintain the thread of awareness that you had developed while doing your daily Yoga practice. One has to keep that awareness throughout the day. It seems a daunting task at first, but soon you will realize it is essential and in fact, enjoyable.

We become free to choose our responses to situations, because we become aware of what is going on inside us. A situation which previously had aroused anger in us would provide us a chance to make a new friend. One of my friends used to be frustrated and angry when caught in traffic jams. When he started doing Yoga and meditation, he became aware of how his own thoughts were causing anger in him. Awareness of his thoughts made him realize he should choose a better thought response to a traffic jam. So now he just takes a deep breath, lets the tension go, enjoys the situation and sometimes even jokes with other drivers.

Like all things, skill in Yoga also is just a matter of dedicated practice. It can be effectively used to reduce stress. Reduced stress will result in a better performance. When the individual improves his performance, the organization as a whole will benefit.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The limits of humans-or are there any ?

There does not seem to be any limit to the extraordinary feats achieved by humans in their quest to transcend mortal boundaries.

I once watched was a show on National Geographic,around December 2001 or so.It showed old women demonstrating their martial arts prowess. The camera showed an iron rod being placed (sharp end) against an old lady's temple and being hammered in at full force.Can you guess what happened ?

The end result was that the thick iron rod was bent into a big V. And the woman? Smiling as ever, she didn’t even move a muscle throughout the demo.She was a regular practitioner of Qigong.Does not this lady's story give us inspiration to question our own limits that we have set on ourselves?

Martial arts like Taichi, Qigong and Sindo focus on developing the internal life energy (Called Prana in Sanskrit / Chi in Chinese/ Ki in Japanese). Often the practitioners can achieve astonishing results as described above.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What is Meditation ?

Question : What is Meditation ?
Answer : Silence of the mind.
Question : And how may that silence be reached ?
Answer : Through Meditation!


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yoga: a Panacea

Those who regularly practise Yoga can experience a gradual spreading of calmness. This is first experienced during the practice sessions. Gradually it spreads to the remaining parts of the day.

But one issue that most yoga practitioners would have faced is that of maintaining the calm of Yoga in the midst of workday pressures. How to stay calm and centered while that colleague is carping at you, spreading tales about you behind your back.

This is a real life situation most of us have had to face at one time or other.

It would be better to stop pretending to be an accomplished yogi who is having samadhi every time he meditates. We are all human. We have passed through countless lives before, and their residue is left in our minds in the form of impressions. When the apt situations crop up, they may rise like the sphinx.

This kind of vexing situation is known only to the serious practitioner. He who has been keeping at it for years. He may have had a few transcendental experiences, but when the ego is provoked in real life, the hot sweaty life of jealousy and rat race amidst the corporate jungle, he may forget everything and there goes ack!ack!ack!

Nothing to worry. We have to cultivate awareness. Awareness of our thoughts, feelings, actions. Here the Vipassana group has done excellent work by focusing on the awareness aspect of meditation.

We start with awareness of our bodily movements when we sit to meditate-the twitching of muscles, the ache in the knee, the blinking of the eyelids and the breath going in and out, ...

Then the feelings that arise---the anger, the fear, the lust,
Just being aware of them as they arise...not trying to control them...Trying to control thoughts would be like not trying to think of monkeys (which could end up to be a meditation on monkeys!)

We just let them be...give them space....AND WE LOVE OURSELVES...Accept OURSELVES for what we are now.Here.

Our failures don’t matter...our shortcomings don’t matter...It doesn’t matter who we are and what we have done so far...We simply accept ourselves…

Particularly useful is it to repeat to yourself :I ACCEPT MYSELF. I APPROVE OF MYSELF. Over and over…

Note: (Louise.L.Hay’s books are a great source of guidance for healing your mind and body.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Defying Old age:Jeanne Liebermann


“Old age? There is no such thing!” Mme. Jeanne Lieberman replied in response to a question whether her age of 92 plus was weighing on her. She was a martial arts Grand master who lived in France, in the late twentieth century.

This was her response to a question by Claude Bobin, who was interviewing her. Check the 1978 September issue of the Indian Reader’s digest and you can read the article. I am giving the summary here.

Mme. Jeanne Lieberman started learning martial arts at the tender age of 63, when most of us would prefer retiring from the armchair to the sofa- watching the antics of our grand children. But for her, it was the beginning of a new life- a life of conquering and self-discovery plus a whole new vista of opportunities and healing for a lot of people past 60. She had prepared herself though. She was a regular practitioner of Yoga. And she was fired with Inspiration!

She joined a Judo Dojo (martial arts school) in Paris. When she went to enroll, the joke goes that the instructor asked if it was for her son or her grandson. Imagine his surprise when she replied it was for her!

Her astounding progress soon put an end to the apprehensions of her instructor and her younger classmates and she completed her black belt in sharp five years!

She didn’t rest on her achievement, though. She went to Japan and started polishing up the Aikido skills that she had started learning in France. Aikido is a non-violent form of self-defense. She practised under Master Tadashi Abe for four years before she secured her black belt in Aikido(!).

No, that is not the end of the story. At the age of 72, she started learning Kung fu (Wing Chun). She received her black belt in Kung fu at the age of 80, from Master Hoangnam of the famed Shaolin temple, China! Astounding, isn’t it? To think how much an old lady would exert, pushing herself to the limits.

Her diet is very simple: a carrot for breakfast, an egg for lunch and a potato and a spoonful of honey for supper. 

Mme Lieberman’s dedication paid off abundantly. She achieved such a level of prowess that she was able to perform unbelievable feats. She has demonstrated her skills in several ways: In one such demo, she pinned a trained (black belt), 1.8 m tall, 200 kg athlete to the ground in less than one second and then repeated the feat nine times!

Pretty tempting skill to acquire isn’t it? This should be inspiration for young and old alike.

But Mme Lieberman was not an aggressive person. Her personal philosophy was rooted in silence, tolerance, understanding, and love.

She returned to Paris and started her own martial arts class. She developed her own style synthesizing the three martial arts and Yoga.

Most of her disciples are in their sixties or seventies. Some of them have had extraordinary experiences. One seventy year old student, (Adele Nicole) was attacked by two young muggers in the dark side alleys of Paris . She was able to ward off their attack easily and hold one of them in a paralyzing arm lock, with him begging for mercy.

At a time when we keep hearing stories of estranged and isolated old people,who have been abandoned by their children, Mme. Lieberman’s story is heartening in that it gives inspiration to stand up for ourselves, dig into the resources within ourselves and prove to ourselves and the world that we can take care of ourselves, and much more!

Martial arts are a sure fire way to keep oneself fit and old age at bay. Martial Arts also help to maintain peace of mind and to develop suppleness of the body. They are one of the best means to make one's leisure worthwhile. Of course, to the enthusiastic follower, who has dedicated his life to martial arts, nothing but perfection would do.

The lives of people like Jeanne Liebermann convey Inspiration in us to achieve all that we are capable of, to question our limits and forge ahead.

Here is a link to an audio recording of an interview with Mme. Liebermann, circa 1975:

Note: Want to hire me to write for your blog or online publication? You can find my contact details here: About me

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The Secret Teachings of AikidoKodokan Judo: The Essential Guide to Judo by Its Founder Jigoro KanoWing Chun Kung Fu: Traditional Chinese King Fu for Self-Defense and HealthThe Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga
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