Monday, June 27, 2011

Having Fun in Learning Skills

If you are a student, or if you are interested in acquiring more knowledge, you can gain inspiration from the game of Darts. Darts is a game similar to archery, only that you throw darts at a target. See the picture below:


It is easy to train in Darts. Perhaps this is because it is a game (unlike serious academic study). The objectives are clearly defined. It is easy to evaluate yourself. You can see the results immediately. It is another matter if you give up, if you get discouraged when you dont hit the target. You may hit the target:
a) most of the time
b)only sometimes
c)not at all

If you keep yourself focused on the target, it is quite possible to hit the target a reasonable number of times. It's a guarantee. Perhaps the time for learning varies from person to person.

This is a skill that you can learn.

We all need many skills to move forward in life. Career skills, educational skills, social skills, relaxation skills, anger skills (to manage and use your anger constructively).

People find it hard to train in learning skills and academic subjects. The reasons which would be obvious from the above Darts example are:
  • Objective is not clearly defined
  • Lack of sight of objective
  • Outcome not visible or measurable
  • Giving up too soon (lack of repetition)
Based on the above, we could use a learning methodology for learning any subject with the least trouble, actually with fun. (We will consider an example later)

This is the outline of the method:
  • Identify the skill to learn
  • Break it down into various objectives (sub skills)
  • Define ideal outcome for each sub skill
  • Learn the sub skills, one at a time.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  • Combined application of the learnt skills in more complex activities
Example: Learning to Drive with Fun!
We break down the composite skill of Driving into several components. Examples are: Gears, Starting the vehicle engine, Traffic signs etc.
Now we break down these component skills into their sub skills:
Sub skills:
a)Gears:
  • Knowledge of gear positions
  • Practice shifting gear on a stationary car
  • Learning when gears are to be changed (e.g-1st gear is for bumpy road, uphill road, slow speeds,...)
b)Shifting to 1st gear from neutral when the vehicle engine is running

c)Starting the engine:
  • Turn gear to neutral
  • Turn ignition on
  • Change into 1st gear
  • Press Accelerator very slightly (for some cars)
  • Release the clutch gently (requires levering your foot on the heel, and controlling the force)
Similarly, the rest of the skills for driving can be broken down into smaller sub skills. While actually starting to drive, we can use these skills, combined. 

If we spent time learning specific skills, then it would be easier to recall them for their combined application, in actual situations. This can help avoid the terror and trauma involved in learning new skills. The trauma occurs because learners are expected to learn all skills at the same time, or in a very short time, with instructors having little patience. Most of us would have experienced this situation while learning how to drive, with an instructor.

How was your experience of learning how to drive? Was it fun? Or was it traumatic like mine?
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two Simple Keys to a Happy Family

Family Ties Need Commitment
By following two simple rules, anybody can have a happy family life.


Happy Family Rule 1: Think like a salesman
You may not agree with me here, however a good family life is a lot easier if you try to think like a salesman. It depends on how you sell your ideas to your family. You’d have tried to sell your ideas to others-your boss or colleague-at some point in your career.

Successful, happy families are built on solid values and self-discipline. When you, your spouse, children, and other members cooperate with one another in living these values, it’s a successful family life. But they may be ignorant of your cherished values, which are your ideas now. Your family is yet to accept them. You need to sell your ideas to your family.

Everybody needs to sell.

If you are a candidate for an interview, you need to sell yourself as an employee to the interviewer.
Before marriage, you need to sell yourself as a life partner, to the person whom you have chosen.

At home also, you need to sell your ideas.

Sometimes this can require you to do some creative thinking. For example, you may need to persuade your three-year-old to brush teeth before going to bed. Don’t rely on arguments here. It’s more a matter of listening and speaking from your heart.

Just as important as creative thinking, or even more, is putting yourself in the other’s shoes. If you do this, you will be quickly able to identify their needs. Insights and solutions follow naturally. That creates a win-win situation for both of you.

For instance you may want your son to drive responsibly, or you want to ensure your teenage daughter turns in at home on time.

It is easy to give commands to those who are junior to us in the family, but that’s very one-sided. The way of shoulds and donts doesn’t accord much respect to the receiver, and can get into arguments and ego conflicts. It may not make a happy family life, but may actually worsen relationships.

This is where we need to take a cue from salesmen.

Imagine I am trying to sell you something. Do I barge in on you, start my sales pitch and demand that you listen? No! You must feel like listening! How? I listen to you. I ask you for your opinions, comments on things, about what interests you, what you don’t like. And if you find that I’m putting on an act, just for my sale, you’d detect it easily and back off. Sincere interest is the key. I need to relate as a trustable friend to you.

That’s right. To convince you, I need to respect you. We can’t demand that our family members listen to whatever we say. Some people still go by that rule. If such families stay together, it is because they have no other choice. What will happen when each member in the family has an option, like a source of income or a person to support them emotionally or financially?

You need to take the first step by giving respect by first listening to them. Just listen patiently, hear them out. Let them express their feelings and opinions. Let them begin, and finish their sentences.

You will be amazed at the change this will bring in your family relationships! Just because you have acknowledged their value and space as individuals.

HOWEVER: Listening does not mean you have got to follow thorough their every whim.
How to handle it if you have urgent work to do, and your spouse or child wants to talk? Discretion is needed here. If it’s urgent, they need to be given time. If it’s not critical, promise another time and see that you remember.

Which brings us to Rule No. 2.
Happy Family Rule No 2: Self-discipline.
If you’re to practice Rule No1, sharing time with your family, you need to be organized which means self-discipline.

Try to master your own self. Be a self-discipline model for others in your family to follow.

Well you may not be a perfect role model, none of us are. But it goes without saying, if you are the thinking member of the family, it begins with you.

Children may not listen to everything you say, but they sure will not miss anything you do.

I'd say your family members may be behaving unreasonably, but we need to start with ourselves. Let’s do the best we can.

That can create a win-win situation for both of you.
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If you'd like to further improve your selling capability using a very simple technique, see How to Improve Your Sales.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to Increase Your Sales Easily

As a salesperson, you are focused on achieving your target. Just as important as target oriented thinking, or even more, is putting yourself in the customer's shoes. If you do this, you will be quickly able to identify their needs. That can create a win-win situation for both of you.

The following story is about how a visit to a sports shop turned into an important lesson on improving sales.

I needed a toy ball for the stray puppies that visited our home for food. They needed some exercise.
There was a sports shop nearby and I visited them.

There were two people in the shop. One appeared to be the manager or owner. The other was the salesman. It seemed as if he was free, so I went up to him and asked if they had small footballs or handballs.

No answer. In fact, he looked away.

I repeated the question, to make sure he heard.

He showed the least interest, and did not bother to answer.

I felt very small-there was another customer now who was talking with the owner. Generally it is better to be indifferent to such things, and I was about to take my leave quietly, making a mental note never to visit that shop again.

I turned towards the door and saw the owner. He seemed approachable. Delhi was a big metro and sometimes getting things as simple as a ball could involve traveling a long distance-this also motivated me to ask!

I repeated my question to him. He made sure that he had understood correctly, and produced a football of the normal size.

It was big and heavy. The little puppies would not be able to move it. A smaller, lighter one would be better. He showed another sample. But it cost 350 bucks. It was possible to get a ball like that at a much cheaper price elsewhere. Also the need was for a light weight plastic or rubber toy ball.

This shop was for real sports goods, not toys.

OK, he said, without any sign of irritation. The salesman was watching the incident, and looked at the owner, like ‘I told you so.’ This guy will just keep asking questions, and not buy anything. Waste of time.

I did feel a bit small. However, there was no need to buy something just to make myself big in their eyes.

Just then, something that had been at the back of my mind, popped up. I had wanted a board of magnetic darts, some time back.

But there was slim chance this shop would have it, small that it was. I took a chance and dared to ask.

"Why yes. It sells here. I even might have one right now” said the owner and pulled a long black cylinder off the rack.

It was a magnetic darts board.

He opened it for me to see. He patiently answered my questions; and let me test its magnetism. Good.

The look on the face of the young salesman when I paid the bill and had it packed was incredulous. Too bad for him.

There are other factors also at work here: I had already thought of buying a dart board. But, who would have bothered to ask if the manager had not shown interest ?

Point: Be considerate and value your customers as you would like to be valued. The manager did not go overboard to please; he just listened, and patiently answered queries.

Result: a sale in 5 minutes!

Afterthought: Perhaps the salesperson may not have received his pay, or maybe he had some other gripe. Sure, but a customer is not a doctor!
Clients and customers can behave unreasonably. But their feedback is vital to your business. Salesmen need to find mature ways to resolve their issues.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

5 Ways to Keep Yourself Relaxed

The need for relaxation cannot be overemphasized. You need to be relaxed to function at your optimum potential. Without relaxation, you may miss the ideas and solutions that your subconscious throws at you. You are not able to listen to conversations with balance, you are not able to handle crises. It will be just a blur of thoughts and emotions and we react in the same old conditioned way- KABOOM!! I'd dare to say that many relationships run aground just because people are perpetually tense, they do not take the time and effort to relax.

I can see your brows going up. Effort to Relax? Is not Relaxation a state of being? How can one reach a state of being through effort? Will not that make us more tense, further away from Relaxation? Perhaps you imagine a person working himself into a frenzy trying to relax himself.

Agreed, relaxation is a natural event; but you need to give the time and space for it to occur. A bucket of muddy water needs to stand still for some time, if the mud is to settle and the water to become clear.

Here are some exercises that can help you be more relaxed. Relaxation is a common result if you do any of them. That is, you do not have to do all of them. They have other effects as well, which are different. For example, Taichi and Yoga aim at physical development also.

1.Taichi
Taichi is a form of dynamic meditation. It was developed by Taoist masters in ancient China. It is a series of poses which progress in an uninterrupted flow. It resembles slowed down Kungfu Kattas (forms or series of postures). One derives the maximum benefit when the attention is held in the movement or on the breath or in the Tan tien, the energy centre in the abdomen.
It heightens awareness and speeds up response time, while also making you relaxed.
The type of the energy experienced is slightly warm and quite buoyant (like the solar (Pingala) energy in Yoga). Ideally, one should acquire preliminary training in Taichi from a good teacher.


2.Yoga
Yoga of the body (Hatha Yoga) originated in ancient India. It is believed to have been handed down by the great Yogi God Siva himself. Yoga consists of static poses (Asanas) that you hold for extended periods. You will  pay attention to:
  • Relaxation (avoid forcing your body into difficult postures but approach them gradually-over days/weeks/months)
  • Slowness (while approaching a pose and descending from it)
  • Awareness (of your movements and breath)
However, in recent times, variations like Vinyasa yoga (Power Yoga) have developed, which are more dynamic.

The energy experienced in the traditional Hatha Yoga is very cool, soothing, and refreshing. The internal organs receive a good, invigorating massage. After performing Yoga asanas as above for some time, you are ready for a session of meditation.

3.Meditation
Meditation for the modern man consists of two types:
(1)Sitting meditation in which the practitioner becomes aware of his thoughts and bodily movements so that they gradually reduce to zero (this can take quite a long period of practice). This need be practiced only for 15 to 30 minutes in the beginning.

(2)Dynamic meditation for the rest of the day:
The practitioner tries to maintain relaxation and focus throughout all daily activities. This is possible through awareness. Again, it requires sustained practice.

The benefits of Meditation have never been fully documented. This is partly because, as the practitioners go deeper into it, they are interested more and more in self-effacement (merging individuality), as they become aware of the Infinite Truth within. They are interested then only in experiencing it, not in communicating it.


4.Free Writing
Also known as Stream-of-Consciousness writing, in Free Writing we let our mind express itself freely on the paper-without the limits of grammar, meaning, punctuation, logic, or spelling. You can set a timer for 5-15 minutes and write non-stop- whatever comes to you.

CAUTION:In case you find an (unpleasant) issue recurring again and again, keep writing: Why am I feeling this way? You will get answers in due course. Some people get them immediately, for others it is a gradual calming in which things become clearer. Dr. James.W.Pennebaker has analysed Free Writing in detail in his book "Opening Up: The Hidden Power of Expressing Emotions."

Free Writing can cause you to enter a state of altered (heightened) consciousness.
5.Laughter Therapy
You can perform Laughter Therapy by yourself in privacy. In this, you laugh as much as possible, for no reason, for 5-10 minutes.You will feel a bit artificial at first, then you start enjoying the laughter, and you feel the relaxation spreading in your insides.

Nothing can frighten a man who can laugh. And we have the choice to laugh in any situation, it is our choice. Obviously, people in authority may misunderstand.  If you are apprehensive of offending others, laugh silently inside you.
Here is a post on Laughter therapy in Gaza.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Part 2: Overcoming Resentment and Other Negative Feelings

The first part of this article did not mention the law of karma. It is a very useful concept to understand, irrespective of one's faith. It can significantly improve our mental equanimity and quality of life.

The Law of Karma boils down to this: you create your own destiny. What each of us is experiencing is the result of our own actions.

If we produce a line from our current location and extended it infinitely, and lived long enough to see it, it would describe a huge circle/ellipse in space and return to the point of its origin (See bottom for the explanation).

So, the point is, we have nobody to credit for our experiences but ourselves. We have brought on ourselves everything in this life by our thoughts, words and deeds.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

Newton’s third law of motion seems to corroborate in the metaphysical plane too: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

In the house of my Father are many mansions; and if not, I would have told you; I go on to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

One need not change one’s faith or religion to understand and accept the law of karma. You are not bound to accept other related philosophies if you accept this law. It is your choice.

At present, we cannot mathematically prove the law of karma and rebirth. But some documented cases point to this theory. You can check out this post here.

To understand karma in its real form, one needs to transcend karma. If we are inside the ocean we see only water; to see the ocean, we have to rise out of it.

It does not matter if we do not understand how and why each event arises in our life or how we go through each experience, the fact remains that we ourselves are behind it all. The action may have been performed in some previous birth.

Even in daily life, you can experiment: a smile begets a smile, a frown another frown. Efforts breed corresponding results.

How can accepting the law of karma benefit us? We can stop complaining about anything and everything, and if we want to change something, we can take constructive action towards it. Action performed with a calm and focused mind delivers results.

Accepting the law of karma means taking responsibility for oneself, which means we stop blaming others or God. It is like taking a huge burden of negativity off the mind. You will feel calm and relaxed.

(Explanation for infinite line becoming a circle: This seems plausible if we assume that the universe is spherical with a curved surface. All heavenly bodies-planets, their satellites, and stars, are spheroids. They have geodesic shape-that is, giving the appearance of straight lines even though having curved shape. Everything in the universe is found to rotate and revolve, so it seems fair enough to assume that the universe is a spheroid as well. Riemannian space theory (named after the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann) assumes that space is curved as opposed to Euclidean flat space. If this be so, a line (in mathematical terms, a ray) extended to infinity moves on a curved trajectory, and has to return to its originating point.)

Do you agree with this theory ?

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Overcoming Resentment and Other Negative Feelings-1

When misfortunes strike us, our first reaction is non-comprehending surprise. Then we think: why me? Why did it have to happen to me? Why was I fired? Why did I have to face indignity?

A lot of energy is expended in this way. It clouds our judgment and the way we interact with others, and prospective positive outcomes can be lost on us. Who wants to deal with an unsmiling, resentful, angry person who is so hung up on his past misfortunes that you can’t entrust an enterprise or responsibility to him? You wouldn’t, if I were to react with suspicion to your offer of help.

Too often we find people licking their old wounds long after the unfortunate incident has passed, holding grudges, spreading rumors about the accused perpetrator, and in general seething with anger and sometimes going to the extent of wreaking vengeance.

These actions may provide a temporary sense of relief, a vent; however in reality they are conditioning us to react to future incidents in the same immature way, for life is unpredictable and no one can think it is going to be a bed of roses. And people are of all kinds—kind, vicious, gentle, spiteful, opportunistic, cheating, vengeful, proud, slighting, unfaithful, lazy, irresponsible, loving, truthful, dishonest, loyal… You have a kaleidoscope open; that is what makes life interesting isn’t it?

But our issue is how to deal with the misfortunes and injustice meted that we may have to face sometime. And how to come out of it unruffled, like the feathers of a bird, on which water drops don’t stay, but roll off.

If we had the detachment to let these issues just roll off our mind, we could come out of potential disasters smelling like a rose.

I had to confront many bullying personalities at work and in personal life. I couldn’t stand up to them and would seethe for months and sometimes years.

But when I learnt of how to face situations without getting agitated, it was a different story altogether. I could pass through these situations, or, let them pass through me, without any negative residue.

For instance, when in college, I used to go by bus. The bus staff did not like students as they have concession, they could make more money by letting an adult passenger on that spot. On one day, I was getting off the bus at my college stop. The cleaner put his hand across the doorway, blocking the path so that I had to duck beneath it. It was a deliberate insult. There was nobody else in the bus. After getting down, I considered the situation. I could tell my friends in the college union and have the fellow dealt with properly. But such incidents have gone out of control and resulted in road blocking, stone pelting, bashing up the bus staff, and sometimes, buses being burnt up.

Instead, I tried to reason with myself. I did not lose anything here. I could think of him as a poor, uncultured, boor who did not know how to give respect and get respect. And now, the incident is long over, now I am being miserable by bringing it up and agonizing over it. Coming to think of it, you wouldn't expect a buffalo to give way to you, if ever you were to cross one’s path, would you? But let such thoughts be private.

I decided I would not follow his example and took slow, deep breaths. These helped me relax and detach. I soon forgot all about this incident and was back to normal.

Try to see the present moment, feel the present moment. That is to say, feel the breeze, feel your breath, feel the ground beneath your shoes, feel your stomach rising and falling with each breath. Gradually try to be aware of your feelings and thoughts. It is possible to be aware of each of our thoughts, even fluttering of eyelids.

When you notice a negative emotion, just watch it without critiquing or judging it, just note, I am angry, anger is arising. Breathe. Breathe into your stomach. Breathe through the feeling. And continue to observe it. Now you have unknowingly distanced yourself from the emotion. You will find it has lost its intensity and grip on you.

You have become calmer and can now think objectively.
This is an absolutely needed skill because many people behave irrationally nowadays.

Part 2 of this article.
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shortcuts to Success

Do we need to work all the time to succeed ?

What if we are already working all the time? Our minds are never idle, thoughts race through them all day, even in sleep. So nobody can be called idle. Not even the loafer who just eats, drinks, and sleeps and does nothing else all day.

From childhood, we are exhorted to never sit idle, to always be engaged in work. I want to make a point that our notion of industriousness needs a slight modification. The thoughts racing in our mind are involuntary. Involuntary thoughts also need exertion. That is why we get stress (Stress is the result of involuntary thoughts-Hans Selye)

So if we are already working all the time, why are we not getting desired results? This is because our thoughts are scattered. Recall the lens which can create fire using sunlight. The same sunrays when not focused cannot ignite anything.

Focus is the lens which creates results from our thoughts. Focus makes thoughts unidirectional (in a single direction). If we do not focus, all our thought energy is going to waste being frittered way in multiple pursuits, leading to nowhere. Have you timed yourself how long you can stick to a task as simple as watching a youtube video? A recent study revealed that 90 % viewers watch a video in full only if it is 10 seconds long. Only 9.42% of viewers watched in full if it was a 5 min. long video. (See bottom for source)

It is much less with our minds. We may have multiple thoughts in one second. Studies estimate a human being to have around 40,000 thoughts per day; however, the actual figure could be many times that. Each thought is composed of several other thoughts. Some may last only micro seconds.

He is successful who can make each thought last for several seconds; to begin with, this is the aim of concentration.

What happens when we align our thoughts in a single direction? They gain in power and intensity. They can burn away problems and obstacles and reveal solutions and ideas and opportunities that we never knew existed. They can bring out latent powers inside us, that we never believed in.

All great achievers in all fields-be it industry, business, politics, arts, or literature-could concentrate their thoughts calmly for long periods of time.

Therefore we only have to change the direction of our thoughts to succeed-change negative thoughts into positive, constructive thoughts,  disbelieving thoughts into those of belief and affirmation, scattered thoughts into those of a single direction and focus.

The study on Youtube viewers' attention span is here :http://philcooke.com/online_attention_span/)
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

What to Do When Depressed / Bored / Lethargic ?

All of us know strategies for succeeding in life. You might have shelves full of how-to books on all aspects of life. They require us to follow certain steps in a certain way to be successful. For example, to achieve your goal through affirmations, you are asked to write your affirmation several times everyday.

However, what do we do when we are in the blues ? You just don’t feel like making that effort. Sometime back, I wanted to rise early at 5 the morning. I tried everything, buying fancy sonic shaker alarms that would shake me awake. However, I found myself switching off the alarm and going back to sleep.

Or perhaps you are feeling depressed after some setbacks in business or career or relationships or your health. You don’t feel motivated to do anything. Advice given at this point may make us feel more negative and resentful.

There is a way out of this gloomy mental state. It originates in the mind, so the solution is in the mind. You only need to repeat some affirming phrases to yourself, wherever you are-even if slumped in bed under the blankets.
   I accept myself!
          I approve of myself!
I love myself!
I help myself!

Let’s take a practical application: you have an exam tomorrow and you haven’t prepared well enough, you don’t feel motivated to take up the challenge and burn the midnight oil.
Just repeat the above thoughts to yourself as many times as possible.

    I accept myself!
           I approve of myself!
I love myself!
I help myself!

Slowly, you can feel hope rising with in, belief in yourself will start coming back, and you feel motivated and energized to take action.

Along with that, I have also found this affirmation very helpful. The French psychotherapist Émile Coué developed it :
Every day, in every respect, I am getting better and better !

These two techniques combined give wings to surmount any depression and heartache caused by negativity –whether in our mind or from others. But we would be better off keeping the depression far away, by engaging in constant activity. As the saying goes...Idle mind is the Devil's workshop and Flowing water remains fresh and free of worms.

Activity is the best known cure for depression and other negative moods.

Related:
How to have Hope
Hope For The Suicide-Prone: Perspectives From The Other Side
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Drop of Water !

It was 6 in the morning, on a wintry Bangalore day. I was on my irregular morning walk, through the narrow streets of Benniganahalli, off Old Madras Road. As I moved past the government residential quarters in nearby CV Raman Nagar, I saw the water tank overflow and spill over into the street below. I walked on.

6:45 am. I was on my return. Passing the quarters again, I looked up and was aghast to see the tank still overflowing. I wanted to stop it. There were two guards near the gate and I approached them. They did listen to my concern and said they would look for the person responsible, to stop the pump. That was as much as I could go. I did not belong to that residential colony.

For many people, water is an infinite resource, that can be used lavishly. There is a lot of effort behind each drop of water; as you can see from the hydrological cycle (see figure below).
In addition to this, there are processes of absorption and transpiration in trees and plants, and the movement of running water as it percolates through the ground strata to meet ground water reserves. All these are processes that happen before each drop of pure water falls from the clouds.

But isn't water an inanimate object, formed by an automatic natural process, and can't we use it as we like ? The best and most vital things in life are all free-air, water, and the earth we stand on. We human beings are also a part of nature. Nature is not complete without us. We cannot stand apart from it, and are subject to the forces of nature like all other creatures. The recent Tsunamis and earthquakes are reminders of man's punitive stature before the stupendous forces of nature.

Great scientists like Isaac Newton have recognized this. He famously said: I am just like a small child playing with a few grains of sand on the infinite seashore. He knew what he had discovered about natural laws was just a very tiny part of the real thing.

If we can accept our stand relative to the grand Cosmos, it will be easy to be humble. A humble mind will always think twice before spending any resource.

How to conserve Water
There are many ways in which we can conserve water. For instance, dish-washing after kneading dough at home. We knead the dough in a bowl. Afterwards, if we keep it aside without washing off immediately, the dough sticking to the vessel dries up and is harder to remove. Then you need to fill the vessel to the brim with water and let it soak, to clean. If you had cleaned it out while still fresh, you could have saved at least 3 liters of water, for an average bowl.

Mighty Water
Here is a real story from Japan showing what potential a drop of water has! Tetsui was the disciple of a Zen master. He performed various chores as part of his responsibilities at his monastery. They involved watering the garden. One day, after finishing watering, he saw that there was a little water at the bottom of the bucket. He upturned the bucket and emptied it on the ground. Unseen by him, the master of the monastery who had been watching him all along, shouted: How dare you waste that water!

Tetsui's mind opened inwards and he experienced the truth. It was after this incident that he came to be known as Tetsui. It means ‘a drop of water.’

(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Why Focus ?

If you were a soldier and you had only one shot at your target, and if your life depended on it, you would realize how vital it is to have concentration. An archer must concentrate, if he is to hit the target. Scientists must focus their thoughts, in order to uncover the mysteries of nature. Students need to focus to study effectively, to imbibe their study material.The deeper your focus and attention, the more effective and long-lasting results you can achieve.

Lack of Focus can result in mishaps of all kinds. Many accidents occur because of this. Relations can be harmed if people are not mindful of what they think, do and speak. Being aware of our thoughts and words, is being focused on the well being of our relationship.

In short, bad and ineffective actions of every kind are a natural result of lack of Focus. Focus here also connotes mindfulness, awareness, and concentration.

Focus is not a stressed out state. People try to maintain concentration under stress -this happens in critical situations. For instance, students cramming on the night prior to exams. Fighters engaged in a duel to death. The persons are in a state of focus mostly out of fear-for survival-but it is very stressful and exhausts. Such kind of situations do not occur everyday. We need to practice maintaining focus in a relaxed state of mind. Such a training benefits us during emergencies also. Emergencies cease to be emergencies then.

It is the Relaxed and focused state of mind that we need to be in. How to be in Relaxed focus ? It is a matter of daily practice, 24 hours a day.

Do we need to practice so much ? Actually it is not a matter of practicing a lot. It is just practising this moment.  If you practice this moment, it will take care of the coming moments, days, months and years.

So, yes, take a deep breath, relax. Watch your breath flow in an out. And swing into action.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

The One Factor That Can Sustain Relationships

In one word, it is Introspection. Holding a mirror to yourself, to see your actions, words, and thoughts, as others see and experience them.

In relationships, people point to each other :"it is his/her fault ! She/he is responsible ! He doesn't do it right! She is always complaining !" In all likelihood, we will be having our own hideous sides that we cherish. We never think of casting a glance at how it may be affecting others. Even in this age of education, elders who  may be post graduate, still abuse their adolescent younger generation.

We are conditioned to look outside us for the cause and the solution. Of course, we can never be the problem. I find I have a strong tendency to blame the outside world for the way things are. It never occurs to me that I may be, in some way, contributing to the situation.

I complain about the banana peel lying on the road; but I never thought of cleaning it up myself. (Gandhi: Be the change you want to see)

People accuse their partners of behavioral problems, yet turn a blind eye to the secret sins that they themselves commit. It is impossible to accuse others when one is aware of his own shortcomings. There would be no time-one would be too busy working on himself.

So the next time you find yourself pointing your finger at your partner, look closely at your hand. See ? Your  three fingers are pointing back at you. There is something to be set right first, my friend.

Note: I am not implying that one should take all injustices lying down. Correcting others is more easier when you do it with consideration and love-just as you would like to be corrected. One needs to practice separating the action from the person. And if we find ourselves losing our emotional balance at others' faults, perhaps that is where we should start-being aware of our own feelings ! This works like pricking a balloon-it takes the sting out of your emotional turmoil. Keep at it and you can see the difference, slowly.


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