Monday, December 23, 2013

Surviving Depression

Two frogs fell into a pot of buttermilk. 

One of them despaired, "Oh! We will never be able to get out! The pot is too deep! We are done for!" He gave up all effort, and simply sank down and died.

The other frog thought, "At least I will keep trying. Maybe a way will open up. I might get an opportunity or stroke of luck. I better be prepared."

And so it swam, round and round in circles. It swam till it couldn't move its legs. Slowly the aching legs became still, its eyes closed in exhaustion, and it started sinking.

What was this? It feet went down some, and struck something solid. There they rested.

Opening weary, disbelieving eyes, the frog looked down at the lump of butter on which it was resting.

Its ceaseless struggling had churned the buttermilk into butter!

Muttering a prayer of thanks, the frog mustered its energy, and leaped off from the mass of butter to freedom.

We need to keep making every possible effort, even when the odds stand heavily against us. We need to keep thinking positive. In moments of crisis, our positive thinking habits will lift us out of gloom.

Image credit : wanko, flickr
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Dilemma of Choosing: Prosperity or Peace?

Have you tried the LOA, affirmations, or the Secret to manifest your desires?

I have been a fan of manifesting, LOA and all similar theories. I had some results with writing affirmations the Scott Adams style.

Recently I recalled something that I had read long ago that stated in effect, that chanting can accomplish anything you want. Yes, literally anything.

I did not want to take chant as a short cut to success. It could be a supplement to hard work and I was prepared to work hard.

Wanting to try out this, I looked around for something to chant and came upon Krishna Das's chants. They are very musical, and thus easy to chant for longer duration. This was the reason I went for them.

I found it on Youtube and sang along.

Soon I found myself losing myself in the magnetic rhythm of the chant. I forgot all about why I had started chanting in the first place.

Then I remembered. I needed to manifest my goals.

It was a dilemma. What to choose: the happiness of seeing my desires fulfilled or just forgetting myself in the ineffable bliss of the chant?

I am still looking for the answer. My goals are yet to manifest.

Perhaps it need not be Prosperity or  Peace. It could be Prosperity and Peace.

Here is a sample of the chant I tried. (Note: You are under no obligation to listen to it. I am not propagating anything here.)

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Writers Should Write Stream of Consciousness Everyday

Writing well involves being able to transfer your remarkable thoughts on to the keyboard. Everybody has great thoughts- great novel plots, seeds of e-books,  blog posts and articles coursing through their minds.

Then why doesn’t everybody write a smashing good blog post? Or having written one, why do bloggers trail off into long periods of no writing? Some reasons:

Good writing is the result of deep thinking. It can happen automatically. You may be ruminating on a topic while at your chores. Then voila! Out of the blue a remarkable thought strikes like lightning.


This is where writers are born… or allow themselves to wilt away…

Most people watch that innovative thought for some time, tell themselves they will note it down, and then let it fade away from memory.

However, if you have been writing SOC everyday for 5-15 minutes, you would have been habituated to the process of writing. The act of writing does not scare you anymore. So as soon as a great thought strikes, you will put it down on paper. It also happens that, if you have a habit of daily soc writing, when you sit down to write, you can have great thoughts.

Why don’t we continue to write every day?

If you have tried SOC writing for an extended period, you will have found that many of the days, the writing isn’t anything special. It can be drab, taboo, incoherent babbling. Sometimes it may be devoid of any meaning at all.

Most people get discouraged at this point.

However, we do need to feed great thoughts into our minds along with the SOC writing exercise, and also we need to aim at a goal. Reading good thinkers is an excellent way to raise the quality of thoughts. Slowly, our thoughts will acquire more clarity, until we feel comfortable presenting them to the world.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Nihilism, Life, and a Cure for Boredom

Today, I came upon a blogger who seemed to revel in negating life. Yes he was a nihilist, and nihilism, is intrinsically pessimistic.

I agree that life situations are (sometimes) boring. We have to sit in on rainy, gloomy or wintry days, without sunshine, perhaps for weeks at a time.

But isn't the very prospect of sunshine at the end of those days hope-inspiring?

If we were always 'high', if life were one continuous flow of high voltage experiences, how long could we endure it?

Boredom is just one of the wide (infinite?) gamut of mental states the human being experiences. Isn't the never ending thirst for stimulation or excitement, the root of the problem? 

But that is what all of mankind does. 

Isn't that what we all do, when we scamper to the countryside for a weekend getaway, or throng the dance bars to party the night away? 

Nobody really knows what they are searching for, and try to fill up each moment with another (hopefully) 'enjoyable' activity.

That pit never gets filled up. It is like a black hole that sucks in every thing you have. 

We get exhausted.

Is there an alternative?

Yes and no.

You are the alternative.

Listen to what is going on inside you.

     Your actions.

        Your body sensations.

             Your breath.

                 Your thoughts.

In that order of ease.

Actions are the easiest to keep your awareness on. Thoughts change fast and it will take time before we can learn to keep track of them.

If you keep paying attention to these, I can guarantee you will never be bored again.

Watch, and let go. Watch, and let go.

Your life will be a never ending journey of discovering newer and newer knowledge.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

15 Sure-fire Techniques to Rise Early

Rising early has a lot of benefits. Besides giving a head start to the day, it lets you enjoy the cool fresh morning air, do exercise/meditation without disturbance, work on your pet projects, spend time with your spouse, reflect on life goals…

Many people find it difficult to rise early. They feel they have not had enough sleep. Part of the reason is that they were not relaxed at the time of sleeping and this condition prevailed throughout the night.

The following tips let you jump out of bed early in the morning, as soon as the alarm goes off:
  1. Associate with people who are early risers
  2. Schedule an activity that you enjoy, so that you do it as soon as you wake up:
    • having tea/coffee, reading a book, jogging in the fresh air, writing,...
  3. Have a clear vision of your life goal/goals
  4. Have a specific list of tasks to do for the day
  5. Roll off the bed as soon as the alarm rings
  6. Have a preset routine to follow as soon as you get up:
    • Wake up 5 am, brush teeth 5:05, bathe 5:15 …
    • Use trial and error to adjust this routine
    • If you are not able to keep it, fine. Remember Emily Coue’s affirmation: Day by day...
  7. Use a daily diary to mark the times when you went to bed and got up
  8. No matter how many times you fail, be patient with yourself. In times of desperation, say to yourself: “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”*
  9. Fix a time for going to bed so you get sufficient sleep.
  10. Sleep requirements vary. Find out how much sleep you require to be fully refreshed. A heavy stomach can increase sleep requirement.
  11. Avoid stimulating movies, books, discussions etc. before going to bed. These agitate the mind.
  12. Before going to bed, soothe your mind by playing calming music or meditating.
  13. Before lying down, sitting down and counting breaths from 10 to 1 is an excellent exercise to let go of the day’s frustrations, and to come into this moment. It goes like this: as a breath comes in, say inside: 10 in. As it goes out, say: 10 out. Continue till you reach 1. 10 in, 10 out; 9 in, 9 out; 8 in, 8 out; 7 in, 7 out;…………….1 in, 1 out.
  14. As you lie down to sleep, repeat an affirmation to yourself. It can be a better health affirmation: “I am getting healthier/I am healthy.” It can be for wealth “I am getting wealthier/I am wealthy” or any other goal.
  15. When you are feeling too uninspired or depressed to get up, do not beat yourself up. Relax under the covers, and say “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” and “I love myself. I accept myself. I approve of myself as I am now.”
*Note: This affirmation is from Dr. Emily Coue, the 18th century French physician. He gave these affirmations to his patients to repeat. The healing rate increased dramatically.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Never Say Die

Listening to this angelic voice sing, it is hard to believe he lost half his tongue to cancer.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jim Carey's Spiritual Awakening

When celebrities talk, we listen. Here Jim Carey talks about an extraordinary experience that he had that shows the key to solve humanity's problems.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Amazing Yogi Sleeps on Fire

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Friday, September 06, 2013

Can Spoken Words Heal Illness and Give Life?

Have you thought how your words influence the world and the people around you?

Anthony Yahle from Ohio had a chance to experience the power of words spoken with faith through his son.

The morning of August 5, 2013, Anthony had been admitted at the Kettering Medical Center, Ohio for difficulty in breathing. On August 10, he slipped into a comatose state. Soon, vital signs of life disappeared. The doctors declared him clinically dead.

One by one, the medical team left the room, leaving an inconsolable Melissa Yahle who was reeling under the sudden loss of her husband. Anthony’s son Lawrence, two daughters and the family pastor were also in the room.

The nurse disconnected all medical equipment except the heart monitor, the reason for which omission she now says she doesn’t know.

Suddenly, Lawrence Yahle recalls, something within him told him that his father could not die now.

He told his father, "Daddy, you are not going to die. You cannot!”

Immediately afterwards, the family pastor noticed some movement in the heart monitor. Emergency life saving services were rushed in.

Apparently his son’s words entered Anthony’s consciousness and triggered the fight for survival. His pulse rate and pressure soon returned to normal, and he is hale and hearty now.

For the medical records, Anthony had been dead for 45 minutes.

Listen to Lawrence here.

The bible speaks of words of faith that can move mountains and bring people back to life. Other religions echo the same principle.

Your words stem from your thoughts. Keeping our thoughts clean, pure, and energetic, can do a lot towards bringing in positive change, and who knows, sometimes miracles.

This post is a part of Make A Living Writing’s First Friday Link Party for Writers – Back-to-School Edition.
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Like Honey Inside a Piece of Rock

Show your love. Don't hide it under a mask like honey inside a piece of rock. 

I hear this message often now. I heard this first from the mystic, Mata Amritanandamayi. Psychology authors also endorse this(James Pennebaker- in his book Opening up- the healing power of expressing emotions, talks of the value of expressing emotions by writing them). 

All my life, I had been growing inside a cocoon, not showing emotions, like the tennis legend Bjorn Borg who wore a steely mask on court, my teenage icon. I too learnt to wear a mask. Even if I felt like crying or laughing or showing anger, I wouldn’t. I might want to, but it was frightening to let go.

I understand most people do the same. There are very few who let go, and be their own selves, though we hear this advice often.

Nobody wants to be thought of as a crank.

This takes a heavy toll on our health—and our relationships. Fathers and sons never get to know each other really well, and to trust each other.

We are mortally afraid of having eye contact with our kith and kin for a longer duration, for fear of showing our inner selves, perhaps.

Marina Abramovic’s example
In this video, you can see artist Marina Abramovic. She talks of her mother who never hugged or kissed her, and never expressed any warm emotions. It was the height of the Nazi invasion of her homeland (then Yugoslavia), and the times were tough. Her mother did it because she did not want to ‘spoil’ her.

Sadly, Marina never got to experience a motherly hug or kiss even though she deeply craved for it all her life.

She grew up to become a pioneering new age artist, breaking down the concepts of traditional art.

Sometimes she ventured near the extremely dangerous. You can see the effects of her sad childhood in her performances. In an effort to transcend human barriers, she once enclosed herself in a burning Star of David, engraved on the ground. By the end of the performance, the intense heat and the noxious fumes from the gasoline rendered her unconscious. She was saved at the last moment by someone in the audience who noticed her lying still.

Now 65 years of age, she visits a relative in Belgrade in the video. In the course of the interview, the relative tells her the reason for her mother’s emotional aloofness and how her life was a sacrifice for her country and people.

Marina is shattered to learn that her mother was, in fact a very emotional person, who had been constrained by her conditioning. She had kept every single paper cutting of Marina’s performances, from the beginning to the day she died.

Unfortunately, Marina would see them only after her mother died. If only she had known, she would have related in a completely different way to her, and it could have prevented so much pain.

Nature resonates with her pain?

The part after 8:50 in the video is specially worth watching.

Marina breaks down at her Mother’s grave, and recites a few lines:

Dear Mother,
I didn’t understand you as a child;
I didn’t understand you as a student;
I didn’t understand you as an adult;
Until now, in my 66 years of life,
It (your love) starts shining in the full light,
Like the sun that suddenly appears behind grey clouds
After rain”

Let's not hold hidden our feelings for our loved ones. Just as loving thoughtful actions, a smile or a hug can also mean a lot.
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

How to Make SOC Writing Provide Real Gold

If you are an aspiring writer, you would have tried SOC (stream of consciousness) writing to mine out rich ideas for your literary creations. As for me, the results were often disappointing. What was your experience with SOC?

Rarely do we see something of remarkable value appear in this way.

Entrepreneurs also try to mine their subconscious with SOC writing to get million dollar ideas and frequently get the same result. 

The reason is that the minds of most people are already given to a million odd things, scattered all over. So the mind is not able to produce anything of exemplary value.

The solution is to cultivate laser focus on a few select topics, reducing our personal interests and wants to the extent possible. Success is a bitch goddess, the saying goes. Great works were produced when their creators secluded themselves up for extended periods and contemplated on their focus topic. They gave up energy frittering trivial pursuits at least temporarily.

Do this regularly and you will see the quality of your output improve everyday.

Do you use SOC writing to improve the quality of your work? How was your experience? Do let me know your take on it in the comments here.
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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Turning Garbage into Gold: How to Write Well with Stream of Consciousness

You probably know the benefits of free writing or stream of consciousness writing. It helps to relax ourselves, brings out repressed emotions, and helps us confront hidden issues in our personality.

However this is about therapeutic benefits. Can we use soc writing to mine ideas from our subconscious? After all, popular texts celebrate the subconscious mind as a treasure house of knowledge. It is the silent partner who mulls over the inputs from your conscious mind and provides insights and solutions.

When you try to use soc writing in your literary pursuits, you may be disappointed that it does not provide much help other than to clear up your mind.

As one might surmise from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, does transferring your thoughts to paper work magic and make you an expert if you keep at it for 10,000 hours? I doubted it. I did not think it would make me an expert. (Read about the benefits of free writing here). However, as the process goes on, I have had some inspiring insights:

In the beginning, all that comes out may appear to be garbage-incoherent, meaningless babbles that resemble a one-year-old’s scrawling. Very disappointing.

Hold on, don’t lose hope yet. This does not mean there is a scarcity of idea gems in your mind. You do have the occasional brainwave, right? But all of us hesitate or procrastinate putting those thoughts down, and they are lost forever. Thoughts are hard to grab, like Mercury.

While starting to free write, it is like learning to speak to a crowd: we are tongue tied; we don’t have confidence in ourselves. We are not relaxed, are not our natural selves, and do not enjoy the process.
Most writers will give up at this stage when they see the scrambled mumbo-jumbo of words on the screen. It is here that you must keep on writing.

Your subconscious is like a child—it will be happy that you have accepted it in spite of shortcomings, that you have faith in it. Self-acceptance relaxes. You become more relaxed while free writing and become your natural self, so that your thoughts and insights start to flow freely when you sit down to write. It is here that you will see garbage turning to gold.

Wait a minute, it isn't pure gold yet. But it definitely is gold ore that you can smelt through editing and refining to present something of remarkable value.

Note: If you already have some ore, you can turn it into pure gold with this guide from acclaimed author Bruce Ross-Larson : Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Mark of Great Writing

Each new day, when they come out from the far side of the barn, it is like the next act, or the start of an entirely new play.

This is the opening of Booker prize awardee Lydia Davis's new chapbook, The Cows. The book grew out of her musings as she observed three cows on a meadow next to her house. She watched and photographed them, perhaps for several years. The apparently random movements of the bovines intrigued her:

One thinks there is a reason to walk briskly to the far corner of the field, but the other thinks there is no reason, and stands where she is.  At first she stands still where she is, while the other walks away briskly, but then changes her mind, and follows.
She follows, but stops halfway there.  Is it that she has forgotten why she was going there, or that she has lost interest?  She and the other are standing in parallel positions.  She is looking straight ahead.
Great writing hooks you from the word go and sucks you up into the worlds of the characters.

Ms. Davis attempts to decipher the mind of the quadrupeds in fascinating paragraphs, often revealing insights into the human mind. Her musings completely absorb the reader into the scenario, making them a part of it.

Isn't that the mark of great writing ? Find out for yourself.
You can see a preview of the kindle edition here: 
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Simplicity of The Profound

    Play, child, grow
Try, bird, fly
   Know, be joy.

Do you think the above poem by Ramana Maharshi summarizes the evolution of the human mind into the Divine?
Ramana Maharshi was an enlightened sage who lived in South India. He attained final Samadhi in 1950.
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Monday, July 08, 2013

How to Have Fun Teaching, Studying, or Just Anything

Would you like to have fun in studying, writing, working at your day job, teaching your child, or doing house hold chores? How enjoyable would life be, if we had fun doing all our must-do tasks!

You would definitely be having some activities in which you have fun : it could be shopping, socializing, playing games, watching movies, reading comics, meditating, or anything else. Is your favorite activity not in this list? Excuse me then.

I started thinking on these lines when I ran into obstacles while trying to improve my writing. All fresh writers need to observe quite a lot of rules, if not born with the talent or if lacking a natural love for the craft. With all the constraints, I found writing was not fun anymore. And if you do not have fun doing something, it becomes a chore, something to be got out of the way. Any stuff written that way will not be palatable.

If you have fun doing something, others will also feel the same way about it. So wouldn't it be great if we learnt how to have fun doing anything, including performing our mandatory tasks?

Why do we enjoy our favorite activities?

We enjoy activities in which we are not criticized or judged, and those without too many don'ts.

Do you like Football and Tennis? I do, though I have no claims to be a player. If the Football coach keeps repeating, do not send the ball outside the ground and such other don'ts, would you like the game? It'd be difficult-because you are constantly thinking about what not to do. You become worried whether you'd be criticized for doing something wrong. Your mind does not stay on the game and you lose the fun of it.

Instead, beginners in any game are repeatedly given instructions on the rules. If some one breaks the rules, others tell them it is a foul. That is all. There is no endless drumming of not-to-do lists.

While playing football, there are a set of rules: don't touch the ball with the hand, play inside a designated rectangle, and such others. Still we enjoy the game. This is because we are absorbed in the ball. We participate fully, as there is a single target.

We will not be able to participate fully in a game if we do not exert ourselves fully, if we get angry, or if someone criticizes us constantly and runs us down.

Alright, so what should I do to make life exciting?

We can draw lessons from our fun activities and apply them to our must-do tasks, so that they are also fun to do. Just keep these points in mind:
  • Keep a positive outlook, take every event positively.

  • Focus on what needs to be done, rather than what should not be done.

  • Give your everything and get fully into it

  • Keep it continuous for a period of time. Go at it in 15,30,45, or 60 minute sessions. That is to say, avoid all other activities-browsing, social media, phone calls, etc in between.

  • Breakdown large goals into smaller sub-goals. The smaller, the better. You will have the gratification of finishing each one. As you grow accustomed to the task, you can increase the size of the sub-goals.

  • Take just one sub-goal at a time and focus on it.
Turn your day-to-day tasks into enjoyable, absorbing activities just by following these simple rules, and have fun in everything!

What is your favorite activity? Do you use it to unwind or to improve productivity? Let me know in the comments below.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Curing Homosexuality from the Karma Vantage

At college, I had a bench mate who had a 'queer' sexual orientation. There wasn't much awareness of homosexual behavior and characteristics and most of the class found his advances irritating. They often made him the butt of cruel jokes.

The 21st century hasn't changed situations sufficiently for homosexuals. People who consider themselves a minority feel isolated and fearful. When there is the added stigma of social disapproval, they are desperate to convert others to their belief systems. So this is an area where some homosexual people desperately try to spread this "cause" by all means.

Even though sexuality is an individual choice, the tremendous stigma in this area traumatizes many homosexuals.

Karma offers a view point that can clear the discomfort in this area, for both straight and gay people.

Nobody is eternally male or female

According to the theory of Karma, we continue to take birth until we reach enlightenment or complete freedom. We can have different genders in different births. A person who is a man now, might not necessarily have been of the same gender, in his previous births. The same fact applies to women.

As we pass through each birth, we pick up impressions based on life experiences and our reactions to them. We also identify with our personality and character in each birth. These impressions, reactions, personalities, and character lie dormant in the psyche. They are not permanent (eternal). When we die and later acquire a new birth, we get a new gender, personality and character according to our aggregate karma at that stage.

Sometimes, our latent personalities and characters surface, under suitable circumstances. Thus, sexual preferences from past births may surface now. A man can have the remembrance of a past birth when 'he' was a 'she' and feel attraction towards his same sex now. Today, this would be immediately labelled "homosexuality."

Gender is not an achievement to be proud of. Sexual orientation, neither!

None of us demanded and got their particular gender. 

The intolerance which surrounds homosexuals is the result of the mistaken idea of 'masculine' superiority.

Many people are troubled by homosexual thoughts that they have, and they wonder/worry: am I a homosexual? And they go on a frenzied search on how to cure homosexuality.

Studies have revealed that most people experience homosexual thoughts at some point in their lives. Dr.James W Pennebaker in his "Opening up: The healing power of expressing emotions" reveals the case of a young woman who occasionally felt homosexual impulses. She was alarmed and struggled to suppress them. Dr. Pennebaker explained to her that these are just passing thoughts. It does not necessarily mean that she is a homosexual.

It is not a catastrophe to be one either. There have been many such gifted people.

Many men are troubled by similar thoughts and struggle against them. This is a tremendous expense of energy. The more you struggle against a thought, the more it acquires power. As "The Secret" says: Energy goes where attention goes.

C.G.Jung: "What we resist, persists."

The best way to take the power out of these thoughts is to witness the thought, just as you would watch traffic from the top of a building. We would just watch the vehicles moving by. Some of them are beautiful and some are otherwise. We wouldn't try to jump on to them, or force them away. One could approach obsessive compulsive thoughts in much the same way,

Do not try to fight or struggle against an unwanted thought. Acknowledge it, and breathe. That will relax you.

While witnessing thoughts, it would be ideal to have something to center ourselves on. Watching the breath, or just being aware of the bodily sensations, gives that center.
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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Dealing with Violent Thoughts

Have you ever struggled with violent anger so much that you imagined yourself hurting people? Or yourself? This happens when you are not able to articulate your feelings and emotions healthily, without fear. Learning to express our feelings and emotions without fear is a part of Assertive behavior. However obsession with violent thoughts is an internal thing, and can spiral. The more a person tries to control these thoughts, the more they multiply.

I became aware of how many people suffer from this situation when a friend told me he was feeling impulses to strangulate his children. He was scared. I recalled a period in my life when I used to lay down to sleep every night, wanting not to wake up the next morning, to sleep forever--the easy way out.

The emotional energies in us seek expression. However, if you have been forbidden the freedom of expressing emotions such as anger and fear in childhood, later it can give a hard time understanding and resolving these emotions.

Ideally, emotions need to pass through our system freely. It is best not to obstruct them or to go along with them. To witness them like an outsider without judgment or criticism is very healing. Watching the breath or counting breaths helps to be an impartial witness.

If you regularly dip into the calming experience of meditation, it will be easy for you to divert yourself when these obsessive violent thoughts come. Knowing the psychologist's view is also helpful. This article contains useful information and techniques on dealing with violent obsessive thoughts:
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Healing in Silence

Watch these videos of a healer from Croatia. His name is Braco. His method of healing is unique- he just gazes at his audience for fiive to seven minutes.

From his videos and peaceful, steady gaze, I feel he is an honest and morally upright person with a child like innocence. I could also feel soothing vibrations. Watch them and see for yourself:

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How a Four-Year-Old Motivates Herself

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Saturday, May 04, 2013

Where the Rot Starts

A recent corruption scam in the Indian Railways exposes how corruption at the top trashes the entire system. When all the departments malfunction from corruption, the standards of life fall hopelessly. The government, if it aims to enforce correction at the grass roots level, will only evoke resentment and ill will among the people. The surgery has to begin from the top down.

The nephew of the Union Railway Minister of India has been arrested for receiving bribes of just under ten million INR (170,000 USD) for a top level appointment in the Indian Railways, the eighth largest employer in the world.

Let's look at how this scam can affect the quality of Indian Railways and life in general in India.

The appointed candidate holds a top level job. He has to make up this money and turn this investment into a profit as much times higher as possible. He will in turn demand and receive bribes for candidates that he recruits during his tenure. If a post can be had for money, then naturally the highest bidder becomes the most eligible. Qualifications and skills required take a back seat. Thus ineligible persons come to occupy the positions from top down. These people will be lax in discharging their duties, bringing down the efficiency of the Railways. The people subordinate to them whom they recruit-these recruitments will also be made based on money. Thus more ineligible candidates fill in the ranks of the Railways. The higher up the rung the occurrence of corruption, the faster and more thoroughly the rot spreads. In no time, the majority of the Railways posts are manned by inept employees.

The consequences will be constant delays in train services, frequent cancellation of services, frequent accidents, scams in purchase of machinery, ....

Dacoities and robberies on trains will be wide spread as nobody cares any more and any authority can be bought to help culprits.

The volume of passengers steadily goes down. The organization plummets into loss after loss.

Looking at the news, the railways has been suffering all of the above calamities for quite some time. Robberies are common. Trains slow down at designated points  ( Look at this story:

One wonders whether this is just one scam that has been exposed-whether it has been going on for some time?

Air India, the national carrier, has been suffering a similar fate with tales of rampant corruption.

When many of the state departments have been rendered inefficient because of corruption, it emboldens  neighbouring countries to make incursions into Indian territory with impunity. China probably seized the opportunity.

One wishes the Government, instead of trying to muffle anti-corruption movements by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, had taken on the corruption challenge and tried to mitigate it.
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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Can Bail-Outs Rescue Economies?

"A bottle of drinking water costs INR 50 (0.92 USD) in Dubai, and a liter of Petrol, INR 10 (0.18 USD)" When my wife mentioned this in a conversation, I was surprised, as she had expected.

Drinking water in Delhi costs hardly INR 12 ( 0.22 USD), but Petrol costs nearly INR 70 (1.28 USD) a liter.

This sparked a discussion on how bail-outs can help falling economies.

It always intrigued me how wads of notes drove the modern man's life, when in ancient times, the barter system had prevailed.

A million for a bottle of water

Suppose, I had a million dollars with me; I should be able to buy as much water as I want. However, if there is no water available, what value does my money have?

The value of currency undergoes drastic or total change with a change of location or life situation.

For people trapped in a desert or forest or sea, money is no big help. It can be a hindrance. So also when trapped in a hostage crisis or other calamity.

If you think about it, money does not have value by itself. There are a lot of things that lend value to money:
  • labour
  • infrastructure: power, transport, housing...
  • availability of resources
Labour: If there is no one to sell the water, or to perform the myriad processes prior to it, money cannot buy water indeed.

On another level, the value of money is enhanced also by:
  • people
  • love
  • moral values: honesty, sterling service,...
  • good manners
People: If one has a lot of money but nobody to share it with, it would be a lonely life indeed.
Love: Love gives us the zest to go forward in life. Give love to get love.

The real reason for an economy's fall: consumerism

When business aims solely at increasing profits, values suffer. When values deteriorate, business and business products also lose value. It is the sad way for man to realize that matter is subordinate to spirit. Spirit is supreme. Values originate from the spirit.

A life of pleasure-orientedness leads us further and further away from the Spirit.

The way out: bring back the values

It is time for us to place moral values higher than profit making. It is the quality of service that needs to have the top priority, profits will follow naturally.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Are You a Door Mat? Not Any More!

When shy or timid people try to be assertive, they may come across too strongly, looking aggressive. Assertiveness is welcome, aggressiveness drives people away; and being passive-timid will have people walk all over you.

A simple combination of assertive body language signals, positive thoughts, and relaxation can set you towards being an assertive individual in control of his/her destiny.

In this video, Dr.Drew McAdam describes the fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Click this link to watch this video and read the transcript:
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We vs. Them: How A Skewed Vision Ensures Failure

A company's shareholders are the gods of the management. The employees and the customers are just a means to an end: more profits.

  • As a customer, I feel used that the company does not take into account my needs.
  • As an employee, I am resentful that the company does not consider me as important in its scheme of things-my ideas are not listened to, my working needs are not attended to.
  • Disgruntled customers go looking for other companies.
  • Dissatisfied employees quit and seek other opportunities.
Employee satisfaction does not always mean better salaries. Treating me as a person and appreciating my contribution works wonders for my spirit and output. I sincerely believe absence of spirituality is a huge deficit in modern management practices. Take one example: Jesus's dictum "Behave unto others as you would like to be behaved unto" is a universally applicable principle. All other cultures echo this sentiment. Who wouldn't respond to when treated with respect?

Yet, pathetically, it is confined to the books and sermons. When it comes to real life, it is always We vs. Them or I vs. You.

True happiness can only be experienced when our circles of concern expand - when we care not just for us, but for our family, society, country, the world- in an ever-widening circle. The joy that you experience then is oceanic-you give up/transcend your narrow personal likes and dislikes and embrace the common good of humanity. It is immensely rewarding-more than any drug or toy.
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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Improving Software Usability with Technical Documentation - A Case Study

As you might be aware, Recallplus is a mind-mapping software that can do flash card testing as well. The vendor says it is the only mind-mapping software which can do both.

I bought the Essentials version a few years back, and it seems to fit in my expectations. There are a number of functionalities which you will find convenient in mind-mapping for studying

The only hitch is that the program is a bit unwieldy at times. Using a tablet can solve this problem.

Many of the nice features of this application lie obscure because there is no clear documentation. I took the short cuts portion from the online help and applied some technical writing principles. I hope it is effective now. What do you think?

You can download the Free Shortcuts Guide for Recallplus by clicking .

To download the Recallplus software for free, click here. It allows unlimited mind-mapping forever. You need to upgrade for testing and other functionalities.
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Encounters with A Mystic

It was in the September of 1988 that I met a most unusual being.

I had just finished my four year Engineering course and was in a shambles. I left the course with a lot of back papers. 

Dejected and defeated, I hoped to find some support from my home. At home there were my parents and my grandmother. 

I couldn't be more mistaken. Because her son had been a topper in all classes till then, my mother took it as a personal affront. She was the principal in a leading teacher training institute in my home town. She just could not get it why I would choose to fail so miserably. Yes, she thought I had chosen failure. That is another story. 

But I want to tell you something that happened in that September when I met a mystic for the first time. 

It was a rainy evening. My friends-one local guy and two others from the college had hinted that they might also want to see the mystic. But the torrential rain dampened their enthusiasm. So they chose to hole up at home watching some movies.

Something impelled me to go on. 

It was not easy in those days to go places in Palakkad, because the public bus service did not reach every where. You needed a car or a bike to go to remote areas. Not having either, I took the bus to the town and from there boarded another one to take me to the venue of the program, a temple called Manappullykkavu. It is about half an hour from the town center.

After leaving the bus, there was about five minutes' walking. Soaking wet, I ran through the rain and reached the shelter of the program hall.

I was surprised to find the hall packed with people, in spite of the rain. They were all squatting on the bare floor. I found a place in the middle of the hall, by a pillar.

The program started soon after. 

The mystic was Mata Amritanandamayi. 

She sang devotional songs to the gods in the Hindu religion-Ganesha, Krishna, Devi, Siva, and others. Afterwards, one could meet her and receive a hug and a sweet. It was called darshan.

I had grown a liking for devotional songs. It let me forget my worries, for the time being. 

I enjoyed the session. Well, not for too long. It was almost two hours before it ended. I had been sitting in a cramped position, elbow to elbow with other people. Besides the dampness, the sand grains on the floor dug into my ankles, adding to the discomfort.

Then, relief! The final ceremony 

Oh, but what is this? 

Two women were worshiping the mystic with a huge fire lamp. They lit camphor on a tray and waved it before her, standing on either side, as priests do in a temple. And the mystic was sitting quietly, eyes closed, her white sari drawn over her head, covering her face. The single jewel on her nose ring shimmered in the dark.

This is too much, I thought. She is just human. Why worship a human being, like me? 

And then it happened.

As soon as this thought hit me, she lifted the sari from her face, opened her eyes, turned and looked straight into my eyes. 

I felt a jolt in my heart. Like an electric shock. 

There was no way she could have heard me thinking. It was dark inside the hall except for the lamp. I was about 70 feet from her. How could she pick me out from the crowd of hundreds. My mind was in an noncomprehending whirl.

The rest of the time, bewildered thoughts raced through me.

Some time earlier, I had read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda. The book described many incredible, supranormal feats of Yogis. I had never dreamt that I would witness one of them. Was this one such incident? I was dazed.

The time for darshan came. People stood in two queues, men and women on either side, and went up to her one by one. Most of them were HIndus, but there were also a few Christians and Moslems, as their different style of dressing revealed.

I could not bring myself to go near her. I feared she might expose all of my thoughts.

I resolved to meet her only after changing myself, undergoing a personal transformation.

This signaled a ten year interlude in my life which exposed me to many similar experiences, teaching me that what we see and experience, is not so solid after all.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

What We are Doing to The World

This is an island in the Pacific ocean, 2000 km from the nearest coast.
Nobody lives here, only birds and yet ...............

Every one of us must see this film...Please..please.. do not throw anything into the sea. 

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