I used this title to publish many articles and question and answers over the years with a good fried of mine, Hemalayaa in her blog and newsletter “Yoga and the City . I have been also publishing few articles in newsletter and magazines over the years.
In this column, I focuses on answering any questions about life, relationships, work/corporate environment, and health. Feel free to send me any question that you would like my insight on. I am sincerely devoted to helping anyone and give them answers from my perspective about life’s challenges and struggles, using the wisdom and learning from my personal life and 30 years of meditation practice.
Here are the list of topics I have covered in the past. You can click on the topic of interest and go directly to that topic or continue to read all my post below.
How to start a meditation practice?
Question: How should I start a meditation practice if I’ve never done it before? (and/or) What should I do to have a more successful/productive meditation?
Meditation is a practice where one is in touch with their own divine self (spirit). Each individual is unique and can find union with the divine. Each one of us is here for a purpose that is significant in the big scheme even though it may seem trivial in some form. The right to this union to the divine is our birthright. The simplest way to become aware of that divine self is to become an observer of life while we live our daily life (from human doing to human being). Our daily life forces us into doing and thinking. The body likes to act and the mind likes to think. Meditation helps us to go beyond the mind and body to spirituality. The best way to get started with meditation is to let these two dominant dimensions of life (mind and body) to rest. That is why most of the meditation practices teach us to settle down our body and silence the mind. The simplest way to begin the meditation practice is to find a comfortable position where the body can sit still and relax. Although the position of lying down would be the most comfortable it is also prone to put you to sleep, hence not recommended. The best meditation posture is sitting in a comfortable position, preferably with a straight back so there is no pressure on any part of the body and the body sense is neutralized. As the body is relaxed it is useful to close the eyes so no external stimulus is engaging the mind and body. Relaxing the body is the first step. The second and most important step is to tame the mind. The mind likes to wander. There are approximately 60,000 thoughts that go through our mind every day. Of those 60,000 thoughts about 97% of the thoughts are the recurring same thoughts. Meditation is all about entering the silent space between the thoughts. One way to enter this silent space and go beyond the thoughts is to hypnotize one self. We need to reach a state where we become the observer of our thoughts. A hypnotist uses a pendulum to hypnotize their subject by asking them to observe the pendulum. Similarly the person meditating can observe their own breath and reach the hypnotic state where they are observing their thoughts without attachment. As we begin to observe our thought with detachment we reach the silent step and eventually let go of the ownership of the thought. This plunges us into a beautiful state which is free from attachment to the thought and activity. This eventually produces a peaceful state that eventually turns into bliss (our birthright). Here are few steps to begin a simple meditation technique:
- Find a quite space to sit comfortably and quietly.
- Keep the spine straight and eyes closed.
- Begin slow and inhale deeply to the count of 6 (inhale from the nose and keep the mouth closed).
- Hold the breath to the count of 2.
- Exhale slowly to the count of 6 (through the nose).
- After repeating the inhalation and exhalation 6 times, let the breath follow its natural rhythm and simply observe the breath.
- As one observes the breath, the mind slowly becomes silent and the breath becomes shallow and quiet.
- As you reach this silent space you will begin to feel peaceful and calm.
- Simply stay in this state as long as possible. With practice you will be able to stay in this peaceful state for a long time.
- Anytime your mind begins to wander please go back to step 3 and begin the process again.
The key to remember if you have not done meditation before is to know that whether or not you see the benefit immediately, continue practicing. Just the fact that you began the practice means you are already beginning to obtain the benefit. The quiet time allows the body and mind to relax, and over time the practice deepens. Eventually, you reach a point where meditation draws you to the practice itself and the self craves the beauty and silence of life without the noise. Life feels slow and beautiful and you see the nuances and subtleties that once were veiled. Happy meditation.
Love and Joy,
Yoga, meditation, and spirituality
Question: How do you think yoga and/or meditation allow us to connect to our spiritual side?
We perceive the world mostly through our five senses (touch, taste, sound, sight and smell) that are deeply absorbed in the rhythms of the material world. Most of the time, spirituality is a concept that we don’t fully understand and comprehend because it is not tangible. In order to tune into spirituality we need to clear our mind and find stillness. The practice of yoga and meditation is one way for us to enter the dimension of spirituality. This pathway exists through the awareness of our breath. We are alive as long as we are breathing. Once the breath is gone, the life as we know it through the lens of physical world is over. Spirit is the essence of our existence and goes beyond the physical body. The breath, thus works as a bridge between the physical world and the spiritual world. Yoga and meditation take advantage of this bridge to gives us the glimpse of our spirituality. The practice of yoga, which teaches us to become aware of our breathing, or meditation which uses breath as a bridge, compels us toward the journey to spirituality. One of the goals of meditation and yoga is to become an observer and quiet the mind. When the mind slowly becomes tame, and we enter the observer state, we learn to see beyond the material turmoil to something very peaceful. This is one of the early steps of seeing life beyond the five senses to the sixth sense; sometimes referred to as third eye or spiritual eye. In this silent state we begin to see life through another lens that is in tune with the spiritual dimension. The practice of meditation allows us to slow down the influence of the material world while living in it, and enter the realm of pure bliss where we discover something beyond mere existence. We begin to discover our purpose and passion for existence. We begin to see the miracle and beauty of life. Life becomes more than a material journey, and we begin to see the deeper purpose and meaning of life. It is an experience and feeling that can simply be observed and understood. This cannot be explained through words; one must experience it. Enjoy the journey and see the transformation take place in your daily life.
Love and Joy,
Question: I am recently broken up with my husband. He and I are planning to go through a divorce soon. I am okay with this. I feel sad and angry that he was unfaithful to me during our relationship. The women he was with (sexually) during our relationship have recently called me and apologized because they didn’t know. He lied to them also. Regardless of all these betrayals, I want to be friends with him. He is a leader in our community and I also wish to be part of the events that are conducted by him. I am finding it challenging to release our relationship from my memory and life. I also feel sad that he has already moved on with other women. It hurts me every time I see him. Please help me to calm my mind and find peace. How do I let our relationship go and move into a friendship with him? Thanks, BB in SW
Hi BB in SW,
As I read your question, the poem of Rumi, “The Guest House” came to my awareness (see below). I can hear you sadness and pain as you go through this unwelcome guest in your life.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi
Translation by Coleman Barks
I hear the need for you to make this process of divorce and break up painless and to continue the friendship and relationship with the man that you were and are in love with in some form. While love is the way, charity begins at home. You need to first and foremost love yourself and love the lessons the guide is bringing into your life. It is important to nurture yourself and be compassionate to yourself. What does being compassionate means in your life? With any pain and loss in one’s life, it is important to allow this emotion an outlet. You mention sadness, anger, and betrayal. These guests are in your life for a purpose. The more you are able to accept the painful emotions the less they will sabotage your relationship and friendship going forward. It is all a balancing act of dealing with each of these emotions. You mention that you find it hard to release the relationship from you memory and your life. How could you release such a fact? We are sum total of all events in our life. You are who you are today due to all your experiences that you have lived and witnessed. It is accepting and acknowledging the purpose of each of these events and experiences that you have become who you are today. These guests are your guidepost for future growth. Nothing ever stays the same including you and your relationship with your husband. You are constantly being shaped by your life and are moving forward in your journey to becoming one with the divine self. It may be hard for you to see the gift in this pain, but over time as you allow each of these emotions to play out in your life you will begin to slowly see the gift. Try and become the silent witness of all of the emotions that you face. Honor all of the emotions and process them to the best of your ability by allowing yourself to be the silent witness of that emotion. One way to do this would be to meditate and once the mind is quiet and calm, allow the emotions to pour out and be the silent observer of the emotion. If possible try to see the gift they bring to you (this may take a while so don’t be in a rush). Once you go through the process of observing the emotion, welcome the emotion into your private journaling where you give it the full power of expression. In this private journaling, you can simply allow the emotion to play out in words. As you entertain each emotion separately, you will find a release that will allow you to accept where you are in life and then begin the repairing and healing of your life. Please be patient and compassionate with your self through this process. We are born a divine being and the lessons are only there so we come to realize our divine self. In the final analysis, this is all a grand illusion and a play of life (maya, leela) presented to us to see beyond the illusion to the real existence where every event and act is the teacher that is helping us to become one with our true romance – the love of God. At this time it is important for you to process your emotions and pain without spending too much time on how your ex-husband is processing his lessons. We are all different and work through our lessons in different way. While your pain is fresh, it is better to focus on yourself and not too much energy in trying to maintain a great relationship with your ex-husband for now. In time, you could develop friendship and a different relationship with him. For now, it is important to keep some distance as every encounter would be like pouring salt on an open wound. Over time once you are whole again the opportunity to partner and build a relationship will present itself again but for now focus on healing and thriving in your own life. Good luck in your journey of healing and self discovery. Remember for the coal to become diamond it must go through a tremendous amount of pressure. For us to merge with our divine self, we must go through some pain and sorrow in our life. I am confident that as you look back in your life you will eventually see these events as great gifts that propel you to new heights. The world is your oyster and you are a bright pearl in that oyster. Good luck with your meditation and journaling practice as it facilitates your life through the adversity and challenges.
Love and Joy,
Question: I am curious if one can live a more spiritual life by doing a cleanse? Is there a life cleanse that we can do to clean our inner bodies and our minds at the same time?
The purpose of life is to rediscover our divine spiritual self. When an artist looks at a piece of granite he does not see the granite, he sees the beautiful statue underneath the granite. He then uses his hammer and chisel to bring out the statue that he sees. Our life is the same way. Our divine self resides inside us. The process of living a life with examination and introspection is one way to remove the crud that we have outside and bring out the spiritual life that exists in all of us. As we grow and live the daily experiences of life, we accumulate coping mechanisms to deal with what life has to offer. As a child we experience emotions fully but as we grow into becoming adults, the society and environment forces us to process our emotions in compliance with the norm of the family and society. We begin to honor some aspects of us while we hide other aspects of ourselves. Over time we loose our true identity and authenticity by trying to conform to the expectation of others from us. The goal of discovering our spirituality is to learn to live in the moment and find the balance of being one with our true self feeling all emotions and being the silent witness of it so it can help us evolve as a human being. We can bring spirituality into our lives by following many types of cleanse. Let me focus on two that I have experimented with in my own personal life. One of the simplest forms of cleanses starts with the body and gradually progresses to the mind and then to the spirit; it is the practice of fasting with introspection. In the old days a master would not accept a disciple unless the disciple went through a fast (10 to 40 days fast). During a fast the body is performing a house cleaning which begins with removing toxins from the body, then it goes on to clearing the mind, and eventually the focus becomes spiritual. While this kind of cleanse is very powerful it is not easily accomplished because it requires us to alter our schedule of daily activity and requires a great deal of planning to make sure we begin and end the fast properly and introduce the right food at the right time back in our diet.. Another form of cleanse that may be fairly easy to perform is to begin to live the life that St. Francis prescribed in his prayer below. The key to remember in this kind of cleanse is to realize that charity begins at home. The focus should be on how we can take one of these aspects, whether it is peace, love, pardon, faith, etc. and apply it to ourselves first before we apply it to others. As you read this prayer, focus on what aspects you are lacking in your life and then implement that aspect for a day or a week or a month and go through the list and begin to practice them in your daily life. Over time you will begin to see the transformation in your own life and in time the process will help transform people around you.
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Love and joy,
Overcoming negative thoughts
Question: In everyday life we face many challenges, personal and professional, that lead to many negative thoughts. How do you find/look for joy in these challenges?
Life is a process of evolution. Everything that happens in our life is meant for our growth. We continue to spiral toward our growth. Every action and activity is part of the journey of evolution. We have created a perception in our mind that some of these things are good and some are bad. All of these perceptions are illusion. Let me illustrate this with a story used by the sages to describe the illusion of good and bad. Once there was a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbor came over to tell him he felt sorry for him, only to be told in return, “Who knows what is good or bad?” It was true. The next day the horse returned, bringing with it eleven wild horses it had met during its adventurous escape. The neighbor came over again, this time to congratulate the farmer on his good fortune, only to be told once again, “Who knows what is good or bad?” True this time too. The next day the farmer’s son tried to tame one of the wild horses and fell off, breaking his leg. His neighbor came back again one more time to express how bad he felt. But for the third time, all the farmer had to say was, “Who knows what is good or bad?” and once again the farmer was correct, for this time, the king of that land had started a war, and the following day soldiers came by to draft young men into the army, but because of his injury, the son was not taken. When we take a course in school or college, exams are part of the curriculum. Through exams we come to realize how well we have learned the subject at hand. Life also gives us trials and tribulations that allow us to gauge where we are in our journey of evolution. In fact, if you look at human reaction during the times of trials and tribulation, automatically our thoughts turn to God. This, in a way, is the blessing of God, as He is beckoning us to Him. During times of such challenges, we, in fact, are closer to God than during the times of comfort and ease. This way He forces us to be closer to Him without our even realizing what is happening. God, in fact, even cradles and carries us at these times. Rudyard Kipling in his poem “IF” expresses the concept of treating triumph and disaster as the impostors they are very eloquently.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
If we can learn to become the witness to the events and not label them or allow our mind to constantly interpret them as good and bad, then we begin to live and accept the broader master plan of the universe which is beyond our limited human comprehension. We have a tendency to judge, yet this process requires us to build and strengthen our faith which links us to all of humanity rather than to our own little myopic universe. Once we consciously become aware of the trials and tribulation as imposters and begin to look for the hidden gifts that they bring in our life, we begin to control the negative thoughts. Part of being human is to recognize that the mind will wander and find negativity. Become aware of it and become the observer. Think of the mind as a tool. Observe the negative thoughts and watch them as if you are watching a play. Become the observer of the thoughts and do not let them control your mood or attitude. Over time they will lose their power over you. In fact, if your habit is to worry, let your mind wander. Even set aside a few minutes of a day to allow it to indulge in all the negative thoughts, but once that time is over, stop and move on to find simple things in life that create more and more joy in your life. Bring the focus back to the attitude of gratefulness for all that you have in your life rather than to a thought of what is missing or wrong. As you master this way of thinking, over time you will discover that nothing affects you like it used to. Part of being human is to realize that you will have your good moments and bad moments, but over time, you will focus more and more on the good moments and beauty, and negative thoughts will begin to loose their power over your emotions and attitude.
Love and joy,
Glory days of college
Question: I’m starting to think that my college years were the prime of my life. I reminisce everyday about the friends I made, the times we had, and the excitement of what was to come. I’m also still very much living the “college life.” Isn’t it time to move on? How do we get over the “glory days” and find happiness in our lives now?
Congratulations on your graduation from the University of XYZ. In the past as you graduated from high school to college you knew your next step. Now that you have graduated from college you move into the University of Life. If you look back at your life it has been always about change and growth (evolution). Until now you were following a somewhat prescribed curriculum and time line. Once you enter the University of Life there is no prescription and there is no map. It is a bit scary and daunting to go to a university that has no degree and no curriculum. It is very easy to be overwhelmed and afraid to let go of the known for unknown, and it is scary. As you graduated from each of the previous institutions you celebrated your learnings, successes and failures. As you look back you have grown tremendously and that is what life is all about. Life is made up of experiences that you learn and grow from, and the main purpose through it all is to find happiness and joy in every moment and live your life’s purpose. Looks like you have done a great job in graduating from the college. One of the key goals in life is to live a life of love, joy, and happiness under all circumstances. If my memory serves me right, the college life is not all a “bed of roses.” I was living on a shoestring budget and I also had to study for some tough exams. I missed home life and home cooking. I am sure you had your share of tough times in college, but what I like in your questions and the way you have lead your life is that you went through all of these challenges yet you remember the time as “glory days.” When I am graduating from the University of Life, I hope to look back and say, “What glory days were those moments in life!” You have already learned one of the finest lessons in life which is to treat success and failure as events and enjoy what life has to offer. It is nice to look back and see the glorious life of the past. Life exists in the moment though. Looking ahead to new challenges and opportunities in life by nature is scary. While there is some excitement to new adventures we also get comfortable living in the past. It is mind’s coping mechanism to delay dealing with the inevitability of change. There is only one constant in life and that is change. Change is inevitable, yet the mind likes predictability and fears the uncertainty of the future. It takes a tremendous amount of faith to trust in the universe and its purpose to realize that every change is meant for our evolution. If we could understand the master plan of the universe then maybe we could cope better with the unknown. All we know is that we have unlimited potential and what we call success today is simply one step in our journey. We have unlimited potential and if we embrace the change and the challenges of the life, we continue to evolve and become the person we are meant to be. A baby bird is very comfortable in the nest getting fed the worms and living a life of pampering and care. There comes a time when the wings are strong and the mother bird knows that the baby is ready to fly. There is reluctance on the part of the baby to take the plunge. Sometimes the mother will eventually push the baby and then help with the flight. It is in our nature to be somewhat risk adverse and to be cautious. But life is meant to be lived, and life experiences are there for us to reach to the next level. They say that as a human being we have great potential and capability but most of us only use 10% of our full potential. Learning to take risks and take on new challenges allows us to blossom to our full potential. Have you ever noticed a beautiful rose bud? It is cute and beautiful but the true fragrance of the flower is smelled once it is fully open. Our life is like that. We can have fun and feel successful, but the flower has to fully bloom. Life may seem like a long journey when one is young but it seems like a drop in the eternity. We want to learn to take on what life has to offer and make the most of it. As I look back I have discovered the following nuggets that have lead me to find joy and happiness in my life.
- Play – As children we played exuberantly. We had fun, and it brought a lot of joy. Somehow we believe as adult we need to be serious. Remember to continue to play. It makes us more positive, happy, and brings joy to people around us and increases our energy.
- Live with passion – Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion. There are no small tasks. If you are undertaking a task, do it with passion. Let your character shine through it. We have a tendency to sometimes only put a little bit of ourselves into our task, thinking the task is beneath us. It is important to remember that we should do our best. Let your character shine through your work regardless of how mundane or ordinary.
- Be true to yourself – Live an authentic life. As you live through life you are discovering and understanding yourself. Embrace your self for who you are. You are a unique individual and a gift to the rest of us. Share your gifts.
- Live in the moment – Life exists in the here and now. It is fine to reminisce and look back at the joy and lessons from the past. It is in the moment that we can live fully.
- Reflect and meditate– Take time to learn from the journey so far so that you are better prepared to live fully in the here and now. Stop and smell the roses.
- Be compassionate – We are all connected human beings. What happens to one affects others. Realize that by living a full life not only are you enriching yourself but everyone around you. Feel free to care not just for yourself but every one around you. You do make a difference in other lives, whether you realize it or not.
- Live a life of joy and happiness – Success, fame, power, and money are all part of the journey and not the end goal. Sometimes we chase these thinking they will bring us happiness. There is nothing wrong with pursuing any of these as long as you don’t wait for them to be happy. Learn to find joy and happiness in small things, in every moment. Find ways to be happy for no reason. The smile is very contagious, spread it.
Have faith and know that you have seen nothing yet. Your life is in front of you and the prime of your life will unfold in every moment where you live fully.
Love and Joy,
Question: I am wondering about all the fear that is happening with the financial situation right now in the world. I am feeling fear and not sure if it is the collective fear or my own. Regardless, I would like to know how to deal with it and be in the flow of prosperity and abundance through it – if that is possible. Is that possible? How?”
There is a reason for the season. After the dark night the sun eventually rises. After the tough winter the spring bud blooms. This is the way of the world. Change is an inevitable part of life. One of the lessons in life is to learn to find the inner peace that is our birthright. Life throws at us challenges so we can learn and grow from them. Our goal is to ultimately anchor ourselves in inner peace. I call this the concept of being in the eye of the storm. If we look at a storm it has two motions circular and horizontal. The horizontal motion moves the storm from point A to point B. The storm builds and then moves untill it runs out of steam. Not much can be done about this horizontal motion (this is the way of the life). Then there is the circular motion, where everything is spinning and churning (this is how we feel when we feel fear and feel trapped in the circumstance). The calmest point is right in the middle of that circle. This is known as the eye of the storm. The goal during a storm can be to find that spot so while the storm is in it’s full swing we can find that anchor point where we can be least impacted by its fury. You speak of the fear that surrounds us today with the financial situation. At this time the illusion of permanency is shattered and there is tremendous amount of uncertainty and fear about the financial institutions and our investments. Thousands of people are losing their jobs and financial security is uppermost in every one’s mind. It is a natural and human reaction and it invades our lives. Individual fear fosters collective fear and they feed on each other. While the fear and uncertainty is real, it is an illusion in some ways. We think we will have financial security and our job tomorrow yet there is no guarantee. Life is like a burning candle. While that candle can burn for a while a sudden gust can blow out that candle instantly. The same is true with our life. We think we will live in the future, yet there is no guarantee what the next moment will bring. If that is the reality, then what’s the point in worrying and being fearful? How do we find inner peace? Inner peace can be created when we begin to consciously let go of negative thoughts and fear and focus our energy on things we can do something about. Fear and worry originates in our mind and we need to understand our mind before we can tame our mind. The human mind is a very powerful tool that we have at our disposal. Through our mind we can create a vision of a great future as well as fear of the unforeseen things to happen. Mind left at its own device will have roughly 60,000 thoughts a day. Interestingly, 97% of those thoughts are repeats from previous days (they create our obsessive behaviors). Roughly about 80% or 48,000 of those thoughts have negative connotations (worry, fear, doom and gloom, judging). A mind untamed will continue this process. We have the choice which thoughts we pay attention to and magnify. We can focus our energy on negative thoughts or positive thoughts. Just like a solider before a battle will develop his skills and muscle, we need to develop the discipline of taming the mind. One of the best ways to do that is to become aware of the thoughts as they happen. This creates a distance between the thought (process of the mind) and the thinker (the real you). As we begin to observe our thoughts they begin to loose their power over us. One of the key practices in meditation is to become the observer of the thought to the point where they loose their hold on us and eventually we go beyond the thought to the oneness. Through faith and meditation we can begin to observe these thoughts and become the witness to the thoughts. As we become the witness to the thought their hold over us is released. At that point we have the choice of what we focus on. We begin to invest more of our energy on the positive thoughts and let go of the negative thoughts. Once we tame the mind we can focus our energy on abundance and prosperity and let go of the negative thoughts. As we focus our energy on these positive aspects the next step would be to formulate a plan of action that allows us to focus some amount of energy on making that real in our lives. This step is necessary as it allows us to take a thought and begin making it real. Some additional things to do besides taming the mind would be:
- Continue your focus on exercise and meditation
- Find ways to laugh and enjoy life (not everything costs money)
- Live within your means
- Give, because in the giving we receive (giving is an act of abundance and will attract abundance in your life)
Most of all remember the dark of the night is erased by the morning light and life is full of ups and down. If we are in a down turn then the next phase is not far away and abundance and prosperity is waiting at the next corner.
Love and Joy,
Human Energy System
Question: How do we deal with people who are energy suckers? What if we are energy suckers?
Over time we have come to believe in the scarcity mentality. Energy is one of those dimensions that we think we only have so much of. Yet science has proven that we can transform mass into energy. We now have atomic generators that convert an atom into energy. Our body is one of the most elegant machines that can convert mass into energy all the time (food, water, air, prana, chi). We create energy in our body through various mechanisms. Of course the one that we leverage most often is food. Beside food, we leverage breath all the time, yet we are not fully aware of the full power of breath. Exercise is a form of not only creating energy but increasing our capacity to create a larger reservoir of energy. A person learning to exercise can only go for so long before becoming exhausted. Over time, with practice, we can run marathons and ultra marathons, hence increasing our capacity and efficiency of energy use. We can think of our body as a rechargeable battery or a capacitor. We can learn not only to charge this battery but, if needed, increase its total capacity unlike a capacitor or a battery. This creates a unique set of paradigm that may seem illogical but are important to understand to leverage the power that the human energy system. Some of these principles and paradigm may seem irrational or illogical but they do work and with some practice can be mastered to create a powerful perpetual energy system. Here are some of the basic principles and paradigm to help us maximize our ability to tap into this power source:
- Unlike the typical energy system, the more we use the energy the more efficient our system becomes and the more we increase its capacity. This is the principl of flow in operation. If we use our energy properly we are using and refilling the system constantly, and thus in the process, create greater capacity (a simple example is training for a marathon, when we begin our training we may be capable of only running few miles but as we practice and spend energy we are creating the flow and thus increase the capacity to a point where we can do more than we were capable of before).
- We need to maintain the flow to create an efficient system. This principle allows us to continuously expend energy so we can continue to bring in energy (by not using energy we create lethargy and stagnant energy which diminishes the efficiency of the energy system – use it or lose it concept).
- The more we use it, the better and stronger we become (within limit – never exceed your capacity – over time your capacity will increase, but if you overdo it, then you reach a depleted state which then can bring dis-ease – one must know his limits and operate within that limit and then slowly increase the limit based on the above principle).
- Energy can be generated through various mechanisms: Food, water, Air, Pranayama (breath), Tai Chi (martial arts), any form of exercise.
- There are many forms of energy. Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual are some of the main forms which we use every day.
- There are certain habits or events that drain energy from our system. We need to be aware of those and guard against them (plug the leaks). This is where meditation, contemplation, and self awareness become very critical to be in touch for us to regulate and monitor our energy flow.
Once we understand and leverage these principles we are in a better position to tackle the issue posed in the question above. How do we deal with energy suckers, whether it is people, circumstances, or our own habits? It is important to realize that like any other system, we can waste our energy if we have leaks in our system. What are some of these leaks and how do we manage them?
- As you mentioned in your question, there are people that may be an energy drain on your system (suckers). The simplest solution is to avoid them if possible. This is not always the easiest solution since they may be our closest friends or family members. The key in this situation is to understand how they drain our energy system. If we understand their behavior then we have the power back in our side, as we can then consciously monitor the energy drain and choose to allow that to happen. Once we are aware of it, we can begin to regulate the quantity that we will allow ourselves the luxury of wasting. We can also create situations where we then create the energy we want to replenish (thus creating a powerful perpetual system).
- If we have habits that drain our own energy (what if we are energy suckers?), we need to understand ourselves. Once we understand our habits that cause us to drain energy, we are in a better position to eliminate those habits or bring then under control. We can also choose to add habits that create more energy so that we can adopt the system to become stronger than our current need and in the process create a more efficient and stronger system.
Once we become aware and knowledgeable about the energy system we can make conscious choices of whether to replenish the lost energy through a known practice or avoid the situation that creates the energy drain. Think of the energy system as a big ocean full of water (water here symbolizes energy). If we go to the ocean with a glass we get a limited amount of water. If we use a big bucket we get larger amount. The same is true for our energy in our life. We can have as much or as little energy as we desire as long as we work for it. Another aspect of storing and using energy is to understand what drains our energy (leaks in our system). There are certain people or circumstances drain us of our energy. Sometimes we attribute it to other people or to the environment. Eventually we have to realize that we are equally responsible for our response to the people and event and that is something we do control. We make the choice and are co-creator of those circumstances. As we become aware of our part in the process we can make conscious choices and continue the patterns or change our role in that pattern so that we can apply our energies where we want rather than become the victim of our circumstances.
Love and Joy,
Question: In my yoga community, I hear a lot about “ayurveda.” What exactly is it? Is it something that is valuable for me to learn from?
Ayurrveda is a natural system of healing practiced in India for over 5000 years. Literally translated, Ayurveda means “science of life.” In the Ayurvedic tradition, the universe and everything within the universe is composed of five basic elements. These basic elements permeate every aspect of our lives. Once we understand these basic elements, we understand all creation and how our lives are influenced by these elements. These basic elements are Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The universe began with the basic element of ether (space). Then the movement of the ether element created air, which is ether in action. The friction of ether created heat, or the fire element. Through the heat of the fire, certain elements dissolved creating the water element, which then solidified to form the earth element. From earth, all organic living bodies, including humans, were created. Man is the macrocosm of the universe. In this way, the five basic elements that are present in all matter exist within each of us. Here is a brief description of the five elements and how they relate to us: Ether is the space in which everything happens. It is the field that is simultaneously the source of all matter and the space in which it exists. The chief characteristic of ether is sound. Here sound represents the entire spectrum of vibration. Air is the gaseous form of matter which is mobile and dynamic. Within the body, air (oxygen) is the basis for all energy transfer reactions. Air is existence without form. Fire is the power to transform solids into liquids, to gas, and back again. In other words, it possesses power to transform the state of any substance. Within our bodies, the fire or energy binds the atoms together. It also converts food to fat (stored energy) and muscle. Fire transforms food into energy. It creates the impulses of nervous reactions, our feelings, and even our thought processes. Fire is considered a form without substance. Water characterizes change and represents the liquid state. Water is necessary for the survival of all living things. A large part of the human body is made up of water. Our blood, lymph, and other fluids move between our cells and through our vessels, bringing energy, carrying away wastes, regulating temperature, bringing disease fighters, and carrying hormonal information from one area to another. Water is a substance without stability. Earth represents the solid state of matter. It manifests stability, permanence, and rigidity. In our body, the parts such as bones, teeth, cells, and tissues are manifestations of the earth. Earth is considered a stable substance. Ayurveda defines a human as the assemblage of these five elements along with the “immaterial self” defined as soul. The nature of man is known as Prakriti. We humans have our natural state which represents our healthy state. The deviation from that healthy state, or order, is dis-ease, or dis-order. Just as order exists within chaos, the perfect health exists in the disease. Regaining health is an exercise of bringing the essential nature back in tune. In ayurvedic principle, rather than focusing on the disease, the focus is holistically placed on understanding one’s nature and then restoring, or balancing, that nature back to its original state. The five elements work together to create three doshas — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Every individual possess one or more of these doshas. Very few people are composed of one dosha. Most of us have a primary dosha (the dominant dosha) and a secondary dosha. Understanding our doshas allows us to understand our basic nature or tendencies. Some people by nature are very active and dry (Vata); while others are slow and strong (Kapha), or Hot and sharp (Pitta) . Here are the quick definitions of these doshas. The Vata dosha is composed of the ether and air. Vata is dry, light, mobile, expansible, quick, cold, rough, clear and astringent in taste. So vata prakriti individuals tend to have dry and rough skin, are lightly built, quick in their mental process and initiation of action. The Pita dosha is composed of fire and water. Pitta is hot, penetrating, slightly foul smelling, liquid, sour and pungent in taste. So pitta prakriti individuals tend to sweat a lot and tend to have a higher than normal body temperature. The Kapha dosha is composed of water and earth. Kapha is smooth, soft, sweet in taste, stable, dense, slow, rigid, cold and clear. Kapha prakriti individuals tend to have soft limbs, slow gait and are slow to understand. The cold quality means that their Agni or digestive power is low. Every food, activity, music, season, time of day can be defined based on these doshas. Once we understand our nature (doshas), we can understand our natural tendencies. Deviations from these natural tendencies over time create dis-ease which eventually leads to disease. Once we get a clear understanding of our original nature, then we can choose to live our lives in such a way that we bring the balance back to our original nature, thus attaining perfect health. There are quite a few books that get into the details of how to identify your original nature (dosha), and how to bring that natural balance back. Two of the fascinating books that I have enjoyed and learned great deal from arePerfect Health, by Deepak Chopra, and Ayurveda The Science of Self-Healing, by Dr. Vasant Lad. There are also many websites where one can take a self test to discover one’s dosha. Once you know your dosha, you can understand your natural tendencies. Since all things are made of these same components, we can learn to balance our dosha. For example, a pitta (fire and water) dosha person may feel the tremendous heat of summer, which is a pita-season; for him, a way he can cope with the extra heat is to cool himself with cooling fruits like watermelon to offset the addition of heat. The beauty of this system of definition is that it allows us to understand every aspect of life through the essence of these five great elements and three great doshas. Ayurveda treats the system holistically. Instead of western science, where the focus is on the disease and elimination of disease, Ayurveda looks at the basic nature and treats the deviation from that nature to bring the body back to its original balance. In order to understand and leverage this knowledge, one has to learn the basic concepts so that he understands his basic nature. Once you understand your nature, it is your task to keep your body in balance by doing the right exercise at the right time, eating the right fruits, vegetables and herbs during the right seasons, and keeping yourself in balance and disease-free.
Happy Reading…Love and Joy,
Challenge of Layoff
Question: I am going through a layoff. Every time I get comfortable with a role it looks like another challenge is thrown into my life. How do I cope with it? How do I stay positive through this transition in my life?
Change is in evitable in our life. As a human being, sometimes we become change-averse. We like to have predictability in our lives even if it is not the greatest thing for us. We seem to accept the ebb and flow of life if we can expect certain things to stay the same. Life, on the other hand, is full of change. The day turns into night. The summer turns into fall. Even our bodies change constantly. While all of these changes are going on, it is comforting to be anchored to things that are not changing. As human beings we latch on to our routine. The one constant in life is really our eternal soul. When we meditate we become aware of that constant companion of ours, “the soul”. Since soul is not material, it is easy to get hooked to things that are material and hence our desire to have something constant in life. Which then forces us to latch on to non-permanent things like our family, friends, job security, money, etc. The problem with this desire for permanency is that we miss out on new challenges that allow us to grow and experience life at its fullest. If we think of life as a journey, it, by design, wants us to experience life as a flow. Once in awhile life will force some of these situations on us so that we become stronger and learn to deal with the challenges, setbacks, and opportunities. The human mind has a tendency of looking at this change as a setback and a challenge rather than an opportunity. When we go on a vacation, we look forward to the adventure of new lands, new opportunities, new sites and sounds. We are very excited at the opportunity for the vacation because we know this journey is finite and we are returning to what we call the normalcy when we return. In this scenario we are anchored to a home, a job, a family which is all attachments to things that will not last forever. We learn to attach to things that we experience through our five senses. The journey of life is all about going beyond the five senses to the realm of the spirit. A drastic change like the loss of job, or any other challenge, for that matter, is a perfect time for us to anchor ourselves into something greater than the material things. While this may not be easy, it is a gift we need to embrace and take advantage of. Without this difficult situation we would not have the opportunity to question our current path and direction. This forces us to align ourselves to our true priority and understand our desire and evaluate our future steps. While this time can be difficult, it forces us to learn new mechanisms and understand life through a different lens. So how do I cope with it and stay positive through this life- changing event?
- Trust in God or higher power and its purpose. The most important and fundamental concept to remember through this period is that we are always in the cradle of God (or higher power). There are no accidents in life and in the time of difficulties we are closest to the divine. The situations are created for our own evolution and growth and will lead us to our destiny. Every event in life is bringing us closer and closer to our purpose (dharma). This trust during the difficult time keeps us in the attitude of gratitude even though we may be going through a rough patch in our physical life.
- It is who we are, not what we do. As part of normal living we begin to identify with our doing. For example, I am a father, or a husband, or a teacher, etc. This is a time when we go through an identity crisis from the physical point of view. It is a perfect opportunity for us to witness all of these thoughts and realize that we are not what we do. What we have done so far has given us the experiences in life that will allow us to continue to move forward, but we are not what we have done. It is merely a step in the journey, and we need to continue to evolve as a human being.
- Become the observer of our thoughts. During the time of crisis like this, the mind can become our ally or our enemy. An untrained and untamed mind will go through all the negative scenarios and thoughts. It will make us doubt our capabilities. It will make us doubt our humanity. Mind, left unattended, can drive us crazy. It is not about controlling the mind but simply observing it with a detached awareness. When mind begins these negative thoughts, simply observe these thoughts. We need to realize that we are not our thoughts. We have these thoughts and sometimes they lead us to fear or other times they lead us to hope. We have the ultimate choice of which thoughts we nurture and which thoughts we simply observe, and blow out of us. Once we can separate ourselves from our thoughts we gain the power back.
- When one door closes there are many new doors that are opened. In order for us to move forward we must let go of where we were. This time is a forced opportunity for us to take a step in a different direction. We are forced to evaluate our situation and consider all opportunities that are out there. If we were secure in our position we would not be looking. When we are not looking, we miss the opportunity because we are so busy in our everyday life that we forget to pay attention to these opportunities. This time forces us to become open to new ideas, opportunities and new paths. We may choose to do what we have already been doing or we may choose to take on a completely different path. The situation forces us to evaluate things that under normal circumstances we might have ignored. There are great success stories of people that have discovered their passions in a situation like this. This is our opportunity to truly find things that we are passionate about and which take us close to our passion and our purpose.
- Trust in God but tie your camel. While it is important for us to have faith and realize that universe conspires us to take us to the next level; meditation alone cannot take us to our path. Meditation and a calm mind allow us to see things in the right perspective, but as a human being it is our duty to do our part. We must do our part. Action is our responsibility. They say you can take a horse to the water but you cannot make a horse drink the water. The same is true in our life. We are responsible for our own actions. We need to be vigilant and open and do our duty. Network with friends or colleagues. We need to invest our time if it is important to us and then align ourselves to the divine intervention so that when the right opportunity appears we are prepared and ready for it.
- Enjoy the journey. Life is full of challenges like these. While we are going through these challenges it is very easy to get caught up in poor me or victim mentality. If we look back through our lives, we have had more difficult situations than this, and we have always come through it. No amount of worrying is going to change the situation. So why worry? Instead we can let go of all of these worries and simply do our part of actions and trust the universe and begin to enjoy this journey. There is a purpose and a reason for this beautiful gift of life that has been given to us. Worrying will not change our future. If we do all the things above, then eventually we will find the next step in our evolution. It may take time and we may have our share of issues and problems and pain, but worrying will not change that. If that is the path, then why not make the most of the situation? They say when life gives you lemon make lemonade. Worrying will only take the energy away from constructive action that we could be taking, so no sense indulging in it too long (if you cannot help yourself then maybe give yourself a specific amount of time to worry and at the end of it get up and move on). Life is too precious to not enjoy it. We are not in this world forever. While we are here, it is important to cherish the gift of life and enjoy it the best way we know how.
Eventually all of this is simply a fork on the road. This is a key moment in our life where we will make the next choice and will tread a new path for awhile. The journey of life continues, and as we make our choices, we slowly become who we were meant to be, and in the process we serve our purpose in life. Happy journeys and best of luck during the time of nearness with the divine. Here is poem by Mary Stevenson to make you feel special so you can find your path and your destiny.
|Footprints in the Sand|
|One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.|
|Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.|
|In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.|
|Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,|
|other times there were one set of footprints.|
|This bothered me because I noticed|
|that during the low periods of my life,|
|when I was suffering from|
|anguish, sorrow or defeat,|
|I could see only one set of footprints.|
|So I said to the Lord,|
|“You promised me Lord,|
|that if I followed you,|
|you would walk with me always.|
|But I have noticed that during|
|the most trying periods of my life|
|there have only been one|
|set of footprints in the sand.|
|Why, when I needed you most,|
|you have not been there for me?”|
|The Lord replied,|
|“The times when you have|
|seen only one set of footprints in the sand,|
|is when I carried you.”|
Love and Joy,
Question: I am a divorced, working mother of two boys, 8 and 10. I work hard to make sure I provide the best for my kids. With a demanding job and bringing up two boys, I do not have time for social and religious/spiritual activities. At times, I feel lost, drained, overwhelmed and out-of-balance. – Julie
Life is precious and everything we do leads us toward our purpose. One thing I have learned in life is that we have many gifts that God has given us that we take for granted. Everything that happens in life is for a greater purpose. We are in this life to live a life of joy and happiness. Nothing is constant in life. In order for us to appreciate joy and happiness we do go through times where we understand sorrow and suffering. Eventually, through evolution and growth, we come to understand that even these two opposites are also illusion. Life simply is. What we eventually learn is to accept what life gives us as lessons so we can graduate from life with a happy heart and return to life the gifts we have been given. I lost my mother at a very young age so I have learned to appreciate what a mother brings to the life of a child. There is no bigger gift a person can give to another than the gift of love, and the mother to me is the most altruistic profession in the world. As a mother you nurture the life of a child who is really a gift of God. They are born helpless, and a mother provides the sanctuary and security that allows that plant to grow and become strong, to eventually give back to the world. If there were no other purpose of life, the rearing of the child is probably the most profound gift that a woman gives to humanity. I applaud you for the gift that you are giving to the world through raising your two boys. You are my hero! When you fly on an airplane they make the announcement that in case of emergency please put your mask on first before helping others. The same principle applies in life. If we have not taken care of ourselves, how can we be in a position to help another? When you are working hard being a single mother and raising two kids, that may sound like a luxury, but please know that the quality of what you give to others is multiplied many fold when that gift is coming from a peaceful and loving situation. It is critical to nurture oneself before we can nurture others. I know your life is taxed, so this may sound like a hard thing to do, but please do find ways to nurture yourself. Make a list of things that make you feel good about yourself and then indulge yourself for few minutes a day in giving yourself that gift. Whether it is sitting and enjoying music, meditation, exercising, or reading. Think of this activity as a gift to yourself and find ways to give yourself that gift as much as possible. This will allow you to spend the rest of your time working and taking care of your kids as something you choose to do vs. have to do. Have you ever had a situation when you have anticipated a guest that is very near and dear to you? I know when I have someone special that I am preparing the meal for or driving to meet, I am full of anticipation and relish that time and perform my task joyfully. The task is usually the same but the difference is in our mind. When we do the same task, why in one situation are we so excited and happy to be doing it and yet on other circumstances we think of it as drudgery? I have learned through experience and trial and error that if I embrace the task and do it with a mind set of service and love, then the same task that used to be difficult becomes a joy. When you are busy at work or taking care of the boys, most of the time that task can be draining. But if you can imagine that the kids are the gift of God who have been placed in your care, and you are serving Him through the service of humanity, then all of a sudden you feel like you are serving God. If we learn to cultivate that sense of love and service, over time the mundane task becomes acts of love and service. The task stays the same, but instead of draining us, that task fulfills us. I am sure you have experienced that feeling. With practice it is possible to create the mindset of love and service, gratitude, and gratefulness for what we have in our lives that when we do our activity we do it in such a way as to make them an act of love and selfless giving. Once in that state, work transcends work into an act of love and joy. The doing does not change, but how we feel when we do, changes, and the tasks that were challenging become gifts. You speak of desire for social and religious/spiritual activities in your life. One way to manifest this in your life is to have clarity on what it means and how it would look when you do have it in your life. Once you have the clarity of vision and goal, share this quietly with the universe (God, higher power). The universe is created to allow our greatest desire to be fulfilled. Once we release these clear thoughts to the universe, let the universe conspire to make them happen. It will also help if you share these desires and thoughts with friends and colleagues. You will see synchronistic events take place that create the opening for these desires to manifest it in your life. For example, if you want to listen to music, it is important to turn the radio on. Once the radio is on you still need to have a clear idea of what type of music you are interested in. If you have the clarity of what you want to hear, then you tune the radio to the right station. The music always existed but it required clarity of what you desired to manifest it in your life. In the same way, simply creating clarity and sharing this with the universe and friends allows for the opportunity for the desire to be manifested. It is important to eliminate doubt, and trust that you live in a friendly universe whose goal it is to allow all good desires to be fulfilled. It is also important to be open to new ideas and ways the desire might be fulfilled. Don’t have a preconceived notion of how the path may unfold; simply be open to the opportunity and let the universe surprise and delight you with its magic. I wish you the best in your journey of love and giving. Mothers are God’s gift to humanity and I am proud of the gifts that you are giving to your boys and to the world.
Love and joy,
Question: I’m just going thru so much right now…my boyfriend of 3 years left me in July but since then we’ve gone back & forth from trying to be “friends” and being together every day (exactly like if we were in a relationship) to not speaking and back again. Now, he’s started talking to another girl and within a week’s time, I’ve gone from “his best friend, most important in his life” to someone he seems to have no respect or consideration for and it’s like the past 3 years never happened. And even in our best of times, I don’t think I ever felt like I was enough for him, the grass always seemed greener on the other side kind of thing. He was never good at being committed and we definitely had issues with that (short breakups here & there), so I was never completely settled/convinced he would always be there. I guess for now, I’m just angry at myself for not taking all those cues over the years… he’s walked out, and I’m devastated. It’s strange how something like this can make you feel so unsure of yourself and so desperate and hopeless. I know I’m a great person with so much going on for me but to have the person you love not think so, and to want someone else makes you question all of that. It’s an unfair power. I just don’t know how to recover and let go. I just want to be happy again. Thanks, AL
You may have heard Richard Bach’s famous saying “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” It may sound easy to set someone free who you love, but I think you have already recognized that, that is what you must do. My prayers and best wishes are with you at this tough time in your life. The loss of a relationship, of the time commitment and the love that you have invested is hard to let go. Be compassionate to yourself, and have faith that universe is doing what is best for you in the big picture. It may be hard to imagine something good coming out of this, but that is what life is about. We in our limited view can only see what is happening to us now, but it is important to trust in the higher power and his big plans for your life. It is important, at this time, to honor and be kind to yourself. We have been created to find joy and happiness in life, yet life is full of duality. In order for us to truly understand one side we have to experience the opposite. You are going through this challenge so you can fully evolve and become the greater you that you are capable of becoming. It is said that as a human being we have unlimited potential and we barely reach less than 5% of our potential. We seem to settle for less than what we deserve. You already indicate that you were settling for something less than you wanted. This is the opportunity for you to clarify what you want. These accidents in life are there for us to make us aware of the greater possibilities that exist. It forces us to understand what we really want from life and relationship. It is an opportunity for us to understand our deep needs and clarify what we really want out of life. Rather than settle for mere existence, it propels us to new heights and new possibilities. I know that this is a tough time for you. It is important to acknowledge the pain and suffering you are feeling. Be honest with yourself and learn to love yourself fully. Know that you bring unique gifts to this world that no one else can bring. Life is journey toward perfection yet no one ever reaches that perfection. We all have good qualities and attributes that we continue to evolve. It is important that you love all of yourself and be comfortable with who you are, the Gods gift to humanity. When we accept ourselves fully, we are capable of moving forward and becoming greater. It may be tempting to beat yourself up for your part in the breakup, but that would be the negative path. Accept all your glories and your weakness. Once you accept it than you can focus on what needs evolving and what you are comfortable with. Here are few key things to keep in mind:
- Life is a journey and good and bad are events that are there to take us to the next level. 2. You have to accept yourself as you are “the good, and the work in progress” 3. Accepting allows you to be kind to yourself and gives you an opportunity to make changes in your life where you desire to become better. 4. Get clarity of what you want in your future. The learning’s are there to serve you in your journey to a brighter future. Understand what you want and create a clear vision of what you want for your future. 5. Be open to receive the best that you desire, the universe will conspire to take you to that next level (life is about evolving and we continue to evolve to become a better human being). 6. Learn from the past but forgive, first and foremost yourself and then others. 7. Be ready to embrace the new opportunity that are about to knock on your door. When you free yourself from the past a new path becomes open. Be open to the greater possibility. They are waiting to brighten your future.
I wish you the best. The universe wants you to get to the next level in your evolution. Be happy and prosper and know that happiness is not a destination but every moment that we live along the journey whether they are full of miracles or thorns.
Love and Joy,