I saw this movie on Netflix called – ‘Laapata Ladies’ roughly translated into ‘Missing Ladies’. It’s about rural India in the North where women, after marriage, wear a veil over their heads, cannot utter their husband’s name, and follow their husband. Since new brides wear the same kind of veil and all they can see is their husband’s shoes – there is a mix-up, and brides get exchanged…Anyway, this blog is about traditions and how you may cling to traditions, too, even if you think you are not.

Quote: Letting go is a lifestyle change. Only when we build the habit of noticing that we can choose to step out old patterns.

Let’s take wearing a veil – if you ask, there is no clear answer as to why, except it is religious, a sign of humility, etc. But, the real reason is more practical – to keep hair from falling into food while cooking. Let’s examine why women don’t take their husbands’ names – in the olden days, young girls would marry men much older than them. And it is a sign of respect in India to refrain from speaking the elder’s name – no practical reason but to show respect, which would make sense if the elder is worth respecting. 

My mom would not let me cut nails after 6 pm. That was precisely why I cut nails after 6 pm – I would question my mom why. And her response would be her mom told her so – and I would respond why didn’t she ask her mom about it? At some point, I remember my dad telling me that it was probably because there was no electricity in the old days, so if you cut nails after dark, it may land in food or water – that made sense, right? There are traditions I love – like wearing bangles and anklets. The reason for this is not purely aesthetic, but wearing them rubs against your veins, which increases blood circulation and keeps you calm. 

Most of these traditions started off with practical reasons, but somewhere down the line, people started following them blindly, turning them into superstitions. If you think we don’t follow such rules, then think again – are you still a slave to a specific habit pattern? Maybe as a child, you were told to grow up because you had a younger brother, and even now, as an adult, you are busy growing up. You may have experienced scarcity of money sometime in your life – are you still living in that frame of mind? Perhaps someone told you off because they did not like your fun and friendly nature – and you still do not express it. 

QUOTE: It is only when we begin to relax with ourselves that meditation becomes a transformative process. Only when we relate with ourselves without moralizing, without harshness, without deception, can we let go of harmful patterns.

It is human nature to find routines and establish patterns because it helped us focus on the next threat or attack when we were still in the Stone Age. But in this day and age, we need to reverse this habit. We need to question most of the things we do by rote so that we can enjoy life. 

In fantasy books, Elves usually live a long life, so they enjoy every moment as new – instead of looking for the next thing to do or turning things into a routine so that they can enjoy life, they treat routine as life. And humankind is in a similar place. It is time to let go of old habits if a new earth has to emerge. Each of us can play the part however we can. For writers, it can mean accepting old beliefs by accepting that you are holding onto them. Darkness goes away when the light is turned on. Similarly, awareness is the light we need to turn on through breathing, sensations, or just witnessing our thoughts.

What do you think will disappear when you turn the light of awareness?

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