Tag Archives: #health

Ashville, NC – charming with extras

We recently visited Ashville, NC. And this is our second trip. First time we were passing by and spent a day here exploring the downtown and cool eating places. To be honest it was a)Dobra Tea House b)Chai Pani that brought us here. We loved it so much that we decided we will make another trip and we did.

I believe that it was more than these two places that made us come back to Ashville. There was this T-shirt that I saw in one of the shops which read “If you are too weird for Ashville, then you are just too weird.” And I agree with this. Ashville residents are not hippie but almost hippie. Lot of people with braided hair and a very nonchalant air about them which comes with meditation or sometimes using other mood enhancing stuff. There is a certain newness in the air as you stroll down the streets. And the fact that the mountains around Ashville are vortex centers might have something to do with it. It’s like Sedona except this is actual city as opposed to tourist stop on your way to Grand Canyon.

Like all such places, Ashville is very open and diverse. In one of the cafes, SunnyPoint cafe restroom signs said “All Gender”. Most places had a sign saying that we welcome all, everybody with pictures of people from different races. And for a place to embrace this unanimously says something about the openness of the culture. If you lived only in Ashville all your life your world would be a lot different.

Ashville has a lot of sass to it – I cannot remember some of the comments but two that stand out are
-Indian restaurant had a sign outside: “Tikka look inside.”
-Sign on a t-shirt: “I don’t carrot at all.”
-The best of all – a different take on religions

The owner of the store who had some of the cool T-shirts recognized our Shiba right away – he was a dog breeder for rottweilers in his past life. People there are very friendly. We ran into this gentleman in dog park who had moved from Texas to Ashville fifteen years ago with his wife. He is a author and piano player and they have a B&B. We got into a very good discussion about writing, MFA etc.They also have this cute little bookshop called Battery Park Exchange which has lots of cute window seats for budding authors. While we enjoyed a cup of tea and carrot cake we saw many groups come and meet in there.

Variety of restaurants in a place is also a good sign of diversity – they had a Mediterranean place called BabaNahm, Thai place, Indian, french, Chinese, Vegan and regular comfort food. We couldn’t try all the places but they were all in the top of the list in TripAdvisor. And if this is not enough they also have a double decker bus from London that serves amazing coffee/desserts.

And last but not the least it is a very dog friendly place. Almost 99% of our conversations with strangers was because of Aki. And they have these cool trails for both humans and pets.

I enjoyed my trip to Ashville and it is a gem in North Carolina. I may be biased in my opinion but as they say “Each to his own.”

Beginning with a Yes!!!

At a CPM reunions, one of my friends suggested the idea of a improv – one of the first things he said is that you have to start with an Yes. I found that exercise very difficult because it meant I needed to put the BIG “I” behind and go with the flow. It was not easy for me to just accept what the person in front of me was saying and build on it – I wanted to show my smartness by contradicting or trying to prove I was right.. It didn’t come easy to me.

I remember my first course as a server in Vipassana at London. I had sat three courses and the feeling to serve arose in me – as you know Vipassana courses are all volunteer led. Many people had served me when I sat my three course and now it was my time to give back. I showed up at the door and remember saying “I am here to serve.” Those words made a difference to me – I was ready to put the I behind and serve. And I ended up serving as a course manager – someone who is the conduit between students and the staff/teachers etc. And one of the rules of conduct includes that we don’t give advice – we only listen and direct as needed to staff/teachers. And we also served the teachers. I found myself saying yes at the beginning of every sentence – regardless of the what the question/ask from me was – my attitude was “Yes, I am here to serve.” It was very helpful to live in a space where I put others in front of me. I learnt a lot in that course both knowingly and unknowingly.

I came back and found that my daily practice has been established – Dhamma does work.

Coming back to real life there is so much power in saying yes to everything that happens, people asking you difficult questions/emails that need to be answered/swimming classes/dance classes – in short life. How many times have you resisted something and it has still happened? Why lose energy in resisting something when it is what is? Yes- means accepting life as it is regardless of your liking. Your likes/dislikes in essence don’t matter – what matters is what needs to be done and doing it.

In a gamble between life and you – I would place my bet on life and win 100%. Man proposes – God disposes. This does not mean if somebody asks you to harm yourself you say yes – no it means saying yes to the fact that this is what is happening and then reacting to it – but see here is the main difference you won’t be reacting, you will be acting if you have accepted the situation and a much better position to come from.

The more we show up with a Yes- with willingness to serve the more we are putting others in front of I. More we do that more the I flourishes – this is one of the paradoxes of life.

Need a Break!

It’s Sunday evening and you are thinking about all the things that you haven’t done. You have a busy day ahead and want to get to bed early but at the same time you have not had a break. Anyways you go to bed with the unfinished business hanging over your head.

You wake up in the morning with a feeling of never-ending list hanging over you.(All you want is some space to yourself) It’s Monday – busy day at work, things just keep piling up, people keep requesting things from you and you didn’t get a moment to do anything on your list.(You cannot wait for the break when you get home).

You get home – walk your dog – make food and eat. (All this while you are looking forward to a break). And finally you end up staying late so that you can have that time to yourself that you have been wanting for days now.

And the cycle starts again. Sounds familiar?

The question here is Why do need a BREAK from something?
Because you are so fed up with what you are doing that you need a break.
Why are you so fed up?
Because you think you would be rather doing something else than what you are doing right now.

We are not accepting the moment which unfortunately or fortunately is the only thing we have. The following quote from

Imagine we have a pipe through which water is flowing and we keep blocking one end of the pipe slowly. There comes a time when the pipe is blocked and water stops flowing.

When somebody comes with a request while all we want to do is to send the email – we resist it and add a little pebble to the end of the pipe. Note that we already added quite a few pebbles to the pipe over the weekend and as the day goes by we just keep adding pebble after pebble. No wonder when we come home all we want is a BREAK.

Now, if we just accept whatever happens as something that is exactly what we wanted then there is no pebble and water keeps flowing.

How do we do that? First and foremost as usual, awareness is the key, second practice and third actual experience of acceptance of what it is. And surprise, surprise when we accept things as they are we end up having more than enough time to do all that we ever wanted. This like all major shifts will take effort.

If you are ever present in the moment then the feeling of “Needing a Break” will diminish leaving more energy for you to do your own things or just be.

Another way to look at it is through my favorite Quote “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.” Ros Zander who co-authored “The art of possibility” with Ben Zander talks about her experience in writing the book. She got herself a nice cabin in woods, well-equipped. And she would go there every weekend but end up doing everything else except writing – we have all been there! Until one day she realized that everything else that she was doing was also writing – it was food for thought like taking her dog for a walk, washing dishes etc.

Similarly if we view our daily life as all connected and every single piece including – broken pipe you need to fix, the stakeholder who has an urgent request then life just flows – there is no blockage.

Namaste and Accepting Thanks

I practice Ashtanga Yoga – Mysore style. I started it in London at Hamish’s studio who is one of the most content people I have ever known. And I admire people who are content – truly content with what they have because I “think” I lack that. Anyways, I digress. It was at this studio where I picked up the habit of bowing down to the teachers in the studio after the class which is also known as Namaste.

Today Namaste is used most commonly for Hello, but it has a deeper meaning that that. The more I spend time with books like Ramana Maharishi and Webu Sayadew the more I realize that the rituals of the past had a deeper purpose, a vision to them which the people of today have forgotten. It’s like we keep reciting the prescription without ever tasting the medicines prescribed on it. Namaste is another one of them – when we bow low to somebody we are essentially reminding ourselves that we are all one. That’s what the movie Avtaar meant with the dialogue – “I see you.”

When we moved to Columbus and started practicing at the Ashtanga Yoga Studio I did the same thing. However, I noticed that most of teachers are uncomfortable to the namaste. A bit like when somebody expresses Thank You and you brush it off or try to talk over it. A lot of people are not comfortable with accepting gifts/compliments or even a simple Thanks. I was also in the same boat.

Until I realized the following two things
1. Scenario time: Let’s say a friend has sent you a package that you have been waiting for ages. The Fedex guy comes over to your place to deliver it. He knocks on the door, you open it and immediately offer him drinks, put a garland on him, touch his feet because he got you this lovely gift. – Right it would be taking it a little too far.

Life’s a lot like that – we are all Fedex couriers. Yes, everything happens through us , it’s the ego and pride in us which makes us think I did it. And it is this “I” which brings in the UN-comfortableness. If we accept the thanks and express gratitude for being the medium what is there to be uncomfortable about?

Yoga and Meditation are two such jewels where the teachings have been poured into this vessel which we call body from one generation to the other. It’s to this knowledge and teaching that I bow to – not the body/vessel that contains it. Once we grasp this at a deeper level the discomfort will vanish truly.

2. Something that my prof at Creativity and Personal Mastery course in London Business School,had mentioned. He had said that if we do not accept the thanks or help that somebody is offering then we are blocking the flow. If you help somebody and if somebody else helps you , accept it gracefully and keep the flow going.

That said, last thing I want to talk about is helping others. There is a difference between helping and being of service. If we say, “Let me help you,” it automatically puts you above the other person in some fashion. Where as if you ask,”How can I be of service?” then it takes a different tone. The idea here is that you should be grateful that you can be of service. The words – help/service do not matter, what matter is the intention behind it?
Are you helping because it stroked your ego?
Are you helping because its filling up an empty space within you?
Are you helping because that’s who you are?

A lot of different messages in this thread and I will leave you with this one.

Body is a Temple

If you don’t take care of your Body where will you live?

This is one of the quotes on my kitchen boards for this year. There’s a lot of talk and in general awareness about body image, healthy diets – vegan, gluten free, plant based diet foods, lactose free and the list is endless. And my dad was telling me that there are umpteen books on losing weight and they keep on coming but still people have issue losing weight. And we were wondering about why that is? This blog is about two topics really a) body image concept b) losing weight.

Before that, let’s talk about why weight/diet figure so much in our daily lives. Let’s start with a story.

In a remote tribal village – some tribals were shown pictures of our best models. And their response was unanimous – “She will die soon, she is so thin. How can she have babies?” End of Story.

And in our world for most women – they are not thin enough. My husband wonders if there’s something inherently wrong with women’s eyes.

Why such a contrast between these two views? I have a theory and it’s got to do with marketing. Whatever we see around us which is labelled as beautiful includes thin, hour glass figure women. Think about it for a second – the perfume, models on online shopping sites, all the actresses. Everything in media that denotes beautiful is indicated by a very small section of women who are of a completely different skeletal structure. And most of this is subconscious and it has been embedded so deep in our minds that it has become another of those socially accepted mental models. There’s a lot of awareness of it but it will take time to completely eliminate it.

Tribals on the other hand who have never been exposed to our media had a completely opposite view. So, now we are at least aware of one reason why we think of weight/body image in one particular way. And even though I am writing the blog I would be lying if I said that I did not believe in the beauty hoax. I am guilty, especially coming of a 20-day detox on liquid diet.

Let’s explore the topic of diets and why losing weight is so difficult. When I was a kid, we had a guy come to our school for a talk and I remember this from the talk
He told us the story of this great leader who had amazing will power. People asked him what was the reason behind his will power. And he said it was very simple, all he did was shake his head from one side to the other. And others were like really – that is so easy. And then he said, “Well, you have to do this when somebody offers you an ice cream or asks you to play when you have an exam.”

For some reason that story stuck with me – it is about saying no when somebody offers you chocolate/sugar/butter. We all know these items are not good for us but we still eat them. If you have amazing will power then you know what to do. And if not then start with awareness – everytime you eat an item that you know you should not be eating – eat with awareness and very consciously. And there will come a time a when the desire itself will give you up. Until then it’s one day at a time as the famous Bollywood actor Amir Khan says in this youtube video

I will finish off with explaining my Title – In India Temples are a sacred and holy place. You keep them really clean and think only pure thoughts while you are in a temple – so treating your body like temple as the same idea behind it.

Here’s to shaking our heads and temples.