Tag Archives: #selfhelp

Who Are You Kidding?

I taught five-year-olds science during a volunteering project. I was nervous because I did not know what to expect, but I enjoyed it. The main reason was I left the class feeling hugged (not Physically but general vibe). I often wonder why that is – my take is because with kids they are who they are – they are not trying to be someone else or make you believe something. They are just themselves. On the very first day of the class – a kid came up to me and asked, ‘Where is the teacher?’. I told her it was me. She looked at me and said, ‘You are too short.’ And walked off. She forgot about it, and there was no intention behind it – it was a comment and moved on. Something happens to all of us as we grow up. We start behaving in public.


So, does it mean we say what comes to our mind even when we grow up? No. But, it doesn’t mean that all we do is behave – because then we are what the world around us molded us to be. It is vital to retain your inner spark even when you have to act. As we grow up we have to adapt our behavior to different situations, different people – but underneath it all, you know who you are, and you are very well aware that all you are doing is just acting.

Another aspect of it inward. Are we faithful to ourselves even when no one is watching? This is even more important than behaving in public because at the end of you live with yourself 24 X 7. If you say something in society but do something else in private then it creates a crack within you – and if not controlled the break can devastate your inner self leaving you constantly not at peace. It is better, to be honest with yourself first. Know who you are (it all comes to down that) and once you know where you stand, it will automatically show up in the way you behave. It is tough in this day and age to not have a difference between who you are and how you act? But, as long as the gap is minimum and there is a slice of your life where these two are identical you are good to go.

It is crucial to have people or opportunities in your daily life with whom you can who you are without any doubts because they do not judge you. Some people find it easier to open up to strangers than to loved one whereas others are completely open to their family and friends. There is no right or wrong -what is essential that you have somebody with whom you can be yourself and let your inner self breathe freely.

When was the last time you let your inner self breathe freely?

Priorities

I recently watched an amazon prime series, ‘Made in Heaven.’ It is about a couple of wedding planners whose clients are the elite of elitist in Delhi, India. The show was ok overall, one-time watch. But, there was a thread in that show that got me worked up a bit – and not a lot of things do that to me now – thankfully.

One of the wedding planners is gay, and in the show, gay rights had not been legalized in India. Article 377 which in summary stated that any LGBTQ was illegal and a criminal act was still in effect. (On 6th, September 2018 – Indian constitution deemed article 377 invalid and accepted homosexuality as natural.) I have a lot of friends in the LGBTQ community and some very dear friends too, but I understood a lot more when I watched the show. In the show, the gay partner is reported to the police by his landlord and then jailed where the police officer abuses him.

This is the part where I struggled (and still struggle) to wrap my head around the whole concept. Can you imagine being punished for who you are? Being put in jail because you are who you are. Imagine having to live a double life 24 X 7. This is beyond my understanding.

I am a project manager by trade and maybe even by nature. If I were project managing earth then trying to round up the LGBTQ community into jail would never make it to any priority list, on the contrary, what this world needs right now is Love – in any shape or form, regardless of gender. There are so many other vital issues on earth that need to be tackled than spending precious resources trying to hunt down people who at the end of the day just want to have a normal life.

Let’s consider the following two fictional scenarios – we have a tree that is giving very sweet and a nutritional fruit in abundance. The unique thing about this tree is that it does not require a seed to grow, all it needs is a branch of an existing tree and once you plant it – it grows naturally.

And then we have another kind of a tree – which is not satisfied by its fruits, and it actively infects other trees to destroy them from having fruits by poisoning it. This tree is hungry for power and preys on the weaker sex for selfish reasons. But it grows in the typical fashion from a seed.

Which one would you focus on getting under control? Something that nature has deemed right or something that is twisted in its inner core and lives with harmful intentions.

In ancient history, homosexuality is celebrated and depicted on the walls of many ancient temples in India. Even transgenders figure in old Indian epic stories like Mahabharata. Makes me wonder what happened to those pure and loving thoughts? I asked my professor once – ‘Are there truly evil people? And his response was, ‘There is nothing evil – there is only ignorance.’

How can you contribute to getting rid of ignorance?

True Connection

While doing the annual house cleaning, I decided to watch some Netflix to give me company. I was not looking for something particular, so I did a quick browse, and the name ‘Watership Down’ sounded familiar, and it was an animation with rabbits – I pressed play and settled down to clean with a fun cartoon series. However, a few minutes in – I was gripping the edge of my seat. Watership Down was not at all happy hoppy, jumpy bunny story but it was a reflection of humankind in 1972 which sadly is no different from today.

The point I want to bring up is that what we see and think in our head – does not match up with reality, but we believe in the illusion in our minds than the truth as it manifests.

One of the Bollywood actors was saying that Social Media has also become a channel for hate with no repercussions. People write all kind of stuff because they do not have to face the outcome. If they were to meet the person they were writing about in person – they wouldn’t say what they had to say. Social media in some ways dehumanizes – disconnects from humanity. The other side of the coin is that Social Media when used appropriately, lets us connect to a large number of people.

How many times has it happened that you have imagined something about somebody or cooked up a story about what happened? And when you get to meet the person or find out what ‘really’ happened, it was nowhere close to what you were thinking. Our minds are a tool, and if not tamed they are like a wild monkey jumping from one branch to other and cooking up stories – yes, literally cooking up stories because that is what the mind does.

Our minds like any unruly child do not want to do our bidding, and thus it devises these distractions, and it has years of practice of going untamed. And what it creates is not real, its an illusion – showing us the reality is not one of our mind’s strengths, in fact, it should just observe not judge. And humans are still struggling to use the mind as a tool for centuries – so we get caught up in the drama in our heads and then go about to play it out in real life. Sadly, for us, it works most of the time or we each seem to think so and thus the disconnect. Our minds have taken fodder from the media, TV, books, society to form our reality even before it has happened and that clouds our eyesight and prevents us from seeing from what the truth is.

Don’t believe me – think of someone who genuinely meant harm to you and you know for sure – it is an undeniable fact that they were going to harm you. Go on. I dare you!

For most of us, the answer would be no one – except our minds. And yet, we live in a world where we do not believe in positive intent. It is time to wake up and connect.

Who will you connect with today?

Camera Lens

I practice Vipassana Meditation – Vipassana in Pali means “To see things as they are”.

And in the book Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg he also talks about “Observing without judgment”.

At one level it makes perfect sense – how can we live in this world if we are not able to see things as they are?. If you see a red apple, you see a red apple. If you see a tall building, you see a tall building. It is easy to see the reality as it is in such matters.

But, how about when you look at your best friend talking to somebody else, and you think, “she does not love me anymore.”
Or, when you see someone else and think, “He is so much more handsome than me.”
Or, you see somebody at work and think, “Man, I will never be like that person.”

Now, in these instances are you seeing the reality as it is? And these are the situations when we should see the truth as it is and not as we would like it to be.

When a baby is born in the world, let’s assume that they start with a clean slate (not getting into past karma) – They should be able to see the reality as it is right? Is that true? If your parents smoked when you were a kid smoking will not be a bad thing for you, and that’s your reality but is it how things are in the world. From the time we are born we are creating our realities – as we grow up we have created the world we live in and the illusion is so strong that it is almost real.

When the seed of enlightenment sprouts within you (because all human beings have the seed) then we have a desire to see who we are. And we start exploring which leads us to things like NVC, Vipassana, CPM, etc. And what these things do is to give us a way to see within ourselves – look inward because from the time we are born we are always outward focused. And when we look inward and can understand the inner workings of our body and mind, we move one step closer to realization. One way to start is to look at life as you are looking at it from a camera lens – for example, “All you see is your best friend talking to somebody else.” (not that she does not like you anymore).

Then the question arises – how do we know that what we are experiencing is the ultimate reality? This is where my favorite quote comes in as the answer, “In this plane, there are no answers, and beyond this plane, there is nobody to ask the question.”

One thing is for sure, what you experience right now is your reality, and that is as good as any the place to start from. Maybe when you start you blame the other party 100%, and maybe after working on oneself for a while you will begin to see your part in what happened, and as you continue to work on yourself you will eventually come to the realization that whatever happens is 100% because of you whether you know it or not. Once we accept this reality as our real progress begins – changes truly start from within. And we are more focused because we are not distracted by what others are doing but what is going on inside of oneself.

What the kale!?! #VeganLife

This year I become a Vegan. It has honestly been a journey. I gave up chicken because I stopped enjoying it, next year I gave up fish, last year I gave up milk and this year eggs. Before I go any further let me say that I believe in the Chinese proverb -“80% is perfect for me”. You will catch me eating the occasional cheese or drinking chai with regular milk, but it is not the norm.

A few people ask me why I became vegan. I have no clear answer except it was time – a part of it was for weight control, but I believe that most of it is because of the meditation practice (Vipassana) and my tuning with my body needs. I practice Vipassana and know that it is my path in my life. And as a part of Vipassana, you are encouraged to maintain the five precepts in your daily life if you are a serious meditator.

And one of the precepts is to refrain from killing any living beings – and that includes refraining from acts that encourage killing living beings as well. And I believe that if you take these precepts, they have to have an impact and maybe that is why I am on this journey or simply put I am more in tune with my body needs now than before as a part of my spiritual practice.

Now, why would my body needs shift towards Vegan? I follow what my body needed, but I recently saw a video by Sadhguru (A guru from Isha Yoga Center – one of the few yogis who meets people where they are) on eating meat. He explained that herbivore animals have molars for chewing, grinding and they also have a long alimentary canal to aid in digestion whereas carnivores have canines for tearing the meet and a short alimentary canal as they do not digest food for long. Now, which of these systems do you think we humans have? We have molars and a long alimentary canal – and the climate in our body is tropical – so can you imagine what happens to meat left outside (or inside our body) for long periods of time? [Especially when it takes meat 24-28 hours to process through our bodies]

He also has another reason for those of us who are spiritually inclined- that if we eat other beings who have emotional feelings, then it is a) like killing them b) we are just collecting their imprints which are not suitable for preparing our body for spiritual practice.

And he also says that if you live in areas with harsh climates like deserts where you have to eat meat – in that case eat meat which has the lowest emotional content like fish. This makes sense because fish was the last animal meat I gave up.

These are facts or beliefs depending on what you searched for in Google, but your body does not lie. Unfortunately, most of us have lost the ability to listen to our body.

What’s next for me? Eating Less and Eating Simple – Mindfully. I am on a journey and grateful to be on it. Will you be my fellow traveler?

Reality(s)

Yesterday Wild Tiger Tees (a social enterprise of which I am one of the co-founders) went to festival for good in Columbus Ohio.

It is a cool festival about ‘Doing more good’ – all the booths in this festival have a social tinge to it like how Wild Tiger Tees empower youth experiencing homelessness, there were other missions like Passion works that enable less able people to express their creativity, etc.

Everybody comes to these events with their reality.
1. Wild Tiger Tees: We came to test our business model, spread word, get some business and honestly to have a lot of fun. I am very grateful that I love hanging out with our team, so a day with them seemed like a great idea.
2. Police at the event: For them, success means happy people. Nobody is upset or grumbling – then they can enjoy themselves.
3. Beer People: For some, it was an event where they can hang out, drink some beer and have good food – with not much inclination towards the social cause.
4. Aki (Our Dog): It was not the best event because of all the traffic and the noise from the music on stage.
5. New People: And some people were just new to Columbus and were looking to meet like-minded people.

Everybody came to the same event with their reality. It is the same event, but everybody got a different experience. If you asked a few people you will hear different versions of the same event based on their expectations and experience. For the person who is coming to make friends is looking for people he can hang out with, for a person who is genuinely interested in the social mission – he is looking to meet as many social enterprises he can.

Life is no different. We all live on the same planet earth, drink the same water and breath the same air. But, our individual lives are so different. We have different realities and different expectations from life in general. What this means is that we do not have the full picture of the events including life itself. Second, we get what we are looking for, so we miss out on a lot of other things. And our understanding of the events is never complete at any given point in time.

What does this mean for us? Awareness that our reality might not be the only reality. Next time we get into an argument with somebody or do not agree with their point of view – remember we only know our end of the story. It’s like we are all in one big house and everybody has a different view from their room windows, and when we meet for dinner, we are all talking about our room views, which is ok as long as we realize that other people are also thinking the same way about their view. People who have come to our room know what we are talking about, but people who haven’t won’t know much.

Observing things and not labeling them is one way to remain grounded in this reality – that we have different realities.

Great Healer

Do you remember something you wanted as a child? A toy, teddy bear, candy. And what about now? Do you still want it? Do you remember the first time your heart broke over love? Do you still feel the same angst? Do you remember the time when you fell as a child? Do you still have the same pain?

No.

Even if we grew up with unfulfilled desires as a child – there comes a time when the desires are longer relevant. Now as a grown adult the desire for a toy is no longer relevant. There comes the point when the questions drop away, and you start living the answers even if the answers are not what you expected.

I know one of my excellent friends who for reasons best known to the universe never married and after a while, the question ‘Are you married?’ does not matter. I know a few couples who never had a child and now the question ‘Do you have kids?’ does not matter. Because whether you like it or not time moves on and you will move with it (if you are wise). Because after a certain age – having a partner or having kids is no longer relevant.

And this brings me to the essence of the blog post.

Why is this good to know?
We can be assured from our experience that what we are experiencing now – will become irrelevant in the future, so there is no need to spend excessive amounts of energy for the situation. It can be used as a tool to deal with not so pleasant situations in our life currently.

It is the knowledge that the universe gives you only what you can handle – rest time will take care of it. Life is short – enjoy what you can, while you can.

It can aid in decision making knowing that in the long run time does take care of things – and it can reduce the agonizing over the decisions – if you let it be.

It helps you live your life entirely – which is an essential belief to grow in. If you think about the fact the earth is just a tiny mote of dust in the vast universe then not getting the promotion or not having a child or not having a partner is not that big of a deal. And as the saying goes – all roads lead to Rome, if this road does not work for you then take another route. Time is on your side after all!

Whenever you are in a situation that is bogging you down – do your best to deal with the situation as wisely as you can and always remember that in the long run time is in your side. And you might not even remember this situation down the road, or also if you do recall the situation it might bring laughter or tears of joy when you look back because with every second that passes – a new you is born and the new you has the potential to be free from the past you(s)

Diversity And Inclusion – Airbnb

I had written a post about Diversity and Inclusion a while ago. And I am still fascinated by the power of diversity.

I like to travel as some of you know – and I realized that for the last few trips we have always stayed at an Airbnb. I remember being skeptical about the idea initially. What! Do you live in someone’s house? They live there too! How does that work?

But, after the very first one, I was hooked to the idea. I was a total convert. Why do I like Airbnb? And how is it related to Diversity and inclusion. For those of you not familiar with Airbnb – here is the link to the website. But even important is their mission

“Our diverse global community makes Airbnb possible. Building an inclusive platform for all hosts and guests is our greatest goal, and we’re always working to improve it.”

Brian Chesky – co-founder and CEO of Airbnb states the following succinctly.

If you think about it, the very foundation of Airbnb is based on inclusion. You open your houses first to a stranger and then open your hearts to them as well. It is difficult to not like a human after you have ‘really’ seen them. For example, in my most recent trip to Toronto with my friend we were staying with an Asian family – complete with a kid, grandparent, and the parents. It was a very lovely Airbnb – the living room and kitchen was a common area, our bedrooms and bathroom were separated.

And if you are from an Asian culture, you instinctively understand the situation. The grandparent(s) usually travels along with the family to take care of the kid. They did not speak English, and we did not speak Chinese. The first day we were there, we were very polite and just nodded and smiled at each other if we crossed paths. At night the little kid starts crying. My friend and I give each other a look – ‘Kids’ and we went to sleep as the rooms were very well segregated. Next day we saw what they had for breakfast, they saw that we skipped breakfast. We could see the kid viewing us to see what we did, how we did etc. That evening she came up to us with her mother shyly and gave us two candies. Next day we returned the favor. And by that time we had become quite familiar with each other. And when we left, we took selfies. We exchanged our names.

Now, this is what happens in a joint family in India. You live with other people – you ADJUST, and you ACCEPT. This is what makes us a grow as a person. Living in Airbnb reminds me of that. And at the same time in a world where technology is pulling people away, we need more of these instances to remind us that we are all humans who share space on this lovely planet called earth.

I enjoy these tiny, intimate connection with people who I have never met – because it reminds me of our oneness.

Giraffe and Jackals

I recently attended a Non Violent Communication workshop, and they used a couple of metaphors which I loved.
First one was a Giraffe – there were things about Giraffe that I discovered.
1. Giraffes have an 11-Kg or a 26-pound heart.
2. Giraffes have a 1.8m or 6 feet long neck.
3. Giraffes Saliva is magical – it dissolves even thorns. Well, the saliva coats the thorns so well that it does not harm them.

Now, why would this be important in a Non-Violent Communication Course? In a nutshell,
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.
NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs and that each of our actions is a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.

It is a means of communication that invites us to meet at the space beyond right and wrongs. This is not about physical violence but the harm we might do with our words.

Giraffe – metaphor reminds us to
1. Ensure that heart and mind are connected. We are not only responding with our mind but also cognizant of the feelings in our heart.
2. long neck reminds us to make sure we have the long-term view and not just this interaction. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and it takes a long time to build – keeping the long-term outlook is essential if we want to create a relationship and not just have a successful transaction.
3. Saliva reminds us to get rid of judgments and let them pass through us.

Second metaphor referred to Jackals as a reference to all the judgments and biases we have – this is nothing against Jackals. When we are judging another person, we are surrounded by Jackals, and it is better to get rid of them or let them pass through.

I knew about Non-Violent Communication almost ten years ago, but I was not ready for it then. And this year the book called out to me. The reason I am drawn to the book is that I have realized how inadept I am at communication.
For example:
I call X lazy when in reality all that person X is doing is lying on the couch.
I want Y to be more responsive when what I need Y to do is to respond to my emails within 25 hours.

As I am reading the book, I realize how I am not clear on what I need and how I am feeling. And if me the originator of the request is not clear then how can the recipient fare any better. And to top it all I blame the recipient for all the miscommunication. I am surprised that I have managed for so long with this kind of thinking.

Like any foundational change – this will take days, months, years but all journeys start with a baby step and here is mine.

Choreograph or Improvise

Have you ever said to yourself – “If only, I had done it this way – it would have worked out.” or “Why did this have to happen?” Have you ever been able to get things executed precisely the way you planned?

Neither have I – best-laid plans gone awry, right. I am a project manager, and I have come to realize that one of the reasons why we need project managers is because things rarely go to plan. If everything worked as its supposed to then, we wouldn’t have to manage them. Life would work similarly – if everything in life went as we planned we would all be robots (maybe an exaggeration but you get the picture)

I recently came across the book “Gallop to Freedom” – a book about two horse trainers who have a very different way of training horses – with compassion. And one of their leadership principles is “Improvise and not choreograph”. And like all things I need to learn – this stayed with me. We try to plan our life just like we choreograph a dance. But unlike dancing life is not a one-person show – we live in a society where there are so many external factors ranging from people to weather that it is impossible to account for all the different outcomes.

How about if we decided to improvise our steps in the dance depending on who shows up. We might have a very well choreographed Bollywood song but what if the music presented is a ballet song. It does not mean that we should not plan for things at all – remember the golden mean. Instead, choreographing can help us when we improvise. Life is no different – we prepare for various or often one outcome, and hence we are unprepared mentally when life throws a curveball. If we were improvising, then we would continue without breaking a sweat. The amount of emotional energy getting over not being able to use our choreography will not exist, and we will ride along taking in whatever comes our way – not only making it our own but improvising on it too.

The best thing about improvising is that you are always where you are supposed to be – there are no regrets, and it is up to you how great you make it. If life hands you lemons, then you make lemonade, or you cry. The choice is yours, and you own your choices.

Improvisation also ties into the principle that we do not have control – all we have is the illusion of control. Unexpected things happen all the time – either we get overwhelmed when things don’t work our way or make what is happening our way and carry on. If you are a realist, then the following quote probably resonates with you. You can only invest in the process and not the outcome – but if you improvise you can create your outcome.

My friend and I were visiting Palace of Versailles in France. There was a long line to get in. We decided to play dumb charades and entertained ourselves and others around us. The funny thing is that’s what I remember about our trip, not the actual palace – Improvisation makes for good memories too!