Category Archives: Wellbeing

Live your Life

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Love the life you live

Love the life you live

Most of us don’t know how to live our lives. We get caught up in the nuances of life, in the details of living life, and forget to actually live life.  We trap ourselves in thoughts of acceptance, actions of propriety, and boundaries of conformity that we forget what are true desires are.  We work so hard at trying to please the public that we place secondary importance to pleasing ourselves.  I was a gymnast when I was young; when I had my practices and competitions all the emphasis fell on landing the cartwheel on the beam, or following the routine as a replay of practice.  Life happens when you don’t land the cartwheel on the beam; life happens when you improvise and don’t keep playing records.

Living our lives adequately does require patterns and repetition, but it is when we start trying to replay these patterns that we start confining ourselves within expectations.  I know waking up at 5A.M., going horseback riding, doing yoga, listening to music, and working make me feel good- so I incorporate this into my daily routine; when this routine is interrupted because of an injury, the weather, or other uncontrollable circumstances I get a little disheartened.  I forget the reason those things brought me peace, happiness, and stability: myself.  I try so hard to stay on my schedule that when I am unable to follow it I am so focused on the missed ride, the oversleeping, or the missed stretch that I forget to improvise and live.

Enjoy the freedom of your life

Enjoy the freedom of your life

Living your life entails doing what you want. That’s not always possible because there are certain rules that we have to follow and certain parameters set to guide us.  Work, diet restrictions, school, and family are examples of things that restrict our expression.  Every activity will have more or less parameters, but it is how we attune to those parameters that defines our life.  When we try so hard to color within the lines, walk on the dotted line, or speak not to offend anyone that we stray away from living our lives and begin to live a conformist life.

When we worry about how others will react to our behavior, think about how to conform to what’s ‘pretty’, or do what others are doing, we begin overstepping the very fine line that separates our life and a commercialized robotic life.  Living your life is about doing what you like, having your own thoughts, and expressing yourself as an individual; it’s about your uniqueness.  Watch movies if that’s what you like, but don’t get caught up in looking or acting like what you see; go shopping if it’s what you want, but don’t get caught up in following the trend or fashion; get a job because you have to, but don’t get one that gives the most money.  In life some people are rich, some are poor, some people are attractive, some are not, some people are intelligent, some are just smart; don’t get too caught up in attaining what you are not or don’t have, enjoy and make the most of what you do have.

Make the most of what you have

Make the most of what you have

Many people look to make more money, a better reputation, be a good person, or improve in some way, in essence everyone tries to improve their quality of life, but what is the point in doing so if the quality increases, but the duration decreases? Quality over quantity, but when life’s moments are so fleeting there must be a balance between the quality and quantity.

Live your life, not to anyone’s expectations, not to please anyone, and in no one’s shadow, but for yourself; your own expectation, pleasure, and in your own path.

Most people on a spiritual road would say that the aim of life is to reach enlightenment, nirvana, moksha, etc. and to reach this state intense meditation, sanyasi, and abandonment is required but the teachings of GURU say otherwise.  Live to your enjoyment, live in abundance, live with pleasure: soon you will realize the tranquility of nothing, the peace of silence, and the happiness of being alone.  Life is meant to be lived, and when you can live without preconceptions, without expectations, without worrying about judgments, and without caught in influences, you will have reached your enlightenment.

Coloring outside the lines has it's own beauty

Coloring outside the lines has it’s own beauty

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Inhale

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Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

We take our breath for granted. As a matter of fact we take most of our bodily functions for granted, but let’s focus on breath as it is one of the more vital and basic needs for survival. In yogic terms the breath in called ‘prana’ or life force, and the exercise of breathing is called ‘pranayama’ or extension of the life force. What is breath? Breath is just a composition of air that our body releases. When we breathe we ingest some air, our bodies alter the composition of that air based on our needs, and then we exhale.

Why do we breathe? What happens if we don’t breathe? We breathe to oxygenate our bodily organs. We receive o2 when we breathe, a chemical we also receive when we drink water, and presumably derive it from other sources as well; in the course of breathing we release toxic chemicals from our bodies such as carbon dioxide, a chemical we could presumably excrete in other ways too. So the question remains; why breathe? I can’t provide an answer to this, but I can tell you the most important things and the most wonderful things are often inexplicable.

Breathing is something we do unconsciously and like most things that happen unconsciously, the effects are pervasive and far reaching. Our breath is the vehicle by which each cell in our body receives the oxygen it needs and releases its unneeded and toxic gas: carbon dioxide. Every organ in our body is made up of millions of cells, and our single inhalation allows for the continued productivity of them; imagine the huge benefit we are getting by a simple intake of air. Our brains, hearts, lungs, and other organs would not be able to reach its optimum functionality if we stopped breathing.

Breathing is our direct exchange and communication with the universe

Breathing is our direct exchange and communication with the universe

Breathing helps our physical bodies in a most necessary way, but its calming and introspective qualities are often overlooked also. Most of us take short, shallow breaths; although this type of breathing gives us just enough oxygen to sustain us, long, deep breaths gives our bodies ample oxygen to utilize and also a side effect of relaxation. Breathing is something we do unconsciously and thus do not pay attention to how or when, therefore our bodies just takes what it needs; but if we consciously become aware of our breath: why we are doing it, the how will most likely change automatically.

Taking long, deep breaths helps promote the productivity and longevity of our cells and thus our bodies; but also deep breathing promotes calmness and clarity. When we can focus on taking deeper breaths it not only refreshes us and helps us break out of the pattern of stress, anxiety or fear, but it also helps us stay in the present by forcing our bodies to do something it otherwise would not if it were left to its own awareness. Shallow breathing is an indicator of a stress- prone environment which allows and is sometimes accompanied with tense, hunched shoulders. When our bodies are stressed: physically burdened, physically tired (cardio), and physically anxious (adrenaline) our breathing is affected and reverts to its normal and unconscious functioning, and for most of us that is quick shallow breaths. Like this, we inhale less oxygen and exhale less carbon dioxide.   Without proper intake and elimination, our cells run the risk of dying and we start perspiring. However, if we can learn to control and be aware of our breath deep breathing can help when our bodies are taxed.

 

The practice off breathing requires concentration and control.

The practice off breathing requires concentration and control.

Deep breathing, control of the breath, and different kinds of breathing are yogic practices. The importance and practice of pranayama is taught in the introduction to yoga. Yoga and different disciplines that stress the importance of the breath teach us that breathing into the pain, stress, or anything else the body feels promotes relaxation. Breathing in synchronization with our exercises is called asanas or postures. In these postures we achieve unison with God, the ultimate goal of yoga.

Breathing seems trivial, so trivial that it happens without our knowing it. But understanding its importance goes to show how faulty our thinking is when putting stress and importance on things.

Just breathe.

Just breathe.

When you can learn how to breathe, your body will be easier, and when your body is easier and more calm, your clarity and rationality increase. Taking a minute to breathe will renew the moment and see beyond the stress and anxiety.

So, take a breath; breathe yourself in and breathe out the fears and stress that aren’t you. Inhale.

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Meditative mantras: the modern modality

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When we have a job we are generally allotted vacation time; why? When we go to the gym or do some repetitive strength exercise we do a certain number of sets and rest in-between, why? After running all-

Our bodies need rest and will take it wherever it can find it

Our bodies need rest and will take it wherever it can find it

nighters we often feel groggy and sleep deprived, why? The answer to these questions involves some scientific explanation, but the bottom line is that the body wants and needs rest.  A grinder, iron, car or any other type of machinery will eventually lose functionality if left on all day every day. We know this so either we pull the plug or somehow switch off the machinery when it is not in use; shouldn’t this reasoning be extrapolated to the

We know how to rest our bodies...

We know how to rest our bodies…

body and mind also?

When the body is pushed too far it shows signs of needing and wanting rest.  Our muscles may start shaking, our body speed (reflexes, movements) may slow down, or our eyes and other organs may start lagging or dozing off.  What happens when the mind is pushed too far? Of course it manifests itself in physical fatigue, but when we rest our bodies we do not necessarily rest our minds.

Sleeping is a way to rest the mind; while sleep replenishes our energies leaving us refreshed when we wake studies have shown  that meditation not only augments the benefits received during sleep, but also increases positivity, decreases negativity, and boosts our health systems.  Meditation is a practice that gives the mind a rest from the constant activities it is involved in: thinking, analyzing, deliberating, conspiring, etc. The constant chatter that fills our minds causes disease and restlessness to the body and mind. Quieting the mind serves not only as an exercise in relaxation, but also replenishes our vaults of energy and peacefulness.

Typically, when one thinks of meditation a Buddha like figure pops into mind: a calm and serene person sitting under a bamboo tree in lotus

The right way to meditate?

The right way to meditate?

position with their eyes in a closed state.  Most of us aren’t able or willing to substitute ourselves for that Buddha like figure either because meditation is too time consuming or has always been reserved for the more ‘conscious’ souls.  Meditation involves quieting the mind which is harder to do in public places, when you are doing some non-automated movement, when you are doing some mental exercise, or sitting idle.  We have conditioned our minds to believe that meditation is possible for supreme souls and is therefore difficult as the mind’s natural state is to think, deliberate, ruminate, analyze, and wander.  Our senses constantly provide the brain and mind stimuli to decipher and judge, thus public places hinder the attempt to quite the mind; when doing a movement our minds must put some thought into the subsequent movements, thus quieting the mind may be harder task when performing some movement, although the body is at rest when playing a game like crossword or Sudoku, the mind is busy formulating and thus prevents a quieting of the mind; an idle mind conforms into its natural state and is so not conducive to quieting the mind. As with anything changing the natural state of something (gasàsolid, fatàthin or negativeàpositive) requires some effort and time.

mantra3

You are meditating when your mind is focused, alert, and tranquil

When in a state of meditation the mind is at rest, it is at peace.  It has no stimulus to analyze, judge, or register and no room for thoughts.  It is helpful to visualize something, chant something, or listen to something whilst trying to meditate; our focus and attention eliminates any additional thoughts. We generally block our senses i.e. shut our eyes and sit in a quiet place.   Visualizing entails focusing your attention on a mental image. Chanting entails concentrating a repeating a mantra. Mantra is a Sanskrit word meaning to liberate the mind.  Yoga nidra and the like are spoken meditations that induce the student into the desired state.

These are the traditional ways to reach a meditative state, but many of us find this practice weary and grueling.  Meditation should not be forced, but should be sought out for its peaceful qualities: not as a means to an end but an end itself.   If sitting quietly under a tree while cutting off sensory stimulation to your brain seems too tedious and daunting consider engaging yourself to find your Flow.  One can enter the state of Flow by doing what one enjoys. Dr. Martin Seligman referred to someone who experienced Flow by entering into the stock exchange.  Artists, entrepreneurs, scientists enter Flow and have made many creations and discoveries this way.  Consider determining your own strengths at authentighappiness.com and constructing your work and play activity according to them.  Finding a balance between what you are skilled at and what challenges you is key synergy to finding your Flow. Interest and understanding what you are doing goes without saying.

Doing something you enjoy makes it easier for the mind to enter into the state of Flow.  Find what you are good at, what interests you, and what intrigues and excites your mind and there you will find a door that will direct you to the experience of Flow.  It is in this experience that you can reach the meditative state.  In the state of Flow your mind is on auto-focus negating any idling or observatory thoughts and on autopilot cutting out (most) of the thought process involved.  So get in tune with you Flow today, and experience meditative sanctuary.

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Letting go

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As much as we hit the control button, we can never claim control

As much as we hit the control button, we can never claim control

Many of us worry abput losing control. I know that I can be charertarized as a Type A personality control freak, but my recent experiences in yoge, mmeditaion, spirituality, and a technology limited existence have led me to an understanding that loosening up on the reigns is ok.  I thought I needed the answers to every question that could be asked of me: who, what, when, where, why and how did this happen.  This need may be intrinsic to euntraprenureal blood because as I look at my parents and siblings the need is the same.

When we loosen up on the reigns and lose a bit of the control which we feel keeps our life in order we are actually regaining the control we lost in our early childhood. The reigns we hold are material and the harder we hold will not help us live our lives more peacefully, elongate our lives, or make us more happy.  The reigns are ephemeral just like everything else in life and the harder we try to steer the more hurdles we will have to maneuver.  When we were children life seemed to flow; we didn’t think about who, what, when, where, why, and how things happened we just did what we needed or wanted and didn’t worry about who had the control.

Once we relax and open ourselves up to possibility we realize the need to be in control is a futile and taxing effort that keeps our mind and bodies under stress.  We hold onto the reigns so tightly and become so

I am pulling back on the reigns, so why am I lunging forward?

I am pulling back on the reigns, so why am I lunging forward?

rigid and particular about how, when, and where we want things that we become so focused and tunnel visioned that we forget to look at and appreciate other possibilities.  If we let go of our control our mind will open up to possibility, we open ourselves up to chance thus be part of different positive experiences. As most of the people who know me can attest to I am the most stringent of persons; professionally, I run a tight ship and never let up the precision; personally, there is a certain way and time to do everything.  Not only can this way of thinking be exhausting to yourself and others which produces negativity, but it is quite impossible to package everything into tidy little squares. Being anal makes me successful at implementing procedures and following proceeses, but unsuccessful at relationships.  You need malleability when being with people, when living life, a characteristic being anal prevents you from developing.

Letting go entails some kind of faith, because if you let go you are trusting that someone will be there to take a grip on the reins for you.  Whether you are letting go of control, a past injustice, or an intolerance, we are giving up the aforementioned items to someone.  Whether or not we acknowledge that ‘someone or thing’  letting go benefits us as it lightens the load on our minds, hearts, and souls.  Holding onto unnecessary burdens or frivolous thoughts waste our energy, time, and use up precious space in our bodies. Anger towards the person who is responsible for losing your laptop, resentment towards a parent for not giving you what you needed, or hatred for a co-worker who made a mean comment about you is one of the many ways we make negative the potential positivity.

Negativity accumulates in the body just as fat accumulates in the gut.

Letting go of the anger, pain, and regret that we hold so tightly

Letting go of the anger, pain, and regret that we hold so tightly

We can break up the dark spots of negativity by learning to let go.  Forgivesness, compassion, and gratitude are examples of artillery we can use to combat the blemishes that stain our heart.  Learning to let go of the need to get even, leaning to understand others, and learning that even the smallest action is worth noting are ways to lessen the burden we carry and thus ease our bodies. “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the behavior, it just prevents that behavior from destroying your heart” similarly being grateful snd compassionate are ways to broaden your scope and is not about the others’ behavior.

Letting go is a sign of the strength in your person, not the weakness as the phrase connotes.  Forgiving entails letting go of the anger, resentment, and hatred we accumulate in response to a person that did us wrong. Just like any particle that stays in storage for too long, our negativity rots and starts producing hazardous chemicles that affects other   bodily and mind functions. Gratitude lets us appreciate even the smallest acts so we are able to let go of wasteful and meaningless emotions.  When you realize no event is ever independent, being grateful becomes easier and thus the letting go of our rigid needs, wants, and desires begins.  Compassion allows us to understand the others perspective, so once we can learn to be compassionate we can let go of our fusteration with others, our impatience with others, and our inflexible views.

Learning to let go lets us live peacefully rather than wrestling with what are position should be in so to be peaceful.  Sound minds and bodies are created when we learn to let go.  Sometimes we wonder how we can let go because the action of another is so hurtful; letting go is not synonymous with forgetting it is simply a cathartic release of the negativity we associate with events, persons, or places.  By letting go you are not ridiculing, minimalizing, or erasing what happened you are simply deciding not to let those frusterations, fears, prejudices, and anger dictate how you live today.

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Flowing with the Flow

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Ride in the current of Flow

Ride in the current of Flow

I believe all of us need to practice something we enjoy that will bring us closer to ourselves. Something that gives us joy. Something that gives us peace of mind. As we grow, we tend to forget to do this because of the responsibilities and tensions life hands us. We slowly, but surely lose touch with the child we once were. Children know joy; they aren’t preoccupied with the restrictions, etiquette, and responsibilities of life.

If we, as adults practice something we enjoy, the rewards we will reap are immeasurable. Although some adults, me included, thoroughly enjoy working our jobs, I don’t mean this. I mean a hobby; something we do for ourselves.  Don’t know what to do? If you had one hour what would you do; you have no pending professional work, no housework, and no friends online, or even available, what would you do? This is just YOU time.

I’ll give you my example: in 6th grade we were given creative assignments and I choose to remember and recite “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I was an avid reader and enjoyed writing (homework and assignments), but this was my first experience with poetry. My first poem was written in grade 7, and thereafter became my preferred creative process for assignments and such. I realized that when writing poetry I would lose track of time, block out noises and other disturbances, and enter the world of the poem which I was in the process of writing. This process gave me so much pleasure, that I looked forward to any chance I got to write poetry.  When I write a poem, I lose track of time and continue writing until the work is done.  Being inspired, trying to rhyme phrases, and writing aesthetically can be 1-8 hour process, but when you are in the Flow it seems minutes.

Another activity that forces me to lose myself is listening to music. I am a type A personality: very anal. As such, I am very particular about time and feel the need to be early to every appointment: classes, movies, meetings, doing assignments early, and the like. In my 1st year of college I had a statistics class at that I had to be driven to. Apparently, one day I got ready a little early so my mom had me wait; I decided to listen to music for the time to pass. I switched on my 60 cd player stereo and stated listening (and singing along with) the soundtrack of “A Walk to Remember’; I got so caught up in the emotions of the music that my mom had to come to me and tell me I was late.

Things I do to calm, center, and give myself joy: 1. Writing 2. Listening to music 3. Chanting 4. Meditating/ yoga 5. Reading

So, in the one hour you have for yourself, do any of my meditations interest you? Do any of these things give you joy such that if someone comes knocking you will be irritated? Will these or any other activity be so pleasurable and centering that it will put you into a trance like state?

I invite and urge you to spend some time to go back to your simpler life and remember something that gave you joy. Plug this activity into your hectic and busy life and see the wonders it will do for you.  Spending time investing in this activity will provide to you the same fruits as meditation provides.

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Happiness- a learned phenomenon?

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What makes us happy when everything adds up to unhappiness?

The age old question. What is happiness? Is it a feeling, an object, attaining a certain status? Can it be measured? Can it be learned?

Isn’t happiness relative to the human being? What I derive happiness from is different from what you may derive it from. Hence it seems from this statement that happiness can be measured. If happiness can be objectified it follows that more of that object will increase our happiness. What are some things that make us happy?

Flowers; smelling nicely scented flowers always bring a smile to my face; waking to a fresh picked bouquet of jasmine flowers started my day on a happy and stress free note, having a bouquet of appropriately arranged (colors depend on the which colors make you happy, for me its vibrant colors i.e. sun yellow. bright pink, tree green, bright blue etc.) placed in my house makes me happy when I look at it. Music; listening to upbeat music always puts me in a happy mood. What are other things that make you happy, comment on this and let me know.

So it follows that if someone places a bouquet of flowers by my night table for me to wake to the scent to, if I place a bouquet of pink and yellow flowers on my table, or if I listen to Batameez Dil (Hindi song) or A thousand years (English pop song) I will be happy? Not really. Happiness then can’t be objectified? I think it can, to a certain extent. Swinging on a swing, listening to upbeat songs, eating thick cheesy vegetarian pizza, and regressing to a child- like state are things that make ME happy. But they can only supplement my happiness that is already there. Do you think if I come home from being humiliated and disrespected a bouquet of strategically placed bright blue and pink flowers are going to change how I feel? No, Objects (flowers), actions (swinging or eating a potato patty), attaining status (getting an A in class or getting a promotion), and other materialistic objects or gains can only give us ephemeral happiness. These things cannot change our mood but gives us pleasurable experience which can help elevate our mood.

Our mood is our emotional state and happiness vis a vis joy, pleasure, satisfaction, etc is one of the elements that get us into a good versus bad mood. Happiness thus is a state, made up of various elements including joy and pleasure that helps us project a good mood. Happiness is subjective, formed by each individual’s beliefs and interpretations, and thus and thus cannot be measured. Different things give us feelings of happiness, our interpretation of external stimuli: swinging on a swing (joy), seeing Mom, (delight), eating pizza (pleasure), hearing Rafat Ali Khan (pleasure) , seeing and smelling bright/ fragrant flowers (pleasure) or writing poetry (content); these things produce feelings of happiness within me, and although these feelings of happiness i.e. joy. pleasure, delight etc. can combine to make me happy and therefore in a good mood, there is not one stimulus that can always guarantee a feeling of happiness. Swinging on a swing will not give me joy if I just had an argument with a friend, writing poetry will not provide me with a feeling of contentment if I am sleepy, eating pizza will not be pleasurable if I have a stomachache etc.

If nothing can guarantee to give us happiness, is it a hit and miss equation? Is there something that can provide us with a static happiness?

YES. I just discovered and will share it with you.

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