Live and Express

Live and Express


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Who am I or What is this?

Several self-inquiry schools towards self-realization seem to encourage the seeker to ask the question ‘Who am I?’

‘Who am I?’ is a question that would evoke an answer relating or associating the person to something. For example, ‘Who is Venkat’ could invoke the following answers:

  • A techie
  • A son
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • Likes Tea
  • Tall

and so on…

You will note that in all these, the person ‘Venkat’ is associated with something or someone to identify himself – Technology, Parents, Place, Food/Drink, Physical characteristic.

The whole self-inquiry process is to break the chains with something or someone and to exist as a free spirit.

If I sit with my eyes closed, I should be void of anything. If you keep your body in great shape, it won’t complain or make noise! Likewise, mind could become silent through meditation. In that state, I exist, not associated with even my body and my mind.

In such a state, the question ‘Who am I’ does not makes sense, because I am not related to anything!

Then the question ‘What is this’ would make sense.

Also, questions like: what is this that exists here? where did it come from? where will it go? when the body dies, what will happen to this? when I don’t have any thoughts, what is the use of mind? etc.

Give it a try, and let me know what you experience, in the comments!

Love always!

Photo by Carlos Domínguez on Unsplash

 

 


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Book Review: A-Z Of Minimalism – A Practical Guide to Freedom by Upasna Sethi

This is a professional book review of “A-Z Of Minimalism – A Practical Guide to Freedom” by Upasna Sethi.  This book has been placed under ‘Hoarding‘ and ‘Non-Fiction‘ under Amazon Kindle ebooks.  The audience of the book would be anyone who is looking to declutter their spaces as well as their minds, and lead a simple yet fruitful life.

The catchy, simple cover of the book invites the reader to open the book to read.  The book has been organized into small chapters, which are digestible and makes the reader ponder over the content after reading a chapter.  The exercises provided at the end of each chapter are helpful.  The graphics interspersed with the text look good and provide a colorful look to the content.

In each chapter, the author provides helpful tips on what they did to minimalize.  I especially liked how the author impresses upon the reader how the quest for shopping is insatiable and one keeps buying more and more!  But, I could not quite agree with the author’s suggestion to delete shopping apps from the smartphone, as apps for grocery, medicine ordering, cab booking, etc, are a reality of today’s life, and one cannot avoid them. I presume the author’s advice is for addicted shoppers and not for all.

Also valuable is the suggestion to celebrate minimally by being together rather than making huge and expensive arrangements.  Thus, each chapter provides a very valuable tip on how to minimalize, which the reader, in general, would be able to relate to and implement in their own life.

There are several mechanical errors in the book, which could have been avoided by careful proofreading. For example, an unwanted hyphen next to the word ‘by’ in the phrase “step by step” on Page 1, unnecessary capitalization of the first letter in many words throughout the book (“Life of a Minimalist” on Page 1). These errors give an impression that the author is a juvenile one, in spite of the mature, valuable theme of the book. This reviewer recommends a thorough proofreading in the next edition of the book or the next book of the author.

The font of the Table of Contents could have been a bit larger. It would help the reader to provide the page numbers against the chapter names.  I have to mention about the formatting. There are unnecessary lines between sentences, and the formatting looks too awkward.  A sense of completeness in reading is lost because of lack of properly paragraphed text.

Overall, I found this book valuable for someone who is looking to cut-down on their shopping, life style, and in every sphere of their life. We all realize that too much is very stressful and makes us unable to manage things. Consumption has to be cut down, as it is very important for our own well-being, for the environment, and for our mother planet Earth.  In this regard, the author has done a pretty good job in bringing together the tips that the reader can readily follow.  The formatting and the mechanical errors have to be taken care of, to make the book more presentable to the reader.  Owing to the overall value that the book provides to the reader, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

You can order the book at Amazon at the following links:

Amazon Indiahttps://amzn.to/2wnij9r
Amazon UShttps://amzn.to/2Lut3rj

 

 


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International Yoga Day 2018

Warm wishes to all of you on the International Yoga Day 2018 !

Events are organized as reminders for something that need be remembered on a daily basis, probably every moment. The days that are celebrated every year are also reminders for us to incorporate Yoga into our daily life, so that we are in tune with the Universe.

I once asked a spiritual person why Yoga only for human beings. Animals don’t do Yoga, other creatures don’t do.  The answer was that only humans need to work to be in tune with what they aspire to be. With Yoga, you could be pretty much anything you want to be by constant striving. With other creatures such possibility does not exist, and they are fixed to be in the way they are, and there are no opportunities for them to change or transform.  But for humans, its possible. So, we should make use of the opportunity!

Somebody died in our family recently, and that made a distinct change in my attitude in being regular towards Yoga. When that person died, we could clearly see for ourselves that they are not their body (anymore), and we don’t know what happened to that person who kept walking, talking and doing so many stuff daily. It was shown very clearly to me that the life given to us is to find out that we are not just the body and the mind. There should be something more.

Having said that, being in a human body is absolutely important while we live, not just for the compassion that humans show unlike many other creatures, but also for the opportunity to do stuff that others can’t. One fever showed me what kind of dances I had to do with my body to make it okay; body is such a complicated system. So, it needs be maintained properly, and luckily the Yoga system that’s currently offered by many groups, is not that complicated at all – simple practices for great benefits.

As many success coaches say, regular regimes are important. Sticking to them as far as possible is important. So, if we care for our body, our breath, flexibility, agility, liveliness and all the goodies, it’s important to do Yoga daily. And a diet that won’t strain the body but make it malleable, strong and vibrant.

Our life expectancies have increased – people live till 90s very easily, thanks to the advances in medical sciences. It’s important that we be hale and healthy while we live for such long periods of time. It would be cruel to see our body suffer because of non-flexibility while it is still maintained by medicines. Thus it is important to do Yoga daily irrespective of the age.

Thanks for listening. Have a wonderful International Yoga Day, doing Yoga, today and every day!

 

 


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On social media and channelizing the minds

Why social media for me :

It was one of those strenuous days in 2017. I had too much to do in 3 or 4 activities spread across the day.  I like focus, and that’s the way I have been for the past many years. I like channelizing my mind, body and my energies in a task. But then, there are some boring moments when you would like to just get off for a minute or two, wander your body and your mind, and then get back to the task.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, et al) have been a cure (or a curse on how you see it).  That one of two minutes of wandering of the mind away from the task using social media extended to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and before you know, it had consumed a full 43 minutes!

“Well, that’s not good”, I told myself. I decided to take a mental inventory of HOW the time is spent on social media. I sat down and wrote a diary of all the posts I read, I liked and shared, and just “browsing”.  Though it was just my break time that I spend on social media, I wanted to justify myself on how the time is spent, because it’s my precious breath and life after all, moment after moment, before I die!

My findings!

The notes I saw alarmed me. 89% of the time was just browsing post after post in Facebook and Twitter, without any focus, learning or practicing a skill.  A typical “browse” Facebook session contained a book advertisement from a book club, an advertisement on how to “opt-in” more customers to your blog site, a post in a school group asking whether this school is better or that, a post in a music group with a picture of a guy with a violin, a group post about the latest trend in western cinema, a post in a railway group about that fantastic engine….You get the drift.

A rattling mind and the consequences

If your mind travels this fast with no focus on a specific subject or related thinking, you know where you will get to – nowhere.  It not only puts your brain in an ever-shifting mode, it will strain your brain to no-end resulting in nervousness, a sense of loss, depression, anger and a deprived feeling!  Many studies have also shown the same.

Social media tools for streamlining

Social media tools that help you segregate topics as streams based on hashtags or keywords are helpful. It helps browse through the social media posts and organize your thoughts on one direction, learning a thing or two about a topic and participating in a discussion.  But many of us do not use those tools on a native basis, but login to the social media sites directly.   In this year, I have reminded myself to use these tools instead of logging into social media sites directly, and save myself of the mental stress!  If I ever wanted to take a 2-minute break, that should not be and won’t be on the social media sites, but a short walk, a visit to the restroom, a cup of water and then back to work again.

Not just the break time!

We all know the three things that are required to excel – Learn, Practice, Network.  A typical successful person’s time management has these components.  For all of these, accessing the Internet has become a necessity.  For learning and networking, social media has become important.  We just need be careful that our learning and networking time is used productively, not just during the break time, but during our work time also, and be conscious that our precious time is not wasted in endless, mindless browsing.

So…

I thought I would just share my thoughts on this, which I had been postponing for a while now. I wrote a Facebook post (there you go!) on this sometime back, but not sure how many people it reached, so here I am, writing a blog.  Hopefully it’s useful for you!
Thanks for listening!


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The 10 km walk!

I am uninitiated to fitness regimes. I am not a fitness freak. But I read a saying recently which said: “Exercise is not for living healthy, but dying healthy.” There could not be a truer truth than this! So, in order for me to be not a nuisance for my family and my social circle by being unhealthy, I decided to be healthy.

I am always motivated to walk.  I walk long distances without an issue. So, I decided that walking would be my exercise. I have heard that fast walking takes care of several things – maintaining the proper blood pressure, cholestrol,  blood sugar levels, giving exercise to muscles, etc.

I usually go for a long walk, which I was thinking to be 7.5 kms, but when I measured the distance using the Pedometer android app., I figured I was just doing 6.3 kms. As a coincidence, someone had posted their walk details on Twitter, so I was motivated to really do a 7.5 kms walk.

I used Google Map to mark the milestones, but I figured I could do more than 7.5 kms, if I reduce the speed a bit. So, I reduced my walking speed from my normal of 2.9 miles/hour to 2.7 miles/hour, and started.  I gave myself a toilet and water break after 4 kms, and then proceeded for the full swing after that.

I passed through several areas that I have never been before, and was excited to explore.
I also passed through an area which I always wanted to visit, which was a bonus! I got a bit confused in one location, and had to backtrack and that took some additional 10 minutes. But, I finished my walk successfully, and here are the stats.:

10.49292 kms, 555 kilocalories, 2 hours 25 minutes, 4.34523 kms/hour, 15,302 steps.

Somebody had asked a spiritual guru that they had a tummy and noone likes him, what should he do. For which the guru answered, ‘Why don’t you go for a 10 km walk?’ That answer had always being ringing in my mind, not because my pot belly is too much or something, but the stress that things have to be taken care in the way they have to be, and there is no magical fix.

I’m now pretty happy to know that I can do 10 kms.  I don’t want to increase it, but to maintain the habit of walking the same distance daily, because to me, habits are important than goals, as habits decide the character, and the destiny!

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The collective Karma! #India #Asia #Population

I was walking hurriedly near Jyothi Nivas bus stop in Bangalore, It was almost time for my appointment, and I did my usual fast stroll, which is faster than the average walking speed for a stroll! I was walking on the road, as several vehicles were parked against the footpath, and I was not able to navigate myself to walk in the footpath alone. And then, this gentleman comes along from the footpath, takes 5 steps, walks in front of me, and starts staring at something behind me. I could not stop myself at that speed, so I took his two hands, moved him out of my way, and kept walking. He started yelling at me, but I didn’t care. I kept walking.

Has this ever happened to you? People suddenly coming in your way without giving due thought and consideration that you might bump into them? To be precise ‘StumbleUpon’ into them?

This indeed set of a series of thoughts in me. I usually scan the area around which I walk or drive, and I make sure that I give space to people who are coming into my zone. I either stop, or move away, or do something such that there’s no crash. But sadly, I have observed that many in India do not do that. They stare somewhere, have their own thoughts going in their minds, and walk or drive right royally into me.

So, is this my karma ? I broke my head almost 10 years thinking about this since I moved to Bangalore. Someone close to me always makes fun of me that I attract such people to me unconsciously! But, today, I would and have definitely concluded that it is not MY karma, but the collective karma of India.

Before you start showering obscenities towards me for taking India’s name, let me explain myself!

I think it’s the collective karma of India, in terms of population.

Already absent-minded and the free-flow Indian who does not have the concept of queue or discipline in their blood – if the numbers of those multiply, the StumbleUpon crashes also multiply!

I sometimes wonder that if I had been in New Mexico state of the United States, where in some areas one can’t see human beings for miles together, or probably even in Arizona state of the United States, I would be able to do my fast straight stroll without a problem! And yes, I could have my own thought process going on and jay-walk along till that 24-wheeler truck comes and hits me or scares me off the road with that loud honk!

Yes, it’s the no. of heads, people. Nothing else. India has 17% of world’s population in 2% of world’s land, and what else can you expect from that Koramangala uncle ?

And being quiet, abstaining (ahem, ahem…) or may be adopting would be a good collective karma for India moving forward!

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A sand called me

In the sands of time, I am just a speck, an insigficant one at that, compared to the grand schemes of the windmills of God. Oh, now I sound like Sydney Sheldon, but, that’s how it is, in spite of the master plans that my mind try to weave.

This sand has been observing its mind these days, and it noticed that the thoughts (the so-called intellectual leanings) is all just a projection, like a cinema of the impressions of the past, and the fear about the future. It’s fear because no more appropriate word for the games the mind play – for survival. It’s a well played mind, no complaints, its doing it’s work in a very fine fashion.

This sand, though, has its role to play. Sometimes its stagnant, sometimes its constipated, sometimes its bursting with energy, and sometimes its wayward, but, it exists. Just by the existence, its role is defined, not by its action. If this sand is just happy of what it is, that would be ideal. If this sand connects with the other sands and forms a beautiful conglomerate, that would be great. But, that cannot be forced as the way to look at this sand, because it becomes the perception of who looks at it. And that’s not the fair way to judge this sand. It just is.

This sand is expected to run along with others, but this sand is peacefully idle without any consciousness of time. Because this sand does not look at watches, does not draw a salary to be driven by a boss, does not have big goals to be achieved on time. The never-ending, sweet, stream of being – is – this sand. The waves come and go, the people with lemonade and a book come and go, the speedboats pass by – but this sand is still.

This sand could even become a temple, for, if this sand is blissful, if it could radiate its bliss nearby, people can come and sit in its shade – like they do under a tree. The sand need not become a tree, but it could still be like a tree. Like an eternity – no end of bliss, even if the body of this sand dissipates away.