2016 – A thing to remember 


First times are always remembered. Good or bad, the first kiss. First dip in water. First time you scored an A (or a F :P). It is hard to forget those experiences. The older we get, the harder it becomes to experience firsts. 2016 was a year when I was blessed enough to experience a new first. 

It was related to a meditation technique (vipassana) I practice in daily life. To strengthen this technique you are required to go into 11 day camps where 10 days of silence and strict meditation routine is followed. In January, I sat in a course and in September, on my birthday, I went as a server. The camps are only occupied by servers and students. Students are meditators who come to learn and practice. Servers are old students who come to serve, i.e. provide students with the necessary environment and all facilities required for them to do well in the course.

As a student you are not allowed to communicate with anyone other than your teacher, mostly initiated by her. Your last meal is at 11 am in the morning. If you have established well in the practice, after 5-6 days, you don’t sleep normally. Either you sleep very deeply for a couple of hours or you are in a continuous meditative state of mind. Whatever you might be doing – eating, bathing, walking, watching, sleeping, you are in the same state of mind as you are with your legs folded, sitting still and meditating. Time passes extremely slowly. You can observe threads of thoughts coming in your mind and disappearing, very similar to observing vapours getting dissolved in air over a hot cup of tea in the morning cold. It is beautiful. It is very obvious, at that time, how insane our minds are.

Talking about vipassana is very similar to describing your first sexual experience. You know those who have done it would be able to understand you immediately, without you having to explain much. And those who haven’t done it, won’t be able to understand you properly no matter how much you explain. And yet there are poets all over the world attempting to describe their passion and love and share that experience with one and all, because that’s what we humans do. We communicate.

After those 10 days of intense experiences, on the 10th or 11th day, when you open your mouth to speak and communicate with servers and students, it seems quite unnatural. However, on these days, your body and mind remove it focus from itself and start observing and paying attention to the outside world. All the sensory organs can start working full swing now. It is then you realize your part in the world. The highly crucial role you play in the world.

I was a third born. Honestly, an accidental child. Hence for me the question, why am I here on the face of this planet, was a very obvious one. The more I read, the more I found out that no one knows an answer to this one. Everyone is here pretty much like me. Accidently. Well, that didn’t help much. If we all are here accidently, might as well stop being here, stop all the killing, stress, hate or even love, which is mostly longing and desiring. Why run all through the life to die. The only theory which made a little bit of sense was to have fun, do whatever makes you happy. You will anyway die sooner than later! Hedonism seemed better than most of the other farce of theories.

I challenge all those who practice hedonism properly, with all their heart, to come out and say, it gives them the highest form of happiness. I can very much say, been there and done that. It can give you a lot of satisfaction and a purpose to life, however, there is much more to life than that, I believe now. This realization happened in the year 2016.

When you serve for others, it is not much different from working. You have your role and responsibilities defined and you just need to act on it. The key differentiating factor is “if at any time you are not at peace with yourself, if you are agitated or disturbed, you are required to stop the service at that very moment and find your peace within before continuing”. Now this small piece of difference is a huge one.

Imagine you didn’t do a very important task which was assigned to you. And your boss finds out. You make excuses. Boss gets angry and blows you off. He had every ‘right’ to be angry with you! Now in his state of anger, he attends a meeting where he rejects a proposal of a new project which isn’t very crucial to the company. The enthusiastic employee who worked for a week on this project gets pissed off. He might end up leaving the company, a huge loss to the team. All because you didn’t do the job and the boss got angry. You would obviously say it’s coz the boss is incompetent and gets angry. The boss will say it’s coz of lazy people like you that company culture gets rotten. The fact is Anger is very expensive. There is never a negative emotion which can be justified, no matter whatever a reason, a so called cause. 

The practice of being able to observe your emotional state and act accordingly is what you learn as a server. You also learn that if you don’t let your emotional state affect your actions, you can actually bring peace, productivity and sense of fulfilment to the world. If you can be peaceful and avoid all negativity, at least a very small world around you will follow the path. What that means is, every individual is immensely powerful. We have the power to bring or to take away not just the happiness of ourselves but also of other human beings.

Happy people spread happiness. Unhappy people spread unhappiness. Angry people spread anger, sorrow and disappointment. This becomes very obvious after vipassana. And so does your role in the world.

Like the title mentioned, this is the first time in life when I found the meaning of life to be so simple. There is a lot more to be seen, to be understood. Many more years to live. Amen.

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Mumbai monsoons milestones

Being in Mumbai again and experiencing the monsoons once again, I remember and reminiscence about how life and I have been changing around yearly monsoons. It is as if every passing year and arrival of new season marks a change, turns a milestone.

  • July 2005 – The first lesson in survival.

My first experience of Mumbai monsoons. Oh the magic. The romance of walking on tiled Mumbai streets in light drizzle, late at night. A city turning into a hill station. The freedom. The huge waves which left you drenched on Marine Drive. The clean air and no hurry to reach anywhere. And finally, getting caught in the crazy floods, walking in 1 meter high water level, and experiencing what survival meant for the first time. How it builds relationships. Character testing. That remarkable night spent in a broken bus near Santa Cruz with 60 odd strangers.

kemcomrbmr_1906_9

  • June 2009 – “Singing in the Rain” stage. Literally. 

Living with the love of my life, enjoying life and rains after the unbearable heat of Mumbai-May. Monsoons had become a synonym for hiking at that time. The hills are alive with the sound of rainfall. Treks and hikes and trips and plenty of getting wet. Ah, the freedom of roaming around in green ghats. Pure joy!

hike

  • June 2010 – I was a Mumbaikar now, turning my heart over

Another flood scenario, a short and sweet Mumbai monsoon encounter with a stranger. A lift with a stranger. A final incident which tipped me over. Now officially, I was a Mumbai girl. The Mumbaikar in me had arrived.

  • July 2012 – Risks and returns 

Another life changing event within an year of marriage. Husband broke his neck on a hiking trip when we lost our way and had to take a bad and risky detour on our way down. Of course in retrospect it turned out to a blessing in disguise. But more about that sometime else.

  • June 2016 – Staying in? Getting old? Hope not…

It has been more than a decade now, since I first started my journey of changes with Mumbai and monsoons. Now I find myself happier to stay in the house and not go out in search of adventures, creating stories. Found myself ordering indoor games from Amazon! When a friend asked if I didn’t like getting wet in rains anymore and I answered in affirmative, I realized, another milestone has been reached.

game

Mumbai monsoons have something about them. They always take you to a newer level, you didn’t know was capable of existing earlier.

The boy who got me back to Bangalore- Part 2

You can read the first part of the story here.

To recap, I reached Kalpetta, the biggest town in Wayanad district in Kerala in the dead of the night without any adventure or mischief. Next day in the morning, I found that this town hardly got any tourists. There was a small tourism booth next to the Inter-State bus stop that provided the brochure of tourist attractions in Wayanad. As Hero had predicted there were no tickets available towards Bangalore on Sunday. However, I was told that there are plenty of alternatives available. I could go to the next nearby town Sulthan Bathery; chances of getting a seat from there are very high. Or I could wait for some private buses from the evening and board one of the many buses that run to Karnataka. All of them go via Bangalore.

Now when you are on an “adventurous” solo trip, you don’t really want to plan ahead and prepare too much. You know, it kills the entire concept of “adventure”, “living in the moment”, etc. If the man at the tourism booth says, it is easily possible to get back to Bangalore without reservation, it would be so. Since I am here only for two days, I can’t afford to waste time on going around, getting a reservation. Worst case scenario, I would return on Monday. It was possible in those days to fall ‘sick’ and not show up for work. So I didn’t care much about Hero’s words. He was probably trying to act too smart.

I decided to get started with my trip at the earliest, which basically meant visiting touristy locations around Kalpetta. I decided to take a local bus to go to Edakkal Caves. Bless 100% literacy rate and Christian missionaries in Kerala, language was not a big problem. The bus was rickety and broken just like it is in the northern states; the difference was that here I clearly stood apart in the crowd. There were fisherwomen with daily harvest, men working on tea estates and I, a light skinned, girl from a big town. I finally understood how Shah Rukh must have felt in Swades during local commute to remote areas.

1438087558_swades

To be less dramatic, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I got a place to stand and swing as the bus went around the hilly curves on the route to the caves which were on a hill top.

The caves were a big disappointment. They were hardly comparable to Elephanta Caves near Mumbai which I had visited already. Plus, I am not a fan of caves anyways. They stink, they are dark, dirty, and you can’t do much there. So I was standing there looking at all the families who were out there on picnics, making happy noises and cheer. It felt kind of stupid for me to be standing alone in a place which was certainly not recommended for solo travellers.

So I decided to move on. I wanted to go to a place of natural beauty where I can sit and meditate as I have seen seasoned solo women travellers do in travel pictures such as the one below.

Traveling-Solo-Women

If I want to make that picture, the timing was going to be right as the sun was rapidly moving towards the West. All I needed was a water body. I asked a nice man at a food stall about a dam nearby, Karapuzha Dam, another tourist destination. It turned out this man owned a van and was traveling in that direction. He offered me a ride.

Now, let’s review the facts. First of all, I had never hitchhiked in life previously. Also, I had always wanted to hitchhike badly. It was a dream. Standing alone on a highway, with my backpack on my muscular shoulders, looking like this. Ummm…

pretty-young-woman-tourist-hitchhiking-along-a-road

As I was drifting in my dream world of being that super confident cool hippie girl, this man in front of me was waiting for my reply.

Anu: No no no, I won’t bother you. I will go on my own. Can you guide me how to reach there?

Man: blah blah blah…. (Gist of what he said was that there is no easy way to reach via public transport.)

Now, I was kind of stuck. One option was to take the bus back to Kalpetta and figure a way to the next destination. Another option was to take this ride to the dam. The image of dusty noisy road and forlorn hotel (which by no standard was 2 stars, forget 4!) in Kalpetta made me incline towards this ride with stranger.

So how does one decide whether or not to take a ride with a strange man?

Appearances do matter.” [Quote: Me.] Though I usually don’t give a damn about my own appearance but that never stopped me from judging others by their appearances. I don’t care for brands or fashion, often that goes pretty low in my hierarchy of “trustworthiness”. Questions that I try to answer while looking at a stranger’s appearance are “Is he married?”, “Does he have kids?”, “What job would he have?”. I try to put a “no-nonsense” label: low, medium, high.

93% of communication is non-verbal.” [Quote: Management School Prof who taught my husband.]

Based on the above two signals, I took the call and became this girl. (While editing this pic, I realized I am blessed for not being a blonde.)

anu hitchhiking

It was one heck of a ride. Bumpy and Rough. Literally. There was no road. And I was in a strange man’s vehicle. All reasons to be supremely nervous and doubtful of the destination. However, this man was one gem of a person. Seriously, it is funny (& erroneous) how quickly we make impressions of a place based on small/tiny experiences/datasets. However, that is exactly what I did. Based on that one car ride, South India (especially Kerala) for me became the most reliable place in the country. If you know me, you must have heard me comparing the two parts of the country and vehemently stating how safer southern states were. This was an impressionable moment.

hitchhiking-free-travel-good-people

I will skip through some of the other details of my trip which included a visit to beautiful and enchanting Kuruva Islands, where you can walk the across river Kabini to reach islands in the middle of the river. However, let’s come back to the main story and fast forward to Sunday evening.

Now after two days of solo travel, I had quite enough of the adventure. Many a times, I ended up feeling quite lonely. A few times I remembered my office gang from Bangalore and wondered why I didn’t invite them along. By Sunday evening, I was quite packed and ready to get back to my friends and home. The only problem was that I had no reservation. I had exchanged a few smses with Hero in the meantime which more or less meant that there were no seats available.

There wasn’t enough time to go to Sultan Bathery, so I stationed myself at the bus stop on Kalpetta main road and would check with each and every bus, if they would go to Bangalore and if they would have a vacant seat. Starting at around 6 P.M., I did this till 10 P.M. By this time, everyone at the bus stop knew me. As it grew darker and late in to the night, number of people on the stop gradually decreased. Only others like me without reservation remained. None of them were girls.

Four hours is a long time to spend on a bus stop hoping to get a bus back to your home. It is a reasonable amount of time to retrospect and curse yourself. It is enough time to think about different possibilities that might occur. I might not get the bus after all. For how long would be I standing here out on the road? Yes, Kerala is safe, but until what time should I start searching for alternate stay arrangements? How will I go back tomorrow?

A little after 10, a private bus for Bangalore moved in. We, without reservation riders, all crowded in close to the bus door to plead the conductor to take us in. Just then, someone tapped me on my sounders. I turned around to see Hero standing there.

Hero: Are you still without a reservation?

Anu: Yes

Hero: You can come with me. I had reserved two seats in this bus. We can pay inside the bus after we get the seats.

Anu: thank you thank you

At the time, my status msg at FB would have been something like this: — feeling shocked relieved happy thankful grateful.

We got the two seats. I thanked him again and slept off.

It was 530 in the morning when our bus was gliding towards its platform on Majestic. I was still amazed how I reached back home safely, without any misadventures. All thanks to this guy. We, with all other passengers got down. I was wondering what to say to him. How should I express my gratitude? Should I ask him to meet me later in the week sometime.

We were standing near an auto, ready to go separate ways. I didn’t have the nerve to ask him out for lunch or coffee to show my thanks. We said byes and rode off. Until a few days later, I kept thinking about the whole thing. I was expecting a call from him. Usually guys do that. Especially if they know they have a favour on the girl. But he never called. And it was too late by then for me to call. Or so I thought.

I never really got to thank him properly at that time. However, after a decade, I understand that travel is all about meeting different people and helping them. We help strangers and friends, without expecting anything in return. It happens naturally. That is why travel is one of the most compassionate and patient teachers in life.

Confessions of coming out…..

Cathedral Innsbruck Dom St. Jacob

“No I can’t do it anymore.” I cried out and ran away.

Ran into my room and locked it. I was crying and sobbing. He was standing on the other side of the door. I was angry and upset and devastated. I knew this day would come. But I couldn’t have expected his reaction to be so different from what I imagined.

He was crying too.

Usually a man of infinite calm and patience, he is not easily perturbed. Obviously, this was something that has shaken the ground beneath him.

You know I can’t do it. You know it.

I tried. I tried my best. Last night, I was doing everything I could to like it. But I couldn’t.

Please open the door. Let us talk about it calmly.

Ok, but you will not force me.

Yes darling. Please open the door.

He seemed to have calmed down. I opened the door.

Clean yourself up, I will make some tea. Let us talk about it.

Yes, let us.

See, some people are different. I tried being like everyone else. Being normal. I thought I enjoyed it too. We had some fun years too, remember? I loved it then. We used to stay up all night. The entire weekends were full of passion and ecstasy. The neon lights, the wine, the haze and our bodies moving rhythmically together to the hypnotizing music. It was amazing. It is all like a dream now.

I have changed. People change. I hate it now. The very thought of it fills me with despair, fear and disgust.

I am sorry; I just can’t do it anymore. Please try to understand.

He was all quiet. I know him to be very sensible person. Very mature and flexible sort of man. He accepts everything. Why is he being quiet now? Why is he not saying “Yes babe, I understand. It is your decision. I would never force you again.”

Please say something.

I am thinking if we can work it out.

I cried: There is nothing to work out. This is it.

Yes, but have we tried everything?

I have tried everything. I told you my preferences were changing about 2 years back. At that time, I felt it was unnatural of me to feel this way. I thought my needs were not real and so I was ready to try everything to stop those feelings. You remember, at that time we have tried so many things.

We went to different hotels, unique places, even different countries. We would try to mix up things, learn new skills, new moves, spending lot of money to perfect the experience, improving ourselves. You know we have tried.

I still hate it.

Silence. He knows we have tried. Every weekend we would plan something new to try. And yet, every Sunday night, I would be sick with myself and angry with him. Why is he forcing me? Why can’t I just be me?

Obviously, I understand you have your needs. I can’t stop you if you want to explore other options, if you want to continue without me.

But baby, I want us to be together. We have been together in everything. We even run a company together. We can do this too.

No we can’t. I am sorry. That is why I want you to go to Amsterdam. I want you to enjoy the pleasures which a man can get. I want you to live the life the way God intended it to be. I will keep myself away on your birthday too. I can’t see you suffer for my peculiarity!  I will stay away!

I have been desperate. I have been so lonely. I couldn’t talk about it with anyone else. I was afraid people would laugh at me. Being one of the most sought after experience in the world, people love that feeling of intoxication. They love what it does to their bodies. It is the most popular way of rejuvenating in an otherwise busy shitty corporate world. It is the world’s second most favorite sport. It was what attracts two complete strangers towards each other and finally unite them! And I hate it!

After wasting nights after nights in trying to be someone I am not, ending up in anger, weakness and pain, I decided to confess. So I told him.

Yes, I am no longer afraid to confess now. I am different. I do not like partying all night long. I do not like going to bed at 5 AM in the morning. I don’t like my body all dehydrated and lumpy. I don’t like not being able to meet my friends because I hate partying and there is no other way of meeting them! I don’t like to wait for 3 hours before people can get drunk and move over the dance floor (I love dancing!). I do not like being forced to drink and be frowned upon when I choose not to.

Dear hubby, Yes, I am different. If you can accept the concept of homosexuality, you owe it to yourself to accept this too. Please do not force me to drink endlessly again!

Disclaimer 1: This is a fictional piece of work. Please do not take it at its face value.

Disclaimer 2: No, I am not homosexual. Looks like a lot of people mis-interpreted this post. The idea of writing this post was to draw parallel between the “normal” sexual preferences and “normal” weekend activity. In the first case, coming out of closet is considered pretty sensational. In second case, those who do not drink or party are considered as pretty weird too. Something is definitely wrong or abnormal with both these kinds of people. Apologies for first shocking some of you and later maybe disappointing others who got hopeful! :P

Don’t just consume

Also P.R.O.D.U.C.E.

Don’t just read, also WRITE.

Don’t just watch, also PLAY.

Don’t just drink, also MIX.

Don’t just eat, also COOK.

Don’t just smoke, also GROW.

Don’t just wear, also WEAVE.

Don’t just buy, also CREATE.

Don’t just breathe, FOCUS

Don’t just see, OBSERVE

Don’t just sleep, REJUVENATE

Don’t just travel, DISCOVER

Don’t just meet, CARE

Don’t just start, COMPLETE

Don’t just believe, INSPIRE

Don’t just learn, TEACH

Don’t just work, INVENT

Don’t just wait, START

Don’t just consume, also PRODUCE.

(This was my birthday note to myself.)

To believe

What do you wanna do today?

So many things. Go to ECP and take my first lesson in sailing. Sleep under a tree afterwards.

Clean the house. Arrange the cabinets. Fold bulk of clothes lying around. Dust off my room.

Nothing as such. You tell. O ya, I need to cook some veggies for the week. But I will be done by 12:30.

O ok. Wanna go out somewhere?

I just told him I have to cook. Why is he pushing me?

As in?

As in, for a run. Or a hike.

Ya can go.

I haven’t stretched nor done myofasical release from the last one week. I need to do that too. It’s a must. When will I do that? I haven’t written anything in this month. Haven’t painted in the last many months. Haven’t finished reading any of the 2-3 books that I had started.


The other day I touched the feet of my mother-in-law asking for blessing. She blessed me with her heart “may all your wishes come true!” O my! Is that even possible?

There is no end to wishes. Before one comes true, there is a new one which is already being pursued.

Before one course goes live, another one is in pipeline.

Before one lecture’s notes are ready, another one is to be worked upon.

Before one art is mastered, I am dreaming of another one.

Before one sport is played to win, I wanna try a new one too.

Before one injury is healed off, another one is received.

New pictures to take, new blogs to write, new books to read, new movies to watch, new clothes to buy, new paths to hike on, new roads to drive on, new countries to visit, new skills to learn, the list keeps going on endlessly.

Then there are things which I must do, which are not on the list. Cook, clean, work, entertain guests, manage social circle, be there when and where required. Be responsible. Be a good wife, good friend, a good daughter, a good sister, a good citizen (keep reading news every min on twitter!).

And yet every morning, I find it difficult to get up. I lay awake waiting to move out of bed. I am unable to sit through an hour of meditation. I feel like 24 hours is too less and I am too ineffective to do everything that I want to. Forget about wishes coming true, I am not even able to try everything that I want to. I feel so exhausted, overwhelmed.

My boss in my old company, who is my only ideal in life so far, used to say, you should take up more tasks than you can manage/complete, you should dream to become great. His funda was simple. The more tasks you have in hand, the more targets you achieve. You will learn to become efficient. Tasks are inter-related in a way that we do not understand. Doing one task will, in some way or other, help you complete other task as well.

I do agree with him. It is not very difficult to try so many things at the same time. To be on your toes at every moment. The testing time is when you actually encounter a failure. To get up and start again is not very difficult. To believe in success, is.

To believe is to be non-calculative, unrealistic, crazy, unscientific, irrational.

It is the need of the hour.

From unable to run for even 5 mins, in less than 2 years, I can run non-stop for min 30 mins at any day/any time.
From unable to run for even 5 mins, in less than 2 years, I can run non-stop for min 30 mins at any day/any time.

The stretch

“Where does it hurt exactly?”

Here. Pointing to the area just below lower back, around buttocks.

“Ok, I want you to try out these actions and let me know which hurts.”

“Bend down and try to touch your toes. Does it hurt?”

Yes, but not all the way down, only at the initial 60 deg curve.

“On the scale of 1-10, how bad is the pain?”

How do you answer that question? What does 10 stand for? Will I pass out at 10? Then it will probably be unbearable at 5.

1-2 (Why am I even here if it isn’t paining 5 or above?)

When a doctor asks you about pain why is the pain always feel less than what it felt at home?! I felt a bit stupid not being able to pinpoint the problem though I knew my movement is restricted, it isn’t what it used to be.

After a few more exercises, we located the problem. 2-3 sessions later I felt new as before. No more ice packs at home! No more pain when I needed to bend to pick something off floor. Its funny how you notice your daily actions when you are not able to do them as smoothly. How many times we have to bend just to get dressed: putting on underpants/pants/socks/shoes. Now I am fine again.  Soon I will be able to row again!

Snap! Something just snapped inside. Sharp pain. Fuck. Will I drop this? This is food for a 100 people who have come here to sit and meditate. Time stood still. I can’t drop this. All focus on the weight. Take a few steps and reach the nearest platform. Dispose of the weight. Reach for a chair and sit down. Fuck.

I am in early thirties and incapable of picking up at 10 kg weight from the ground! What the fuck!!! Is it because of rowing? I don’t want to row ever again if it means I would be compromising with my basic abilities. Panic.

Doc! I thought I was well now! Desperation.

“Your core is very weak. Especially the back. Due to the lot of stress on the back lately, it is still in a delicate stage. The muscles aren’t very strong around that area so it the backbone gets the burnt.” After a session of a myofascial release I felt much better. Calmer. But I was still uncertain. I have felt better before. It was misleading.

Today is the DBS Marina Regatta. The races I wanted to participate in.

Annichaar. Uncertainty. A good lesson for a control freak like myself! Sports teach you almost everything you need to learn in life! Persistence, perseverance, uncertainty,  patience, discipline, motivation. And it teaches you when to stretch yourself beyond your fears. It teaches you that there will be many more chances to look forward to.

Everything is temporary

Meditation Hall in Singapore Vipassana Camp, St. John's Island
Meditation Hall in Singapore Vipassana Camp, St. John’s Island

I have wanted to write about this incredible new journey in my life that I started about 2 years back, but every time I start, words fail me. Please bear with me if I divert or ramble a lot.

The experience that I want to capture in words is very difficult to explain to those who haven’t had similar experiences. Like seeing an ocean for the first time. How do you explain your experience to someone who has never an ocean before. To simplify extremely, I would just say, meditation is like a work out for mind. You have a target to achieve, like 50 crunches in a gym, and you need to reach that after trying continuously. The target keeps getting tougher and tougher as you get better at the exercises. The ultimate goal is to make the mind so strong that you are always in a meditative state irrespective of any other activity that you might be involved in.

The meditation technique that I am trying to learn is Vipassana as taught by SD Goenka. Why I started on this path was simply because I needed a very strong and powerful change in my attitude. It was just like someone joining a diet program if they are desperate to lose weight. There were a few things about myself that I was quite fed up of and wanted to get rid of them. For instance, losing my cool in the time of testing, being angry when someone does me wrong, being very emotional about things. There were times when I found myself extremely sad and at the same thing wondering why the hell am I so sad. I am one of those very few individuals in the world who have best of everything: health, education, rights, money, everything which people seek I have it already, and yet I can be so unhappy at times. If I am not happy now under current circumstances, then it is highly unlikely that I ever would be! And hence, I was looking for a complete overhaul.

It is very simply achieved by the art of ‘observing’. So there are four types of minds which are always on work: memory, conscious, reaction, feeling. A very crucial type of mind which is never worked/exercised and hence becomes very weak is ‘observing’ kind. In order to strengthen this mind, you need to exercise it to work. You learn to observe your own body. You are not allowed to imagine anything, or get inputs from any sensory organs such as those of sight, noise, touch, taste, smell. You are only required to observe each and every cell of your body using your mind. With some concentration and practice, it is quite easy to achieve a state when you can feel and observe all the nerve cells or blood vessels running under your skin. The higher goal is to be able to feel each and every molecule in your body.

We all understand that everything is temporary. It is because we see everything as changing. There are flowers which live for a day or less. An earthquake changes the whole landscape within a few seconds. The path of a river keeps changing every year. These changes are either very slow in time or very big in size to ignore. The changes which happen at a very small scale and at a very fast pace are not noticed by us. Like in high frequency trading, machines trade a thousand times within a second to earn a profit of say 1 dollar. The speed of each transaction is too fast for a human to comprehend. We can only see the cumulative results at the end of a time interval: a second or a minute. The universe is also changing at a speed which can’t be monitored by our conscious mind. However, the unconscious mind which does very fast processing can be trained to comprehend and witness that fast change. And that is where meditation comes in to the picture.

Although it is easy to believe in the fact that nothing is permanent, everything is always changing. But believing in something is not enough to bring about behavioral changes. For instance, there are many people who believe in equal rights say between homosexuals and heterosexuals. However, they would still cringe with disgust when they see two homosexuals display affection/love/intimacy in public view. Whereas, they might find a man and woman kissing passionately very natural and even liberating! Similarly, at the time when you are extremely sad or happy, it is very difficult to calm down with just a belief that tomorrow might not be the same. It is very much possible that tomorrow everything in your life takes an upside down turn and hence today’s emotions/feelings would no longer matter anymore. This is easy to understand but difficult to implement.

To actually bring about a behavioral change, the mind needs to be trained. And this is exactly what meditation does.

But it is a very long and very slow journey. I feel blessed to have started on this long path though.

Mind games

 

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“Ok, so what do you want me to do?” exasperatedly I asked.

“Have fun! What else?”

What a shallow answer that was.

“Is that what you think is the purpose of our lives?”

“Do you know of any other purpose?”

Yeah. Of course not. There is no freaking purpose of existence at all. We just happen to fill a time period in the evolutionary time scale on earth. I might end up doing something amazingly awesome without as much as a clue whether it would make any difference, positive or negative now or in billions of years to come. Everything one does is wrapped into different time frames.

Taking advantage of my silence it continued: “Yeah so have fun!”

“Why the hell am I even living then? I might as well discontinue this existence right away if it anyways amounts to nothing.”

“Yup. You can.”

Wow. This does not help me at all. Not that I am suicidal or desperate. Without a project at hand that can help me get a jump start in the morning; that can maintain the adrenaline rush through the day; that can keep my mind off these random crazy thoughts, I suffer from these bouts of ‘existential crisis’. I know they will pass. Nonetheless, the question is valid. What is the meaning of life? Are we just looking for reasons to pass time till we die?

“Have a kid. Your perspective will take a U-turn.”

Obviously! That is why I do not have a kid. I do not need another perspective. Obviously if I have the responsibility of giving birth and raising another human being, the question would no longer remain valid. Like any other living being, I would be alive to procreate and keep the species growing.

“Meditate and the answer will come to you.”

That is true. Life is exactly like meditation.

Both consist of an infinite series of games in which one is constantly playing against the mind. Mind is by default lazy, negative, destructive, emotional, and fickle. Every moment, you need to fight that impulse to be able to create, remain positive, and maintain stable and existence.

When there is work in life to keep your mind occupied, it is like meditating with a chant. Easy to keep focus on. Just keep repeating the chant, as if in a trance.  Work is like trance. It has a similar effect on life as chanting in meditation; the effect of being ‘high’, inebriated.

The real struggle is when there is no chant, no sound, and no stimulus. No work. No project. Nothing to look forward to. You still need to keep your focus on.

Life is just a mind game. And you must play to win. Every moment of it.