Challenge Your Status Quo. Embrace Change!

A few days ago one of my good friends was home. While I was preparing tea, she just looked at the light arrangement in the kitchen. She realized that all the light was falling on the water basin and only some on my kitchen stove. Tall that she is, she swiftly rearranged my kitchen lights to illuminate the right places. My kitchen was better lit now with light all over the place and yet I wasn’t happy with it.

My husband and me were so used to the earlier light arrangement that this new and better light arrangement felt disastrous. The light arrangement seemed to suck and we were complaining and cribbing about it. But in reality, I could cook better in the nights with light focused on the stove.

When we first moved to Chicago from the sunny West Palm Beach, we were sad with the cold weather here. It was chillier. Going to the gym meant wearing 2 jackets, gloves and a scarf plus beanie. We were shivering when outside. But slowly we got used to the cold and the place. We love the high vibe energy here as compared to the laid back atmosphere in Florida. And we are glad we took this plunge.

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That is how I go to the gym here!

That is what happens with change! Even when the transformation is better for us, we still cling to the old. We don’t want to get rid of our old habits and try something new and better. The status quo so becomes our identity that we fear to leave it aside. Change is stressful. But if we embrace change in the right way, life will be so much simpler and easy.

Are you stuck at your current situation? Do you want to make a change and yet fear to do so? Trust me, take the leap. Be open to change. Start small with something manageable and attainable.

So what is it in your life that you want to change NOW?

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Women! Don’t Let the Guilt of Self Love Sabotage Your Inner Joy!

International Women’s Day is round the corner. While I am one of those who believe womanhood should be celebrated everyday, it is nice to have one dedicated day for this to specifically remind us! While we may have our plans on how to celebrate this ‘special’ day, I want to bring attention to something which we all need to get rid of! This Women’s Day, I want all women to let go off the guilt associated with self care and self love and embrace it as a life essential!

Thanks to our patriarchal upbringing, we as women have a tendency to immerse ourselves in bountiful pangs of guilt every time we do something ‘only for ourselves’. Remember those times when you let your husband baby sit your child and went out with your girlfriends for some girl time. How many times did you call home and check on your husband and child? Remember the time when you loved a dress but kept on thinking whether you are worth that dress? Remember the time when you did not give your husband his lunch to work and the pang of guilt that stabbed you. The time when you were at a friend’s place for dinner enjoying chitchatting with the gang, when you remembered your friend is alone in the kitchen. Remember that guilt which made leave conversations midway to help her in the kitchen while the men enjoyed! Remember the fees of any self improvement or that advanced yoga class which makes you feel so guilty that you don’t even think about joining it though you so want to do it!

These are just few of the examples. Why is it that whenever we indulge in self care of self love, it is ALWAYS accompanied by guilt? The society is one of the reasons. I am not a saint and as a part of the society, I have also been a part of the judging and name calling at one point. I have judged a mother who left her 3 month old baby in a creche and joined work. I have judged a woman who spent a bomb at the parlours. I have judged women who did not have any career ambition in life. Yes, I have been part of ‘that society’. But over the years, I have realized that it is these ‘judging’ eyes that ruin the joy of self love for most of us women. After all, who am I to judge someone? I don’t know their story, I don’t know under what circumstances they took a particular decision, I simply don’t know what their real life looks like. Even if I knew, what right do I have to judge? The first step we women need to take to eradicate guilt is stop judging others. Live and let live!

I love this quote from my favorite book Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – “To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.” 

It makes so much sense. Indeed you first need to love the ‘I’. You need to respect the ‘I’. You need to give space to the ‘I’. You first need to make ‘I’ a priority. You need to love yourself before you can reciprocate that love to someone else. If you don’t respect yourself, how will you garner respect from others? If you keep on thinking and doing things for others, when will you live your own life?

How many times have we sabotaged our joy of self care because of the guilt trip we always associate with self care? Gone are the days when women were supposed to be in the kitchen and yet that guilt doesn’t seem to die. I know we have been raised this way but let’s try at least to love ourselves without any guilt whatsoever! One step at a time.

This Women’s Day, I want all of us to do or take up one self care activity which we have been procrastinating or avoiding only because of this ‘guilt’. What is that one thing you want to do for ‘yourself?’

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Feel Blessed with this 2 Minute Gratitude Exercise

I dedicated one entire year for gratitude in my ‘word of the year’ exercise. And ever since then gratitude has become an integral part of my life. In good as well as bad times, it is the thankfulness towards the good in life that has brought me out of the toughest situations.

But a lot of times, we get so carried away in our miseries and sorrow that we forget to look at the good things in life. In all the chaos, we forget to be thankful for what we do have and simply concentrate on our shortcomings.

You have to remember that even in the worst of our times, there will be something to thank about. Maybe that we have food on our table or that our loved ones are with us to help us through the bad times or that we are not at war. One thing to be thankful each day!

I started with a gratitude exercise few months back and thought of sharing the same with you all today. It is very simple, easy and best part is does not need more than 2 minutes. You don’t even need any pen or paper.

So here is the Gratitude Exercise:

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Every night when you get to your bed, just close your eyes and remember all the good things or blessings of the day. Visualize each of those blessings and at the end of it say ‘Thank you’ from the bottom of your heart. You may thank God if you believe in one or just a simple ‘Thank You’ acknowledging the good is all what is needed.

There will be days when you will be euphoric and there will be so much thank for! But there will also be days when you will feel life is in the dumps. Nevertheless, there will be something to thank for on that day.

As you regularly do this exercise, you will start appreciating your life. You will start being thankful to so many minute things which we take granted every single day. Doing this exercise while sleeping has it’s own wonderful effects. However stressful the day maybe, thinking about the good times of the day before sleeping will calm your mind and body. Your body will get relaxed and a good night’s sleep is ensured. The next day you will wake up with renewed energy 🙂

Try this exercise as you don’t have anything to lose here. It doesn’t even require any investment or props. And please don’t tell me you don’t have the time. Start this exercise and let me know how you feel after continuing the practice for a month at least!

Thank You! 🙂

3 Less than 15 Minute Meditations to Start Transforming Your Life

When I first started meditation, it was on and off with no regularity or consistency. I just did it on the spur of the moment. But then, life went astray in between and that is when I took meditation seriously and started doing it religiously.

Before I tell you the 3 Meditation Techniques, I would like to put forth a few points which will help you in your process of transformation via meditation –

  1. Choose a time for your meditation and follow that time. Mornings are better, but if you don’t have time in the morning do it in the evening or night. But keep one specific time for it. Follow this schedule.
  2. Don’t expect overnight results. Be patient. Instead of starting meditation with a bunch full of expectations, keep it simple. Do it because you feel good doing it.
  3. Thoughts will be there always. Instead of forcing them out, acknowledge the thoughts and move on. The perspective that one should have a ‘thoughtless’ meditation ruins the experience. It takes time and practice till we reach to that stage. So don’t beat up yourself if your meditation is accompanied by thoughts.
  4. Don’t give up soon. Continue the practice and you will notice the difference. Stay put 🙂

So here are the 3 Meditations which you can do within 15 minutes and witness your own transformation –

#1 Simple Counting Meditation

When I first thought of serious meditation, I began with this simple meditation technique. Ro Ferrelli who is an intuitive personal coach had mentioned about this meditation in one of her Vlogs and I thought let’s start with it. It is the simplest of all the meditations and can be timed as per your convenience – 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc. Here is a video demonstrating this meditation technique –

 

#2 Chakra Meditation

This meditation is to strengthen the 7 chakras in our body which are associated with a lot of things happening in our life. I was told I have energy blockages in one of the readings and I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Mr. Ajay Jadhav during this time frame. Mr. Ajay Jadhav is a versatile healer and much more than that as a human being. He taught me this chakra meditation and it has been 2 months now that I have been doing this meditation every single morning.

chakra-meditation

This meditation helps you clear the energy blockages in your body, thereby strengthening the chakras. You need to take deep breaths and chant the respective beej mantra while exhaling –

  1. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Muladhar Chakra situated at the end of your spinal cord in the back.
  2. Vaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Indriya Chakra situated about two inches below the navel and two inches in.
  3. Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Nabhi Chakra situated at your navel.
  4. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Hriday Chakra situated at your left breast.
  5. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Kantha Chakra situated at your throat.
  6. Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Adnya Chakra situated at your third eye.
  7. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa for Sahastrar Chakra situated at the very top of the head.

Give it a try and see what difference it brings in your life.

#3 Kirtan Kriya Meditation

I love this one! Started doing it since this Monday. I saw one of Ro’s live videos where she mentioned about manifesting a TEDX talk through this meditation. At that time, I did not pay much attention to it. Later again in one of her Instagram videos I heard this ‘Sa Ta Na Ma’ playing in rhythmic music. It was so enchanting. I was so attracted to that music and the words. I didn’t realize that I had started humming those words unconsciously in my mind in that rhythm ever since. It was as if this was my calling. How much ever cliched it sounds, but yes I felt the ‘calling’. And thus I got hooked to this one. It is a Kundalini Yoga meditation and takes just 11 minutes! I am in love with this mediation currently 🙂

Here is a video explaining beautifully and aptly on how to do this 11 minute meditation –

Soulful music and words, right?

I am hooked to the last two meditations currently and they occupy my mornings. I do my meditations without expectations today. I just indulge in them to simply soak in the peace.

If you need help in any of these meditation methods listed here, please feel free to get in touch with me. I will be more than happy to help 🙂

Which meditation will you try today?

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A Tale of the Imperfect Chapatis!

When I married Sujoy, I knew cooking. I used to help my mom in the kitchen and on many occasions cooked meals too before marriage. So cooking was not a big issue for me. The real issue was making chapatis.

Sujoy is a Bengali and I am a Konkani, so it was good in a way that chapati was never a staple food in our diet. We were happy with our fish and rice 🙂 But sometimes I used to crave for chapatis, especially when I used to make mutter paneer or that thin spicy red chicken gravy. While in India, it was easier to get good homemade chapatis from outside. The real problem started when we shifted to US.

With no good outside chapati options, I tried to make chapatis at home. It was a disaster. Kneading the dough was a task, rolling out the chapatis even a bigger nightmare and the cooking of chapati tedious! The end result was a chapati which was thick like a brick and crunchy like a papad (I still joke on my papad chapatis)! I gave up on the thought of making chapatis.

I shied away from making chapatis and either stuck to puris or snacks like pav bhaji when I invited folks over at home. I gave up and thought ‘making soft chapatis is not my thing’.

But this kept on bothering me as I did not have an alternative available to good home made chapatis. Thus started the quest of chapati making research. I asked my friends to send videos of the process, watched some youtube videos, saw my sister preparing chapatis and browsed blogs. And yet whenever I tried making chapatis, the result was not as per my expectations. I still sucked at making chapatis but they were better than the earlier papads.

In the entire process, I learnt step by step. I first learnt that my kneading is not as prescribed. I used very little water and kneaded a hard dough. Hence the crunchy papad like chapatis. I corrected that. Then I learnt that my tava temperature was too high and the chapati was getting burnt due to it. I kept my cast iron griddle aside which used to remain heated and bought a new anodized griddle. Then I learnt kneading the dough and keeping it in an airtight container for at least 30 minutes makes the chapatis softer. I did that. Later I learnt, we should first mix the salt and oil very well in the atta so that oil fats get emulsified in the atta and then add water gradually. I implemented that.

I started making chapatis more often, twice a week to be specific. Slowly the number increased and as I practised this art of chapati making, I improved by leaps and bounds. I learnt at every step. Today I prepare such soft chapatis that I myself can’t believe that I prepared those chapatis. I am confident to invite guests over and feed them with chapatis prepared by me, though giving them a fair warning that they aren’t the best. That just gives me a leverage as the expectations are set low 😉

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I am still working on the shape though, but who cares when the chapati now is so fluffy! I am so content with my chapati quality that I bought a 20 lbs atta packet recently while earlier I was content with a 4 lbs packet which lasted for months. Now, isn’t that a big feat?

Why am I telling you this chapati story today? To make you realize the imperfect chapati in your life. What is that imperfect chapati in your life which you have shying away from, thinking you are not good at it at all? Practice makes man perfect and trust me you can make perfect chapatis too 🙂

I wouldn’t have been writing this blog today if I wouldn’t have practised writing consistently for 2 years now. I wouldn’t have been writing today if I would have given up writing at my first rejection. I wouldn’t have told you the story of my imperfect chapatis today if I would have stopped writing hearing the early writing criticisms.

So how about not giving up and working on those imperfect chapatis diligently?

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A Recap on Forgiveness and My WORD for 2017!

As many of you know I choose a word every year since 2015. The whole idea of choosing a word instead of some 10 new year resolutions is being true to yourself and sticking to this one singular goal. This one word represents who you want to be and how you want to live.

My word for 2016 was ‘Forgiveness’ and here are some lessons I learnt in my journey so far –

  1. Forgiveness is not a cake walk. It is a difficult job. Rage and revenge surge within you and it is difficult to keep those strong feelings aside and forgive someone.
  2. Forgiveness is not for ‘them’ but rather for ‘you’. It does not matter if the other person does not accept your sorry or doesn’t respect your forgiveness. What matters is how light you feel after shedding off those extreme negative feelings from within you.
  3. Saying sorry is as important as forgiving someone. Don’t let your ego play with your mind. Own up your mistake and say sorry.
  4. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are weak, it actually makes you the bigger person!

I continue with my forgiveness and gratitude journey. And I have been thinking hard about the word for this year. It took some time to choose, but nevertheless I am happy that I chose this word for 2017.

So, my word for 2017 isMindfulness‘!

Why I chose this word? With the advent of the smartphone and the fast paced life, we have stopped being in the present and almost forgotten to enjoy the current moment. We are running after a mirage, wanting something more or thinking that we will be happy in the future. Well, I want to break that chain. I want to be mindful of the present moment, of what I am doing currently and be focused. I don’t want my hands to go involuntarily to my mobile phone while watching the movie or be thinking about my upcoming Toastmasters speech while I am cooking. I want to be mindful of what I am eating and not just have my food half heartedly. I don’t want to worry about the pending action items while I am enjoying my coffee.

In simple words, I want to be mindful of everything I do right from brushing my teeth to researching for my next article.

I want to be here, in the present! I want to be mindful in 2017!

 

The Purpose of Our Life!

I remember the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ally first asks about how babies are made and then she asks innocently, “Why are we born? Why has God put us here?” Raymond is taken aback and then the entire family tries to find the answer. They contact the church, search the Bible and call their Pastor. And no one has an answer to the question.

It has been a constant question for me too. I bet many of you must have also mused on this question. And I think I have figured out the answer, thank you to my spiritual guides.

We are here TO BE HAPPY! Simply to be happy. The purpose of our lives is to be happy! To make the most of what we have and at the end of the day BE HAPPY! It is so darn simple!

But today, we have lost the true meaning of happiness and we are running behind mirages. Illusions which we think will make us happy. Or the conditioned upbringing and the society norms which dictate our definition of happiness. What we need is to sit down and think. Think about what really makes us happy. Is it really the expensive smart phone? Is getting married and having kids the paramount of happiness? Is having a house bigger than your acquaintances the real definition of happiness? Is getting likes on your FB post making you happy?

The above parameters might be making you happy but you need to analyze whether it is true happiness or society infected happiness within us? If it really makes you happy, please go ahead with it. If not, isn’t it time that we addressed the purpose of our lives? Being happy in the true sense?

Does reading the book make you happy? Does sitting on green grass and just gazing at the sky make you mellow? Singing brings a smile on your face? Playing football makes you joyful? Spending time with your friends cheers you up? Going on walks comforts your heart? Meditation brings solace to your soul? Dancing makes you ecstatic? The sight of your dog wagging it’s tail on seeing you brightens you up? Being in your mom’s caress elates you?

What is that one thing that makes you jubilant?

When you sleep tonight, try to remember the happy moments of the day. If you have none, then you know you are doing something terribly wrong.

What makes you happy? Just do that. Keep life simple. Be happy always 🙂