Focus on what matters than on matters that don’t

Just consider the irony of our lives. We keep trying to increase the value of all the unimportant things in our Life, instead of trying to reduce the values (parameters) of what’s most important for us to live.
We worry ourselves to death trying to increase our wealth, our real estate, our fame; we lust and crave for rewards and recognition, and want more and more people to appreciate us. Even as we are doing this, we don’t realize that things more valuable than what we are chasing are also increasing in value. Our weight, our blood pressure, our heart rate, our triglycerides, our sugar and cholestrol. The irony: if we worked systematically to reduce the values of our body parameters and bring them to acceptable levels, we will be able get more of what we want without as much effort as we are struggling to invest now.

Phil Crosby, the Quality Guru, wisely said, “Health is the only Wealth. And it’s Tax Free!” So, doesn’t it make sound financial sense to focus on what matters than on matters that don’t?
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The mind holds the key to your physical fitness

When you are anchored in inner peace, your body functions the best.
Swami Parthasarathy
Photo Courtesy: Mid-Day/Internet
This morning’s The New Indian Express (TNIE) carries a story of Swami Parthasarathy playing cricket. Parthasarathy, now 88, was once a businessman and is now a corporate guru who teaches managers to live intelligently! He lectures frequently on the Bhagavad Gita and runs Vedanta World, a learning academy in Malavli, near Pune. Sharing the key to his fitness, he told TNIE: “When you don’t worry about the past and don’t get anxious over the future, you stay fit.”
This is such a simple, beautiful, perspective. Yet this philosophy eludes most of us. Because we have come to somehow believe that our lives are complex and so only a complex solution can help rid us of our problems. Resultantly, we keep waiting for a perfect future, where there will be no problems and we can live happily ever after. The truth, however, is that there is and can never be a perfect future – you can never have a Life that is free from problems. All you can and must do is to live your present perfectly. What prevents this from happening is the mind. It draws you into grief, anger and guilt over the past and into anxiety and worry over the future. So, you are never present in the now. The now is perfect. It is what it is, the way it is. But you are not here. You are brooding or you are worrying. So you are besieged with lifestyle-related ailments – diabetes, hypertension, stress, cholesterol and such. What is a lifestyle ailment? Anything that is an outcome of the Life you lead. So, if you can train your mind not to worry and if your Life can be a continuous celebration of a series of present moments, your body will be fit and you can enjoy the pleasures of a good, productive Life.
I don’t say this from a philosophical perspective alone. I have been there – so I know what it means to be trapped in an unhealthy lifestyle situation. And I have experienced the power of transforming my Life by changing the way I think. I once had a tobacco habit and was obese. And I am both diabetic and hypertensive. When I understood the role the mind played in my physical condition I worked on training my mind. Over time, I have learned to rein in my mind and now know how to stay focused on the present. I have since shed my excess weight and have been able to keep my key physical markers under check. I did this through the practice of daily silence periods – mouna. So, I know that you too can do this. Your method may be different depending on what works for you. But I want to reiterate that it is both possible to train the mind and, therefore, stay fit. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in or the hours you keep. You just need to be willing to be the change that you want to see in you!
Inner peace is not elusive. It is not complicated. If you stop imposing conditions on the way your Life must be, and instead accept it for what it is, you will start living, than merely existing. When you live fully, in the present moment, you will experience inner peace and you will see the magic and beauty of a healthier, happier Life!

Take a break – nurture your body!

Every once in a while we must listen to our body. It often gives us several warning signs and tells us all that we need to know about ourselves. Ironically, doesn’t our air-conditioner, mobile phone, laptop and our car receive more attention and care than our body? Isn’t that a very unintelligent choice we make?
A key reason why we postpone personal health and fitness issues is that we think we have a lot of time to deal with them. The truth is, we don’t! With every passing second, our lives are getting shorter. Surely, nobody wants to spend time in hospitals and among doctors in the evening of their lives. And if we spent a little time to reflect on the generation that is ahead of us – and see what their lives are like, we will take our own lives seriously. Pretty soon we will be where that generation already is – reporting mobility issues, dealing with lifestyle-led complications like diabetes, hypertension and heart ailments or simply facing age-related consequences. Around that time, our children will be getting ready to build their careers and families. The last thing we would want is to burden them with helping us deal with our health challenges. Besides, the simple truth is that the more fit you are, the more productive (with your line of work), more peaceful and happier you will be. By fit, I don’t mean having a six-pack-ab body. I simply mean being fit enough not to have serious consequences arising from poor and irresponsible lifestyle choices!  

Take a break. Nurture your body! I recall Quality guru Philip B Crosby’s (1926~2001) immortal line, Health is Wealth. And it is totally Tax Free! Need we say any more?

Awareness makes all the difference


How much you know or don’t know about something does not make much of a difference to your Life. More often than not, you know enough about almost everything to make intelligent choices. But it is your lack of awareness, while doing simple, small, daily tasks, or activities, that impacts your Life in bigger measure than you can imagine! Awareness makes all the difference between living Life fully, making each day count, and merely getting past one!

For instance, it is common knowledge that:

  

  1. Regular exercise is important
  2. A balanced diet holds the key to a disease-free Life
  3. Smoking and drinking alcohol are injurious to health
  4. Too much work and stress kills
  5. We must save money for a rainy day

Although a large mass of humanity knows these simple tenets of intelligent living, very few actually practice it. The reason why many don’t practice is not lack of intent. Who wouldn’t want to be physically__and financially secure? The reason is that most people begin each day with good intent but simply lose themselves to the ‘doing’ conundrum. Between the morning cup of coffee and the kids being packed off to school to rushing off some work-related mails from your smartphone to 8 AM conference calls with the US West Coast to 10 AM calls with Singapore and 2 PM operations review meetings to more mails to attend to kids to be picked up and rushed to music, dance and sports coaching classes to getting dinner ready or sending off more important mails to packing for tomorrow’s trip to rushing to the grocer’s __ phew! __ where’s the time to think? Forget being aware! So, sometimes, because you haven’t had a meal at a proper time, a third cup of milky, sugary coffee, seems okay. Or when you light up one more time, although you KNOW you are overdoing it, you justify to yourself saying you need to ‘de-stress’. So destroy and de-stress suddenly become synonymous! Not that the protagonists of such a Life do not know the difference. They do. But they are caught in the web of doing__and doing and doing__without, at most times, being aware__of why they are doing what they are doing!  

Awareness has to be cultivated. It is about training your mind to understand the difference between getting wet in the rain and feeling it! So, a person whose level of awareness is high will feel the raindrops falling on her face while rushing off to work than simply worrying about her new laptop bag getting wet! It is about training your mind to feel grateful every time you eat, feeling thankful for each morsel you imbibe while relishing its delicious taste. You know a lot of people have contributed to making your meal delicious. But when you eat without awareness, you are in the doing mode. Your knowing anything is of no use. Because you have no awareness to celebrate your knowing. When you bring in awareness into every small detail in Life, you learn to live fully in each moment, from one moment to another! Through repeated practice, awareness improves. Then you realize, when your alarm goes off, that you are better off working out than sleeping longer. That you are better without lighting up. That you don’t need the one drink for the road. That the dessert only looks good and tastes good but does no good to your diabetic condition. Awareness gets you started. You, only then, start living!

Fundamentally, increased awareness reduces resistance and inertia to personal change. When you begin to change personally, transformation, an orbital shift in your thinking and living, becomes a distinctive possibility. With awareness, you too can be a Buddha. As Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk who lived in 6th Century BC, said: “Buddha means awareness. Awareness of both body and mind that prevents evil from rising in either.”