Lessons from a girl who fell


Living in the moment is darn simple if you look up to children as role models. They epitomize the spirit to let go, have fun and simply be. They therefore are happy despite their circumstances.

Last evening we were sitting in a doctor’s clinic, waiting for our turn to be called in. A child, about 5 years old, who was playing around the waiting room, suddenly fell off a chair and hurt her head. She wailed for a few minutes. But as soon as her mother consoled her, she stopped crying. It was a bad fall. Because we could hear the impact of the child’s fall – of her head banging on the floor. It was more than an ordinary “thud”. In fact, I had expected the child to continue to wail. But she stopped. And immersed herself in flipping through a magazine which was lying around. Obviously she could not read. She was too young. Besides she was a child that came from a less privileged background. Looking at her mother I even wondered if she would get a decent schooling at all. Also, the magazine she held in her hand was in English. But what was interesting was that instead of focusing on the pain that she had been inflicted, owing to the fall, the child made herself busy reading aloud a make-believe story to herself from the magazine – just stringing her thoughts around the pictures she saw. Her spirit and her narrative were both engaging. Although, from where I was sitting, I couldn’t see the magazine, I really liked her story. And in some time, I even lost myself to the moment – forgetting that I was at the doctor’s in the first place because I had a nagging physical condition that needed review.  

Back home later in the evening, I reflected on the little girl’s attitude. It was both infectious and inspiring. I wondered:

  • Why is it that we adults are unable to get up and get going when we fall – either physically or figuratively or emotionally in Life?
  • Why is it difficult for us to let go and immerse ourselves in the moment – finding both enthusiasm and joy in what is?

Perhaps, a simple reason why we get affected by any form of pain, as in a physical fall or an emotional situation, is that we don’t treat events that happen to us as just events. The child was able to get over the fall and its painful impact because she subconsciously treated it as a simple event. She moved on to the next one. Which was about story-creating and story-telling! We would have clung on to the pain, analyzed its causes, its consequences and found a zillion ways to opinionate why the incident causing the pain must never have happened. And so on and on. Resultantly, we don’t even recognize the opportunity in each moment. We may be physically present in a moment but are mentally stuck in the past, in the pain. In the present, only reality, only the moment exists. The mind does not exist in the moment. The difference between children and us is, they are forever engaged with the present, with what is. They simply refuse to remain enslaved to their minds!

Perhaps that’s a lesson worth thinking about and possibly imbibing?


It’s never too late to start living in Life!


It is never too late to start living in Life!

 

We miss the beauty and magic of everyday moments because we are either grieving over what happened or are fearful of what may happen. Truth be told, we are all, always, journeying through Life with more load than what we can carry. We are carrying baggage from the past __ guilt, remorse, grief and we are carrying unreasonable expectations of the future __ fear, worry and anxiety. Either way, we are struggling through Life. So, Life appears to be a drudgery. A burden. And a sad song.

 

To be sure, no one, simply no one, is spared of pain in this lifetime. Everyone who is born on the planet has to deal with their share until, as most scriptures say, death frees them. This is the truth and this reality is inescapable. It is when we label this share of pain as unfair, unjust and unkind, and therefore resist it, that we suffer.

 

Simply, tell you pain off: “Hello, you have come uninvited and I know I can’t do anything about it. So you be where you are, do what you want to do. I am choosing to be unmoved and I am choosing to just be. Now watch your relationship with pain change.” It will potter around with your Life but not at the cost of your missing the opportunity to live!    

 

In most Indian homes, despite the best pest control methods available today, it is rare that you will not find lizards. Now, there are many people who grieve at the sight of a lizard. They are petrified of them and imagine horrible consequences of co-existing with them. They cringe and suffer all the time. But there are several million others, across the subcontinent, that just let the lizards be and they be themselves. Yes, everyone wishes that the lizards don’t present themselves in front of them, but when they know they can’t do pretty much anymore, they make their peace and move on. Pain is like the lizard in an Indian home. It just likes to hang round. And it doesn’t have a vicious agenda to terrorize you and make you feel miserable. You suffer because you hate its presence! The best way to deal with pain is to make your peace with it. Then, Life becomes worth living.

Yesterday, it was very relieving to see a young friend come to terms with Life, making peace with her pain, a year after her husband’s untimely passing away. She celebrated the fact that she had found Life worth living all over again! It will be both impractical and foolish to imagine that she will not have memories and she will not feel sorrowful whenever she reminisces. But acceptance is a gift you can give yourself that will, while not taking away your pain, will help you to live without suffering. The key operative word here is ‘to live’.

So, make a serious investment in the rest of your Life NOW. This is one investment that requires no gestation period to earn you a return. You invest and you harvest instantaneously. Stop grieving over what has happened so far. And stop worrying about what will happen. You will be unable to live if you focus on ‘What Was’ or “What Isn’t’ or ‘What If’. Life thrives only in the ‘What Is’ realm. You can live fully only IN your Nows. And it is never too late to start living (IN) them!  


Gift yourself the Miracle of Mindfulness


As you start a New Year, gift yourself mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is not an impractical, difficult to do, practice if you understand the concept clearly. It is the ability to just stay engaged in the moment. Because Life is happening only in the present.

After last night’s revelry, it’s possible you slept late and woke up late too. But while you may have woken up, you may not be awake in the true sense. Mindfulness is being awake to the miracle of what’s happening to you in the present.

But the mind is cruel. It doesn’t easily listen to what you want it to do. It slips back into guilt or grief about the past or begins to worry for the future. When you are stuck in the past or peering into the future you are forgetting to look at what is. You are then forgetful, not mindful!

The Vietnamese Master Thich Naht Hahn, also called ‘Thay’ by his followers, helps us with a simple, 3-step process to become mindful. Whenever your mind strays, which is ever so often, bring it back by:

1.     Smiling

2.     Focusing on your breathing

3.     Going about whatever you are doing slowly

Let’s say your mind starts thinking of an important commitment you have to keep, say, an EMI is to be paid. And you don’t have the money nor visibility for the money. As you dwell on what you don’t have, the money in this case, you will start worrying. And soon worry will breed insecurity. Instead, the moment your mind starts to worry, smile, focus on your breathing and bring your attention to what needs to get done to raise the money required to pay the EMI. Mindfulness may not take your problem away. But will help you see a solution instead of simply worrying about a problem. And only a solution can solve a problem, not worrying!

If you like the idea, put it into practice by declaring one day of the week, starting this year, your Mindfulness Day. Spend the entire day doing everything only within the framework of the 3 steps that Thay recommends. Whatever you do, from waking up, brushing your teeth, sipping your coffee, reading the papers, looking out the window, watching a movie, having sex, taking an evening walk, drinking wine, whatever, do it mindfully. Review how you feel at the end of the day. And you will find that it would have been the most beautiful day of your Life. Make sure you have a Mindfulness Day, each week. Over weeks, you will want to make your entire week have Mindfulness Days only!

This doesn’t mean you don’t pursue goals. That you don’t remain aggressive. That you abstain from something.

It only means quit brooding and quit worrying. This will be the best gift you can give yourself this New Year! That’s when you will discover the miracle in Mindfulness.

When you really get this practice embedded in the way you live, you will have a really Happy, because it is Mindful, New Year!

Every moment in Life is a Leap of Faith


Don’t approach the future with fear. Dive into it with complete abandon!

Many a time, thanks to the blows Life would have dealt you, you may choose to tread warily, cautiously. This innate human nature to be forewarned sometimes evolves into fear. Fear breeds insecurity. And that leads to worry. How can you deal with what’s coming up in your Life when you are not even present __ in the present moment?

Life’s inevitable situations are agreeably numbing. They just leave you scarred and socked. But don’t let a past experience prevent you from living what you are endowed with right now or prevent you from approaching what’s coming up, freely.

Anchor in faith though. Know that if you have lived through your worst times, then you are ready for anything. And believe me when I say that what you fear most never happens. And if it is death that you fear, then that’s foolish. Because if you were to die, you would not even know you are dead. Someone else will have to be called in to certify that you are dead.

By letting fear get to you, you are losing Life as it is happening. Going through challenging times IS Life! While planning is important and we should all work towards higher fiscal and physical efficiencies, we must also understand that Life’s Master Plan is above all else. And when Life happens, you better be present. If you are busy planning, fearing or are swamped in the past or worrying about the future, you will miss living. And when you think you are ready to live, it’s already too late and the time to die, to depart has come!

Remember: Life is a bunjee jump. Every moment of Life is a leap of faith. Either you can let the fear of unknown cripple you or you can anchor in faith and know also that during the course of your jump, even as you think it’s all over, you will either be given wings to fly or a hand will haul you up!
                                                                                                                                                                                          

Live a Magnificent Monday!


Live through each day gracefully, enjoying each moment, even if it is not the one that you ordered or wanted, but yet received. So receive your day, as it unfolds before you, with immense gratitude and live it fully!

If you are reading this on Monday, you must be wondering if this is just some armchair philosophy being dished out by someone who is both unaware of how Mondays are and who is just preaching without any practical insight.

Let me share my learnings that have brought me to this point in Life, thanks to which I can assure you that this is indeed the most intelligent way to live.

There was a time when I was globe-trotting. Breakfast in Singapore, lunch in LA and dinner in Rome. Traveling nine months in a year, living out of hotel rooms 21 days in a month. I loved that Life. I had heard of intelligent living then. And had assumed that it was all about applying your intellect in Life to make fame and fortune. So, I invested my every waking hour in working. Family was important but saw my role primarily as a provider who ‘scheduled’ to ensure presence at home to mark anniversaries and birthdays. I always felt being at my kids’ school annual days and Parent Teacher interactions as a waste of time. Those meetings didn’t add value to my Life. If I could pack in an additional meeting either with my clients or with my team, we would be better off as a Firm, was my irrefutable logic. And on the odd weekends I spent at home, I would pore over CEO reports, filed by each member of my 40-strong team. They would tell me what was wrong in the way we were running our Firm or delivering value to our clients. I would make copious notes and initiate steps and Programs each week to get our house and processes back in order.

I saw work as an investment for a future where I would be happy, as would my family, and our Firm would run on auto-pilot turning in dividends, enriching our lives.

I don’t think this line of logic is wrong per se. Except that it can neither be guaranteed that Life will happen the way you want it to nor that living can be postponed while you earn a living.

In the years that followed, despite my purposeful intent and my hands-on, paranoid leadership, my Firm went bust and the same team members, for whom I worked overtime, drifted away. Rightly so. Whoever wants to be on a sinking ship?  My children grew up. And suddenly, one fine day, although it was always on the cards, our son flew away to pursue an undergrad Program in Economics at the University of Chicago. The night he left for Chicago, we came back home to a half-empty nest. That sense of emptiness took months to get used to. I particularly felt I could have spent far more time with him in his growing up years. Initially, I grieved a lot. And even held myself responsible for missing out on such a never-before opportunity of living engaged with the growing up years of our son!

Life’s a hard teacher. She gives the test first and lesson later. And that’s how I failed the test and still learned the lessons!

I made amends with our daughter. I decided, and have been reasonably successful with it, to get involved with every aspect of her Life, alongside my wife. And what I couldn’t provide for our son on the ground, I made up with regular phone and Skype calls during his college years. I also forgave myself. And decided to not resist the manner in which my Life and business has slowed down. I decided to celebrate it. And so, now I see work as prayer, a form of expression of my inner Self, a joy. Result, we do take up only work that we love and prefer to rejoice each opportunity to live as one in which we can invoke soul, provoke thought and inspire action!

Now I can modestly claim I understand intelligent living better. I have learned that it only means living. The intelligent part is to choose living __ in the moment, mindfully, loving each moment __ over everything else. So, this Monday, what do you want to do? Maybe you can’t do everything that you want to either. But you can do one thing for sure __ appreciate the value of each moment and journey through the day gracefully, enjoying its beauty and celebrating its uniqueness, its “never-again-ness”. Do this knowing that maybe there’s a companion, a child, a parent, a sibling, a colleage __ someone who you are taking for granted, waiting for you to pause and engage with her or him. Know surely that it’s a blessing if you can indeed do it. And be eternally grateful for that opportunity!  

Live celebrating your Monday’s magnificence today!

                                                                                                                                                                                          


Why not make today delicious?




Today is worryless, stressfree and miraculous if you realize that Tomorrows come again and again. Today, however, comes only once and is happening to you just NOW! Knowing this, internalizing it and practicing it can make your Life beautiful.

Basically, focus on the present and all will be well with you. Think about it. We never worry about or fear the present moment. We don’t pine for the present. Our worries are ALWAYS about an unknown future and our pain comes from a past that is over and done with. When we don’t live in the now, the only real moment that we know of, have in our control and are going through now, we are not living at all. We are merely existing. All our problems__financial, emotional, spiritual__arise ONLY from not focusing on the present, on the now.

Living in the past, or longing for an unknown future, is making us stagnate, vegetate and, in fact, rot. Don’t hit that rewind button. Live every moment fully, mindfully. You have to live first to understand, appreciate and enjoy Life. You can’t achieve that by merely being alive. Our outer realities, our circumstances may not always be of our choice. But how we want to live in them, in the present moment, can be by choice. Choosing, therefore, to live in the now, is an intelligent decision.

While researching on the net for a presentation I am due to make, I stumbled upon the Core Purpose, Mission and Brand tagline for Amercian food major Kraft Foods. It said: “Make Today Delicious”. It is perhaps the most delectable corporate statement you may ever find. It almost instantaneously suggests we revisit how we are leading our lives. It inspires you to want to get to that level of ease where each of your todays can indeed be delicious.


Very simply, it’s your todays alone that count. Not your yesterdays or a tomorrow that is still to arrive. As Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) Author, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, says, “The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.”

Think about it. And make your today memorable. Better still why not make today delicious!?