Try just being and slow travel on your commute today

Sometimes, doing nothing, just being, is very calming, very therapeutic.

The first day of work in the New Year is upon us. And interestingly, it is a Monday morning!!!
Instead of rushing off to work, honking and struggling through traffic, try slow travel if you can. Slow travel need not be a vacation idea alone. You can slow travel daily. Start early, don’t drive if you can avoid it – take a cab or take public transport. And when you commute to work, don’t get immersed in your mobile device. Instead observe Life as it happens around you. Allow your mind to soak in each detail – the way people behave, the way vehicles snarl at each other, the way the city moves, the way the method to all the madness unfolds. In all this chaos, you remain silent – and calm. Don’t let your mind complain. Just be an observer. Don’t opinionate, even to yourself, or to a fellow commuter, on what you feel. Don’t label what you see as good or bad. Just take it all in. Breathe well – observe your breathing – slowly: in, out, in, out…
To be sure, what I suggest you must try is not a bizarre idea. This is just bringing in the ancient Zen practice of Mindfulness into everyday urban, city Life. Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 ~ 1986), the thinker-philosopher, has said this: “You see, you are not educated to be alone. Do you ever go out for a walk by yourself? It is very important to go out alone, to sit under a tree—not with a book, not with a companion, but by yourself—and observe the falling of a leaf, hear the lapping of the water, the fishermen’s song, watch the flight of a bird, and of your own thoughts as they chase each other across the space of your mind. If you are able to be alone and watch these things, then you will discover extraordinary riches which no government can tax, no human agency can corrupt, and which can never be destroyed.” I believe – I have practiced this and found it to be true – that this same principle can be applied to rush hour traffic, while waiting at airports, on crowded metros, on a plane ride…wherever, in any context, in fact, as long as you remain silent and are willing to be just an observer, a witness.
Obviously, the nicest thing to do would be to go sit under a tree or by the beach. But in today’s world and time, when each of us is berating ourselves for being slave-runners on the rat race, any suggestion to “take time off from everyday routine” will be considered preposterous, inhuman and insane! So, why not tweak the routine, without disrupting it, why not employ silence periods (when you remain silent and detached from your mobile device), alone-ness (certainly not loneliness), witness-hood, slow travel and conscious breathing in your daily commute?
Another great thinker-philosopher of our times, Thich Nhat Hahn, now 89, and recovering from brain haemorrhage-led coma, has said: “In our busy society, it is a great fortune to breathe consciously from time to time. We can practice conscious breathing not only while sitting in a meditation room, but also while working at the office or at home, while driving our car, or sitting on a bus, wherever we are, at any time throughout the day…While I sit here, I don’t think of anything else. I sit here, and I know exactly where I am.”

So, try just being – no doing, no analyzing, no messaging, no complaining – for the duration of your home-work-home commutes today. Try it – it sure works! 

PS: All illustrations are property of the creator. They have been sourced from the Internet. No effort is made to infringe on the original copyright or to commercial gain from using them here.

Dharam ‘paaji’ and the secret of living above this world!

The surest way to stay grounded is to be silent. Not just in the face of emotional and physical provocation, but in terms of making it a daily practice.
Practicing silence periods awakens you to your true Self. This method is called Shubha Mouna Yoga.
Dharmendra in ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana 2’
Picture Courtesy: Internet
Listen to Bollywood legend Dharmendra, now 80, on how silence helped him. In a recent media interview, he’s quoted as saying: “…In 2001, I was alone in America with a back problem. Loneliness was killing me. No one to share sorrows. Guess what? I started talking to myself. Then tanhayee (solitude) started talking to me, ‘You don’t know me. You are afraid of me. You can’t escape me. Remember your childhood dreams of becoming a star? You were on my lap then. I was in the lullabies your mother sang. You didn’t need me in all those years of mahurats, megahits, parties, tamashas. But now you are in my arms again’….”
The benefit of mouna is orgasmic in nature – it has to be experienced. It cannot be explained or described. Your being silent does not require the environment to be quietened by you. It requires only you to remain silent. When you are silent you encounter your God – the ‘one’ within you. When you converse with your God, you understand the truth of your creation. “Then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” – Jesus (John 8:32). When you are free, your world looks and feels different; there are no pressures, no worries, no fears. This does not mean problems vanish and challenges cease to exist. It means your problems don’t trouble you and the challenges don’t weigh you down. You live in the same world. But you now know how to live above it.

Reaching this state of evolution requires just 20 minutes of being silent each day to start with. Won’t you give 20 minutes of your time daily to gain control over the remaining 1420 minutes in the day? If you invest in the stock-market or real-estate or mutual funds hoping to get a good return on investment (ROI), you will understand the value in giving 20 and taking back 1420!!! You don’t have to listen to Jesus or to me, but listen to Dharmendra, a man who has lived Life fully, is a very colorful personality, has a glad eye, has married more than once and drinks even today with true Punjabi flourish! For he’s one of those who have discovered the secret of living in this world and yet being above it!

Feeling incomplete and restless? Don’t try connecting the dots!

There will be times in Life when everything will seem so unstuck, so unsure, so unpredictable. Whenever you feel this way, don’t let it all cook within you – just turn around and go to sleep!
Last night when I lay down to sleep, I felt the same way myself.
I had been watching Rang De Basanti(Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, 2006) for the umpteenth time on TV – somehow the move never tires you out; it instead grows on you. In the wake of the Chennai Floods, every issue that DJ and his friends raise in the movie, made me feel very disturbed. Since there is a strong apprehension among most people in Chennai that the floods were a result of poor decision-making by the authorities concerned, issues like lack of accountability, leadership and collective public action to challenge and change status quo – magnified by the RDBviewing – made me restless. And then there is our enduring bankruptcy and the uncertain future looming large: of dealing with every day – practical, survival-related – challenges as 2016 arrives. We are yet to begin repaying our debt and the discomfort of living with – and in – such a seemingly-endless situation is immense. Our daughter’s graduate studies are coming up in 2016 and our son has a niggling medical condition that needs attention. My end of the family still chooses to remain estranged, while we don’t have the means yet to financially reciprocate all the day-to-day support that Vaani’s end of the family provides us.
Phew! Sometimes, I just wish that all this incompleteness – and the restlessness it causes – simply dissolves. Yes, I am human too.
That’s when I recalled a learning that my college mate from Kerala, Rajmohan Pillai, of the Beta Group, had shared with me some years ago. He had told me, while buying me and Vaani a multigrain sub at a Subway in Nungambakkam, Chennai: “Vaani and AVIS, don’t try to solve all your problems all at once. You simply can’t. Just be at them, just be; and over time, they will all get resolved.” I never understood the import of what Rajmohan was teaching us when he first said this. But over the years, I have greatly valued his advice.
So, I just turned off the TV and went to sleep. I slept well.
My practice of mouna (daily silence periods) and my spiritual evolution has helped me realize the futility of worrying. So, last night, I wasn’t worrying. Yes those worrisome thoughts were arising. But I was choosing to remain unaffected by them. Yet, there is an incompleteness I felt. And, from experience, let me tell you feeling incomplete at such times is very natural. The human mind craves for so much control on Life situations. But Life is more powerful. She can never quite be tamed. We often don’t understand this truth about Life and respond to such incompleteness in one of two – or both – ways: we worry and/or we connect the dots of all that is wrong with our Life and magnify a pimple to look like a tumor! Both responses are futile – worrying cannot solve problems and linking all your problems up only confounds an already complex situation!
The best way, I have learnt, is to switch off the mind when it goes into an overdrive on either – or both – fronts. To switch off the mind, you must just live in the present. The mind can only thrive when it is generating thoughts from the dead past or predicting the unknown future. In the present the mind is powerless. Last night, since even my attempt to be in the present – watching RDB – turned out to be disturbing me, I simply went to sleep. And I believe there’s nothing wrong with that choice. Let’s understand that each problem in Life is unique. Each one has a tenure. No problem in your Life – or mine – is going away unless it has served its time – and purpose! So, when you can’t solve a problem with your (human) intellect, agonizing over it is of no use. You simply have to try again – and again and again and again – with a fresh perspective, with renewed energy and vigor.
As I go down to work on my Life and its myriad, incomplete, situations, I wish you too luck. If we can’t immediately solve our problems, let’s at least avoid connecting the dots and making everything seem menacing and scary! This is the only way to inner peace and strength when you are in the throes of a storm!

Silence, Self and Surrender

Live in total surrender and you will live happily ever after!
Yesterday, a well-meaning friend suggested that we try a new form of Vaastu that helps release positive energy in a living space. His point: Vaani and I badly need that positive energy to bounce back in our Life and business. While I don’t deny that we need to bounce back in business, we can’t quite relate, anymore, to any of the methods that are on offer. Not that we didn’t try them before. We did. We wore rings and stones on our fingers, we tried foo dogs and laughing Buddhas and fountains and gem trees, we tried “freeing” up the north-east corner of our home and almost every method that’s available in the public domain. To be sure, we still consult astrology and use it like a dashboard. Even so, with due respect to all the sciences that promise “better living”, I can, through my own personal experience, learnt that the only science that works for intelligent living is the science of silence, Self and surrender.
Simply, when you embrace silence, you understand your true nature, your true Self, and through that understanding you learn to let go and surrender to Life.
I have come to realize that this is the best way to live. Don’t protest any situation. Don’t berate yourself. Don’t be angry, guilty, fearful or anxious. Just accept what is, work to your best ability on changing what is if you don’t like it, and surrender to Life’s ways, to its flow. This is a discipline – like a fitness regimen or a diet or a manufacturing process. You learn to perfect it over time. And you start by being silent for a certain period of time daily – usually 20 minutes is a good start for beginners. Slowly increase it to an hour. During your silence period, you remain silent; don’t try to silence the environment, you remain silent! With diligent practice of daily silence periods, you will awaken to this truth that your trying to control your Life is meaningless drama. You will know that whatever is happening to you is beyond your control and is happening in spite of you and never because of you. Then you will realize that total surrender – saranagatias the scriptures teach us – is what intelligent living is all about!  

Surrender does not mean inaction. It only means that you act knowing that the outcome is not in your control. Not in your hands. So you act, to the best of your ability, and leave the outcome to Life – accepting whatever is! Then you are forever soaking in positivity. You are always happy no matter what circumstances you are placed in. You don’t need any crutches – Vaastu, Feng Shui, superstitions, astrology, gemology – to live. To live well, to live happily, you only need to be silent for some time daily, you will then know who you really are and will realize the value of total surrender!