Friday, October 28, 2011

Start of the Day: What the Spiritual Masters Say

Start of the day is when we want everything to go smoothly for us. The productivity of getting a task done, the milestones involved, the effort of teams or maybe supportive systems - a lot is at stake whether you are working or managing the home.

Start of the day: What the Spiritual Masters Say
The ancient, wise men who guarded Indian traditions and beliefs knew what they were talking about even back then. They knew how important it is to start the day with a sense of awareness and mindfullness, something we are all struggling with. In fact, many of us don't even wake up peacefully. However, the Hindu scriptures clearly differentiate between following a spiritual master and following an Avatar. That would take me several posts to write so I am not getting into that.

The spiritual masters I have researched about include Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Ramakrishna Paramanhansa, Swami Vivekananda, and several Buddist spiritual leaders. But please note that while I am not a follower or disciple of these great masters. I am deeply inspired by ways they prescribed and I like to compare it to my own spiritual experiences and beliefs. As a result, it helps me to research and keep track of how they interpreted their spiritual experiences and how they liked to approach the start of the day

We wake up with a sense of rush. Rushing to get things done, rushing to beat the traffic and reach office on time, it is a constant rush we wake up with. That is a false sense of duty that calls out to us. If we haven't had a good start of the day, things go awry. Don't they? But that is also because we didn't prioritize our duties correctly.

But you know what? I liked this thought that perks me up at the start of the day. There's a Sanskrit saying, "A duty that comes into conflict with another is not a true duty at all." This means that if you are working at the expense of your health, it's not your true duty that you are demonstrating but a false sense of it. You have a duty towards your body - to maintain it well and take care of it with proper rest, food and sleep.

In the same way, whenever you are engaged in doing something, make sure it doesn't conflict with other duties. For example, if you are working very hard but ignoring the basic etiquette of maintaining important relationships in your life like that with your spouse, your parents, your close friends, etc, then you are ignoring the social fabric that keeps your life meaningful. Any duty that you percieve to come into conflict with another cannot be considered as a 'real duty.'

Start of the day: PRAY
Here's what I like to do at the start of the day. Before getting up in the morning, I always pray for a few minutes. There's no formula to follow. I just pray to God and seek His blessings before I start the day. This means before I get out of bed, I do my prayer. It makes me feel more peaceful before I start my tasks. It gives me an opportunity to sync with my higher self and acknowledge that I am not the actual Doer but I am the instrument that needs to be pretty good and focused at what tasks lie ahead for me. Praying also eliminates any negative energy or thoughts or feelings that I may otherwise begin the day with.

Always remember, once your feet touch the ground, your spiritual energy that is replenished in your sleep gets absorbed by the earth's vibrations that are very strong due to the pull of gravity. That is why people are advised to sit in padmasana with some sheet or some prayer mat while they pray. The body's spiritual energy reserves are easily absorbed by direct contact with the earth. The smartest way to conserve your sleep-replenished spiritual energy is to pray before your feet touch the ground first thing in the morning. THIS IS NOT MY PERSONAL FINDING. THIS IS WHAT SPIRITUAL MASTERS ADVISE. Following this has helped me a lot.

Just as start of the day is important, the way you go back to sleep is equally very important. According to spiritual masters, sleep is a form of temporary death. The only difference between sleep and death is that in sleep, your soul travels back to your body within an acceptable time frame so that your body can be fully energized for the following day. In death, the soul does not return. It goes back to its Origin. Therefore, sleep and the quality of sleep are important for those who are spiritual. It is also believed in metaphysical science that sleep is when your soul can travel with immense power to any place or any person you are attached to or strongly connected to.

I have read Buddhists who say that they start the day with something very mindful. For example, while drinking a glass of water, they'd say, "This is the elixir of life and youth and God's kindness. This will keep me alive and energized as God's elixir of life for the whole day." The power of your thought can make that plain glass of water become something more. That is what the Buddists say. Practice every breath that you take with meaningful mindfullness. Be aware of who you really are versus who you think you are.

For kids, the best way to ignite their minds is to teach them to thank God every morning and every night. Adi and I say our prayers together. It makes us feel so good to start our day like that and also to end our day with lots of love to God.

To ensure that in your sleep, you are energized and stay blessed, you must offer a prayer to God, thanking Him for the day that He blessed you with, the little things His love showed itself in and expressing your gratitude is the most beautiful way to say good bye to the day that was because that day doesnt come again ever in your life.

Each day at the start of the day, you are reborn because each night your soul comes back to your body and gives you life. Thank God every morning that He has kept you alive, given you the power to breathe in and breathe out and blessed you with that one gift no onelse can give you - the power of life. Thank God every morning and every night. It may not give you a perfect start or a perfect end. But you'll see how the quality of awarness and mindfullness comes to you more naturally when you sync with your Higher Self.  But one thing, don't do this for God. Do it because you love your self. Do it because you also have a duty to nurture your self. Have a fantastic start to all your days.

But hey, tell me, how do you love to start your day?  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Art and Craft, School Project: How we got a Giraffe to look Bright and Save Carbon!

Here's another art and craft project that Adi had got from his school. So, let me explain how we worked on it. He was given a printout of a giraffe's image and told to do something creative to make it look interesting and environment-friendly.

I was like "How can you make a giraffe look interesting? All i have is a printout."

Well, then I spotted an old birthday wrapping paper that looked flowery and I showed it to Adi and we both liked the idea of putting that as a kind of background for the giraffe. So first, Adi colored the giraffe in shades of yellow and brown. Then he stuck the giraffe onto this wrapping paper. But I felt though it looked good, something was still missing. That's when I fished into the Lindt Box and saw a green post card promotional that was about saving electricity and carbon. The context was different of course but I liked the message that it was giving.

So, I cut it and Adi pasted it. It felt perfect.


What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lindt Box is not just for chocolates, its perfect for waste!

There's a beautiful white Lindt box that I kept when a dear Uncle gifted the chocolates to my son. The box has 'Lindt' in golden letters. It is a compact white box that looks too chic and expensive to be thrown away. Well, I kept it. For a very long time, I thought to myself, "What do I put in this box?" I had nothing to put in it.

Then, Adi's school began. Projects of one sort or the other began to come in, sometimes weekly, monthly or quarterly. While many parents in his school prefer to get them 'custom made,' I saw it as an opportunity to flex my weak 'creative design' streak. I am pretty bad at it but I thought "Why don't I and Adi learn together?" So, there began my collection that found its way into the Lindt box that was still in pristine condition.

In the Lindt box, I would collect scraps that we would normally throw away such as bright chocolate wrappers, old postcards, brochures of any company that they use as promotional material, interesting shapes or designs that are from old calendars, covers of products like perfumes, incense sticks, then stray buttons, shells, and yes, even retailers' wrapping paper. A favorite of mine is Sugar & Spice wrapping paper. I make cards, sweet little notes or messages and sometimes wrap gifts in them and adorn it with personalized notes.

Another example, you would find many little decorative ad satchets that come with magazines. These satchets are glossy, decorative and have fantastic design elements on them. Since they drop out of the magazine, I collect and keep them in the Lindt box. It always comes in handy for a project, or sometimes to make a card or something interesting for the class.

I wouldn't claim that any of these creations are artistic works because they are not. But what I can say is that we have so many 'waste materials' around us that we can put to good use for kids and their projects. So, do try checking your home for them and make a collection that suits your tastes and interests. Remember, whatever waste material you choose, make sure its clean before it goes into your box. Or else, the other materials will get spoilt too.

Here are some creations Adi and I made from waste materials as part of his school project:

1. Project Title: Decorate one new notebook with color & creativity. Let your individuality come through.

Theme I chose as the underlying design for the project: Christmas
Reason: You can go wild with colors, designs and shapes. Festivity in a notebook seemed to enchant me and delight the child in me who never liked the plain, school notebooks.

Materials used:
  • A notebook
  • An old Britannia marketing promotional material I collected and kept from the magazine Good Housekeeping's Christmas issue of last year
  • Old Birthday wrapping paper, barely a meter was left but I had kept it for use in the Lindt box
  • Cellotape to stick the little material onto the b'day wrapping paper.
  • A note to place inside the 'Boot' like a name label that helps the teacher identify the student


Here's the note placed inside with Adi's name:


At every stage, I involved Adi in deciding colors, materials and so on otherwise there is no point to completing this project.

What do you think? Tell me honestly if it sucks. I am ready to improve for the upcoming school projects:)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs & What Death teaches us

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs - you've created more than an Apple for the world. Before you departed, you've created a whole new world.


Today, I believe that Death is a great teacher whom we don't have to fear. Reason? Because life is a preparation for a new beginning after death. A caterpillar has no growth if it remains a caterpillar, does it? It has to shed its existing body to rise anew. Instead of running away from what it represents, we need to prepare our life for the truth called Death, with every breath we take, every step we take and every action we decide to go forward with.

As Steve Jobs say, there's no time to waste & there's no reason not to follow your heart.
The choice is ours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Mommy

Mother is that special, incredible & irreplaceable person in your life who can completely turn your world around and be there for you when no on else cares to. From a fiery, trendy and highly stylish young woman who played terrific basketball and knew the right dance moves and had the audacity to assert that she'd absolutely no belief in God, my mother's journey to becoming a woman of traditional values, materialistic restraint and spiritual strength is nothing less than incredible and amazing. But that calls for a separate post altogether so I won't go into that:)

Mommy, you've taught me so much about life and relationships without saying a single word. Your life - the simplicity, the way you've led it, prioritized it and valued your relationships with such dignity - tells me more than any book in the world. And by now, I am sure you are smiling and I've got to tell you - I've always wished I had your seductive smile! I'd have been a cool cat, rock star by now if I did:)

What I love most about you, Mummy, is you've never told me to do something because you want it done. You've never interfered in my life or told me do this, do that. You've raised me to do the right thing always and most importantly, live the way I want to. The right human values that you taught me forms the strength of my roots.

I know that many times you were told by people, "Why educate daughters much? Marry them off as fast as possible." But you always had a clear vision of your daughters' strengths. We love you for not giving in to those silly nags whoever they are.

Like you always wanted, both your daughters are self-reliant professionals - one in the media and the other in the field of medicine. I am not saying this with any ego but with a sense of gratitude that my sister and I feel towards our parents. Because of them, we, the two daughters, are  happy, confident and well-settled individuals in our professions. If my mother hadn't given us the right values, we may not have visualized our growth in life the way we do today.

Most importantly, Mommy - you've raised both your daughters as down-to-earth individuals who can intelligently and compassionately connect to people. That's the best thing a mother can do for her children and my mom, in her own silent way, has done it. I suspect you got that from our dear sweetie pie Ammukutty:)

Happy Birthday, Mommy! We all LOVE you to bits! But that doesn't mean you can have the whole chocolate cake, okay? Save a generous slice for me!

Love you, Mommy!

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