Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five Things I Learned after deactivating my Facebook account

One fine midnight, I deactivated my Facebook account. For curiosity, fun and solitude. Just like that - it is curiosity that initially made me do it and then my need for absolute solitude. To be honest, it was like getting a slice of heaven.


Let me explain a bit more about curiosity and solitude if you have time to listen.

Curiosity to know if any friend on Facebook would note that I am not there anymore. Solitude and the need to meditate, to listen and reconnect with myself.

Five Lessons on Life after Facebook

So, yes, its a combination of both that made me take this decision. And here is what I learned after I deactivated from Facebook:

1. Out of 790 friends on Facebook, there are less than 20 friends who reached out by mail/phone call/twitter to ask if everything is fine at my end.  Out of the 20 friends, many of them called to ask if I had removed them as friends on Facebook!

2. Only five were women. And before you jump to conclusions, let me affirm: I am a firm believer of gender equality, okay? Nothing changes it. Hahaha!

3.  Three were top publishing professionals from the book publishing industry and 8 were friends from law college. 

4. Friends that I am close with in real life barely noticed. When I told them I deactivated, the responses were like, "Good, finally! You needed to get out of Facebook. You were practically living there." Now, why didn't they tell me that before huh? 

5. NOW this one is really important: I began to feel tremendous POSITIVE energy and had more time to LISTEN WITH LOVE & HAPPINESS to each and every person around me after I totally deactivated from Facebook. 

I mean, really listen with love. 

Heart to heart, eye to eye. Think about it. When is the last time you had a heart to heart conversation with any person, when you listened to every single word that was being conveyed to you? 

You've got to figure it out before life passes by in a flash. It's the real conversations that matter. Period.

Through all this, this most important learning for me has been this: Step out of your comfort zone. Don't stay where you are stagnant. Do something that makes life feel happier, simpler and doubly beautiful for you. 

I can't help quoting my favorite Mr. Rochester here. He tells Jane in Charlotte Bronte's immortal classic Jane Eyre:

“Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you--especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you,--you'd forget me.” 

And remember this: The people who TRULY care about you will always find a way to reach you no matter how busy or far they are. You fear they will forget. They won't. They could be continents apart but if they care, they will find a way beyond Facebook. Trust in the power of the Universe to bring them to you exactly when you need them most. They will be there for you. 

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who are finding their own ways to make life easier, happier and better for themselves and for the others around them. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who are in various phases of finding their own happiness in life. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emotional Eating: How to Control Your Eating Pattern with Self Awareness and Mudra technique

We are all guilty of emotional eating at some point in our life. This is an area that we all need to look at closely because it affects our health. 

How spiritual discipline can keep you out of emotional eating 
While I was in my teens, I underwent spiritual mentoring that taught me how to control the mind and to discipline it. Spiritual discipline required me to automatically stem any sense of taste with the power of the mind. It worked wonders for me because the moment I ate food, my mind had the power to block the sense of taste. I didn't have any craving to eat more. This technique also gave me control on maintaining body weight too. 
When I let go of the serene spiritual world that protected me, everything changed. My eating pattern went for a toss and became influenced by my emotions. I lost control of disciplining the mind, so did my control over maintaining body weight.
How relationships trigger your emotional eating pattern
Recall the years that have changed your eating patterns. You will recognize that emotional eating sneaks in like a thief. It becomes a camouflage for all the stress, the pain, the anger and the disappointments you had to tackle. 

Simply put, the quality of our relationships determine our emotional eating pattern.
If you are like me, I am certain that more than actual hunger, it is more of an emotion that triggers your eating pattern.




Tackle Emotional Eating Pattern NOW

So, it's time for us to tackle it, right? Here are some  useful tips from Dr Deepak Chopra.  
1. Start by asking yourself, “What am I hungry for?”
This question triggers an awareness within us steering our thought patterns to recognize why we feel the need to eat more than we need. If you make this a daily habit, it will totally rewire your brain and the habit of emotional eating.
2. Another useful technique to control emotional eating is to practise a ‘mudra.’  Dr. Deepak Chopra calls this an awareness recall method to practice every time we feel a craving to eat more.
First step - You have to touch your forefinger to your thumb (this is called a mudra) and as you hold this position, ask yourself
·        What ami hungry for?
·        Ami famished? Ami comfortable? Ami uncomfortable?
·    Ami just craving for food because I am hungry for something like attention, affection, appreciation? Or ami just bored?
When you are able to make this a daily practice, your brain will send the proper signals to interrupt your emotional eating pattern.
Be happy, Manage your Energy
When you feel happy and at peace from within, you won’t feel the need to indulge in ‘emotional eating.’ The key to happiness begins with cultivating a positive mindset, relationships that are meaningful to you and by working meaningfully to empower others creatively

Ultimately, it’s like Tony Schwartz famously proclaimed, ‘Manage your energy, not your time.”
What’s your take on emotional eating? How do you tackle it? Do share tips, beliefs or anecdotes that have inspired you to change your lifestyle eating patterns. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Being Single in India: Why so much fuss and prejudice?

I read this thought provoking post by Suruchi Sharma and she packs in some salient points for ‘single women’ in India such as the typical question “What are your marriage plans?”
Single in India: The dreaded "What are your marriage plans" question
Marriage isn't something to rush into. It is more important than any other decision in your entire life. Sadly, few people think about why they want to marry X, Y or Z. 

That reminds me of an incident that took place in front of me. A well-spoken, highly educated young lawyer friend was booking a three bedroom flat. He was trying to convince the builder that he will pay the entire money (in lakhs) in less than a year. The builder wasn't convinced that a lawyer who had just started his career could do that. Exasperated, the lawyer said, "Of course I will. The day I get married, you can consider that the payment will be complete." The builder was impressed and convinced. The rest is history. 

Marriages in India: Problems that arise and why

Marriage is fast becoming a transaction and I am not saying this in general. I have seen divorces turn into ugly legal battles that too among close friends. I am seeing it all around me. But why is this happening? 

One reason is that we aren't honest with ourselves about our priorities in life and why we want to get married in the first place. We don't give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on what we want to accomplish in a marriage - not everyone marries for love, let's be clear about how it is in the Indian society. Love is placed at the bottom of the marriage ranking order.

Here’s what many girls have told me when I have asked them:
1.     When parents decide [10/10 – the ideal, suffering child – can anyone find fault here? Nope!]
2.     When a good match comes up [6/10 – not sure if this is about an individual or owning a fireworks company]
3.    When horoscopes match [6/10 – if you believe in the science of planets than your gut feel combined with some common sense, you need to rethink]
Lets come back to Suruchi Sharma's argument that the Indian society pressurizes girls to accept arranged marriage as a woman’s ultimate destiny. Once the girl’s family makes the decision to find a ‘respectable, nice family partner,’ she is pressurized from then to somehow fit in and learn to be a ‘good daughter-in-law.’ Whether it is an arranged or love marriage, the next dilemma is about living up to the expectations of the new family. Read Chetan Bhagat's 2 States if you aren't convinced. Good luck, folks!

Okay, lets cut the sarcasm and get to the point, shall we?
What about a girl as an individual? What about her aspirations, her goals, her happiness? I doubt if she has a say in any of this. But see the brighter side: she gets to choose her gold jewellery and wedding trousseau. Isn't that terrific? Depends on how you look at it. Personally, nothing would horrify me more than the fact that all I need to focus on is the jewellery and not have a say in whom I marry or choose not to marry.
The Big, Fat Indian Marriage: Why so much fuss?
In many well-to-do, ‘educated’ Indian families, hell breaks loose by the time a girl is eighteen years old, particularly so in ‘educated, literate, civilized Kerala. Parents begin to run helter skelter as though the girl has crossed thirty instead of eighteen.
Why so much fuss over a girl’s marriage? 
There are hundreds of ‘excuses’ that Indian parents will have for their ‘marriage’ obsession.  Here are some commonly cited reasons:
1.     The matching of horoscopes can take months and somewhat years. Result? The family astrologer has more say in when a girl should marry than the girl herself.
2.     The older a girl, the more difficult it is to find a suitable marriage partner in India.
3.     Adjustment problems tend to crop up when a girl is older. She becomes more vocal and set in her ways.
4.     Fertility and biological cycle – this one grand excuse is enough to set the alarm bells ringing for the parents of a girl.
5.     The earlier a girl is sent to her in-laws home, the better for the parents so that they no longer have to worry financially about the rising marriage expenses, not to mention gifts to be given, the dowry and the gold……well, aren’t you already feeling jittery whether or not you are a parent?
6.  The worst and most obvious reason is this – a single girl sends out an unspoken message to the society that allows everyone including the domestic help to wonder aloud about her ‘viriginity,’ ‘respectablity’ and decide whether she is of ‘loose morals.’
Being Single in India: Why is it so tough to take that decision?
In the midst all the confusion, a question remains – why do girls cave in to parental pressure when they are totally unsure? What fears do they have that they don’t have the confidence to stand up and say ‘No’ to the parents? 
Wait. I am not saying marrying a stranger is a bad thing or a social crime. It has worked well for generations in India. It worked well for my grandparents and parents but does that guarantee it will work for me? Is it like a constitutional law that cannot be easily amended? In India, I am afraid it is somewhat the case. 
Again, the question is - what exactly are we propagating? A family system that has no democracy in it - because you don't have  a say in your own life's most important occasion/event/drama?
At the end of your life, you alone will experience the reality of the decisions taken. You alone will be responsible for the way everything has been mapped out – not the family, not the astrologer or  the marriage broker.
It’s your life. The question is – Do you want to let others screw up your happiness? Are you ready to take some responsibility for your life instead of being spoon-fed?
Tough to decide if you haven't soul-searched before. It's a good time to start thinking and asking yourself: "Do I want to marry or stay single? Whatever I feel right now, what is the real reason in shaping my decision? Ami trying to please others or do I feel this way is the right one for me from my gut?" 
To stay single or not is a very personal decision, one that is related to your sense of happiness in life or at least leading towards it. So, how do you view a decision like that particularly if it is from some one from your family or some one you are close to?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Four Things Smart & Sensible Parents Should be Wary of

It's March! Woohooo! My son turns 8, this month. It's also that month of the year when I take stock of my journey into motherhood and how I am still faring.

Nothing frightens me more than being totally responsible for the little life that I have been instrumental in giving birth to. He's a growing boy, on the verge of turning 8 and I am so happy for the person he is - positive, full of life, energy and amazing wit!

The other thing is - I am not one of those perfect moms.  What a relief! In fact, I don’t endorse the very concept of perfect moms raising perfect kids. I mean, what is that? Are we grooming robots or kids? 
Here are four things parents should be wary of:
1. Perfect Parenting 
With all respect, I have come across many ‘perfect parents’ kids. 
Those who learn to tie their shoe laces perfectly by the time they are three, those who are taught to distinguish between ‘designer’ clothes/toys versus the rubbish that the rest of us dole out as normal toys to our kids and those who eat four course meals without ever giving into the temptation of a hiccup, a burp or a speck on the table napkin. 

Unless they have an exclusive dynastic social network to grow in, they don't really "grow" in the real sense of the word. 

2. Creating miniature models of parents’ prejudiced social practices
A big chunk of the ‘perfect parents’ kids are trained to be miniature models of their parents’ prejudiced social practices. I have certain friends who tell their kids not to play with children belonging to another religion because they will get 'wrong ideas, culture.' That is just one example. 
3. Fostering Snobbery 
Snobbery is more rampant among parents than kids. Gradually they learn from us. While I was in school, there was a guy in my class who was everyone’s envy. Guess why?
He would bring perfectly packed food (yes, the expensive silver foil type and the disposable plastic cutlery too!) that is ordered from a five star hotel. When we asked why he ate hotel food every day, he told us proudly his parents could afford it. It implied in a strange way that he was a cut above the rest.
We would all be sharing our lunchboxes with one another and he would look at us with disgust as though we came from the land of savages. He would eat his food with impeccable manners and not offer to anyone. He had no friends, not because he didn’t share his food. But because he probably didn't know that it helps to share, to laugh and to have conversations with people sitting across the same desk. He tried to be a perfect adult and in the process, shut out any scope for friendship with kids of his age.

Here are snippets of conversations I have heard from the so-called, perfect parenting models:
1.     I have told my kids to make friends only with children from good, well-to-do families and they have to be able to speak English very well. {My Take: Am left wondering, are we all Indians or clones of the West? The whole concept about being Indian is embracing the Vedic tradition ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ which means the Whole World is my Family!}
2.     If a teacher scolds my kid, I have told the teacher to explain to me separately why this was done. {My Take: Am one of those moms who engage constructively with the class teacher because I choose to TRUST the teacher. If I am going to be ‘mothering’ the teacher, I might as well start a homeschool and save all the ‘mothering-mentoring’ effort right at home}
3.   My kid’s birthday party will feature an exclusive film preview followed by a three course dinner. Please make sure your kid is suitable dressed. {My Take: I guess I should feel very grateful that my son is invited to an Oscar-like birthday party. But I look for fun as the real quotient of a child's birthday party. I also don’t appreciate being told that he has to dress like one of those fancy corporate honchos when it’s all about a birthday party for kids and having fun – it’s not the Executive Director’s Meet, is it?}
4.     I’d bull doze and feed my child than let him/her have their way in eating. {My Take: Eating food is a process of lifelong bonding. It’s about absorbing the food – the colors, the scents, the textures and so on. Bull dozing and forcing your kid may help for short term growth but you eventually damage your kid’s approach and relationship with food forever. If you think that I am bluffing, ask any experienced pediatrician.}
5.  I will die and burn in Hell if my kid ever turns out to be gay or lives in with some one before marriage. {My Take: You can't live your kid's life beyond a point. We need to accept that they have a right to make choices when it comes to their personal lives, particularly sexuality.}
6. I won't ever let my kid read or watch Harry Potter because the Vatican says it is sinful and promotes witchcraft{My Take: The Vatican and I don't support witchcraft. But the point is the Vatican can't take over your child's life or future. Nor can it dictate from tomorrow every little thing that has to happen in your kid's life. So keep an open heart to books. Help your child stay in sync with the best books in the world. Whether you agree or not, Harry Potter makes it to the best list no matter what the Vatican says.}     

4. Understand that it's OK to mess up, feel the rain, the soil and have fun
Kids should mess up, feel the rain, the soil and have fun. Infection is something that we create with our thoughts. Playing outdoors, enjoying in the sun or walking through rain puddles - it's what makes kids strong and it helps their immunity too. We get our strength from exposure to the natural elements while we grow up.  
I grew up doing all of this – and I am so glad that I did. I see that most of my ‘properly brought up’ friends tend to catch infections far more easily than I do. A speck of dust on the ceiling is enough to trigger ‘dust’ allergy in them. Eating from a local dhaba can make them develop a stomach bug for weeks. In that sense, I am happier and stronger than the 'protected' kids.

Let kids play free and fearlessly. And if they fall, they will know what to learn from it and what not to learn from it. 
Now I want to ask you this: What's your journey been like as a parent or as a growing individual? What are the essential mistakes that you believe most parents tend to make? It would be good to know why you believe they shouldn't or should do something to change it. 

Do share your views. Am waiting.

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India is my Country & my Pride