Spotlight on menstruation

We were in Kochi, Kerala recently for the Shastapreethi – a time when thousands celebrate the Hindu God Ayyappa. There is a lot of festivities, singing, dancing, chanting and this was the first time my oldest was witness to religious fervor of this magnitude. Worship of God Ayyappa has evolved into a distinctly male thing – there is a famous temple dedicated to Ayyappa in Sabarimala – on the hills of the Western Ghats in Kerala – where women between ages of 10 and 50 – aka all menstruating women – are forbidden to enter. This rule has been enforced for hundreds of years, but now suddenly, it is all over the Indian press with a petition being filed with the Indian Supreme Court to lift this ban since this rule violates women’s constitutional right to religious freedom. My oldest was intrigued that there was such a rule – “unfair” was one word used to describe it and demanded an explanation for why such a rule was created. Great question – I had no idea what logic was used to justify this rule other than menstruating women are discouraged from going to temples and this rule is a way of enforcing this Brahmanical tradition. And then of course, that opened the can of worms – why can’t menstruating women go to temples? I had only a vague idea – menstruating women are considered impure – in fact the original ruling states that allowing menstruating women to touch the idol is an act of “desecration”. However, I was not about to tell my daughter this. I racked my brain for an explanation might sound half reasonable to her – I started to tell her that Ayyappa was the bachelor God – that became construed to mean he did not like women – not a very positive explanation either. We left it at that and happily other distractions brought the discussion to a halt.

However, I could not let it go. I scoured the Internet to see what opinions people had on the subject. I came across some interesting reads on the cultural practices around menstruation. Many articles were penned in the name of “scientific” explanations for the cultural practices. So far, all these theories have logical inconsistencies. I am not going to publish any links as my opinions are pretty strong on some of the articles and I don’t want to create any more animosity in this world than there already is.

  • A woman’s energy is low during menstruation and since going to a temple is a physical activity, makes sense that women were not allowed to visit temples during their period. Even if this were true, essentially prescribing what women should or should not do during menstruation is a socialistic approach – there are other conditions when people’s energies dip – such as when you get a cold, but there are no dogma prescribing what people should or shouldn’t do when they are feeling under the weather – least of all – a ban on visiting temples. What really annoys me about this explanation is a rationalization of the practice in the pretext of it being good for women – they used to work like dogs in the old days, let us shove three days of enforced rest down your throat whether you like it or not.
  • Another explanation that blew my mind was this – women are extremely pure during their period – so pure in fact that they deplete energy from others around them as well as from the idols in the temple. Hence they should not be touched (pure things are not touched) or go to the temple as all the energy from the idol will pass on to the woman. This was offered as a “scientific” explanation in one of the articles I read. Really? First off – what is this pure hogwash? It astounds me that a culture that prides itself for producing Yoga and the Vedas can so blatantly forget that we are all pure – our purity does not depend on biological or chemical processes – our “true selves” are pure – in fact akin to God or Brahman.
  • Regarding why menstruating women were not allowed in Sabarimala – one explanation was because they are a distraction to the men – the poor men spend 40 days in celibacy – wouldn’t it be a shame if a stunning woman got them all riled up at the temple after all that effort? If you do not have self control in the face of temptation, no problem, just take out the temptation itself – which begs the question – why take up this religious path at all?

My basic conclusion is this – the cultural practices around menstruation such as not touching menstruating women, not going to temples, enforced isolation and rest etc. were just a means to confine something that was “yucky” from the sight of the general public. In the old days there were no sanitary napkins and I can only imagine how disgusting it might have been for the husband and other family members to see blood stains on the bed, bloody clots in the bathrooms, blood stained clothes in public. So having a separate bed and minimizing the area in which evidences of this mess could be seen makes some sense. I would be disgusted too. Let us just see this for what it is and nott contrive all kinds of explanations – scientific or otherwise – to rationalize them. It only makes us sound ridiculous. Thoughts???

A roundup of my favorite books – Part 1

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There are some books that change your life. I’d like to share my favorites and I hope you will share yours for me to explore. This post has my top ten non-fiction books that were game changers for me in random order.

  1. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt.A series of essays detailing very interesting analysis of data in very interesting contexts. Super fun read – my favorite essay – The negligible effects of good parenting on education.
  2. The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle. A powerful and simple book on mindfulness.The essence is – the only reality is the present moment.
  3. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. An extraordinary book on physical therapy by an extraordinary physical therapist. This book has been a game changer for me in dealing with pulled muscles, painful joints and the like.
  4. Do it Gorgeously – how to make less toxic, less expensive, and more beautiful products by Sophie Uliano. This book was the inspiration for my DIY projects in making creams and other potions. I can never ever go back to store bought skin and beauty products thanks to this book.
  5. Wild : From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. What an extraordinary story! A very popular book – I found it to be very uplifting and was amazed by what a woman can endure. Such a positive book.
  6. What to Expect when you are Expecting and it’s companion book, What to Expect in the First Year – by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. Thanks to these books, pregnancy, childbirth and the first year were relatively a breeze. No matter that the movie is pretty crappy – the books are really pretty informative and most importantly, have a wonderful Indes so you can do targeted reading. That was my favorite feature of the books!
  7. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. This is a little gem of a book by Dr. Karp that explains what a baby feels like in the first few month of life and techniques to calm them. I learned the lifesaving art of swaddling from this book.I am forever indebted to a fellow graduate student who recommended this book to me.
  8. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. I loved this book for the deeply human portrayal of the legendary scientist rather than for the explanation of the science which left me more than a bit wanting for more. Wonderful read overall.
  9. Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran. A wonderful book on meditation – it was my my first book on the subject. Easwaran explains simple techniques to tame the mind via chanting of a mantram that I have found to be highly effective.
  10. The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. Am enchanting and simple book with questions for chapter titles. Wonderful book to use to explain complex theories like evolution to children.An example is “Who was the first person?” My now middle school-er and I have read bits of the book together and I believe this would be a great book to read with kids in this age group.

So that’s my list – though I can think of quite a few more. Would love to hear your lists as well – please comment on the blog or post on my facebook page.

A new phase

Feels a bit strange, but change is inevitable. Time passes and next thing you know the little annoying baby – my first introduction to BABIES –  who was a revelation at how annoying (and cute) babies can be is in college. The toothless silly face, mounds of soft flesh and baby gurgles and screaming is now a towering young man with styled hair, a stubble, and silky smooth words that can charm any girl out of her wits (girls beware). A kid leaving home for college has to be the hardest thing EVER – and for crying out loud, this is not even my kid that I’m getting all misty about right now (God help me when mine leaves).

This phase – of the young adult’s and parents’ lives – is such a study in contrast. While one is unbearably excited with what the world has to offer, the other feels like they just discovered the meaning of a vacuum. While saying goodbye, I relived my own experiences of leaving home – from my parents’ home in Hyderabad straight to the US. I had never been an an airplane before and even the really bad breath of my neighbor on the plane could not dampen my excitement of starting a new life 20000 miles away from home. I was utterly and blissfully unaware of what my parents might have been going through. As is the wont of young adults, my head was full of dreams and plans about how I would conquer the world. My parents were dealing with their youngest flying the nest, a house devoid of kids after many decades.

As I learned my way around the sprawling Ohio State University, I was too busy to miss anything about the life I had left behind. I went from zero responsibility to managing my meager funds between food and rent, doing all the paperwork for school, tax forms, bank accounts etc. etc. Two months later, I was homesick as hell. Those were the days when it cost a dollar a minute to call international. I missed my friends and the comforts of my life back home. But then eventually, we get used to our new environment and routine. About six months into it, I began enjoying my new world. I made new friends, set up house, learned a bunch, had wonderful new experiences.

I imagine my nephew will go though some of this and his family will find their own individual ways of coping with him being across the country. This is the time for the kids to blossom – dream big, make lasting friendships, soak up new experiences, have a big timeout from parents. And as parents, we will find our own unique ways of dealing with the vacuum. With my nephew leaving for college and a rude reminder that my 11 year old only has a few years before college, I went through a barrage of emotions. As parents with little kids, we get into a mode of mindless DOING – we become experts at cleaning bottoms, cooking, laundry cleaning, chauffeuring, worrying, do-this-don’t-do-that-ing. And then the next thing you know, our little baby is gone and we are left wondering who this person is. Our relationship is defined by what we do and not who we are as individuals. I realized this recently with my own girls – I could not remember the period when my oldest was 5-7 years old. My youngest was then an infant and I was caught up in the doing and had no energy to connect with my older one. Now I have so much time for my younger one – and I will tell you that this phase in their lives is so so so fun. I completely missed out enjoying my oldest when she was at this age.

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I now am making a conscious effort to have a relationship with my daughters instead of mothering them all the time. It’s a bit hard, but eventually, like everything else, you get used to it. When it comes time to cross the threshold into adulthood, the only thing that remains is the relationship.

Gateway to heaven – Kauai experiences Part 1

A very happy 2015 to you all! Hope you had a wonderful break and got to spend quality time with your loved ones.

We had a fantastic week at Kauai – a pretty un-Hawaiian island in Hawaii. I managed to completely disconnect from work and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful sights and my family – living in the moment and (goodness) actually loved every minute of my birthday. Hubby, as always, did such a fantastic job planning this vacation. It was his birthday gift to me and I am so lucky to have such a sweet fellow as my life partner. OK enough preamble then – on to the experiences. I want to write about them not in chronological order but in the order of the impression they made on me.

The highlight of the trip for me was our short hike up the Kalalau trail. This 11 mile trail meanders through Kauai’s Na Pali coast and ultimately gets you into the Kalalau valley.
I am not a hiker, nor am I one of your thrill seeking, adrenaline rush needing people – well mostly. But this coast speaks to me. Maybe its because the only way to see it is by hiking the trail, by boat, or from a helicopter or small plane. Anyways, I get ahead of myself – first a warning, this post is picture heavy.

Hubby and I woke up early and drove to the trail head by Ke’e beach before 8am.
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I had not done any research on this trail so I was pretty clueless on what to expect (of course hubby had done all the research …). Our goal was to do the 2 miles down to Hanakapiai beach and get out or leave at 9:30, whichever came first. We’d left the girls and grandma at the condo and so did not want to be gone for more than 4 hours. We saw some bamboo sticks at the trail head and each of us picked one up – they turned out to be super useful. Right off the bat, the trail was far from easy. Steep, rocky, and extremely slippery (it rains here pretty much daily I think) about sums it up. We got this view of the Ke’e beach about 30 minutes in from the quarter mile point.
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Hiking up more rocks, streams, and slush got us to the half mile mark where we we got the first glimpse of the Na Pali coast.
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The sun slowly began to break through the clouds and we were rewarded with this.
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About the one mile mark, the rainbow arched majestically over the ocean and was a constant companion. No pictures do this sight any justice whatsoever. Mountains with glistening dense dark green foliage on one side, endless expanse of blue ocean on the other, and a full and bright rainbow like a gateway to heaven – the sight was unreal.

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This hike was like a metaphor for my life. Having been through a lot of intense stress lately, I had just experienced how powerful and dangerous a human mind can be. Navigating this coast through narrow, slippery, dangerous trails was exactly like navigating through the maze of my mind. Sometimes dark, sometimes dangerous – you miss one step and you plunge down the cliffs – sometimes peaceful when you get to flat terrain, and fleetingly, breathtakingly beautiful.

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We did not make it to the Hanakapiai beach – we turned back after one and a half miles. It started raining at this point and the trail got too slippery for our sneakers (note to self: next time pack hiking boots).

A couple days later, we took a plane ride over the island : this is the gorgeous Na Pali coast from the air.

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I was disappointed that we did not make it to the Hanakapiai beach. I got to see it from the plane –  teeny tiny beach on the left. Tiny as it is, it is dangerous – several people have drowned here after venturing into the water that is notorious for being rough and having strong rip currents.

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I now have this intense desire to go back and do all 11 miles and camp here. This is apparently a 100% natural experience – shower in waterfalls, poop in holes you dig in the earth, completely disconnected from the rest of the world. Heaven. I found this really helpful site on preparing for this :http://www.unrealhawaii.com/2011/07/kalalau-trail/ Read it if you plan to go there.

 

Breathe

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Sometimes one completely loses perspective. At least it seems like I do.

I was driving to work yesterday and suddenly it felt like I was going to pass out. I pulled to the shoulder, put my head between my knees and breathed hard. The feeling went away but in it’s place, fear sneaked in. What was wrong with me? Was my body giving up? I called hubby, parked in front of a Bed Bath and Beyond, opened up my windows and breathed the crisp fall air as I waited for him.

Back home, I decided to completely chill out – my body was raging in pain. I was in so much pain I could hardly sit still. Later in the day, hubby and I talked after what seemed like months. And something broke as I sobbed out all my issues. Too much work, crazy high expectations for myself, not being able to say no, no control on email, my time, my bills. Not being able to get anything satisfying done, no energy for anything after a day spent at work. I was stressed to the point of physical pain. Months of this without an outlet and my body finally gave out. Any of this sound familiar to anyone? Maybe that’s the famed mid life crisis – what a way to experience it!

I decided not to go in to work today. As I talked to hubby, I was amazed that I had let myself come to this. It was after all just a s***** job. I work for someone else, why did I care so much? Why was I being so hard on myself?
I resolved that I would henceforth listen to myself first, work without letting it be a burden, let many many things drop and just focus on what I believe is important. Speak my mind and everyone else can go take a hike. If it doesn’t work out, great. Move on. The incident yesterday is hopefully a wake up call to get my life back.

Some of you were wondering what happened to me – that’s what happened. Thank you for caring. I hope to be back here now more regularly.

Rediscovering my charmed life – Roses

I’ve been a big grump the past few weeks. Not worth talking about why. I went for a walk this evening and felt a lot better after feeling the cool breeze on my face and looking at my roses blooming when I came back. As I watered my roses, it occurred to me that there’ s a positivity muscle that needs to be exercised well – else negativity consumes us and erodes us of all perspective.

This is the beginning of an experiment to exercise my positivity muscle. I forget too often how incredibly lucky I am. So I will post a photo (or two) to remind me of how much beauty there is in my life. I thought I’d do one photo everyday for a year – but then quickly realized the trap. Starting big is a sure way to fail. So I will start small – real small. 3 days in a row.

I will start with roses – one of my favorite things, a great source of beauty for me. I am privileged to have these beauties grow in my yard in a region that is under severe drought.Pink-rose2I am also privileged to be able to indulge in creative expression – I have the ability and the right frame of mind to make stuff that makes me happy – call me crazy but this lamp (and the pen holder thingie made by daughter) makes me happy every time I see it.

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I am also thankful for having the ability to see beauty in the dead – dried rose petals are so beautiful.

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Tomorrow I will see this and fight any negativity that creeps up on me.

The beauty of spontaneous human interactions

I believe in treating all human beings with respect – no matter what their social, financial or whatever standing. Yes. I love to meet all kinds of people – the more different they are from me ethnically, socially, financially – the better. It is almost 17 years since I moved to the US of A. As a young woman who had grown up in Hyderabad, there were two things that made an impression on me almost immediately when I arrived in the new country.

– Men did not stare at me, or make lewd gestures, weird noises etc. Ah heaven! I could actually walk around, alone, in the dark, without fear of being molested.
– Generally no one yelled at anyone (unless they were high on something). What do I mean? If you grew up in India, your day would not be complete if you did not hear someone yelling – domestic help getting yelled at by their mistresses, cab drivers for showing up late, plumbers or electricians for messing up a job more than trying to fix it. Generally, the more menial the job, the more the person doing it would be likely to get yelled at. I said that I believe in treating all humans with respect and I truly do. But that does not mean I don’t yell. The key is I do not differentiate between people that I raise my voice at based on any attribute.

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I have been away from my hometown long enough that I feel like a foreigner when I visit now. Some may consider this sad – I do not. It just is true. During this whirlwind week long visit to India, there were two things that made an impression on me. I grew up in Hyderabad but could not claim to be a certified Hyderabadi because I had never visited the famed Charminar. I decided to rectify that this time. My wonderful cousin took me for a day out in the city and we had a blast – giggling like teenagers almost non stop. It was hot and sweat poured from every pore in my skin, there were walls of people to get past, people spitting paan as we maneuvered our way around Chudi Bazaar, there was even a street fight. At the end of the day, I was smelly, sticky,  my hair was limp with grime. But boy, I preferred this to any vacation in a swanky resort by the sea. Why?

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This was a true Hyderabad experience – unique – something that will stay with me. I got to see how the city breathes and lives – after a very very long time. It is a violently sensory experience – a riot of color blending seamlessly into the grime, garbage, and mounds of crumbling bricks and concrete that is everywhere now. Your auditory senses are piqued by the sounds of people yelling, talking, laughing, trying to sell you something, honking from cars, autos, and bikes.  Not to be downplayed, there is something for olfactory stimulation as well – the smells of food mingled with paan and human odor.

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Getting to the point, the first thing that touched me was the intensely human interaction – from our unbelievably perceptive and considerate chauffeur (he was always with us as we walked around – I’m sure to make sure we did not get lost, gently gave us advice and suggestions on various things, and had an uncanny way of knowing what we would like, and all this while trying to stay mostly invisible) to the fleeting little connections with strangers atop the Charminar – here we were all the same – just a bunch of people enjoying a piece of history and the views of this ancient city of great diversity, culture, and dichotomies.

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The second thing that touched me is directly derived from this experience. If one of the wonderful attributes of the USA is that no matter how menial a job you do (and I have had cab drivers who were extremely well read and wonderful conversationalists) you are treated with a baseline respect, one of the things I miss in that country is this richness of human experience. After this, the experience in the USA seems a bit sterile – even in the melting pot that is the Bay Area. Cultural experiences are organized and devoid of spontaneity. For me it is experiences like these that make me feel just a bit more alive, adds another dimension.

This I Believe

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Balance is finally swinging back into my life. I have been traveling – vacation in the Florida Keys in December, business trips to Asia. One good outcome of long distance travel was that I got to read a couple of good books. One of them was This I Believe – an anthology of essays by remarkable men and women (not necessarily famous) that was inspired by a series by the same name aired on National Public Radio. After reading this, I was inspired to think about what my own personal beliefs are and this post is about one of them.

I believe in change. Change is growth – change is life. I also believe that I can change myself but I cannot change another person. Simple concept but extremely hard to accept.
I’ll admit it – I realized this only a few years ago. It took many years of being married to accept that my husband would forever be who he is and not who I wanted him to be (Yes shocking – luckily I do like most of who he is). Same thing with my kids – except that many times, when they are who I don’t want them to be, I am able to bully them into compliance because of my size. But you know what, that never works. Yet, I continue to do this because it’s so hard to not do anything – to just let people be.

I also believe that while it’s fairly easy to make babies, the hardest thing to do is be a good parent.
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I appear to be pretty confident generally – but I am never sure as a parent. I don’t know if that indicates that something is fundamentally wrong with me or not. Many times, I feel I am not doing enough, am unsure if I am handling situations right, feel like I’m winging it generally. I believe that good parents are the most remarkable people – and when I say good parents, I mean those who know how to let their children be, let them learn on their own, trust their kids unconditionally despite pitfalls, do not need test scores or prizes to be won as a measure of their effectiveness as parents.
I believe I have a long way to go to get there – and to get there, I have to change.

Drive

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It has been a while since I have written on the blog. Not writer’s block per se – just that life has been busy and my mind fully occupied. I have a new role at work and the transition has been fascinating. I have learned a few things about myself in the process. The new job has engaged me more that I expected – good thing. It has also been exhausting because of this reason.
I am also attending a leadership program geared for women – this is also turning out to be quite fascinating because never before have I been in the company of so many professional women. And of course things are ever busy on the home front as well with kiddies and all. In a nutshell I am going through a period of change and while I love it, am trying to find my balance.

A few weeks ago, I chanced upon a few excellent books. I want to talk about one of them in this post. The book is called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink. I must say it is one of the most uplifting books I have read in a long time. Dan Pink is a brilliant writer – engaging and passionate – and this book that is about the study of what motivates us, deeply resonates with me. Pink’s point is that the core factors that motivate us are autonomy, mastery, and purpose and not monetary rewards. (The assumption is that a baseline is met as far as money is concerned). In fact he cites numerous studies that show that monetary rewards decrease motivation (contrary to popular belief). This is truly a book that celebrates humanity – founded on the belief that people are driven by a need to actively learn and be engaged rather than comply with things that are thrust upon them.

Think about this rather commonplace scenario – in the corporate world, you do a good job and get promoted – higher pay, sexier title. The message is you do something well and we’ll pay you more. On the other hand, you under perform and you’re fired. While this may be well intentioned, Pink shows via numerous scientific and psychology studies that this “carrots”and “sticks” approach in organizations does not work in boosting productivity for jobs that require critical thinking and creativity. It works for routine tasks that do not engage the mind – as external rewards become a good incentive for such tasks. For work that requires creativity and critical thinking, the work itself is the reward – being fully engaged, loving what you do, and working for a purpose that is bigger than yourself is key to be motivated and generally enjoy greater well being.

Pink argues that people are meant to be this way – just observe kids.
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We come into this world fully engaged as we discover and explore what’s around us. Kids learn to master language, motor skills, etc., fully engaged in work and play. Yet at some point as they become adults, for many, something happens that flips a switch and makes them disengaged. Pink argues that organizations that thrive in terms of producing quality products are those that “empower” their empoyees by giving them
1) Autonomy – control over their time, task, team, and technique.
Tme – no more 9-5, work when you please as long as the job is done.
Task – work on what you’re passionate about – dedicate a fixed amount of time to generating ideas and create something for no other reason than because you want to work on it.
Team – give the employee the freedom to choose who she works with.
Technique – give the employee freedom over how he completes the task.
2) Mastery – becoming better and better at something that matters to the individual by being fully engaged. Pink writes beautifully about mastery – it is a mindset – people are not born masters but rather believe they can achieve mastery by constantly working at it. It is impossible to achieve mastery – it is asymptotic – which is simultaneously it’s appeal and curse. Just beautiful.
3) Purpose – this is the something that is bigger than ourselves that we seek. Working with purpose is essential to stay motivated, essential for well being. Pink quotes Bill Strickland:
“The value of a life can be measured by one’s ability to affect the destiny of one less advantaged. Since death is an absolute certainty for everyone, the important variable is is the qulaity of life one leads between the times of birth and death”.
Such a beautiful thought.
Enough said about the book – I urge you to go read it.

One final thought – purpose is something I have struggled with always. What is my purpose in this world? What is my “sentence” (again context in the book). Over the years, I have realized that what gives me the most happiness is a constant desire to create and discover. Is that my purpose – to be a lifelong seeker? I do know that that is the thing that makes me want to get out of bed and keeps me up at night sometimes.

The power of now

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Recently I found myself a victim of a hyperactive mind – my own. This past year has been intense at work – I found out that I am capable of dealing with an incredible amount of stress (the adrenaline generating kind) and actually kind of liked it. So much so that when things calmed down a bit, my mind was still in overdrive and began to drive me nuts. I found myself feeling symptoms that I shockingly realized must not be too different from that of a substance abuser – unable to sleep well because of constant chatter in my mind, missing the adrenaline pumping excitement etc. And then I decided to do something about it. I went to the library and looked for books to help control the mind. That’s how I came across The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Tolle is considered a spiritual teacher and I had never really heard of him till I picked up the book. But his philosophy deeply resonated with me. It is really quite simple – the one thing that can bring you enlightenment is being completely and fully present in the NOW.

I have always been a skeptic of words like enlightenment, soul and all that abstract stuff you can’t quite describe. Vedic philosophy has underpinnings in enlightenment, detachment, Being and the like. When I was younger, I was reluctant to listen to any of this stuff – after all we have our senses to have rich sensual experiences, right? How is it ever possible for us to know our universe by any other means? And all this about detachment and stillness – why would anyone ever want to be still? How unexciting! Well, now I see the need to be still.
As Tolle says in his book, the mind can be a powerful tool if used effectively. The problem occurs when it takes over your identity. This concept was kind of novel to me – I have always associated who I am with what I *think*. All my actions are spurred by some thought process. The problem with this approach, at least for me, is that I cannot relax my mind – something is always running through it, ironically not allowing me to take full advantage of my senses. How can you enjoy a wonderful fall afternoon if your mind is consuming you with 10 thoughts a minute? I am constantly processing some piece of information or debating something in my mind – am I an atheist? What’s the next idea to take a great still life photo? Next idea to be better organized, etc. etc. Things are so bad that even when I go out for a walk, I look at my surroundings as through a camera lens, even though I might not have my camera on me.
So basically, right now I’m tired of thinking.

Tolle defines enlightenment as being totally connected with “yourself”. My interpretation is it is a measure of how effectively you control your mind, if you are at ultimate peace. The focus is not on happiness, but peace. And this is fostered by focusing you whole being on what you are doing right NOW rather than be consumed by what happened in the past or always aspiring for a better state of being in the future. Simple concept but amazingly difficult to achieve.