An Uncomfortable Pause-3

A famous preacher was sitting in a park when he overheard a young boy telling his friend that there was no God.
“Come to my sermons,” the preacher said. “I’ll show you the path to God.”
“Why is it, sir,” the young one asked, “that even though horse, cow, and deer eat the same stuff — grass, they evacuate differently? A deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, whereas a horse produces clumps.”
“Hmm…I’ve no idea,” the preacher said, amused at the question.
“I see,” the young boy replied coolly, “don’t you think, it’s a bit too much to say that you’ll show me the path to God when you don’t know shit!”

Shed your fears, your theories and your beliefs for a moment. Listen to your inner voice. Nothing or no one should instil fear in you or make you feel guilty. This life, this moment, this is it. This is the truth. Right here. This is the only heaven and hell. Since we are here, we may as well live it. Let’s flow with the river of life. Whatever be your past, put it aside, let it go. Make your present so beautiful, worthwhile and meaningful that even Death sits by your feet and begs you to stay bit longer, because with you around even Death enjoys life.

Be grateful. Serve others. Take up a cause greater than yourself. And, I promise, your life will take a whole new meaning, an entirely new dimension.

Om Namah Shivay

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An Uncomfortable Pause-2

I think to call suicide a cowardly act is to severely downplay the illness of the one who left this world. Their pain must have been so great, their despair so colossal, their path so dark that the only way out they saw was to end their own life.

For that matter, I don’t know of anyone who never considered death a reasonable option, however momentarily, to end the endless sufferings of life. Only humans commit suicide. We have all these religious theories and we think we have it figured out, that life is supposed to be a certain way. Life, however, couldn’t care less. Every time it hands us the pink slip, we feel betrayed and lost. We think life is unfair (which it is), and, like the impatient child who wants a candy, we are eager to taste its sweetness again, we want to come out of our misery. We crave for an instant solution, hopefully easy too.

Human mind is a strange phenomenon. In its cruel moments, it can make death appear more beautiful than life, more attractive than any dream. That still doesn’t mean death is a choice. Suicide is not a voluntary act, or a conscious selection. No matter how it appears, no one “chooses” to end their life. Given how difficult and miserable life is for most of the seven billion people on our planet, if suicide was a matter of choice, many would have gone for it wholeheartedly by now.

Suicide is a terminal disease. It is the final stage of a mental illness.

If you have persistent thoughts of suicide then you must seek help right away. Feeling suicidal doesn’t mean your life is bad, it means your depressed mind has taken complete control of you. It means that your freedom of thought is under siege by your own mind. There is always a way to restore the beauty in your life and when death seems to be the only door, you are not looking in the right direction then.

Om Namah Shivay

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An Uncomfortable Pause-1

I always try my best to answer any question I’m asked, as directly as I can. But, there are some questions I’d rather not answer. No, not that I don’t have anything to say but because the truth is often discomforting for the questioner.

Last year, during my overseas travels, a couple approached me for a private audience at the end of my discourse. I was extremely pressed for time and wasn’t giving anyone more than five minutes. They weren’t penciled in my diary in advance. Yet, I asked the person who was assisting me to schedule them in.

They were let in and the door was shut behind them. There was no smile on their face, they came, sat down meekly, and kept quiet for the first couple of minutes.

My inner voice said that they needed more time. Theirs was no ordinary problem. I got up and told my timekeeper waiting outside to set aside 20 minutes.

“20 minutes?” He exclaimed.
“Yes. 20 uninterrupted minutes. Maybe 25.”

I took my seat again. Another minute passed and this gentleman began crying. Loudly. Somewhere, I knew this was healing taking place and I let his tears roll for the next little while. All this while, his wife kept looking at me quietly. She too was crying silently. Eventually, he wiped his tears, composed himself and heaved a deep sigh.

“Swami,” he said, “We, we,” and he burst into tears again. They both were crying now. Getting up from my seat, I went up to them and stroked their heads. Like a parent strokes a child’s.

“It’s okay,” I said, “whatever it is, I’ll help you deal with it. Your loss is irrecoverable but there’s light.”
“Oh, you know, Swami, you know everything.” And they cried even more.

I let my hands remain on their heads and prayed for peace. They calmed down.

“Swami,” the lady spoke. “It’s the first time he’s crying after five years. I had been worried for—”

“No, let me speak,” the man intervened. “Today, I want to tell my story. It was my 50th b’day, Swami. I had two sons and two daughters. We all went out for a family dinner and had a great time. Everything seemed fine, we came back home. The next morning, my eldest son didn’t come out of his room. We got worried after a while and broke open the door. He was resting against the bathtub, in his own blood. He had slit his wrist.”

He began sobbing again. I handed him the tissue box. He shared more details about the suicide note his son had left behind and other things that were going on in his life. They never went out to dine again or celebrate any occasion, he said.

“We are ardent Catholics, Swami,” he added. “He never missed the Sunday service. He knew that suicide is a sin. He was a brave kid, why did he act so cowardly, Swami?”

I felt their pain. There is no grief greater than the grief of a parent who has to see their own child go before them.

“Everyone thinks we are responsible for his death,” he continued. “I feel guilty. Was I a bad father? Why did he do this? He was only 24.”
“Do you want to know the truth as I see it?” I said. “Or, do you want to hear what the holy book says?”
“We believe you, Swami,” they said. “Give us ‘the’ truth.”

It’s true that most religions regard suicide as a sin. It’s considered self-murder in Christianity. Hinduism too calls it atmahatya, self-murder. Scriptures in various religions refer to our body as a temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 or Bhagavad Gita, 17.6). All this is fine (even though I disagree with the assertion that suicide is self-murder), the truth is religions can be so dry and out of place in the face of real grief. This was not the first couple I met who had lost their child to suicide, and like every other such time, I didn’t want to quote books, however holy or godly.

“Your son committed no sin,” I said. “The cause of death can be any. We are all traveling on the same train. Each one of us has to get off at some station. Some disembark earlier. They break their journey sooner. That’s what death is, it’s a break, a pause, albeit a deeply uncomfortable pause.”
“If you believe me then let me tell you,” I continued, “I don’t believe suicide is a sin and I don’t think it’s a cowardly act. Your son is not in hell, he hasn’t been denied heaven. His soul will simply find a new home.
“And you are not responsible for the death of your son. The idea to take one’s own life arises from deep depression, it’s the most devastating outcome of a mental disorder. Just like a doctor is not responsible for a patient’s cancer, a parent can never be responsible for a child’s death by suicide.”

“Swami,” the father said, “I had an argument with him a week earlier, but I thought we had made up.”
“Was it the first time that you had an argument?” I asked.
“No.”
“So, argument wasn’t the trigger or the cause. It was his own state of mind.”
“Your loss is immense,” I added. “The wound is deep. It’ll take a very long time to heal. No one can replace your son. But, by not living your life, don’t you think you are doing injustice to yourselves and your other children?”

The energy in the room changed instantly. It was as if they woke up from a bad dream. Suddenly, they realized that by only mourning their son’s death, they were denying the gift of life to their other children. It was a moment of epiphany.

“Oh Swami,” he said, “I feel a big load is off my chest. You are right. We must live for our other children, for ourselves, for our Savior.”

They both smiled. They looked at each other lovingly and then at me and laughed softly.

Om Namah Shivay

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Mission and Purpose in life

Mission is our destiny. It is what some people could read in the palms of our hands. It is what the position of the stars may signal at the moment that “we” manifested in the physical world.

As we can see our being manifests something in life-like a piece in a big jigsaw puzzle. Our mission is what has been already “written” and goes beyond any human interpretation.

For example, Bill Gates is a multimillionaire. Do we think that his mission in life is to “make money”? 

Obviously that is just a very childish appreciation of his mission in life. Any of us could “guess,” think or have a “point of view,” but none of us is capable of knowing how his mission in life relates with other beings and life for something greater to happen. Just like the domino effect.

We discover our mission in life as we live life.

On the other hand, “purpose in life” is another made up word by great thinkers, philosophers and such.

There is no purpose in life unless we make up something like: “To help people,” “to help God,” “to help ourselves,” “to learn,” etc. Notice that as long as one uses “nice words” to describe a “purpose” then most individuals will like that. They will accept it.

However, these writings are the expression of going beyond the façade of “nice beliefs,” and “pretty words” and seeking acceptance.

We make up a purpose in life and we believe that this purpose is the “reason” why we are here. See? Even we believe that giving “reasons” is the way that life operates… 

When we see that we are part of the Totality, of the big jigsaw puzzle, to know the “self” becomes very important.

Why?

Because that is needed for bringing joy to our lives. In one word: Enjoyment.

Let us say that “piece 666” of the jigsaw puzzle “thinks” that it has a “purpose” in life. “Piece 666” will go out of its way to “achieve” that “purpose,” not realizing that its destiny is to fit in nicely into the jigsaw puzzle along piece 667 and 665 and others…. Just to be “ONE.”

Because “piece 666” does not realize about its mission in life, that piece will suffer when expectations are not met.

Obviously, if piece 666 spends sometime in looking at “itself,” that is its shape, form, size, thickness, etc… while enjoying those specific dimensions and seeing the way to fit into the “common good,” then life will do the rest; that is, to get the other pieces around, magically… because those pieces fit right at a particular time. This is what we call through the “will of God,” or through “Life unforeseen circumstances.”

A purpose is something that we think about when we do not realize that there is a mission underneath.

Therefore, happiness is not the “purpose of life.”

That is a thought… a “nice” thought.

Happiness is the enjoyment of the “now” while seeing our mission in life unfold. Just like a “detached observer.” 

Please see that “I am not doing anything,” “I am not making it happen…” as most “Life-coaches” would like us to believe. I am just opening up and enjoying what it is “now” to let new things to happen by itself. That is, we trust the intelligence in life.

Of course, some may not be happy with that. Some may want to change and shape up life according to what “I want.” We could name that disease with a pretty label: “being the master of my own destiny.”

“You” are not separated from the Totality.

“You” as separation is an illusion and so is “I.”

Through our thoughts we have created those personalities. We have given life to that “ego.”

Piece 666 cannot live apart form the jigsaw puzzle. Without it, Piece 666 is nothing…. When that “ego” is gone, then Piece 666 is no longer piece 666 but … the whole jigsaw puzzle itself… then “it” is truly something

Om Namah Shivay

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No breath, No life | Know breath, Know life.

All the problems in the world are caused by love! Jealousy is because of love. Greed is because you love objects too much. Anger is because you love perfection and you are angry at imperfections. Pride and arrogance come because you love yourself too much.

So, every distortion of love causes problems not only for us, but for everybody. Even though this is the case, without love what else is there in life? Does life have any meaning, any purpose without love?

It appears absolutely depressing, boring, uninteresting. But how do we get to that point of love where it is free from distortions and we are able to be at ease with ourselves?

This is where a little knowledge about us, about our mind, our consciousness, and the root of distortion will help. Every individual is bestowed with all the virtues in the world. They simply get covered by lack of understanding. All that is needed is to just to uncover the virtues that are already there.

Learning something about our breath is very important. Our breath has a great lesson to teach us, which we have forgotten. For every rhythm in the mind, there is a corresponding rhythm in the breath and for every rhythm in the breath there is a corresponding emotion in the mind. So, you may not be able to handle your mind directly, but through breath you can handle it.

Neither at school nor at home does anybody teach you what to do when you are upset or angry or depressed. The first thing we did when we came to this planet is that we took a deep breath in and then we started to cry. The last thing we’ll be doing is breathe out and make others cry. In between these two, our whole life, we are breathing in and out, but, we have learnt very little about our breath.

 

No breath, no life… know breath, know life! The rhythm in breath can help us get in touch with the depth of ourselves, our soul, our consciousness, our being and we feel connected with everybody, with everything in the world. Deep within, every one of us feels that we have not grown, we have not changed. This indicates that the spirit in you doesn’t change, doesn’t grow old. The body is aging but something in you is not aging. Getting in touch with that something that doesn’t age brings beauty in life. That is meditation.

What I would suggest is to take one week off every year for yourself, like you take your car for servicing. During that time, align yourself with nature — wake up with the sun, do some exercise, eat proper food, just as much as necessary, practise a few minutes of singing and keeping silence. Aligning ourselves with nature, our whole system gets recharged and makes us feel vibrant and enthusiastic.

To me, a successful person is someone who has no fear, who feels at home with everybody and has a smile which no one can take away. We do not have to go anywhere in search of success. The road to success begins from our very own breath.

No breath, No life | Know breath, Know life.

Om Namah Shivay

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Conquering the mind

Any Spiritual path interested in transforming the self, shall start with “conquering the mind.”

Why?

Because our lives are boxed in a mental cage and we cannot truly increase our capacity for enjoyment in life and fullness when our mind jumps from one place into another. This “normal” phenomena of the modern human being, cancels our feelings, which are of paramount importance to enjoy life.

In reality there is nothing to “conquer,” but the term “conquering” is used to denote that the mind will no longer “run the show” in our lives.

That is a great transformation in itself. When the mind runs in an altered state, or non-stop, it is able to take over and affect our body with stress and anxiety and distort our perception of life.

For example: Do you recall how your last breakfast took place? Let us say that you need to go to work after eating. See how the mind sends a message to “hurry up” not allowing us to fully enjoy our meal, or while we are eating and tasting the food, another thought comes up which does not allow for the full experience of eating, to take place.

The mind is full with pre-conceptions, beliefs, taboos, and judgments and will not allow us to feel a healthy “emptiness,” from all of that. A break of “nothingness.” That emptiness is very important for newness to occur in our lives.

Otherwise, it is the same old thing under a different perspective.

The mind needs to be observed so we can catch how it operates and learn from it. Then, we may increase our capacity for enjoyment and appreciation of life; that is our feelings.

For instance, love to God is what many religions use as a way to overcome the heaviness of the mind by using feelings. However many times those feelings are mixed with fear. When there is fear there is no love and no feelings.

An empty mind is necessary to be able to decorate that empty space with something new. Otherwise we are just adding and crowding the space with additional information.

For example, if someone wants to add “tolerance” in their lives; many will define in their minds what is “tolerance” and will act it out whenever they remember it.

All of that is mental information. Nothing will sink in unless the mind has been emptied from preconceptions and the being is open and accepting to the different scenes which life may bring.

For example, a family may have a dog. The son “thinks” that he loves the dog but doesn’t take care of its needs and does not clean up after that dog. The mother is tired of that dog. The dog senses the environment and becomes adversarial. The mother poisons the dog since getting rid of it through another person will hurt the son’s feelings.

The son is hurt anyway and blames a neighbor for poisoning his dog.

The mother tells a friend about this incident.

What the friend could say?

Whatever the friend says will only show what is in his mind. There are some friends who will side with the mother. Other friends who could find wrong in her actions based on some moral standard. Those are the activities of the mind.

When feelings are operating, a friend could listen and feel. That empathy with someone’s suffering is enough, when there are true feelings of compassion. This is not a “learned” mental action such as giving someone a verbal teaching or making that person feel worse than what she feels.

That openness to feel and accept the role of others does not come from a mental space, but from a heart without self-created mind barriers.

That is more than what tolerance could be. It is called love… and that cannot come from the mind and its concepts, logic and definitions

Om Namah Shivay

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Tips to help you de-stress and unwind

With many of us trying desperately to perfect the balance of work, family and social lives, it can seem as though there is little time to relax. However, taking time to de-stress and relax your body and mind is integral to maintaining optimal health. Fortunately, there are many ways to make relaxation a part of your everyday life.

Here are the top 10 ways to relax.

Get active

If you are feeling stressed out, one of the best things you can do is go for a run or hit the gym. Although you may feel more inclined to veg out in front of the TV to relax, exercise is great for releasing mood-boosting chemicals endorphins and anandamide, which can help to lower anxiety and increase mental well being. As well as having a great effect on your mood and stress levels, exercise is also good for taking your mind off problems and helping to induce sleep.

Practise deep breathing

If you are short on time, one of the quickest ways to relax is to take a few deep breaths. Anxiety can cause people to breathe more rapidly than normal and taking deep, slow breaths can be an effective aid to relaxation. If you are frequently feeling anxious or stressed, it can be helpful to implement deep breathing in to your regular routine by practising breathing exercises regularly or joining a yoga, Pilates or meditation class; all of which use deep breathing to promote relaxation and wellbeing.

Listen to music

Many of us are aware that listening to our favourite music puts us in a good mood, and studies have now found that music is also good for reducing stress. Various studies have indicated a strong link between music and lowered stress levels in everyday life, while research has also indicated that music can lower extreme levels of stress in people undergoing surgery, critically ill patients and pregnant women. Rather than seeking out “relaxing” genres of music, it is best to go with your individual taste and choose whatever type of music boosts your mood.

Stock up on chocolate

Good news for many is that chocolate – one of the world’s most popular comfort foods – is also a great calming food. Chocolate is high in magnesium – which can help relaxation – and also contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter which can help you to experience a feeling of peace. With high levels of phenylethylamine, chocolate also raises endorphin levels, so all the more reason to unwind with your favourite chocolate treat.

Have a hug

Having a hug is a renowned mood booster, and research findings published in Psychomatic Medicine have reinforced what we knew all along – that having a good old cuddle is great for reducing stress. Having physical contact has been found to raise levels of oxytocin – the “love hormone” – and lower levels of stress hormone cortisol, putting us in a more relaxed frame of mind. Human affection is not the only type that counts, however, as owning a pet has also been linked to lowered stress levels, meaning that playing with your pet could be a great way to wind down after work.

Pamper yourself

One of the best – and most luxurious – ways to unwind is to treat yourself to a spot of pampering. If your budget extends to it, you could have somebody else pamper you by heading to a health spa or beauty salon for a massage, facial or beauty treatment of your choice. Alternatively, you could indulge in a bit of DIY pampering by running yourself a bath, lighting some candles and lying back with a relaxing face mask and some calming music.

Have a laugh

Laughter is well-known for its therapeutic effects, and many places now offer laughter therapy or laughter yoga classes to those seeking to boost their health and mood. Studies have in fact found that even the anticipation of laughter can help us to relax by lifting our spirits and reducing stress levels in the body. If you are serious about your relaxation, you could consider attending a laughter class, but chilling out with a funny DVD, book or friend is an equally great option to help you relax.

Try aromatherapy

To really make the most of your senses, turn your home into a relaxing sanctuary with a scented candle or some relaxing essential oils. Some good essential oils for relaxation include camomile, lavender, neroli, bergamot and ylang ylang. Use these oils to aid relaxation by adding a couple of drops to a bath, burning in an oil burner, or adding (sparingly) to water to use as a room spray or skin spritzer.

Get in the moment

There are various things you can do to help you relax. However, if you are not fully present in the moment, it is unlikely you will fully benefit from any relaxation technique. If you find it difficult to switch off from your stresses past regrets or future worries, try making a list of anything that needs to be done or thought about at a later date, set a time and date to deal with each item, then switch off your mind, cast your cares aside, and focus for now on simply enjoying the moment.

Om Namah Shivay

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