Category Archives: Self Help

What Do I Want?

Today I find myself at the park again but this time I brought a pen and some paper so I don’t need to struggle with the tiny keyboard on my phone. So many emotions. So many thoughts. So many things that I want to put down on paper. They keep swimming around in my consciousness making me confused and clueless. Sometimes putting it down on paper gives me some clarity.

So what is it that I want? It is what everybody wants. Happiness, peace, love. Where can you find it? Within. Although I know these things hypothetically, when life happens I falter and wrestle with conflicting emotions. But tell me this – if your immediate needs are not met will you look within for peace and happiness? Not really! Spirituality on an empty stomach may not be attractive to everyone. Which explains why the Masters addressed suffering and tried to alleviate pain, hunger and disease.

If you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from would you care to sit down and find inner peace? It is those who have everything and find that they are still empty that go seeking happiness and God. The rest of us believe that some goal in the future can get us there. If I can just make this much more money. If I can just find the right job. If I can just marry the perfect person for me. And the list goes on and on.

From where I stand, I know all of these things but try as I may I can’t find the peace that comes with the security of having a good job, a roof over your head and happy children. And I can’t seem to find it here while others transpose their will on my wishes and dreams. It feels as if the reins of my life are slipping away from me. So much so that I have turned into another version of myself – one I can’t recognize in the mirror.

The burden of others wishes have become my manacles – keeping me from living my life to the fullest. Keeping me from shining my brightest. Manacles or duties, call them what you like but the truth is that they keep you bound. Yes everyone has responsibilities, I know. But when these responsibilities keep you from doing what is best for you or prevents you from fulfilling other responsibilities that is when it becomes onerous and heavy. And try as you might no one benefits from it, least of all you. It results in a sort of co-dependency that keeps you trapped in the belief that you are actually helping the other person. The fact of the matter is that you are tying them down and making them more helpless. It is like giving a crutch to a man who can walk and convincing him that he cannot do without it.

Everyday I wake up to a world where I have to choose between my happiness and the happiness of others and I wish it wasn’t that way at all.

The Rise of the Sensitives

I have known that I’m different for a long time. When the whole world is going east I would be looking west. I gave up meat when I was in 12th grade and also became a Reiki Level II practitioner. I dabbled in yoga and spent Saturday mornings at a home for the mentally challenged. Yes I was different. I felt everything more intensely than everyone else. I just thought I was sensitive and being sensitive of course is considered a bad thing. It is associated with weakness and the inability to cope. Sensitive people would rather be at peace than be right. So often times we keep quiet to keep the peace. It doesn’t mean that we are in agreement with you – it just means that we don’t want to soak up the toxic energy created by an argument. I had to learn to be assertive even though it meant ruffling a few feathers.

Earlier I had to deal with just my emotions but these days I find that I’m picking up on everyone’s vibes and it is very unsettling. For no apparent reason my mood fluctuates. Then I look around me and I see people acting out, depressed, lonely, sad and hopeless. Some who can’t take it any more are ending their lives. There has been a rise in our level of sensitivity as a race. We are no longer living utterly selfish lives filled with apathy. Don’t read the prophecies of doom and gloom that the media is publicizing. Read stories of real people reaching out and helping – fellow humans, animals, trees and other distressed souls. Being tough and street smart aint getting anyone anywhere. Natural disasters, death and disease – humble levelers of us all – have taught us that we need each other and we can’t live in isolation, oblivious to the suffering of others. One day we might be in their shoes and all the money and intellect in the world couldn’t help us. Only another human can. Another sensitive human.

So I wear my sensitivity proudly as if it were a prized possession. Yes it is hard to manage all the emotions swirling around me and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and helplessly at the mercy of my feelings. But over the years I have learned to manage them and divert them for a better cause.

If you are sensitive you understand what another person is going through. You feel their emotions like they are your own. People feel soothed in your presence because you can empathize with them without any exchange of words. You are probably the person who takes all their distress calls.

Being sensitive is a blessing but could be a curse if you don’t know how to manage it. Of course you can manage it! Didn’t you know? You should know when to cut back and retreat so you don’t take on too much of other people’s energies. In Reiki they teach you this. Protect your aura before you start healing another and it applies to all of us even if we are not healers. Certain people can drain you of your energy and you need to identify these energy vampires and stay away from them. Some will be naturally drawn to you but you need to say no because no one benefits when you give at your own expense.

So how do we protect ourselves from being dragged down by the toxic energy around us? One way is obvious – pray and ask for protection. Another way is to stay away from news, media and not so loving people. Spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi and qi gong help center us and keep our emotions in balance. Lastly, get away, go on a vacation or simply retreat and rest. Affirm to yourself daily that you will at no cost be pulled into the drama because your nature is peace! Even when people spew out their negativity at you, stay centered and mentally negate the energy so it has no power over you. If it happens too often then try and get away from this person.

Being consciously sensitive is empowering and is in no way a sign of weakness. It is in fact the way to lead this world into a day when loving kindness and peace will prevail. Because loving kindness starts with you.

Step by Step Approach to Incorporate Gratitude in Your Life Every Day

You all know what I have been through for the past several months and I will spare you a retelling of the dismal details. In the midst of the dark days of my soul, a dear friend L called me. She was doing this exercise in gratitude every day where she would write and give thanks for something that she wanted but was yet to manifest in her life. It was something she had picked up from the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. And most importantly something that I had told her to do a long time ago.

I laughed at the irony of it all. When the time came for me to use gratitude, I had forgotten and had to be reminded. So much for practicing what you preach. Anyways, I was very thankful for that conversation with L and I rang off after promising to write in my gratitude journal. I religiously wrote – I am thankful for a new and wonderful job, for over a month. The universe responded and I landed a job. You probably think it’s too simple or too random. But that is not the case.

My friend L told me that two of her friends who were struggling with some issues had them resolved after practicing gratitude. Gratitude multiplies the gifts of life. Never underestimate the power of gratitude. It is a high vibrational energy that evokes many blessings. So here are some steps to get you started:

Start Small

No matter how bad things are start being grateful for the smallest things. For just being alive or having food on your table, or having a family or a job. If someone does something kind for you say thank you and mean it. If something good happens, however small, say a big thank you to the universe. Stuck in traffic? Be thankful you have a car.

2. Gratitude for Blessings Yet to Come

Sometimes you badly want something but for some reason it doesn’t happen or it seems like you are pushing it away subconsciously. This is when giving thanks for the very thing you want as if it has already arrived, helps. Do it for a month without fail and notice opportunities that show up.

3. Be Clear and Make a List

Writing things down brings it from the subconscious to the conscious and from the unmanifest to the manifest. I know people who have written love lists and manifested partners of their choice. I had written exactly what kind of job I wanted and I even spoke to some people about it. Many believed it was impossible, given the economic downturn, recession, crazy work hours and what not. But I didn’t buy into it. I kept believing that the perfect job would show up and it did. It is all I asked for and more. Little miracles start happening when you fill your heart with gratitude. You have more to be grateful for because the universe does love a grateful heart.

4. Think Big and Impossible Dreams

What you have read in my blog is just a glimpse of what I have been through. Some of it I don’t wish to share. But all you need to know is that it has been no joy ride. And after that if I can tell you that you too can achieve your wildest and IMPOSSIBLE dream, then believe me. Because I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I know for a fact that nothing is impossible for the universe. Don’t put a limit on something with unlimited potential. Now for that beach house with a Zen room decorated in white and purple with windows opening to the ocean – aah!

5. Be Patient

It is all about timing. Divine timing to be precise. Don’t be discouraged and don’t quit. Sometimes the blessing comes in the 11th hour, when you are hanging on to your dear life. For me the last 7 months have been a lesson in patience. Keep the faith and keep that gratitude journal going and I promise you the heavens will open up and shower you with blessings.

Thankful for the Weirdest Things

This is not my regular Thanksgiving post, giving thanks for all my blessings, blah, blah, blah. The brainwave for this post came about when I was washing dishes – anyone who knows me knows how much I hate doing dishes. As I sunk my fingers into the dishwashing detergent (because the dish rag was dirty), my mind sped to the conversation I had with my friend earlier. She told me she was allergic to dishwashing soap and couldn’t wash dishes. The maid did not turn up and her kitchen was filled with dirty dishes.

My heart went out to my friend. I knew what that was like. My maid has not been coming since the beginning of the month. I have been doing most of the dishes and my mother-in-law has been helping. Every day I would secretly wish that the dish I was washing will be the last one to be soaped by my hands. So BAM! Right on Thanksgiving Day the Universe gave me a reason to be thankful for the very thing I hate.

I sighed and felt the detergent on my fingers as I slowly scrubbed the coffee mug. A wave of gratitude washed over me because I could wash dishes! How weird you say? Someone who hates doing the dishes is being grateful for the ability to do it. Life is weird that way. It teaches you lessons exactly when you need them.

I was telling my kids about this new found love for washing dishes and asked them what they were thankful for and my daughter said almost immediately – I am thankful that I don’t have peanut allergies or I couldn’t have peanut butter which is the most awesome thing in the world!

So what weird things are you grateful for. Share it with me and I will include it in my next blog or add it to this blog (depending on the response). Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Hunger for Approval

I caught myself the other day counting the number of likes on my Facebook page and it looked like I just needed five more likes to hit 100. It was a big thing and I wanted to make a big deal out of it. So I went about looking for images of the like button with the number 100 next to it. I didn’t find any, so I simply posted a message on my page about reaching 100 likes. I imagined that I would get a tsunami of likes and comments and praise.

Next day when I opened my Facebook page I was in for a big disappointment. Only nine people had viewed my post and there were ZERO likes and ZERO comments. My heart sank to the bottom of my soles. Then some better judgement set in and I decided to be happy that 100 people had liked my page – whether or not the 100 people knew that did not matter. It hit me like a ton of bricks that the very thing I despised about Facebook was the thing I too was hankering after. Approval in the form of likes, comments, shares etc. Later that day when R sent me the link to my blog published in the Indian Express I resisted the urge to blow my own trumpet on Facebook. I quietly sent it to my close friends and family via e-mail.

Even before the advent of Facebook, people constantly sought approval from loved ones, colleagues, mentors and friends. If a new haircut did not evoke the right response one would feel dejected. Big project at work completed but boss says nothing. No bonus. No graduation party. No promotion. What? It is as if our whole life revolves around getting, gifts, rewards and accolades for performing duties or jobs. So much so that we rarely enjoy doing anything that has no obvious reward.

As the world gets more connected and souls get more detached, we still cling on to the need for approval. Enter Facebook – where you can post every little triumph and every selfie you click and bask in the admiration of all your contacts. To some extent I justified my need to post on Facebook. As a writer I have to share my writing with my audience or stay a closet writer. Earlier, writers had to wait weeks or months for mail from readers and even to get their articles in print. But these days publishing is done by the click of a mouse and feedback is almost instantaneous. We want more of it and seek it out unashamedly.

I tend to judge my piece based on the response I get, which is quite silly and isn’t the purpose of my blog. What I write may not resonate with all 100 (oops! did I just let that slip again?) readers, but it has its purpose. I recall my early days as a blogger, so unsure of myself, so needy and bashful. I relied solely on feedback from my readers. I lapped up all the praise I could get and that fed my confidence as a writer. I was incredibly grateful for the gift  and I knew every one of my readers personally. All that has changed now. I don’t know half my readers and yet my insatiable hunger for approval remains unabated. More more is the mantra. Never enough! enough! My cup is full.

It is not easy to rid oneself of this disease. As babies we are constantly seeking attention and as kids we are taught that good behavior is approved by authority figures and bad behavior is punished. We get conditioned to expect rewards or at least approval for all the things we do right. Looking outside for approval diminishes the quality of our work because in essence we are trying to please someone else. The joy got from that is fleeting but when we create for our own pleasure it is much more satisfying.

I am not there yet, for the pull of the world and its playthings are strong. But I see the madness and I see the pointlessness. I straddle two worlds, unable to shut the door on one or the other. But someday I will. Someday.