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Being at peace: free resources for learning meditation

I love meditation 😀 I love the feeling of peace, security, acceptance and over all lightness that I experience in my meditation sessions. As an introvert, my inner world is supremely important to me, in fact so important that from time to time, I like to set dedicated hours apart to ensure that my inner house is in order.

Knowing who I am and what I am has been quite a journey. In this journey of self-discovery and learning, I have found meditation to be quite a tool for inner discovery. Most of us look outside when we want company, happiness, comfort… not quite realizing that everything that you need already resides within you. However it’s almost impossible to find your inner resources when you don’t have the best relationship with yourself.

We all have that little voice that nags us at the back of our head. Maybe a forgotten voice that belonged to a teacher who called you ‘stupid’ for failing in math or a family that thought you were too ‘naive’ or ‘angry’. All those labels that people we have forgotten, labelled us with and that subsequently became part of our personality. The voices that say that things aren’t quite how they should be, that you could always do better, etc. and you keep beating yourself up over your perceived failures. It’s a never-ending nag! Had this voice belonged to someone else, you would have probably resented their negativity and pulled away from their social circle. But since this is the voice in our head, most of us, go through life oblivious to it.

This is exactly why I love meditating. It puts me in touch with me. The me, who already has everything that she needs. The me, who is happy and blessed. The me, who knows what is right for her, in her gut, in her mind, intuitively. This is the inner me, the fat happy cat that purrs near my feet, light as a feather, happy as can be.

So given the recent onslaught of questions on finding resources on meditation, I have found quite a few sites which I love.

These Buddhist monks who have started a Peace Revolution are amazing, head over here: https://peacerevolution.net/. They have a free 42 day program to guide you through your journey 🙂

If you want something more scientific, try this site: http://marc.ucla.edu/ The UCLA MARC has an array of information, including free guided meditations.

And if you have an interest in Buddhism (you don’t have to in order to learn how to meditate), head over here: http://www.how-to-meditate.org/ They have an array of videos on lectures and techniques, along with the underlying principles.

So go on ahead… enjoy!

 

p.s. Other posts were I have written about meditation are:

Mind monkeys

How to increase self-confidence

The lazy persons guide to being healthy

Meditation Realizations

Meditation Retreat

 

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Getting your priorities right

If you have ever struggled with getting your priorities right…

If you have woken up too many mornings wondering how you will drag yourself through the day…

If you have looked at your life thinking I need to change something but I don’t know where to start…

Then this Ted Talk is for you 🙂

You can read the full transcript here.

Caught in between lies and half-truths

Perhaps one of the greatest paradox of human life is that while we profess to upholding the truth above all else, the reality is that we are all caught in a complex web of white lies, half-truths and out-right lies. We are indoctrinated into this lie at a very early age and we either do not question it at all or we have all kinds of reasons as to why this is so.

Who else but humans would be capable of creating such a rich web of spinning words that catches and holds you like the spider’s web?

We bring up our girls on a steady diet of Disney princess and first loves and true loves power. We bring them up to fall in love and get married and stay married. Our fairy tale prince’s are not perfect, in fact, they might be downright abusive, but the princess doesn’t leave. No, she stays and she works on him, till he is perfect (a la carte beauty and the beast).

Do we bring up our boys on the same diet? To be worthy of being a prince? To fall in love with one girl and stay with her no matter how imperfect she is, until their love is perfect? How many boys do you know who are obsessed with Disney prince, vis-a-vis, some other cartoon character like Ben 10?

We bring up our girls to be super-woman. If she wants to work outside, fine but let’s not forget that she must be a domestic goddess first. The domestic goddess maybe battered and bruised and exhausted from having to do with too little sleep on a chronic basis, but never mind, she can mind the house, the babies and her husband before she goes out and discharges the duties of her career.

Our boys worldwide are pampered. Unburdened of housework or even the simplest acts of picking up their dinner dishes from the table and washing it off, boys have their childhood extended into their adult life. The pampering that starts with mama, continues with the wife. If it doesn’t, hey, most major religions will allow him to beat up his wife until she understands and fulfills HIS needs. If not directly with fists, then the same results would be obtained with half-lies and emotional blackmail: “Yeah, you are a great wife, but if only you would….. “ fill in whatever you want that either caters to him, his children or his parents or his family.

Is it any wonder that our girls are disillusioned? Bewildered? Disheartened?

This is not how it was supposed to be… this is not what happens when you are taken away by your knight in shining armor, who rides in on his white horse to save you.

And then we leave them wondering – did no one love them enough to tell them the truth? To warn them of the reality? To stand beside them as they muddle their way through this foreign landscape of half-truths and lies?

And even worse are the self-criticism that we are so good at installing in our girls, the doubts. The ‘maybe I wasn’t good enough’ statements that can be added and applied like a condiment to almost any situation in life. And of course we add some more spark to that fire by expressing our displeasure at the fact that she has failed to make something work out. Failed. Like the entire burden of making a relationship or a career work out is solely on the shoulders of the girl.

Why do we bother giving our girls an education? Why do we tell her that she can do anything, while we subtly discourage her from pursuing interests that are not in line with her gender stereotype?

Why do we tell them that they can have careers, children, husband, all of it… if they would just work hard enough and then work them down to their bones? Until they have nothing more left in them? Until they are so empty from giving, that living doesn’t make any sense to them?

Why do we not tell them instead that they would need to make some hard choices and its ok to make them? That she needs to do what is best for her. When a girl questions her choices, what do we tell her? More lies and half-truths?

But let’s face it, as long as one out of every three women worldwide continues to face violence, as long as more than 90% of that violence is carried on by either intimate partner or someone she knows, as long as we resort to comparison with a man in order to validate a woman’s accomplishment with statements like ‘she’s the man’, we still have the problem of half-truths and outright lies.

Meditation retreat

Recently I joined a meditation retreat. It was more like the halfway house of meditation retreat. All of the rules of a retreat but no strict enforcement. Since quite a few of the participants were first timers, the relaxed setting made it easier for people to assimilate to the environment.

So why did I join the retreat?

My life has been so hectic this year that I have been acutely feeling the need to unplug. Literally. I checked out 2 temples in Nepal to go on a private retreat. Unfortunately both were booked on month-long programs that are ongoing. Remember that saying “when you want something badly enough, the universe conspires to help you receive it?” well… I found a retreat all right and it was right here in Bangladesh.

So not only did I get to go on the retreat… I got to take my mom with me. Yes, my mom. We haven’t always had the best of relationship but recently we have been doing better. In fact, this year has probably been the best for us. The retreat gave us a great opportunity to spend quality time with each other and to see a side of us that we don’t usually get to. I know she’s done the quantum meditation course and she really loved it. She knows that I have done Butthan meditation and I really loved it. So this was another kind that we both got to try together.

We had a Thai Monk leading the sessions and it was lovely. He mostly used the visualization technique and had hilarious little anecdotes that he shared with us. For example, when his dad meditates, he imagines that he’s got a crystal hanging like a pendulum from his head, all the way down, inside his body to his navel. And during the meditation session, he would try to balance that pendulum and sometimes he would be swaying a little in his balancing attempt. The visualization in my head of that scene had me cracking up for the rest of the day.

So we all have this expectation of what we hope to get out of meditation and I was no exception. I wanted to come away remembering once again how to smile with every single cell of my body. Generally I am a pretty happy person. I have a great life, I love my job and my colleagues. I enjoy my studies and my various volunteer roles. So it’s a full, busy life that I find very satisfying. But this year which has flown past me was really starting to get to me.

So yeah, I sat in my sessions, willing myself to find that happiness inside again. And here’s the funny thing, on the last day, in the last session, I had this vivid sensation that I was a fat, happy, cat who is purring away against my own leg. Sated, satisfied and just HAPPY! I opened my eyes and I could still feel myself, happily purring away. It felt soooooooooooooo good! It’s been months since I have felt good enough to want to go dancing all night.

Yesterday, the visualization that worked for me is of being a wild horse. My thoughts were all over the place, the to-do list kept running through my head. I had to keep coaxing my mind to slow down that runaway horse. After some time, I could feel that horse standing still. It was black and beautiful… almost majestic! with soft full mane and a lovely long tail and I knew it was me. Now how can you not smile at that? I think I fell asleep with that picture in my head.

So I have gone from constant rushing – office, university, home, assignments, reports, presentations, workshops, never-ending to-do lists running through my head – to chilling out, breathing, being mindful and more present. I had started walking on the treadmill again, the retreat inspired me to add yoga to my routine.

I just love the fact that I am from a continent that has a rich history of health practices – yoga, meditation, martial arts, herbal medicines… you name it and we probably started it and there’s such a wide variety of activity to pick from to get healthy, stay healthy, cope with stress, it’s freaking amazing!

The next retreat is in February 2015, somewhere in Thailand. I am not sure if I am going to be there. But I am pretty sure that I will be doing another retreat, somewhere, sometime. If you would like to check out the peace rebels… head over to their website here:    https://peacerevolution.net/docs/en/peace-revolution

Peace in … Peace out…. 🙂

Too busy??

I know I am.

I have been too busy to get enough sleep and since I can’t sleep, I either lack appetite or I just eat because I have to and I eat whatever I can get my hands. Now that’s the worst kind of disservice really that I can do to myself.

I have been too busy running from office to university. Too busy keeping up with work and assignments to focus on quality. Too busy to pay attention to the fact that half the year has already gone by and I am suddenly faced with the realization that I have only six more months to go before the year is over.

 

I have been too busy.

You know I am starting to hate that… being too busy. I want to be ‘not busy’, not running to class or to work or to keep up with some other commitment which I had made. I long for days like today, when I can wake up in the morning knowing that this day can be anything I make of it because all the hours in it are mine. I can read, write, nap, meditate, listen to music, engage in some self-love to revitalize myself. Days like this … I finally have time to improve Me … my thoughts, my life, my health. To concentrate on who I am and who I want to be, to evaluate whether or not I am in the right road for it.

These past few months have also taught me humility. I am a nerd who has trouble accepting anything less than A grade on my papers. My grades are in par with full-time students, youngsters who are not worrying about paying tuition, mortgage or getting forward in a career that spans nearly 2 decades. In my striving to hold on to A grades, I have stressed, worried and freaked over papers, assignments and never-ending exams. In moments of despair, I have thought of a blind guy in my class and asked myself if he can do it, why can’t I?

While all this striving undoubtedly expands my horizon, it has also taken away the joy I had in learning. And days like today I realize that it is not my commitment that I have to change, it is my attitude to my commitments that I have to change. I have to learn to be ok with getting something less than A on my grades, I have to reconnect to life on a higher level than this to truly enjoy each day to its fullest.

And I think it’s high time to book my next holiday 😉

Compartmentalisation

Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defense mechanism, or a coping strategy, which doesn’t impart a very good connotation. Put simply, it’s how our minds deal with conflicting internal standpoints simultaneously.

Compartmentalizing is something that doesn’t usually come easily to people. You can see this in the way people will bring problems from home to work, let that affect their performance and vice versa. For some not so strange reason, I seem to have the opposite problem. My life is compartmentalized in so many segments that I find it difficult to allow them to mesh together. Maybe that’s also the reason I challenged myself last year to allow a disintegration in the boundaries, to mesh in all the different parts and build a new collage of the different parts.

Compartmentalizing is good, as long as you can handle it. To compartmentalize is to shove something in a box in your mind. It isolates the issue, allowing you breathing space, to get back to it with a cool head, a certain sense of detachment if you will, that allows you to approach it in a new way. In my own experience, this detachment has allowed me more flexibility and find more solutions, it’s probably the reason that I can come up with a Plan A, B, C and D to most any situation.

Compartmentalization however doesn’t work if you are trying to run away from issue, to avoid dealing with them. You do not get to shove things in a box in your mind and pretend like you have forgotten them. The issues don’t leave, resolve and in the back of your mind, you know that they exist. In extreme cases, this denial can lead to disassociate disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The reason I do it is automatic but it’s a skill like every other that we acquire. Being able to compartmentalise can help you to achieve more, be more effective and efficient. It allows me to do a 40 hour week, my two volunteer work, one full time evening masters. There is no end to how much more you can handle. Anyone can train themselves to be anything, us humans have unlimited potential, if we focus on expanding our potential.

And that applies to humans too 😉

This is not a new phenomena infact a vast majority of us do practice it daily. For example, you might go home, see your kid smile at you and completely forget the stress you carried over from work.It’s what people talk about when they say that they want more work-life balance. It’s what allows multi-taskers to be effective. Leaders to stay on top of all the varied things that go on under them in an organization, team or league. It is our unconcious mind protecting us automatically from being overwhelmed. 

If you would like to use the process of compartmentalization in a concscious and effective way, then I suggest the following steps:

1. To effectively compartmentalize, isolate the issue. Don’t confuse one thing with another. Be very clear on what you are isolating.

2. Once the issue/problem/riddle is isolated, focus on it. Really focus on it. Place that issue on the table in front of you like a rubics cube and look at it from all angles. BUT do this only for short periods of time.

3. Once you have analysed a problem, you can then start working on a solution. A little bit at a time.

4. Once the problems been handled, close the compartment. The problem existed, you handled it. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t file it away somewhere in the back of your mind in order to return to it over and over again. You have already given it your full attention. You have already solved the issue at hand to your best possible ability. Now close it and be done with it.

5. Learn to say “no”. Get comfortable saying “no”. Prioritize your time and your attention. While there are unlimited supplies of problems, both at home and at work, you as a human however only have a limited supply of energy and time to devote to them. So learn to get comfortable saying “no” to things that have no business in your life. And once you have said no, move on. These do not have to be filed or compartmentalized in order to be handled at a later time. It’s like cleaning your PC when it gets virus infected. You purge and reboot 🙂

Julie Bort’s 50 Universal Truths That Will Make You More Successful

I read this article a few weeks ago and loved it for the nuggets of wisdom it contained. A seasoned professional, Julie Bort hit the nail in the head with her advice.  You can follow the link and read the original article here:  http://www.businessinsider.com/50-universal-truths-for-success-2013-10#ixzz2kaPHJJ89

50 Universal Truths That Will Make You More Successful

Julie Bort Oct. 28, 2013,

 No matter what is going on in your career, good advice is universal. No matter what problems you are trying to solve, chances are someone else before you had a similar problem.

I’ve been a journalist for the better part of two decades and during that time I’ve interviewed and written about thousands of people in various stages of success, from billionaires to entrepreneurs launching startups (one while fighting brain cancer).

All of that has led me to conclude that there are certain universal “business truths” — tips and tricks that work for nearly everyone in every business. They are:

  1. Have a passion for your work. If your work is meaningful to you, your work life will be a joy.
  2. If you can’t be passionate about the work itself, be passionate about the reason you do it. Maybe you don’t love your job/company/career, but the money and benefits are good for your family. Be passionate in your choice to do right by your family.
  3. If something needs changing, be the one to lead the change. If you dislike your job but are stuck, work on getting the skills that will get you unstuck. If there’s a problem at your office, work on being the one solve it.
  4. Start small and build from there.
  5. Do the obvious stuff first, then progress to the harder stuff. (Otherwise known as going for the low-hanging fruit.)
  6. If it’s not broke, don’t fix. Do improve it.
  7. The hardest lesson to learn is when to keep going and when to quit. No one can teach you that. At some point, you have to choose.
  8. The definition of crazy is to do the same thing the same way and expect a different result. If the result isn’t good, change something.
  9. No one succeeds alone.
  10. Ask for help. Be specific when asking. Be graceful and grateful when help comes.
  11. Surround yourself with positive people and you’ll have a positive outcome.
  12. Embrace diversity. The best way to compensate for your own weaknesses is to pick teammates who have different strengths.
  13. People experience the world differently. Two people can attend the same meeting and walk away with different impressions. Don’t fight that. Use it.
  14. You don’t have to like someone to treat that person with respect and courtesy.
  15. Don’t “should” all over someone, and don’t let someone else “should” all over you.
  16. No matter what you do or how much you achieve, there are always people who have more.
  17. There will always people who have less, too.
  18. No matter how much you excel at things, you are not a more worthwhile human being than anyone else. No one else is more worthwhile than you, either.
  19. If you spend most of your time using your talents and doing things you are good at, you’re more likely to be happy.
  20. If you spend most of your time struggling to improve your weaknesses, you’re likely to be frustrated.
  21. Practice is the only true way to master a new skill. Be patient with yourself while you learn something new.
  22. The only way to stay fresh is to keep learning new things.
  23. To learn new things means being a beginner, and that means making mistakes.
  24. The more comfortable you grow with making beginner mistakes, the easier it is to learn new things.
  25. You will never have all the resources (time, money, people, etc.) that you want for your project or company. No one ever has all the resources they want.
  26. A lack of resources isn’t an excuse. It’s a blessing in disguise. You’ll have to get creative.
  27. Creativity and innovation are skills that can be learned and practiced by doing your usual things in a new way.
  28. Take calculated risks.
  29. In the early stages of a company, career, or project, you’ll have to say “yes” to a lot of things. In the later stages, you’ll have to say “no.”
  30. Negative feedback is necessary. Don’t automatically reject it. Examine it for the nuggets of truth, and then disregard the rest.
  31. When delivering criticism, talk about the work, not the person.
  32. Think big. Dream big. (The alternative is to think small, dream small.)
  33. Treat your dream as an ultimate roadmap. You don’t have to achieve your dream right away, but the only way to get there is to take many steps toward it.
  34. If you think big, you will hear “no” more than you hear “yes.” They don’t get to decide. You do.
  35. How long it takes you to create something is less important than how valuable and worthwhile it will be once it’s created.
  36. If there is one secret to success, it’s this: communicate your plans with other people and keep communicating those plans.
  37. Grow your network. Make an effort to meet new people and to keep in contact with those you know.
  38. No matter what technology or service you are creating/inventing at your company, it’s not about the product; it’s always about the people and the lives you will improve.
  39. No matter how successful you get, you can still fail and fail big.
  40. Failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the process.
  41. Things always go wrong. The only way to keep that from hurting you is to plan for that.
  42. Learn how to respectfully, but firmly, say “no.”
  43. Say “yes” as much as you can.
  44. In order to say “yes” often, attach boundaries or a scope of work around your “yes.”
  45. No matter how rich, famous, or successful another person is, inside that person is just a human being with hopes, dreams, and fears, the same as you.
  46. Getting what you want doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. Happiness is the art of being satisfied with what you already have.
  47. Working with difficult personalities will be a part of every job. Be respectful, do your job well, and nine times out of 10 that person will move on.
  48. For that one-out-of-10 time, remember you aren’t a victim. Do what you need to get a new job.
  49. As soon as you have something to demonstrate, get an executive champion to back or support your project.
  50. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/50-universal-truths-for-success-2013-10#ixzz2kaPHJJ89

 

NB: No Copyright infringement intended!

Work-Life Balance Is Not What It’s About – What Do You Think?

I tend to think of work-life balance as not work minus life but more like work + life. I have to admit that I am blessed in that I get to do the kind of job that I like to do, so work for me is not work, BUT I didn’t get here in one day. I have put in my hours in the trenches, working jobs I didn’t particularly enjoy. So if you are stuck in the same rut, what can you do to change your situation?
1. Decide on the change you want.
2. Look within and take stock.
3. Improve yourself
4. Explore new avenues
5. Go check out the following posts that I have written on work-life balance 😉

https://corporateskirts.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/the-elusive-work-life-balance/

https://corporateskirts.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/lifestyle-diseases-plague-indian-women/

https://corporateskirts.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/it-is-all-in-the-attitude/

 

The elusive work-life balance

Recently in our office an email was circulated titled “Struggling to Cope?” it offered free and confidential consultation by a work-life coach. In a time when people are stressed out from uncertainties at the office, it was sobering to realize that in our Asian culture, this consultation and coaching is not something that people take to easily. While many do struggle to cope with official and domestic demands, very few are likely to seek professional help. In this culture, it is considered to be an admission of weakness or mental instability to go see a psychologist, counselor or mental health professional.

Funnily enough while this was on my mind, I received a phone call from a friend who is struggling to cope with the domestic demands of running a household while keeping up with her kid and the demands of parenthood. I couldn’t tell her how to run her life more smoothly but what I could do was to tell her how I cope.

Before I had kids, I indulged my workaholic characteristics completely. Given my devotion to work, one thing that I realized early on is that I could not be bothered to spend time or energy after work fixing the house or even dinner. I hired help who would take care of these details for me. Grocery shopping and errands were something that I would keep for the first day of the weekend.

Post kid, my routine changed. Instead of one, I kept two maids, but I was still determined not to waste my precious time on inane activities that numb the mind and eat away at the precious little time that I get with my son. Grocery shopping, running errands, maintaining the car were also something that I delegated as much as possible. I developed a network of people who did home-delivery of different kinds of services and I took full advantage of these.

I roped in and took advantage of having two sets of grandparents. I became better friends with people who had kids of the same age. It was the easiest way to schedule play dates, swap toys and still have some adult interaction during the weekend.

I love my work and give it my hundred percent. However, when my kid gets sick, work takes a backseat. I take advantage of having internet connection at home and the ability to securely log-in to the office network to continue my work from home. I stay available on the phone but encourage my office people to text me instead. While my son is up and about, I am with him, when he takes his naps or turns in for the night, I take care of work so it wouldn’t fall behind or get piled up.

In the age of technology, ready made food, mobile phones and even mundane things like the washing machine and micro-wave oven, I fail to see why some women struggle so much. Lower the bar for yourself women. The house doesn’t have to be spotless. You don’t have to serve freshly cooked meals every day. Kids thrive on attention, not on force feeding them nutritious food that you slave over for hours.

I don’t care if my house is not spotless. I don’t care if my cat leaves her fur on the sofa. I don’t care if the spilled drinks had left a spot on my dining table covers because I put them through the washing machine instead of hand washing it. I don’t care if I am heating up yesterday’s chicken curry in the micro-wave instead of cooking again today.

Here’s what I do care about. I care about whether my son feels like he’s getting enough attention. I care about whether I have the time to sing, dance, color with crayons and play on the PS2 with him. I care about whether my son’s hair is getting long and shaggy or if his nails need to be trimmed. I care about how he’s coping with school and ensuring that I attend every single event in which he participates. And all these take priorities over my OCD tendency kicking in and demanding that the cleaning be taken care of immediately.

At the end of the day before you allocate and spend time on an activity, ask yourself this, how important is it for you to do it yourself? Are you even going to remember doing this one month from now?

Decide on your priorities and stick to them. Allocate time to things that are more important to you. Be that your kid, your pets, your hobbies or just the simple pleasure of taking care of yourself by exercising or preparing a good meal. Do what feels right to you.

If more people took the time to do what is right for them, when and as it is right for them, I believe that they would find that elusive work-life balance. Take care of yourself and your needs before you aspire to be the Martha Stewart of your office, social circle, friends or family… and watch that stress melt away 🙂

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