Archive for April 14, 2013


LINKS

  • http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/       India’s largest online and mobile platform for young people to talk about issues of importance and seek action on them.  Youth Ki Awaaz also runs  India’s first and only mobile platform for youth opinions that needs no smart phones or apps, goes beyond internet penetration and empowers people to share their opinions, and also take action by simply calling up 09310952952 and recording their opinions or report issues within 60 seconds.
  • http://www.selfgrowth.com/              Articles on  Self Improvement
  • http://laughingsquid.com/                 Found it somewhat similar to twistedsifter.com – blog featuring interesting art, culture & technology………
  • http://www.designsponge.com/       Design blog featuring DIY tips , weekly design obsessions , artists , textile designers etc. nice pics

Excerpts from     Does Mindfulness Stress You Out?.

What Is Mindfulness?

………….“We are not trying to actively achieve a state of deep relaxation or any other state for that matter, while practicing mindfulness… But increasingly, by opening to an awareness of how things actually are in the present moment, we often taste very deep states of relaxation and well-being-of both body and mind.”

Perhaps it’s helpful to list a few terms that point to the essence of mindfulness:

  • Awareness
  • Presence
  • “Being” rather than “doing”
  • Quieting the mind
  • Stillness
  • Attentiveness
  • Non-judgmental noticing

Mindfulness is not a modern spiritual movement. It’s not a new-age fad. It’s simply you at your most natural state of being. It’s a practical everyday phenomenon that you’ve already experienced without even labeling it. Have you ever just stared into the flame of a flickering candle? Or the intricate petals of a flower? Have you watched the twitching nose of a sleeping puppy? That was mindfulness. It required nothing of you other than to be there.

Then Why Does The Concept Stress Me Out?

There’s a lot of pressure to be perfectionist in our pursuits. Perhaps you’ve read a book or watched the news and internalized someone else’s idea of what it means to be mindful. Maybe you tried it a few times and determined that your experience didn’t match up with their description of what it should feel like. So you got frustrated and you quit. “It’s too hard.” “I’m terrible at it.”

I’m here to say that you’re not terrible at it. You don’t have to subscribe to a method, you don’t have to attend a retreat, you don’t have to spend any money, and you don’t have to expect a certain outcome. That statement will threaten a lot of people- the money makers, the retreat schedulers, the devout practitioners of a certain faith. Frankly, I don’t care. I’m not a shareholder.

So How Should I Approach It?

Like I mentioned earlier, try staring into a gently flickering flame. Pick a flower and explore its perfect imperfections. Engage your senses by smelling the flower, feeling its petals, noticing how your feet come into contact with the floor, the entire experience of just being in that moment.

………….Your mindfulness practice doesn’t have to be involved with right or wrong. It doesn’t have to feel a certain way or produce a certain result. Maybe it will have certain results – and you can simply notice those as they arise. In that moment.

YOGA

https://i2.wp.com/www.yogatrail.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Infographics.jpg

What’s your yoga style?
( source : http://www.yogatrail.com/blog/whats-your-yoga-style/ )

http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2013/04/heres-how-a-girl-decided-to-walk-out-of-school-and-enter-the-5th-space-to-discover-real-learning/

Walking out’ essentially is being able to critically examining the conventions of society and its institutions, and rejecting those that are oppressive or discriminating. It is also about ‘walking on’ to create more egalitarian and inclusive alternatives, be that in relationships, learning, or living.

…………..to ‘walk out’ of the two major systems of oppression in India – patriarchy and caste, and ‘walk on’ to reclaim ‘family’ as a group of individuals connected by love, trust, and shared values rather than a common-named unit headed by a patriarch male.

 

This ‘walking out’ and ‘walking on’ extends to the other spaces too. In school, I was a ‘model’ student who scored good marks. But there came a point where I couldn’t help wondering what the point was to study all these subjects only for an examination, after which they would be forgotten. My father is a graduate in B.Sc Statistics but couldn’t help me in my calculations of the mean, median and mode! (Not doubting his intelligence!) To delve deeper into these questions, my parents and I decided that I would ‘walk-out’ (rather than ‘drop-out’) of school and begin my own journey of discovery and learning. In school, I was a passive receiver and memorizer of textbook knowledge. Out of school, I could take full responsibility of my learning, and thus, of my life!

 

What does taking ownership of one’s learning entail? In school, some higher authority who doesn’t even know me, decides what I should study and when I have studied ‘enough’ to be qualified with a certificate. But once I decide to take my learning into my own hands, I decide WHAT I want to learn, HOW I want to learn it and from WHOM. And I don’t need a degree or certificate to validate that I have learnt ‘enough’, as my learning will organically manifest in my work, in my life, and in who I am.

 

Taking ownership also means getting to know ourselves first, and learning according to our needs and contexts. It starts by asking a simple question, “What is it that I really care about?” It might be an idea, an art, or a skill, even a question we want to find the answer to. It might not be one thing, might be ten. Start from there. I believe all of us have the potential to do something great, as long as we’re truly passionate about it. Like Rancho says in 3 idiots, “Kamyabi ke peeche mat bhago. Kabil bano… Phir kamyabi to sali jhak maar ke peeche bhagegi.” (Don’t run after success, strive for excellence in whatever you do. Success will follow.)

 

Another important realization for me during the process of reclaiming my learning, which is also known as ‘self-designed learning,’ by the way, has been that everything is interconnected. Hence, we are not isolated individuals in this process but rather parts of a greater ‘self’ – the community, society, and the environment. Along with exploring and understanding ourselves then, another important aspect of learning is exploring and understanding the world – this larger self – and contextualizing our learning according to its needs.

pakizah:Bombay, India1996Steve McCurry

 

Let me share a small story about my inner and outer journey of learning. I had gone to stay in a remote village in the forests of the Gadchiroli district in Eastern Maharashtra, as part of a youth social exposure programme that I was participating in. On the last day of my visit, I witnessed an act of domestic violence in the family I was staying with, which left me feeling utterly shocked and helpless. As I said, I had been raised in a gender non-discriminatory household and had never fully comprehended the exploitation that women in realities other than mine had to face. I realised that I was a woman too, and had I been born in different circumstances than my own, I, too, would have been subjected to this kind of oppression and violence just by virtue of being born with a female body. Trying to deal with and overcome this newly articulated fear, I resolved to learn about and contribute to a movement that was making an effort to change this attitude of discrimination and violence against women. And this too, started from looking within.

 

Beginning with our names, patriarchy and other forms of oppression have seeped into the core of our identities and relationships. My endeavour is to ‘walk out’ of them, and invite others to ‘walk on’ along with me.

 

E from  http://zenhabits.net/zenwork/

Vacation mind, work mind.

They are two different things, and yet, what if we could have the vacation mind while working? We’d have to toss out the lazing around and the margaritas, but the mindset could be the same. The result would be a saner way of living, where we aren’t “working for the weekend” or looking forward to the little vacation time we have, but instead are happier throughout the week.

How can this be done? It’s a few small mindset habits, which can be practiced and learned over time.

  What Vacation Mind is Like at Work

Work mind is often full of anxiety: anxiety for what we need to do, for deadlines, for irritating or angry co-workers/bosses, for all the information coming in, for whether we’re doing the right thing right now, for whether we’re missing out on something important.

Vacation mind lets that anxiety go, and is just present in the current moment. Time is less important, enjoying yourself is the priority.

gypsybeachqueen:zen rocks

So what does it look like when you apply vacation mind to work? You let go of the anxiety. You aren’t worried about getting it all done, or doing the right thing right now, or all the things you have to do later. You are immersed in enjoying whatever you’ve chosen to do right now.

………..Pick something to do, immerse yourself, let go of worrying about other things, and just do. Enjoy yourself. Once in awhile, come up for air and look at the big picture.

The Vacation Mind Practices

  1. Pick something, immerse yourself.
  2. Let go of anxieties.
  3. Step back and see the big picture.
  4. Be less worried about time.

Is it possible to be on permanent vacation, so that you’re doing your work but also in the relaxed, enjoyable mindset that’s brought on by margaritas on the beach? I think so, but there’s only one way to find out. Practice.

  

http://zenhabits.net/contentment/

What is contentment…………being happy with who you are. …………And while many might say, “Sure, you can say that now that you’ve reached a certain level of success,” I think that’s wrong. Many people who achieve success don’t find contentment, and are always driven to want more, and are unhappy with themselves. Many people who are poor or don’t have a “successful” career have also found contentment. Worst of all, with the attitude of “you can be content because you’re successful”, is that people who say this are dismissing the path of contentment … when it’s something they can do right now. Not later, when they reach certain goals or a certain level of financial success. Now.

We start out in life thinking that we’re awesome. We can dance in public as 5-year-olds, and not care what others think of us. By the time we’re adults, that’s been driven out of us, by peers and parents and the media and embarrassing situations.

As adults, we doubt ourselves. We judge ourselves badly. We are critical of our bodies, of ourselves as people, of our lack of discipline, of all our faults. We don’t like our lives.

As a result, we try to improve this lacking self, try to get better because we suck so much. Or, we doubt our ability to get better, and are very unhappy. Or we sabotage our attempts at change, because we don’t really believe we can do it.

This self-dislike results in worse relationships, a stagnant career, unhappiness with life, complaints about everything, and often unhealthy habits like eating junk food, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, shopping too much, being addicted to video games or the Internet.

So what’s the path to being content with yourself and your life?

The first problem is if you don’t trust yourself. That’s an important area to work with.

Your relationship with yourself is like your relationship with anyone else. If you have a friend who is constantly late and breaking his word, not showing up when he says he will, eventually you’ll stop trusting that friend. It’s like that with yourself, too. It’s hard to like someone you don’t trust, and it’s hard to like yourself if you don’t trust yourself.

So work on this trust with yourself (I give some practical steps in the bottom section below). Increase it slowly, and eventually you’ll trust yourself to be awesome.

The second problem is that you judge yourself badly. You compare yourself to an unreal ideal, in all areas. You want a beautiful model’s body. You want to achieve certain goals, personally and professionally. You want to travel the world and learn languages and learn a musical instrument and be an amazing chef and have an amazing social life and the perfect spouse and kids and incredible achievements and be the fittest person on the planet. Of course, those are completely realistic ideals, right?

And when we have these ideals, we compare ourselves to them, and we always measure up badly.

The path to contentment, then, is to stop comparing ourselves to these ideals. Stop judging ourselves. Let go of the ideals. And gradually learn to trust ourselves.

If you feel there’s something wrong with you that needs to be improved, you’re going to be driven to improve yourself, but you may or may not succeed. Let’s say you fail in your habit change. Then you start to feel worse about yourself, and you’re then on a downward spiral where every time you try to improve, you fail, and so you feel worse about yourself, and then you’re on the downward spiral. You start to self-sabotage your changes, because you really don’t believe that you can do them. Based on past evidence, you don’t trust yourself that you can do it. And that makes you feel worse.

That’s if you fail. But let’s say you happen to succeed, and you’re really good at succeeding. So you succeed — maybe you lose weight, and so maybe you don’t feel as bad about your body now.

But what happens is, if you start in this place of fixing what’s wrong with you, you keep looking for what else is wrong with you, what else you need to improve. So maybe now feel like you don’t have enough muscles, or six pack abs, or you think your calves don’t look good, or if it’s not about your body, you’ll find something else.

So it’s this never-ending cycle for your entire life. You never reach it. If you start with a place of wanting to improve yourself and feeling stuck, even if you’re constantly successful and improving, you’re always looking for happiness from external sources. You don’t find the happiness from within, so you look to other things.

If you’re externally looking for happiness, it’s easy to get too into food, or shopping, or partying, or overwork, to try to be happy.

If instead, you can find contentment within and not need external sources of happiness, then you’ll have a reliable source of happiness. I find that to be a much better place to be than relying on external sources of happiness.

A lot of people wonder, “If you find contentment, won’t you just lay around on the beach, not improving the world, not doing anything?” But I think that’s a misunderstanding of what contentment is.

You can be content and lay around, but you can also be content and want to help others. You can be content and also compassionate to others, and want to help them. You can be happy with who you are, but at the same time want to help other people and ease their suffering. And that way, you can offer yourself to the world and do great works in the world, but not necessarily need that to be happy.

Even if for some reason, your work was taken away from you, you’d still have that inner contentment.

Practical Steps

1. Build self-trust.

2. Notice your ideals.

The truth is, the reality of ourselves is not bad, it’s only in bad in relation to the ideal that we have about ourselves. When we let go of the ideal, we’re left with the reality that can be judged as perfectly great. It’s a unique human being who is beautiful in its own way.

So ask if you’re feeling bad about who you are and how you did. If so, it’s because of the ideal. To recognize that takes awareness first. Notice your ideals.

3. Let go of the ideals.

My thoughts – I think rilke’s advice applies not only to budding poets but to all those in search of their true passion in life ………….. to delve into  their core …………….  and look for answers within …….. with a free mind   .

http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/dennis_hopper_reads_from_rainer_maria_rilkes_timeless_guide_to_creativity_iletters_to_a_young_poeti.html

“Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet is a great book,” Hopper says in this short film from 2007. “For me the letters are a credo of creativity and a source of inspiration. After reading Rilke it became clear to me that I had no choice in the matter. I had to create.” The ten-minute film, Must I Write?, was directed by Hermann Vaske and photographed by Rain Li. Hopper reads the first of the book’s ten letters, in which Rilke tells the young man to stop seeking approval from others:

You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can help and counsel you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places in your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgement of it: there is no other. Therefore, my dear sir, I know no other advice for you save this: to go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept it, just as it sounds, without inquiring into it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist.

Then take that destiny upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what recompense might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself.