Sleep / rest mode

In my final year Engineering, there was a project to submit. And I was lucky enough to be selected to do the project in a Company that manufactured Microprocessor based kits.

I got to partner with a lovely person who is a dear friend even now. We both got to design a kit based on a Motorola microprocessor. We studied the processor language and started to write the start up code for the kit.

We wrote a lot of routines as part of the software design. Each routine was meant for different input systems. One routine handled inputs from the keyboard while another one handled inputs from an external device and there were output routines that helped to communicate with displays and external devices like the printer.

Looking back at this project and the routines we wrote, one thing becomes clear – the routines are activated only when there is an input – an external trigger. This input can retrigger other routines or devices. Without any input or trigger, the system / microprocessor kit is idle or in sleep mode.

Now look at the human body. There are 5 sensory organs which have specific job profiles of receiving inputs from the external environment. Here the body is not waiting for inputs rather the inputs are constantly streamed into the body. The body is constantly processing all the inputs from these sensory organs thinking that they might be very crucial for survival. And this involves using a lot of the body’s energy. When energy is spent on just processing inputs, how can the body divert the energy toward healing and well-being?

Now please seat yourself in a safe place – at your home – in the comfort of a couch or bed! Here is a safe place where the body can learn to relax the processing of the inputs from the sensory organs for sometime. So gently shift your body to a comfortable posture and go with the flow of the breath in your body. Slowly disengage from the sensory inputs, if possible and try disengaging for brief moments. This process helps the body to understand how it can relax from the processing of constant inputs from sensory organs.

We can try to understand the inputs we are receiving – what are we seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling on skin. When there is mo great change in these inputs, we can suggest to our body to accept these inputs and help to relax the sensory organs.

This gentle suggestions helps shift the body to a relaxed state, the para sympathetic state. There might be expressions of this relaxed state through yawns or deep sighs or an exhalation that can be felt strongly!

This is idle mode for body – something like sleep mode in laptop – where we are resting and saving the energy of the body. We can begin by staying in this mode for 2 minutes and then slowly increase this time spent in rest mode. We learn to be with our body without doing any physical or mental activity. We teach ourselves the art of saving our body’s energy. Here we can observe small natural movements happening in our body – blinking of eyes, the flaring of nostrils as we breathe, movement at the toes, change in spine position – or any discomfort in the body.

To conserve body’s energy levels mean better healing and repair work of cells and tissues. If you are a hustler, take some time to stop hustling. If you are a multitasker, stay put with one task which is to be with your body. Challenge yourself to ignore sensory inputs. Or if your body understands soft talk, urge / cajole / suggest that you would like to do only one task which is to just be with the body and may be watch the flow of breath as you inhale and exhale. The more we practice this, we enable the body to heal well.

I remember this from my Bhagavad Gita class:

indriyāṇāṁ hi charatāṁ yan mano ’nuvidhīyate
tadasya harati prajñāṁ vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi

BG 2.67: Just as a strong wind sweeps a boat off its chartered course on the water, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can lead the intellect astray.

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Unparenting by Reema Ahmad – Book Review

I was excited to receive this book as part of the Penguin books giveaway. And I thought to myself that I have something to read everyday for the next 2 weeks.
I surprised myself and finished reading in 3 days, trying my best to minimise housework so that I can spend more time reading.
The book is unputdownable!

While reading Reema’s journey as a mother with all its challenges, I felt the camaraderie with her even though all our interactions have been online. There is this feeling of comfort as I read her words; the feeling that both of us are sitting in a couch, drinking tea and she is telling me all these experiences from her life and her learnings! That is precisely why I couldn’t keep the book down.

I like the way the chapters are organised, the topics covered, the incidents and examples helping us to understand it from a deeper level. Very delicate topics like sex have been dealt in a way that can help younger parents. For me, it was a journey to the past. I remember writing all those articles for Parenting website by Blogadda. I have done many things intuitively with my daughters – be it talking to them about safe touch, sex and a lot on dirty slang words. I have sat with them as they ranted and let the anger out against teachers, friends and any others. I have shown them how to stand up for themselves as I stood with them. And reading all the suggestions by Reema made me super happy that I have indeed done what the coach suggests! It warms my heart to know that I have been on the right track. And maybe I still am – for there is nothing more important than the happiness of our children.

I love the sections with conversations with Imaad – very brave attempt by Reema to share those with us. I hope Imaad is OK with it! And I love the gentle nudges, easy solutions and the stark reality which she states as a matter of fact! Parenting is no joke in today’s world and finally we have some sort of suggestions and guide to help the young mothers through the journey!

One of the concepts suggested by Patanjali in his Yogasutra is that we need to look at problems by standing out of it and looking at it with a different perspective. He terms it as Pratipaksha bhavanam. Bhavanam is the attitude towards any problem. Pratipaksha is looking at it from a different point of view. And throughout the book, Reema has done just that. To every problem she faced, she had applied Pratipaksha bhavanam. Be it her divorce or the everyday struggles of single parenting, I appreciate the way she has handled every situation with kindness and compassion.

The writing doesn’t hide her gentleness. Even when she is pushed to the corner during her divorce, she holds on to that gentleness within. I feel like hugging her in those moments.

Her poems hold my heart captive.

One thing is for sure – I am going to recommend this book to the many young mothers out there, who are looking for some support on which way to go when they have to deal with their children, especially in areas which are forbidden to be discussed openly.

Reema…am so happy and proud to know you!

Reema is a NLP life coach and works in the area of healing from trauma, abuse, violence and relationship issues. Feel free to reach out to Reema at candidly.in

Support

For the past one week, I had a lots of travel to do, within the city. Breakfast and lunch was planned and packed if need be. One of the days, there was a function to attend, which involved wearing a sari.

To the person I was 10 years back, all these were not jobs at all. I was excited and thrilled with the travel. I loved the idea of packing food and eating from the dabba. I loved attending functions and dressing up for it. So all these “jobs” were a breeze!

The person I am now is different and evolved (I think so 😉) The above mentioned are jobs which needed extensive planning both physical and emotional. I needed to prepare myself for every job or work. I needed time to process what is in store for me.

The past few years of going through perimenopause, then menopause have had its effects on the physical body and the emotional one too! The loss of dear ones added to the emotional toll!

To deal with all these things felt like a challenge for me, initially! I didn’t feel like cooking most of the days. I didn’t have the josh to do anything on many days.

And later I realised one thing while going through this all – this is no challenge – this is not me against my body or emotions! I don’t need to challenge it all!

I found an easier way – supporting my body. Whenever I felt the challenge coming through me, I paused. I sat quietly and listened to my body. And I simply offered Support to my body. I talked to my body about the upcoming travel or meet with another person, prepared it and asked my body for Support during this time. I sat through those emotions, understood where it came from and held myself, gave my emotions the Support it needed.

I felt a huge relief as I supported my feelings, my body. I have never felt this good in my life!

Hexagonal Mandala

Gently gaze at the mandala! What pattern do you see first?

Now zoom the mandala and keep gazing. What pattern do you see now?

Turn the phone and try again. Observe what pattern speaks to you! Please tell all that you observed in the comments.

It is amazing, right?

This was an absolute joy to draw. Like a kid who is head over heels in love with geometry, I began drawing this hexagonal mandala.

Then circles happened inside the hexagon and outside of it too. It became very exciting when I drew the 12 pointed star. Sometimes it feels this whole mandala is about this star. Sometimes it is the hexagon. It all depends on my perspective and how I hold the art book.

So, to complement the star, I drew the night sky background and felt how all the patterns, my thoughts were all contained inside one mandala – one Universe!

My dear teacher Elsa,
You have done a beautiful job of planting a seed – the seed for the love of patterns, geometry. Gratitude for your presence🙏

Zoom

2 years of the pandemic has brought a lot of things under the zoom lens of life – relationships between people, the roles and responsibilities of employed parents, and the way they managed work and home. The sudden shutdown of in-person meets and interactions led to a lot of upheaval of emotions on the home front. Many people found it difficult not to be able to meet their parents.

People were living inside the world of their phones and laptop and not being aware of what was happening around them – in their homes or office. This pandemic brought them out to feel that life cannot survive around just the phone and laptop. It reinstated the fact that people seeing others and interacting is very much required for maintaining good mental health.

Offices zoomed into the homes of their employees through the Zoom app! Since working from home became the norm for a majority of the employees, many of them who were staying far away from home moved to their hometowns and spent time with their family and at the same time being committed to working over Zoom interactions. It was a challenge to many as they had to manage both work and home, the noises and TV to be managed during work calls,

Teachers zoomed into the homes of their students and sought help from people at home to keep the child within the frame so that they can see their students. So either the parents or the grandparents got involved with this process. It helped them realize the job of the teacher and the challenges they face. Teaching a child is no more the only responsibility of the teacher where the parents can easily blame the school or the teacher. It has rather become a beautiful blend of responsibilities. Even though the children miss the interaction with others in person, Zoom classes helped in some way to keep the child involved in some learning.

There might be a lot of disadvantages felt by the parents and teachers but the situation was like that and I think it was the best we could do!

I had just completed my Yoga Teacher Training Program in Dec 2019 and I took 2 students at home to teach yoga asana. Just when I was getting used to the idea of “how to teach” and “how to observe the students and their movements”, the pandemic started and I had to stop the classes. While I was wondering how to go about the classes, Zoom gave me the confidence to go ahead. I started my classes online and if not for Zoom, I wouldn’t have been able to reach all the people in different countries.

When people were forced to stay indoors during the lockdown periods, it led to a lot of emotional health challenges among many. The need for coaches, and therapists started increasing. The need for improving the emotional health of people became very important. Even though in-person counseling is the most advantageous, Zoom call counseling and coaching still helped. People reached out to help regulate their anxieties about what will happen with this pandemic, the stress of looking at screens all through the day. And I did my little bit by helping people understand the right way to breathe and how emotional upheavals can be lessened with the right breathing techniques along with therapy.

Many times I have felt that the pandemic has helped people to pause their busy lives and take an audit of what is happening with their life. It has helped people understand the need for rest and rejuvenation.

The pandemic zoomed into our lives suddenly! We managed to keep our lives going with Zoom. Now, it is the time to zoom into the health aspect of our lives instead of the constant hustling.

Yin Yang



The web of lines
Emotion filled
Thoughts
Perspectives
Judgements
That compulsive order
The need to do
To surpass myself…



The stillness
Clarity
Surrendering to the chaos
Letting things happen
Feeling the energies
Manifesting
Holding space for me…



I shine
I glow
I am complex
I am the Yin and the Yang!

XX-XY

I was taking some time to decide on the word for X and requested my daughter to help me. She suggested this. The moment she said this, I just had a flash into my younger years.

When I was in school, we studied cell division, new cells, and all that stuff. We were beating around the bush but the topic of sex education was never approached. The herd of sheep was brought up without any basic knowledge of the most basic function of human beings. I was rudely shocked to read about it in some book. Am glad that sex education is part of the system now. I just hope that the transfer of knowledge happens at the basic level.

I wondered if I had been curious to know what is the big fuss about all the things like – don’t wear revealing clothes, cover up your chest, start wearing pavadai davani as soon as you start developing the breasts, and many such things. Personally, I feel that pavadai davani reveals more than it can cover!

Coming to the topic, my ignorance about the sex chromosomes continued till I joined college. Even though I studied Engineering and our brains were filled with numbers and equations, thankfully the gossip was more biologically oriented. I think it was some news about female infanticide that caught my attention and I started learning more about it.

I was pleasantly surprised to know that the gender of the baby is decided by the chromosome of the man! I came to understand this rude truth after I crossed the age to vote. WOW! And why do women go through such painful moments of not keeping a baby because someone in the family desired a boy to be born! This kind of news disturbed me a lot.

The play of the chromosomes happens in a few minutes. But when the XX or XY (and there is an XYY too) forms, too many people interfere in the decision. (Read more on the sex chromosomes here – link)

May the mothers have the freedom to be and may the child have the freedom to live!

Watch

No guessing there…I choose the verb!

Just thought of listing a few watchful things that have made a huge impact on how I move through my day, and my challenges.

I watch my breath. Whenever I can. And also allocate some 20 to 30 minutes every day (I try to do this without fail but there are exceptions) when I practice my breathwork. Even during that time, I try my best to be with the breath – watching the inhales and exhales – than to be led by my thoughts! Some days are too good and I just don’t have any idea of what is happening around me. There are also days when all this is too much effort.

I watch my thoughts when I am in my shower. They are my sparks. They give me solutions. They give me ideas to write. They help me connect deeply within myself. Every stroke of the soap on my body strengthens the connection and I feel that I am getting a download of the document which I wanted to write. It is an amazing space to look for yourself.

I watch my posture when I am in the kitchen. When I am standing and watching that milk to see if it will come to a boiling state, I check if my weight is equally distributed between my legs. When I chop vegetables, I watch my back – I watch if my legs are open so that I stand firmly with weight in the center – I watch if I am bending too much – I also watch to see that I am changing posture every few minutes. This watching has helped me to be relieved from knee pain, hip pain, and lower back pain.

I watch my skin with its white patches in certain places and understand the residue of the trauma that I experienced in 2006. I hug myself for accepting that trauma, for speaking about it to people around me, for writing about it, for learning to process it, for seeking help, for moving towards art, and for making beautiful connections!

I watch how I cook every day. Do I think of it as a chore dumped on me or do I feel the love inside me for my family that I cook something they relish? I have been through both stages and felt the extremes in both. Now I watch if I am kind to myself in this process. Menopause has taught me the biggest lesson of being kind to myself in all sorts of situations. So, when I feel irritated to do any cooking, I watch it happen – ask for help from others to take up the cooking or simply order. When I feel the love overflowing from inside that needs to be expressed in my cooking, I take it in stride and cook with joy. Even though I am writing all this in one paragraph, it took me nearly 3 years to reach this stage. And I struggle some days. I hug myself. I become kind to the person inside me.

I watch. I heal. I struggle. I watch. I think. I draw. I cook. I watch. I love!

Voice

After my Appa passed away in 2010, I didn’t delete his landline number from my mobile. If I let it ring for that whole minute, then I could hear my Appa’s recorded voice at the end of the ringing stating that he is unable to attend the call! I used to listen to his voice like this, whenever I missed him or felt like hearing his voice. I also had this childish urge that Appa will attend my call!

Appa had a deep voice that resonated with his personality! His intentions and the way he executed his intentions always touched deep into the soul.

The biggest gift that Appa gave me was letting me be myself in all that I tried to do with my life and the way he gave his support to all that I did. And if I have some sense of music and an ear to appreciate good music, the credit goes to Appa for instilling that good music sense in me! From Carnatic music to ghazals to movie songs, he played them all at home.

After some time, while updating some software on my phone, all the data got erased and Appa’s number was also erased. I could have keyed it in again. But I didn’t.

Maybe I had progressed a little spiritually, by then. I learned to feel his presence in my memories and in the things he liked doing.

Nowadays, I just close my eyes and I can hear Appa and his deep voice, inside me! And somehow, I find this more comforting!

Unburden

I think I have chosen such a challenging word today, for there is so much to write about this word and what it means to me in my life! Let me delve into one of the aspects here.

There are things and perceptions in life which may feel very comfortable and something to be proud of, during a particular phase of life and then the same may feel like a burden. Here, I am talking about my uterus. I was so proud of it when I got it for the first time even though I faced menstrual cramps every month. There was also a kind of peer pressure in my class when all the girls who were going through menstrual cycles will meet secretly and discuss things. I wanted very badly to be a part of that group. I was delighted by the fact that women are the ones who have the physical advantage to help in the creation of another life and to hold the child inside for 9 long months.

Every time I had to go through the menstrual cramps, I would tell myself that this is the place of creating another life! I would be dying inside with the pain but I kept telling myself that this is all for the good and that one day I will be holding a child inside my uterus.

I burdened my body with this thought and went through the cramps every month with gritted teeth. I didn’t know what other options I had and at that time I didn’t want to look at any option.

The burden of the pain was kept at bay and sugar-coated. Every doctor I consulted gave me just pain killers and advised me to bear it – it is considered as a part of the menstrual cycles.

None of them wanted to do a pelvic scan to a girl who was not yet married, for simple reasons like menstrual cramps.

And then they gave me ideas – that when I get married, the pain will go away! Haha 😀 They put ideas in my head that menstrual cramps are cured by sexual intercourse.

But pooooffff to their ideas! I was still burdened with that pain, after marriage, and after blah blah blah!

Then came the next round of suggestions – maybe the delivery of a child will help in relieving me from the pain. Oh really? It turns out that both my children were born out of C-section surgery and the required expansion of the pelvic bone didn’t happen. And I continued with the pain every month.

It worsened when I hit peri-menopause and then later menopause. I felt burdened by the many years of being with the menstrual pain! There was no more delight in the idea that women are the only ones to carry a child inside.

And now I feel unburdened! The cycles don’t happen! There are no suggestions or sugar-coated solutions.

I have met a lot of women who sail through their menstrual cycles as though nothing has happened. It was a cyclical storm for me for nearly 4 decades! I wonder how I went through it.

There are a lot of things that I understand now about my body, my pain, and sometimes feel the burden I was carrying inside my head contributed to this pain syndrome!

May we all learn the art of unburdening – whether it is pain or anything!