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.

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!

Priority

I missed writing for 2 days. And I sit with the letter P, this is the word that comes to my mind. There were other priorities that kept me away from writing.

Now, writing is great therapy for me and I love to babble here, in this space about all that is going on inside my head. But there are times when this becomes like a huge commitment to write every day and the thing is there is a built-up of guilt when I skip writing.

This time I was clear about my priorities and I also decided to be flexible about it. The same writing cannot be held at the highest priority all throughout the month.

So, one day became magical with laughter, good food, and great company when I spent it with my friends. Even after coming back home, I was dwelling there, relishing the funny moments, the laughter, the comfort zone among the group of friends! Sigh! I allowed myself to soak in that moment of magic with friends! I prioritized my friends that day!

And the next day, I gave priority to procrastinating! Haha 😀 Yeah…I did! I just let myself be carried away with what happened in the day and never gave a thought to writing.

I felt exalted! While I felt very powerful expressing myself in words, I felt more powerful procrastinating (the writing) – I hope someone out there would get this feeling! For a person like me, this is like being wild. And I enjoyed the day with myself! My husband was home early and I talked a lot and allowed him to comfort me! Sometimes I find myself very strong and being comforted by another person makes me feel less confident. Yesterday, felt different. There was love in that comfort and I soaked in it. I embraced it with both hands.

I loved the way how the day changed to comfort and love when I changed priorities inside my head. I felt a beautiful lesson bloom there for me!

No – Nothing



“No post today” – I told myself yesterday on the day allotted for N. For the first time in my life, I just didn’t do something I committed myself to. I let go of the idea to write!


I have heard many times that NO is a powerful statement. But for me, more than the NO, the acceptance of what comes when I say NO is the powerful thing.


When I committed to this A to Z challenge,  I mentally made a promise to myself that I will try my best to write on all days of April except Sundays. So when I didn’t write on a Saturday, I first struggled to handle the disappointment that I gave myself. It may lead to guilt, self-pity, inability to do things which I like doing – it is a vicious cycle.


Yesterday, no such thing happened. My self-love was so strong that I felt I have conquered my biggest fear – the guilt of not able to do things. I slept the whole afternoon and spent the whole evening with family. Never once did the thought of not written for the day came into the picture. Am so very happy about it.


By saying a NO to a simple task of writing, I moved from a space filled with “do this” “do that” to a space called “nothing to do”. That felt very powerful for me.

Kinder by 1%

I try to begin my day with an intention like this – let me be 1% kinder than yesterday! Easier said than done – this is a lot of effort but worth every moment of it!

This happened recently – I came across an artificial jewelry seller on Instagram, as I love these big chunky pieces of jewelry esp the jhumkas. I contacted her and ordered first. And I was very happy with the service that I have been buying regularly from her. Recently, I ordered a necklace to send as a gift to this person L. I received it neatly packed and without even opening it to check (my trust in the seller being the reason), sent the gift across to L. It was received well and then I came to know the link chain with the hook was missing from the necklace. I contacted the seller – before she replied to my text, I was drowning in my own thoughts – is it wrong to trust that seller? – why didn’t I check it completely before sending it across? – This has never happened before…why now?

Then I stopped thinking about this and went to do some yoga. I distracted myself from it and did chanting as I did yogasana.

I got a reply from the seller stating that she had sent the link chain separately and she asked me to check the cover. I hid my face under the table. Thinking that clutter-free is the norm, I had thrown away that cover without checking the contents on the same day itself.

I sat and thought about the whole thing. I can either be critical of my actions or keep sulking all day long. I can direct all this to the seller and tell her to take the blame for this incident. But both options will not solve the need – to deliver the link chain to the person who needs it.

I decided to be 1% kinder to myself than yesterday. This was an important moment – the changeover happened at that moment.

So I sent a message to L, accepting that there has been a mistake and I will send the link chain soon. She was quite OK with it. I suddenly realized how simple this turned out to be than breaking my head over the fact that I needed to be the perfect human being doing everything perfectly, according to my standards.

And like this and in many small ways, the practice of kindness is slowly and gently becoming a part of my life.

There is this sense of kindness to my body – listening to it groan, rumble, creak and tries to tell me something. This was my first step. The second part that I committed to do was to be kind with my breath, to watch it and allow it be and then slowly bringing in the nudge to do better. This kindness towards myself is something that keeps me going day after day with a sense of joy and appreciation.

To all the people who come across my path and whose path is not clear to me, let me be 1% kinder than yesterday.

To my husband who carries all the stress and anxiety into the home from his workplace, let me be 1% kinder to him than yesterday.

To my daughters who are caught up in their web of careers and friends, let me be 1% kinder to them than yesterday.

To those people who are dear to me and who have their own life to live and sometimes miss texting or calling back, let me be 1% kinder than yesterday.

It also instills inside me a deep sense to draw boundaries so that I can be kind to myself first. And then, from within those boundaries, I am trying my best to practice this “1% kinder than yesterday”!

Happiness

The study of Yogasutras has been the most beneficial to me. While the generic reading may list out concepts and solutions for better living, the curiosity to try those concepts in real life has been very rewarding. There is a sense of contentment when the application of concepts made my life better than before.

Let us look at this concept of happiness in detail, from whatever I have understood from Yogasutras.

The mind is always active and keeps giving one thought after another. These thoughts bring in the sense of unhappiness (klishta) or the lack of unhappiness (aklishta) – the neutral state (the lack of unhappy state). Only these two states are defined which is a result of all the thoughts that the mind makes or brings to our awareness.



When I first listened to this, I was very confused. For all these years, I was under the impression that it is HAPPINESS that humans keep looking for in their life. We try to find it in the work we do, in the relationships we hold, in people who are precious to us, in the art we do, in the poetry we write – we attribute our happiness to something else that is outside.



Sir gave a beautiful explanation which went like this – when we are born, we are in the state of happiness. We are happy beings in the natural state. Like we can be happy even when we don’t do anything productive. We can be happy when we are still. This is our natural state.



When we undergo experiences in our life, we learn from those experiences on how to feel other emotions other than the natural state of happiness. This is not wrong. We need to go through all these experiences, feel all other emotions and then slowly and gently nudge our inner self to go to the natural state of happiness.



Here we delve into the different kinds of thoughts and how they are categorised. We begin by deciding on a goal. And then we learn how we can bring in a routine of practice to work towards that particular goal, all the way learning to shed those skins of unhappiness. We slowly tread on the path to happiness; even though we are born in this state, this is the journey we go through in our life.



We might take our whole lifetime to do this and sometimes we may not be able to reach to that level. But we can strive to shed those things which cause unhappiness (this route is evolving our inner self to reach the natural state of happiness – we need to work on our self here) rather than keep looking for things which give happiness (this is transient and keeps changing – the happiness giving things are not within us).



Here I am on a journey to my natural state of happiness, slowly working on shedding those skins which cause unhappiness within me!

Freedom

Rashmee and I decided to write on the topic Freedom. After discussing with her, I had so many thoughts on that topic which I wanted to put it down before I forgot all about it. I opened a document and typed away furiously – yes the thoughts were coming in full speed!

Now, do you remember that little girl in Kuch kuch hota hai movie, who got the word “Pooja” to talk for one minute on it? You remember how she went on and on about that word? There was no connection between her statements. She just told facts in which the word “Pooja” was a part of it.

My post ended up like that – I had fragments which resembled paragraphs talking about freedom but I found them very random. Maybe it was a good one. I don’t know. I just left it in drafts and went to sleep.

This morning, as I did my meditation, I realised the path my post can flow through!

I scrapped that whole thing I wrote. Here is something that I can relate to, today…this moment.

For me, freedom has always been associated with a bird. To soar high among the skies represents Freedom. To feel that the wings that hold the power can help me roam the skies is Freedom.

And I yearned for that kind of Freedom in my everyday chores, when I was young. I wanted Freedom from household work as I wanted to read books. I wanted Freedom from cutting vegetables and cooking as I wanted to spend more time with friends. I wanted Freedom from the mundane things that made everyday to a routine, as I wanted to sit on the sands of the beach staring at the waves, the hands feeling the coarse sand, sometimes go to the water and stay there forever as though I can merge myself with the sea.

These were my thoughts whenever I used to think of freedom.

There has been scope to change and the scopes have been used well, for I see a lot of changes in the way I perceive freedom now.

The top most point is I would like is freedom from distractions. There is a wide spectrum of distractions which can choose to disturb whatever I am doing at that time. As I see myself transit from point A – that point in time where I could multitask and was super proud of that ability – to Point B – that point in my life where I would like to do only one task at a time, I wish for freedom from distractions.

When I am cooking, I try to do one dish at a time and enjoy it completely.

When I am sitting in a class, I try to keep my undivided attention there.

When I am watering my plants, I try to stay with my plants, talk to them and enjoy their presence.

When I sit to design my class content, I am absolutely with it, imagining the whole class happening in my mind space.

When I watch Friends (don’t ask me how many times have I watched it) with my daughters, I am present there completely and I find myself laughing aloud for those jokes which I have listened to so many times.

This feels like freedom now. The ability to avoid my distractions (trying hard at it…its no joke) and keep them at bay needs the mental space to do it!

Drawing and creating art helps in building that undivided attention. Meditating and allowing the thoughts to flow through me helps in keeping distractions at bay.

So, there it is. It is out in the open now.

I would like freedom from distractions.

Enable the process

I am generally up around 5am. I like those precious moments that I spend in solitude. Whether I get to sit for 5 minutes or 30 minutes, I just let it happen!

Today I had a thought as I was getting ready to sit for my meditation. It was to try sitting with the fan off. As we enter the summer months, the humidity is quite high here and the sweat is something that flows without any inhibitions. To decide on fan off mode was to actually test (my capacity of reaching that state) what we have learned in our Yogasutra. The Yogasutra cites freedom from opposites as one of the benefits of practicing yoga.

Now, freedom from opposites means that the mind and body are not affected/troubled by the two extremes of a situation – like hot and cold – fasting and feasting – back arches and forward bends – the body is able to adapt with ease to the two extremes. Now, this is an amazing thing to feel and enjoy.

And today morning I sat with myself, fan off, trying to see if my body was able to feel at ease in that situation.

I sat with my eyes closed. The silence of the fan was too loud in my ears. I started to feel so hot. My breath felt hot. I thought early mornings are supposed to be pleasant with a gentle breeze. Hmm…there was no breeze and that thought made me sweat more.

I slowly shifted my attention to my breath. I tried to do Sitkari pranayama to cool my body. I was fighting against that sweat – I didn’t want that drop of sweat to slowly trickle down my spine.

And then I realized something that I keep telling everyone – “go with the flow” 😁

I gently changed my strategy – I was sweating, yes, I let it happen! I ENABLED the process of sweating. I told my body that it was ok to sweat. When I enabled the whole process, I felt much better. There was no fight with the sweat. I continued my focus on my breath and tried hard not to be on sweat!

And slowly and gently, without my knowledge, I stopped sweating. I felt comfortable. My breath had turned cooler and I was enjoying the whole process of sitting without the fan.

This might not be a big deal in everyday life filled with hurdles and challenges. But here is a point where we can start. Instead of fighting what is happening, we can allow it to happen. We can observe how we feel and process the feelings. Then slowly enable the process of how we want the situation to be.

I am sure this is a lot of work and effort but it is worth a try to meander through life!

Awareness

Awareness

The biggest lesson in the past 2 years is that by closing my eyes, I can guide my mind to specific parts of my body and make a connection with my physical body and the organs inside me. This beautiful experience where I become aware of my physical body is a portkey (some strong HP influence 😉 ) to dialogues with my body. I am able to tell my body to show those places of stored up emotions – to request my body to support my physical exertion of walking or workout – to gently guide me and talk to me about what is ailing there – to let go of the resistance to those postures or workouts.

Now, there is this person K who works at a job that demands that she stares at the screen for 8 hours a day – the shoulders bent unnaturally over a keyboard, constant drumming of fingers on the keys – all these happen 5 days a week. Our body has the capability to do all these postures and all of them at the same time also but not continuously for 8 hours with very less time to relax. Here K can think of taking 5-minute breaks every hour or so where she can work on opening / expanding her shoulders to keep her body in a comfortable posture. The point to note here is when we are aware of our body and posture, we take better care of it!

Have you observed the blacksmith trying to hit the heavy hammer on hot iron? As he takes the hammer up, he allows his shoulders to take all the weight and bends his back – arching nicely and then comes down, doing the opposite – letting the shoulders loose, bending forward, and in that force makes the iron take shape as his wish. For every posture you do with your body, we need to do somewhat the opposite or the one that will relieve us from that posture! If your posture is your kriya (action), then the opposite or counter is pratikriya!

A relaxing posture that has helped me a lot is this – after standing long hours in the kitchen, cooking during festivities, I relax my legs and lower back by going to 90 degrees lifting of legs against the wall for 15 to 30 minutes. This is so soothing and helps me to regain my standing posture without any back pain. While my standing posture during cooking is the kriya, lying down with my legs against the wall is my pratikriya.

When we listen to the body, become aware of the body, we hear those simple cues from body parts very clearly to rest and do pratikriya, for every posture we hold!