Friday, 21 December 2012

Imagine you are standing at the edge of a cliff..

Imagine you are standing at the edge of a cliff, tiny villages below you, only misty mountain ranges stretching across the horizon, you are breathing in the crisp fresh air that is unique to the hills. The only sound is the music of the chirping of birds and rustling of leaves.
The clouds have no right to appear so fluffy neither the sky so transparently blue!

The contrast between city life and this is striking and it hits you like a sledgehammer. The dust and soot in the grey air. The constant honking, the restlessness, schedules to be adhered to.. . I have never failed to be startled by it even after all these years of experiencing it.

Meditation is a similar experience - during the higher stages of Meditation, thoughts thin out to near zero. For a beginner it is difficult to silence the Mind and imagine how blissful can the experience of Meditation be.

Therefore, this simulation of how our normal state of Mind is- cluttered, noisy, restless just like a busy day in the city. On the other hand, Meditation is the art of letting go. Letting go of all your emotions, stresses and finally- thoughts! The thoughts thin out just as air thins out as in the mountains. You are alone, united with the Self, undisturbed by any intrusions. The feeling when you get there is sheer bliss.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

While you choose to look the other way..

While you choose to look the other way..

Am concerned about my wife and sister
Is someone eyeing them, someone sinister?

My elderly defenseless mother
Easy picking for a thief to smother

When I see my daughter
Why do I worry when I hear her laughter?

Are even these young toddlers safe?
A depraved mind wouldn’t blink before a rape

And those giggling, pretty girls?
My mind begins to swirl

Woman, oh woman, what has your world come to?
You are being mauled by man who you gave birth to

What’s happening to my country of such rich culture?
When did it fall to these devilish vultures?

Why, oh why, oh why?

In this world where your cosmic justice prevails, oh God
Who am I to question your ways, oh God

How do these demons stalk their hapless prey
Yet, You choose to look the other way

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Take a Break, to Goodness Awake

Take a break
To goodness awake

Shut your thoughts
Those mental knots

Take out an old CD
Play your favourite ditty

Think of a face
A beautiful, smiling face

A green, lush green place
That gives you solace

Go for a long leisurely walk
Watch, hear nature talk

The sweet chirping of the birds
What are their words?

Walk on a beach, oh, the refreshing sea
Feel the waves encircle your feet

Your arms open widespread
Soak in the setting sun red

Now this is life
God given, wonderful life!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I Am..(rambling rhymes by a Bipolar)

I Am…

I see, I think…
I hear, I think…
I touch, I feel…
I Am

I see hurt, I cry
I walk, I falter, I try…
I Am

Something’s funny, I laugh
A melody in the air, my mind sings…
I see a painting, my mind sees…
I Am…

I see beauty, I admire…
Fine things, I desire…
I aspire, I acquire…
I Am

The quietness of the blue sky…
The ruggedness of the mountains…
The turmoil of the furious sea…
I say Wow!
I Am

I watch Sachin bat, I’m in a trance…
Shane Warne bowls, I’m in a trance…
Kishore sings, this is romance…
Madhubala smiles, my mind does a dance,
I Am

How can I love?
Where there’s no warmth
How can I not love?
When I am so full of love
Filling up the dark void with love
I Am

I Love, I Live…
I Live, I Give…
I Am

My body, not so strong..

In my Mind, determined and strong..
Now weak, now strong..
I Am

In yoga, I believe,
In my self-belief, I believe,
In miracles, I believe,
I’m a living miracle, I believe
I Am

In a world, ruled by rules…
Get me out of this cage
Of vertical and horizontal rules..
My world, designed by my mind,
Ever-flowing and vibrant
I Am

I’m down, am running to stand still…
Am Up and about, am racing ahead of Now…
Just wish I were living in the Now…
I Am

On one day, sucked in by the never ending night…
On another, hurtling through the tunnel…
At the end of which, of course, there is light!

I Am

My past, Oh so painful!
My past, I do not want to relive,
I Was..
My future so bright,
As bright as I can believe,
My God! What a glorious life I live!
I Am

There is more to Me than Me,

I Am the sum of all, and more…
I Am

Saturday, 1 December 2012

When My Soul Sings

As I shut my eyes, shut out the noise,
The frantic mind quietens, awakens the inner voice

Feel the warm glow inside me,
Sense Your presence all around me

Doubts have no place,
My faith only strenghthens by Your Grace

You are the Origin, my Creator
You provide the fuel, are my sustainer

I surrender myself, my Ego to You,
I feel myself dissolve into You

All I offer you is my love, oh God,
In Your magnificence I bask, oh God

Is there any greater, purer bliss,
Please let me reside in you, oh Lord, please..

Saturday, 24 November 2012

When a Holiday destination Morphs into a Second Home!

The long winding road clings on to the rugged and lush green slopes, at times headed downwards, at times upwards, but slowly and surely taking you to your lofty destination. Driving up the road, I never fail to feel the elation of my coming back to a place that is so dear to us. The monsoons have just ended: crystal clear waterfalls punctuate the hairpin bends and steep inclines. Some enterprising fellow travellers create mini picnic spots around these waterfalls and even replenish their drinking water stocks. The older generation of vehicles, challenged by the task of hauling people and luggage up the steep slopes, seem to welcome the break with their open hoods fuming. Though the lush green scenery, especially the valley below, is breathtaking, it is not enough to distract me from trying to get to my destination as quickly as I can. The cars coming down the road, with children inside waving with gay abandon, remind me of the sinking feeling when its my turn to drive back.

Year after year, we come to Mahabaleshwar, only to be left pining for more. My friends and colleagues wonder what is so special about it for us to make it our annual holiday destination, almost a pilgrimage of sorts. For starters, the five-hour drive from Mumbai itself is a fascinating one, the open landscape, dotted with tiny villages. However, the joy of actually reaching our beloved holiday destination is incomparable.

While my family is not partial to any type of holiday destination, the Hill station of Mahabaleshwar appeals to us the most. The crisp air is so invigorating! The quiet, the sounds of birds chirping, the sights: the joys are endless. The hotel which we have been loyal to is simple and basic, cut off from hustle bustle of the tourist trappings.

Though we have practically no new place of tourist interest left to visit or discover in Mahabaleshwar, the comfort of familiar sights and sounds is enticing enough. The view from most of the ‘Points’ is simply breathtaking. Lodwick Point remains an all time favourite. Getting to the Point from the Car Park is a good half-hour walk. The pathway is a narrow one and is at most places covered by trees reaching out to each other above you. Many first time visitors, especially the elderly ones, reluctantly turn back midway because though the mind is willing, the body isn’t.

The effort is rewarding. The Point offers you a breath-taking, unrestricted view of the Western Ghats. Mountain ranges stretch in layer after layer till they merge into the horizon. As you look down the sheer cliff, the valley below reveals its secrets: the tiny villages, houses with thatched roofs, neat little fields, a clay coloured bus finding its way on a road which is barely visible.
Being Diwali (almost on all occasions our Vacation has overlapped the Diwali festival) , you see the fireworks going off sporadically in the miniature villages below, with the sound reaching you a bit later! The blue water in the lake is as still as can be. The view on the other side is the road winding down towards Mumbai. The Luxury Buses with their musical horns and cars plying up and down this road appear to be miniature toys. Straight ahead a shepherd expertly and fearlessly walks his way down a steep ridge.

Undaunted by the sheer drop below him, a monkey merrily jumps from one protruding tree root to another. A tiny bird stops its flight midway in front of us, to remain in animated suspension for what seems like eternity.  Lost in the sights, one wishes this moment should last forever. The setting sun casts its own magic: creating shadows and vivid hues in the mountain ranges. It is also a reminder that we have to get back before darkness engulfs us in the heavily wooded area. The chatter of the insects and the sounds of the birds are now louder.

Driving back on roads without streetlights is also quite an experience. It’s a mystery how the locals manage to find their way in the pitch darkness without any lantern whatsoever!Though the sun has set, the evening activity certainly does not have to!Earlier, all of Mahabaleshwar used to land up at Venna Lake in the evenings.Though it still is a popular place for many, the on-going lake capacity enhancement project and road alignment works have cruelly robbed the scenic place much of its charm, hopefully not for long. Apart from the lake, everyone flocks to the marketplace. During the peak Diwali tourist season, the atmosphere there is quite remarkable. At times you have to jostle your way through the teeming crowds. Though some ghastly new hotels in this area do stand out for the wrong reasons, the same old dependable shops with familiar faces behind the counters selling wares ranging from delicious chikki (a savoury of nuts based in jaggery/sugar syrup), masala channa (gram) chocolate fudge to traditional crafts are very reassuring. Festive lighting, traditional lanterns makes it all the more alluring. Small children draw fascinating Rangoli patterns outside their homes and shops. 

One could just go on and on about this haven in the mountains….the freshly plucked strawberries, the local taxies of vintage lineage, the long walks, the palmist trying to palm off your own future to you, the holiday cheer all around you, the cool and crisp air, the fluffy white clouds flirting with the mountains, the mystical mist, the serenity.. we simply can’t get enough of it.

These experiences cleanse and soothe the mind, though the body also obviously benefits from all the physical activity. The stresses and strains of the urban life are in stark contrast to the languid pace of life here. The sight of the red toy bus winding it’s way miles below, makes me say to myself- this is Life!

Now for the sinking feeling. Its time to drive back to Mumbai. From the highs to the lows- figuratively and literally. Mumbai might give me my subsistence, it is Mahabaleshwar, though, which allows me to celebrate my existence.

The long wait until our next visit begins.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

You Talk Money, I Talk Funny!

You talk money,
I talk funny!

You seem sad,
Am always glad

For you, Life is tedium
Hey, isn't Joy the medium?

The guy happier is always your neighbour…
I say, forget thy neighbour!

Ahead is an arduous climb for you
Life's a sporty trek I love to do!

A worried frown you often wear,
Why worry at all, I swear?
You live in the troubles of your past
Nothing's forever, my troubles are n0t gonna last

The skies above you are grey, overcast..
I see the sun breaking out very fast

Under the littlest things you are drowned;
Nah, won't let trivia weigh me down..
You carry your mighty burdens alone,
I walk light-footed on the path God has shown
You can't see the woods for the trees in the way,
Stand back, look at the bigger picture I say.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Have you thought about stopping all thoughts for a while?

I was in my daily session of Meditation. After the intrusive thoughts had been shunted out (with years of practice, this is quite easily done), I sensed that this one was a 'special one'. Despite the Meditation routine being pretty much the same each day, there are days when the experience is akin to being 'in the zone'.

'I was 
led' to an open, grassy patch and in front of me was a wooden crate. With nothing else around and neither a soul, my attention was naturally drawn to it. After a while I was compelled by impulse to check it's contents. The lid of the Crate had been firmly nailed in and opening it was going to be some task. I found a broken piece of a branch which I figured could be used like a chisel to pry the lid open.

It sprung open as if it had been waiting for someone to come along and oblige all this while. On peering inside, I was taken into a whole new world -

an insight into my thoughts, in visual form!
Instinctively I focused on one image at a time which then made way for the next and so on, a colourful carousel..

The first was of our home, the the possessions therein, our cars, I could see the financial statements, the bigger investments, big-ticket life insurance policies until the images ran out and within the crate I could see a smaller box- a green coloured one which was easier to open, being made of flimsy packaging material.

The images which popped out struck an emotional chord right away. My beloved ones were all there- family, closest of friends and colleagues. Most of them still alive, some not.
All the material belongings and aspects having been isolated at the outermost level, the warmth with which I was now connecting them with was an altogether new experience. The connect was intense and passionate.

Having got over the tide of positive emotions I noticed the tiny, misty bluish white box now left in the centre. I was transfixed by it's vibrations and it's ability to hold me entranced. I kept on looking at the box without moving. Without any prompting, a wave of gratitude swept over me. All I 
could now think was of God.

There was no image before me except that of God. His divine light and energy made every cell in my being vibrant.

After a while my thought drifted back to the crate. The small bluish white box was now gone.

I was blinded by a tiny source of light- the description that fits in best is what a brilliant diamond would look like under the focussed beam of a magnifying lens, in bright sunlight.

It took a while before it dawned on me on what I had experienced. Indeed, this one was a 'special one'. I had been blessed with an enlightening experience- a journey that began with the coarse, material world at the outermost level,
then the level of passion through social bonding and finally to my Creator.

The 'brilliant' white light I had seen was my very own Soul- rejoicing at finally being stripped of all the layers which had imprisoned it all this while. Celebrating it's union with it's Creator. Grateful to my mind for shutting down for a while and giving it an opportunity to show it's natural brilliance!

My Soul, blissful soul. Basking in it's natural, God gifted glory, detached from all material thoughts.

And then my Mind yanked me out of this magical reverie.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Do Legends have the luxury of being mere Mortals?

It seems an eon since Sachin Tendulkar, India's Prodigal son has blasted a bowling attack into oblivion. Over a career spanning two decades he has done this with regularity with a few lean patches thrown in between to remind us that he's only mortal.

The typical Indian Cricket fan refuses to consider him human, though:
'Cricket is my Religion,
Sachin is my GOD'

scream the banners across world stadia (his ardent followers turn up in all corners of the world).

'God' is showing alarming signs of age catching up. 

Having begun his Test career at a tender age of 16 years + something against Pakistan (among the most fearsome bowling attacks in cricketing history) way back in 1989 till date, his childlike passion remains the same and is clearly visible to the lovers of the great game.

Whether his ability still matches upto the passion and hunger is another story. All evidence points to a decline in ability.

'Statistics are like Bikinis, what they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital'.

In that respect, for a man who practically owns all batting records, the recent Stats are quite miserable:

In the years 2011 and 2012 he has just one Test ton to show having played 14 Tests during that barren period.

Compare that to 50 Test tons in 176 Tests prior to that-
One ton per 3.3 tests as against the recent drought of one single ton to show in 14 tests. 

Form is temporary, class is permanent as the purists would say (I am one of his ardent fans). 

Statistics apart, his defensive approach against mediocre bowling as compared to his penchant for murdering renowned attacks in his heyday, unsure movement of feet, getting foxed by spinners he would have devoured maybe a few years ago..

Getting bowled in all his three innings against a less than fiery New Zealand recently should make even his die-hard fan sit up.

When another Indian legend, Gavaskar, candidly pointed out the possibility of age catching up with Sachin, the criticism wasn't well taken by many others.

People rose to his defence in a knee jerk reaction:
'This phase is temporary, he's been there before'.
Much as I would like to believe this, one would do well to keep in mind that sport spares none, especially competitive Team sport.

Javed Miandad, the Pak legend, among many others, rose to Sachin's defence:
'Others like Gambhir, Sehwag also failed in the NZ series, so why pick on Sachin?'

That's precisely the point: Legends like Viv Richards, Lara and Sachin have risen above the game: more often than not they have contributed to their Team when others have failed.

That is cost of carrying the legend tag: expectations run high, you are not comparable with others, you have to constantly outperform not only the Opponents but also your own Team members: this is cost the legend has to pay for retaining the Halo.

It was a sad day for world cricket, I recall, when Viv Richards (possibly the best player of his era) was dropped from the West Indies team- what an ignominious departure for the man with the swagger.

We revere Sachin especially for his Match-Winning, never say die, buccaneering brand of Batting.

No doubt, he has had to adjust his style and stroke play after injuries. There are other attacking batsman like Sehwag who have filled in his attacking role.

Rahul Dravid heard the warning bell after just one dismal tour of Australia and gracefully called it a day (although he had a great series away in England earlier).

Sachin has been abysmal against England, the Aussies and now New Zealand.

He already has the coveted, history creating 100th 100 and hardly has anything left to prove.

Dread to see him facing the fate of the great Viv Richards.

Friday, 7 September 2012

A Suitcase that changed my Life!

I had taken the usual path for my morning walk. On the way I saw the park which I came across daily but had never visited. For a change I decided to venture in.

Although it was open to visitors, because of the early hour I could see no one there. It was a pleasant early morning and I decided to spend some time relaxing in there. The bench was difficult to resist and made me say to myself, I could sneak in a small break and then resume my walk.

The bench was cold due to the morning dew and that prompted me to remove my sneakers: Aah! The feel of the cool wet grass under my feet!

Shut my eyes for a moment and tried to enjoy the quietness around me. The only sounds were the chirping of birds which were music to my ears.

There was still something bothering me and I could not relax completely. On opening my eyes, I saw an old man sitting in front on the opposite side of the park.
He seemed to be enjoying the moment much more than me and smiled at me.

‘It is your first time in this park’ he said. I nodded back.

‘You have something on your mind that’s bothering you’ he said ‘Let me see if I could be of help. Look to your right, do you see the Red suitcase?’

Before looking anywhere, I asked myself whether it was worthwhile going through this at all? Wasn't this old man being intrusive? I did not have much faith in mystics either.

All the same, I could not but look towards my right. Hang on! Had I seen this bright Red suitcase when I walked in? I certainly could not have overlooked it…

‘Don’t trouble your already troubled mind. This really works, look, it will do you no harm. Just think of the three things which are troubling you the most right now. They have been at the back of your mind for a while..Think of them’

I decided, let’s try this out: of course it can’t work- at least I can prove him wrong.

Hesitantly, I ruminated on my top worries and anxieties. Not difficult at all, easy to identify them:
Uncertainty about the future, health concerns and lack of zest.

‘Now look at the suitcase with concentration, and think of these troubling thoughts.’
The Bright red suitcase suddenly popped open- just like that!
It was magical! As I began identifying each of those negative thoughts a man who appeared out of nowhere, would come to me and slide his hand right into my brain! He would rummage inside and pull out a sheaf of dull rusty brown material and dump it into the bright Red suitcase. It was confounding to watch someone having control over me, with me being rooted to the bench.

One worry gone and he would repeat the process for the next. I noticed the moment he began working mechanically on the next set, I’d already forgotten my previous worry!

At the end of it all, the bright Red suitcase was crammed full. He came back to me and offered his hand. Mesmerised by now, I followed him. He picked up the Suitcase and led us to the far side of the park. I could hear the pleasant sound of…of a stream flowing? It turned out to be a stream ending in what looked like a waterfall. Strange! Never heard of one in this area!

The man took us to edge of the stream and threw the suitcase into the gurgling waters. It disrupted the flowing water with a big splash. I could see the bright Red of the suitcase bobbing in and out amid the froth of the stream as it was rapidly carried further away from us. As I watched it going further away it was getting difficult to spot it, despite the bright red colour. The now tiny dot was there for one moment and gone down the gushing waterfall the next..

Amid all this unnerving action, It dawned on me that I was feeling like a new man! I could not even remember what my worries were! I found myself sitting on the bench again.

The old man said with a glint in his eyes, ‘Now look to your left. Do you see another Suitcase?’

This one was a fluorescent Bright Green Suitcase.

‘Open that’ he said to me, ‘This, young man, is my Gift to you.’

Enraptured, I did exactly as I had been told to. It was an indescribable moment!

On opening it I could see an image of my mind it! Cleared of all the negative dull grey thoughts and worries, the bright Green of positivity was shining through! My Brain appeared to be a network of brilliant green strands, dazzling to look at!

Everything that I could ask for was there in abundance:
Creativity, Passion, Enthusiasm, Genius, you name it and it was there!

I gratefully picked up the bright Green suitcase and turned around to thank the old man who I had thoughtlessly mocked,.

He was nowhere around. I checked to see if my prized possession was safe: the bright Green suitcase, was gone, too! In fact, the early dawn hour had given way to gentle sunlight, and there were many people in the Park.

‘Are you alright’ a small boy asked me sensing I was looking lost.

I sighed, ran my hand through his hair and assured him I was fine. Come to think of it, I had never felt better in my life!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

It's in her Genes! Diti's Art Works

As I had mentioned earlier, have been guiding, rather than teaching, Diti my 7 year Daughter how to Draw and Colour.

She has a strong sense of Colour and form, has a vivid imagination (takes on her proud father!).

Here's the result of her last two sittings.

She thought of adding the Words in the drawing below: 

Friday, 24 August 2012

'You Don't Win Silver, You Fail to Win Gold' -How Realistic is this Approach?

This was the famous Tagline of Nike which I admired years ago.

Is this a realistic approach to Success, Winning or Life itself?

Individual Sports at the Highest level does demand a high level of Mental Toughness, Psyching up before any major Event, Visualisation techniques and Self affirmations to achieve the Pinnacle of achievement one seeks.

Michael Phelps, who created History at the London Olympics by taking his career haul of Oly Golds to 20 is an example. He has often shared his gruelling Mental preparedness methods for such Events.

However, Life is a different ball game altogether. Even within the realm of Sports, Team Sports is an example.
For the best part of the late 1990's to 2007 Sachin Tendulkar was the undisputed Champion Batsman of the Cricketing World. However in that Era the Indian team rarely came up with stunning results because of lack of quality support from his team mates. Our weak bowling attack was an obvious hindrance, besides until the flourishing of the Dravids and Laxmans on the batting front, he was a often a lone warrior in difficult batting conditions overseas.

As the legendary Imran Khan says, it is Bowlers who win Matches, not batsmen, especially in Test Matches (the real stuff). Critics even made unfair digs at Sachin 'He's not a Match Winner'. As an avid follower of the game I know this to be ludicrous! Another fan of Sachin, the all time great Sir Viv Richards rubbishes such claims:
'Cricket is a Team game played by 11 players. What are the other players in the team for?'

He happened to represent arguably the best side in history (the Windies of the 70's and 80's). The dictum of his team then was if the batsmen did not put runs on board, the bowlers stepped in: a relentless juggernaut of ELEVEN World Champion players!

So how can an Individual player's performance decide outcomes games after games? I picked Sachin as example because a man who is considered the best ever to played the game has been part of a less than great side for a major part of his career.

Outside Sport, let's look at something radically different:
Let's say, a Farmer.
Now, how on Earth can he set himself a Goal that he's going to reap a record harvest this season. In India, for example, he would be at the mercy of many elements: the Monsoons primarily: droughts at times or inundation by floods at other.

The point is, except for certain controlled environments, results of most activities such as Business, Profession or the Arts are dependent on so many uncontrollable variables.
If that is the case how can be the result be anything but Variable?

I'm not a pessimist or a fatalist at all, just pragmatic.
A more realistic approach to Life, Success, Goals is to definitely aim high but with a modification in expectations:

If your Satisfaction or Joy hinges only on results, in my opinion it is a recipe for disaster.

Haven't we seen enough of the aftermath otherwise? Lifestyle illnesses, premature Deaths, Mental disorders, Relationship breakdowns, to name a few...The pressure on Students in India to do well in their Exams (Parental as well as self-imposed) has often had tragic consequences: Suicides are commonplace.

Enjoying the Process, Strong belief in your abilities, excelling because you enjoy it..that's the Path to a Stress-Free Life.
Coming back to my favourite Sport, Cricket, which by the way has many lessons for Life, I quote another Legend, my Icon, Aussie Steve Waugh.

He was responding to the barrage of questions at the Press Conference after England stunned his Team in a historic Ashes Series win. No doubt it had hurt his pride no end, because as subsequent results showed, it signalled an end of an era of record dominance of World Cricket.

I can almost visualise him chewing gum while replying nonchalantly,

'Nobody died, this wasn't war'

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Be Gentle on Yourself..Appreciate before being too Critical.

I say this to myself ever so often, to give myself a proper perspective..

I could possibly have done better,
but am quite happy that I have come so far..

I covet, seek all these glitzy new Gadgets,
Come on, the ones I already have are great too...

My friends have purchased bigger, sleeker Cars,
Ain't I fortunate that I own one when many of my countrymen can't afford even a humble bicycle?

And of course, the swanky new apartments and farmhouses do lure me,
Our own House in pricey Mumbai is something to covet, where buying a pigeon hole called Home is a taller order than finding an Eskimo in the Sahara.
Surely I would have gladly accepted this place with glee in my struggling days!!!

Having bought a new Tablet phone, my poor old Nokia Smartphone cries out loud to be upgraded,
Remember my laundryman who keeps asking me for any working phone he could use?

Keep cribbing about the rising Medical care costs, my word!
Wonder how's our House-help coping with her illnesses-
Her being down with Malaria and Typhoid at the same time make my cribbing appear superfluous..

By the way she's the only bread-winner of her family too.

The exotic Vacation brochures make my savings appear puny,
Hey wait, haven't I been on a Vacation, each year for 25 years too? (at times, three vacations in a year!)
Know of many who can't spare time or can't afford to even think of one in their lifetimes, forget each year..

If only I had made that RIGHT Investment call, the RIGHT career move, would have been Richer today by far..
Hang on, did many RIGHT things to get this far too, yes I did.

Many of my relatives, friends and neighbours possess all of these 'sought after' material stuff that I would, admittedly, love to lay my hands on..
Not a case of 'grapes are sour', the endless pursuit of material goals comes at a cost:

Stress, burn-outs, failed relationships and health breakdowns.

I remind myself I've been blessed with possibly more than my efforts justify.
No, I would never trade my peace of mind, my NOT being in the rat-race, quality fun-times with family and solitude for anything else!

What I do have today, though, gives me all the Happiness I could ask for.
Fairly good health, reassuring financial security, contentment, a good reputation, friends, a super family all the material trappings necessary for a comfortable (if not luxurious) life..Love my work, too.
What more could I ask for?

Oh, yeah, I forgot to add I also have what few others have, am letting you onto a secret!

My Faith in Him, my connect with Him makes everything else appear superficial..

Each day, while Meditating, in a virtual cockpit, 

am a Frequent Flyer to God's abode.

Have met my Inner Self, have found true Bliss, I know Who I Am and my True Purpose in Life.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Fear is the Key...or is it the Lock?

It has been an eventful decade for me: The Bi-Polar decade..

Am continuing to elaborate on my previous Blogpost: At the crossroads of life 
because a number of readers had shown deep interest in knowing more about Bi-Polar.

I need to clarify here that this is NOT an attempt to attract sympathy..Just felt that I have to share my experience, especially my way of dealing with it.

Its been a decade since it has been diagnosed: typically, the condition is present for years in the afflicted person before the dreaded Diagnosis.

For example, in my case, my family Physician had mistaken it for a bout of Depression triggered by a certain event rather than a more serious underlying condition.

His line of treatment (he prescribed me Uppers, not that I blame him) which in fact triggered my first REALLY high phase.

The climb from the pit was tortuous. The total lack of self confidence, the despondency, anxiety, difficulty to think clearly,lack of drive, physical and mental tiredness, the side-effects of the Potent drugs:

Dark days..for years together.

What's killing about Bi-polar is the uncertainty: if for a couple of months I felt radiant, back to my best, that joy would be short-lived. The symptoms, intensity and Moods vary across Individuals. I my case I have been in a Low phase (Depressed) overall. The Highs have been few, tempered by the Mood Stabilisers.

I have had the benefit of being under the treatment of a fantastic Psychiatrist, who is as good as they come. His patience, Professionalism and Hawk eyed vigilance have spotted out seemingly harmless Mood-Swings. Medically, the hurdle has been my body's intolerance to the most proven Mood-Stabilisers: Lithium and Valproate caused severe side effects. The second line of Medication has been prescribed in combination, which causes Sleep disturbances.

Initially, for quite a few weeks after every change in therapy, I slept for 4 to 5 hours during daytime each day,in addition to my regular Night's sleep.

Obviously, efficiency and motivation went for a toss at such times. That's when the maximum effort is required to come out from the morass. As my Doc himself says, Medication can only keep the condition under control. At the end of the day its the effort put in and Self-Discipline of the Patient that counts.

For example, I have read a lot of self-help books, attended Seminars to untwist myself.

Recommend a few:

Dr.David Burns' FEELING GOOD ( a Bible for Depressives),
this Book is one of the pioneers in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - a method that analyses thinking patterns and correcting them. Invaluable help!

THE SECRET: The Video, the Book made me realise the circumstances I was in were a creation of my very own thought processes, that I could turn it all around the moment I chose to.

THE MIRACLE MAN: is just a Chapter in The Secret narrating Maurice Goodman's unbelievable recovery from near death due to his Mental strength and Positive Visualisation abilities ( I said to myself: If he can, I CAN too!)

(Must mention here that both the Secret and a Docu-film on Maurice Goodman were given to me by a dear friend, Mentor and Colleague: 

Jigish Bhat. He himself has been a source of strength and encouragement during the blackest days..)

The Bhagvad Gita:
'In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagvad Gita, in comparision with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial'-
Henry David Thoreau

The Gita not only gave me a spiritual grounding, I found the answer to my relationship with God and my life purpose.
People talk loosely about Spirituality:
'I'm a Spiritual person': without a deep understanding of your inner-self, the universe and God as well as the inter relation between these, it's a hollow statement.

The self discipline part involves many aspects:
-Trust in your Doctor, sticking to Medicinal regimen, no matter how bothersome it is.
-Being Physically active and fit (direct link: Exercise releases Serontonin which in turn alleviates Depression)
-Meditation: The calming effect of Meditation is difficult to describe to someone who has not experienced it: Sheer Bliss!
-Yoga- has certainly helped me
-Social Interaction
-Interpersonal Relationships, Family Bonding play a crucial role, too.
I have the good fortune having  a Fantastic family that has stood by me through thick and thin (Mind you, I've had to make a lot of adjustments personally, too).

Above all an individual's Attitude to the Illness, the debility and resultant Emotional havoc it wreaks is a Key factor in the recovery process:

I realised that the uncertainty regarding my future state of mind was doing me as much damage as the illness itself!

The bigger picture gradually begin to become clearer:
If I had withstood and overcome the horrors of the darkest days and come out shining each time in the past, what was I afraid about?

Unlock the door to positivity, hope and faith.

Then, throw the Key away..

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # Part III

A friend of mine recently wrote to me on Facebook as to what was my next career move: he happens to follow this Blog. I'd promised him I would be posting about it soon.

It was the summer of 2003, the month of May, to be precise.

One fine day I had the carpet literally pulled from under my feet..

It must have all begun years ago but culminated on that day. My sister had been noticing and pointing out to my abrupt change in behaviour: irrationality, incoherence and excessive irritability. Problem was, neither was I nor anyone else in a mood to listen to her.

This went on for a while until one day she got the support of one of our friends from the Housing complex. Of course, he thought all I needed was a consultation with a Psychologist who would calm down my nerves.

With a lot of cajoling I agreed to meet the Doctor. We were joined on the visit by my concerned uncle and cousin sister. They too were alarmed by my incessant talking without making any sense. I must have talked non-stop during the journey and while in the waiting area at the Doctor's.

I had a heightened sense of predicting things: I clearly remember a lady asking for some help with her Mobile phone and me cutting off my guidance to her midway: 'It is 1 pm, I'll be called in, I told her.' Guess what, the buzzer rang at that precise moment!

After listening to my rambling for a minute, the lady Psychologist said to my sister, 'look, he needs to be taken to a Psychiatrist right away'. That's precisely what my wise sister had been concerned about all this while.

She resourcefully located the telephone number of a well known Psychiatrist in the Suburbs and fixed up an urgent appointment. My rambling which was getting even more out of hand, continued at his clinic. It stopped only when I collapsed and slumped on the Doc's desk.

One assessment is all he required to diagnose the problem:
Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder). 

Immediate Hospitalisation was necessary.

By now, my Uncle, just recovering from a Heart surgery was exhausted (the stress hadn't helped one bit) and my Sister excused them all and took charge alone. She had a harrowing time admitting me to Hospital because I was extremely irritable and impatient.

On the first visit my Doctor asked her what medication was I onto. She showed him my Medicine box which contained besides my Asthma inhalers and a Strip of tablets.

He furiously discarded that strip saying it was the cause of me tripping into a stage of Mania: it was an Anti-Depressant (Upper) prescribed by my physician. After great cajoling I was allowed a regular room (not in the Psychiatric Ward). This was on the reassurance of my sister that I'd never harmed anyone and that she would be constantly be my side.

The Dark Era began. The week at Hospital was one of those experiences. I wonder how my Sister managed to pull it off so magnificently under all the pressure. Remember, she had to attend to our Business work and calls at the same time. My unreasonable attitude didn't help matters. The Nurses there approached me hesitantly. Was I imagining them talking about me?

The fears started creeping in. I swapped my Patient's bed with her Visitor's smaller one: Why? I had the gnawing fear I was falling off it!!

As regained my senses a bit after a few days it started hitting me more. WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME!

The immediate concern was the Business where my credibility was at stake. My future appeared hazy. All those business loans, commitments.. Under the Doc's orders all the cheques were to be signed by Sis (I wasn't allowed to).

Post discharge, matters did not improve much. My state at that time: Restless, anxious and very irritable: noticeably so.

The visits to the Doctor were disappointing: The dreaded verdict: Bipolar is an incurable condition which might need indefinite treatment. Always having been a person comfortable with being in control, this didn't sound good at all.

History shows, many creative geniuses and celebrities have been afflicted by this dreaded condition, many having lived tormented lives.. Some have harmed themselves, others ended their lives..

It has been a troubled journey of a decade since then, getting brighter and brighter.

It wasn't hunky-dory all through. The unpredictable (at times extreme) Mood Swings, Lack of enthusiasm and energy at most times, Drug induced daytime sleepiness, utter lack of motivation can tear anyone apart.

Whenever I was feeling better I beamed and told my Doc, I'd resolved that I'd never slip into that morass again. Doc used to (rightly, from the Medical point of view) pour cold water over my determination: 'You can never be sure'.

One hears of seeing the Light at the end of the Tunnel,

At least one makes headway in a tunnel..
My condition was more akin to being in a dark well on a moonless night, with the day being a dull overcast one..
The hopelessness makes recovery difficult.

My career was affected quite a lot. I had sought clarity from my Doc whether my profession would be affected (especially from my Clients' perspective). For once I was assured that this was condition was at an emotional level and my logical thinking ability would be as fine as ever.
So how did I turn things around? I have always been following the regimen prescribed: Meditation, Yoga, Exercise and Medication with fluctuating success.

The turning point came on my reading the Bhagvad Geeta. The philosophical look at the suffering a human being goes through in life, the reasons behind them and above all the answers to Who am I, my connect with God.

My regularly reading it brought in a sense of peace and ups in downs were easier for me to handle. It's come to a stage where I can take in the biggest challenge with equanimity.

The Spiritual grounding has been my biggest friend, besides my supportive family and friends of course. The single BIGGEST Factor has been a change in my attitude: If I have ably faced these traumatic events and come out shining so often, why worry about the future? I say to God, you tested my mettle to make me stronger, I'm prepared for everything you throw on my path.

The biggest sign came a month ago. I was to visit my Doc and tried to locate his file. To my consternation after searching every nook and corner of the house I couldn't locate it. It was the only record I had of the illness beginning with the Hospitalisation. Since I'm quite methodical, I was flustered for a while.

I thought about it for a while and said to myself, its maybe time to bid Bipolar goodbye..

Friday, 20 July 2012

How Important are Experiences in determining the course of our Lives?

Past Experiences, especially traumatic ones leave an indelible mark on one's psyche.

There are, however, innumerable instances of Brave souls who have fought back after suffering huge Setbacks, both Physical and Mental. Not only have they survived, they have gone out of the way to be shining examples and inspire other stricken souls.

Helen Keller is as fine an example as any.

Therefore, the glaring fact is that two persons, each with different Mindsets and Attitudes would respond differently to the same set of Stimuli, Circumstances and Calamities.

One might find the burden too tough to handle and buckle under the sheer weight of it, the other treat it as a Challenge and in fact come out Stronger and Wiser.

Which set do YOU belong to?

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