Category Archives: the mind

a certain uncertainty

After crossing the Atlantic on a 10-hour flight and zig-zagging down winding roads on a 2 hour drive, I forgave myself surprisingly quickly for not having a strong desire to catch up on work emails. The key to flying east is to force yourself to stay awake until the sun sets, otherwise you’ll live like an owl for the rest of the week. Anything in a seated, comfortable, or warm position would be a murder of today with intent, a combination of mens rea – a guilty mind, and actus reus – a guilty act. Jet lag hates fresh air, daylight, exercise, and a strong will. I fought against myself, stood firm, and said, “don’t argue with me, you smart-ass!”

And so, with my hesitant will, I picked up my headphones and changed into my flat shoes. “Let me roam aimlessly outside the hotel,” I said! While listening to the podcast ‘The Overwhelmed Brain,’ I started walking amidst all this fresh oxygen. I became aware of how raw and pure the air feels – it won’t be too bad if I practice what my yoga teacher keeps yelling about – inhale & exhale. I shifted my senses, paused my brain, and activated my vision. I observed the little flowers on the grass and random thoughts invaded my mind. If I start walking on the grass, would I be crushing these little flowers? But if I don’t, how do I get from here to there? Am I being selfish at this very moment? But what about all the little organisms we inhale just by breathing? What about the ants we crush when we walk and the mosquitos we murder?  

Amidst all these thoughts and while trying to focus on the podcast, I experienced an itch to make a U-turn and go back to the hotel; move towards a seated, comfortable, and warm position. I observed and accepted the existence of this itch but it tirelessly returned with an increasing strength every 5 mins. I told myself to keep going, not knowing what lay ahead of me. 

In the back of the hotel by the pool there were a bunch of stairs, but when I looked up to see where it led, I couldn’t see. It reminded me of those moments in our life when we don’t know the end result; we know we are moving, but don’t know where. There is a fear of the unknown, and a certain uncertainty. Within microseconds, my mind filled up with negativity – what if there’s nothing there? What if it’s a waste of my time and effort? Why sacrifice my precious calories? Why leave the comfort of where I am where I can see everything? But I kept going. 

At the top, this is what I found.

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152 arm pits

The 2016 Yoga expo at the LA convention center was a great example of a well balanced supply & chain. Try fitting at least 76 yoga mats into a 1000 sq. ft. room. I am referring to 152 arm pits – bonding at its very best!

They asked us to bring our yoga mats but I should have prepared more. Thanks to my friend Maria who handed me the black suede lens cleaner by Mark Jacobs, a perfect lining to block away reality. Complete silence. Total darkness. The very first sound of gong filled up the room like a train approaching, showing off the Doppler effect. The mind left the mundane thoughts and got busy focusing on different frequencies, the entrance, and exit points for each gong.

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As soon as the surrounding sounds became the new default, I was able to focus on my vision. it was darkness everywhere. With eyes closed shut, my inner eyes were completely open staring into the darkness. While I was trying to concentrate at my third eye, my eyelids felt heavy and gave into gravity. I closed the eyelids within the eyelids, however there was another set of eyes that gazed into the unknown. Every set I closed, I melted a bit more, I slipped a bit more. All of a sudden, it felt like the movie Inception, entering into layers of extraction, each layer deeper and each layer slower.

Eventually, the teacher got tired, all healing sounds came to an end, and human chattering replaced the train.

ultimate cardio

10 mins elliptical, 10 mins swimming, 10 mins sauna. Just 10 mins at a time to conquer what I must conquer.

I will burn the restless calories and increase my heart rate. I must arrive at my fat burning zone; fat – something that body stores for desperate times, times that never make it in time, an illusion perhaps.

With every stroke, I will speed up and let the water chase me. Under the water, I will detoxify so when I pull out, I am lighter.

I will inhale the clever signs and I will exhale the helpless desires. I will let each pore open the door. I will let each breath let go a little more.

3 year olds

I hope I can shift even a step closer to how the mind of a 3 year old works.

Spending a few days with little children brought me a smile. Watching a child is like watching a movie that makes you travel back to the prehistoric age – an age of no triple meanings, no beating about the bush, and no complications. Okay, with a few exceptions of how to hunt, cook a meal, or get from A to B! 😉

I watched my little niece and my little nephew cry when they wanted milk. Both of them giggled when I tickled them, and got angry when mommy went away. And it took them seconds to move from any one state to the other, there were no grudges carried over. It was as simple as that – the life of a minimalist, the life of a simpleton.

The troubles of the world, inner or outer, didn’t worry them. The religions, political inclinations, and borders didn’t keep them awake at night or yelling with their throats. Minimal requirements with maximum output.

median, average, or standard deviation

I smile when I see Tom & Jerry but can’t hide away my frown when someone denies me dark chocolate & raspberry truffle; I cry once a month but my own sense of humor usually cracks me up; I fear the unknown and at the same time, the unknown gets me excited; In one moment, I’m ready to take Karma into my own hands, and the very next moment, I see the advantage of the original problem. We each go through a multitude of moods & states of mind but we always find our way back to normalcy, back to the roots – a perfect analogy would be traveling to different countries and coming back home each time – lying down on your bed, driving your own car, and cleaning your own filth. The roots are what define us with little distractions every now & then.

Although, I do wonder what my roots are… what exactly defines me. Is it what I think of myself or is it dependent on others’ perceptions? If I survey 16 people about me, should I take a median, average, or perhaps a standard deviation?

Have you observed that every mirror in the world is different? Some make you look tiny, and some act like a camera – adding 10 pounds each time you look! There are 4 restrooms at my work and my confidence level could shift to 4 varying levels in a single day. Every mirror is different but what remains fixed is my weight, those stubborn inches, and how my jeans fit. Even the specific location for the camera pre-determines the result of a selfie – it’s after all, an exact science!

In the same manner, what others think of you is sometimes a reflection, a result of their roots. The water is colorless but the depth of the ocean, the purity level, and the ocean bed gives it its multiple shades of blue.

By the way, from all the bathrooms, my favorite is the one upstairs – it’s got dim yellow lighting… hides away everything – freckles, wrinkled clothes, extra tires, everything! •wink•

don’t hate, meditate

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I truly wish that somehow & magically, this picture travels far & reaches at least a few people who are more focused on destruction than creation! I’m just a girl hoping for a more peaceful world. We are all one and nothing without the other so let’s stop hating. Let’s live in a world with plenty of food, water, trees, and oil for everyone. We no longer have Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King. It has to be you & it has to be me. We don’t have to go on a strike or take weapons into our own hands – if we can just spread smiles, laughter, equanimity, and the overall concept of ‘all being one and nothing without the other,’ that’d be a great start, don’t you think?

something handwritten

There are some who shy away, and some who want it hidden, but I throw a party each year when it’s time to grow another year older. It’s a golden opportunity to bring together everyone who adores you and everyone who you adore. It’s a chance to eat obnoxious amount of cake, and a free pass to bottles of Prosecco. And, if you are a little greedy as I am, you can even demand gifts!

I love everything about birthdays but my personal favorite is to run to the mailbox a week in advance and each day before the day in hopes of finding a familiar handwriting. If and when I find one, it brings a huge smile on my face along with a little girl’s excitement. These cards are precious and believe it or not, I still have birthday cards from more than 15 years ago.

But, with each birthday, the cards are diminishing, the wishes are wi-if style & no one even truly remembers. We have entered a slightly different time where we prefer a poke, message, FaceTime, whatsapp, or even sext. And when feeling groovy, we even pay someone to handwrite a message for the birthday boy/girl. Crazy!

Well, in this cold & distant time, we need the warmth. We need the care, the touch, and those smiles. So I have decided – I am going to fix this.

p.s. The latest card I received was a Happy New Year card all the way from Sydney. Thanks to Rupali Bhabhi & Guddu Bhaiya! It was a card that carried your smile & your warmth across the ocean.

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live in the moment

pancakes venn

Let flour = past; egg = present; milk = future.

We are always making pancakes. At any given moment, we are either regretting the past or worrying about the future and in either case, our present becomes the victim. In scenario pasta, we let our past affect our present – we over analyze after the fact, we go through a realization phase, and we burden ourselves with regrets. In scenario omelette, we ruin our present worrying about the future – we surround ourselves with the 3 devils: paranoia, restlessness, and insecurity. We waste hours wondering, almost inviting our next attack. My favorite scenario is scenario batter where we pull ourselves out of the equation, grab some popcorn, and watch what becomes of our future as an audience.

What’s done is done and nothing can be done about it. We also have no visibility into what’s arriving – so why waste time reliving the past and fearing the unknown? Imagine mixing flour, egg, and milk together and then trying to segregate the ingredients in their original raw form. It is not only difficult, it is impossible. This mumbo-jumbo of past, present and future makes us crazy. No wonder we are exhausted, constipated, and REM-sleep deprived.

Remove the unnecessary, clear out your day, and gift yourself an extra time slot – go challenge your flexibility, try out the latest flavor at Yogurtland, or chase some waves. Forgive someone on your black list and stand on the weighing scale – you will be lighter. Wipe your mind clear of expectations before approaching a kiss. Close your eyes, inhale deeply, and let your taste buds enjoy the very first bite of a fresh fruit tart even if you have to run an extra 400 meters tomorrow. Give every feeling, every emotion, and every sensation a complete chance to make an impression. Experience each of the five senses in its purest form. Let the moment indulge you. Let the feeling overwhelm you.

Remember, space is limited. You’ve got to squeeze out the past and the future so you can squeeze in the present.

struggles of a mighty spider

I apparently have a roommate – a spider. For the last three times in the shower, I am practically sharing my space. Having received no cashier’s check for rent, my very first instinct was to attack it with a splash of water, just enough to instill some fear and influence its direction outwards. That has not been a major success.

But in my failure, here’s what I have seen – never for even one second has it stopped climbing. The wall is high, slippery and the end blurry but that hasn’t slowed down any momentum. It must be tiring to climb 13 steps only to fall again and again and again. The spider stays stubborn and determined with no signs of losing any hope. There is no gold, no salary, no gift, and no appreciation waiting on the other side. The independent effort is purely for what the spider believes is freedom, or perhaps just the other side of the wall.

It hasn’t eaten in days and there’s no Gatorade in sight. What does a spider eat anyway; I can’t even see its mouth? Never contemplated on that before! Google says the following and I’ll believe it:

All spiders are carnivorous. Most spiders eat insects but a few of the larger species are big enough to prey on small vertebrate animals like mice or small birds. Most spiders’ jaws work from side to side. They have toothed edges used in breaking up the prey during feeding.”

Back to my story – It hasn’t eaten in days and there’s no Gatorade in sight. With no investment in Zoloft and no dependency on whiskey, the spider keeps climbing. I don’t even hear any heart-clenching songs or ‘Bridget Jones’ on TV while eating a pint. It’s been 2 days but the spider remains focused with 100 percent dedication because the only way out is to keep trying.

So much to learn from the struggles of my freeloader roommate – a mighty spider.

The only way out is to keep trying.” – Roohism

unaesthetic architecture

As soon as there is a little crack on the plate or a small tear in a cloth, we are ready to take a trip to Good Will. A little to our disliking and our minds have been trained to keep the receipts in a safe & secure environment. Let me put it this way – how many glasses do you own? Glasses specifically for water, wine, margarita, beer, and whiskey? Champagne without a flute? Maybe not, those flutes might be hidden in the back. Now don’t forget cups for tea and/or coffee. If you trust me or even if you are just wondering, please go and count the total number you own. And yes, make sure to count those shot glasses as well! In true sense of the reality and for ones who do like to wash the dishes right away, what we really need is a couple glasses, may be a couple more for the upcoming dinner party. At the end of the day & your esophagus, does it really matter what you pour where? A couple glasses is how most of ancient civilizations lived and many current ones still do.

Saime, a young Turkish lady, hosted us for a week in her humble house – a little house that had the bare minimum, and in other words, just enough. No two spoons were alike and there was a sample of glasses, each carrying its own shape & size. The unaesthetic architecture of her house with all required functionality and her shyly spoken “oh, it works” words has made me rethink what we really need vs. what we are now used to. Instead of the shower curtain rod, there was a thin rope knotted at both ends. In fact, one more knot and the height of the curtain was adjustable. You can’t do that with a fancy Home Depot cut-to-the-exact-mm rod. I’m just saying, it’s not that I’ll invest in a rope as soon as I get back. I’m just saying. For 2 days there was no wi-fi and for an afternoon, no water. But her smile never faded for there are more important things in our life than to forever be connected. We gave her a warm hug and invited her to California and Delhi, whichever direction she chooses first.

Now go and count the number of glasses.