What is Success?

Success is measured across various cultures and nationalities with different matrices. Owning a business and sailing in the yacht over the weekend? Getting married and raising a family? staying young & healthy? However, we have few parameters which is universally accepted…

We all know the good life means more than money…but none of us is exactly sure what those other things are or how to get them…We all know love and friends and other stuff are important too…but they’re a heck of a lot more complicated and we can’t just have them delivered to our house by Amazon Prime. Evaluating life by one metric turns out to be a key problem. We can’t use just one yardstick to measure a successful life. I recently read “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” by Eric Barker (No Pun Intended, thats his real surname). Eric’s take on success is very refreshing. Barking Up The Wrong Tree is not black and white, considers the latest research, weighs pros and cons, and then arrives at the golden middle. He’s dedicated to helping you do your best, not push his own definition of success, and you can feel that in his writing. Barking Up The Wrong Tree turns standard success advice on its head by looking at both sides of many common arguments, like confidence, extroversion, or being nice, concluding it’s really other factors that decide if we win, and we control more of them than we think.

People tend to think that those who “make it” in life are the smartest and most talented. But the truth is that success is determined by characteristics that are much more within your control, like hard work, motivation and confidence. Because of this, anyone who wants to can enjoy tremendous success.

So the big question now is, If money isn’t the only measurement of success, what else should we be measuring?

  • Achievement
  • Influence
  • Importance
  • Happiness

Achievement

To feel like you’re winning you need to consistently accomplish meaningful goals. Start by setting and hitting small but meaningful goals each day. Something which leads to a bigger goals. Something which, when you look back at your life when you are 90, gives you a sense of fulfilment.

Influence

To feel like you’re influencing others in a positive way you need to pass on your values and help others find success. If you’re a parent, you might generate a feeling of influence by taking the time to teach and instil your values in your children, who go on to pass their values on to their children.

Importance

To feel like you’re needed you need to be there for the people that matter most to you. You want to find a way to be valuable to the people around you so that you will be missed when you’re gone.

Happiness

To feel like you’re enjoying life you need to find a way to enjoy the day‐to‐day experience of life and be grateful for what you have. Make a habit of stopping during the day and appreciating one small thing that’s going well. Be playful and listen to music during the day to experience happiness without the needing to attain specific results.

“What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to success? One word: alignment. Success is not the result of any single quality; it’s about alignment between who you are and where you choose to be. The right skill in the right role. A good person surrounded by other good people.” – Eric Barker

Building a Positive Mindset

Off-late many of you guys are asking how to over come the negative emotions. This topic is more relevant in the current challenging circumstance. So today I want to touch upon the topic of ” How to Develop Positive Mindset”. There is nothing new I am sharing with you here, but a culmination of what ever I have learned, applied in my life, tested and now sharing for the benefit of everybody. I have studied these principles from many thought leaders like, Jack Canfield, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Robin Sharma, Bob Proctor, Tony Robbins, Brain Tracy, Dr. Joe Vitale amongst others. Hope this helps. Also, let me know in the comments, if you would like me to write about anything specific. Happy reading!

Maintain a Gratitude Journal

Just spend a few minutes daily to take a stock of what you are grateful for. I know, this is highly subjective. A homeless man will be grateful for a square meal a day. A millionaire may not be grateful even if he is making $10000 an hour. Don`t mistake being grateful with being contempt. Being grateful for all the things in your life, puts you in a positive state of mind, while the mind is trying to look for all the things that you dont have yet. And dont blame your mind for this, since its the human evolution to be blamed. Our ancestors lived in a environment which could change in a moment and be life threatening. hence we have evolved to be in a constant state of fight or flight mode, hence our mind always looks for danger.

In the beginning, I suggest you take a note book and start to write down all the things you are grateful for. It may be small things like a cup of coffee, the cool breeze in the evening, or the fact that you are literate to be reading this. Remember this; if you have food on the table, clean drinking water and roof over your head, you are better than 40% of the world`s population. So dont be put of by the few things you wish to have, but dont possess yet. The reason why I suggested to write it down is that, when you try to sit and think about the things you are grateful for, the chances of getting distracted is higher. Also, when you write, you make it more permanent in you mind. Give it a start and you can see the difference in just a week or so. The key here is to concentrate on the emotion of Joy and Fulfilment for having said things in your life. Dont start thinking about not having a Merc, while being grateful for having a Figo. That will again put you back in the mindset of being ungrateful.

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude!

Taking Responsibility

Sheldon goes to a doctor one day;

Doctor: Tell me what is you issue?

Sheldon: I cant sleep. I have clynical depression. I dont feel hungry anymore. I dont feel interested in anything. Please diagnose what is wrong with me.

Doctor: Why do you feel depressed.

Sheldon: Where to begin doctor!! My wife is a condescending egomaniac, she keeps fighting with me day in and out. My parents often look down on me. My neighbours are always trying to bring me down. My boss is a jerk, who takes credit for all my work. My banker, Accountant and Legal counsel all are trying to steal me of my money.

Doctor: OK, I understand your problem. I know a best medicine for this problem.

Scribbles down something on the prescription pad.

Sheldon: Thank you doctor. How should I take these?

Doctor: No they are not for you, Give one tablet to each to your wife, parents, Neighbours, Boss. Go ahead and give it everyone who you come across. That might solve your problem.

As I keep mentioning in most of my posts, until we learn to take responsibility for ourselves, we can never achieve significant results in life. Its hard to accept that our life is in our control, while there are so many influences which effects our life. However, the option of responding to those influences are always with us. Whatever the event may be, the repose will be our choice. Be mindful about the response you choose irrespective of the events. This will always keep you in a positive attitude.

Nevelizing

Those of you who follow my blog regularly, already know how much importance I place on visualising. Nevelizing is an advanced visualisation technique, where you imagine or script the dream you wish to manifest as a thing of the past. Ex; you want to achieve a said sales target, or finish a project on time. Now sit down and imagine, talking to a friend, narrating how you achieved this. What were the obstacles and how you overcame the same. Its like a movie in flash back. Imagine everything in absolute detail. This automatically put you in a state of achievement and gratitude and help your mind calm itself. What you want to be when you are 85. Where you want to be. Who is around you. What are your accomplishments. Visualise them in detail.

For those who have difficulty visualising, you can script it down. Date your journal to a date in the future, when you want to achieve this target of yours. Then write down, in detail, how you feel now that you have achieved this said target. Concentrate on the emotion you feel on that moment and enhance the same.

Question your BELIEFS

Beliefs are the most powerful construct of our mind. Our belief systems are formed at a very young age and carry us for most of our lives. It is imprinted into our sub-conscious minds and is generally hard to over-write. An event leads to an Emotion (good or bad). Emotion, carried for a longer period becomes mood. Mood, if persistently maintained, turns into temperament. And Temperament turns into our attitude. Hence if we do not fix our belief system, however hard we work, our results will never be substantial.

Every year, Australia hosts 875-kilometre endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most gruelling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.

In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners. The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety. All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours.

The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that!

When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night. Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping. Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. He was the first competitor to cross the finish line and he set a new course record.

This shows what significance beliefs play in our lives! We manifest what we believe. There are many stories like above, where the underdog has won, just because they believed (or refused to believe its not possible, like Cliff)

Learn from the best

Genius Leaves Clues!!

One of the greatest acheviement of the man kind is the ability to pass on the knowledge. Imagine, starting over every generation, from the scratch. Would we have acheived this progress?

Read books, especially biographies. They are rich sources of clues on how to make the most of your life, and most importantly, what mistakes not to make!! From Mien Kemp of Hitler, to My experiments with Truth of Gandhi, from Elon Musk to Steve Jobs, study the lives of others. It will help you choose the tactics they have used to navigate their lives.

Also, in this digital age, we have the guru of gurus, Google! its upto us to engage in pointless chatter or follow blogs like this to learn a thing or two 🙂 (a little self promotion never hurt anyone) But seriously, there are tons and tons of materials available for self development. Subscribe to those you tube channels, Newsletter, if you can, enroll to those courses which teach you life skills.

Declaring game

I know the post got really big this time. But this is the last point! and its kind of cool and funny to do as well.

Take a piece of paper and write down what is that you want to achieve. Unlike the previous exercises, let this be brief. It’s like placing an order on Amazon. Do you keep checking with the supplier about your order. No! You know that the order will be delivered in time. Just like that, write down what you want and it will be manifested. Give it a try 🙂

Have a Positive and Productive week!

Morning Habits for Success

“Our levels of success will rarely exceed our level of personal development, because success is something we attract by who we become.”

– Jim Rohn

Here are six timeless personal development habits complied by Hal Elrod, if performed every morning, will create ‘miraculous’ changes in your life:

Silence

If you want to immediately reduce your stress levels, to begin each day with the kind of calm, clarity, and peace of mind that will allow you to stay focused on what’s most important in your life, and even dance on the edge of enlightenment—do the opposite of what most people do—start every morning with a period of purposeful Silence.

Instead of checking your phone and seeing what’s happening in the world, check in with yourself by starting the day with a period of mindfulness. When you start the morning with either seated or walking mediation, you establish a calm and peaceful reference point for
the remainder of the day. Think of your morning meditation like lighting an internal candle you use to find peace of mind during a noisy and chaotic day.

I was a skeptic about meditating, may be due to its religious roots. But I was hooked, once I experienced the Mindfulness Meditation with Jack Canfield. Just 5 Mins of this small exercise, where you try to focus your attention on the breathing, will bring your energies to the present and rid you off worries and fears. Gratitude Meditation is also helpful, and helps you speeden your manifestation.

Listen to My Friend Jess Guide you Thru a Brief Meditation

Affirmations

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

‐ Muhammed Ali

Daily affirmations are to the mind what exercise is to the body. Repeating affirmations helps to reprogram the subconscious mind for success. It helps eliminate negative and limiting beliefs and transforms your comfort zone from a limited one keeping you trapped in mediocrity to a more expanded one where anything is possible. It helps to replace your “I cant’s” with “I cans,” and your fears and doubts with confidence and certainty.

Whether you know it or not, you are always using affirmations… but usually not ones that will bring you what you want. Like, “I am never Good Enough”, “Bad things always happens to me”

The daily use of positive affirmations interrupts and eventually totally replaces this barrage of negative thoughts and beliefs. To achieve this, you must continually flood your subconscious with thoughts and images of the new reality you wish to create. Affirmations are reminders to your unconscious mind to stay focused on your goals and to come up with solutions to challenges and obstacles that might get in the way.

Consider a transformation you want to make and phrase it as, “I [your name] will be [transformation].”

Here are the eight guidelines for creating effective affirming statements. These are derived from the book The Success Principles.

  1. Start with the words “I am.” These are the two most powerful words in the English language.
  2. Use the present tense. Ex: “I am Happy, Now that I can drive my car well”
  3. State it in the positive. Affirm what you want, not what you don’t want. Ex: Affirm “I am a good driver“, Not “I will not hit my car to the curb
  4. Keep it brief.
  5. Make it specific.
  6. Include an action word ending with –ing.
  7. Include at least one dynamic emotion or feeling word.
  8. Make affirmations for yourself, not others.

Repeat your affirmation out loud with intense conviction. Affirmation forms belief; belief leads to action; action leads to progress; progress strengthens belief.

Visualizing


“You must expect great things from yourself before you can do them.”

‐ Michael Jordan

Using visualization techniques to focus on your goals and desires yields four very important benefits.

1.) It activates your creative subconscious which will start generating creative ideas to achieve your goal.

2.) It programs your brain to more readily perceive and recognize the resources you will need to achieve your dreams.

3.) It activates the law of attraction, thereby drawing into your life the people, resources, and circumstances you will need to achieve your goals.

4.) It builds your internal motivation to take the necessary actions to achieve your dreams.

Visualization is really quite simple. You sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and imagine — in as vivid detail as you can — what you would be looking at if the dream you have were already realized. Imagine being inside of yourself, looking out through your eyes at the ideal result.

Be like the Olympic downhill skier who imagines going down the mountain, executing each turn perfectly. Visualize yourself executing the work you need to do today to become the person you aspire to be. When see yourself executing a task in your mind’s eye you make the task easier to execute later in the day, because visualization fires and strengthens the same neural circuits you’ll use to complete the task.

Although a daily practice of visualization is vital, we don’t need to spend all day thinking about our goals for this technique to work. In fact, spending too much time in visualization can rob you of something essential – living in the moment. Daily rituals help to establish the right balance between thinking about the future and living in the moment. Start by picking a time during which you’ll review your goals and visualize your success. Ideally, do this twice a day – first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. The process typically will take 10 minutes or less.

If you meditate, guided or not, do your visualizations immediately after your meditation. The deepened state reached during meditation heightens the impact of visualization. For greatest effect, read your goals or affirmations out loud. After each one, close your eyes and create the visual image of the completed goal in your mind. To multiply the effects, add sound, smells, and tastes. Most importantly, add the emotions and bodily sensations you would be feeling if you had already achieved your goal. This is a powerful visualization technique.

Research has revealed that images or scenes that are accompanied by intense emotion will stay locked in our memory forever. The more passion, excitement and energy we muster during visualization, the more powerful the results will be. Once you have visualized each goal as complete, it’s time to release. Let go of your goals, and spend the rest of your day being in the present moment.

Exercising

I cannot stress enough on the benefits of exercising. Not long ago, I too was a couch potato, and never in my life had experienced the bliss of sweat. When you increase your heart rate with aerobic exercise, you trigger the release of neurochemicals (dopamine, norepinephrine, and BDNF), which significantly increases your ability to focus during the day. John Ratey, a researcher at Harvard Medical Schools, says, “A dose of exercise is like taking a bit of Ritalin.”
You dont have to do reps of crunches to get this benefit, although it has its own advantages. Just a 20 Min Brisk walk, or even few minutes skipping the rope will do the trick.

Since I have already written much about physical wellness, and also there are plenty of materials available regarding the same, lets move on to the next point.

“In order for man to succeed in life, he is provided with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”

‐ Plato


Reading

After purposeful silence, affirmations, visualisation, and exercise, your brain is hungry to learn – pick up a personal improvement book and start reading!
Whatever area of life you want to improve (relationships, health, finances, happiness), there is a book to guide you.
Books are the richest source of high‐quality, curated knowledge. Skim a book every morning to find one big idea that may advance your life.

Many of you already know that I spend a considerable amount of my time reading and writing. Honestly, it is one of the things I love doing the most. Last year I read 63 books. I didn’t actually try to read that amount. I was just reading. I honestly felt like I was not reading enough. Then I checked my Kindle and it told me I had purchased 71 Books and have completed 63 out of it. This year I decided that I’d be intentional about my reading time and spend a lot of time deliberately reading.


Scribing

Ever wondered why history’s great minds including Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marcus Aurelius, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Maya Angelou would spend so much of their precious time writing things that will never be seen by another soul?

Many famous creatives, writers, innovators and original thinkers of our generation keep journals— for many, it is a creative necessity, for others, a place for exploration, and for some an art form in and of itself. “Writing accesses your left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” says Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert. “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

https://www.wikihow.com/Keep-a-Journal

Stop the Blame Game

“YOU CAN’T HIRE SOMEONE ELSE TO DO YOUR PUSH-UPS FOR YOU”

Today, I am going to tell you the biggest secret there is, in the self-development philosophies around the world. Different school of thoughts have called it with different names.  But it’s the One basic thing we all need to adapt if we want to achieve our dream life.

“I was out walking one night and found a man down on his knees looking for something under a streetlamp. I Inquired as to what he was looking for. He said he is looking for his lost key. I offered to help and got down on my knees and helped him search for the key. After an hour of fruitless searching, I said, “We’ve looked everywhere for it and we haven’t found it. Are you sure that you lost it here?” He Replied, “No no, I lost it in my house, but there is more light out here under the street lamp.”

It is time to stop looking outside for the answers to why you haven’t created the life and results you want, for it is You who creates the quality of the life you lead and the results you produce”

We all have this belief system that we are entitled to a great life—that somehow, somewhere, someone (certainly not us) is responsible for filling our lives with Health, Happiness, Good Career, Nurturing family, Lasting personal relationships etc. That there is some one else responsible for the quality of the life you live.

Yes there is!!

No, I am not talking about God..

That person is You!!.

If we want to be successful, we have to take 100% responsibility for everything that we experience in our lives.

The bad news is, this is not easy.

In fact, most of us have been conditioned to blame something outside of ourselves for the parts of our life we don’t like. We blame our parents, our bosses, God, the weather, Modi, our astrological chart, —anyone or anything we can pin the blame on. We never want to look at where the real problem is—ourselves.

We have to take the position that we have always had the power to make it different, to get it right, to produce the desired result. For whatever reason—ignorance, lack of awareness, fear, needing to be right, the need to feel safe—we chose not to exercise that power. It doesn’t matter why we choose that. The past is the past. All that matters now is that from this point forward we choose—Yes, it’s a choice, it always was and always will be—to act as if you are 100% responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen to you.

If something doesn’t turn out as planned, you will ask yourself, How did I create that? What was I thinking? What were my beliefs? What did I say or not say? What did I do or not do to create that result? How did I get the other person to act that way? What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?

I firmly believe in the words, “Don`t Preach what you don’t follow”. Let me tell you, how this principle of taking responsibility has helped me, be what I am today!

If fate had played its cards well, I would either be selling Beedi in a petty shop, inherited from my dad or ended up in a Ashram doing Bajan`s. Today I am leading a happy and successful life. I have a well earning job, where I can do what I love. I am healthy and smart. I have travelled to some exotic locations in Asia-Pacific and Western Europe. I am manifesting what I desire, while also helping other to achieve the same. But this was not the case all thru my life. Be it while I was pursuing my CA, or while I was finding job, I was usually the underdog. I dont think anyone would have even imagined an average kid from a lower middle class family with orthodox background will become so successful in life.

What did I do different?

I took responsibility for my life and I believed that I can become what I truly want!! I did not blame my parents for not feeding me in silver spoon. I did not blame the government for not giving me opportunities since I was not having any reservations in education or career. I did not blame the system as I had to work while I was still studying. I did not blame god when I had to manage my collage studies, my internship and my family business all while riding on my bicycle for more than 80 kms a day.

Remember, the power to success is always in our hands!!

Forming A Habit

Ever Tried to develop a healthy habit and failed to do so? Made a ton of resolutions on new years eve, but never saw it through till the first weekend?

James Clear, in his revolutionary book, Atomic Habits explores the possibilities which lead to failure of developing habits.

If you’ve failed to adopt a healthy or productive habit you either failed to make your new behaviour obvious, easy, attractive, or satisfying.

The Four Laws of Behaviour Change

These are what James calls ‘The Four Laws of Behaviour Change’. Failing to abide by any one of these laws means you’ll fail to adopt a new behaviour.
1. Don’t have an obvious daily cue to exercise? You’ll forget about your new healthy habit and stick to your old daily routine.
2. Don’t have an easy exercise routine? You’ll perform an easy and familiar routine instead (like watching TV).
3. Don’t find exercise appealing (i.e. exercise isn’t attractive)? You’ll resist exercise enough to avoid doing it consistently.
4. Don’t get immediate satisfaction after exercise? You’ll lack the motivation to exercise it consistently.

Next time when you want to form a habit, try designing these four qualities into your habit, so that it sticks on.

As I wanted to lose weight and stay healthy, I planned running 5 Miles a day. adapting the four rules mentioned above, I designed my running habit.

My Obvious Daily cue was, I kept my alarm clock, all the way in the shoe rack in the living room. So that when I wake up to switch off my alarm, I would make it obvious that I had to go for my routine jogging. To make the jogging Easy, I started to run a insignificant 1 Mile a day for the first week. and then build up on the momentum to reach my goal of 5 Miles by end of 2 Months. To make my habit Appealing, I photo-shopped a picture of myself, looking 20 pounds lighter and put it on my wardrobe. Everyday before heading off to jog, I would look at that picture, and get inspired, knowing why I am doing this. And for an entire month, I restricted myself from watching my favourite TV Shows, on the days I did not run. So I always had the Satisfaction of watching TV if I complete my 5 mile mark. The routine has worked pretty well, and except for few odd days, I have been running 5 miles every day for past couple of months.

Stacking & Starting

You’ve probably used ‘habit stacking’ to build new hygiene habits without realizing it. As a child, you stacked the habit of washing your hands with the habit of having dinner. Washing your hand became the cue for your dinner habit.
Habit stacking involves using an old and reliable daily habit as the trigger for a new habit. When you stack a new habit on an existing habit, you use the momentum of the old habit to make the new habit easier to initiate. I think of it as riding a bike down a hill to build up enough speed to get up the next hill with minimal
peddling.

But if the hill of your new habit is too daunting, the momentum of the old habit won’t be enough. That’s why you need to reduce your new habit to an easy two‐minute ‘starting ritual’.


“Even when you know you should start small, it’s easy to start too big. When you dream about making a change, excitement inevitably takes over and you end up trying to do too much too soon. The most effective way I know to counteract this tendency is to use the Two‐Minute Rule, which states, ‘When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.’”

James Clear


“Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
“Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat.”
“Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
“Run five miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

Syncing & Scoring


Ronan Byrne, an electrical engineering student in Dublin, Ireland knew that he should exercise more, so he used his engineering skills to synchronise his stationary bike with his laptop. He wrote a program on his laptop to play his favourite Netflix shows on the TV in front of the stationary bike when he cycled at a
certain speed. If he slowed down, Netflix would pause, and he’d need to cycle harder to finish the episode he was watching. Imagine, binge‐watching Netflix meant burning calories!!

Like Byrne, if you only allow yourself to enjoy your favourite experiences while executing a healthy and productive new habit, you’ll find the new habit is something you look forward to doing.

When you synchronise an experience you crave with a new habit you dread doing, the craving will counteract the resistance to executing the new habit and allow you to get started.
Synchronising is a great tool for building a new habit, but to make a habit stick the habit must become inherently satisfying. And to make a habit inherently satisfying you must keep score.

Imagine on June 30th you look at your Google Fit journal and see see 27 Green Heart marks, on 27 of the last 30 days. Each mark represents a successful workout. That journal is a visual proof that you are someone who cares about their health. You should take pride in that fact!
If you take time to score the completion of a habit in a habit tracker (ex: calendar on your wall, app on your phone, or physical habit
tracking notebook), you’ll start to see a pattern of behaviour that proves you’re becoming the type of person you’ve dreamed of being. The immediate pride you experience after using a habit tracker provides the satisfaction you need to return to the habit over and over until the habit sticks.

Happy Habitting!!

This Too Shall Pass

If a man for whatever reason has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself!

JACQUES-Y VES COUSTEAU

Even the simple things like Reading/watching News has become a daunting task nowadays. Every channel, every newspaper, goes on and on about the latest body count. Amidst such a negative set up, how can we stay positive and motivated?

I am not advocating that we should throw caution to the wind and get back to the life before Corona. Lets take all the precaution that`s necessary. Stay away from Crowds. Stay at home. Sanitise. Be Masked.

However, lets not go into depression thinking that the world, as we knew, has come to an end.

Firstly, the mortality rate (i.e, the no of people who die after being infected) is around 3%. That`s 97% reasons not to be gloomy! (Exactly 100 years ago, the world experienced something similar, but with a mortality rate greater than 10%!!) We should just be thankful that we are living in 2020, and not 1920.

Upside to corona is that, doctors and scientists all over the world has come together like never before to find a cure to this epidemic. We are starting to learn what true collaboration looks like. It was indeed a rude awakening for most of the advanced nations, about their healthcare systems.

We are enjoying better air Quality than before. (WHO estimates ~4.6 Mil People die due to air pollution each year – in your face Corona :P) Nature is flourishing. Wildlife is seen thriving everywhere. (Only for MCU fans – I Just remembered, Cap saying he saw whales in the Hudson. After Thanos wiped out half of the universe)

We got to spend time with our family.

Those who always complained that they never had time for their personal development, reading, exercising, realised that there wasn’t a shortage of time, but discipline.

We all got a chance to evaluate our set ways of thinking. challenge the status quo. and if we could learn one thing from history, disruption always leads to innovation.

I am personally thankful to this lock down, since it gave me time as well as perspective.

I started working out(when all the gyms in the world were open, it didn’t even cross my mind that I had to lose weight; Once they announced the lock down, I suddenly got a hankering for dumbbells. I had to do good with filled water cans and my CA books – I told you; Innovation)

I completed all my coaching courses. Though these courses were in my Udemy cart from almost a year now, it was the lock down that allowed me to take them up and complete. I am now a Certified NLP and CBT Coach.

I re-sparked my passion for writing. Wrote 10 blogs in short period of 2 Months or so. you wouldn’t be reading this piece if it wasn’t for the Covid Lock-down.

So please remember, inspite of what the news says, its not all gloomy out there. As always, there are as many inspiring stories as there are negative ones; they just dont make it to the headlines.

Some tips to Stay Positive during the unprecedented blacks-swan event:

Limit your Exposure to Negative news

its OK to casually watch the news for couple of minutes to catch upon the latest developments and stay updated about the information from governments. But dont give in and start to Binge watch episode after episodes of “Breaking News” “Exclusively on our Channel”. It Gradually feeds the paranoid in you. Instead, read goodnewsnetwork.org optimistdaily.com

Be with positive people

Staying Positive is infectious. Surround yourself with positive people. Read positive books or watch sitcoms like “Friends” or “Big Bang Theory”. Whenever you get depressing thoughts or you hear people talking about Covid, watch funny videos on Youtube.

Meditate

I dont have to tell you the effects of meditation, unless you are new to the concept. Meditating even for 3-5 Mins brings rapid change in your mood. Put on your earphones(you can play a soothing music if you want, works otherwise too) and just concentrate on your breathing. Do not try to manipulate the breath (dont breathe faster or slower) Let the breathe be natural. Just bring your awareness to the breathing and see the mind calm down. You can also try Mindfulness meditation.

Practice gratitude

As Advocated by Jack Canfield, Practising gratitude can intensely uplift your mood. Be thankful for the food you get. The family around you. If you have food on your table, roof over your head, clean water to drink and warm clothes, you are better than 60% of the worlds population. Let that sink in.

Do one good thing

Doing something good for others always makes us forget our worries. If you are financially blessed, donate to charities fighting Covid. Help some one whos laid off, get a job. Help your Spouse in Kitchen. However small the deed is, it will always puts you in the state of happiness.

Pick up a new habit. Finish the book that has been sitting on your night stand from days. Clean the weeds in your garden and appreciate the flowers.

Lets Overcome the feeling of uncertainty and Fear about the future. Lets calm ourselves and our loved ones from panicking. When this blows over, we may realise that it might be what we wanted to set our lives straight.

This too, Shall Pass!

Holistic Yoga

No, I am not starting a new Yoga Studio. Not Inventing a new type of Yoga(although I am not sure, if the above name is not taken already!!)

On this Yoga day (21st of June) I wanted to touch upon those aspects of yoga that is usually overlooked. In my opinion, Aṣṭāṅga Yoga (Eight-folds of Yoga) was originally intended for the overall well-being of the society rather than, its current plight of being classified as a physical exercise.

Imagine holding a leaf of a tree, admiring the vivid colours, the visible veins, patterns. Then you realise you standing in front of a tree filled with thousands of such leaves, but further, it has sweet fruits, tangy bark, fragrant flowers as well. Yoga, specifically yogasana, although great in its own right, is dwarfed when you compare it with other aspects of Yoga as a whole. Read on, to know what you are missing out on!

As everything in India, there is no “originator” for the Yoga Sutra`s (the text from which all the knowledge about Yogas are originated). The Yoga Sutras were compiled sometime between 500 BCE and 200 BCE by the sage Patanjali in India who synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from much older traditions. The Sutras fell into relative obscurity for nearly 700 years from the 12th to 19th century, and made a comeback in late 19th century due to the efforts of Swami Vivekananda, the Theosophical Society and others. It gained prominence again as a comeback classic in the 20th century. Before the 20th century, history indicates that the medieval Indian yoga scene was dominated by the various other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Vasistha, as well as literature on hatha yoga, tantric yoga and Pashupata Shaivism yoga rather than the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.

Patanjali defines yoga as having eight components (aṣṭ āṅga, “eight limbs”): The eight limbs of yoga are

  • Yama (abstinences),
  • Niyama (observances),
  • Asana (yoga postures),
  • Pranayama (breath control),
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses),
  • Dharana (concentration),
  • Dhyana (meditation) and
  • Samadhi (absorption).

Most of us know the famous once like Asanas, Pranayama or to some extent Dhyana. Let me try to convince you in this article, that, rest of the aspects are as important if not greater than those we already know and practise.

Broadly put, the first three parts can be considered as conditioning the body and mind, changes in life style and Self- purification. With the fourth and fifth one we start the journey inwards, finally attaining the pure self consciousness/ bliss by the last leg of the practice.

Here is what a brief description of each item looks like:

1. Yama

Yamas are ethical vows in the Yogic tradition and can be thought of as moral imperatives. The five Yamas listed by Patañjali in Yogasūtra are:

  1. Ahiṃsā : Nonviolence.
  2. Satya : Truthfulness (Non- Falsehood).
  3. Asteya: Self Satisfied (Non- Stealing).
  4. Brahmacarya:  Control of Sensual indulgences
  5. Aparigraha: Self-Content (Not being Greedy)

The commentaries on these teachings of Patanjali state how and why each of the above self-restraints help in the personal growth of an individual.

Patanjali calls the Yamas Mahavratam, which means a Great Vow.

2. Niyama

The second component of Patanjali’s Yoga path is called niyama, which includes virtuous habits, behaviours, and observances (the “dos”, if you may say so) The five Niyamas listed by Patañjali in Yogasūtra are:

  1. Shaucha: Purity
  2. Santosha: Contentment
  3. Tapas: Patience/ Persistence
  4. Svadhyaya: Introspection
  5. Ishvarapranidhana: Contemplation

3. Āsana

Interestingly, the major part of Yoga, for most of us, being the Asanas, is not a part of the Astanga Yoga.  Patanjali begins discussion of Āsana merely as meditation posture.

Asana is thus a meditation posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable, and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the brief suggestion, that the asanas are “posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness, which over time and practice stops the quivering of body.

However, the Bhasya commentary attached to the Sutras, (widely thought to be written by Patanjali himself), suggests twelve seated meditation postures:

  • Padmasana (lotus pose),
  • Virasana (hero/warrior pose),
  • Bhadrasana (glorious pose),
  • Svastikasana (lucky mark pose),
  • Dandasana (staff pose),
  • Sopasrayasana (supported pose),
  • Paryankasana (bedstead pose),
  • Krauncha-nishadasana (seated heron pose),
  • Hastanishadasana (seated elephant pose),
  • Ushtranishadasana (seated camel pose),
  • Samasansthanasana (evenly balanced pose) and
  • Sthirasukhasana (any motionless posture that is in accordance with one’s pleasure)

4. Prānāyāma

After a desired posture has been achieved, we move forward to the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation). This is done in several ways, inhaling, and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing)

5. Pratyāhāra

Pratyahara means not taking any input or any information from the sense organs. It is a process of retracting the sensory experience from external objects. It is a step of self-extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one’s eyes to the sensory world, it is consciously closing one’s mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one’s attention to seek self-knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one’s inner world. Its enabling one towards true freedom.

As I mentioned before, Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of mind.

6. Dhāraṇā

Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga, is holding one’s mind onto a particular inner state, subject or topic of your mind. The mind is usually fixed on a mantra, or one’s breath. Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without jumping from one topic to another. It is a fore-runner for our next step, contemplating in the true sense.

7. Dhyāna

Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focused on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a personal deity, Dhyana is its contemplation. If the concentration was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. If the focus was on a concept/idea, Dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms, and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness.

Dhyana is integrally related to Dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, Dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus. Patanjali defines contemplation (Dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is “a course of uniform modification of knowledge”

Dhyana and Dharana, though sounding similar, can be differentiated as, Dhyana being the yoga state when there is only the “stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of a different kind for the same object”; Dharana, is focussed on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object.

Sri Shankaracharya, brilliantly gives the example of a yogi in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color and orbit; the yogin in dhyana state “contemplates on sun’s orbit alone for example, without being interrupted by its color, brilliance or other related ideas”.

8. Samādhi

Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one’s mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process, and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi.

Samadhi can be of two types, with or without the support of the underlying object. further, Samadhi with the support of a object can be classified as Deliberative and Reflective Samadhi. The Samadhi without the support of any object, known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi, is considered to be highest form of “Oneness” and the fulfilment of the entire journey of Yogasana.

In as sense, Stage four(Pranayama) Stage five (Pratyahara) Stage Six(Dharana) and Stage Seven(Dhyanya) culminate in achieving Samadhi state

As you can see, the Astanga Yoga is quite unique and different in a way that it is more of a life-style rather than just a physical exercise.

On this Yoga Day, I wish more and more of us understand the true intent of the Yogis who provided us with such an incredible source of knowledge, and, enrich and enlighten ourselves by adapting Yogasutras in its purest form.

Wish you a Happy Yoga Day!!