New Beginnings

All of us lead certain distinctive kinds of lifestyles. It begins when we are very young. We fall into categories, and usually just keep going deeper into them. Habits and patterns form. These turn into mechanical behaviour, more or less. Many don’t realise it. Those that do, find it difficult to reverse. Impossible, we say. “Nothing’s impossible!” our mind screams out in despair. That’s usually where 90% of the optimism gets drained.

A very few of us are fortunate enough to have a light thrown at us, and have somebody tell us that indeed, nothing’s impossible. Nothing. There are other ways to live. Better ways. Good people.

I am extremely honoured to say that I am one of those fortunate ones. I recently had a 7-day long experience that has definitively changed my life.

Starting at 8 AM on the 23rd of April to 2 PM on the 29th of April, I experienced what were probably the most relaxing, liberating and enlightening (roughly) 150 hours of my life so far. I’m being totally serious. Some of you who have read some of my previous posts, and especially the last one or two Coffee Updates, may have read about how I have enrolled in a two year long teacher training course on Yoga, at The Yoga Institute in Santacruz, Mumbai. Since it is an advanced course, it’s prerequisite is that all students must first complete the introductory 7-day camp. The 7-day camp is residential as well as non-residential, which means students can stay there at the hostel for the duration of the seven days, depending on the availability of beds, of course. It is meant to be done living there, to get the authentic experience. And that’s how I did it; I stayed there for 7 days.

It involves waking up early in the morning, doing exercises, or asanas, as Yoga calls it, and various other activities throughout the day, both physically and mentally stimulating, interspersed with wholesome, fresh, nutritious food at regular intervals. All of this not only rejuvenates your body, but it freshens your mind as well.

At this point, I have to admit that I was, at first, very apprehensive about doing this. Not in the ‘I-don’t-want-to-do-it’ way, because I knew I had to do it and I knew how good it would be for me if I let it. And that right there, is probably the thing. A part of me wasn’t letting the course be what it was meant to be. On the very first day itself, I was repeatedly reminded to open up my mind, let go, relax and enjoy. After what I learnt there, I realise that Yoga, as it is marketed in so many places around the world: loosening up your body, essentially becoming some sort of contortionist, is so badly interpreted. Yes, the physical side is an very important aspect, but to me at least, Yoga is more about the mind and being the master of it.

There were a few huge notions that I engineered into my mind while I was there, and these are the kind of notions that stick around.

The first one is of not judging people. There were about 57-58 of us taking part in the 7 Day Camp, out of which a good 30%-40% were from countries other than India. We’ve lived all our lives, being told to be wary of others, how the world’s a cruel place and whatnot. Some of the more skeptical people also tell us that the world’s become so shitty you can’t trust anybody. As we grow up, we also learn from experience and whenever we experience something of this kind, it sticks, because we’ve also been hearing so much of this kind from those close to us. Impressionable young minds. Classmates spreading rumours about you, having a fight with a friend about something you later realise was petty, having an experience of typically snobbish Government employees. This kind of stuff happens a lot in early life, and especially the first two. It all reaffirms our faith in what everybody tells us and how the world is basically a giant pisspot. What we don’t realise, though, is that it’s stuff like this that shapes our psyche, and ultimately our life.

Maybe the world is a giant pisspot. Depends on where you decide to stand. And that’s the second thing I learnt. I, and only I, have control over how I see things. If I see them from a negative light, then it’s only going to make me feel shittier about things. Not a single soul in the world would know. I control my state of mind, and Yoga is all about having a balanced state of mind.

I have always been a bit of a dumb perfectionist of sorts. I have wanted things to be a certain way, for them to turn out in a certain way. I have even wanted myself to be a certain kind of person. But that was a classical kind of punishing belief system that I had created. I even studied about it in Psychology class, but it never struck me. I guess epiphanies are like lightning in that way, they don’t strike unless there’s a thunderstorm. That brings me to the next thing I learnt. I have no box I need to fit into. There’s no hard-frame category I must be in, or a condition I must always be fulfilling. All I need to be doing is my duty, whatever it may be at that particular point in time. At 4 in the afternoon, for example, my duty is to go to the gym, because fitness is a duty to myself. Or at 6 AM three or four days a week, my duty is to go cycling with my sister. Once college begins, my duty would be to attend college from 7 AM to 12 PM 5 days a week. Every Wednesday though, I am allowed to watch The Flash for 45 minutes, since that constitutes recreation and that also is important.

That’s enough of me preaching, I guess. I’ll sign off while you guys are still tolerating me.

Just kidding, I’ve got some more epiphanies to rant on.

LOL, kidding. Again.

I’ll show myself out.

starts meditating

After the Storm Passes

Some of us have anxiety. No scratch that, a lot of us have anxiety. It may not be something we have all the time, every day but it comes and goes. I guess anxiety is just something we have to live with. It is bound to happen considering the kind of lifestyles that living in cities brings. If you wanted a fast-paced life, you couldn’t have asked for a better place than Mumbai to have it. I like to call it Bombay. Lets call it Bombay.

Bombay is one of those places where you get crushed if you don’t keep moving. No, literally. Here, days start with a bang. Come live in Dadar and enjoy the never ending crowds around the Plaza Theatre locality. Come to any of the northern suburbs and you won’t find a single stretch of road that isn’t filled with people. We’re like ants, we just find every empty space and fill it with ourselves.

Your home is literally the calmest place you might find in all of Bombay. Once you step out of it, be ready for a hell of a day.

Its the same with your life when you’re living in Bombay. You have to wake up at 8, get dressed, go to the gym maybe, finish that report once you get back (body soreness is no excuse), then grab a bite or two, get that printout, go buy some groceries as fast as you can, travel for 2 hours to your workplace, travel back for 2 hours in the evening, the traffic doesn’t move, but you’re used to it by now. Bombay is a unique experience.

But then when you’re moving this fast, your mind can’t always keep up. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re in places like this. Sometimes it gets to you. Okay, a lot of times, it gets to you. And then you shrivel up into a ball for a little bit just contemplating where your life is going. Then your pressure cooker goes off, or your dog knocks himself into a table or something so you have to get up and see what all the bawling is about. But you catch my drift right? Sometimes you don’t even have time to think.

You know what I do when stuff like this happens? I imagine a storm. A really violent one. Think up a really big storm, swirling around. Now see what its swirling around exactly. It swirls around the eye of the storm, right? And the eye of the storm is calm, serene, unfazed by the shit that’s going down all around it.

You’re the eye of the storm. Imagine you’re in it. Imagine, for a moment, there’s no cars honking around you, no hustle and bustle of people, no constant noises, you have no deadlines, neither the kind your control-freaky mind has made up, nor the office-work kind and there’s nothing bogging you down. Just you, your mind, and what you really, really need to do. See, when you live in such times, and places, some people say you need to be good at multi-tasking. I think that’s bullshit. Plus, multi-tasking just reduces your net productivity at whatever you’re doing so just stay away from that pseudo crap. What you really need to be good at is prioritizing. Do the most important shit first. Sometimes you gotta be selfish though. I, for example, am sometimes too helpful. Sometimes I help people even when I’m pressed for time, but if I think I can help them, I’ll try to do it. So what happens is, when they need help again, some of them ask me because I helped them last time. Now if this happens to you and this time you’ve learnt prioritising, cause I just told you about it, you gotta see if you really have the time for pro bono. If not, then know that you don’t owe that person any help. They’ll just have to ask somebody else this time.

You’re the eye of the storm. Because above the rat race, the summit of it all, its a quiet place.