Slow living

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What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davis

In past few years, I reviewed my life and eliminated every habit that pulled me down, decluttered my house, my wardrobe, my email and my mind. Now I know that it is a continuous process. I invite you too to plunge in this eternal river of change! Here are few of my personal experiences that have helped me improve.

One webpage at a time

Earlier I used to open so many webpages and wor simultaneously on all of them. I thought that this multitasking would help to accomplish more. But it took me a long time to realize that I was more confused, anxious and the quality of my work was pathetic. After much frustration, I decided to work on one single webpage at a time, following a strict rule to keep only one webpage open. I do less work now, with better quality. And it helped me to make an incredible discovery. I realized that 90% of the work that I did was not required AT ALL!!!

This web decluttering is a small change, but it helped me to see the tremendous advantage of simplicity. And simplicity in one part of your life radiates to the entire process of living. It took me a long time and much frustration to learn this. Hope you reach here sooner and make your life effortless! 

Switch off mobile

I feel mobile phones resemble a kind of subtle infection that makes our minds very, very sick! While practicing minimalism, I realized that I check my mobile phone every 10-15 minutes. And only after I started getting mentally tired of my habit, did I realized that I am addicted to my mobile phone. I would get frustrated if there were no new message. New messages became as good as fresh new breath, and I would feel suffocated if they were not there. And this frustration helped me to take a big decision – to switch off my mobile for some time. Whenever there was an urge to check the messages, I would tell myself that it is switched off and there will be no new messages. I first tried it at night. It helped me to stop checking my mobile as the first thing in the morning. 

Remember Matrix trilogy! A machine should not become a dominating force in our lives. Use a mobile, don’t let the mobile use you. It’s time to set yourself free!

Mindful eating

It’s been five years since I stopped watching TV altogether. When I look at the value TV serials or news added to my life over the years, I felt that it was more of a time waste than anything else. There was a time when I felt that eating food is a mundane chore, so let’s do more at the same time, by watching TV. Worse still, I used to watch news and crime patrol blah blah while eating. I stayed away from home for two years as a student. One day, I was starving, without any food for the past 24 hours. Lack of money is the best teacher in the world. I could afford to buy only a small quantity of roasted peanuts. And the moment I put the peanuts in my mouth, I felt the ultimate bliss that most of us miss every day, as we work on electronic gadgets while eating. Mindful eating can help us in many ways. It helps us to chew food correctly, to be aware of its taste, to stop over-eating, avoid false psychological hunger, mid-meal snacking and compulsive eating, etc. Let’s eat mindfully, respect the precious food and our stomach!

Mindful Living

Usually, humans improve only after they stumble over a problem. However, most of our sufferings are self-chosen. What if we can see a prospective problem and steer away from it. Driving life is no different than driving a vehicle. And the stillness of mind, free from overthinking, and colored vision, is excellent, whether you are driving a car or your life! Mindfulness is a way to stop, relax, and review. It helps you to become more alive in the present moment. You develop the capacity to make the right choices, declutter, and simplify your life.  I have tried meditation for the past 18 years, without much change in me. And this helped me learn that meditation is only a tool to achieve Mindfulness. In fact, you are better off if you don’t have time to close your eyes and meditate. Try being mindful right now, right here. Mindfulness is not another chore to finish; it is something that makes you alive, just like breathing, if you allow it to happen on its own. If I have to choose one habit that can completely turn-around you as a person, it will be Mindfulness. Try it and feel the magic!

Make a list of achievements

For a long time, I would make a to-do list. I thought that it would help me to stay motivated and push me to work better. However, it became a depressing exercise as there will be a new load every day. I lost sight of what I did yesterday because of there a new push daily. Besides, there are times when you are not able to complete your to-do list. And so often we just give up. I thought that to pull myself to achievements is a better idea than to push myself to work. And hence, I started making a list of accomplishments rather than a to-do list. Every day I would add more achievements and my confidence and energy grew with the list. To do is a fast track pushy habit, that might ultimately push you out of sanity. Better go slow and list down what flew in naturally. I can bet that it will have you happier and help you achieve more effortlessly!

Let’s have less work and more leisure! Best wishes

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies

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How much do you need to eat?

Various factors decide how much food you need, two of them are the most important – Quality of food, and quality of digestive system. And it is not about calories. You see, a sea shell contains an incredible amount of calcium, but I cannot eat it, except for Ayurvedic kapardaka bhasma. Likewise, calories are the amount of energy that a food substance can release. It does not promise the amount that can be actually digested and absorbed. It differs from person to person. So, a food that contains 100 calories might release 90 or 50 or even 2 calories after digestion.

Ayurveda also considers the energy required to digest and absorb the food. Therefore, if your food releases 90 calories after digestion, but consumes 70 calories for the entire process, then it brings little profit to the body. And what if it releases 2 calories after the whole process. It is a massive loss for the body.

And you will find many people who eat a lot of food but always feel short of energy. They feel weak and lethargic. However, a poor person eating half the amount might have more vitality. 

So, the first thing, food is not about calories, neither about the amount of nutrition it might contain. Nutrition is about how much you can absorb from it. Rest is waste.

Quality of food

This is an important factor. Let us take the example of a hybrid car that can run on petrol and electricity. Electricity is a more efficient fuel, it produces no unnecessary heat or combustion , therefore wear and tear is much less when the car runs on electricity. On the other hand, petrol produces energy through combustion and heat and the rate of deterioration in petrol mode will be much higher.

For a perfect metabolic balance, we need to eat food that produces more energy with less effort. Food that contributes to health and not to diseases.

Step 1- Increase the Prana

According to Ayurveda, every food that you eat has prana or the life force. And this prana is absorbed via food. So basically food is like a fuel for the body. According to Ayurveda, hunger, thirst and sleep are three natural diseases that can be cured and  probably we don’t even need to eat, however that another topic.

We should eat food that has prana or the life force. And accordingly, your food can be full of prana or completely devoid of it. How you earn and the way you procure your food also makes a difference.

In short, your food should be procured with benevolence, hard work and through non- violent means.

Increase Bioavailability

There are many ways to do it. But the best always through the nature. Organivally grown and naturally ripened fruits are the best because they have the best digestibility in the body. Besides, fruits have minimum fire element or agni tatva, because they are not cooked. They are more stable and bring their stability to the body also.

Other means is cooking. In terms of cooking, food should ideally be cooked slowly. I always prefer solar cooked food. Its aroma and taste is incredible too.

Larger surface area

This is a very important factor in Ayurved. That’s why most of the medicines are ground to a very fine powder or paste. Larger surface area provides bigger opportunity for enzymes to act.

Therefore, my grandma used to tell me to chew the almonds for a long time. I guess the persistent action of saliva makes the nutrients more bio-available.
Besides, traditionally in India, almonds are soaked in water overnight for better absorption. Also, soaked almonds are made into a very fine paste to ensure more surface area for absorption. And that’s the key to the amount of food that we need. I know a master who can survive on one meal(lunch) in 24 hours, and he never stuffs himself! I assume that his body can absorb more than 90% of the food he eats.

Typically, if we have low absorption capacity, we won’t absorb much from the food we eat, no matter how nutritious it is. Sometimes, nothing at all. The modern treatment approach focuses on multiplying nutrition, for example, we have fortified milk, butter, bread, in fact, everything. But does it solves the problem?

There is a child who is just not interested in studying. How will it help if you fortify his resources by adding graduation textbooks? And what we do to the body by fortifying food is worse than this.

Ayurveda says that intake of heavy food or difficult to digest food is akin to pouring massive logs of wood on a small fire. And guess what happens! When we expose more fortified food to a weakened digestive system, we tax it to digest something heavier than average food. And gradually, the fire gives up. This may lead to a host of digestive problems – chronic indigestion, constipation, burping, bloating, and so on.

If you have lousy digestion or absorption, then the solution is not in giving more fortified food. Now if a child is not interested in studies, the answer is not in getting him more books, but to inspire him to learn. When someone is willing to learn, he can create his own resources. So, the solution is in making the body hungry and ready for food, instead of supplying heavy doses of indigestible food.

Precaution for anorexia
Here, the recommendation to eat only when hungry does not apply to people with anorexia. Instead, they can try eating Ayurvedic digestives that can help to remove the toxins from the system and bring back healthy hunger.

How to kindle real hunger?
Hunger varies according to the climatic conditions, age, physical activity, and state of mind.
If you stay in a cold climate, your body will require more heat-producing activity. And the most prominent heat-producing event is digestion. Therefore all people living in cold weather usually have good digestion, unless they stretch their physiology with wrong food and lifestyle. 

And if you can, you can shift to a colder location for some time to improve your overall metabolism.

Hunger typically diminishes with age. It is a natural phenomenon. We can assist the body by reducing the load of digestion. Therefore, we must modify our food according to our age, and this is esp very important after 35 or 40 years of age. Ideally, a person beyond 60 years should stop eating oily, heavy, and spicy food.

Ideally, such a person should try to consume mostly fruits and vegetables. Vegetables can be roasted, baked, or boiled. Elderly people should refrain from grain consumption after the sunset. However, due to rapid degradation in community health, we should follow these rules right after we turn 40. In fact, I have practically started living solely on fruits and vegetables, and it does make you feel more alive, try it!!!

One of the surprising facts is that you do not gain weight if you are physically inactive, and also you do not lose weight by exercise. These are just market making concepts, they help in selling weight loss products and gym memberships. The only thing that can make you fat is eating more than required food, nothing else. If you are sensitive towards your body, it will tell you when it is enough or when food is not needed. However, unfortunately, these recommendations are overruled in favor of taste sensations.

State of mind seriously affects hunger. Sadness, anxiety, stress, anger, hatred, etc. can kill the natural appetite. You can have the best hunger and effortless digestion when you are neither too happy or too sad, but at peace with yourself.

In fact, a peaceful mind is the most fundamental requirement for healthy digestion. A tranquil state of mind does not interfere with the regular hormonal system. Peace in mind stimulates the parasympathetic system and ensures the best digestion.

That’s why Ayurveda recommends that if you are not peaceful, skip the meal but do not eat. The food consumed with an imbalanced state of mind is no less than toxin for the body.

So, the essential requirement of healthy digestion is –
peaceful mind

Fruits (fruits grow on trees and do not require any human effort except planting, sometimes not even that)

Eating less

If you don’t have fruits, eat very less amount of whatever you have. The great sage and Ayurveda pioneer Vagbhatt said: “eat healthy, eat less and eat according to the season.”
And that’s the reason why poor are the blessed ones. They are in the hands of God, and God does not allow them to ruin their health by eating useless fancy food.
Let us be in God’s hands and have a great, healthy, and fulfilling life!

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Eat Healthy, Eat Less!

We all have a notion that eating three times a day is essential. But it is not so. I am not saying that we should eat once a day. But the best approach is to be aware of your body and your hunger. Most of us have a basic rule of three times meal, and we follow it blindly. I have seen many people following the same diet habits that they developed when they were children or youth. You must realize that your body is no longer in the growing mode. And we are not trees! So, according to Ayurveda, the food requirements of the body change over time. They are different for kids, youth, and older adults. Here, I will discuss the basics ideal dietary habit applicable for all. And surprisingly, the perfect diet is minimalistic in nature. It is precise and does not overburden the body with unnecessary digestion.

Digestion – Seat of Agni

Let’s understand that digestion is like the general maintenance of a house. It provides essential nutrition, grows and maintains body tissues, etc. Now imagine if you have to spend all your time and resources to maintaining the house. You will have no time for anything else. Some people have a huge house, big cars, properties, etc. and their whole time and money are sucked in maintaining THINGS. They might realize in the end that they gained nothing at all.

The human body is a tool for enlightenment. However, we spend all our energy on earning and eating food. Worse, we have junk food that adds an extra expense of medicines in later life. How is it any better than animals who live in a forest? Probably they are better off as they don’t have to pay EMI or mortgage.

Besides, even the blast furnace is cooled off for some time after burning. It helps in repair and maintenance. However, today, our digestive system has no respite. We keep pouring food in it day in and day out. Most of the people are not even hungry when they eat.

What happens when you eat without hunger?

Now, let me tell you what happens when you eat without hunger. When Your blood sugar drops, the brain senses the low availability of sugar and trigger hunger. It sends signals to the stomach to secrete digestive enzymes. And these digestive enzymes irritate the stomach lining. That’s how we feel hungry. In the same time, all other organs like liver, pancreas, salivary glands all prepare themselves for best digestion and absorption.

But imagine what will happen if you are eating without hunger. Your blood sugar is already normal. The blood does not need any more sugar. There is no signal from the brain to secrete digestive enzymes. So your stomach is also not ready for digestion. But still, you pour unrequired food in your system.

Under-digested food rots inside us!

Have you ever tried frying something without heating the oil properly? If you do, you will realize that the food put in low-temperature oil absorbs more oil than required and yet does not gets adequately cooked. A similar phenomenon happens to the food that enters the digestive tract without hunger invitation.

Not properly digested food is not a big problem. The bigger question is what happens after that. A proper amount of digestive juices prevent rapid food decay in the warm internal environment. However, because of no hunger, food does not get an adequate amount of these juices. It starts to rot inside the alimentary canal. According to Ayurveda, such food produces toxins by rotting in the body. Worse are the effects if you have chronic constipation. Imagine the number of toxins released in the system because of undigested food.

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The sugar tsunami

And still a bigger problem is the unnecessary sugar release. Now, this food is reluctantly absorbed by the intestines, and the sugar consumed is released into the blood. Blood sugar is already at a normal level. But the extra intake causes a sugar tsunami in the blood. An overworked pancreas tries to control the blood sugar. But how many times can it control such sudden surges? All secretory organs, including pancreas, need some time to prepare good quality digestive juices as well as insulin.

And this problem further snowballs when we snack frequently, and the worst products to consume are sweets, chocolates, etc. With frequent sugar surges in the body, the tissues get acclimatized to high sugar levels. A dissatisfied Pancreas resigns to the status-quo and insulin secretions steadily declines.

Hypertension Trigger

The high sugar levels are also related to hypertension. According to Ayurveda, madhura or sweet rasa vitiates kapha dosha. Kapha dosha is the causal factor for blockages. According to recent researches, low glycemic load (GL) naturally results in low BP as well. Therefore we can link abnormal high or frequent food intake with hypertension.

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Feeding Cancer Cells

Worse is still to come! High sugar levels are associated with cancer formation. Cancer cells feed on the high sugar content, where the healthy cells lose their vitality. So, if you are not happy with diabetes, hypertension, etc., you might get cancer. Cancer cells are present in all creatures, but the internal body environment is not conducive for them to thrive. However, with abnormal eating habits, we make an inviting environment for all kinds of diseases.
Consider a corrupt society. As society corrodes in its moral values, all kinds of evil find it easy to thrive. The educational institutes, healthcare, judiciary everything will get corrupted. And good people will find it hard to survive. However, the decision lies in our hands, we need to decide what we want to invite inside consciously.

So, it comes out that if you eat less, eat only when you are correctly hungry, you will need less food, fewer medicines. You will have a more productive and satisfying life.

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