Health Basics of Ayurveda

Today, most people above the age of 35 years are suffering from at least one lifestyle disease. Digestive disorders, sleep problems, and stress are more common than a few decades back.

These primary disorders are the base of severe lifestyle diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypertension, etc. And this is because of the unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits that we are following.

The Root of Lifestyle Disorders

We have severe defects in our daily routine that interferes with our healthy metabolism. They lower our immunity and makes us more susceptible to diseases and rapid aging.

Most of the people today have no fixed routine or time for eating. They skip their meals when they are hungry. On the other hand, they eat voluptuously when they are not hungry but have time to eat.

Similarly, most of us skip sleep in the night, the natural time to sleep according to the bio-rhythm of the body. Instead, they sleep till late. They miss the healthiest time of the day – Brahma muhurat and an opportunity to reset their metabolism.

Image par Elias Schäfer de Pixabay

Flow with the Nature

However, if we review and re-tune our bodies to the natural biorhythm, we will ensure 100% prevention from all diseases and have a life full of vigor and vitality. Ayurvedic ritucharya (seasonal health regimen), dinacharya (daily health routine), and sadvritta (moral and social conduct) ensure a healthy body as well as mind.

Ayurveda defines the wrong food and lifestyle as the root cause of all diseases. The aim of Ayurveda underlines the importance of a healthy lifestyle. According to Acharya Charak the objective of Ayurveda is –


Preserve the health of the healthy |
Treat the ones who fall sick||

Compared to Ayurveda, modern preventive medicine depends mainly on health supplements. It is vague and lacks a precise and natural order of prevention. In fact, it has been only a few decades since modern medicine accepted the therapeutic importance of food or meditation.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest sciences to have an elaborate preventive system. Ayurveda defines the ideal food, cooking methods, and food habits. It defines daily lifestyle (Dinacharya), seasonal preventive lifestyle (Ritucharya), and overall prevention of all diseases by maintaining the homeostasis of the body in all kinds of external conditions (Sama Dosha).

Dinacharya

Dinacharya is the ideal daily routine, according to Ayurveda, that should be followed to maintain the health regularly. It constitutes the dos and don’ts for everything, right from brushing the teeth to ideal sleep habits. Dinacharya regimen of Ayurveda specifies even the wood(datun) that should be used for cleaning the teeth by the people of different body constitution or prakrati.

It underlines the importance of having an optimal amount of food at the right time and in the right way. It also mentions various other preventive measures like the use of Kajal (Kohl) for the daily prevention of eye diseases, the use of Ayurvedic nasal drops for the prevention of all the disorders in the head region. It stresses the benefits of the right exercise and sleeps patterns for everyone.

Our bodies are exposed to disease-causing factors every second. And therefore, we must actively prevent diseases 24X7. And Dinacharya makes this daunting task completely effortless! It provides a precise and comprehensive guide to complete health preservation. It is a complete code to prevent diseases daily.

Dinacharya also constitutes “Achar Rasayana,” a comprehensive guide to prevent all mental problems like stress, anxiety, etc. It is the ideal spiritual and social code of conduct that, if followed, can save us from various psychological and social problems.

Image par OpenClipart-Vectors de Pixabay

Ritucharya

Ritucharya is one of the most interesting Ayurvedic preventive systems. It is one of its kind as it deals with a preventive regimen for each season.

Seasons affect the body due to continuous changes in the external temperature and the environment. These seasonal changes disturb the physiological balance of the body and can cause severe disorders in the long run. Most of the problems in the body first reflect as seasonal disorders.

Ritucharya describes in detail the Ayurvedic concept of seasonal changes and their effects on body metabolism. It is the comprehensive ayurvedic preventive system that helps the body to adjust seamlessly to the changing external environment and prevent any metabolic disturbances.

Ritucharya constitutes the food habits, ideal food for each season, lifestyle changes to be incorporated with the seasonal changes, and so on. The most admirable aspect of Ritucharya is it’s a proactive approach. It makes the body immune to seasonal changes, instead of treating seasonal disorders!!!

Here are some interesting links related to ritucharya

Ritucharya

Effect of Ritu (seasons) on Dosha

Seasonal Ritucharya

Ritu Haritaki

Healthy Sleep Patterns for different seasons

Sexual Orientation During The Seasons

Asana for different seasons

Therefore, the one who will follow Ritucharya will never fall sick through the changing seasons and maintain a very high level of immunity. Ritucharya is the fountain of youth. The one who drinks from it will stay in the spring of health and youth always!!!

Unrestricted Metabolism


Ayurveda stresses the preservation of natural and unrestricted metabolism. It strictly prohibits artificial control of natural urges.

Animals live in an environment free from social bondage. And probably that’s why they stay free from diseases too. Esp. Wild animals do not have any access to medicines. Still, they usually remain healthy and live out their average lifespan, just because they do not exert unnatural control over their bodies.

However, humans lose a lot in the name of civilization and society. We tend to control our natural urges like thirst, hunger, urination, defecation, etc. very frequently. Due to social influence, we tend to control our natural urges forcefully and hinder the natural metabolic rhythm.

Ayurveda suggests that the body should be allowed the freedom of natural conduct. Most of us today have become insensitive to many of our natural urges like thirst, hunger. We might overlook thirst, hunger, or defecation if we are working or watching TV! This outrageous conduct daily impedes the brisk rate of metabolism and lowers immunity.

All classical Ayurvedic texts have a separate chapter elaborating on disorders resulting from unattended natural urges and their treatment. So, it’s a significant health issue.

Next time you are in an important meeting, don’t be sorry to sneeze or cough!

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Satvavjay


Satva means the mind, and the term satvavjay is the victory over the mind.

According to ancient Vedic wisdom, the body is nothing but a projection of the mind. If you are a “Matrix” fan, you would agree! And, therefore a sensitive, meditative, and balanced mind is the core of a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle. It is a healthy mind that is unoccupied by external noise or clutter. A soul that listens to the body and let our social obligations, stress, fear, or anxiety take a back-seat, is the very foundation of perennial health.

Each set of human mind and body has its own dharma – swadharma. Hindus whisper “tvama vedosi” in the ears of a new-born child. It means – you are the infinite wisdom. You see, your soul, your body knows what’s best for you. And a meditative mind can help you to discover a distinct and utterly personalized approach to health. Therefore, connecting with the body through meditation is the ultimate cure to all worldly diseases.

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Jivem Shardah Shatam

The key of Ayurveda is balance! and with this key, Ayurvedic lifestyle can enable us to have a long, healthy, and fruitful life. Vedic Sutra “Jivem shardah shatam” means – let us live a hundred years(autumns). Ayurvedic preventive lifestyle, armed with healthy daily routine( Dinacharya), healthy seasonal routine (Ritucharya), ideal mental and social conduct ( Achar Rasayana), and other health habits, is the most comprehensive preventive system in the world.

Besides, these rules are simple and easy to follow. They can be readily observed by the sick and the healthy, the rich, and the poor alike. Ayurveda makes no distinction for imparting health to all. Let’s follow these age-old and time-tested tenets of Ayurveda and live a prosperous and healthful life.

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Mindful Fear

One thought can erase the effect of another. Fear is one strong thought that can numb other thoughts. And fear works for almost all of us. We all fear something or the other. Initially, many of us might face problems with the implementation of mindfulness. And fear can be a good tool to become more mindful of what you are doing if have more of the fear factor in your mind.

Fear mostly affects us in a negative manner. We don’t start things or continue them because we fear failure to perform. Actually, I am writing a book on mindfulness more for my own reference in future, because I have failed so many times, that I have become really good at getting back on my feet after falling. And I hope that in the future, I will be able to practice mindfulness for a longer duration than a few minutes at a time. But these few minutes have such a blissful impact that they can help us keep going in any kind of situation.

The fear factor has worked for me in some cases. I am not talking about an absolute state of panic. But a small amount of fear, that amount which prevents you from driving the wrong side of the road or telling small white lies etc. That amount of fear can bring a lot of difference in the way we think and act, that too in a positive way. 

A mindful person can foresee things going wrong and that’s the best time to correct them. For example, as I see myself thinking something negative while cooking, I fear that I am infusing the same thoughts in the food, with in turn be transferred to my family members eating it. So, while cooking I immediately correct my thinking, at least when I am putting any ingredient in the cooking vessel on fire. Whenever I am cleaning or dusting something, I become conscious of what I am thinking, because it looks like I am smearing that object with the same thought and it better not be a negative one. Thoughts are all around us and they create the entire environment of the positivity or negativity. That’s the reason why things touched by saints are sacred and places of worship have a peaceful environment.  

This somehow came naturally to me and it might work for someone who is more prone to fear than to other negative emotions like anger or greed. I believe that the so-called negative emotions are just emotions and can be harnessed for personal betterment. They can be treated like medicines that should not be consumed as food(in large amount) when hungry(have a vacuum in the mind) but works in a small amount to help cure diseases.

For example a lot of fear before the exam can lead to mental blockage and a big zero in the exams, however a little anxiety can save you from the little mistakes made under the influence of over-confidence.

A complete absence of fear is unnatural in humans. Excess fear is pathological. Therefore, probably we don’t need to become fearless. A person with absolutely no fear can turn himself into a monster. We can regulate the fear and use it as a signal for self-protection, and not allow it to numb us into inactivity.

Imagine that you are an human inhabitant of an ecologically ruined planet and have landed on earth at night. You have no plants, no animals on your planet. Suddenly, you hear a strange sound in the dark, something that you have never heard before. Something strange touches you and you start running for your dear life. Unfortunately, the strange thing also starts to run after you. To your horror, you discover that this thing can run faster than you, can see in the dark and has piercing shining eyes!!!

You might be already dead even before this thing reaches you, just out of fear. There is no need for the scary thing to do anything! Fear will kill you.

But in case you survive to see the strange thing, you might see a dog for the first time in your life. And dogs are loving creatures. If you survive the fear evoked from barking and let out something nice to eat, you might get a most trust-worthy friend on the earth.

You can reach the happy ending, only if you are not dead out of fear already. Little fear for survival can help you think fast, it can help you think out of box, it can help you observe things more keenly and try out things that you would never have dreamt of doing in your entire life!

So fear can be good, as good as excitement, confidence and other virtues. But in the amount proportional to the amount of salt in the food, not more, not less

Om shanti shanti shanti!

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On Road Mindfulness



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Most of us drive vehicles almost every day. Even if we are not actually driving, we travel sometimes in situations when it is not possible to read or do some other work. These are the small holes in the consciousness when past memories, or experiences, esp. the painful ones, seep in our mind and grab our attention. Normally we are not unhappy, sad or hyperemotional when we are engaged. These emotions are prevalent only when we have nothing to focus our attention to. But if we are completely focused on the present, we will not have any space for these residual thoughts.

Now driving needs so much attention. You need to be careful and alert all the time and this compulsion can create stress of conflict when your mind wants to focus on something else. We feel stressed only when we feel out of control when there are too many things to handle together. When we are worried or anxious, this need for attention on driving a vehicle has an additional taxing effect on the mind. Driving, esp. on busy roads or during the traffic jams can be even more stressful. This is the reason why many people prefer to get driven to work rather drive themselves if they can afford it.
It is a well-known truth that most of the accidents happen because of carelessness or due to a lack of focus.

Mental chatter takes over while driving because driving again is a process that can be done automatically. So there is an opportunity for the mind to start its chatter. And most of the time this chatter arises from negative feelings. We constantly try to find a solution to our problems by constant churning of thoughts in our minds. This churning eventually deepens our impressions. No solution comes out of such churning. A phase in Tulsidas Ramayana says “You cannot get butter by churning water”. Thus all this effort is wasted. This failure ignites anger and turns on the negative thought process. Therefore, there is a huge possibility that this anger will turn into road rage if any suitable condition arises. Mindfulness is an indispensable tool for road safety for us and for the others. 

Another evil of driving, road rage is a complete absence of awareness. It is when the animalistic emotions take charge of our actions. However, no gross emotion like anger, grief, obsession can take control of our mental faculty.

Mindfulness is about seeing things as they are. This practice is helpful for both a normal person and as well as for a person with some phobia associated with roads or traffic. This type of mindfulness is also helpful in recovering from some kind of emotional shock or trauma regarding a terrible road accident.

I have a personal experience related to driving mindfulness. It can be called be better called an accident mindfulness J

I used to have Luna, a very old model of a two-wheeler when I was in school. I used to be constantly absorbed in thoughts almost all the time of the day, even while driving. It was a bad time, my father expired recently and I used to be very worried about an entrance exam that I was aiming at. I desperately wanted to pass the exam to make my mom feel happy. However, I really hated studying most of the subjects. And so I used to be stressed all the time. When I look back at the way I used to drive as a student, I am able to understand that miracles do happen; otherwise, I won’t be alive today.

One day, as I was driving recklessly as usual. I don’t remember what exactly happened before the accidents. That road used to be full of dogs so most probably some dogs or something else came in front of my bike. I must have been driving at a high speed. I used the front brakes to stop the bike and the rear wheels went up in the air, throwing me in the air (I used to be very thin and underweight). And suddenly I was flying! It was a moment that I remember vividly. I can still feel that moment. I felt as if I could change anything at that moment, in fact, everything will happen according to me. I could hear the whizzing of my bike, the rushing air, and all sorts of sounds and still, it was all very quiet as if this realm of sound is a very small piece of a huge existence. That moment felt like never-ending. I did not feel fear or joy, or anything at all. I was not numbed with shock. I actually felt and still remember each and every detail, as if it is all happening right now. I feel on the divider of the road on my back. I should have fallen on my head. I remember one of my acquaintances had a similar accident. She hit the road divider hard and broke both her legs.  I don’t know how I was able to turn in the air. I did fall on the divider but fell on the muddy part. Only the end of my backbone hit the hard cemented border and it did pain for a few days. 

Since that accident, I have never had any fear of accidents. Nor do I get angry or anxious during a long wait on a jammed road. 

We see in movies or animation how ninjas are able to jump from a mountain and land safely on the ground. Or walk on trees as if they are walking on the hard ground. Or jump long distances or even fly in the air! Now I think that it is all possible. With mindfulness, you can enter into the control room of nature and make the laws of nature work your ways.

How to practice driving mindfulness.

In On-road mindfulness, we can have 2 situations – one when we are driving a vehicle, another when we are sitting in a vehicle and have absolutely nothing to do. 

Like all mindfulness practices, here I am providing a set of standard rituals for driving mindfulness. However, mindfulness is a completely personalized experience and I hope that these basics can help you find your own way eventually.

The steps described below are akin to a staircase for reaching an understanding of driving mindfulness. It also helps us to understand that mindfulness can become as natural to us as breathing. We breathe all the time and do not have to set aside some time for it, like the way we do it for meditation.

Driving Mindfulness

Be aware of your hands turning the keys of your car. Feel the steel touch of the keys. Consciously hear the starting sound of the car. Observe if it is different from other days.

Feel your hands on the steering wheel.

Observe carefully what is in front of you without thinking anything good or bad about it. It is unnatural to suppress thoughts, however, you can be so focused that the thoughts don’t grab your complete attention.

Feel the car and your body moving to different directions as you start driving.

Feel the air moving inside the car (if the windows are not closed)

If you are too engrossed in useless thoughts or are feeling negative, try listening to your favorite music (preferably light and positive music).

If you are mentally relaxed, try not to put on the music and just be aware of everything around you.

Feel the metallic keys as you stop the car. Feel the subtle push forward as you stop your car.

The mind is like a servant who behaves the way he is trained. If you have trained your mind to think without any objective, then it will keep doing so. In the process, it will drain your energy. Let us take the example of a friend who talks incessantly. If you continue to hear his blabbering, it increases in volume. But if you treat his endless chatter like an uninvited conversation and stop paying attention to it, gradually the chatter dies away.    

Initially, you will start noticing objects and your mind will present you with unrequired thoughts and ideas.

For example, if you happen to pass by a beautiful woman wearing a hot red dress, your mind can give you thousands of thoughts about her. But if you just notice the chatter without doing anything about it, it will end. There is a huge difference between noticing and paying attention. When we listen to a toddler blabbering or a car engine starting, we just notice the sounds produced. We just acknowledge their presence without actually doing anything about them. We don’t respond to them in any way, neither do we think about the sound of the baby or the car engine, unless there is something really peculiar about them. But when we are in a business meeting, we are actually paying attention. We consciously retain and mentally process all suitable information that we come across.

“Vivek” or discretion to choose the rights things to process is the process as well as the incidental result of mindfulness. Through mindfulness, we are telling our mind that there is no need to process everything. We can choose what we want our mind to process. Thus ‘Vivek” is a mental scanning process that accumulates useful information for the mind to process. And it can happen only in the space provided by mindfulness. 

Such “Vivek” is a 100% protection against any kind of accidents because there is always a way to avoid them. With mindful driving, you would connect with the cosmos and always know the right thing to do, under any circumstances.

It is not a great idea to expect instant mindful experience when you are a beginner. It is natural that above mentioned is the exact situation when you will need mindfulness the most! But let us treat mindfulness like a tree. You cannot expect fruits immediately after sowing the seeds. So let us not allow this tender seedling to wither away in hot and dry conditions. Gradually, as you sharpen your tool of mindfulness, you will be able to experience mental normalcy in the most drastic situations. Therefore, if you are just out of a hot business debate in a disturbed or angry mood and driving back home, it is better to cool down with light music or jokes, rather than trying to apply mindfulness.

Mindful Traveling

This is a situation when you are not exactly driving a medium of transport but are being transported, for example, a train or a bus journey. There can be situations when you don’t have anything to do. Instead of too much use of electronic gadgets like mobile phones, laptops etc. on such long journeys; you can try to practice traveling mindfulness.

The following steps can help you to get a glimpse of traveling mindfulness. In the end, mindfulness is mindfulness, whether it is applied during traveling, sleeping or eating!

Feel your movement as you move inside a train or a bus.

Notice yourself walking towards your seat, parking your luggage and getting seated. It can be a haphazard or relaxed process.

Observe yourself seated in your place.

The most important factor in mindfulness is that we don’t have to focus our attention on something outside. We have to treat ourselves as a part of the whole and try to mindfully observe the whole!

Some people face travel anxiety. They fear the travel, about turning off the lights in the house, about forgetting important things on the journey, about losing things. They might be suffering from travel anxiety. They might also fear fatal accidents. These fears spring not from the immediate reality but from some deep-seated prejudices or disturbing past experiences. But if you are connected with your present moment, such useless thoughts or emotions will fail to grab your attention.

With the constant practice of mindfulness, you will observe yourself in a relaxed and unhurried mode while traveling. You will fail to forget important things to keep like the train tickets or to switch off the electronic appliances or to make important phone calls before traveling and so on and so forth. You will be able to apply a travel plan almost up to 100% in real life!  

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Mindful Cleaning for Mom and Child

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Cleaning Mindfulness for the new moms

I would like to share my personal experience as a new mom. I did not see very small children being brought up from close quarters. So I had a faint idea that child care might be problematic but it was much more than I could ever imagine. My daughter had feeding problems initially. All I could do was to see her cry with bloating. I tried everything – hot compress, herbal remedies, allopathic medicines, but 3 months were complete hell for me and my little princess. Sometimes, I was so depressed that we used to cry together and there used to be no one at home. There were times, when I would keep wiping the floor, keeping washing and drying the clothes, and keep cooking, because I didn’t know what to cook so that my daughter would eat it willingly. My daughter was actually underweight; however, it is a common problem with new moms that they are always anxious about the well-being of their children. The obsession to be a “good mom” and provide the best possible for the baby, is quite prevalent in first-time moms.  And I can safely say that this can trigger a deep sense of failure and depression – postpartum depression. Even while writing this, I am filled with a deep sense of regret that my daughter suffered all that in spite of all my efforts. This is good enough to push someone in a bout of depression. Thankfully, I have learned to be mindful about it!

Therefore I personally believe that new moms must equip themselves with mindfulness training with a special focus on cleaning mindfulness because they might find themselves doing that most of the time. It is extremely important to be mindful during the cleaning process – otherwise many such ideas like

I am good enough for doing this only

This is all I have now in my life

I am not able to give enough time to the baby because of the chores

No one cares to help me etc. etc.

– might pop up in the mind and continue to grow.  So it is important to be mindful of the passing moment and try not to judge the entire life on the basis of a phase of life. It takes a lot of patience to see the whole picture and most of us might lack that.  

Mindful Cleaning for Children

This is the reason mindful cleaning should be taught to children. Mindful children will not fumble for things that should be done. They will not be confused between the right and wrong choices. They will not waste their time on meaningless deviations and save the precious years of their lives. 

Mindful cleaning for children must start with decluttering. Every child should be taught to decide how many toys he/she actually wants to keep. This is common knowledge that children normally do not play with more than 10 toys at a time. You might be hoarding a lot of toys because your child might play with it someday. But let me tell you, that day might never come. So it is a better idea to teach your child to choose carefully what she wants to keep. And let her donate the unwanted toys to some charitable organization. This act of choosing will make her aware of many things. First, she will know what she loves best, it is a rare knowledge. Most of us grow into confused adults as we never face such choices day in and day out. Our lives become overwhelmed with confusing options just like the heap of unwanted toys that we never decided to do away with. Children learn that there is limited room, as there is limited time in life. And it is important to choose the best and keep it, instead of hoarding all unwanted stuff which will hide the things that you really love.

Once the best-loved toys are selected, it becomes easier to get children to clean as picking a few toys from the floor is not a daunting task. Besides, children can be made aware that if they do not choose to pick up a toy, it will be considered that they don’t need it and the toy will be taken away. This is another level of awareness, where after a point in time the child will lose interest in a particular toy and will not choose to spent time on managing it. This also makes the toy storage area a constantly changing and exciting place, where the child will find only his favorite toys and not a heap of junk. These children, as they grow up, will be freer, more flexible and open in their approach towards life. They will not get stuck with any specific thing, person or experience. They will not spend their life trying to hoard things or money. They will be able to mindful clean all aspects of their lives.

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Mindful Cleaning


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One of the most basic processes that we all engage in is the cleaning process. Cleaning is not only related to home-making. Each one of us does some or the other kind of cleaning in our daily routine unless we are filthy rich. Even if we are not cleaning our home frequently, we might be cleaning our study table or office cupboard or organizing our work desk. It can be any type of cleaning.

Let me give you my background regarding cleaning. I must have been the messiest kid and a teenager. It would take me a festival or some other occasion to clean my clothes or my desk. My books would be scattered all over and my study table always resembled the site of an earthquake. But I considered it natural, in fact authentic. I used to think that only the ones who study would keep their tables messy. After all, I had all the important work to do in the world. And cleaning was definitely not one of the mentally exciting things that I would like to focus on. I thought that there is nothing sensible to focus on cleaning and it must be delegated to lesser brains. Now I can safely say that I have improved my thinking. I love cleaning now. It is a fundamental process to our healthy and happy survival and I really respect the process of cleaning now. Love of cleaning led me to accept minimalism. Minimalist cleaning hardly takes any time as there is not much to clean J . And now what I do is mindful cleaning and really enjoy it.

Now it is my personal experience that normal cleaning activities like dusting, mopping the floor, dishwashing, laundry etc. can be done easily without active supervision of a conscious mind. Besides, these are normally considered to be second-grade no-brain activities. many people tend to procrastinate cleaning activities unless it is absolutely necessary to clean up. Therefore, these are the activities where we can easily turn off mindful attention to the task at hand and drift into the imaginary world of thoughts, emotions, and imagination. The mental space that these activities provide can easily attract a lot of negativity if we are not careful.

There is always so much funny stuff available about the grumbling housewife or the homemakers.  Why do they grumble so much? Probably, this might be so because these people normally have a lot of the above-described activities in their daily lives. In fact, their whole day can be full of cleaning and decluttering if they have small kids at home. They can spend their full day doing odd jobs that are not mentally challenging and inspiring. Thus the mental vacuum or numbness that builds up gives enough space for all kinds of thoughts. Unfortunately, most of these thoughts can be negative as a homemaker does not earn money, might not be considered important enough or sharp enough to engage in any other intellectual pursuit. It is natural that most of the time; such life can trigger lack of self-identity, loss of self-respect and depression.  Therefore, it is especially important for home-makers to practice cleaning mindfulness.

Decluttering Festival

I have described below the way I try to maintain mindfulness while the cleaning activities like the kitchen cleaning, washing and drying clothes, wardrobe cleaning, floor cleaning, and other odd jobs. I am sure that there can be better ways and I hope that we find them together.

Some tribal cultures have the practice of removing all useless things before the new harvest season begins. They throw all such things in a bonfire, dance around it and celebrate their harvest! These people are mindful of what they need and what they don’t, unlike us. We are told what we need by the advertising and marketing agencies. We have almost nil awareness of our real needs. Therefore, mindful cleaning starts with the process of decluttering. Physical decluttering can be used as a good example later for mental decluttering.

The first big step towards mindful cleaning is decluttering. If you are cleaning mindfully, you will ask yourself “why am I cleaning this thing?”.  You should look for a sensible answer. The next mindful question that you can ask yourself is “why do I own this thing?” or “does it brings joy to me?” or “is it really useful to me?”. I used to have a lot of show pieces that I collected from my travels. After my daughter was born, it became a real pain to be able to maintain all of them.  It took me 4 long years to realize that I don’t want them. They might look nice but if they come at a cost of my priceless time that I could have spent with my daughter instead of cleaning them, I don’t want them at all. They offer very little value for the time spent on cleaning them. I gave away all of them, every single one and now I never miss them. 

Another big cleaning happens around the clothes. I used to have cupboards full of clothes, just because my mom was very fond of buying clothes. And she would keep buying my gifts. Besides, I kept storing all the clothes so that I would wear them SOME day, which actually never came. I highly recommend reading Marie Condo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”. There are youtube videos also available, that will give you a zest of the book. I sincerely wish that I had read this book year back. I would have so much of my time and energy on senseless work. Cleaning is not senseless; however, there is nothing more idiotic than mindless cleaning.  

I knew that we should throw away the things that are not useful to us. But I would keep clinging to things that I would be able to use ONE day. So my rooms were full of such things and never looked clean in spite of all the cleaning.  There was not enough space. I failed to realize that I need to keep things that I am going to use frequently and not all the things that are usable in some way. After a few years of failed attempts of cleaning, I came across the documentary “The Minimalist” and it changed my whole life. I loved the idea and made a strategy to achieve minimalism. Actually, it was my strategy of getting rid of excessive anger, might work for you too. I started throwing 5 things per day that I have not used for more than a year. Over a course of 6 months, I donated some 35-40 suitcase full of clothes and other usable things to a nearby orphanage. I felt so relieved and free immediately.  After 6 months I could see that my house remained clean without doing any extensive cleaning.  It was because there was no trash left in the house. I was blind to the trash in my house and I was trying to manage trash instead of cleaning it up. Mindful awareness of my real needs helped to figure out what I really need and remove the rest. Marie Condo, the tidying expert suggests onetime cleaning which is actually the best way. However, if you do not have the moral strength to do that, go by “5 things out every day” method. This process really makes you more mindful o the things that you value and would want to keep at home. 

Once the house is properly decluttered, you must be mindful of anything that is not required in the house. Such things are believed to block the natural flow of energy in the house.  In Indian tradition, it is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth comes to the home which is clean and pious. And interestingly, the broom is also worshipped during the worship ritual of Lakshmi. Therefore, cleaning is more than a mindless job.

Everyday Cleaning

After the mega-decluttering of the house, I believe that you need not spend more than 30 min cleaning the entire house, that too when you have a small messy child at home.

Initially, I would several ideas running in my mind, especially that I am losing time in cleaning and that I should be using this time to earn more. But I flipped that idea into another belief that as I am dusting my things or mopping the floor, I am removing dirt from my good luck. As I shine my house, my fortune will shine as well. With thorough faith in this idea, I became completely aware of the way that I am cleaning. I am attentive to the fact whether the things are getting cleaned properly or not. This thought works for almost all of us because we all face little financial crises here or there. When aligned with prosperity, cleaning becomes far most important than it would appear otherwise. Since I have few prized possessions that are useful to me after a massive decluttering, I really have time to clean and manage them properly. 

Again gratefulness helps a lot to stay in the moment. When I am washing my daughter’s favorite plate, I feel grateful that I have a beautiful family, an adorable child, good food and comfortable life! Positivity connects everything in life, just as negativity does. This feeling helps me to be more aware of the pretty plates and other utensils that I have.

When I am mopping the floor in a mindful state, I am aware of each and every inch of my house. My house looks like a living entity in its own right. I work better and faster. What’s best is that I have less work, since I know what I should do and what I don’t need to.  Mindfulness might not help you to work fast. However, it sure can sweep away all useless things and work from your life and you are left with few crisp and clean things to do.

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Mindful Walking


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The walking mindfulness is a part of Zen, Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, and Vietnamese Thiền. There are two types of meditations – sitting meditation and walking meditation.

Almost all of us are aware of the concept of sitting meditation. Walking meditation is a complementary form of meditation to the sitting meditation. Walking meditation was meant as a meditative break from the long slots of sitting meditation. It improved the blood supply after sitting still for a long time.

I used to be completely unaware while walking. I used to be so much lost in the thoughts that once I was about to put my foot on a crab, as I walked back home with my family to my house. It was a dark rainy night and I was walking as usual, lost in my thoughts. In fact, I often used to walk while thinking. So walking was a side thing to do for me as I thought. My imagination was the way for me to get out of my uninteresting or sad state of affairs, as I used to perceive it then. Now, I believe that I must have wasted so many years just walking and thinking. I thought so much that I was left with neither interest nor energy to do anything else. It was an absolute waste of time. Now I feel that I could have saved so much of energy and time I only I could just be present. What I did was completely opposite to the walking mindfulness. It must be mildly true for many others, who start strolling as they think about something serious. It normally happens when you feel an urgent need to do something about your problems, but since you do not know what to do, you start walking. It gives your mind a false relief of doing something about the problem. Also the physical exertion takes away much of your stress by releasing the anti-stress or feel good hormone. Gradually, it might become a unproductive habit that is like a drug. It gives you a imaginary escape into an imaginary world of comfort, whereas the real problem remains unsolved.     

Walking mindfulness is but walking meditation in other words.

Normally, when we are walking we are looking or thinking about something. At least, we look or think about the destination where we are going. Most of the time, a person in the frenzy to reach somewhere, will overlook the path. On reaching the desired place, if you ask him about the things that he saw on the path, he would hardly remember any. But in mindfulness meditation, there is awareness of the path, of the footsteps, flowers or greenery on the roadside. With an aware mind, when you pass through a path, you really are present with every step. You can even hear the crunching sound of the dry leaves as you put your foot on them. This is mindful walking.

Walking mindfulness

Walking mindfulness can be practiced anywhere. It is great if you can practice in a place that you love. It can be a spot of natural beauty, or a temple or even your own house. Initially, if possible you can choose a place that you love. However, your house might be the most convenient place to start. The most helpful application of mindful walking can be in the office. In an office, normally the people are sitting in a sedentary position for a fairly long duration. Besides, it can help very effectively in managing the stress during office hours.

Walking meditation can be practiced while walking from one room to the other or on a mountaineering expedition.

Let’s look at the way walking mindfulness is experienced. Now, this is a personal experience. There are no steps or ritual for practicing mindfulness.

Be aware of the tension in different parts of your legs and your body as you get up or take the first step.

Be aware of the surrounding sounds and voices.

Be aware of your foot-steps and the pressure on the soles of the feet.

Be aware of chatter in your mind. No need to stop it, just be aware of it. 

Let us share my personal experience of mindful walking. I could not get into the desired college for graduation and one day I was extremely miserable. I just walked up to the window of the corridor in my college during a break and looked out of it. For 10 sec as I walked towards the window, I could feel my feet touching the ground. I remember even the sound of the birds chirping, leaves rustling and normal hubbub of college extra clearly. And as I looked out of the window, it was the most beautiful sight. Suddenly, the leaves of the trees appeared extra bright green, the sky was a beautiful blue color and everything looked so bright and colorful. I realized that I have eyes. Realization is always different from information. I knew that I have eyes, just as I know that India is my country. However, this fact hit me deep inside that I have eyes. Realization is a living thing, which makes it so complete. It meant that I could see! It meant that I should be grateful that I can see when many others can’t. It meant that the world is so beautiful and colorful and I should be grateful to be living in it. It meant that I actually never saw anything, that my eyes were never connected to my soul. My eyes have been put to no better use than the optical hole of a camera.

Many people who have had NDE(Near Death Experiences) state that everything looks extra bright and vibrantly colored in heaven. I still remember that sight from the college window and I believe it when I hear that heaven and hell are here on earth itself. We just don’t have the right vision. 

Mindful walking can bring amazing insights into our lives. Sometimes, even a small incident of mindfulness can change the entire outlook of an individual.

Apart from benefits in the spiritual and mental realm, mindful walking offers multiple other benefits. Mindful walking is a great exercise for dancers, acrobats, sports people as well as home-makers and office workers. It is good to support posture and gait improvement.

Mindful walking can prevent a lot of pedestrian accidents on the road. Combined with mindful driving, the accidents can be reduced to almost zero!

Hope this simple exercise benefits you and helps you to reach your final destination!

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Mindful Sleep


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Sleep is one of the 3 pillars of health, according to ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda. Therefore, good quality of sleep is indispensable for good health. Unfortunately, most of us have improper sleep on most of our nights. There are many reasons for improper sleep, hyperactive brain, stress, anxiety, fear, anger, and other negative emotions can drastically degrade the quality of our sleep. Sleep quality is not great for most of us and the reason might vary from person to person.

Good quality of sleep cannot be compartmentalized as a separate part of our day. We cannot switch on good sleep after a bad day. Ideally, It can be an incidental result of a peaceful day. Therefore, moment to moment mindfulness helps to create a deep rejuvenating sleep at the end of the day. it is better to correct an emotional slip within a few minutes, rather than planting it as a thorny bush in your mind and letting it grow till the night. Therefore, when all religious texts ask us to forgive the mistakes of others, it is more for our immediate good rather than anyone else’s. No one sleeps better than a forgiving person.    

However, sometimes we do have very bad days. Sometimes, it is difficult to forget or forgive some people immediately. But it is always possible to steer away from the sad memory and find a safe emotional place to tackle it. This is not an escapist approach. In case you have your house on fire, you would first get away from the fire and then try to put it off. There is no sense in standing in the middle of the flames and trying to find a solution. Even if you don’t follow mindfulness the whole day, saving emotional stress is a great practice not only to ensure a great sleep but also a very peaceful day. Find more about it under the heading – anxiety and anger management.

You might have ample justifiable reasons for bad sleep. But let’s not dwell on the reasons for long. In order to remove the darkness, we do not need to think of its reasons; we need to focus on lighting the lamp. Let’s make a resolution to improve the quality of our sleep and have a fresh look at the following awesome ways that we all already know about.

Ways to a mindful sleep

The right time to sleep

The best time to sleep is a few hours (2-3 hours) after the sunset. However, we can make our own time table according to our convenience. However, it is important to be punctual for the bed. For many people, night appears to be the most relaxing time, when they can actually focus and work. Many people work at night and sleep during the day. But the long term effects of this unnatural behavior are bad health and rapid aging.

Some workaholic people are not able to stop working or thinking about it even during night time. However, this extra mental exertion hardly gives us anything except the satisfaction of extra time devoted to work. Whatever is important and worth thinking can be worked upon in 5 hours of daytime. All extra hours we normally put in work might results in low productivity over the years. Looks like these extra hours work on the law of diminishing returns. They constantly decrease in productivity as they increase in number. Therefore, it makes sense to halt the work when it is time to rest.
 Consider sleep as important as a business meeting and pay equal respect to it. Let us be mindful of the important role sleep plays in our lives. We are truly in the hands of God, when we are sleeping. In ancient Indian tradition, sleep is considered to be a goddess that rejuvenates all the creatures. When we are mindful of sleep, we can approach sleep as a pious ritual instead of a by-product of daily metabolism.

Gratefulness

In spite of all kinds of problems in my life, I have had a very peaceful sleep for most of my life. This was sole because of a feeling of gratefulness that I had while I went to sleep. I am averse to cold things, cold weather or anything cold. Therefore, when I went to sleep at night and I had a warm blanket to cover myself, I felt that the blanket is actually God’s love that covers me. In childhood and teenage, most of my days were not great. As I used to lay in my bed, I used to feel so happy that the day is over now and I have no liability for tomorrow as no one knows about it. Only when I got a job and I had more than I ever had, I forgot about this subtle ritual and gradually drifted towards sleepless nights. I forgot about the blanket, as I started taking it for granted. Instead, I kept thinking about all the things that have gone bad and all other things that might go worse. I drifted to sleep in a resentful and angry mood. And what followed was even worse. When I hit the worst possible, then I remembered about the blanket and the warmth that I have always had. Now I feel that we invite problems because we fail to learn and improve without them. I could have gone from good to great, but I chose to move in a downward spiral because a few things were not going according to me.  

Bottom-line, gratefulness is the single most important quality that can change your perspective about things, make you happy and peaceful in a moment, and feel abundant and satisfied.

Music

Light cheerful music is a great way to move towards sleep time if you are tensed or frustrated. It makes sense to start playing a devotional song or soft music that you relate with the sleep time. For example, if you have to get into bed at 10 pm, you can start playing the music by 9.30/9.45 pm. Gradually, your body will start responding to that signal and immediately relax on hearing the specific music. This especially works in case of toddlers and babies who have problems falling asleep.

Body Scan

The body scan is an amazing way to relax the body just before sleep. It can be completed in less than 5-7 min. It is another method to become mindful about the body and consciously choose to relax.

Body Massage

A short and gentle body massage with a moisturizing lotion or oil can be very relaxing before bed. Body massage is another great way to become mindful about the body. You can be mindful about a specific part of the body as you move your hands around it. You can feel the soft skin, throbbing of the heart and rigidity of the bones. You can also become more aware of the stress, pain, inflammation or any other mild sensation that was not felt during the day as you were engrossed in your work. You can massage the painful body part and suggest to your mind that the pain is gradually getting healed.

Mindful Sleep

Now let us assume that after your nighttime rituals, you are finally lying in the bed. Normally, most of us are thinking about some random thoughts and we move into sleep unconsciously. However, sleep is a doorway to our unconscious and subconscious mind. If we can sleep mindfully, we can have a dip in greater consciousness. If we are unaware of the sleep process, we might sleep with a negative emotion or a useless thought. Ancient Indians believed that the thoughts that we sleep with get registered permanently and form sanskaras or mental blocks. Therefore, it is advised to remember god or a higher consciousness as we sleep. You can start mindfulness by remembering God before sleep.   

For mindful sleep, just notice the thoughts passing in your mind. Consider them like cars passing through the road out of a window that you are looking out. You do not focus on any specific car, you do not judge where they are going or coming from, you do not try to imagine who might be sitting inside, none of these. You just watch the cars. They might just make a pretty spectacle to look at that. Zero complexity. In a similar way, you can look at the thoughts passing your mind. As a matter of fact, we might never know why a specific thought appeared in our mind. There is an endless connection of past events that we might be oblivious of. The reasons that we can think of appear as a result of a structured reasoning process of our mind, sourcing facts from conscious memory. Therefore, engaging deeply with any thoughts is as mindless as thinking about who might be sitting inside an unknown red car. So just be aware of the thoughts, no reasoning, no fusing, no justifications; just simple observation. This is mindfulness.

As we become more mindful, strong unresolved thoughts will start emerging at bedtime. It is important to remember this that this is not a degradation of our practice, in fact, it is proof of advancement. Now we are rid of general chatter and have dug deeper into our consciousness. The thoughts can be about a painful past or about uncertain or dangerous future. Sometimes, it might look justified to get involved with the thoughts. 

Consider this example – you are invited to watch a video on a life-size screen. Everything appears lifelike, but you know that it is just a screen. However, you see the image of a very dear friend or your family member approaching. It is quite possible that you might forget for a while that it is just an image, not a real person and you might try to strike a conversation with the image.

I had an experience while meditating. Years back, when I was a little child, my grandfather slapped me very hard for not listening to him. My grandfather was a very strict person. He was visiting us for some time. Till that time, I was almost never beaten at all by my parents. And it was a very stark and painful experience because I did not understand why I was beaten. And nobody said anything about it. But I forgot this experience and never recollected it. However, while meditating I remembered this incident as if it was happening right then and there. I started crying. I could see that I felt lonely and left out. I could feel the situation. I started thinking about the experience again. I felt resentful towards my parents, grandparents and almost everyone around me in a chain reaction. I did wrong. This is not the way such experiences can be handled. They re-emerge to seek an answer. Now it does not have to be a physical or a material solution. In fact, all real solutions are basically threads of acceptance. So what I should have done was to accept that IT HAPPENED. As I accepted that it happened, I could see that my grandfather basically meant good. The thrashing was the only way he knew to communicate something serious. Probably he had a very high temper and was mentally handicapped in that way. This is what he must have been treated like as a child and never grew beyond it. I remembered so many good things he had. He was extremely honest, hard-working person. He was generous and always helped the poor and needy and so on. All these complimentary thoughts can emerge as we open door to them. If I choose to think negative, I will be able to dig out equally potent reasons. The essence is even the good thoughts are not to be fused with. So there is no need for me to reason that since my grandfather was a good person, he did well by slapping me. And probably I can do the same to my daughter. The essence it – IT Happened, period. 

So even painful thoughts that might emerge in your mind at times during the day and esp. before sleep – are just thoughts! They just happened, period. It takes time and patience to achieve this goal and to be honest, I am far from it. But the only benefit that I might have is that I know it when I make a mistake. And it helps to steer in the right direction. So, let’s just focus on the fun with mindfulness every day instead of trying to achieve it as a target.

Other most prevalent thoughts that I face during sleep are thoughts about the future. Thoughts on the future are far more compelling because the future is something that we must prepare for. It can be a fairly compelling argument that if we don’t think about the future, how are we going to be prepared for it? The general procedure to deal with overthinking can be something like this – thinking, esp. overthinking can only deplete your mental energy and leave you feeling drained. How are we going to work in the future if we feel mentally depleted? So there is no need to think, or better stated, worry about the future. These are 2 logical extremes of thought station. You can choose either one of them and you will find yourself to be equally correct. However, with uncertainty and unpredictability of life, this 2 logic will keep changing and you will be oscillating like a pendulum between them. No peace!

In mindfulness, we have the midway, the central stable point when the pendulum is not moving. The power to rest in Mindfulness is the weight of the pendulum. And we all know that heavy pendulum needs more force to get destabilized from its resting position. More mindful you are, the greater the force it will take for any problem to move your mind into chaos. So accept that the future is uncertain, it is unpredictable, it can be even dangerous.

The queries of mind are not real. They are assumptions, like the factor x, in order to solve the equations of life. The conscious mind has limited memory and processing capacity. Therefore, it is not wise to expect the best results from it. It is like expecting a digital calculator to be able to print a document. However, if you accept this limited capacity, you will have fewer reasons to be affected by mental chatter. You will be able to notice it without reacting to it, just the blabbering of a baby. We hear it, we respond to it, but we don’t try to find any meaning in it. Nor do we try to suppress it because it is meaningless. So mind is saying” tomorrow I might get a promotion” – or “ I might get fired”. These might also be practical possibilities for tomorrow. However, there is no need or no gain by fusing your thoughts with emotions. For example, feeling happy at the first thought or feeling sad at the second one is fusing with the thoughts and proving that they are real. Thoughts are like souls, if you acknowledge their presence and believe in them, you can give them body. they can get really powerful if you give affirmations to them over and over again. Most of our phobias and manias are basically strong thoughts. They are so strong that we are not able to handle them. And their seeds can be sown very effectively while going to sleep. So it is extremely important to be mindful while going to sleep, even more, important than being mindful in the daytime. 

Sometimes you might face extremely strong thoughts about the past or about the future and you might get swept away. I had a huge fear of death since I saw my father pass away at a very early age. Sometimes, when I was frustrated and scared as a teenager, I would have thoughts about death while going to bed. The negative or positive thoughts that are attached to a real incident in life can be very difficult to tackle. They look quite real and possible. At that time, I did not know anything about mindfulness, but I devised a way to be happy at bedtime. I would shift my attention towards more real things, like the blanket, bed or the fan that I have and I am comfortable at night. I have a home and I have a bed to sleep. Besides, I started to believe that sleep and death are the times when you meet God. So I would imagine a very loving God who is going to take care of me as I sleep. This was super strong imagery. In fact, I was always the happiest as I went to sleep.

The point is that when you have super-overwhelming emotions already attached to some thoughts, you might find it difficult to practice mindfulness. So you can take help of love and gratitude. Ask yourself the question – “is it happening right now?”, we can be grateful that we have a peaceful time right, even if something wrong is bound to happen.  “what are the good things that I have right now?” or “what are the good things that have happened to me?”. Past positive experiences are always the best staff to hold when you are emotionally shaky. These questions will help to bring yourself back to the present. After that, you can practice your normal routine for sleeping mindfulness.

Cleaning

I would like to share one practice that significantly helped me improve my emotional stability. You can find more information about it on

Click to access GUIDED%20CLEANING%20script%20.pdf

This practice helps to clean the impression that we have collected during the day. It is believed that the sanskaras (the mental blocks) formed during the day are processed by our brain during the sleep and they solidify in our memory. If we are able to remove such mental blocks before they become registered in memory, we will have a clearer mind. Now is it possible to remove the blocks by giving yourself a suggestion that they are getting removed. I believe yes, because you can remove thoughts with another thought of cleaning. Hope that the cleaning process helps you as much as it has helped me!

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Mindful Cooking


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Now most of us are drifting far away from cooking every day as more and more ready to cook or ready to eat options are available. There are far more eateries and restaurants that were there a decade back. The food business is one of the industries growing at a very fast rate.

As the families became smaller and women started participating in the workforce, the cooking started to look more like an extra activity that should be avoided if possible. Everyone wants to use the time otherwise spent in cooking for more useful pursuits like more working hours in the office. More working hours mean more money, a better job, promotions and so on and so forth. Cooking became completely dispensable as compared to the latter because cooking for the family was not earning you anything. In many western countries, people now prefer to eat out. Cooking is applicable more to restaurant chefs than to anyone else. 

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Their change was not completely wrong. Initially, as women started working, they had petty jobs with a small income. They could devote enough time to their jobs as well as their household work. But as women started getting better and more time-consuming work, cooking and household took a back seat and cooking suffered.

Most of us face stress because we have lost the experience of basic survival. We unconsciously depend on more and more possessions in order to live. And most of our time is consumed to acquiring and maintaining the same. Unfortunately, now most of these requirements are superficial and complicated. For example, a second car, a larger house with an extra guest room(even when there is no one to visit us), an expensive trendy dress etc. etc.

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We have lost touch with reality. A person can live his full life in a few hours’ time inside a video game but the reality is not like that. When a kid brought up in the world of mobile phone, video games and television is exposed to the real world where one has to work with his/her own hands, where it takes time to cook food and eat it with his own hands, wash his own clothes etc., he might get a rude shock. Most of the people bought up in a virtual world employ most of their time and energy to acquire enough resources so that they can escape the real world. We want a dish-washer, washing machine, automatic cooking systems to save more time. This saved time we will then spend in front of the TV or mobile phone. This orientation is making us oblivious of the world around us and more and more self-absorbed, self-centred. We want more resources to preserve our ignorance.

Anxiety, stress, anger, greed and all most all the mental vices emerge from this state of preserved ignorance. Our desires become unreal, when they are not fulfilled we get angry and stressed. This unreal world creates a secret fear of the unknown.

Cooking is not a woman’s or homemaker’s job. Cooking is an essential process for human survival.  

In ancient traditions, was considered to be a pious or religious exercise. In ancient Indian culture, it is compulsory for the cook to be peaceful and happy while cooking a meal. Also, one should refrain from eating or cooking when anxious, sad or angry. It was believed that the negative energy of the cook is absorbed in the food and reaches the consumers. 
Recent experiments on the concept of water memory confirm the same. Water kept in a certain atmosphere and exposed to different kinds of prayers and music confirm that even water absorb the negative and positive vibrations. 


This is probably the reason why people would eat in religious gatherings and the food was considered to be divine. At the same time, it was considered inauspicious to eat in the local eateries as the cook might have mind on his mind while cooking. It is supposed to drastically change the quality of the food. Also, earlier it was considered inauspicious to eat in the house of a corrupt person because the quality of earned money will attract food ingredients with bad vibrations and such food will bring bad luck and ill health. 

Therefore cooking as important as a religious ritual and should be treated as such.  For most of us, because of a hectic lifestyle, cooking is akin to defrosting a frozen meal or assembling a ready to eat a meal. Or throw in some ingredients in a pot. Most of the cooking is thoughtless and soulless. It creates more restlessness and anxiety. So it is there an exponentially growing spiral of mindless cooking and increased stress. 
 Mindful cooking is something that you can practice. It will result in 2 benefits at the same time – the practice of mindfulness and soulfully tasty food.


 Imagine yourself cooking a simple vegetable curry. As you wash the vegetables, be aware of the dirt and how the water is removing the dirt. This vegetable is getting ready to be incorporated into a higher life form. It is going from plant life to human life.


 These are some of the ideas. You can have your own interpretations. Gradually these interpretations will make you more aware of the work that you are doing. Careful observation will become a habit. It will happen with natural childlike awe that we had once we were toddlers.

Some ideas and interpretations of small acts of life help us realize the abundance of already existing meaning in life, rather than going in an endless futile search for it. The essence of life is to “know thyself” and not to “make thyself”. Ancient proverbs and precepts very beautifully convey the great philosophies of life. For example, there is ancient Indian saying – karat karat abhyas ke Jada mati hoye sujana, rasari aavata jata hi Sil par parat nisa. The proverb means that through constant practice, even a dull mind can become sharp, like the way even a soft rope can make a mark on the stone by constant rubbing. (Rope of the well can make a permanent mark on the stone wall of the well). Now, thousands of people must have used the rope for pulling water out of the well, but one in millions with an aware mind can observe a philosophy on a stone wall. 

Another proverb from Kabir says that the ones who go in the deep waters are able to get the pearls, but the people who keep sitting on the shore out of fear of drowning, get nothing. These simple sayings underline the wisdom that the eternal truth is all around us if only we are able to absorb it. Mindfulness can make simple things in our lives more meaningful. Such a life is incidentally peaceful and happy. 

This blog aims to bring out some of the subtle beautiful thoughts that are woven in our daily chores. 

Coming up by 4th Sep 2020

My Experiences with Mindful Cooking

Zero Time Meditation


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A most common problem that people have while following any kind of meditation is that they are not able to find time to do it. Meditation is advertised as a physical process in which we have to sit quietly in a certain position for some time. It is natural to feel awkwardness and futility of such a process when 20 other jobs are pending. I realized this after my daughter was born. I have been an ardent follower of meditation for the past 20 years. I joined the meditation centre as a teenager. And meditation really brought the magic in my life. All the best decisions that I have made in my life can be dedicated to the effect that meditation had on my mind. Also, meditation helped me reconcile with the things that went bad or the mistakes that I made. However, I was stuck with this idea for a very long time that I need to find some quiet space and sit for some time with my eyes closed. And with my daughter, it was next to impossible. Leave alone closing my eyes, I could not even sit in one place for a few minutes. It must have been my inexperience in managing babies that led to my woes. But even with all my inexperience, I would have managed things pretty well if only I were more present. I used to worry endlessly about every other thing, right from finances, the future of the family to the rip in my shirt. If you decide to worry, there is absolutely no dearth of plausible reasons. I would often think that if I am able to meditate all my problems would vanish, but I was not able to do that. Even when my daughter was sleeping, I would fret over what to cook as my daughter was severely underweight. Besides, I took it on myself that since I am at home I should become the wonderful mom and the wonderful wife and the wonder chef etc. etc. I have always been a target oriented person and such people are always able to find some or the other target to fret upon.

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For some time, I tried to chuck away the other work and meditate. I thought that this will improve my efficiency and I will be able to do everything quickly. But the impossible load of work that I took on myself did not reduce. In another attempt to find a way, I left meditation completely and started trying to finish the unending house-work. Nothing improved. I was short of time, short of money and full of worry. If I were more mindful at that I time I would have realized what I did realize after I learned mindfulness. I declutter my house, reduced my possessions to the really necessary once, stop collecting trash for some use in the future, and reduced the unnecessary chores. Instantaneously, my life became more manageable, and more importantly, more meaningful since now I was spending more time in things that I loved. All this was only because of mindfulness. But because of mindfulness, I started accepting the right advice that was always present around me.    

I was always anxious that the food will be awful, it will take more time, I have so many other things to do. And as a result, the food was always awful, it was never done on time and I was always confused while cooking and ended up redoing my dishes many times over. I believe that I could have finished my cooking in ¼ time than what it actually took me to cook a few years back.

Since childhood, I had a notion that cooking is a very difficult thing. At the time I got married, I hardly cooked anything except instant noodles. Besides, I feel that the discomfort and lack of confidence was the only culprit for all the troubles that I have facing regarding cooking. I always feared some or the other mistake while cooking. Therefore, I had no enthusiasm while cooking. Instead, at the time of cooking, I would always think about all the things that went wrong and that can go wrong in the future. And obviously, my food lacked the attention it deserved; hence it always carried a terrible taste. I am very grateful to my kind and loving husband who ate my highly unpalatable food for so many years, without any complaints!

My cooking transformation started with a habit to listen to motivational videos during cooking. I was finding it very difficult to focus on cooking without thinking something negative. It was a very difficult time as I was facing serious emotional problems at that time. So I decided that instead of thinking something negative while cooking, I would try to focus on some sermons that I liked a lot.

As I started listening to all the inspirational videos, I started to look forward to my cooking time, as it was an opportunity for me to do something that I liked, instead of something that I feared. After a few months, I became more relaxed. There were certainly ups and downs. I would hate anyone to watch me listening to videos or make any remarks because I was already fired up at that time. So I would wake up early morning and cook for the whole day. There were multiple benefits to this approach.

My cooking was done more patiently

My mind was geared up with a motivational speech for the entire day to come.

I would make a new positive resolution each day and try to stick to it.

I was free of frequent cooking the whole day and had more time to play with my daughter or do things that I really loved.

This was the positive spark that stimulated a chain of positive changes. I started reading and listening more often to positive and useful videos. One of my main problems is that my house was always untidy. But while browsing endless videos about cleaning, I found Marie Condo method of decluttering. It was there online all the time, but I was not looking for it. I was able to keep my house clean with hardly any effort. I started registering all the positive things that I did each day. Every day I would read my past entries and they would make me more and more confident.

Since I had more confidence, I started to be more aware of my surroundings instead of cowering into my imaginary world for protection and comfort. This is the first step to mindfulness that I learned. This sequence of events worked for me as sometimes you might be too deep in your woes to have willingness or space to try out anything new. You will have a unique sequence of positivity, just be mindful of the positive signals from the cosmos.

As I became more positive, I became more attentive towards the sermons. The negative voices in my mind became fainter. They are still there but much weaker than before. I became mindful of their triggers. I decided that these thoughts are like advertising links on a website and I can choose not to click on them. 

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The first step towards mindfulness for me was to avoid fusing my identity with an undesirable thought. For example, if I get a thought “I should throw my trash in a public area”, there are 3 ways in which I can react to it.

  1. How can I think of such a mean thing?
  2. It can be done as many others are doing it.
  3. Dismissed as useless thought

Mindfulness is about choosing the right response. I still struggle to choose the right response. But at least now I know which way I am heading.

If I choose the wrong thought, there will be a current of similar thoughts. It is exactly like the way the internet works. If you view a spiritual video, it will suggest more of them. If you view a porn video, similar suggestions will start floating. And sometimes, similar thoughts can stir your emotions and provoke you to fuse with the thought process. So when you fuse yourself with a thought of anger, you become angry. For example, if you choose to fuse with a thought “all blacks are criminals”, instantaneously your mind will supply you with enough evidence and information confirming the given fact because there is always enough supporting information for all kinds of beliefs.

If I choose a positive thought, for example, “all blacks are kind and generous”, I will be equally at fault. The only difference in this perspective is that previously I would be creating troubles for the black people, but now I am vulnerable to the few wrong black people because of my blind faith in all of them. 

Mindfulness helps me to be more in touch with the current reality. In a mindful state, I will be able to get out of my cradle of prejudices and see a person as he is. So I will be cautious of a malignant person, whether black, white or yellow. At the same time, I will respect a benign person, whether young or old and mellow. The mindful state is the ultimate blessing that God can bestow on us.

Gradually, I started noticing my process of cooking without being anxious or nervous. I started getting a better estimate of salt, sugar and other spices. It is still far from being perfect, but now I know it better than before. I could cook faster and better. The food was tastier in general.

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With mindful attention, after a few months, I no longer needed sermons to get rid of the negative thoughts. However, I was still anxious about the time I was spending over cooking since I had many other things that needed urgent attention. Mindfulness still helped me here in an incredible way. I was trying to find a fast way to cook elaborate meals. Mindfulness helped me see a clearer and more comprehensive picture. No one needed elaborate 5-course freshly cooked meals in my family. But I took it on myself as an essential criterion for being a good wife. Also, I unconsciously blamed my husband because I assumed that he might want that. In reality, he wanted a simple easily cooked and tasty meal after which we could watch TV together. Dreamlife! Only it appeared too good to be true. Sometimes, we develop strong prejudices as children that might leave us logically handicapped for a lifetime. It took me a long time to accept and absorb that life can be much simpler and pleasant. Fortunately, I am able to see the truth with the help of better observation and more acceptability. The practice of mindfulness really helped me get over this and many other mental blocks that I had in my mind. 

And the most important and enabling discovery of all was that I was able to practice mindfulness without closing my eyes in a separate quiet place and specific time. I realized that the only condition for life to proceed smoothly is flexibility with balance. This is a practice which can become as habitual as breathing itself. And the permanent state of mindfulness can elevate us to the level of divinity, just as breathing (potential of an active energy exchange) distinguishes living things from the non-living.

This discovery set me free. Now I could meditate anytime, anywhere and without any physical limitations. The only thing truly required is the willingness to practice. The moment you desire, you are in the state of mindfulness. One of my spiritual teachers Babuji used to say that for spirituality, you just need to turn your head from one side to the other – from material to spiritual direction. And yes, it is really so easy!

So now I don’t think that I don’t have time to meditate or a quiet place or enough resources or a meditation guide. I don’t need time or anything else to meditate. I just need to be ready and I am there.

It might take time and it might require some patience. But it is like an experience of a really good coffee. Once you have it, you will be able to replicate it in your own kitchen after some trial and error. But just keep trying. It is true that troubled people are blessed ones. I kept trying because there was no other way, no other option than to try. And because of the igniting fuel of all the emotional problems I had, I was determined to find a way out.

I have not reached a stage of perfection. I still fall, but now I get up and get going faster than ever before. My growth has become multi-dimensional. After mindfulness, I started better house-keeping, trimmed my work, read multiple motivational books, implemented kaizen and Kanban techniques in personal life etc. Thanks to my husband, we have completely changed to organic vegan food.  Now I note in my diary one positive change that I made every day and fortunately, I do have many positive changes to record every day. I suffered to find out that there is no need to suffer. Hope that this book helps you to skip or reduce the unnecessary suffering and open your eyes of wisdom.    

Good Food and Bad Food According to Ayurveda – Food that should be consumed rarely I

The ayurvedic hypothesis is that the food items listed above diminish digestive fire and release more toxins than nutrients during their digestion. The only person with extremely good digestion power is able to absorb proper nutrition from them. Let us assume that consuming the above-listed food is like putting damp wood in the fire, which takes a long time to get burnt, produces a lot of smoke while burning and still might not get burnt properly. Only a very strong fire can burn the damp logs. A weak fire will get extinguished by them.

Food that should be used rarely

  1. Food cooked in a mixture of milk and curd/yogurt etc.

  2. Cheese

  3. Pork (Red meat)

  4. Beef (Red meat)

  5. Fish

  6. Curd

  7. Buffalo meat (Red meat)

  8. Urad Dal ( Black gram)

  9. Sorghum(Jowar)

Also, it is important to note that according to Sutra rule, the foods listed above are more harmful than the foods listed below. That means a mixture of milk and curd is the most dangerous in the entire list, worse than even beef and pork.

healthy drink glass milk
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Milk and Curd (yogurt) Mixture

According to Ayurveda, milk and curd are different in the constitution and so is their digestion process. Milk is sheeta virya (cool temperament) and curd is ushna virya (hot in nature). Milk is an almost neutral emulsion and curd is acidic.

Let us imagine the cooking (digestion) of rice in two different forms. If we cook completely raw rice, mixed with already cooked rice then the cooked rice will get overcooked and lose its nutrition. If we focus on the cooked rice, the raw rice will not get cooked properly and will not be absorbed if consumed.

When something does not get properly absorbed in the body, it starts to putrefy and produce contaminants. Thus, digestion of milk and curd together produces incompatible substances, which might not be easily absorbed, thus producing more toxins.

This mixture should not be consumed at all. If consumed, it should not be more than once a month for a young and healthy person.

Cottage cheese

Cheese

Cheese is made from adding acid(for example – lemon) to the milk.

According to Ayurveda, Cheese (Sanskrit – Kilat, Hindi – Paneer) is a good food for people suffering from insomnia (with good digestion). Cheese is heavy to digest but nutritious. It promotes semen and muscle formation and balances the vata dosha.

According to Charak, colostrum, cottage cheese water, or cottage cheese is for the people who have EXCELLENT digestion. There are very few people who can claim that today. Therefore, you should think twice before you consume cheese.  Besides, even if you have a great digestion, cottage cheese should not be consumed every day.

Consumption of other types of cheese that are aged is better than eating cottage cheese. But even the aged cheese (like Cheddar, Mozzarella. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) Pecorino etc.) should not be consumed in heavy quantity (example: pizza, cheeseburger etc.)every day. No wonder, the cheese was rarely used in earlier days. Now-a-day, in any party or celebration I can find cottage cheese in almost half of the menu. Such food is the cause of our low immunity towards all diseases.

Ideally, you should consume cottage cheese only once or twice in a month if you are young and healthy.

asparagus barbecue cuisine delicious

Red Meat

Consumption of beef is highly restricted in Ayurveda. It is important to note that beef is mentioned to be used only in specific diseases like the vataj disease, chronic coryza, recurrent fever, dry cough, weakness, excessive digestive juices in the body or certain muscular disorders (Charak Samhita – S.S-17/19). However, the word “only” is very important here. It should be used “only” in the above diseases.

Pork is considered “guru” or hard to digest. This single quality should make it a fairly undesirable food for most of the population. It is not dry in nature like the Urad dal, but if we have to compare the 2, pork will be at least a 100 times harder than Urad dal to digest! Again, it is can be used in certain diseased conditions but definitely not every day.

Buffalo meat is again Guru or very hard to digest. Besides, it causes excessive sleep and obesity. Similar to beef and pork, it has many good qualities. It is unctuous, hot temperament and gives strength and stability to the body. It endows enthusiasm to the mind. But because it is hard to digest, it should be consumed only once in a while.

These foods are like medicine, they help when consumed in some specific conditions and kill when consumed every day. Consider antibiotics, they are good, but you cannot eat them every day!  According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, red meat like beef and pork might have a carcinogenic effect on humans, with possible risks for colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, Gastric cancer, and prostate cancer.

You should consume any kind of red meat once or twice in a month if you are young and healthy. Also, you should refrain from red meat during the rainy season. Red meat soup with few meat pieces is the best preparation that is the easiest to digest in all seasons.

Digestion is the door to health or disease

According to Ayurveda, digestion is the key to health as well as disease. Digestion is the main route through which the nutrition can enter the body. It is like the assembly line which processes the raw material to the finished product. But if the raw material has defects, it will not only produce an imperfect end product but also derail the normal functioning of the assembly line.

Heavy food is like an impure raw material that requires more resources and time to produce the same end product – energy and nutrition. This naturally makes the heavy food a low-profit bargain for the body. You should not stay in a low margin business if you have to thrive. In fact, it has more possibilities to be a loss-making transaction for the body (toxins from undigested food).  Therefore, we should make sure that only the most profitable food goes into our mouths.

This is a hypothesis according to Ayurveda and more research is invited to verify the truth.

Please find the details on curd, fish, urad dal and sorghum in the next blog.