Thursday, March 19, 2015

Observe

So these past few years have seen many fits and starts and stops on my journey towards mindfulness. 

At various times, different sources have all pointed in that direction, articles and blogs on zen, on counseling and psychology, and the latest one from the recent yoga classes. They all emphasize your being in the moment, being aware. being mindful. just observing. feeling. experiencing. not resisting, not reacting.  not judging. just being conscious. 

Its been a lot of hard work, and a lot of setbacks. and a lot of soul - searching. And huge long breaks for months, even an year, where i regressed back to complete reactive , non-mindful behavior. But lately, I have tried hard once again. People jumping red lights and trying to run me down on the road. Immediate reaction used to be to try and hit back their car. Quite laughable, and quite rage filled. Tiny puny pedestrian flailing in the middle of the road, hitting car bonnets with handbags. Of course, it didn't do any good, either for the people jumping lights, or for my own state of mind. But once I step back now, and just think, yes these people are trying to save some 5 seconds from their commute, by fair means of foul. They don't have a thing against you personally, just that in their mind its a fight. Maybe thats all they know, zero sum games. Thats them. Perhaps. Or perhaps thats them, in my mind. What about me? What makes me mad? Why does a broken rule and minor discomfort in crossing for 5 seconds make me so furious? What do I fear? What do I hope to achieve? All those questions over the last few weeks, while observing my own reaction. Not trying to change it. And of course gradually it does change. The more root cause analysis I do of the reaction, the more it reveals. Mostly about me. 

Some days it feels nice. More calmness, less reaction. Some days it feels not so nice. When you have unearthed some reasons for your reactions, but you see no change in them anyway. Thats when it actually feels worse. At least angry and self - righteous, you didn't have to confront uncomfortable truths. As they say that 'everything is about you, your reaction, your problem'.  

Its when I feel in the dumps like that, that I wonder, how does a tibetan monk actually maintain that calm? How did gandhi keep up that smile? What do you do when you know that something wrong has been done to you, that you have been taken advantage of, and your struggle notwithstanding, nothing is likely to change. You can't really stop struggling, you can't give up your tibet.. but somewhere perhaps you also know, nothing is going to get it back. 

What then? 


Sunday, March 15, 2015

108 suryanamaskars!

Attended an event by yogamatters at cubbon park.. great fun!

They had a group of teachers/ volunteers to pace the group through sets of 12. The awareness and connection with body mind and breath which I had initially, was lost after the first 30-40.  Somewhere midway I lost track of how many we had done, and felt like I was too zoned out to even think. But I think the group energy and the memory of all those 5, 10, 20 km runs kept me going. It helped that I was there with friends and they hadn't given up either.

Slowly my attention drifted towards the constant mess and mistakes of the left leg right leg, and trying to keep track of whether the teacher was also mixing them up. After a particularly sweet instructor mixed them up one too many times, but also made us smile with her cute instructions, all my thoughts were centered about getting the sequence right. The next teacher was a lot more focused and as she progressed with her 12, I felt less confused, and more centered, and as she asked us to lie down in shavasan, i wondered why.. and then I realized.. the 108 were done!!!! Couldn't believe it. Instead of focussing on my breath body or mind, I was busy trying to count how many sets we had done.. so much for the centering!

On the plus side, at least the breath and movements were still mostly synchronized till the end.. thats progress from 4-5 years back when I could barely do one set with synchronized breathing.

Hope I do many more of these!

Monday, March 09, 2015

That day again.

That day of the year again.. much controversy about a documentary.. the daily outrage, the daily ban, the daily saga.

So, what was i thinking of ? just some disjointed sentences , floating around my mind space .. these many decades.

The kanpur sisters triple suicide. DD documentary sound bites, from relatives/neighbours of girls - the girls in the locality would always walk with eyes lowered. wouldn't walk alone. I am 10 years old, and I am told ' yes, and thats correct. you know why? because the men are in a better position to defend themselves, the girls aren't' . Defend against what? why?

Engineering entrance exam.  general chat at friends place.  friend has a highly qualified working mother. friend is told by mother 'its critical for your younger brother to clear this exam, for you, as a girl, it was still ok.  Clearing the exam was different for the boy and the girl? why ?

Random relatives house,  a cousin brother has been married a few weeks back. This cousins mother is found to have a grocery list in her purse. listing items like broom. rice. These women are parliamentarians, nurses, press women. Another aunt chips in, 'aap yeh sab kyon dekhti hain ab? Woh aa gayi hai, ab uska kaam hai. / Why are you taking care of all this now, she has come, its her job now.  ' As a son, it was never his job to help run the house? suddenly now from his moms it becomes his wives job?

College fest, someone is groped during the drunken frenzied dancing. ( no, this is my blog, not a news report, i will not say 'allegedly groped'). boys close ranks to defend the boy in question. I am told 'taking this further would unnecessarily ruin the boys record. You don't know the background, keep quiet.' Like any of that was relevant to the incident.

Close friend has a girl friend in another country. She is working, and lives a normal life. ( read - works, goes out, meets people). friend is writhing to me about this - its not that I don't trust her, its that she doesn't understand, the men aren't good. She shouldn't do this. What should she do instead? Why? 

Another close friend, in a moment of candidness - yes, if I helped out in child care, I would feel like i was doing my wife a favor. can't help it, its just the way we think.

Best friends mother, talking about a girl in 'trouble'  ' Whats the point of complaining, a woman's life is a tightrope walk, one small fall, and your life is over. Why create a fuss? Why? for justice? for deterrence? 

So, to recap, there is a very clear script in what my life as a woman should look like. I stay at home mostly. I am very careful when I step out of the house. If I study and find a job, its not a priority, what matters are my roles as a daughter, sister, wife, daughter in law, mother. If someone assaults me in any way, its in some way at least, my fault, and then I should hush it up, for my own sake. And perhaps for the sake of family, society and even the assaulter. It doesn't sound very horrific or unreasonable does it? This is the script in a milieu of middle class, upper middle class, with every one of these people graduates from urban centers, surrounded by educated working women.

Lets stop throwing about words like uneducated men. This is not about education. And its not about men. Its about us, our culture, our mindset. The degrees of discrimination might vary, the curfew times might vary, the punishments for violation may vary,  where you draw the line might vary, but a lot of us think like this. Not just men. Not just indians.

Fringes will always exist in any society, you can only minimize their impact, can't always eliminate them. And the fringes will always find some excuse, ( in religion, in culture, in family feuds, in retaliation for provocation) to explain their depravity. So lets stop focussing exclusively on them.

But larger questions remain. Yes some soul searching might help, even if its being triggered by a foreign christian media house, hell bent on portraying india and our glorious culture in the wrong light. Some basic questions, like why do you feel that your way of thinking is the only correct way? That you are entitled to co-opt someone unwilling, into that way of thinking, even if they don't want to ? That the thought that human beings are human beings, and whats good for the goose should be good for the gander, doesn't resonate with you?

Maybe we should have a men's day, where we celebrate how the man's role as a son, brother, husband, son-in-law, father is his main identity.  Anything else is not really that important. his job, his earning, his hobbies, his identity as a human being.. all secondary, all unimportant.  




Monday, March 02, 2015

House of cards

This was one addictive show that nn and and I had binge watched last year. We loved the edgy style, the pace, the settings, and of course Kevin Spacey!

Have to say, the couple of episodes we've seen of the third season so far hasn't matched up by a long shot. For one not much is happening! I don't want murders in every episode ( had't liked 24 much , after a while it seemed like they just wanted to stuff too much 'happening' into every bit of it) , but on the other hand, house of cards just seems to be meandering now.

Hope it gets better..


Yoga !

So finally the yoga course classes are over!

Still a lot of assignments to complete, and a number of personal practice hours. But I have to say I totally enjoyed this course. For one thing, its been a very long time since I studied something in class because I wanted to.  For another, the main teacher was pretty good.

I hope I don't give in to laziness and drop the practice, because the asan practice has been very helpful physically for sure. The other parts I am not sure yet, will have to spend much more time, before I can claim any magical benefits.

It was also the first day of waking up early to do the practice on my own, good beginning.. hope to continue!