VIPASSANA – All about Self-Awareness, Self-Control and Self-Realization

Vipassana means being witness of thyself. There remains no doer, what is left is just the doing.

Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is one of the world’s most popular Meditation Techniques. It was supposedly taught by Gautama Buddha himself in India somewhere around 2500 years ago. S.N.Goenka, however, is the modern curator and the founder of Dhamma centres. It is one of the most structured and regimented courses of meditation where they teach how to observe certain aspects that guide you to live a more fulfilling life. Vipassana literally translates into ‘clear-seeing’, observing the sensations of your body objectively and without any prejudice.

Eg: Learn to observe objectively whatever is happening. If someone is angry and tries to hide his anger to swallow it, then it’s suppression. But by observing the anger, you will find that it automatically passes away. You become free from the anger if you learn how to observe it objectively.

The Dhamma centres are completely donation based with not a single penny charged for it and are normally located at remote locations that provide an ideal place to meditate, away from the honking vehicles and the buzz of factories. The sound of the sweet breeze rustling through the leaves of neem and pipal trees throughout the day is heard along with various bird sounds.

Now, how did I end up here? What came into my mind when I decided to go for such an experience  even  when I knew there’s  no talking, no eye contact, no actions, no physical contact, no reading, no music, no writing, no electronic devices!?

I opted for a 10-day silent meditation retreat somewhere in December – a perfect weather to rejuvenate yourself. Till then, I had no idea what I was in for as I didn’t fuss much to do any research beforehand. I was excited as it would be amazing to disconnect from the so- called world, take a break from everything including my social life, relax and experience meditation. Till that day I could never meditate as I am a quite playful personality and sitting at a place and doing nothing always seemed to be a task, hence I took up this course as a challenge.

On the scheduled day my parents came to drop me at the centre, wondering how I would survive for 11 long days. They felt it’s not my cup of tea and I definitely won’t survive for the entire tenure. After completing the registration procedure, each one of us was allotted a single occupancy room and that very night we were asked to take vows about not conversing with anyone for the next 10 days, which seemed impossible to do, but definitely thrilling!

The schedule was handed over to us and here’s how it looked like:

4:00 AM – Wake up bell
4:30 am to 6:30 am– Meditation in hall
6:30 am to 8:00 am- Breakfast and Refresh
8:00 am to 11:00 am – Group Meditation in hall
11:00 am to 12:00 pm– Lunch
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm– Rest and Queries with Teachers
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – Group Meditation in Hall
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Tea Break
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm- Discourse and Meditation in the Hall with Goenka’s speech.
9:00 pm to 10:00 pm– Issues to be solved with teachers
10:00 pm – Lights out

12 hours in a day.. Oh Gosh!!

Looking at it, I too got sure about what my parents were worried about.

However, what struck me was the challenge I had given myself.
On that very night when I was fast asleep, I sensed some insect around me and I told myself that that’s what jungles are all aboit. I was wondering how those sages used to spend their entire lives at distinguished places.

This thought woke me up and what I saw next to my bed was a scorpio and that night I screamed the loudest and had shaken the whole centre with it.

The care taker soon rushed to my room and I begged to go back home.

The care taker heard me out. His words till date ring in my ears- “If your fear is larger than the Scorpio, that’s something to worry about!”

He gave me the courage I had been looking for and made me more determined to face the challenges.
The next morning, on Day 1 of the course, I woke up with all the enthusiasm in the world. I reached the venue at 4:30 am sharp. It began with Annapana- a breathing technique. In this technique we were taught to put aside our thoughts and focus on the breath. One should be able to feel the air going inside and out of the nose. One has to focus intensely in order to feel the touch of the air. It seemed easy but it was challenging, especially for the hyperactive person that I am. I immediately noticed that the more the thoughts were negative, the harder it was for me to survive and concentrate. I learnt that the only solution is learning to maintain peace of mind. I had to focus on my breath.

We were asked to work on this for 3 more days.

After that came the body. You have to start from the top of the head and then minute by minute, you are asked to reach the feet. During this time, you have to focus all your attention to each part of your body. You have to be aware of the sensations. Once a sensation arises, you have to observe it for a while and then you have to move on. You are not allowed to be attached to any of the feelings (whatever they are positive or negative),

By doing so,you eradicate all your bad thoughts and bad energy which has been accumulating within yourself. It can also happen that a sensation can bring up particular thoughts of your past. You cannot react to them, you can only observe them. If you react to them, you generate other negative energy which won’t help you feel better.
I kept asking myself, “What am I doing here and what is happening to me?”

I went to the tuitor; I discussed with her about the chaos in my mind and the urge of wanting to quit; but she wouldn’t let me leave the course and go.

During the last days, on one hand, I was totally engrossed into it and on the other hand, I could not focus in the meditation activities as I was super excited to be home again back with family.

The clock seemed to turn slowly for me. Finally, on the last day The Noble Silence was over and it was amazing to hear my own voice. We could speak with each other internally and share experiences. It was inspiring and interesting, coming back (partially) to the reality of the world after such a long time.

On the very last day, after the breakfast, the course was over and we could get back to our cellphones. The first thing I did was called Mom and as soon as I heard her voice, the tears rolled down my eyes and I literally had no words. I wanted to tell so much but no words felt appropriate.

All I wanted was her to understand my silence and that’s what happened. My Mom’s first words were “Beta, we missed you”.

I felt so proud of my family, since it was not only a challenge for me, but also for them.

In no time I saw my entire family there at the centre to take me home.

It was indeed a rejuvenating experience as after all this silence and self awareness, when you see your loved ones around, there is nothing more you can ask for.

Few Astonishing Takeaways from S.N.GOENKA:
“We have to learn to see things as they are. We have to be objective and accept whatever happens around us. We have to learn that there is nothing permanent in life and we must be able to detach ourselves from all the emotions and feelings. On the other hand, we need to observe them in order to act properly, by developing a sense of equanimity. Nothing is permanent, that’s life.”
“Anger, happiness, love, sadness and any other kind of sensations are not forever. They come and go. We cannot be attached to something which will soon disappear. It is the attachment which makes us miserable. It is the attachment which makes our minds unbalanced.”
“The thing that hurts you the most in life is your own untamed mind. The thing that can help you the most in life is a disciplined mind. When the wild mind is untamed, it can be very harmful. If we learn to tame our minds, it helps us back by reducing our suffering and misery.”
“Everything is mutating in life, continuously. It is an experience which teaches you how to die and how to live.”

Above all, MIND IS A POWERFUL TOOL

~Yagni

SUPER WOMAN

 

So, what exactly are we celebrating on 8th March?
Are we celebrating progress? Are we celebrating the roles of a woman? Are we celebrating the various functions? Time to think about what is the essence of a woman.
She is just that –
‘A WOMAN’ – A sweet little child who loves pink, that daring adolescent who tries her mother’s cosmetics while no one is looking, that aspiring young damsel who is as worried about her studies as she is about the latest fashion trends, that shy little bride who grabs her husband’s hand while yearning to earn respect in her new home, that experimenting parent who cares for her child like no one else and that confident entrepreneur who can shake the world (at least her own)
*”She is just a Woman.”*
And with these multitudes of roles you might want to add her function based roles, She’s a Friend too, a Philosopher, Teacher, Nanny, Nurse, Housemaid, Entrepreneur, Manager, Business executive and much more. Today’s woman is juggling between various roles where she’s still struggling to find her own footing.

So, on this International Women’s Day, let’s remind our little girls or the next generation that it’s not about being Princesses, and damsels in distress. Let’s teach them instead that they should strive to be literary Legends, Doctors, Lawyers, Painters, and Dreamers and most importantly to be Believers in Themselves as opposed to believers in the so-called happily ever afters. And to show them how they can achieve their dreams by attending a networking event or creating their own events, as they are a great way to meet men and women who share the same concerns and face the same challenges as them. A quick search will reveal a multitude of online and offline events that you can attend – for which team LAJA is putting their amazing efforts! All it takes is some sweet time from your busy schedule with some coffee and lovely people to meet too.
We individually are one drop but together, we are an Ocean
This women’s day, apart from treating yourself, get involved in such organizations dedicated to women and grow yourself.

A small dedication to allthe beauties reading these on this special day:

She is the power of sacrifice. She is unafraid of touching the skies.
Admire her, she’ll enclose you in her heart.
Maim her and she’ll tear you apart.
Mild and soft, she’s the fragrant rose
Cradle her unfairly bear her woes.
She’s the rising sun, brightening your life, like a Mother, Daughter, Friend or Wife.
Her warmth and light erase all the gloom. Enrage her and she’ll lead you towards doom.
She’s the wine. Deep and mature. Shaping herself according to contour.
Devour her sparingly as if she’s rare, she’ll be toxic if tackled without care.
Choose wisely what you desire of a woman. Resides both within her, an angel and a demon.

Celebrate Womanhood in any age, A Woman is just thatNot to be judged, Not to be toyed, not to be Belittled BUT To be Cherished, To be Admired, To be Loved.
The day men start to think of women in their entirety, we will not need a day to celebrate Womanhood. Are you that man who can view women in the right spirit? Are you that woman who can demand to be viewed in that spirit?
If YES : “Pledge to Yourself to Respect Woman’s Dignity and Give her the Desired space in Life for all of her aspirations.”

Just want to appreciate each one of you for who YOU are and for all the wonderful things YOU DO!! Your life is worth living. Believe in Yourself and keep shining! 🤩

HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY TO ALL🥳🎉
CHEERS 🍻

~YAGNI

Significance of the “power of thought” in nurturing relationships

 

Came across a real story, which made me write this. It’s about nuturing the relationship with children.
The first question which hits my mind “Why Now?” Why is there a gap in all relationships these days or more with this generation? There can be a controversy over this but few of the reasons as per my thoughts are:
One of the reason why relationships fail to build up these days is because of Technology. By just swiping up you get connected to thousands of new people around but we forget to connect to our instantly close ones. Being too busy with our own selves doesn’t work in building a healthy relationship. Secondly, these days people also don’t have the patience to deal with all that comes up. And the last reason I think of is that the new generation is afraid of taking any sort responsibilites and so doesn’t want to live in the world of any compromises and is just so rigid and fond of doing things which are wrong and also take parents for granted. Also I have been looking at trust issues these days be it Parent-Child Relationship or Husband-Wife Relationship or In A Friendship or Between Co-Workers or even an Employer-Employee relation.
Though I second that why dontd we nuture every relation we carry in this new beautiful 2019 year? Because relationships aren’t simple anymore and one needs to work to value it!
We all want a relationship with characteristics like no expiry date, days full of peaceful true affection, etc but we often forget something essential: relationships require daily work. You can’t nurture affection through emptiness or absence. You need an authentic presence for any relationship to grow. Whether personally or professionally one must be willing to work through difficulties and disagreements. One must also face discomfort that comes with different ideas and opinions. Relationships aren’t static, they are living, dynamic aspects of our lives that require attention and care. In order to benefit from strong connections with others, you should take charge of your relationships and put in the time and energy you would put in any other aspect of your wellbeing. Let’s take a challenge of doing it this year.

The best guideline I can think of to nurture a  relationship is the “LAW OF ATTRACTION” – The most universal law. You can take a glimpse at one of the most Fascinating movies *”THE SECRET”* – As you think so shall you be!! Since you cannot physically experience another person, you can only experience them in your mind. All of the other people in your life are simply thoughts in your mind. Not physical beings to you, but thoughts. It works the same – your Relationships are all about how you think about the other people in your life. Your experience of all those people is only in your mind. Your feelings about anyone come from your thoughts. For example, they may in fact behave in ways that you find offensive. However, your relationship with them when they behave offensively is not determined by their behavior, it is determined only by how you choose to relate to that behaviour. Their actions are theirs, you cannot own them, you cannot be them, you can only process them in your mind. Have you ever noticed that when you think of something desired, in some time your dream comes true, even though you’ve already forgotten about it? It’s not a miracle and neither a coincidence! This is exactly what is called fulfilment of a wish by the “POWER OF THOUGHTS”. By wishing something with passion you run an energy pulse, which definitely works to make your dream come true. Of course, you may not agree to this and might say that nothing like this has ever happened to you. But be aware that the fulfilment of wishes by the ‘power of thoughts’ has several features. At some level, each of us has always known that we have attracted people, things and events into our lives based on our thoughts. The recognition of that is in our daily speech, such phrases as “What you put your attention on Grows”

TRY IT!
How you let these relationships flow and grow has huge impact on the happiness in the lives of both you and the people you’re connected with. So whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it and that factor is “Attitude”, Stay away!!

So looking at all aspects when relationships are not nutured everyday, doubts and shortcomings develop. Hence, it may be tough to talk about, but it’s all about getting to know each other better, be it your family members, friends or anyone, and cut off all the troubles you are facing with them and Let’s challenge ourselves to take Our relationships to the next level in twenty nineteen 😎

~ YAGNI

WOMEN RIGHTS

 

Women’s rights under the Constitution of India mainly include equality, dignity, and freedom from discrimination; additionally India has various statutes governing the rights of women. In India, they tell us that women can be anything they wish to be. They can be fighter-jet pilots, corporate CEOs, paratroopers, athletes — and, of course, Prime Minister.
Then why?
Here comes the most recent and debatable topic
Sabrimala Temple:
“Entry for women in Sabrimala is unnecessary”
“Letting women in will turn the temple into sex tourism spot”
are such statements given for women. There was a protest against the entry of two women who were in their early 40s. It’s a hypocrisy when it comes to gender rights. The conflict over womens rights to worship is one such challenge, playing out over the confused idea of what is pure and what is not. But God forbid we dare to argue that, in 2019, menstruation should not bar us from praying at a temple. What sort of global power can the world’s largest democracy aspire to be when our monthly period is still used to make women feel like polluted pariahs who must be kept at a distance? Is this not unacceptable modern-day untouchability? Still a gender biasedness? Our favourite question to all political parties:  Why such strange behaviour against women? Is worshipping a crime now? The riots, temple shut down… Arghh!!

We also have a very much recent example of Shani Shingapur Temple in Maharashtra which lifts a ban of women’s entry to the temple followed as an old ritual.
There are few Temples in India where male entry is banned too. One at Chakkulathukavu Temple in Kerala itself. This Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and On 1st friday of December where only females worship and keep fasts for 10 long days, men aren’t allowed to enter the temple.
With a similar concept, there are few other temples which prohibit male entries to the temple – Temple Pushkar Rajashthan, Kamakhya Devi Temple Assam, Attukal Bhagwati Temple Kerela, Bhagwati Devi Temple Tamilnadu._

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in India, some part of our nation still does not believe in Empowering Women. Women Empowerment means emancipation of women from the vicious grips of social, economical, political, caste and gender-based discrimination. It means granting women the freedom to make life choices. Women empowerment does not mean ‘defying women’ rather it means ‘Replacing patriarchy with equality/unity’. Women may have a long way left to go, but we’ve certainly come pretty far from where we once were. With our feminist forebears in mind, let’s celebrate women’s equality with some badass feminism and keep pushing Laja further as may be one day all her cuts and compromises will turn into a bookmark.
Kehte hai na:
Ek Maa, Ek Behen, Ek Biwi sab Ek Ladki ka chehra hai,
Bohot Kimti Bohot Khubsurat, Khuda ka diya hua Tofa hai,
Hum wo kar jaye jo koi soch nahi sakta,
Kuch Sarhado ne, kuch Bandisho ne roka hai!

IT’S MORE ABOUT POWER AND NOT RELIGION.

~YAGNI

Woman – A Multi-tasker

Being able to do more than one thing at a time is not easy. I am talking somewhere around the ancient times when a very known female named Jhansi Rani Laxmibait took the world by the storm. In the eyes of the people encircling her, she was but the most courageous female on the face of Earth. A woman who was known for carrying her son and fighting with the Britishers for the kingdom during the war. Also, during those days men were going out for hunting and getting food for the family, while the women stayed back at home so as to prepare food for the family and do their respective household work. So since then it has been a proven fact that the female brain is much more adept at multitasking as compared to men. A female is inborn with these capabilities. She fits herself in all sorts of scenarios, be it homemaking or handling the office, that too without any compromises. She knows how to handle things when in pressure, with loads and loads of positive attitude and without letting her values down or showcasing any sort of unethical behavior. Few of the other examples we all know are:
_Mother Teresa_ – a selfless personality who dedicated her life to help the poor.
_Queen Elizabeth_ – ruled over the UK for around 50 years.
_Indira Gandhi_ – India’s first female Prime minister.
_Benazir Bhutto_ – The first female to head the muslim state and serve as Pakistan’s Prime Minister.
_Mary Kom_ – mother of 2 children and an amazing sport personality.
_Kalpana Chawla_ – the first astronaut to go in space.
_Arunima Sinha_ – a physically challenged woman who made it to Mount Everest summit.
_P.V.Sindhu_- first Indian female to win the Olympic Silver medal.
And the best example before us: *Laja* – Run by powerful women.
Wrestling, Cricket, etc all these sports were once played only by men but not anymore.
Is it that these women faced no challenges? All of them did but they took it in their stride and look where they are today! They’re on the tip of our tongues whenever we speak about the strong women of the World.

Women are blessed with the power to take any difficult challenges in life be it in their career, as a wife or as a mother. Women know how to maintain a balance between personal and professional life single handedly which in today’s world has become a must to sustain well.
Aren’t these examples good enough for one to understand that women can take the world to a different level?
The most responsible person in the family is a woman and I really believe that if there is no happiness that means there’s no woman in that home because woman is light of the home.  She knows how to be a giver with a great smile on her face, without letting a single soul known about what she’s going through even for a bit.
So God forbid, if you ever have a bad day, just read this and remember: You are a MultiTasker, You are a woman and women are *SHAKTI*. And according to Shastra Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, we bow down to Shakti. So never let your moral, substance, desire or motivation stifle. Be an inspiration and stand for yourself. Be proud of being a *Woman*.

Cheers to Female Power 🍻

~Yagni

Health- Hb test

When should we do an Hb (Hemoglobin) Electrophoresis blood test?
and should iron supplements be taken just because Hb is low? 
 
1) Those who have family history of thalassemia should all do Hb Electrophoresis test to confirm whether they are thalassemia major /minor.When both parents are thalassemia minors,then child is likely to be thalassemia major (25% chances) or could be thalassemia minor or normal..Though such marriages are best avoided. 
 
2) To diagnose Anemia,always do a CBC-Complete blood count test instead of just Hb test.. 
 
3) If Hb is low &RBC-Red blood cell count is normal-Its anemia.So, take iron,folic acid &vitamin C rich diet &supplements if required.Vitamin C &folic acid helps in Iron absorption. Never take iron supplements with calcium supplements or milk/milk products in diet as calcium interferes with iron absorption.keep minimum 2-3 hrs gap.. 
 
4) If Hb &RBC counts both are low then do iron blood test. 
 
5) If iron is also low means it’s Anemia &Vitamin B12 deficiency causing low RBC count (u can reconfirm by doing Vitamin B12 test) 
In that case add Vitamin B12 supplements & Vitamin B 12 rich foods to diet along with iron,folic acid &VitaminC rich food &supplements.
 
6) It could be that a thalassemia carrier/minor could also be iron deficient,in that case having iron supplements is OK, but to protect from overdosing it’s ideal to retest after 3 months for iron,Hb &RBC’s &stop iron supplements if these levels are normal. It’s not advisable to take any other food supplements also indefintely..always take 1 month holiday after 12 months to avoid becoming immune to the benefits as per Certified Nutritionist Phylis Balch in her book “A-Z of Nutrition Supplements “
 
7) Incase iron is normal but Hb &RBC count were low, then do Hb Electrophoresis test to rule out Sickle cell anemia &thalassemia.In case either is positive, do not take iron supplements as there may be iron overload in that case.. Instead have diet rich in anti-oxidants such as Vitamins A, C, E..Vitamin B12,Calcium &omega-3 fatty acids (good fats)  or these supplements. 
-Shefali Singh

ACCEPT YOUR BODY

 

Often we women, keep on cribing about our body part/ parts which we don’t like. It might be our nose, or stomach or hips, or thighs  and many a times we are ashamed of some of our body parts like underarms, or inner thigh areas or even our calf legs or toe fingers.
One can accept your body then only when you are convinced of what you have is the best.
Work on it but don’t shy, accept it , love it.
Unless and until you love it and accept it, you will feel uncomfortable with what you wear and that will lead to low confidence on your appearance and also will reflect on your behavior.
So let us make a point to touch  the body parts ( which we don’t like) and say – I love you….
That touch should be given by using our palms – palms have the best healing powers .
And see the miracle that happens.
Accept your body and love it to the core.
Let’s believe in the Kurkure Slogan – Teda hai , par mera hai.
-Riddhi Doshi Patel, Founder, LAJA

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