Why people run after religious gurus ?

Recently, I came across a news in leading dailies. One very prominent religious guru  who had very large following ,committed suicide. News of people committing suicide is nothing new and everyday newspapers are replete with such news. But this time ,this news caught my attention because the person who committed suicide was no ordinary man. He was a self styled religious guru who had a huge devotee following and who was very well connected to the top echelons of power. Any one ending life is a sad affair of course, but the point I want to highlight here is that the person who claimed to be religiously enlightened , who claimed to understand the intricacies of life and used to show path of getting rid of life’s miseries ended his own life in such a terrible way. WHY ?? How come such a person who himself could not withstand the test of life could help others to solve their problems ? Another important question that comes to mind is how come so many people start following an individual blindly ?                                                                                                                                                            India is a land of many cultures, traditions and faiths. This land gave birth to three great religions i.e. Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Each of these great religions and also those that were not originated here but flourished here showed path of self actualization and enlightenment in it’s own peculiar way.  Paths may be different but all put emphasis on two things first, know your true nature which means know who you are ? and second, become free from fear. Becoming free from ultimate fear i.e. the fear of death is a key aspect of most of the religions.  If you are a truly religious person you fear nothing not even death. You become absolutely fearless but unfortunately opposite is happening today. The people who are interpreting religious teachings are making people fearful. The whole concept of heaven and hell is to make people fearful so that they can comply. People who are making a beeline to seek blessings of a godman ,people who are doing religious austerities are the people who are fearful. Fearful of losing what they have, fearful of dying, fearful of failure, diseases and miseries. So called godmen play on their fears and  exploit them. people are willing to get exploited but they are happy to get false assurances.  These false assurances may give you some short term mental relief but in the long run they will do nothing good except making a blind follower. Never follow any one blindly . Use your mind, use your logic and use your “Buddhi” and then decide what is good for you and what is not good for you.

A non believer is better than a believer who believes blindly.

 

How to understand your mind ?

mindConditioning is the force that shapes entire human personality. Conditioning can be referred to as exposure to an external or internal stimulus and an organism’s response to it. When an organism is repeatedly exposed to a stimulus, that organism shows a particular type of reaction to that stimulus. If the exposure continues over a period of time, the particular reaction exhibited by the organism in anticipation of the stimulus develops in to a characteristic habit. This is how habits are developed.

Mind by nature is mechanical that means once it acquires a habit, it happens on its own without conscious efforts on part of the organism. Initially, one has to make conscious efforts to develop a habit but once mind gets habituated to a particular type of habit it happens without conscious efforts. Our entire personality including our mind is nothing but an accumulation of thousands of conditioned habits. Here, mind should not be confused with brain. Brain is an organ of human body and is a biological entity while on the other hand, mind is the entire mental makeup of an individual that includes thoughts, emotions, likes and dislikes and an individual’s unique behavior patterns. Mind is a psychological entity. This conditioning is taking place every moment. Every moment, we are exposed to thousands of external as well as internal stimuli and hundreds of new habits are added to our personalities. This is an unending process which continues from birth till death. A mind swinging back and forth is the sign of particular type of conditioning that gave birth to this tendency of the mind. So what can be done? Whether we are merely small tools for the powerful urges of the mind or we are capable enough to redirect and rechannelize the tremendous energy and potential of human mind? In the next few pages you will get the answer.

Another aspect of mind is its extremely unstable and dynamic nature. It is very difficult to stabilize and focus mind at one point. More you try to focus and stabilize it, more distracted and unstabilised it becomes. You sit in meditative posture, close your eyes and try to focus at one point but your mind takes you somewhere else completely unrelated to the thing you are doing. You want to live in the present moment but your mind takes you to the delicious food you had last night. You feel depressed and powerless. But don’t give up. You can redirect your mind in a desired way provided you follow the right approach. A very important thing to keep in mind is that mind can never be controlled forcefully without first understanding its nature and dynamism. If one tries to control mind forcefully it will have devastating results. I remember one story told to me by someone long ago. The story is from the life of Gautama Buddha. One day, Gautama Buddha was staying in a monastery near the city of Patliputra along with his disciples. A man came to see him and have his blessings. Buddha made the man to wait for few hours for he was engaged in a discourse with his disciples. When the discourse was over Buddha summoned the man in his room. The man entered in to the room, prostrated before him and said O holy man; I have lots of money, a very faithful wife and obedient children. But I don’t have peace of mind.

I have got all the good things in life which a person can get but even after that, I am living miserably because I have no peace of mind. I have come to see you because I want to have the same tranquility and peace of mind which you enjoy and I can do anything to achieve that. Even I am ready to give up all my worldly possessions and join your order of monks but I want to have peace of mind. I have tried hard but failed. Now, I have come to you. Please, show me the way. The man was too eager to get peace of mind instantly. Gautama Buddha looked at the man, thought for few moments and then said smilingly. OK, I will give you the formula for peace of mind but before that, you have to fulfill one condition. The man was overjoyed. Yes master! I am ready to fulfill all conditions. Please tell me, what I have to do ? Buddha said, I will give you peace formula after ten days but before that you have to do one thing and that is, you should not think about monkeys. Even a single thought of monkeys and peace formula will not be given to you. Be free of all thoughts of monkeys for the next ten days and I will tell you the secret of gaining peace of mind. The man was very happy and said, that’s it! It’s so simple!! All I have to do is not to think about monkeys. The man promised to come after ten days and happily returned home. After ten days, the man came back to Buddha in a miserable condition. His eyes were red and it seemed that he had not slept for many days and he was completely disoriented. When he saw Buddha, he fell at his feet, sobbing. Master, please save me from monkeys. They have made my life hell. What happened? Buddha asked. The man narrated his experience. Last time, when I came to see you in hope for obtaining the peace formula you told me not to think about monkeys. So I tried hard not to think about monkeys. I forcefully suppressed any thought of monkeys and that has backfired. Now I see monkeys everywhere. My mind is always filled with thoughts of monkeys. I see them everywhere. They come in my dreams and I am always preoccupied with thoughts of monkeys. The more I try not to think about monkeys more forcefully they enter in to my mind. Even my five year old son’s face resembles like a monkey to me. Master ,I am going through a terrible phase of my life. My life has become hell. I have not slept for the last so many days. Please help me. Buddha smiled and said now you got the point. Never fight with your mind. If you forcibly try to control mind it will backfire. So first understand and then go with the flow. Without first understanding the nature of mind if you enter in to direct confrontation with mind your life is going to be hell for you cannot suppress your mind for long. Sooner or later suppression will erupt and you are bound to face terrible consequences. You wanted peace of mind. The only peace formula is staying in the moment and remain a passive witness to varying thoughts which come and go inside your mind. Do not involve yourself with thoughts but just be a witness and gradually thoughts will start subsiding for thoughts gain power from you. If you remain detached and passive, your unwanted thoughts will become powerless and one stage will come where there will be no thoughts but only pure consciousness.

The above story gives an insight in to the nature and dynamism of human mind. Instead of fighting with mind one should try to understand its nature and should act accordingly .

How to handle day to day clutters ?

Imagine a situation. It is eight thirty in the morning and you are having breakfast. At nine fifteen you have to leave for office. By the time you finish breakfast it is already eight forty five. So you hurriedly collect things to be taken to office and open the wardrobe to dress yourself. What you find is that not a single shirt is ironed. How could I be so careless! You distinctly remembered to iron shirt before going to bed last night but since you watched your favorite TV show up to late hours in night you forgot. You rummage through the wardrobe to find the iron and plug it in. But you had a bad luck .At that very moment, electricity goes off. What should I do now? Going to office in that crumpled shirt is out of question. So you decided not to go to office. You call your boss and inform him that you are not keeping well so you cannot come to office. You had to lie to justify your not coming to office.

You took an unplanned leave and your whole working day was spoiled.

What was the reason?

A single small thing of not ironing your office shirt on time.

You kept this small thing pending and it ruined your whole working day. These small messy things which throw your whole schedule out of gear and suck energy out of your system are clutters. I remember one of my former colleagues who always used to search for his office tie and socks for he always used to forget where he had placed them. . It became almost a ritual for him to search for tie and socks before leaving for office because he was not careful enough where to place tie and socks? He used to throw them off carelessly upon entering the home only to be remembered when going to office next day. Clutters are big stumbling blocks in effective time management. They throw your schedule out of gear, dampen your spirit, lower your confidence and most importantly, disturb your peace of mind. For effective time management, keeping hundreds of clutters, we face in everyday life under check is very important otherwise these small things can jeopardize your prospects in a big way.

Some common clutters are –

  • Getting up late in morning
  • Unorganized workplace
  • Keeping work pending
  • Haphazard schedule
  • Improper dress
  • Unshaven face
  • Unpolished shoes
  • Not taking food on time
  • Watching TV for hours
  • Gossiping
  • And many more

A person who wants to manage his time effectively must always strive to keep clutters under check. These are small things which generally are ignored but do matter a lot when we analyze the amount of time they consume in day to day life and mental disturbance they create. Therefore, it becomes very important to stay cautious to guard yourself against clutters. Just a little attention you need to pay and little amount of efforts you need to make and you can guard yourself against huge amount of time wastage and many unnecessary hassles.

Some important things to remember in connection with clutters

  • Never keep things pending. If you keep any work pending, sooner or later that work will come back to you requiring much efforts and more amount of time. Remember, today is the best day to do the work you want to do, so, do it NOW.
  • Always be systematic and orderly. If you keep things in order there are very less chances that you will be bogged down by clutters. For example, If you have a definite place for your car keys, the chances of forgetting where you have placed car keys are very less .This will save your valuable time which you could utilize constructively for other purposes.

Always try to add value to your time. Prefer things that add value to your time and try to ignore things that do not add value to your time. Stay conscious about how you are utilizing your time? Initially, it might be little difficult to practice and may seem boring but things that seem uninteresting and boring conceal real treasures behind them. Do not be disappointed if you face some initial hiccups. Practice makes a man perfect so keep trying.

 

In my next article some more personal development stuff.

How to handle day to day problems by becoming more self aware ?

Regulating ones behavior to effectively handling a problem or tough situation is a hard won skill which requires continuous practice. Since most of us are bound by our old conditioned habits, we react in set behavioral patterns without consciously becoming aware why we behave the way we behave? Once a person becomes aware of his thoughts it becomes an easy job. Here is the step by step guide to develop a mindful problem solving approach for leading a successful, stress free and rewarding life –

Step –I   Develop an insight in to your behavior.

The first step in developing mindful problem solving approach is to develop an insight in to who you are? What are your strengths and most importantly what are your weaknesses. One has to be more clear about one’s weaknesses than one’s strengths because it is your weaknesses that will let you down under pressurized situations. Knowing about one self and having objective assessment of oneself is not an easy job. It requires conscious observation of one’s behaviour and thought process. The easiest approach for self assessment is getting to know other’s opinions about us. Ask your close friend or spouse or any other person who you believe will give an honest and unbiased feedback to you about who you are and what areas you should improve in?. Others can judge our behaviour more objectively than ourselves. Another approach of knowing about yourself is objectively writing down on a piece of paper about the areas you are good in and areas you are not so good and need improvement. Writing down thoughts on a paper has a tremendous impact on subconscious mind and it gives clarity to one’s approach. Once you get to know about your strengths and weaknesses you should always be aware about the situations which might trigger uncontrolled behavior. For example a person who loves to keep his home neat, clean and tidy should always be aware about situations under which he might display uncontrolled behavior. Situations like untidy room, filthy clothes, foul odor, dirty kitchen etc. can make such a person lose his temper and can result in uncontrolled behavior like shouting on wife, shouting on children ,arguments with neighbors etc. The end result will be stress and a small wedge in relationship with others. There might be thousands of situations under which one can express uncontrolled behaviour and it seems next to impossible to develop an insight about all the situations but atleast a person can have a general idea of what makes him angry and what makes him happy will help that person to control his reactions sensibly towards various frustrating situations.

 

Step-II Delay your reaction time to a frustrating situation

When a frustrating situation is faced, a reaction is given which is mostly instant and unmindful in nature without having a thought about how others will react to our reaction. Expression of instantaneous reaction to a situation will result in expression of reaction of similar intensity on part of others. Newton rightly said- there is equal and opposite reaction to every action. This rule also applies to human behaviour. Our behaviour is regulated by the behaviour of others. How others behave with us, our entire behaviour is just a reaction to that. Let’s go back to the example mentioned earlier. When the lad took a sharp cut forcing you to come to an abrupt stop, that was a frustrating situation for you. You gave an instant reaction without giving a conscious thought how this reaction will affect others. Your reaction elicited an equal and opposite reaction from the other person and a cycle of reaction and counter reaction sets off which resulted in a five hundred rupees fine and a spoiled business meeting. Had you delayed your reaction, you could have handled the situation in an effective, sensible manner. Here is how you can effectively control a frustrating situation.

  • Become aware how the situation has emotionally stirred you up. Stay conscious of your surging anger.
  • Think that I will not give immediate reaction. Before giving reaction, count in mind from ten to zero. In the process of counting backward, you will become conscious of how you should react and your reaction won’t be uncontrolled.
  • Whenever you feel you are about to explode. Become aware of your breathing. Concentrate on exhalation, warm breath going out of your nostrils taking with it your pent up anger and emotions.

 

Step-III Think about the end result of your reaction

Always see things in a larger perspective. Imagine how your reaction will affect others and how they will react and what could be the end result. Think, whether the behaviour you are going to express will result in happy ending or unhappy ending. Try to avoid behavior which has potential to result in unhappy ending and try to embrace behaviour which has the potential to result in happy ending. Thus, an understanding will gradually develop and your reaction towards others will be conscious and well regulated.

Always remember, we are in the root of most of the things that happen in our life for good or bad. Though we always blame others or outside circumstances for our problems but if we can see objectively we can find out that in the root of most of our problems lies our own idiosyncrasies. The outer world is nothing but a reflection of your inner world. What you transmit in the outer world comes back to you. If you transmit love and respect in your outer world you will receive love and respect and if you transmit hate, stress, anger, jealously then you will receive the same. The kind of behaviour you receive from others is directly proportionate to the kind of behaviour you express towards others. Life comes from inside out not outside in but the problem with most people today is that we are trying to live life outside in, just in the reverse order which is bound to give a life full of stress and problems.

Some more useful stuff in my next write up…………………………..

Easy tips for stress management

Stress management has become a buzz word especially in the wellness industry now days. Everybody has heard and experienced a lot related to stress management. Today, it is estimated that millions of rupees are being spent by companies as well as individuals to know all they wanted to know about stress management. Sometimes, getting rid of stress becomes so stressful that it needs separate intervention. The question arises what after all is stress management?. In this article I have tried to outline what is stress? How we can manage our rising stress level? and ultimately what is the secret of living happy and peaceful life ?

 

What is stress?

When we refer psychology as well as wellness books for a definition of stress ,the most common definition of stress goes like this- when a demand is placed on an organism and when the organism sees this demand as taxing on its coping resources the organism experiences an state of uneasiness and other biological uncomfortable symptoms. This state of uneasiness is often termed as stress. For example, when exams are round the corner and when the student sees exams threatening for s/he is not well prepared. The uneasiness state felt is known as stress. Certain minimum level of stress is absolutely necessary to keep our performance at an optimum level. The problem arises when stress gets out of control and when our body’s coping mechanism fails to handle stress effectively. In such a situation stress cross threshold and becomes distress- an extreme state of indecisiveness and uneasiness. This state often gives rise to many biological complications like high blood pressure, headache, diabetes, irritable bowl, constipation and in certain cases terminal illness like cancer.  

 

Different people have different threshold for stress toleration. People who have a positive frame of mind are believed to handle stress more effectively rather than people who have pessimistic and negative approach to life.  

 

Manage your stress and live a happy, healthy life.

Here are some powerful tips for managing your stress in an easy, practical way.

  1. Set realistic goals in life:  Staying ambitious in life is a good thing.  Our ambitions, dreams are fuel that keep life going but unrealistic, overambitious goals often result in failure and ultimately heightened level of stress. Always have realistic ambitions in life. Goals which you can fulfill.
  2. Know your strong points as well your weak points: No body is perfect. There are always good qualities as well as bad qualities in a person. But a person who knows himself well can easily minimize his weaknesses and can capitalize on his strengths. Take a piece of paper and note down the areas where you are good and the areas where you are not so good. Try to improve areas where you are not so good.
  3. Set your priorities : One of the biggest contributor to stress is poor time management. If we analyze our daily routine carefully we will be amazed to see how much time is being wasted in things which are useless and of no value. Make a small diary the first thing to do before starting a day is to list your priorities of the day. Most important work, give first priority, important work, second priority and so on.
  4. Do the things that make you happy: Play with your dog, write a poem, listen music, read a book, help your child in home work, tend to a broken plant. Any thing which make you forget yourself. Spend sometime everyday for atleast one such activity and you will see your stress is gone. Image

Finding happiness and internal joy

Today’s topic- Finding internal joy and happiness

In my  10 years of training and counseling career, i have realized that finding internal happiness and joy is not the difficult to achieve as it seems. The only hindrance in the way of happiness is one’s mind set and mental rigidity.  Often mental rigidity expresses itself in the form of inability to adapt as per changing life situations and the habit of continuing on the same path of conditioned reactions , simply mechanical in nature.

Happiness and joy lies in realizing in what has been given to us not in craving for more and more. The moment we realize what treasures we have , we stop craving, stop comparing,stop competing in an unhealthy way and a sense of gratitude   will ensue. After that is done one’s smile will blossom thousands of flowers filling our hearts with a new fragrance.