Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Meditation for dummies!

Next to those who eat a bunch of leaves with an abundant topping of 8 nuts for a meal, I have a healthy respect for those that can meditate.  Meditation seems to be the new hot social topic these days.  Yoga, muscle-tearing exercises and zero-carb diets have stepped aside for this new champion.  When my friends were ready to swear on a stack of invisible Gitas to convince me of the power of meditation, I was convinced enough to give it a shot.

I confess that I was a bit smug going into this business.  After all, how hard could it be?  If dumping all thoughts from the mind and being in a zombie-like state is meditation, I felt pretty confident about it.   If you are acquainted with me, you would know that I walk around in exactly that state most days anyway.   So one day, I warned my family to not disturb me for a while, rolled my shoulders and closed my eyes.  Just so you know that I was not fooling around, I even switched off the TV.

Thus began my personal epic journey.  Well, more of a mini trip to the kitchen pantry, if you must know.  Who knew I had so many active gray cells in my brain?  My mind, apparently, was a giant monkey on steroids.  It jumped up and down, side to side, upside down and any other direction I have neglected to mention. 

Okay, so it was not going to be as easy as I thought which only meant that I had to try harder next time.

Posture could be the key to this, I figured, and tried to sit crisscross on the floor like I had seen sages do in the old movies.  Let’s just say that I had to ad lib the plan at the last minute and forego both the floor and the crisscross sitting.  One challenge at a time seemed wise.  Next, I dug into my treasure box, unearthed a couple of sandal incense sticks and lit them.  Ambience is half the battle, after all. There, I really felt ready this time.  Finally, sitting comfortably in my very red, very designer settee, I closed my eyes and tried again. 

I brought to my mind a white jasmine flower that I had seen in a pot in the back yard the previous day.  Did I tell you that I had decided to use a prop to focus my mind on?  A secret weapon to tame my monkey mind, so to speak.  I had a good feeling about this already.

I remembered the day a dear friend brought a cutting from her jasmine plant for me saying that it thrived in her garden and gave her many blooms.  I wanted it to live and thrive in my garden too so I gave it to my husband to plant and water.  If you would stop being judgmental for a second, I will tell you why.   He is the protector of plants in my house.  The one that who shields them from my very black thumb. 

When I peeked in yesterday, it had so many buds ready to bloom.  I wish I had learnt how to string a garland out of flowers.  It would be nice to wear a string on the hair one evening.  The last time I wore a string of jasmine on my hair was last year when I had gone to India.  Both my mother and mother-in-law would insist that I keep flowers in my hair whenever I visit home.  I am eternally grateful for having those two in my life.  They are such kind people.  I remember going to a wedding when I was there last year wearing more flowers than what my fragile head had called for.  It was funny how people kept asking if age had mellowed me into a shy person since I had my head down most of the time from the weight of the flowers.  Hah!  

Wow, wait a minute!  That’s not meditating!  I just took the fastest trip to India and back and still managed to make a few gigantic detours to LaLa land.  Okay, may be that prop was a bit too stimulating for the mind.  Time to zoom in on something dull that is bound to not kick start my mind into overdrive.  What could be duller than a bowl of oats, I thought and went in search of a new room, a new chair to begin my next mini epic journey.

If you are thinking that focusing on a bowl of bland oats would put any mind to sleep, you would be entirely wrong.  My monkey mind jumped up and down with excitement and decided to devise many recipes that would spice up the dull oats into a culinary pleasure.  Oats mixed in a coconut, vegetables and green chilies gravy; oats slow-cooked in almond milk and sweetened with a dollop of honey; oats mixed in a hot cup of pepper rasam and more.  I realize that I don’t have a full handle on meditation yet but I do know that one is not supposed to drool in the process. 

Do you possess the ability to rein in your mind so it is not bouncing all over the place, even if it is only for a few minutes a day?  If so, you are my new hero replacing an elderly uncle with no teeth that I once met who could still eat a plate of murukkus with gusto. 

I always whine to my husband (because he lets me) that I haven’t gotten ‘THE CALL’ yet.  May be, if I tame my mind enough to listen, I might hear Him call.

How do you  meditate?  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What's in your bread basket today?

We were watching a magic show on TV recently.  The magician looked fierce in his all-black attire and was a stark contrast to the scantily-clad assistants surrounding him. 

It reminded me of an Indian movie’s dream scene where the hero and the heroine close their eyes in their middle class homes separately and magically appear together in a snow-capped mountain breaking out an intense, calorie-burning dance and song number in the midst of heaps of snow.   He, in denim jeans, sweater and boots and she, in a wafer-thin saree and glass slippers.  I can’t help but feel pride that this world sees a woman as the stronger of the genders.  Strong enough to purr and shake her naked hips in the freezing snow.   

Anyway, coming back to the magic show, it was basically 4 assistants and 1 magician pulling weird things out of a box on that stage.  And to watch this, you have to pay? What a heap of cow-dung!  Next time you want to watch a magic show, just come over to my place and I’ll do it for free. 

I have a bread basket in my kitchen.  It has never been known to contain just bread any day.  It routinely houses missing homework assignments, insurance papers, car keys, sunglasses, coconut oil, candles for birthday cakes, highlighters, hair dryer, stamp sheets, staplers and Bluetooth headphones, among other items.

I don’t know how you go about searching for missing items in your home.  Our family, at one point, had this tried and tested plan full of theatrical effects.  It included a systematic search from room to room, starting from the bedroom all the way to the refrigerator in the kitchen.  If you had ever heard the muffled mutterings and the desperate wailings mixed in with the sounds of a room being tossed, you would have known that there was a search in progress at my home.  Those were the days when we totally believed that drama was the answer to life’s everyday pesky problems. 

Today, we just dive for the kitchen basket first because more often than not, we find what we are looking for in there.  I once pulled out a couple of laundered underwear items on a desperate Monday morning from this basket. 

Someone wise once said that we are surrounded by magic every day and have to only look to find it.  I may never pull out a bunny from my basket ever but I think that a pair of clean underwear on a school day beats a bunny hands down.

What have you pulled out of your basket recently?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Who died and made Samsung God?

I have half a mind to sue Samsung.  The nerve of that company!

Before I bought their S5 phone, I was riding my moral high horse with the confidence of one who had spent a lifetime doing it.  I had almost perfected the art of looking down my nose.   If you don’t believe me, just ask my daughters.  As the lucky recipients of my daily lectures, they can and WILL attest to it.

In the days before their S5 smartphone, the minute one of my daughters sat down to peruse her phone, I would set my work aside to go sit with her and begin my lecture gently.  I would start by pointing at the window saying how there is a beautiful world outside that is waiting for her attention.  Please note that at this juncture, I would sport a soft smile.  Then boom!  I would switch tactics and with a stern face, give a grim warning that blindness is inevitable if she continued to glue her eyes to the little screen.  This tactic throws children off their rhythm and is most effective.

Anyway, gone are those days of moral surety and sweet lecturing.  These days I am forced to walk everywhere with my phone all thanks to Samsung.  Who died and made them God, I want to know. By carrying a phone myself, I have been made to forfeit one of my birthrights as a mother which is to lecture my kids.  It is a hard blow indeed.  One from which I have not yet fully recovered.  I place the blame squarely (to the question 'why not circularly', I have no answers) on Samsung's head.

Samsung's S Health is a tracking app which keeps count of the number of footsteps that I take each day.  Could there be any worse invasion of privacy?  I strongly believe that a person’s footsteps are sacred and private to them.  One must have the freedom to walk and not have the world know all about it.  It is probably the only information Google didn’t have on me till recently.  

This app not only adds up my steps, it sets goals for me too.  The nerve of the company!  Want to guess how many I am supposed to take each day?  10,000 steps. 

Psssstttt!  Get a life! 

The grand total of my footsteps on the day that I discovered the app was a whopping 187.   If I hang my head anymore in shame, it is sure to snap off my neck so I won’t bother.

So now I do what any Desi worthy of the name would do in these situations.  I find loopholes and I cheat.  I have started drinking buckets of water so I could make many trips to the little ladies’ room with the phone in my pant pocket.  Each trip earns me a total of 18 steps.  It may not sound like much but take 10 trips, it sure adds up.  When I watched the counter climb up to 502 steps by 5 pm last Tuesday, I almost cried.  Who would have thought I would cross 500? 

Two days ago, when my kid passed by me with a load of washed laundry on her way to her room upstairs (climbing 17 steps in the process), I was sorely tempted to slip my phone in the laundry basket.  If not for the law-abiding aka desi chicken gene in me, I would have walked away with 40 bonus steps that day.  It may not have been technically mine but I don’t think we should get carried away with little details like that.  The important thing is to watch the counter climb. 

The other day, I was putting trash and recycling out at curb holding the phone between my teeth as there was no pocket in my pants.  I never knew I could be so shameless and determined at the same time.  Life teaches you all kinds of lessons.

Usually, I am not comfortable with the current social norm of greeting in gatherings.  Every time we go to a party, there is a fresh epidemic of hugging.  From best friends to general acquaintances, everyone wants a hug.  I do my best in such situations though.  I stand stiff like a tree in an embrace and do a ‘there, there’ kind of awkward pat on the backs of all those super-loving people.  After S5, I am beginning to see the advantages of this hugging business.  It gets me close enough to slip my phone in and out of active folks’ pockets and purses.  This way, I get to relax in a chair munching the bajjis and pakoras while the active friends help my counter climb.  If I can hug them, they can carry my phone.  Friendship is a two-way street, you know.

Is your counter climbing?