Patterns- let’s decode. Shall we?

Today I am experiencing one of those beautiful synchronicities that life offers you. This morning I was reading a book titled ‘Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erickson’ and later in the day while surfing for something to watch I stumbled upon this video titled ‘ The brain that changes itself’ on Amazon. Let me share and elaborate how my little head connects the two and there’s also a bonus at the end. Have fun!

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Mastadon of IPFW, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am only 10th page of the book I mentioned and I loved how the author talks about the different messages we decode everyday from our external environment unconsciously. How do we decode these messages? Via our senses i.e. sight, smell, hearing, touch. For most people only one of these senses is the dominant source of information. Our decoding of this information depends on our past conditioning to a large extent. For example: When you say or read the word ‘food’ , each one of us experiences this word differently based on our associations to the word food in the past. It could be an image, it could be a distinct smell, it could be texture or the clinging of vessels related to the word. While we are forming those experiences/associations in the beginning we don’t filter it out, we simply receive and save it in our repository. This then helps us to not have to go through this decoding process again when we hear/read the word food. This association becomes our default as we grow up and we never really challenge it. We assume that what ‘food’ means for us is what it means for everyone else in general. This assumption of sameness makes our lives easier for sure but this assumption can also limit our abilities to learn more and new meanings of the word ‘food’. As I write this, I can think of how so many individuals argue over the definition of what is and what is not ‘food’ which is a never ending argument for many. So remember that we as humans like certainty and we create these patterns which need to be used by default without being questioned so that we can then utilize our brain power on other important issues like performing on job, rearing children etc. This can also be called our need to maintain homeostasis. Some of these patterns are helpful but some of these limit us.  But can these patterns not be changed or should they be changed at all in the first place?

The answer to whether or not they should be changed depends on what life circumstances you are facing and if you are happy/content with where you are then there isn’t exactly an incentive/need for you to change anything. What’s fascinating though is that our brain and bodies are constantly taking in and processing information and in a constant state of change. Even the food we eat is nothing but information/data in a different form which is then processed by our bodies and provided to us in the form of energy.

The thought of the need to change our patterns is the connection to the video I watched. In the video they talk about the concept of neuroplasticity which is the idea that the brain is capable at any age to make new connections and therefore rehabilitate itself/heal itself. My main takeaways from the video:

  • Unless the existing pathways are blocked or rendered useless, we don’t look for new ones. Some researchers have worked with individuals who lost their ability to use parts of their bodies due to traumatic incidents/strokes/paralysis. When these individuals were brought into treatment, the doctors restrained the dominant/usable hand and began exercising the other hand making slow and gradual progress everyday. What’s profound is that the new pathways weren’t built until the old ones were restrained/blocked. More often than not in life, we create suffering for ourselves when the situations around us seem to be blocking/restraining us. For example, you are a waitress and the restaurants in our area have stopped hiring. We create pain when we say..’ What will I do now? ‘and we keep looking for the same type of jobs. What if we looked at that block as a push to find a new pathway?
  • In another study, a person who had been blind for 38 years was given a device which sent feedback to his brain using the tongue instead of sight and he could navigate a physical path with turns simply based on that feedback he was receiving via his tongue. The man reported that the feedback he was receiving formed a mental image in his brain which is the same as seeing it with the eye. The brain doesn’t distinguish between ‘how’ the input is received. This is exactly how fears are real to people. Using this imagery available to us we can imagine new outcomes which is then enough for our brain to establish those new connections. Techniques like Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive behavioral therapy help us rewire our brains.
  • Brain is a neutral receptor and storage house..so what are you feeding it and storing here on a daily basis? Meditation and mindfulness are two practices that help us become more aware of our unconscious patterns and bring those to the foreground for us to then work on them. In the same breath I would also like to mention that more than 90% of our body’s serotonin is produced in the gut region. More than one third of the microbes in our gut are not human microbes but microbes from the food we eat. So, the source of your food, the way it reached you, the soil it grew in, the way you cook it and the manner in which you eat your meals all determine who you think you areJ. If you are interested to read more on the mind and gut, please read Eat Wheat , The Mind-Gut connection and The Second Brain for the more scientifically inclined.

Affirmation-Power

 

I am powerful.

I stand tall and firm on my ground with all my might.

I exude the highest power of the entire universe in my being.

 I use my power for the highest good of all beings around me.

I allow myself this power that I was born to recognize in me.

Pooja Joshi

Solitude

It is often when we are alone that our faith gets stronger

It is often when we are alone that our fears crawl out into the open

It is often when we are alone that we are silent

It is often when we are alone that we do take a deep listen.

 

Being by yourself is no easy task and avoid it, we must at all costs

For one who learns to cherish solitude taps into her higher self

Needs no one to tell her who she is

What would then ‘they’ do if she doesn’t need them anymore?

 

Free and wild she soars in the sky

Talks to the winds when she needs advice

Hugs the trees when she needs comfort

She leads the way for another who searches for her highest truth.

7 Simple Nutrition basics I follow

I must admit that it took me a couple of years to sensitize myself to these basics in U.S. where all the good and the bad is available at once in your local grocery store. These rules improved my physical and mental well -being by 70-80%. Hope this helps someone else who is searching for info.

  1. When buying processed foods if the nutrition label has ingredients that you can’t understand or relate to, your body can’t either. Ex: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Benzoate, Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
  2. If a nutrition label has more than 3 ingredients that you can’t pronounce, you can probably do without it.
  3. Eat whole foods instead of the market ready processed alternatives. Ex: Eat whole oranges instead of Orange juice which perhaps doesn’t even have much nutrition value and instead has unwanted sugar in it.
  4. Avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, hydrogenated oils, bleached flour.
  5. Buy Cooking Oils that are packed in Glass jars instead of plastic. You don’t want the plastic by product in your oils..do you?
  6. Eat good fat and avoid fat free is you can. Good fat doesn’t include fried foods..sorry peepsL It includes Grass Fed Ghee, Avocadoes, Olive oil, nuts etc. Fat free is good when you buy non organic milk since most toxins travel through fat into our blood. Fat is the most stable form of energy for our bodies.
  7. Corn and Soy are some of the favorite ingredients used by the processed food industry and are genetically modified more often than not. I avoid them as much as possible except for when I want to relish some tortilla chips every once in a while.

I have listed a few resources that I found helpful on the resources page.

My best to you,

Pooja

U.S. Election cycle of 2016-my takeaways.

“Hillary doesn’t come across as a strong candidate because she isn’t very dynamic and doesn’t have radical ideas for change. She wants to continue on Obama’s legacy whereas Trump is all about shaking up and bringing in change.” My father’s words rang in my head last night while I was watching Hillary Clinton’s last rally in Philadelphia. I was looking at the Obamas and HRC together and I said to myself, What’s wrong in a picture where power comes from a shared source?  In my humble opinion it’s time for people to honor and understand the collaborative aspect of power in addition to the existing aggressive individualistic concept. An individual can make a difference but real change can only be impacted as a system. Collaboration being a feminine ideal perhaps struggles to find its voice in our masculine competitive view of the world. We need a healthy balance of both to thrive. Assertion is needed to raise issues and collaboration to find solutions.

For someone who has kept herself aloof from politics, I must say that this election cycle has taught me a thing or two and I am writing this blog to share what I have learned.

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US Election 2016-Climax time

The 7 things that stood out to me during this election cycle were:

  1. This election had two candidates who hit the core of our hearts and conscience. Their mere existence asks you, ‘What are you made of?’ – Is your baseline marked by love or by fear?
  2. Emotion trumps rational thought process unless we as human beings use our highly prized ability to discern. Emotion provides us with instant data of what lies beneath and we can choose what we would like to do with this data. Being aware would be the first step.
  3. A message that is hammered long enough around you can become a belief. Constant flow of visuals through media influence what you focus on. What you focus on consistently becomes You.
  4. Collaboration is perceived to be weak and aggressive competitiveness is perceived to be a winner’s attribute. This very notion goes against biology and physiology where every element works in tandem with the other. Can you imagine any single organ of your body being able to function optimally if something else in the system is compromised?
  5. You need to blow your own trumpet. If you boast enough about yourself, your followers will emerge. This is perhaps what social media helps you with. To find and connect with your audience.  A case in point is Bernie Sanders’ campaign whose authenticity and passion resonated with millions.
  6. We need our leaders to be flawless. We can’t tolerate imperfections in the people whom we choose to put high up on a pedestal. Is this even possible? I think this only allows for us mortals to sin without guilt because we aren’t up there. We need to let them be human beings who can err.
  7. You cannot focus on what you don’t have or have lost and expect to become great again. It’s similar to how one cannot focus on disease and expect to become healthy. Disease can be used as a pointer/indicator and only a vision of health can move you towards wellness.

There is a newness in the air

There is a newness in the air

Unfamiliar, unaware

It’s exciting and scary

I feel it everywhere.

They say it’s the seasons

Bringing in the winds of change

The one law of nature

I can’t seem to change.

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Changing seasons

 

 

Everything inside my body thrives on it

My soul needs no lesson in it

And yet I resist this law, for,

I don’t want to be beaten down by IT.

Who is this ‘I’ that acts against me?

The ‘I’ who wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for change

Yet another battle I believe I am engaging in,

Why do I, Oh! Why do I?

 

Let’s drop this ‘I’ for a moment

Watch it. Live with it. Move with it.

& now repeat with me-

There is a newness in the air

Unfamiliar, unaware

It’s exciting and scary

I feel it everywhere.

 

P.S: It’s Fall in the northern hemisphere and this poem happened to me while I was feeling and listening to the breeze on a cloudy day. The picture in here was taken on a summer day though:)

Not afraid to be ordinary

I have to admit right at the outset that ever since I was a kid I disliked anything which was ‘normal’, ‘regular’, ‘conventional’.  I would often ask why rituals are done a certain way or why do I have to follow social rules which my brother didn’t have to follow. And you know what the rest of the why’s would look like..

The story began one afternoon when I was sitting in our family’s apartment balcony and looking at what people in the apartments living opposite to us were doing( I know it wasn’t a nice thing to peek but hey..everything was too close not to watch when the curtains are open) . It was yet another sunny day in Mumbai and I had just returned from school. While I was watching,  I noticed one apartment in particular where the kids were playing and the maid was drying the clothes in the balcony. They weren’t doing anything extraordinary and in fact they were doing exactly the same thing as they did the day before and the day prior to that. It was then that I wondered:

  • Will I die one day and no one would know?
  • Will my existence go unnoticed?
  • How can I be different?

Trust me when I tell you that I was all of 10-11 years old thinking about such glum stuff. In that very moment

  • I decided to be different.
  • To not follow the routine, mundane and mechanical life.
  • To create my own rules and
  • To learn everything on my own ( this wasn’t a smart intention to set but I did set it that way)

This existential thought storm also triggered a resistance towards anything normal. If someone had a normal childhood i.e. sans any major struggles or discomfort then that didn’t interest me, two people who got married with ease didn’t give me as much a kick as did an odd couple i.e. Older woman marrying a younger man, if everyone was afraid of the walking alone in the dark then I would surely try and see what the fuss was all about. I wanted to be above the rest but not in the normal competitive manner where you tried to score better than your peer. I got above the rest using some spiritual and philosophical understanding. Being competitive also meant being normal so I wasn’t going to engage in it.

Fast forward some years and some first-hand experiences , I craved normalcy and all I wanted was a normal life. I was at a point where I was tired of ups and downs and desperately wanted the comfort of the plateau, the known. I needed certainty/ stability and thankfully I was able to achieve it after some challenges. The truth is that had I not tasted these challenges where being able to make ends meet in a foreign land was my daily concern, then I wouldn’t have been able to value normalcy. I am stubborn like thatJ

With this new found respect for normalcy and my 10 year old still inside of me, today I have reached a point where I can say that no matter how ordinary you are, there is an inherent uniqueness in each one of us which can never be suppressed (unless you choose to suppress it). You don’t have to try too hard to be extraordinary.

Accepting the beauty of normalcy takes courage. Accepting somewhere that most of life is lined with routine tasks which are not to be fought with but won over. The ‘difference’ lies in the choices we make while leading an otherwise ordinary life. There is an ease in this approach to life. An organic wisdom if you will. It is the beauty of a homemaker who sings while she cooks, the compassion of a man returning from a 9-5 job who helps a wounded animal on the street,  the courage of an otherwise ordinary bystander to stand up for a woman who is being eve teased.

In my opinion, if we can simply learn to be good at being ordinary with an elevated consciousness/humanness then we will never be ‘just another’ person who lived/died. As long as we keep fighting the normalcy, that’s what we stay busy with and staying busy in our own head doesn’t mean that we aren’t ordinary. This constant battle we create for ourselves can induce more fear in us than needed.

I am not suggesting here that you shouldn’t challenge yourself or try to grow or be complacent. If you do any of the above then you are not respecting your inherent uniqueness and not allowing it to express itself. What I am saying here is that not everyone needs to be a Mark Zuckerberg or a Bill Gates to make a difference or to live a life that has created an impact. If you live your life with authenticity then it will indeed be a life well lived. Some of us spend too much time and energy focusing on what we are NOT in this moment. You don’t have to know everything OR be restless at all times because you aren’t doing enough to get somewhere.