Gumbo pot- Reflections

I am writing this post as a reflection of my thoughts on some current global events / issues and some reading/listening that I have engaged in. This post is perhaps a continuation of my recent post on Feminism and what it means to be a Feminist.

I was reading/ listening to:

  • Women’s bodies, Women’s wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup
  • The Truth about Vaccines – This is a 7 part documentary series on the good/bad and the ugly related to Vaccines given to infants/children in the U.S.
  • The Yoga of Bhagavad Gita by Paramhansa Yogananda

Below are some of my ponderings/thoughts:

  • For any change to occur, we need more women to be aware, educated, in tune with their intuitive intelligence and more men to stand with these women.
  • If the chemicals being spread on Earth’s soil and the antibiotics/hormones given to cattle affect our health via food/water/air, then why assume that all vaccines given to babies are safe?
  • Shouldn’t I as an individual always have the ability to make a choice? What is freedom if not for the ability to make our own choices and be responsible for them?
  • Why do we believe more in pills and less in the intelligence of our bodies?
  • Any person/ medium/approach that thrives on you being fearful is not your friend.
  • We need to stand up to the Pharmaceutical industry much in the same way as we are seeing with the Pesticide and Food industry. Personal is indeed political.
  • If every single person only took responsibility for themselves including their physical, mental, emotional, relational health, that would be enough.
  • Authoritarian approaches that disallow freedom at any level need to be replaced with collaborative/consultative approaches.
  • Don’t simply follow practices/beliefs because ‘that’s how it has been’, ask why and be open to understanding.
  • It’s all connected. If it’s NOT OK for Syria to bomb its own people, it’s NOT OK for the government to issue mandates on what’s needed in my or my child’s body. Both are fundamentally related to human rights.
  • Don’t be a rebel for the sake of feeling powerful.
  • Let’s stop living in an illusion that we are separate from the Earth/Environment.
  • Invest more time/resources in improving the state of health instead of focusing on disease.

I will close it by saying; Let’s dream with our eyes wide open. Let it make us uncomfortable. Let’s feel it and then feel it again in every inch of our bodies. May we have no other choice but to move with it.

I would be eager to know if this stirs something in you.

Creating your own Ritual-fuel your intentionality

Being born in India where Hindus constitutes majority of the population, rituals were a common occurrence around me. I grew up with different ceremonies and rituals being performed at different times of the year. When you grow up with something you don’t always appreciate it and that’s exactly what happened with me. I was fascinated by the meaning and no one provided me with an answer. Curiosity persisted and I read several books, spoke to some wise friends and also followed my own intuition.

A ritual is defined as a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. You may follow the order as passed on by generations and can also create your personal ritual. It is an order that emanates from the center of your being, your heart.

I knew that the presence of all five elements i.e. earth, water, fire, air and ether always brought me a sense of purity, serenity and wholeness. Today I create my own rituals that help me uplift my mood, feel emotionally cleansed, cleansing the area I live in etc.

One of my favorite morning rituals is simply to light an incense stick after my morning meditation and also set an intention that my day be as fragrant as 

Santa Cruz - Montara

Five elements in nature

 

the incense. At times when I feel driven, I also light up candles, place a jar of water next to the candles, bring in a basil leaf(earth element) and play my Tibetan cymbals. I also incorporate dancing when I feel like itJ. This whole ritual which lasts 15-20 minutes helps me reconnect with myself and feel lighter. A very common activity that we perform everyday i.e. taking a shower can be transformed into a ritual by utilizing the power of intention. You may set an intention that every droplet of water takes away all the dirt and enhances the overall health of your body. Like any other thing when this ritual becomes ‘another thing to do’, please stop it and renew it.

Fire, water and earth seem to have some transformative properties which perhaps why major religions choose to bury or cremate bodies of individuals. Air is ever present and provides movement to any other element. I believe that rituals add fuel to setting your intentions in motion. Feel free to use it for weight loss (as mentioned by Marianne Williamson in her book titled A course in Weight Loss), attracting love, enhancing your career etc. Take practices from any religion that appeal to you and make it your own. When you are connected with your heart, I don’t know that you could do any harm or go wrong!

The Meaning of Anxiety

All of us have felt ‘anxious’ at different points of time in our lives. We feel it as

  • restlessness: in the mind (too many thoughts), body (inability to sleep, muscle tension)
  • in the doing mode
  • feeling of being overwhelmed
  • feeling like ‘there is something still to be completed’

This is a state of dissatisfaction, unrest. One is constantly waiting to arrive and never does. Our focus is on the future and our inner peace is dependent on some future event which is yet to happen. When at its worst, you do not feel safe in your own body and have a sense of being flighty.

Santa Cruz - relaxing

Santa Cruz

 

From a psycho-spiritual perspective, anxiety arises in the consciousness when one is not true to one self. You are not all that you can be. You are compromising your needs, desires, dreams etc hoping to please everyone else and thereby find your own happiness. You are leading a life based on how someone else (person, society, religion, media) expects you to live.

At the very center of your being, this knowledge exists and surfaces in the form of anxiety. There are several ways to subside the symptoms but healing does not occur unless you work on the sources of the anxiety.

Bringing your awareness into the present moment using various relaxation/visualization techniques and mindfulness can be a good start. The feeling of ungroundedness can also be abated by connecting to earth in some way i.e. gardening, walking barefoot on earth, hugging a tree etc.  Finding the courage in accepting that you are not living your full meaningful life will need some therapeutic work.

Relaxation using Five Senses and Elements

Image

Relax

One of the best ways to reconnect with yourself is to bring your attention back to your body. This will help you ground and center yourself. Lets explore the different ways we can relax using our five senses:

1) Touch- Feel better when you are hugged or someone moves their fingers through your hair? Skin is the longest organ in our body J no wonder then that as human beings we respond best to touch. Get a massage, pedicure, hugs, playful touch with an intimate partner. You can also try and identify fabrics that feel good to you and try to wear them or incorporate them in your linens. Examples of some fabrics could be velvet, satin, silk etc. You can also use stones/ crystals and rub it between your palms. Use of hot and cold sensations is also a good idea.

2) Sight- Soothe your vision with colors and images. There is a lot of research done around color therapy. My favorite colors to calm me are shades of purple and green. Reds/yellows and oranges are ‘activators’ or ‘energizers’. Shades of blue, white can also be calming. Neutrals when used with other colors can create a desired ‘uplifting’ or ‘cooling’ effect. Fill your phone/ laptop and surround yourself with images that bring your joy and happiness. These could be images of times that were happy for you or places/ scenery that creates that same effect for you. Personally I love images of waterfalls/beaches/meadows.

3) Sound- We are all familiar with what kind of music helps us unwind. For some it could be instrumental, nature based, trance-techno, world music or old classical melodies. Thanks to technology, we have apps that bring us our favorite instruments to our phones. I love using Pandora radio and have Jazz, Buddhist Monks music, ancient hymns/ chants,  bollywood music, enya etc on there. A lot of these are freeJ Sounds of nature seem to work for a lot of people. Singing along with a song or just humming a sound that comes naturally to you. Don’t worry about how it sounds to someone else, its for YOU!

4) Taste- Comfort foods! This is probably what comes to mind first and there is nothing wrong with using them in moderation. When I think of taste and what could be soothing/comforting I think of a dark chocolate square, spiced tea or green tea, hot chocolate, mashed potatoes etc. Eating fries/chips/pork chops etc can be added here however if you find yourself needing a lot of this, you may need to seek consultation with a health service provider. There is a lot of correlation between how we feel and what/how much we eat. Be mindful.

5) Smell- I love the smell of coffee brewing, fresh cilantro, first rain on earth.. I hate the smells of strong deodorants and perfumes. That’s just me. We associate a lot of memories through our sense of smell. Aromas from food can also be a part of this. I also know people who love the smell of clean linen and get a sense of ‘everything is ok’ by just smelling it. Oils of lavender, vanilla, jasmine etc are popular. Aromatherapy oils are easily available and not very expensive either. Apart from oils you can also use incense sticks and get the same desired effect. Using coconut jasmine oil for a hair massage will be two benefits in one activity.

The five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether can be incorporated with the five senses to create a relaxing experience. For example – sitting by a fireplace utilizes soothing via sight and touch due to warm feeling. Hugging a tree may provide soothing via touch, sight and smell of the earth.

Get creative, experiment and find ways to soothe yourself. These can also be used to distract yourself when needed. I cannot help but mention sex in here too. Sex seems to encompass all the five senses and definitely helps connect with the body. The key lies in knowing your intentionality and your sense of balance.

This is not an exhaustive list and will need work at your end to identify your tools for relaxation. While you are experimenting, you can also maintain a journal and record your experiences.

Have fun:)