The Empowering “Why” Behind What You Do

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 

Today’s blog is a reminder to myself and many of us – who want to do so much, do a lot,  leave some things halfway and keep going with some others and sometimes get frustrated due to dead ends! Read on. 🙂 

“What is the why behind everything that you do? When we know this in life or design it is very empowering and the path is clear.”

Jack Canfield 

On the path of life, each of us have various destinations we wish to reach at different points in time. 

But how many times do we pause to ask, “Why am I doing what I am doing?”

How many times do we pause to look at all those incomplete tasks we had begun with great enthusiasm and ask, “Why did I let all that drop off?” 

The answer lies in how strongly we hold on to the “Why” of what we do! If we lose sight of the reason behind what we have started, ultimately we lose sight of both the path and the goal. A strong sense of purpose and unbreakable determination can keep us walking without tiring!

If we look carefully at every personality who has achieved or have been achieving their dreams against all odds : We will know that they never lose sight of their “Whys”. What would happen to a company that goes against its vision and mission? It will fall into absolute chaos isn’t it? 

Lord Krishna knew the reason for every step in his life : to uphold and restore Dharma throughout the land of Bharatavarsha. Thus, he remained unperturbed in the face of every obstacle, even if they came from his own kin. 

For, “when you know the why behind what you do, you can bear with almost any how” says one of those people who inspires me! 

That is – when you remain steadfast in the principle that drove you to chase a dream, you can tackle every challenge that arises! 

A simple word – “Why”. But such layers of thought behind it. 

In today’s times of constant distractions, it becomes all the more important to stay in tune with the essence of our goals, to keep going back to why we began what we did. 

A good trick in the book would be to write your purpose down and keep re-visiting it from time to time. That is what I have recently discovered is an extremely fulfilling and reflective exercise which led to this blog piece. 

For example, if you are a dancer caught in self-doubt, go back to understanding why you are practicing this art form. 

If you have hit a roadblock in a new venture, remind yourself about your passion for it. 

When that energy floods your veins again, when the fire of purpose lights up your lives – no obstacle is too big and no victory too small. Every moment becomes a celebration, every goal worth striving hard for!

Just remember, to know why! 🙂

See you Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 😀

The Ekasloki – Infinity Weaved Into A Single Verse

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank You once again from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement for the blog. It always means a lot. 😀 

In one of his talks on the Kathopanishad, Swami Tejomayananda explains in the most simple manner, the subtlest philosophy of Vedanta encapsulated in a single verse by Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya.

It had left a deep imprint on my mind, thus today I am going to attempt to write about what is popularly known as Shri Adi Sankaracharya’s Ekasloki – essentially a conversation between him and a disciple who with reverence arrives to seek the Supreme Knowledge of the Self. 

Kim Jyothisthava bhanumaanahani me ratrau pradeepaadikam.

Syaadevam ravi deepa darsana vidhau kim jyothiraakhyaahi me 

Chakshustasya nimeelanaadi samaye kim dheeh dhiyo darsane 

Kim tatrahamatho bhavaan paramakam jyothisthadasmi prabho.

Seeker – O Master, what is the highest Truth enshrined in our scriptures to be realized in our hearts? How do we experience that state of supreme peace when thou knows, which the Yogis and Rishis revel in? 

Bhagawan – Tell me, how do you see the objects around during daytime? 

Seeker – With the help of sunlight. 

Bhagawan – And at night-time? 

Seeker– With the help of moonlight or by lighting a lamp. (Today, by switching on the tube light 😛 ). 

Bhagawan – Nice. Now how do you know this sunlight and moonlight? 

Seeker– With the help of my eyes. I see this light with my eyes. 

Bhagawan – Does it then not mean that sunlight illumines the objects alone? What then illumines your power of vision? How do you know what you see? How do you see even when your eyes are closed?

Seeker– With the help of my mind and intellect. Sunlight illumines the objects, my eyes see and understand with the help of the intellect. When I am asleep too I am aware of an internal world at play. 

Bhagawan – How do you know the intellect ? How are you aware even in the dream state? What then illumines the intellect?

Seeker– I know. I am aware. I just am. 

Bhagawan – Precisely. It is this self-illumining awareness that knows. That alone is. It needs no other light, no explanation. It shines by itself and illumines all our experiences. It cannot be reached by logic alone. For it is that which illumines even the intellect. Know this, understand this, glide into IT! 

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Now the question that arises – if the Self or Brahman as it is known is self-illumining, Then why do we need scriptures and paths to understand it? That is because we need it. The Self doesn’t need anything. It just is. 

We are caught up in the maze of our own likes and dislikes, constantly troubled by pangs of emotions and thoughts going haywire. Hence we need the guidance of the scriptures, of a Guru to walk the path until we grow to experience this state in the cave of our hearts. 

Isn’t it interesting that a table can never see the eyes. The eyes cannot see the mind. And the mind cannot see the Self! The flow of knowledge is unidirectional. Flowing from Brahman. 

What is that silence you experience when waves of the ocean lap at your feet? When you stand face to face with the majestic Himalayas on a trek? When you close your eyes to look within after climbing all the way up to a pilgrimage site like Kedarnath? 

Or simply when you hear a bird chirp?

What is that which shines calmly in the state of meditation? 

Ever given it a thought? Think! In the midst of self-created chaos – such are the moments that offer us a glimpse of that infinity called Brahman. Of that which shines in your own heart. Of that Light which You are. 

Here’s another gem by Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya – the Nirvana Shatakam. Listen to it. It has the explanation too given in the video itself. https://youtu.be/UrZUQh6SpcQ.

Hope You Enjoyed the Read. Do Like and Leave Your Feedback – Cherish this dream with me! 😀

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 

Meditation – The Person You Want To Become

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 My heart can never thank all of you enough for the love and encouragement you’ll pour upon the blog. Thank You so much! 

The science of Vedanta advises the treatment of meditation for making a genius out of an ordinary man.

Swami Chinmayananda

Recently in a talk on the Hamsa Gita (from Shrimad Bhagavatam) by Swami Tejomayananda of Chinmaya Mission I heard of a different interpretation of meditation which led to this blog. 🙂 

Most of us are familiar with meditation as a concept and practise even if it has different types. But are we aware that all of us practise meditation even in daily life? That if we pay a little more attention, it can become a transforming experience? 

What is meditation? It is a single-pointed flow of thought towards our object of contemplation. At the highest level it is meditation upon the formless Self, the Divinity that pervades all. 

In another popular aspect, one meditates upon various forms of the Lord like Rama, Krishna, Shiva and so on. When one meditates upon Shri Krishna for instance, when our thoughts flow single-pointedly towards Him, our mind imbibes the ideals He stands for – of equanimity, purity, joy and so on. 

Thus it becomes Sattvic Dhyanam. What does that mean? Sattva is one of the Three Gunas or qualities – the other two being Rajas and Tamas. 

Yes meditation while living can be Rajasic and Tamasic too! For example, directing our energy in simply earning money or self-centered activities with zero regard for anything else is Rajasic. A mind turned towards activities like terrorism or calculatively destroying another person’s life is Tamasic. Think, don’t these activities also require single-pointed focus? 

Whereas, Sattva stands for purity, where the mind is completely calm, ready for a flight to the Self. Dhyanam is meditation. Sattvic Dhyanam purifies, it uplifts and transforms us! 

How can we translate this into our daily life? If we look closely – each of us summons this ability of single-pointedness at different points in our lifetime. Whether it is pursuing our goals or simple household chores. 

The question is how does it become self-transforming? How does it become Sattvic Dhyanam? 

For that we need to take our mind away from everything we want to pursue and look at, “What kind of person do we want to become?” 

For unless you build your life upon the ideals of integrity and goodness, no matter what you build, it will never be truly fulfilling! Of utmost importance is to be a good if not a great human being. 

Thoughts channelized towards our goal is Dhyanam. When our goal is high, when we are inspired to become good human beings with each passing day, the most simple actions naturally become inspired and brilliant – be it managing a company or taking care of your family! 🙂 

Look at the life of India’s former President, Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. A great scientist, teacher, writer and patriot. At the core lay a humble, brilliant human being standing on the foundation of strong yet simple spiritual values. He was both a scientist and a saint. 

There are countless such examples. Thus before becoming anything else ask yourself, “What kind of a person do you want to become?” 

The direction in which your thoughts flow – here lies the secret to a lifetime of goodness and brilliance. 

I would like to conclude with this befitting statement by late Actor Sushant Singh Rajput –

For those of you who would like to listen to that particular talk by Swami Tejomayananda – https://youtu.be/_hh2hMGMlLw

Here’s a beautiful compilation of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s speeches that I leave you with – https://youtu.be/-7TwMUyWSE0

See You Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

Sadhana – Uplifting the Mind

Hello! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank You so much for the wonderful response on Towards True Mental Well-Being! It truly means a lot. 😀

Last Sunday, I had blogged about how the mental health of every individual needs to be addressed with a holistic understanding. 

By Sadhana we give the mind healthy and favourable surroundings, enough nutrition, restful repose, a direction etc. It must revive and grow by itself

Swami Chinmayananda

Today I will be writing about the practices – which we call Sadhanas on the spiritual path – that have helped my mind tremendously. Spirituality is a science that addresses life as a whole – the mental, physical and subtler aspects that we may not be aware of now. Thus, its practices has a deeper, profound healing effect on the mind and body. 

I am breaking this blog into two parts, the second one will be posted next Sunday. What I will be writing about is a very basic introduction because each of these Sadhanas need in-depth examining and experiential understanding too. 

  1. Japa – A powerful practice probably found in all major world religions – Japa is traditionally performed in the beginning with the help of Tulsi mala/Rudraksha mala of 108 beads. You begin by chanting out aloud the sacred mantras of your favourite deity (Ishta Devata – for example Om Namah Shivaya) or the Savitur Gayatri Mantra preferably in the morning hours. As your mind becomes more and more silent – this chanting will become a mere murmur within. It is a sadhana which builds our concentration and gain access to greater potential buried in the mind.

2. Yogasana – I mention Yogasana – because Yoga by itself has a multitude of definitions in different contexts. But here it would mean integrating the body and the mind with breath awareness and a set of practises called Asanas. Each Asana works on parts of the body, enhances one’s awareness and alertness and helps quieten the mind – thereby preparing it for higher flights into meditation. You may check out my trainer’s profile here (she is AMAZING!) and contact her if you have queries. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Health—Wellness-Website/Yogatainment-612506432515155/ 

3. Meditation – One point that I have come to realise is that meditation begins as a practise we perform with closed eyes and slowly becomes a state of being. From 5 minutes of sitting straight, fidgeting and watching our thoughts to going deeper and deeper – we finally reach a calm state that penetrates into what we do with our eyes open too. 

While there are guided meditations on YouTube and Apps that you can check out – what has worked best for me so far is a slow chanting of Om.

4. Arpana Buddhi – This translates to maintaining a mindset of offering all that you do at a Higher Altar. This altar could be Bhagawan, Guru, the nation, your parents, your goals, etc. In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna asks Arjuna to surrender all his actions and thoughts at His Feet. When we bring this sadhana in our day to day life – the mind stops pondering over the fruits of its actions and loses all attachment with it. While performing the action itself, there is no anxiety for we are completely immersed in the present while being detached from the outcome. The mind is gradually lifted up into serene channels of inspiration. 

Even though something as simple as a walk, an affirmation or even music can help our mind – I wanted to blog about these Sadhanas which have helped me at levels – more profound than I can fathom. I believe they are long-term practises which while requiring tremendous patience and consistency – transform us from within and lift our minds to quieter channels. 

Next week, we’ll look at 5 more practises – and in the future examine these in-depth too.

Until then, please feel free to connect with me if you have questions on lakshstar97@gmail.com. I am a novice too – trying to blog, express and share so that all of us can grow together! 🙂

From now on, I’ll try to ensure that every blog leaves you with a simple resource you can use to uplift yourselves.

As we are in the Shravan month which is dedicated to worship of Lord Shiva – click here for a super-calming Mantra that will leave you feeling refreshed at any point in the day. 😀

See you Next Sunday! 😀

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 

Towards True Mental Well-Being

Hellooo! 🙂 Now this marks a humble new beginning in the journey of creating content from the heart with two goals – to share and to enhance our growth. Do join me on this quest, I promise we will shine together! 🙂

Today as I woke up in the morning – a thought struck me. What is mental health? Do we actually understand what it means? 

We watch awareness campaigns rise for depression and mental well-being when someone close to us struggles or someone who has achieved a considerable amount of what is regarded as success also fights hard battles inside his/her mind. 

But, is mental health only about creating awareness around Depression, Anxiety or Suicide? No doubt, it is an extremely vital part. Tell me, do we understand physical health merely as being aware of various illnesses and the absence of those? Or is it much more holistic? 

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively or fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” 

Mental health is more than mental disorders. Treatment is only a part of the whole. The focal point is enabling a person to function at his optimum mental capacity and help him discover that mental fortitude which can stand by him in times of challenges. Mental health is as much about being at peace as it is about having the strength to face life’s struggles. 

We often notice that maintaining physical fitness comes quite naturally to us. While the mind does benefit in this process – why do we not recognize that the mind is far subtler and needs more care and understanding? The mind and body go hand in hand. What affects the mind, affects the body and vice versa. You can’t neglect either – for they are sacred vehicles we are blessed with. 

mental health - as your mind so your vision

In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda says, “Mind is man. As the mind, so is the individual. If the mind is disturbed, the individual is disturbed. If the mind is good, the individual is good.” 

He explains the working of the Objective Mind (the Manas in Sanskrit) as that which faces the world outside and the Subjective Mind (the Buddhi in Sanskrit) as that which faces within and reacts to this stimuli received from outside. 

“That individual is whole and healthy in whom the objective and subjective aspects of the mind work in unison, and in moments of doubt, the Objective Mind readily comes under the disciplining influence of the Subjective Mind.” he elaborates. 

However, in the majority of us this is split and does not work in unison many times – due to our own delusory attachments and desires – which leads to inner confusion. 

To do each day what it takes to bring these two aspects together and minimize that layer of false notions will bring in mental health into our daily lives. 

I’ll talk in my next blog on 26th July 2020, about those practises which have been working well for me, in my quest. 

Until then, Keep Smiling and Shining!

Do click Like, Follow and leave your comments – cherish this dream with me! 😀

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

The Circle of Expectations

Peace

Peace begins when Expectation ends- Sri Chinmoy

It is almost humanly impossible to give up on the expectations we have of ourselves and others. We expect our kids to obey, our friends to return the same amount of affection we give them and when this doesn’t happen, its hurts. Badly.

On one hand where it stands true that we end up expecting only from whom we have the right to, the question is: Is love some kind of a business? Or are relationships contracts? That you decide you give this much and need the same or more in return. No, right?

Each person has his own principles and requires a certain space to function and grow. It is when theirs contradicts your expectations that conflict arises. Trust me, even if for brief periods, I have been free of expectations and it feels WONDERFUL! Your heart is absolutely free from all bondage and every moment is happier. Every relationship automatically becomes more beautiful. It is a matter of putting faith in yourself, in your intent and the love you hold for another.

Honestly, our expectations end up hurting us the most and spoiling ties we consider important. They tend to affect us deeply if not fulfilled. If we look at it in the right way, they turn into lessons and help us grow a step further by understanding them, which has led me to write this piece. These experiences will keep repeating in life, for we have to keep reminding ourselves what we are truly made of, until we do not completely understand it.

Humans are hungry for happiness. We tend to attach these positive emotions like happiness to others, to friends, to family and situations without realizing that all of these are fleeting moments destined to become memories. They are transient. Hence, any happiness dependent on them also becomes transient.

The truth is happiness is you, it is within yourself. It is destroyed due to an expectation that “Oh, this person makes me truly happy!”Expectations are burdens not just for us, but also for the other person. He may have umpteen other things to take care of. In the midst of all that he has to also take care of you. It ultimately erodes all that was blissful in the relationship.

Again, it isn’t healthy to run away from your conflicts and expectations. It is only when you face them head on that you can work upon them. Setting up realistic expectations for oneself can help achieve goals. That depends from person to person.

When they become difficult to deal with: Accept them, Embrace them. The process of letting them go will become much easier.