To Binge or Not to Binge

Binging on Schitt’s Creek, a model on incremental productivity and Isaacson’s biography on Einstein.

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Reading Time: 7 minutes.

I finished a very well written and interesting biography on Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson, titled “Einstein: His Life and Universe”, having started the book a few weeks ago, this long weekend. I used to put off biographies for some reason, not knowing why I should be reading about anyone’s life, when I can explore and experience the dynamics of my own life in depth. But, it turns out, like many other realizations, I was wrong in my thinking. Walter Isaacson’s captivating stories of Einstein’s life, was not only mesmerizing, but also has many things one can learn from his life. The book is beautifully structured, and although, a long read, it is engrossing throughout and kept me intrigued. The style is very lucid and I had heard about Isaacson’s penchant for writing beautiful biographies, but it was the first time I had a chance to indulge and enjoy his work. It was quite intriguing how flamboyant Einstein was in one sense, and completely aloof in another, both in his professional and personal life. It seems, he could be very quiet and lost in his scientific work and be equally vocal and gregarious in his expressions, be it politically driven matters or writing a recommendation for his colleague. He did not seem to mind getting involved with media and political dramas or backlashes, if he believed in the cause. He remained equally a wanderer and wonderer, and lived in few countries, was focused and determined to find a unified field theory till the end, attempting to explain the mysteries of the universe, and remained witty, focused, humble and humorous until he passed away at his Princeton residence in 1955. My timing couldn’t have been better in finishing this book, as I am stationed just 10 miles away from his Princeton residence, and am daily walking some trails around his neighborhood.

Walter Isaacson captures few of his final utterances from various sources, few days before his death, quoted below:

To a group of doctors recommending seeing a surgeon for his health condition: “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially, I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”

To his assistant, when asked: “Is everything alright?” Einstein replied: “Everything is alright, but I am not.”

To his son, Hans Albert, on America: “Everything – even lunacy – is mass produced here. But everything goes out of fashion very quickly.”

To his friend, queen mother of Belgium: “The strange thing about growing old is that the intimate identification with the here and now is slowly lost. One feels transposed into infinity, more or less alone.”

Isaacson ends the book with this observation – He could be serenely self-confident in his lonely course yet also humbly awed by the beauty of nature’s handiwork. And Einstein remarks: “A spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.”

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It has been such a long time that I haven’t binged a particular activity, and I don’t think I’ll ever binge, per the technical definition of the word. Last fifteen years, I have particularly managed a schedule in such a way that, I get involved with an activity, deliberately for short durations and keep hopping to the next relevant activity, which could also be conscious inactivity. Its an arranged experiment to not get hooked onto anything particular for a long time and instead allocate my energies in a deliberate manner to keep changing activities every few hours, remain involved with the new activity and just when it is settling, move on to the next relevant activity. The reason for such an experiment is simple, I want to accomplish various things, incrementally, which I am choosing to bring into the daily routine, but allocating sufficient yet not extensive amount of time to it, so that I can get sufficiently involved but immediately move on to the next one with equal involvement.

The idea is to train the mind to not get hooked on to any particular activity, and simultaneously get unidentified with the need to have an immediate outcome of that activity.

It also helps in retaining attention since I’m not stretching the activity beyond a certain point, knowing very well my capacity to loose attention if the activity takes longer. It also helps me in bringing multiple activities within the realm of the same day, and thus I get the benefit of incrementally building up on the plans for my activities, which have a long term essence for me. As an example, in a given day, I could be allocating my energies to be doing the following things, with much involvement, knowing very well that I would be hopping to the next activity soon – yoga, walking, reading, work, writing, eating, siesta, chanting, sending personal messages to friends, watching my breath, chatting on phone with a close friend, reading shortlisted articles on the internet. Now, none of these activities individually, per se, has much meaning, or at least, that’s how it is perceived by most of us, if that is the only activity we do in the whole day. But, when you keep on doing this routine, day in and day out, over a matter of few weeks, you feel quite super, probably because it brings about a sense of deeper fulfillment, and more importantly, the brain adapts to a pattern which is less stressful, linearly meaningful, with an easily achievable mode of functioning. At least, that is my experience and hence I stick to such routines.

A good friend suggested watching “Schitt’s Creek”, a pretty much Canadian production, with the lead actors being Canadian too, three of them from the same family. Its kind of a dry humor situational comedy, based on sarcasm and satire. Its been delicately created and to me, who’s kind of on holidays, babysitting the progenitors, it was a perfect time to binge the show. Netflix has bought the rights for three seasons and each season ironically has thirteen episodes and each episode is roughly twenty minutes. So here I am in the land of opportunities, after a superb daily long walk in the woods, close to Einstein’s home place as mentioned earlier, I would come back, have a nice home made meal and binge – not on food though. It was indeed very different from the experiment I mentioned earlier, and it was quite amusing to see the confusion which it created in the brain the first few hours, as routinely, my mind was demanding for me to move on to the next task. It didn’t get any, except an occasional and terrible choice of Doritos chips, just for old times sake. So, I broke the routine of the mind, allowed the binging to happen and finished the three seasons in a matter of three days, leaving my friend behind in the unannounced race for completion. I enjoyed the binge, but the drag which comes along with such acts, was easily felt and thanks to the daily dose of yoga and walking, I managed to keep up some aliveness. Watching TV has become a far off and distant activity, which I usually don’t do, not because I don’t like it, but because we don’t have a TV anymore. So, occasional binging like this is remarkably entertaining but I don’t think I can do it very often. I like the small doses of intense activity or inactivity, as I find it more productive, with major long term benefits, and in which I can retain my attention much better. Of course, this works for me only because I have managed to arrange my life in a manner where such things are possible. But, it is worth experimenting with for anyone wanting to incrementally make their lives more intense and productive over a long haul, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, until next time, Ciao!

Art, Commerce and Science of Relentless Traveling

Exploring traveling as an effective tool for self exploration, if applied with the right intention.

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Traveling is rarely about rest and relaxation, especially if one does not know how to rest and relax, while not traveling. It does give an illusion when we’re in a rut, that traveling to some exotic location, will take off some steam and bring unending pleasantness. And it does, for a short time, which may even end before the first day of holidaying is over, and I’ve been with some people and heard from many, the confirmation to this hypothesis, that they’re unable to stick to the pleasantness they had anticipated by taking up the travels, to a far off place which looked beautiful and serene, and could’ve provided relief to their distress. The mind seeks constant stupor and provides various illusions on how things can be different somewhere else. And the irony of holidaying for most of us is, we end up either stressing more – while leaving, after first few hours or days of reaching the dream location, and definitely after we come back to the rut. I’m sure there are many rational reasons for such behaviors which most of us will avoid digging into.

After all, providing fuel to the mind’s incessant ability to wander and create stupor is a full time activity for all of us, we’re trained and come preprogrammed for such a compulsively engrossing task.
Although, I’ve never had this problem, whether I’m traveling or otherwise, but again, I’ve been with people or heard from them, about how they needlessly wonder about their work while on holidays, and dream about a perfect holiday while at work. Its quite amusing for me as an outsider, but I’m sure, for the people exhibiting such behaviors, it can be heavily taxing on their system, since most of the conserved energy is getting frivolously spent in active hallucinating and thus possibly leaving one exhausted and confused.

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I think, I would have considered myself very fortunate, if I would have ever had the pleasure of meeting Mark Twain, when he was around, either in his hometown, or while he was traveling on the Mississippi, in San Fransisco or the Indian subcontinent. It would be indeterminate whether his experience in meeting me would be equivalent. I obviously like his style of writing, and consider his work solid, witty and revealing. But beyond the general praises, I like the insights I get whenever I read his elaborate work or the numerous quotations which float around on the internet under his name. He was certainly well traveled, and observed the various facets of life and lifestyle very closely, while smoking his favorite cigars. Traveling during his times, definitely was risky, and not returning back to where you started from, was a possible uncertainty. With my current lifestyle, I find myself traveling for about four to five months in a year. It might be due to actual holidaying, visiting friends and family, or sometimes working. My current work requires me to think more than act, when it comes to how I actually use my energies. Having said that, over the years, I’m realizing how it is extremely important to know “How to think” versus knowing only “What to think”. 

Thinking is subtle action and a precursor to visible action, while visible action is a consequence of subtle thinking.
I’m beginning to realize the significance of this correlation, and it would be probably incorrect to assert that the two activities are actually separate or distinct. Analogically, they’re kind of like the beginning and ending rungs of a ladder or beginning and ending frequencies of a light spectrum etc., and it would be certainly unwise to categorically consider thinking and acting as two separate phenomena. They’re not, but in general parlance, we make the mistake of looking at them separately, and finding ourselves helplessly struggling with creating life situations in any elegant manner. The amount of energy which gets wasted, literally, in not knowing or not being alert of this fact, leads to an exhausting and confused life, where we remain clueless as to how things are occurring around us.

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On the current travel schedule, which is part of my 4 month gig for 2018, requiring crossing couple of continents and oceans, I’m traveling without the missus. Traveling with or without one’s significant or insignificant other, has its own repercussions, after having clarified my initial take on traveling, not necessarily being an act for rest and relaxation.

As individual human beings, we are largely in a state of flux, and conceptualizing us within a framework of how we are or should be, is simply an expensive mistake, often done, rarely inspected and one has to pay a hefty price for such uncanny generalizations.
The biggest advantage of traveling together, assuming a relationship where both partners are actively willing to learn about their own idiosyncrasies and limitedness, is you grow as an individual and your affection and love for each other scales up non-linearly, in some form of quantum leaps, perhaps, equivalent to Einstein, Bohr or Bose’s findings about the random quantum leaps of electrons within matter. The key in this kind of processes is the aforementioned observation: “assuming a relationship where both partners are actively willing to learn about their own idiosyncrasies and limitedness”. If this willingness is missing, good luck in traveling with any partner who is close to you, either physically, mentally, emotionally or in business. It doesn’t work well for the simple reason, we as humans are not a concept, we don’t function based on recorded observations from the past, or theological assertions from books, or any forced moral values imposed by society, parents or teachers.

It is my contention that, humans are uniquely organic, they cannot be predicted, just like ‘em electrons, and if one expects traveling with such humans will automatically and always bring the serenity for which you spent the thousand dollar tickets or ten thousand dollars excursions, good luck with that line of thinking. Disappointment will be the least of the worries, and coming back being emotionally wrecked or physically exhausted will probably be a distinct certainty.
But, if the partners consider growth and togetherness as important, not as a derived benefit of the other’s changing attitude, but in wanting to dig within themselves actively, to investigate the nuances and compulsions of our own behaviors and attitudes, traveling can become a phenomenal tool for self exploration – defeating our ignorance and freeing us from regular stupidity. Having said all this, traveling is probably a good thing, regardless of one’s individual or combined goals of growth or compatibility, because it provides the opportunity to come in contact with an exposure to difference on the outside and indifference on the inside. The experience of traveling, on the other hand, will certainly depend upon one’s wanting to mature and that fact cannot be altered, because the core nature of traveling is to be amongst the anomalies of change and variations.

Whenever fate or sponsored tickets brings me to America, after the initial fright at the immigration counter, and pretend exchange of pleasantries with the officer, I like to seek out and immerse with the land and water of this beautiful country. America is known for its consumerism, prolific research in advance technologies, magnificent buildings of prosperous megacities, channelized transportation, flourishing commerce  and extraordinary display and affording of comfort, convenience and luxury.

I don’t have any particular opinion about the economy of this country, or the freedom the constitution is supposed to provide which the denizens are supposed to enjoy, the excessive dependency on market economy to create wellbeing for the individual, the almost mandatory need for insurances of all types to be substituting the individual’s need to be living responsibly, the categorically challenging atmosphere created by wanting to live extravagantly, considering it as a wise choice and only eventually realizing that it takes off 35 to 50 years of adult life to build such a lifestyle, hinging on borrowed resources, while the average life expectancy is still only a tad bit over 75 years.
So, obviously, I don’t have any issues with any of these observations, which I insist is not an opinion, but I think every thought, action, compulsion and concept over which we build our life, has an innate consequence, and it is my general observation, most of us are not familiar, nor are willing to read into the consequence of our actions based on a long term view of a fleeting life, which actually could end abruptly, accidentally or to bring some sense of relief, eventually. Anyways, the point I was trying to make is simple, whenever I visit America, the first thing I want to do over here, is go and walk in the beautiful and underutilized state parks, amongst nature, which still has 50 to 100 years old trees, creeks, flowing rivers etc. It brings me immense joy and a sense of freedom to be doing that, which is unparalleled and usually unavailable in other developing countries. I like to walk the trails, sit by the water body, take photos, write about the experiences, be with the silence of the sky and simply immerse with the elements, which are so present and bountifully wanting to involve.

To me, traveling is another tool to come closer to myself. It exposes me to the different cultures and milieu of the human species. It also exposes me to my inherent biases and reluctance to accept diversity. It shows me the compulsive need to be constantly forming opinions about other people and places, compare them with my own ideas about how life should be, and most importantly, traveling offers me an unique opportunity to scale myself up as a human being, who is profoundly waiting to evolve, wanting to seek dimensions beyond his own opinions and beliefs.
Traveling is a simple tool for all this. But, so is silence and sitting quietly without moving much, and allowing the madness of the mind to settle on its own accord, by not reacting for its need to move. Obviously, these are two very different methods for self exploration and I personally like to apply both of them simultaneously, since I’m only married to the missus, not any methods, and hence I see no particular issue with applying both styles, in trying to figure out some existential answers to the elusive manners of the mind wanting to create constant stupor, while the obvious manners of the body, takes me straight to the grave in a matter of time.

In my opinion, and this is an opinion, because it pertains to my own outlook of life, these are not small or insignificant matters, which can be avoided in pursuit of happiness, as written in the US constitution. These are significant matters, which requires one to question the incessant stupor of the mind and movement of the body, in perennially wanting to create a world of our own liking, while simultaneously with time, both the faculties of mind and body, take upon a diminishing curve of efficacy, leading to their eventual collapse into oblivion, upon the arrival of death. I personally attach significant importance, to such quests and inquiries, and find that because of this attitude, the engaging travels or the still silence, which I partake, has a beauty of its own, as for most part, I disallow – stress, aggressiveness or compulsive rushing – to dilute my experience of them.

Thanks for reading, until next time, Ciao!

Roads, Parks, Cars

Blabbering on the magical mundane!

 

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

I love driving cars on nice roads and walking in fine parks, particularly stateside. The roads, parks and cars there are outstanding, in comparison to most other nations. Needless to say, their initial investment in creating a flawless infrastructure, as a core objective of nation building, has brought some outstanding results, in terms of booming commerce, unparalleled connectivity, effortless travels etc. and its a pleasure to use all three – roads, parks and cars – here with comfort and pride. Organizing my planning and activities, in conjunction with the anticipated effects of jet lag due to long distance traveling, I had planned this weekend – with adequate resting and hydration by drinking lemon and ginger water, followed by lightly roasted cumin and coriander seeds tea, followed by some deep work of capital allocation analysis, on a gyrating portfolio due to volatile markets, having to recently bid adieu to a strong and reliable fixed-income instrument disappearing suddenly to vagaries, continuing reading the current book by Isaacson on Einstein’s life, driving nearby locales to get acclimatized with the right side driving and going for an hour walk in the nearby park. All this was planned a few weeks ago, since I already know how the body and mind will react to jet lag and how to organize their affairs, to bring them to more robustness, as I’ve done several of this kind of travels in the past. I prefer not to be too pushy and rush into any important business in the first few days of crossing oceans, as the outcomes are invariably unpredictable, given the sluggishness of the body and mind, and my inability to be sharp and alert in any constructive decision making.

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As expected, I reversed the supersize car in a supersize country, out of the garage and started driving on the local roads, which were quite empty, as most people were celebrating Mother’s Day and probably were inside their homes. It turned out to be a boon, as I drove around the beautiful roads in the suburban neighborhood where I’m parked for a few days, and felt quite bloated, in a non-gaseous manner, which the joy of driving a nice car on a fine road can bring. Perhaps, its a guy thing, but it surely exists and there is no particular reason to deny or defend it. I personally do not prefer driving in other congested countries nor consider having a car in highly populated countries to be a joyful thing and many times, people close to me get confused, because I exhibit joy of driving a car stateside, but do not wish to have or drive one in other countries.

To me, the experience of the drive matters the most, firstly, the fine quality of the machine, the smoothness of the ride, delicate contact of the tyre on a finely banked road, the voluptuous curves and bends the car manages, the breeze I feel when the air gushes in from the window, then secondly, the fineness of sound system in the car, the quality leather of the seats, the frictionless maneuvering of the power steering, the automatic adjustments to the light of the rear and side mirrors, proper design of the seat to ergonomically support the body to feel cozy etc.
Having described all this in details, it is not easy to find all the combination right all the time, and I’m obviously fine with that too. The practical part of using a car for transportation, to reach from one point to another, is also a matter of significance, and I do acknowledge that, but do not necessarily succumb to it.

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So, here I was, driving on pretty empty roads, and the spring is just about getting ready to spring here, although admittedly it is still quite cold and cloudy, but most trees have come out of their winter hibernation, have lush green leaves dressing their nakedness all over again, and the nicely mowed lawns add to the  charm of the scenery, while the Dogwoods and the Cherry Blossoms just keeps me mesmerized and wanting to stop and take a selfless photo. I resist the temptation and continue the ride with much amusement and listening to a deeply lyrical and fantastic tune, composed and sung by Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan, titled “Mere Rashk-e-Qamar”, which apparently means “one who makes the moon envious”. I swirl around, windows rolled down, unworried about any polluting clouds, fumigating the leathery interiors of the car or the delicate bronchioles of the lungs, and suddenly to my utter surprise, I come across this 150 acre of greenery, lined with many more then 100 year old trees, in this beautiful park of the neighborhood, which I’m used to walking, whenever I visit this suburb. The only reason, I expressed surprise, is because I was driving without the help of Aunt Sandra’s nagging on the Google Map app of the borrowed iPhone X, which by the way, is another fine piece of technology and delight, perhaps a topic to discuss for another time.

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The park has a well defined 3 mile round trip trail, nothing rigorous, with many curves and turns, mostly flat and open, nestled amongst the tall trees and manicured lawns. Its a beautiful sight to behold and there is a stillness in the air, which is quiet and intoxicating. I’ve walked this trail so many times that I do not need directions and I can guess quite accurately when I’ll be reaching the pond, most affectionately named as “Walden Pond”, where there are plenty of geese dirtying the trail with expected droppings, and lacking the availability of tissue papers, washing their behind with a dip in the semi-freezing Walden Pond. In amusement, a thought did occur to my usually devilish mind, especially while walking in nature, if Thoreau would have run behind them or considered them a nuisance? Regardless of the mannerism, the wild geese and squirrels, domesticated and designer-outfit wearing dogs, and the variety of colorful birds, formed an outstanding ensemble of beauty and serenity.

Unlike the picture perfect shots, there was something wild and brazen in the air, which was hard to comprehend, and the trail seemed to simply offer an opening into oblivion.
It was cold, not brutally, but I was ill prepared for the weather without any jumper, and I actually found myself feeling cold and yet a bit sweaty due to my habit of getting excited with anything green and walking fast. I could feel the muscles getting used to the terrain, and rhythmically enjoying the coming out from the sluggishness, from a long jet journey across a few oceans.

The body and mind in general started rejuvenating from the freshness and purposeless existence of this beautiful park, and I could not help but shed a few tears to be immersing amongst such relentless beauty and quiet, which was overwhelming and caressing at the same time.
I finished my enduring walk, avoiding the possible stare by the onlooking comrades on the benches, perhaps having mixed opinions about my flowing, rather long and beyond safety limits of neatly groomed facial hair, took back to the beautiful suburban roads and went back home with a combination of content, gratefulness and aliveness – an unique cocktail which distinctly gives a natural high without the baggage of an annoying hangover.

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Lately, I’ve been distancing from the doughy delicacies and adjusting towards easily digestible alternatives including fruits and veggies, softer grains like some millets and quinoa, cooked lentils and pulses etc., in preparation of the aging onslaught. Overall, sometimes it is hard to follow the concept of a healthier diet, due to old habits and compulsions, or because of unavailability of simpler foods during travels, but have also been able to slowly move over to this concept, with small doses of alertness and awareness, and in general, the food eating habits are getting better than what it used to be just a few years ago. I usually don’t waste time with deep feelings of regret or guilt, as it is a serious waste of energy and indicates a severe lack of intelligence, and hence on occasions, like the one I’m expressing in this blog, I had planned, thanks to my wonderful hosts, to indulge in a home-made pizza where the dough and sauce were freshly prepared, the toppings – mushrooms, peppers, olives, jalapeños, basil leaves – were procured organically and the mozzarella cheese was obtained from a fine Italian grocer. I’m off any sodas, mainly for the overuse of sugar in it, not for the taste, and indulged in one can, with the fantastic pizza, served warm and subjected to personal care and attention. The entire day turned out to be uneventful, simple, serene, and I feel ready to face the rest of the music, for the purpose I’ve crossed two huge oceans, offering the body and mind newer possibilities and perhaps disguised challenges.

Thanks for reading, until next time, Ciao!…

Wanting to be at ease

Is “wanting to be at ease” an excuse for laziness, or is there another perspective to it?

Note-to-self-ease

Reading Time: 7 minutes

‟It’s not easy to differentiate between wanting to be at ease and being lazy, just like it is very hard to differentiate between wanting to be busy and being restless.”
It’s my observation that, most of us are conditioned to start our adult lives, with varying ideas of working hard, making a secured living, and finding expressions in fulfilling those ideas, by vaguely calling them our “dreams”. We also invest a tremendous amount of energy and spend a colossal amount of time, in fulfilling the plethora of unquestioned and usually conditioned dreams which we have about life in general and our individual life in particular. It is also not unusual for most of us to insist on keeping an active working schedule, as long as possible, and simultaneously find it difficult to not have any free time for hobbies, holidaying or creative works we might want to indulge in. Life feels fast, exciting, meaningful, purposeful, hectic, stressful and usually cumbersome with the way we’ve chosen to structure it, and many a times we find ourselves in a rut and frustratingly label it as a “rat race”. Many a times, we feel helpless and just don’t know how to get out of the routine, which we created, and seems to be working like quicksand, sucking us away into some oblivion, while all the possibility of finding expression to our pending dreams remain unfulfilled and distant. Amongst all this cacophony, in the meantime, we keep on aging, the body and mind begins to show a dwindling capacity, what seems to be a natural consequence of being born.

We pretend to hide the truth about our individual death, somewhere deep into an unaddressed space of our psyche, skirting the subject incessantly, and instead remain focused on wanting to solve the umpteen challenges we face in wanting to fulfill our dreams, assuming they can be resolved some day in the future, and we can possibly live a happy life sometime then.
Amongst the mayhem of all these fluctuations, it becomes almost impossible to see that our being born is perhaps the primary reason for our imminent death.

I like to be at ease as much as possible. I create devices and make use of them, to enhance that experience within me. I usually succeed many times, but also fail many times, when challenged by conflicting situations and troubling people. But, that doesn’t deter me from my intent to maintain a conducive and eased atmosphere within me, where I am not succumbing to the prevailing ideas of remaining challenged constantly to vagaries. To that effect, I am fine by doing things which align with my intent and brings me that experience of being at ease and not doing things which do not align. Which means it may involve taking up tasks, which I’ve better understanding of, feels natural, and in which I can maneuver the direction easily.

I don’t find “wanting to work hard and fulfilling my dreams at any cost” as an ideal definition of a challenging life, instead, I find dealing softly and wisely with situations and people detrimental to my “wanting to be at ease and playfully fulfilling my dreams only when favorable opportunities arise” as a workable definition of a challenging life.
It may sound like an unorthodox, pompous or cocky description of a challenging life, but that is fine, since I’m not writing to convince. I’m simply writing to find an expression for improving my writing skills and sharing some ideas on how I conduct my life. Obviously, it’s unadvisable to consider this note as an advise for appropriate living, unless of course, someone wants to experiment with this kind of stuff, then, this note might have some value.

I like to think that one of the fundamental and foundational device for “wanting to be at ease” is to find creative ways of enhancing our relationships – platonic, carnal, cryptic, or otherwise. The reason is quite simple, for it seems that, all of us living species, are interconnected, interdependent and probably cannot coexist, unless we realize this natural fact.
The first device I apply, is to manage my affairs of the world, namely the need – “for accumulating money, comforts, conveniences, ideas”, for survival to a calibrated degree of “Optimal-isM™”, an active balance between biting minimalism and unscrupulous hedonism. This device gives me the leeway of freeing myself from the burden of accumulating things, ideas, concepts or philosophies and instead, opens up an unique doorway to continual learning, enhancing perception, enabling capabilities of the body and mind, and probably the most significant thing, to remain unidentified with the “preprogrammed and conditioned” need for accumulating so as to feel safe and secured of my survival.
The second device I apply, is to allow and accept a healthy dose of randomness and uncertainty, in my planning for most survival related matters. This enables and usually enforces me to have a very long term vision for my life (usually until my death), and help plan my life in a manner where I expect randomnesses to occur occasionally, not freak out about it, identify alternate approaches to fix something, only if required, focus on staying balanced and at ease since I’m expecting and have accepted occasional randomness as part of life, and above all, bring myself to living presently in a deep state of availability to life, as much as possible, since I have a very long term vision already visualized in my mind’s eye and have kept my focus on “wanting to be at ease” over “wanting to give expression to all my dreams at any cost”. This kind of experimenting releases me from the burden of wanting to attempt at “actualizing reality” and instead slides me into a realm where I am looking forward to experiencing “existing realities” which does not need excessive effort, nor extensive resources and planning.

This kind of stuff and experiments are not very popular and I tend to occasionally get blamed or lectured for being lazy, unambitious, inconsiderate, dependent or simply antilife. I don’t mind the labeling, as I understand how the game of mainstream living works, where unquestioned individual dreams reign and realms beyond one’s own self remain unexplored. I don’t get bothered by most of the labels, except when it comes sharply from someone close, and that’s when I find myself using my third and most powerful device over such happenings – the few powerful “techniques of meditation” which I’ve learnt over the years from Masters, which bring me closer to myself using breath, sound, postures and attention. These are creative devices, subtly calibrated to bring one towards balance and ease, and whose relevance cannot be fathomed easily unless experimented with right intention and regularity.

I am a big proponent of meditation in one’s life, for the simple reason that, it offers the possibility of coming to a state of conscious non-doing, a profound ease, an undoing from compulsive movements due to repressed fears or excessive self-importance, and thus reconnects me to “existing realities” over any desperate and erroneous attempts at “actualizing realities”.
Contrary to popular belief, this crucial device is a killer of any attempt at wanting to remain ignorant. Meditation kills false ideas, acts as a catalyst to reveal the potential of the state of conscious non-doing, thus exhibiting existing realities, and obviously I consider that a big deal as it is an action aligned to my initial statement: “It’s not easy to differentiate between wanting to be at ease and being lazy, just like it is very hard to differentiate between wanting to be busy and being restless.”

I’m in transit, embracing some randomness, ready to cross few oceans, have been reading Isaacson’s biography Einstein: His Life and Universe, keeping up with the yoga practices, writing whenever possible, walking daily for an hour, eating various fruits, drinking plenty of buttermilk and finally before bidding adieu, I must clarify that “wanting to be at ease” is an inner experience, which happens within, and should not be confused with any particular action of shying away from responsibilities for one’s survival. It is simply a technique to be in contact with existing realities, lest I forget that, by wanting to take lofty flights, I might miss out on life itself in hope of creating my own realities, whose possibility I’m not too certain about!

Until next time, Ciao!

Dhulikhel

Immersing with the material and mystic at beautiful Dhulikhel!

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

I am not sure if I like traveling as much, as much as I end up traveling. Having said that, I think I must explain. I like traveling after I reach the destination, and consider the transit in between, quite a bit of hassle. We visited a quaint little mountain town, in the Himalayan kingdom over the weekend, called Dhulikhel, located at 1500 meters above sea level. The hills here are not majestic, but they roll and have terrace farming to their display and charm. It was very quiet and the place we stayed was superbly done, subtly allowing to experience the mystic without making any noise about it. It was crafted by removing very few trees and thus keeping the density of the forest intact, perhaps adding many more trees, which is a rare sight nowadays. All the cottages were nestled within the beautiful and aging trees and had the feeling of merging with the ecosystem. The room within the cottage looked out to the beautiful rolling hills at far, and the valley downhill gave the necessary contrast on how things in nature keep balance with what we usually understand as opposites.

In a sense, the valley and the hills were a single unit, but could be very easily differentiated as separate entities. Only when we view things from far and are at ease, can we see things properly. This is an observation, not an opinion.

Coming back to the traveling bit, I usually feel settled where I already am, or upon arrival where I intend to be, and have a certain inertia towards “unnecessary” movement. The keyword is “unnecessary”, because I am beginning to realize that, most of us confuse ourselves between what is necessary and what is not. The portion where I need to transit is what I resist, and would prefer faster methods of transport and am thus saying “I am not sure if I like traveling as much”. The transit and the normally glorified anticipation of travels, which many get excited with, is unexciting for me. Not that anyone should agree with it, I’m just expressing an opinion now. I am perfectly fine not getting to see the sights in between the source and destination, not being jammed in a train or a flight with fellow human species and the transit does not thrill me either. I am not denying that I might be missing many things on the way with this attitude, all I am saying is, I am fine with it. I get jittery in between, and perhaps am not the best company during those times. But, once I reach the destination, and am sitting with the knowing that I have a week or five to spend at the same location, a different beast brews out of this mug. I suddenly could be charming, jocular, impatient, imbalanced, ludicrous and many more things, and its hard to predict. But, I do assure the fellow companions, if any, usually its the affected missus, that upon arrival, they’ll not have many things to complain about me. This is how I am structured and unlike the whole movement of everyone should change themselves for the better, I don’t care to change myself in this department, and I’m perfectly fine being a bit grouchy and nervous, in transit. The missus has suggested many a times to carry some Benadryl, and I’ve always wondered to what might she be hinting?

 

 

Coming back to Dhulikhel. The entire weekend was quite relaxing, as we put sincere effort to being at ease. The cottages and the various facilities for meditation, yoga, pranayama, spa, pool, restaurants etc. were dispersed amongst the various terraces of the hill. So, it meant, going up and down from the pool to the Himalayan Salt room, to crystal room, to the yoga room, followed by the Chakra room and finally the Pranayama room. The restaurants and the lone shop were all the way at the bottom, and we reckoned that we were walking at least 500 steps everyday, going up and down. At the top level, there was a quiet and serene road which brought us to the most amazing sight of vegetable gardening at 1500 meters, on one of the terraces, facing the beautiful Himalayan hills. It was a magnificent sight to behold (play above video), and we were in awe at the various cabbages, zucchinis, chillies, chards, kales, lettuces, bananas, rosemary, and many variety of flowers, which were being organically grown there in a systematic way and being taken care of with drip irrigation system, and lots of love and affection.

The whole place was charged sensuously, and was emanating a sense of inclusiveness which doesn’t come by very easily.

 

It was a wonderful weekend of working without rushing, getting the caretakers of the place initiated into Isha Kriya and many other Isha Yoga practices, reading, sauntering and indulging with an unique 100% vegetarian Japanese food. Its a great location to unwind, and to be in an ecosystem where the experience of the material and the mystic are intertwined nicely, and many avenues for being meditative and learning clay pottery,  painting, yoga etc. are easily accessible. We would recommend this place to anyone visiting this Himalayan Kingdom!

 

Until next time, Ciao!