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Positive Thinking is Not a New Concept

Positive Thinking is Not a New Concept

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Positive thinking is not a new concept, but in recent decades it has been increasingly gaining currency among the

global populace. There is almost a consensus on the value of consciously cultivating positive thinking for individual health, happiness and success A friend is undergoing surgery as I write this, but she chose not to let any of us know about it. When the news inadvertently reached a mutual friend who called her to commiserate, she was not enthusiastic. She agreed to disclose it only on the condition that we do not call her. She wanted some peace and quiet, she said. This might seem an attempt to bury her head in the sand. But I know my friend's quiet courage and self-awareness too much to suspect this to be the motive. I figure that she wants to spare herself the concern, anxiety and false bonhomie all of us are bound to express. No matter how well meaning, such gestures are invariably fuelled by fear and dread, emotions that she could well do without. It made me think of the negativity we load our lives with and how counter-productive it is. Take the US-Taliban confrontation. Whether we feel anger at the Americans or at Osama bin Laden, or sorrow at the meaningless deaths, first of the Americans and now of the helpless Afghans, we flood the situation with negativity. What is needed instead is a dispassionate acceptance of the situation and a single-minded intention to resolve it. The single-mindedness is the key. So one-pointed should our attention be that negativity simply has no place in the scheme of things. This state of positivity without an opposite is potent. Free of negating doubts or fears, one's attention focuses unwaveringly on the subject of our intention, knowing fully well that what we intend will happen. In my friend's case, for instance, where I would once be consumed by fear and call out to God in my helplessness, this state of positivity would indicate a steadfast intention for her healing. It may be accompanied by a prayer, but importantly, no longer in helplessness but with the calm selfpossession of love. God shifts into the role of a helper and beloved friend rather than the omnipotent power He was earlier. Surely this is the ground of all creation? The Upanishads reiterate that the Realized One can manifest anything he desires, simply by intending it. They also assert that this power of instant manifestation can only arise in one who has learnt to control his senses, overcome desire, fear and anger. What is it like, this state of positivity? What kind of life would we lead when immersed in it? I think it is a state of concentrated energy, for we will be freed of all the negative thoughts that steal away our energy and dissipate our focus. It will be a quiet and still state of mind, with no conflict, for the latter is the direct result of negative thoughts. It would be a peaceful and happy state of mind, regardless of circumstances. Most of all, it would be a highly effective state of the mind, for it would zero in on what needs to be done and do it. It would also be a tremendous force for good. No matter how hopeless or terrible the situation, the positive spirit will prevail, seeing the opportunities inherent in the situation and providing a beacon of hope for others around it. Serenely oblivious to the negative, it does not occur to him/her to

falter or doubt, forging ahead regardless, confident in the ultimate good of things. The corollary is that the positive individual is also a black hole for the negativity around him. In his presence, the negativity dissolves and dissipates, never to appear again. How is it that negativity simply cannot touch such an individual? One could say that his energy is at a higher frequency than that of negativity, thereby shielding him from its influence. At the level of deconditioning, s/he would have bored through all that came between him and his blissful inner core. In other words, she would have transcended desire and freed herself of fear and anger. What is the relationship such an individual has between her intention and surrender to God's will? What if God does not want the peaceful resolution of the Afghan situation? I can only hazard a guess. The positivist operates from the stand that man proposes, God disposes. We never stop thinking positive, but we leave the outcome strictly in the hand of God, retaining with ourselves only the ability to see the positive in any outcome. No belief is right or wrong. It is either empowering or limiting Ever heard the story of the four-minute mile? For years people believed that it is impossible for a human being to run a mile in less than four minutes until Roger Banister proved it wrong in 1954. Within one year, 37 runners broke the belief barrier. And the year after that, 300 other runners did the same thing. What happens if you put an animal in a pond? Any animal, big or small, will swim its way through. What happens when someone, who does not know how to swim, falls in deep waters? You drown. If an animal who has not learned swimming could escape by swimming, why not you? Because you believe you will drown while the animal does not. You have used a computer keyboard or a typewriter. Ever wondered why the alphabets are organized in a particular order in your keyboard? You might have thought it is to increase the typing speed. Most people never question it. But the fact is that this system was developed to reduce the typing speed at a time when typewriter parts would jam if the operator typed too fast. These three cases show the power of our beliefs. There is no other more powerful directing force in human behavior than belief. Your beliefs have the power to create and to destroy. A belief delivers a direct command to your nervous system. Have you heard about the placebo effect? People who are told a drug will have a certain effect will many times experience that effect even when given a pill without those properties. I use a snake in my workshops for children to show them how unrealistic some of

their beliefs are. Students of a school in New Delhi, India, said snakes are slippery, slimy and poisonous. After doing an exercise for changing beliefs, they handled my snake and found it to be dry and clean. They also remembered that only three types of poisonous snakes exist in India. Have you ever scanned the 'to-let' advertisements in newspapers? Many say 'South Indians preferred'. Why? Many house owners told me that it is easier to get South Indians to vacate. The belief was that South Indians do not have the guts to fight. Now you figure out the impact of LTTE supremo Prabhakaran and Southern sandalwood smuggler Veerappan in changing this belief! It is also our belief that determines how much of our potential we will be able to tap. So you better examine some of your beliefs minutely. For example, do you believe that you can excel in whatever you do? Do you believe you are bad in mathematics? Do you believe that other people don't like you? Do you believe life is full of problems? What are your beliefs about people? No belief is right or wrong. It is either empowering or limiting. A belief is nothing but the generalization of a past incident. As a kid if a dog bit you, you believed all dogs to be dangerous. To change a particular behavior pattern, identify the beliefs associated with it. Change those beliefs and a new pattern is automatically created. I read this incident in a New York newspaper. "She met him in a singles' bar and they talked for a while. He offered her a drink and she enjoyed his company. Then he offered to drop her back home. While driving back, she realized that they were moving through narrow and strange roads. 'Oh God where is he taking me?' she thought but did not have the guts to ask. She cursed her decision to get into his car. All of a sudden she saw him taking a turn back into the highway just near her house. Smiling, he said: 'I took a short cut'." Did this story end the way you thought? Review your beliefs now and find out which ones are empowering and which ones you need to change.

If you want to live longer, be happy, healthy and successful, all you have to do is tell yourself that you can do it by tapping the healing forces within There is no greater joy than a healthy, positive life. You feel exhilarated, energetic, happy and on top of the world. A sense of total well being permeates your mind. The future looks bright. You feel good to be alive. Great, but how do we get out of our innumerable worries, tensions and fears that the increasingly competitive life burdens us with? Simple! Tell yourself that you are good, healthy and capable. That is the power of positive affirmations. Such affirmations are also called self-suggestions. It is a powerful tool for transforming your inner self into an amazing health generating, self-healing entity. You can record these affirmations on a tape synchronized with pleasant instrumental music and replay them often to make them more effective and permanent. SELF-INDOCTRINATION

Psychology says that our mind controls our body. So, taking charge of your mind becomes a vital factor in keeping your body healthy. You can do this through affirmations that establish the power of your mind. Try: "With the power of positive thinking I now take charge of my body to maintain perfect health, strength and happiness unconditionally, now and always, so be it." When you repeat this, the misleading programs of your mind will be erased. It is said that we are never given a wish without the power to fulfill it. Each person is capable of programming his own mind to achieve what he desires. You can tap this capability by following a few simple steps. But before you begin, make yourself totally relaxed and be consciously willing to adopt the method. Attuning yourself with nature guarantees an overall healthy life. To modify this statement into an affirmation, say: "I attune myself with nature to stay healthy now and forever." You can have the right kind of food by affirming: "I can attract healthy food to keep myself fit, healthy and strong, everyday." You can develop the habit of exercising your body and mind by affirming: "I can easily get up early in the morning everyday to exercise and keep fit and cheerful." In case you are an insomniac, all you have to do is repeat: "I can relax into sound sleep now and wake up revitalized, alert, bright and cheerful early in the morning. It is done. So be it." Sometimes, social influences play their part in either inducing or encouraging negative thinking. This is the stage where most doctors give up the case as incurable. So, to find the right doctor, suggest mentally to yourself: "I will locate the right doctor who can cure me completely in a simple, easy and positive way, now and always." Your health problems can be dissolved by affirming: "I can now dissolve all my health problems, worries and fears easily, quickly and successfully in simple, easy and positive ways. So be it." MAGNETIC RELAXATION Unlike sleeping, magnetic relaxation requires you to be physically at rest but subconsciously alert. When your conscious mind is relaxed, the positive suggestions seep into your subconscious. To achieve maximum benefit from relaxation: • • Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a bed. Let go of all the tension by repeating to yourself: "I can now relax comfortably. I can now relax my body. I can now relax my mind. Easily, quickly and positively. Now I can enjoy the state of alert relaxation peacefully." Let a feeling of soothing comfort take over. Let go of yourself totally. Feel a universal healing energy surrounding you and getting absorbed into your body and mind. Feel a cool breeze around your body. Visualize a white sparkling light pouring through your head down your body and seeping deep within you.

• • •

• • •

Think that soothing and healing forces are vibrating within and radiating from you. Maintain a positive and peaceful state of mind during the session. Also, take precautions that you are not disturbed. Mentally repeat to yourself: "Day by day in every way I'm getting better and better and better."

This is a general formula that will heal you of all sickness. Emile Coue, a French doctor, recommended it for physical, mental and emotional well-being. It can be mentally repeated as many times as possible. MAGNETIC ABSORPTION The subconscious has the knowledge, power, wisdom and understanding to heal and maintain perfect health. It is the interference of negative suggestions that causes ill health and weakness. So, whenever you feel that something is not right, use affirmations to get back on the right track. Here is a simple one that can be absorbed into your subconscious to keep your body fit: "Attuned with universal healing powers and the source of life, all my body organs are now becoming normal and fit, and they will function perfectly to maintain excellent health, strength and vitality up to a great age." USING THE SUBCONSCIOUS The subconscious mind is perfectly programmed with a survival package in the form of universal instincts that can be synchronized with conscious programs to live in harmony. Accepting your subconscious instincts relieves you of half of your health problems. The subconscious is always receptive to suggestions that transpire from your conscious mind. So keep your conscious mind filled with creative, positive, pleasant, peaceful and productive thoughts. When you repeat an affirmation in a relaxed state of mind, it works wonders. To retain these suggestions, repeat them often, till you feel confident that they have become a permanent habit. The subconscious mind is an all-powerful, omnipresent and omniscient gift. Peace will prevail in your life when these conditions are maintained. So, affirm often: "I most willingly accept healthy, happy and self-healing success programs of my subconscious mind consciously for total fitness, now and always." It is easy to program your subconscious to integrate your inner healing power into a self-healing force. All that you aspire for will come to pass. New friends, new relationships, new ideas, new thoughts and new plans can motivate you to become a powerful optimist. So affirm: "Today I am a new, dynamic, and optimistic futurist flooded with positive thoughts of successful self-healing." VITAL LIFE ENERGY Magnetic energy plays a vital role in self-healing. The more energy you generate through eating, breathing and exercising, the longer you will live with health and happiness. It is said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of his mouth. When we speak to ourselves in positive terms, we tend

towards self-healing. We can build up positive statements like: • • • • • • I am healing myself positively. Positive energy is keeping me healthy. Healing myself and others is easy for me. I have the positive habit of deep breathing. Today I am feeling better than ever before. Tomorrow I am going to be perfectly all right.

FEEL YOUNG, LIVE LONGER Age is an attitude of the mind. When you think youthful, you feel youthful. Energy can also be enhanced by being active, alert and awake most of the time. In my experimentation with autosuggestion, I feel that new frontiers can be explored in the process of evolution. Some of them are: • • Assert firmly to reverse aging. Take it as a challenge. Use the countdown method to feel young and energetic after 50. Subtract the number of years that you are over 50 from 50 and affirm that age constantly. For example, if you are 55, all that you have to do is to count downwards the years of your age by subtracting five from 50 and imagine that you are 45. Now build up positive magnetic statement like: "Today I am 45 years young."

The second phase is to regain the natural color and abundance of youthful hair on your head. But consistent practice coupled with firm determination is required on your part. You can begin the practice right now by affirming: "I am determined to regain all the hair on my head with its natural youthful color as soon as possible." Mentally repeat it 21 times just before you go to sleep at night. SELF-HEALING IN SEVEN DAYS The magnetic self-healing schedule that follows is an invincible method that can take you to the height of perfect health, strength and happiness. After practicing it for a period of seven days you will find that all your past health problems automatically disappear. The watchword here is consistency. All that you have to do is read the affirmations as soon as you get up in the morning and before going to sleep. It has cured me. It can do the same for you. Now read the following: • • • • I'm relaxed, my body is relaxed. My mind is relaxed, my emotions are relaxed. I am now totally relaxed. I am getting better, stronger and happier forever.

Now make yourself comfortable. Read the affirmation given below focusing your eyes in a half-closed manner as if you are reading it half asleep. Hold your breath comfortably and read each statement twice. Relax after reading it. Don't hurry. Don't worry. You will see the difference from the very first day. After you practice the magnetic affirmations for seven days, let go of it. You can always come back to the seven-day program whenever you feel the need. You can mentally repeat each affirmation for the whole day but remember to hold your breath while doing so.

Now repeat: • • • • • • • My body and mind are clean and energetic. I love my body. Today I am becoming strong, powerful, dynamic, happy-go-lucky and attractive. Today I can choose to take total interest in regaining perfect health successfully. Today I assert, affirm and relax with total freedom to heal myself with the power of thought. Today I am on the way to recovery easily, quickly and successfully to become healthy, happy and free. Today I have regained normalcy with the power of positive thought successfully. Today health and energy are vibrating and radiating from me.

Do it for seven days at a stretch and discover the new, optimistic you who can take anything in his stride. It only takes a little belief and a little determination to change your life.

WAYS TO REPLACE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Have you ever thought about the fact that there is never a moment when you are not thinking—that whatever happens in this world begins with a thought? Here are five simple steps to help you manage your thoughts and achieve success and happiness in life BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS Start watching your thoughts, without identifying with them. Watch them as a detached observer. You may even get carried away by your thoughts. Never mind. It is natural— especially for a beginner. What you need to do, whenever you detect this, is to take yourself out of your thoughts immediately and get back to the process of thoughtwatching once again as a detached observer. Do not get perturbed by your thoughts. Don't condemn or justify them. Don't try to control them. Just watch them. After some time, you will come to know what your negative thoughts are about. Now concentrate on all the positive thoughts that you can replace these thoughts with, in order to switch over to a more positive attitude towards them. Our attempt should be to cut down the quantity of unnecessary thoughts and to improve the quality of the necessary ones. Keep yourself busy. Simple food, deep breathing and relaxation exercises also help manage your thoughts easily. Expect less from others. IDENTIFY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS Keep a logbook. Jot down your thoughts. Write down happenings of the day. Were they positive, appropriate and adequate or were they confused, superfluous and

negative? Could you notice the interval between the happening and your response? If yes, could your foresee your negative thoughts? If not, what can, you do to notice this interval? Was there any discrepancy between words and thoughts? If yes, was it justified—could you find a better way of harmonizing your words and thoughts? Was the verbal response necessary, appropriate and adequate? Sometimes we talk to others, or simply to ourselves, or think about something just like that. Ask yourself what provoked you to take the initiative to start a conversation. Was it essential? What was the purpose? Did it serve the purpose? If no, then why not? Did it use any unnecessary and emotionally charged negative words? Were the words used in thinking, inner dialogue or in talking to the other person, precise, appropriate, adequate and positive? Did you feel happy or satisfied after the interaction with the other person or with your inner self? Can you find ways of improving your performance as a thinker or a speaker? Keep in mind that logbooks are meant to get you started and make you aware of your negative thoughts. It is far more important, however, to be aware of these thoughts when they are just taking birth, rather than leave them for later analysis. Be conscious of the interval that separates the event from thoughts with which you respond to the event. NEGATIVE THOUGHTS Imagine a strong sun radiating a powerful light. Use this mental sunshine to kill your negative, undesirable thoughts, emotions and images as and when these are detected. Take this sun as a mighty weapon which is always on the alert and which automatically chases any negative thought and kills it with a flash and then withdraws. Don't forget to imagine that this sun is your faithful friend and is extremely kind to you. Keep a note of how many times you need to call the sun for its services. There will be a gradual increase, followed by a drastic fall. This is so because initially the number of times you call on your mental sunshine increases gradually as your awareness of your thoughts grows. The drastic fall is because what we do not use (the negative thoughts, in this case), we tend to lose. REPLACE WlTH POSITIVE THOUGHTS A vital step in this process is the immediate replacement of all negative thoughts by the positive ones. The shorter the interval between the disinfecting and the replacing stage, the better it is. Longer intervals between these two events weaken the impact of the positive thoughts. Our success and happiness depend on identifying our goals precisely and chasing them effectively, both of which, in turn, depend on how well we manage our thoughts. The quality of our thoughts decides the quality of the outcomes we land up with. Thoughts have the power to materialize themselves because they are instrumental in channeling energy towards the physical or mental condition they are about.

External situations and the remarks of others can harm us through our thoughts— but only to the extent our thoughts allow them to. So think positive. Talk positive. Read positive quotable quotes of great people. Surround yourself with posters and cards bearing positive messages. Keep them on your table. Hang them on the walls. Paste them near the bathroom mirror and on the doors. Stick them on your watchstrap. Keep them on the refrigerator. Have them on the dashboard of the car. Slip them under the glass of the table in front of you. Slide them in the inner side of the briefcase you carry. Find other suitable places where you are bound to look at them every day. Remember that these messages will stale with prolonged use. So keep changing their position and contents. Do not let the momentum of these thoughts get weaker. Use them appropriately in response to specific negative thoughts. The replacing thought must be positive in every sense. Apart from being inspiring and assuring, it should also be suggestive. For example, if you confront a negative thought, "I can never succeed", it will not suffice if you replace it with "Sun! Attack! I can succeed". This kind of replacement may not be effective, for it sounds like wishful thinking and lacks assurance, depth and penetrating certainty. It is better to break your replacing thought down into more definite and specific steps or instructions. The replacing thought in this case may be: "I can succeed. By earlier failures I have become rich in experience and have come to know specific areas that require special attention. I will jot them down and systematically think of the ways in which I can improve. I shall plan. And then stick to it. There is absolutely no reason why I should not succeed. I will assess, plan, execute, monitor, modify and carryon with the plan, and finally succeed. In fact, I think that success has already been achieved and only time separates my thought of success and its transformation into reality. I am committing myself to all that is required to achieve success. I am a river that knows no obstacles. I shall find my way anyhow—and if there is none I shall make one." REINFORCE Thoughts like these can be further reinforced with emotions and images. All this may take longer than one single replacing thought, but these are far more effective since they allow you to divide the desired target into workable units. Focus on a pleasant event that took place in the past. This way your thoughts will turn positive and your emotions and images will reinforce each other, resulting in an overall positive attitude.

THE VALUE OF BALANCE FOR HAPPINESS Will owning a new Mercedes Benz, or taking a vacation in Switzerland make you a lot happier? Will breaking up with a loved one or faring poorly in an examination add to your misery? Not necessarily, according to a research conducted by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, psychologist Tim Wilson of the University of Virginia, economist George Loewenstein and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. Human beings tend to predict the outcome of an unforeseen venture or event both

qualitatively and quantitatively in terms of negativity and positivity—and in most cases they are wrong. Try and reminisce on your own life experiences. How long have you really held on to the grief of the death of a loved one? Tears can’t fall forever. On getting a job promotion and a fatter pay cheque, how long have you rejoiced? You could not have gone on throwing parties week after week to celebrate the event. Yet, if we introspect, most of us will find that we had magnified the intensity of emotions associated with these happenings when they were yet to occur. According to this research, affective forecasting is immature and often misleading. This is not to say that an unpleasant event like a theft of a large sum of money won’t make us sad, but it does not mean that we’ll be devastated forever. Similarly, adding material pleasures may make life more exciting for a while but will never make everything perfect for us. Has the binge shopping ever helped beyond a few moments? A survey conducted for the research proves statistically that the test participants made multiple errors while anticipating the intensity of the emotional response to future circumstances. Later they confessed that the bad events seemed less tragic and were usually short lived than predicted. Good events, on the other hand, proved rather ephemeral. This only proves the value of being ever-present in the here and the now, and the spiritual value of retaining equanimity and inner balance under all circumstances— good or bad. The happiest country! We have tired of explaining ourselves that money doesn’t buy happiness. If we believe in figures rather than feelings, here is the proof. In a new study of more than 65 countries published in UK’s New Scientist magazine, it has been found that the happiest people in the world live in Nigeria. Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Puerto Rico top the happiness list while Russia, Armenia and Romania are the least happy countries. People in Latin America, Western Europe and North America were said to be happier than people in Eastern Europe and Russia. It is important to note here that the factors that make people happy may vary from one country to another. While personal success and self-expression were seen as the most important in the US, in Japan, happiness is about fulfilling the expectations of family and society. The survey is a worldwide investigation of socio-cultural and political change conducted about every four years by an international network of social scientists. It includes questions about how happy people are and how satisfied they are with their lives. New Scientist mentions that although such surveys are not new, they are being increasingly taken into account by policy makers. A happiness checklist once again: - Have happy relationships

- Value good friendships - Desire less - Do someone a good turn - Keep faith (religious or not) - Stop comparing your looks with others - Grow old gracefully - Don’t worry if you’re not a genius Travelling Light: The Therapy of Self-Transcendence What is the role of psychotherapy in the seeker’s journey toward wholeness? There may not be any single answer to the question, for it probably depends on the seeker. There are many who feel that the spiritual path, especially a graduated one like yoga or Buddhism, is enough to integrate the body, mind and spirit in full and any other discipline is simply gilding the lily. On the other hand, some feel that the work of the therapist and the guru go hand-in-hand and both are required to guide the aspirant along the perilous path of self-knowledge and self-transcendence. What no one can deny, though, is the need for psychological stability and maturity in the business. Spirituality is certainly not for wimps. There is simply no task more difficult than to face and accept what the therapist would call one’s Shadow—all the qualities and aspects of ourselves that we shy away from. Seekers would call it going through the dark night of the soul. The ability to face our less attractive and, indeed, positively sinister, qualities is gruelling because it is extremely hard for us to be uncomfortable with ourselves. This is why most of us would prefer to blame everybody and everything for our travails rather than ourselves. To think that we are the villains in our own drama is such an unpalatable truth that we need an extremely sound ego to bolster the shock. A sound ego is the result of sound self-esteem. Self-esteem is the composite of two things. One is self-efficacy or the ability to trust one’s effectiveness and competence in coping with life. The other is self-worth or the knowledge that one is worthy of life, love and all the good things of life. Most of us have had dents and fissures dealt on our ego in the process of living. It is this that makes us so insecure and unsure of ourselves. Among the characteristics of a sound ego would be the ability to draw boundaries between ourselves and others so no one can dominate or control us, to be open to life, to take risks, to be assertive, to take the failures and disappointments of life without losing faith in oneself or life, to be self-motivated, etc. Spirituality is effective in dealing with these issues, especially if one were to operate from the premise that we are part of the Immortal Creator. Such a concept is so positive and

elevating that it is bound to manifest in a sound ego. But the journey from frail and faulty human to Godstuff is a very long one. I believe that therapy can help to bridge the gap and help us become more self-aware and self-accepting while we struggle for enlightenment. The advantages of therapy over spirituality in generating self-awareness come from the fact that one has access to a skilled facilitator who can help us look at ourselves in a more objective and accepting way. Most gurus do not have the time or often even the psychological sophistication to spend time with individual shishyas. One must struggle as best as one can, based on the guru’s discourses and talks. A therapist, though, is tuned to your particular problem—the place you are in right now—and can help to tussle with it until clarity is won. Jack Kornfield, the well-known Buddhist teacher and author, talked of having returned home to the US after spending years doing meditation in a monastery. Considering himself equal to any challenges life would throw at him, he was shocked to find that he was still as inept with relationships as he had been earlier. It took him extensive therapy to gain a certain amount of skill in this area. Deam Ornish, the doctor who popularised the concept of reversal of heart disease through a regimen of low-fat vegetarian food, group therapy and meditation, himself underwent therapy to help him overcome his fear of intimacy that stopped him from developing satisfying emotional connections. Dr Ornish found that his poorly developed sense of self was behind his problem and after resolving it, went on to finding and wedding the love of his life. I happen to interact with my meditation group as well as the group that meets for therapy under the facilitation of a psychiatrist. The difference between the two is that the latter group is far more self-aware. When interacting with the therapy group, I find myself listening and responding to them in a special way, attempting to ask the questions that may throw light into their predicament. The conversation happens at a more conscious and deliberate level, which also enhances the relationship. The therapy group is committed to integrity vis-a-vis themselves and the relationship, which makes it easier to take risks within it, to throw light on to less than flattering truths. Perhaps some people are more psychologically-minded than others. For them the mechanics of the mind and its translation into behaviour and attitude is fascinating. Perhaps therapy works best for them. But the long road to enlightenment can only be won when we can embrace all of ourselves—the good, the bad, the dark, the light, whole-heartedly and unreservedly. Psychological mastery must happen. That’s the important point, however we get there.

Vibrate with Vigour

Five meditations to help you be fit and happy everyday The first truth: You have a great talent Everybody deserves to be fit, to be happy everyday. EVERYBODY! To be fit and happy is to experience a complete sense of joyous well-being. Everything in you feels good. Everything around you glows. Everything about you feels vibrantly right. Being fit and happy is spiritual. You feel at peace with yourself. You feel in sync with your surroundings, your people, your profession, your studies, your circumstances. There's a lovely assurance in you that life won't let you down. That things will always turn out right. That miracles will happen. A great feeling of the quiet power of the universe co-operating with your needs, your deeds, your existence, stays with you. Being fit and happy is physical. You don't feel your body as a burden since it is so supple, so relaxed, so effortless in its movements. You sit down naturally, simply. Every joint in your knee, in your hip, in your back bends smoothly with sweet obedience to your will to sit. Your stomach does not get in the way, does not feel ungainly or pressed. It is as deep, as flat into the chair as you are. You stand up fluidly, your body-language limber, loose, e-a-s-y. Being fit and happy is mental. Your mind is light, throbbingly alive to the beautiful possibilities of your day-like a musician about to compose the best, the sweetest, the most divine music anybody has ever heard and will ever hear. And this, sweet one, brings us joyously to the first truth ringing in all of us: just as the musician has a great talent to compose music, so do you have a great talent to compose fitness and happiness in your being. What is talent? It is a divine ability to express great love. A musician listens to the wind as it blows through the trees and feels a beautiful stirring of love inside. Then, he expresses that love through music. The whoosh of the wind is composed by love into music. The rumble of thunder is composed by love into music. The patter of rain is

composed by love into music. So, when you feel this stir to lose weight, to get fit, to get healthier, to be better in every and any way, know that it is your love yearning to express itself. Know that it is your talent wanting to compose harmonious notes of fitness and happiness in your body, your mind, your spirit. Know these stirrings as those of your inborn talent coursing through you and open your heart to them willingly, joyously. Expose yourself to these stirrings. Give in to these stirrings. Act on these stirrings. And miracles will happen! The second truth: This talent is forever And here is the beautiful thing about talent. You can compose fitness and happiness in normal times when you are healthy. And you can compose fitness and happiness in bad times when you are unhealthy. Your talent to compose fitness and happiness is exactly like the talent to compose music, to write, to paint, to sculpt, to teach, to cook, to play sport… A talent never fades, never dies. It remains forever-the hallmark of your greatness. It beckons and brings you back again and again to your greatness all your life. That's why Beethoven composed music though he was deaf. His deafness did not kill his talent to compose music. So will your talent drive you to compose fitness and happiness. You cannot ignore it because it never ignores you. You cannot forget it because it never forgoes you. It tugs until you allow yourself to be pulled into composing. As Beethoven was born to create music, so were you born to create fitness and happiness. It's a talent that resides in you all your life. It can never stale, never wane, never vanish. This talent, this ability to express love, to compose fitness and happiness remains as a steady murmur, ready to be stoked into flowing music. This is the second truth. The third truth: Nothing is a drag Being fit and happy is a personal thing. You commit yourself to your well-being. You pay attention to your well-being by exercising, eating right, thinking lovingly every day. Only you can decide to reach your highest personal harmony in body, mind, spirit. You don't compete with others, you complete yourself day after day. That's why we say being fit and happy is a personal thing. The secret lies in not thinking, "Exercising is a drag." The musician never thinks, "Composing music is a drag." The teacher never thinks, "Teaching is a drag." The artist never thinks, "Painting is a drag." A talent never drags you down, your negative attitude, your negative thoughts, your negative language drag you down. The talent to be fit, to be happy keeps you charged, keeps you going because this talent gives you the divine power to create more stamina, more strength, more enthusiasm, a leaner body, a keener mind, an uplifted spirit. Why demean this inborn talent that gives you the divine means, the divine power to create a wealth of health and happiness for yourself and others? To demean, to depreciate your talent is to negate yourself and think in self-deprecating, self-defeating ways. No, no, no, that's no way to live. You deserve something much better. You deserve love. To this end, learn to love your talent. Appreciate your talent.

Decide to make the most of this divine ability to express love. Do not doubt it, love it. Doubt scatters your mind. Your attention gets fragmented by many shrapnels of scurrying thoughts. You feel incoherent, restless, unsure, unhappy, weak. Instead, choose to love. Love pulls your thoughts together. Your attention gets sweetly focused by loving thoughts. You feel coherent, restful, happy, confident, strong. So, never doubt your power to create fitness and happiness. A loving smile from you kindles a fellowship in another. A kind word from you creates happiness in another. An encouraging word from you inspires courage in another. A sweet act from you creates comfort in another. Can you then doubt your ability to create with love? Can you doubt your identity as loving creator? Let the realisation "I am creator" sweep through you. Let the realisation "I can create" imprint itself in your brain's neurological pathways. Now, feel the difference between yesterday and today, between being created and being creator. You begin to think like a creator. You live up to your calling, your self-commitment to create by cheerfully, lovingly, consistently, persistently nurturing your talent to be fit and happy. Not in starts and stops, but every day for the rest of your life. A creator never stops creating. A creator never retires, he tirelessly re-fires. A creator's consistent commitment to his talent seals a healing live-and-help-live friendship with life. As this friendship strengthens and grows, beautiful things begin to happen. All energy directed towards sickness gets re-directed towards health. All energy emptied in negativeness gets continually replenished in this loving urge to create. Some effort in the beginning leads to pure effortlessness over the days. The harmony between mind and muscle grows and grows… The rhythm between body and spirit vibrates more and more…There is no stop, no finishing-line to this creation. It is endless, it is infinite in its joyous reverberations. The more consistently you create, the more you experience the richness of being fit and happy. The more consistently you create, the more you experience the abundance of your being. Nothing feels like a drag to one who creates. This is the third truth. The fourth truth: You can re-create yourself Realise this: negative thoughts undo, 'un-create' all possibilities. When you see no possibilities, you see no meaning to your life, only meaningless drudgery. It makes you feel heavy, tired, sick. Loving thoughts create all kinds of possibilities. You think lovingly, "This is what I can do. This is what I can create." It's pleasing, it's meaningful.It fills you with a childlike expectancy. While creating fitness, happiness, health in your being, you are a child with building blocks-intensely focused, intensely absorbed. In creating, you come soaringly alive as do your instruments-body, mind, spirit. When you exercise, you strum your sinews to strengthen and tauten them until all off-key notes re-compose…re-compose…re-compose into beautiful, effortless, pure motions. Off-key crookednesses straighten. Off-key bulges smoothen. Off-key hormones balance harmoniously. Off-key organs rhythmise. Off-key aches ease out. The aah of release at being physically aligned, the aah of relief at being in your natural painless state are your

compositions. The aah experience is the joyous vibration of the successful creator. When the body is as balanced as you can make it, you will find it much easier to be loving. Lovingness is the ultimate creation of the creator. Lovingness is the food of the spirit. When the spirit swirls in loving spirals of energy, beautiful inspirational powers arise that help you reverse sickness to wellness or keep you as fit, serene and charged as possible even amidst setbacks, shocks and disorders. When lovingness is continually expressed by loving thoughts, your mind widens. Loving thoughts overcome all negative declarations such as "I am broke"; sad declarations such as "I am lonely"; destructive declarations such as "I want to die." Loving thoughts affirm the life-generating, life-enhancing "I have everything I need" attitude and strongly, unthreateningly encourage you to create better circumstances. Lovingness offers unlimited scope for the highest, most healing thoughts, the most beautiful, empathetic ways of viewing people and situations; for new concepts and fresh ideas about yourself that you'd never dreamt of earlier. Lovingness is godliness. It has the combined texture of balming, cleansing spring water and the fresh fragrance of mountain air. As lovingness grows, gradually, a pleasing fullness enters the widening mind. This is happiness, joy, contentment-all compositions created by you. And this is the fourth truth: when you create with love, you re-create yourself. The fifth truth: Each day is your day As you grow into your identity and role as creator, you feel a distinct change in you. Slowly, unobtrusively, outside stimulants cease to tyrannise your senses and control your actions. You don't need to go to a movie everyday to be entertained because your dancing senses are already entranced. You don't need a chocolate pastry daily to satisfy your craving because your mind is already sweetly, lovingly full. Ah yes, a craving is purely from the mind. Craving arises when the mind feels empty, deprived, hollow, hopeless, jittery or fearful. It yearns for food to attain the fullness it craves. It becomes implosivetrying to draw in and suck in as much as possible. But the mind of the creator is different. It is full of ideas, possibilities and the eagerness to create. It is explosive-it wants to give out, like a bud opening every petal of possibility to feel itself as a flower. In this mental vibrancy arises strongly your Do-It-Yourself spirit. A compelling need to take charge, to create that feeling of fitness, happiness, alertness. It's a strong urge. It's an overwhelming urge. It has the force of a tough uncoiling spring. It is the urge to move, to act, to exercise. Follow this urge. Walk, run, cycle, swim. Do not mistake this sense of urgency for impatience. The two are poles apart. Urgency is for the process of creating fitness, freshness, happiness. Impatience is for the results-weight-loss, becoming slim, attaining a better skin, looking muscular. Do not waste your energy in impatience. Impatience causes frustration, restlessness. Remember, the creator enjoys the process of creating and is not particularly concerned about the results. Impatience hinders the easy flow of action. Impatience curbs

enthusiasm. Impatience makes your attention wander to the future and robs you of the delight of the present. The creator revels in creative exercising, in the aah of the stretched and fresh feeling NOW. The creator is grateful he can express his ability to love and feel complete and fulfilled. Bring to each day your quality of lovingness. Trust your body's positive responses to your efforts. Tend to it by working out everyday so that you create fitness. Train your mind. Fill it daily with good thoughts, lofty thoughts so that you feel uplifted and peaceful. Respect your spirit. Free it from the tethers of wasteful rituals and negative habits each day to surge and swell with loving resourcefulness so that you feel the grace, the glory, the grandeur of being alive as yourself-the creator creating…and creating…and creating… This is how each day becomes creative. Each day becomes a blessing. Each day is your day. This is the fifth truth. The everyday workshop of five truths How do you establish these five truths in yourself? By re-affirming and practising them every day until they become a living part of you. The secret is to take each day, every day as a workshop to practise and live out these five truths. It is a worthwhile pursuit, a high calling. What can be greater than using each day to express love and get increasingly fitter and happier? So… MAKE THIS YOUR DAY. As you read this, it may be a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. It does not matter. Set a fit and happy tone for today. Affirm, "This is my day. And I shall be fit and happy today." Make this your daily mantra. Repeat it in good or bad situations. When you know it is your day, you want to do what is right, what it good. Your day has to be a good day, a great day! Now, decide to spend your day with the best companion in the world-your highest self, your most loving self. Who is your highest, most loving self? It is not your mind. It has nothing to do with the thoughts in your mind. Your highest self is a beautiful loving entity. It is a benign, godlike, sweet being. It is there, it is always there behind your thoughts. You feel its loving, comforting presence in you when you strip away your thoughts. For one day, today, rid your mind of all thoughts-all those teeming thoughts of wanting to do this or that, wanting food, clothes, equipment, money, seeing a film, paying bills, envying others, fears, worries, prejudices, memories, speculations, analyses, criticisms, rituals. Discard them. Forget them. Think of yourself as a free being with nothing to do, nothing to think about, who has no demands, no responsibilities, no duties. For one day, today, don't think of the money in your bank account, cupboard, wallet. Be in the wealth around you-unlimited air, loads of sunshine, the endless sky-space. For one day, today, smile with your lips and eyes and mind and heart at everybody and everything around you. For one day, today, spend all your time to cheerfully improve yourself, create health, fitness and happiness. Don't waste a single moment criticising, reproaching, blaming, judging. Just be. If somebody wants to quarrel with you, don't react likewise. Think nothing. Be detached. For one day, today, feel the sweetness of

being alive. Don't sour it with uncharitable, unkind or sad thoughts. Just be in the sweetness. For one day, today, refrain from all chores and rituals. Sit. Or lie down. Or walk as if you are floating. For one day, today, erase all your errors from your memory. Live in peace without guilt, without self-blame. For one day, today, don't ask for attention from your spouse, parent, colleague, friend, neighbour. Be attentive to yourself. Be your own spouse, parent, colleague, friend, neighbour, companion. For one day, today, accept that if you didn't get what you wanted, it is because you didn't really need it. For one day, today, if some seem against you, don't feel cornered or isolated. Feel free of their company. Feel free of their prejudices. Feel free. Feel the freedom of being in the vast universe. See the positive messages it sends you through a kind smile, words, actions, using good people as its medium. For one day, today, do not cloud your eyes with tears. Keep your vision clear so that you may see the brightness that is always around you. For one day, today, be non-egoistic so that you feel your highest self; be kind so that you feel your goodness; be humble so that you are in greatness. For one day, today, be calm, be tolerant, be nonjudgemental. This brings a relaxed, restful, loving silence to your overworked, restless, critical mind. For one day, today, put all your burdens at the altar. God has a broad back called the universe that can carry it easily. For one day, today, don't see anything as an obstacle. See it as a stepping stone to something bigger. For one day, today, rely on nobody and eliminate all scope for disappointment and disillusionment. For one day, today, don't change your mood because somebody changes their mind. For one day, today, don't fear the future. Enjoy every present moment as it exactly is. For one day, today, exercise your body gently. Stretch it gently. Bend it gently. Do no exercise that pains it, but frees it. For one day, today, eat only pure food. Some steamed rice, some low-fat curd, some raw vegetables, some fresh fruit. Feel full, yet light; not heavy and lethargic. And be assured, on this one day, today, your body will feel a spring in it. Your mind will shimmer with luminous peace. Your spirit will soar in love. You will feel the magic and beauty of your highest self. You will feel awakened in a larger, brighter, more loving way. Now, you know how it is to feel fit and happy. Now, you know how it feels when you make each day your day. Daily, the mind needs a sense of loving solitude. Daily, the body needs gentle, loving training. Daily, the spirit needs the freedom of love, to love. There is no discipline, only the calling of love. There is no imposed self-control, only the discernment of love. There is no enforced sacrificing of 'pleasures', only the loving rhythm of healing routine. This one day, today and every other day is your day. The day of your highest self. The day of miraculous manifestations of your higher desires. The day all the five truths come together and you realise your wholeness.

The Good Word In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… Affirmations are powerful declarations that can transform your behaviour, attitude and nature. affirmations help you to realise your highest potential. they are the easy path to self-realisation Even as a youngster reading through the unfathomable mystery of the Bible, these lines quoted earlier would spring out at me and grip my imagination. Mystical and mysterious they may have been but I sensed in them a strange power. I repeated them frequently and wondered what they meant. But then I am a writer. Words are my stock in trade and since my very childhood they have fascinated and entranced me. The sound of words, the images they summon up, the emotions they arouse, the worlds they open up for me have held me in thrall all my life. How apt then, that my spiritual journey began with the word and has all through been strengthened and assisted by its potent magic. In the form of affirmations, it has been the indispensable third part of my path. The first two are awareness and acceptance. While these two have been deconditioning me, affirmations assist in reconditioning me, or, as I now recognise, in transforming me. It is only of late that I have begun recognising the invaluable role of affirmations in my life. I see it as a tool that can change even the most recalcitrant. It is the common man's route to transformation. Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, corroborates this view. In his fascinating book, Japa Yoga, he writes, "In this Kali yug, japa alone is the easy way to the realisation of God." Not all of us can meditate. Not all of us have the discipline to do spiritual practice every day. Certainly I didn't. But all of us can repeat a few words to ourselves. And from my own experience, I can testify that it is not even required to concentrate upon the words. You can mumble them even when your mind is racing like a horse. You can chant them

absentmindedly. Just say them. Of course, the more force and intention you put in them the quicker they manifest. But the results will come as long as you persist, no matter how desultory your utterance. JUST DON'T GIVE UP! While this goes against received wisdom, which insists that affirmations must be said with intent in order to work, I am supported by the incomparable Swami Sivananda who stoutly declares: "Even simple mechanical repetition of a mantra has a powerful effect. It purifies the mind. It serves as a gate-keeper. It gives intimations to you whenever some worldly thoughts enter the mind." A Personal Path My tryst with affirmations and indeed spirituality began several years ago when a relationship broke up and in parting, I was told that relationships were meant to be beautiful and ours had not been. I was also told that I had not made the person happy. Fascinated by the concept of a 'beautiful relationship' and by the idea of happiness, I vowed that I would make this person happy, come what may. This was by no means easy to do as I found myself reacting to his behaviour with anger and jealousy. And then I hit upon the magic mantra, which was my passage to spiritual understanding. It occurred to me that if I really wanted this person's happiness, whatever he said or did should be okay by me. I formulated the thought thus: "It's his happiness that matters and not mine". I found my anger and reactivity receding and in its place a vast reservoir of peace and goodwill arising. Unbelievingly, I said these words again and again, and each time they worked like a charm, freeing me of my thoughts and feelings and allowing me to focus fully on seeing and understanding the other's point of view. In my own way I was affirming, though I did not know it then. The words propelled me right out of my ego and into a state that I called 'absolute happiness'. For a full year, they retained their magic for me. I used to accompany their recitation by pressing my thumb and my middle finger hard. I later discovered that NLP called this anchoring, and recommended it as a way of recalling an experience intentionally. Alas, all good things come to an end and my year of grace faded away. However, it left me firmly entrenched on the spiritual path. Why did this mantra wield such power over me during that time? Why not before and why not after? Such things are cloaked in mystery and it is hard to say why. Grace for me, is a good explanation for the first question. As for the second, I think of it as a trigger that launched me on the journey. That job done, it left me so that I could embark upon the hard and long task of dissolving all that stood between me and that state of absolute happiness… Explaining Affirmations So what are affirmations? They are positive declarations of intent. They are word seeds that germinate within us and recreate us. They encapsulate the power of thought which makes us who we are. Affirmations can be simple declarations like the 19th century French psychotherapist, Emile Coeu's sweeping assertion, "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." They can be New Age statements that invoke everything from

health, love, money, jobs, houses and other material and non-material visitations. Affirmations such as, "I am abundance and I attract everything I need," are typical of this genre. They can be power words that resound through our scriptures such as the great mahavakya, Aham Brahmasmi, the sufi saying, Al Haq, or mantras like Om Namaha Shivaye. They can be the prayers that we repeat ceaselessly such as the Gayatri mantra, the Mahamrityunjaya mantra, the Lord's Prayer or the Hail Mary. All good words and thoughts that we repeat continuously are affirmations in action. Whether we call it japa yoga or affirmations, we are invoking the power of the word to create us, regenerate us and transform us. All spiritual traditions everywhere have intuited the awful majesty and power of the word. Whether it is the karadjeru of Australia, the Dogon and Igbo communities of Africa, the Mayan community of Mexico, the Sumerians, or the Buddhist, Christian, Islamic or Judaic traditions, there is a clear understanding that language, or the word, is a manifestation of God. Many of them, including the vedic tradition of India, maintain that sound is the building block of the manifested world. For the Dogon, words uttered during religious ceremonies contain nyama (life-force), which is conveyed by the breath and flows through the mouth of the holy person. Even in the Christian tradition, God is said to have created the universe simply by uttering a command-surely an early example of affirmation in action? "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis 1: 3) The Power of Sound In India, the power of the word has long been recognised and used for spiritual transformation and for the ultimate understanding of life. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, head of the Himalayan Institute, USA, writes in his book, The Power of Mantra and the Mystery of Initiation, "According to tantric and Vedic sources, the world manifests from the Word, exists in the Word, and at the time of annihilation returns to the Word. They tell us that for those who are unaware of the power of the Word and its binding and releasing force, this world is the source of pain and misery. Yet, according to the Shiva Sutra, this same world is a wave of joy to those who have penetrated the mystery of the Word." According to Wayne Dyer, author of the book, Manifest Your Destiny, the sound aaah is common to almost all the names of God, ranging from Brahma, to Allah to Yahweh and Ahura Mazda. This is no coincidence, he believes, but is rather proof that it is the sound of creation. Therefore when we chant God's name we are invoking the power of creation. Many ancients would attribute the mantra om, with this power, but, says Dyer, "Whereas aaah is the sound of creation, om is the sound of that which is already created. Om expresses gratitude for all that has manifested." According to tantric adepts, the word is considered to be the Shabda-brahman, the Creative Source (Ashabda-brahman) embodied as sound. Scientists today confirm that the universe is actually composed of vibrational energies. Writes Wayne Dyer: "Every sound is a vibration made of waves oscillating at a particular frequency. The frequency range of the human ear is approximately 16,000 - 40,000

vibrations per second. It is theorised that thoughts and the unknown etheric and spiritual dimensions are in the realm of increased vibrations beyond anything that is calculable at this point of time." He adds, "Sound is the intermediary between the abstract idea and the concrete form of the material world. Sounds literally mould the abstract world of thoughts and spirit into shapes." Swami Sivananda confirms this by writing about the experiments conducted by an Englishwoman called Mrs Watts Hughes, who sang into an instrument called the eidophone. The sound travelled through a tube and was received on a flexible membrane holding tiny seeds. The seeds formed entrancing geometric patterns depending on the notes she used. He says, "Once when Mrs Hughes was singing a note, a daisy appeared and disappeared…now she knows that precise inflections of the particular note that is a daisy and it is made constant and definite by a strange method of coaxing an alternation of crescendo and diminuendo." Mrs Hughes apparently was able to summon up seamonsters, forms of trees, and even landscapes of trees with a foreground of rocks, and the sea behind. Santosh Sachdeva, whose family owns the website indiayogi.com, affirms that when they conducted a yagna on behalf of one of their clients, the fire threw up images of om and the swastika, when invoked by the pundit. Why Affirmations Work Affirmations work because they embody the power of sound. Not just when you choose to utter them aloud, but even when expressed through thought, they create specific vibrations within. These vibrations have the power to write over the grooves of our subconscious mind. It is the thoughts that we feed into our subconscious mind that produces our habitual behavioural patterns and attitudes. Our unconscious thoughts have created our present persona. In order to recreate ourselves, we need to counter them with conscious positive thoughts. This is the central truth behind most spiritual philosophies. For instance, the opening verse of the Dhammapada, the core Buddhist scripture, states implacably, "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart." In order to rewrite the mind we need to understand its composition. The mind is composed of three parts, the conscious, the subconscious and the superconscious. The conscious mind is the part we are aware of - the part that does the thinking, worrying, planning and creating. It is a tiny part of the structure; it is the subconscious that is the looming bulwark, a massive entity with incredible powers and potentials. Its unique characteristic is that it can create anything that we command it to create, by virtue of the thoughts we think. Writes Dada Vaswani, head of the Pune-based Sadhu Vaswani Mission, "If you believe that you cannot achieve something, if you believe that you cannot have something, the

subconscious will create conditions, so that your beliefs are proved. To transform your life, it is very important that you seek the help of the subconscious." Thus the negative thoughts that create our negative conditioning can be overthrown by affirming their opposite. The belief that we are lazy can be overwritten by the affirmation that we are hard working and industrious. Writes Dada Vaswani, " To transform your life you must have a picture of yourself as you wish to be… The picture that we paint of ourselves is assimilated by our subconscious. The subconscious is there to obey you. It is a very obedient servant who takes orders from his master. Its decisions are to be made by you." Awareness of the incredible power of the subconscious, conveyed by writers such as Joseph Murphy, author of The Power of the Subconscious Mind, is behind the New Age deployment of affirmations to change oneself. Affirmations in this light cover the whole gamut of life, employed literally as a magic genie to create money, abundance, love, friendship, and even the acquisition of material objects such as a house, a car, etc. Louise L. Hay, author of You can Heal Your Life, one of the first books to shine a light on the spiritual and psychological causes of illness, uses affirmations extensively as a tool for creating better health. She writes in her website, www. Louisehay.com, "Our thoughts are creative. This is the most important law of nature that we need to know…thoughts are like drops of waterthey accumulate. As we continue to rethink the same thoughts over a period of time, they become puddles, ponds, lakes or oceans. If they're positive, we can float on the oceans of life." My nature, I discovered, was whole, perfect and complete. I didn't have to be anyone or anything or get anywhere to become that Affirmations have helped Usha Miglani, who lives alone, cope with fears of getting a stroke in the middle of the night. Says she, "I practise the nine positives taught by Brahma Vidya and they make me calm and peaceful. The affirmations that I am healthy, I am young, I am powerful, have stuck to me." Roxanne Marker, a psychic and seeker, makes use of words like love and peace for affirmatory practice. She says, "I am more at peace. The tendency to assert myself is decreasing. I will not try to prove a point at the expense of making someone else feel bad. I no longer want to be always right. What a boring individual that would make me. In fact these days I say when I falter, "Yippee dippee, I am wrong!" How to Affirm Dada Vaswani reveals that the subconscious is physically located at the back, where the

base of the skull and the spine meet. He suggests that the best way to harmonise the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious (the divine potential) is to combine affirmation with meditation. He writes, "The peace of meditation filters not only into the conscious but also into the subconscious and the superconscious self." There can be little doubt that when affirmations are made in meditative stillness, they are more effective. Deepak Chopra, for instance, suggests that we release all intentions into the gap between thoughts, which is arrived at through meditation. Swami Sivananda, however, points out that dhyana is inherent in japa, "Name and the object signified by the Name are inseparable…Whenever you think of the name of your son, his figure stands before your mental eye, and vice versa. Even so when you do japa of Rama or Krishna the picture of Rama or Krishna will come before your mind. Therefore japa and dhyana go together. They are inseparable." There are however, several guidelines to help us affirm more effectively, because the subconscious does not discriminate and takes what we say literally: o Construct your sentences positively. Choose 'I am slim' to 'I am not fat'. The subconscious does not recognise negatives and would translate the latter sentence as 'I am fat'. o Use the present tense. 'I am love, joy and compassion' is preferable to 'I will be…' or 'I want to be…' The subconscious lives in the moment and does not recognise future tense. The phrase 'I want' reflects powerlessness and all you will get is the state of 'want' and not the actual state. o Believe in what you say. Know that it will manifest for sure. o Put as much intensity as you can in your affirmations. Says Dada Vaswani, "You must develop the will to speak to it with magnetic determination." o Dada Vaswani also suggests repeating an affirmation loudly three times, softly three times and in a whisper four times. o The times before you go to sleep or immediately on waking up are when the subconscious is most receptive to commands. o If you can meditate, do so. When your conscious mind is peaceful and still, seeding the subconscious is a cinch. Raising Self-Esteem Affirmations are particularly effective in repairing and enhancing poor self-esteem. The website called Tools for Personal Growth has a detailed piece on the negative self-scripts that we operate under. These are caused by the beliefs we have of ourselves, the negative feedback we may have got from family, teachers, peers, spouse and colleagues and that we have internalised. These in turn create over-dependence on the approval of others, make it difficult for us to take risks in life, drown us in self-pity, cynicism and pessimism, and cause us to don a protective armour in our interaction with others. I should know about the pain imposed by negative self-scripts. When I launched into an inquiry on how to make this state of absolute happiness a permanent one, I realised that the chief impediment was a compulsive obsession with myself. And behind the obsession, I found, was an almost total lack of self-esteem. I didn't like myself at all. I was sure I

would fail miserably in everything I did. There was, I discovered, a tyrant established in my head who watched me like a hawk. This personage viciously abused me each time I messed up, which I did all too often. Consumed by the unceasing internal warfare, there was just no mind space for others or indeed, for living. It was a disconcerting discovery. Help came when, for a moment, I got in touch with my true nature. That nature, I discovered, was whole, perfect and complete. I didn't have to be anyone or anything or get anywhere to be that. I already was that. The rest was conditioning. I said these words again and again, and each time they worked like a charm, freeing me of my thoughts and feelings and allowing me to focus fully on seeing and understanding the other's point of view. However, unlike the earlier revelation that had an almost instantaneous effect on me, this one was not impacting the negative self-script running compulsively in my head. In the serendipitous way that life flows, an article came my way which explained about the power of the subconscious mind and why it is that we think the way we do. It gave suggestions on how to seed the mind afresh. Voila, I had discovered affirmations! Although my mind was a fevered rush of thoughts, I persisted in repeating the words, "I am whole, perfect and complete" to myself wherever and whenever I could. Within four months a shift happened. I can describe it best as an almost physical feeling near my heart region, where I felt as if a foundation had been laid, sealing off for keeps the dreadful pits of depression I would fall into. I understood that I had been given the ability to withstand whatever and however I manifested. I could, as Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, the talented writer of Women Who Run with the Wolves perceptively says, "stand to see what I had to see." Ever since then, the task has been to face and repair through awareness and acceptance, the ravages to my mind caused by years of depression. I could never have withstood the pain of this prolonged surgery had it not been for the comforting use of the affirmation that I was whole and perfect, even when I seemed entirely imperfect. Throughout the journey, I developed the habit of converting insights into affirmations, which I would repeat to myself. I had to. My mind was far too chaotic to attempt meditation or any form of spiritual practice. These affirmations would trigger changes which then would set off fresh insights. Among the most significant of these was the discovery that I was fully responsible for my states of mind and that the outside world had nothing to do with it. The sound vibrations of affirmations, even as thoughts, have the power to write over the grooves of our subconscious mind. Affirming this took me deep within myself and I could sense that I was withdrawing the power I had invested in the external world. Taking my reactions within unleashed an enormous love of the self, for the self, and I found myself embarking on a fevered love

affair with myself. I love myself, I would affirm passionately and in various different ways. I discovered that I did not need external support, endorsement and approval. I discovered that all the qualities I longed for were within me. I would warble out these affirmations through the day, particularly while travelling up and down the city in local trains! Right now I am in the throes of another insight, which is that I do not need to be anything other than who I am. As I affirm this to myself, the tottering stockpile of expectations that high ideals and low self-esteem have stacked on me is sliding away and I am finally learning to live with myself. I am learning to love myself. That feeling is a wonder only someone who has never experienced it before can truly appreciate. The internal warfare is waning. Ceasefire has been declared and amnesty papers are being drawn up. A lot more learning and a lot more affirmations await me still, I feel sure, and I cannot wait to discover what lies next. For my goal is enlightenment and I have not the slightest doubt that affirmations have the power to get me there. Japa Yoga Santosh Sachdeva, author of two books on Kundalini, including Kundalini Diary, was first exposed to the power of the word at age 13 when her guru gave her the Shiva mantra, Om Namaha Shivaye, to chant. By the time she was married she was chanting it diligently for half an hour every day. This steady practice for close to 40 years stood her in good stead when she decided to do a course in Brahma Vidya in 1995. The course is a combination of breathing exercises, affirmations and meditation. When Santosh began to repeat the affirmations, to her surprise she saw images of all that she affirmed vividly appear in her mind's eye. "Now I imagine a great light over my head," she would say and she would see a wing-like manifestation of light above her head. For Santosh too, affirmations, coupled with the other Brahma Vidya exercises, have had a transformatory effect. She says: "I have become more confident. I no longer worry about the future or regret the past. I live in the moment. I feel happy, which is a feeling whose meaning I didn't know earlier. Complaining and expectations have disappeared and there is no judgement left." She says: "The fact that I could see my thoughts in the form of images has proven to me the power of thoughts. It tells me that the parental advice to be good and to think good thoughts is based on sound reasoning." Kamala Jain, a designer in her 40s, was inducted into chanting the Shiva mantra by her father in order to moderate her strongly emotional temperament when she was around 12. She followed the advice sporadically and although she cannot quite figure which, if any, of the changes she has experienced within herself can be attributed to the practice, she admits that she is remarkably detached today. A serious seeker, she also finds herself powerfully drawn to the personage of Shiva. Japa yoga has a tried and tested place in the Indian tradition. Innumerable saints have danced their way to Godhead singing the name of God. Tukaram of Deo, Valmiki,

Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Ramdas of the Anand ashram are among those who have surrendered to the intoxication of God's name. While affirmations are frequently used for inner healing and self-development, japa yoga is employed for one reason and one alone: to awaken one's inner divinity and unite with the Absolute. Swami Sivananda says ardently: "Japa ultimately results in samadhi or communion with the Lord." He adds, "The chanting of His name is but serving Him. You must have the same flow of love and respect in your heart at the time of thinking or remembering His Name as that you naturally may have in your heart at the time when you really see Him." According to the swami, japa purifies and cleanses one of lust, anger, greed and other defilements. He says firmly, "The repetition of a mantra destroys your sins and brings everlasting peace, infinite bliss, prosperity and immortality. There is not the least doubt about this." Mahatma Gandhi was an ardent practitioner of Ram Naam. At the time of his death, such faith came to his rescue for he died with the name of the Lord in his mouth, having uttered 'Hai Ram', when the assassin's bullet ripped through his spare frame. Considering that it is our state of mind on death that guarantees our future progress one assumes that the Mahatma has rightly attained the highest heavenly honours. Swami Ramdas, whose mantra Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram is the central spiritual practice advocated by the ashram, was so imbued with faith in the power of Ram, that he left his home and wandered into the wide world, surrendering entirely to the protection of his beloved Ram. Convinced that everyone and everything was a manifestation of God and that every event that befell him was the Lord's will, he accepted hunger, destitution, insults and rejection with utter faith. His account of the journey, In Quest of God, is an inspiring account of the spiritual strength that japa can inspire. How to do Japa While one can technically do japa anytime and anywhere, its efficacy is considerably heightened if we imbue it with a sacred presence. o Swami Sivananda suggests that it is best done facing the east or north, during dawn and twilight, that magical period betwixt light and darkness. o Sit in a steady pose; padmasana is highly recommended but sukhasana will also do. o Choose the mantra that you most resonate with or think of your ishta devta- the deity you give allegiance to. o Invoke the presence of the Lord with as much intensity as you can utter- though you can take comfort in the awareness that even mechanical repetition has its merit. o Repeat the japa steadily at a measured pace. o You can either repeat it aloud or mentally. The latter is considered to be more powerful. o You can do it with a mala or without. The advantage of the former is that it enables you to keep count and ensures that your attention is buttressed to something concrete. Desiree Punwani, housewife and Buddhist practitioner, swears by the practice of metta

bhavna, or the state of loving kindness. The metta prayer goes thus: May all beings be well, peaceful and happy. Says she, "When I first started affirming it, I didn't know if I believed to what extent it would work. But whatever you give out you get, and I find that health and peace and happiness are coming my way". She also uses it to de-escalate contentious relationships. " I very rarely use the direct confrontation method these days, " she reveals. An example is the strained relationship she had with a family member that has taken a dramatic shift for the better ever since she began showering the person with metta. "We can discuss even sensitive issues with goodwill." The Zoroastrians say it all in a nutshell: "Good thoughts, good words and good deeds." It all begins with the thought, so be aware of what you put in there. Even better, choose to avail of the magic power of affirmations to pull out the weeds and sow fresh seeds of goodness, strength, love and joy, and total transformation. There is nothing you cannot think yourself into being, so aim for the Absolute.

Conquer your Fear what is the cause of fear? and how do we vanquish it when it crowds around us with its insidious what-ifs, stoking caution, paranoia and doubt? here, an exploration into the nature of fear and prescriptions on how to cope with it

Vanquish your Fears
In his book, Conquest of Fear, Swami Sivananda explains the ways to overcome fear: o Victory over fear (Pratipaksha Bhavana method): As you think, so you become. As you think, so you develop. As More >>

Freedom from Fear
Dada Vaswani in his book Dada Answers gives us a few practical tips on overcoming fears: o Convince yourself that nothing that you fear is as bad as the fear itself. To be afraid is the worst More >> There's no better time to write about fear than a month when one has endured days of grief in hospital vigils. An average day's routine included the rise of anxiety, a dread in the pit of the stomach, perhaps a sinking of the spirit, and soon, emotional seesaws became a familiar experience. I recently had to watch a parental figure in an impersonal hospital bed, growing frailer by the day, multiple organ failures weakening the physical body, even though, on a good day, the spirit rose with optimism and moments of surprising cheer. I learned to look at my own fear at close quarters in the humid corridors, in the faces of impassive professionals who had to temper cold facts with kindness. Within a week, the sum of it all contributed to the unmaking of presumptions of eternal health and happiness, and took me on a journey to unchartered internal crossroads - one to the truth of mortality, the other to acceptance. The Buddha said there is no family untouched by disease, death or old age. The essence of this one can grasp, but to apply it to circumstance is another task altogether. The Instinct asks, "Can't you postpone this by a few years? The time is not of my choosing."

But Time answers that these moments are never born of mindful choice, but of the soulneed. It is not so difficult to distance oneself from an abstract notion (under which term you might like to slot the reality of death and disease), keep it out in the cold and view it with fleeting interest. But any experience which requires understanding or resolution can first give rise to anxious fretfulness, furious denial and charge the atmosphere with negativity. Then, wisdom appears as a flickering light at the end of a deep, deep tunnel. Origin of Fears Where do fears come from? Why do they arise? Spiritual masters assert that the root cause of fear is our separation from the Source. It follows that only submergence in the Source through enlightenment brings about the final dissolution of fear. Says Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh: "A sage beholds only the Immortal Self everywhere so there is no fear in him. There is fear only when there is duality, when there is a perception of an object or a person other than oneself." Adds the venerable Francis of Assissi: "What do you have to fear? Nothing. Whom do you have to fear? No one. Why? Because whoever has joined forces with God obtains three great privileges: omnipotence without power, intoxication without wine, and life without death…" Because fear embodies separation and love unity, sages affirm that there are only two primary emotions, fear and love. Both are mutually exclusive. Where there is fear there is no love and where there is love there is no fear. A quick test of your spiritual quotient is the level of fear within you. The less there is, the closer to God you are. Indeed, the spiritual journey could well be said to be the movement from fear to love. Writes thinker Gerald Jampolsky: "Fear and love can never be experienced at the same time. It is always our choice as to which of these emotions we want…" Jampolsky may use the word choice and in the ultimate sense he is right, but to get to the stage where we can have mastery over our fears enough to be able to choose having them or not, is not easy. Only deep and rigorous self-knowledge can help us reach this stage, but that finally is the road each traveller must go if he wishes to outpace fear. Types of Fear Within the blanket insecurity caused by detachment from the Self, there are other broad categories of fear. Chief among these is the fear of the unknown, of which the primary one is the fear of death. Says the Peace Pilgrim, who walked through the length and breadth of the US to create awareness of peace: "Almost all fear is fear of the unknown. Therefore, what's the remedy? To become acquainted with the thing you fear." This is wisdom and is easily the best way to dissolve individual fears that come in the way of effective living. Says an animator and film-maker: "I always feared having and bringing up children, because I feared it would make me lose my individuality, but ultimately I overcame this fear, through love for my children." Equally crucial is the role of desire in stoking fear. As long as man is in the grip of desire,

he will never escape fear for he either fears his inability to obtain the object of desire or having obtained it, his ability to retain it. The wily goddess Maya's gossamer veil is chiefly constituted of these two components. Says J. Krishnamurti: "Fear is not to be put away by appeasement and candles; it ends with the cessation of the desire to become." Both these categories are finally rooted in lack of faith in oneself and in God. The more faith we develop in ourselves to cope with life and triumph over its manifold terrors, the less we fear the unknown. The more confident we are of our ability to withstand temptation, the more feeble is the hold of desire. And as our faith and trust in God increases, it pervades the dank and dingy places of fear with its genial sunshine and causes it to disappear. The annals of saints and sages all over the world are rife with wondrous tales of courage and valour, endured out of sheer love of God. Here, for instance, is the tale of one anonymous martyr persecuted as a Huguenot under Louis XIV, quoted by William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience. A group of six women undressed her and rained blows upon her with a "bunch of willow rods as thick as the hand could hold, and a yard long." In vain the women cried, "We must double our blows; she does not feel them, for she neither speaks nor cries. " This was the worthy woman's response to her torture: "And how should I have cried, since I was swooning with happiness within?" Perfect faith gives perfect security. The knowledge that all that happens is for the best can put to rout all fears of the unknown. Perfect faith gives perfect security. The knowledge that all that happens is for the best can put to rout all fears of the unknown. It is this surrender that supported the great prophets of the world even in the face of death. Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and others were led to perform their mighty acts despite the threat of death because they were secure in their surrender. For us lesser mortals, it may not be quite so easy to sashay straight off into surrender, but a belief in God is the beginning of faith and faith is the final frontier. A strong philosophy that works for all seasons is a great shield against the onslaught of fear. Says Ashish Virmani, assistant editor at Mansworld magazine, "The most important thing to combat fear is to have a sound philosophy in life - a philosophy for life and for death. I think in many ways Buddhism has helped me overcome many of my fears. For example, I used to fear, as a teenager, that people would laugh at me or talk about me behind my back. Now I realise that it doesn't really matter what people say or think because it is their privilege to think what they are thinking, and it is my privilege to carry on with my life regardless and achieve my goals." Go Beyond the Comfort Zone There's much to be said in praise of tribulation, although the realisation will come only in hindsight. Take a moment to survey the soul-journey and the physical stop-over, which

has been scheduled only to study unlearned lessons. So then why fear anything? "Fear is illusory; it cannot live. Courage is eternal, it will not die," said Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh. So why do we let the temporary moment shadow the glory of the divine self? It requires a conscious effort to move beyond the circumstance and watch our own actions and words with a level of detachment. We are here to learn. Every situation of strife that you encounter is a karmic lesson and your own previous deeds have created today's situation. Fears are largely the results of experience over many incarnations. When they haunt you, they are not to be seen as retribution or a calamity, but an opportunity to build soul-muscle. The other participants in the moment may have been with you on a previous journey, there may have been cues you failed to pick up. Here's your chance to do so and complete your lines appropriately; the one prompting you may have been someone you once ignored deliberately, totally, but are forced to listen to now, only for your own good. The stage is set for your karmic progress. So why tread hesitantly? Walk in with confidence, be sure of your part and don't fear being centre-stage. The Casting Director up there never errs, and if you're the chosen one, believe in yourself and not the undermining voices whispering in your ears. There is never a life given that cannot be lived fully. Look at your fear, any fear, in the eye. It could be a physical deficiency that you perceive as repulsive, and fear that others will feel the same and avoid you, while they may not have noticed, let alone scrutinised it the way your hyper-sensitivity would believe. It could be an attachment that brings you the fear of loss - a wife or a house or a car, all these can be overcome with detachment. Above all, there is fear of death. Confesses Shailesh Vyas, a language trainer (36), "I have always had an intense fear of getting pregnant, because I thought I would die during childbirth. Not only did the fear make me delay my marriage as far as possible, it also led to so much negativity, that I stopped breathing during the delivery and even had to have a Caesarian done. Strangely, the fear stemmed from no particular reason or experience." These are fears born of the total identification with the physical body, fears born out of ignorance of the real Self. Observes Ashish Virmani, "Death is inevitable for everyone who is born on this earth but what is more important is making the best of every day that one lives." Fears drain vitality; sap the body of all energy. Natural fears, like that of the student fearing the teacher, are necessary for the former's growth and progress, but unnatural fears, born in the mind, of impending illness, financial ruin or personal abandonment none of these are rational. Observes Devesh Vyas (33), general manager, sales and marketing, Raheja Constructions: "My deepest fear is the fear of having no money and not being able to provide for my family and myself. The best way to overcome such irrational fears is to stay with the fear, observe it and what it does and allow it to reveal itself. Since these fears cannot be done away with, the best way is to cope with them, accept their existence and carry on with life."

This indeed, is what reiki master and workshop trainer Anand Tendulkar did. Says he: "I was always afraid of public speaking yet since my work demanded it, I had to keep doing it, and today I have completely overcome my fear." While individual fears can be eliminated in numerous ways, eliminating the cause of fear has only one solution. To go deep within and dismantle the false self, the ego self that entraps us in self-centred fear-generating ways of being. We can do this by meditating on the atman as Swami Sivananda suggests. J. Krishnamurti, on the other hand, suggests a direct face-to-face confrontation with the ego self. Says he: "Thought has created a centre as the 'me' - me, my opinion, my country, my God, my experience, my house…Can the mind look at fear without the centre? Can you look at the fear without naming it?…It requires tremendous discipline. Then the mind is looking without the centre to which it has been accustomed and there is the ending of fear, both the hidden and the open." Fear Kills the Will and Stays all Action Fear in our day-to-day lives has to be dealt with immediately. It is a poison that should not be allowed to circulate. Repeat the name of your favourite deity, or chant a familiar mantra when you feel a fear taking hold of you. Watch for the seed of a growing anxiety, pull the weed out before it becomes a thriving parasite and numbs you of life. Joy is life's nourishment, fear is starvation. Fear is the opposite of belief. Fear denies faith. What have you to be afraid of if you believe that you are here on a purpose? Is there a school board without an exam? Can there be a life without struggle? No. All difficulties are tests set to strengthen us, not overcome us. If you are not careful, fear will keep you rooted here and now, in your little physical form, six feet plus though you may appear. Wayne W. Dyer writes in his book, Pulling Your Own Strings, "Any time you catch yourself paralysed by fear - in a word, victimised - ask yourself, "What am I getting out of this?" Your first temptation will be to answer, 'Nothing.' But go a little deeper and you'll see why people find it easier to be victims than to take strong stances of their own, to pull their own strings. It's the way of the smaller self to wallow in littleness, to avoid risks, and here we aren't talking about risks like dodging a bullet in Iraq, but confronting an innate fear of say, deep-seated jealousy. It's these fears, which keep you immobile and weak, clutching at non-essentials, thrashing about with no place to escape. Where can you go leaving your self behind?" Mobilise your Courage and Inner Resources The story of Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita is an illustration of a positive intention to overcome fear. At the beginning of the Mahabharata war, Arjuna could not fight his cousins and uncles. Krishna, God Incarnate, knew it was Arjuna's duty to do so and did not allow Arjuna's momentary weakness to overwhelm him. He exhorted him to fight and did not allow him to run away from the battlefield. Krishna did not allow fear to paralyse the otherwise courageous Arjuna or have him remembered by history as a coward. Till today, Arjuna is a symbol of valour. Sometimes, though, fears get obliterated without consciously working on them, through

deep and sustained meditation. As long as she could remember, Anupama Ramchandra had feared the dark. In 2004, Anupama attended a Vipassana course at Igatpuri, Maharashtra. "I was given a separate cell and I was certain the nights would be an agony." Anupama, hardly new to Vipassana, had resolved to diligently meditate this time. "Days of intense meditation left me too restless to sleep. My body became super-sensitive to the slightest sound and movements. When in the forests around the Dhamma Centre a twig snapped, I'd feel it on my skin. "I fell into a restless sleep one night. I dreamt of being sucked into a vortex. It was a strong sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach. When I woke up the next morning, I knew I'd never be afraid of the dark again. Thanks to Vipassana, I'd eliminated one big samskara." Writer Armin Zebrowski makes a distinction between the human ego and the spiritual ego. "The human ego consists of desires, passions, wishes and emotions. The spiritual ego is the highest ideal of compassion and is represented by intuition, which supplies us with inspiration. Fear is a feeling of the human ego. It is not an emotion the soul is familiar with." Such a fine, insightful explanation. It is the essence of this exploration into fear. Why do we distance ourselves from the inner self, which is the core of our being? Why lose track of the radar, which signals the presence of the soul, which we will be in every lifetime, and not the physical or emotional surroundings we find ourselves in now? Why do we get caught up with fears that are just the projection of our individuality this time around? Why put all of one's identity into a job one holds and could be sacked from next week? Why preen with a sense of special-me just because fame once knocked at your door, or beauty decided to bestow just that little bit more? Essentially, why the fear of a lack of recognition and appreciation? Just enjoy the delight of your senses for yourself, or even by yourself, and let go the rest. There is no judgement waiting to condemn you. We often perceive non-existent threats to our independence, privacy and freedom and react with anger through prevailing fear. Egoism and self-centredness lead to a sense of alienation. The fear of being overlooked, and the desire for importance leads to immense anxiety. Today's whirl of social activities and celebrity circus performances provide woeful examples of insecurities eating up those trying to gain or retain attention. Hysterical demands for invitations, which they fear, may not be forthcoming, or ensuring a late arrival to prove the pressure of very important work, are reflections of insecurity. Legendary actor, Amitabh Bachchan, has acquired a reputation for putting to shame people who invite him for a function and, although his adherence to punctuality is well-known, people are still appalled when he does turn up on time. A few years ago, at a book launch organised at a music store, Bachchan walked in five minutes before the appointed time, only to find the sweeper clearing the floor and a few waiters arranging glasses. No sign of the writer or any of the glamorous organisers or other guests. The chief guest, however, waited and did the honours two hours later with no audible complaint, and even the very curious could only

speculate at the irony they imagined in his expression. Bachchan in India has no fear of being overlooked, neither does any non-famous, ordinary individual need to crave public applause. We are all doing what we are meant to, and are perfectly placed in positions to learn our lessons. Sages affirm there are only two primary emotions: fear and love. Fear is the absence of love. Fear embodies separation and love unity Another instance recalled by a fashion photographer involved a photo-session for a magazine cover, which featured four top male models of the decade. Four smart, goodlooking men, unquestionably the toast of their time. However, their misplaced anxieties, wrapped up in their celebrated egos, provided many moments of mirth in the photographer's studio. This is what happened that evening - each of them got to the studio within a few minutes of the others, but two of them kept circling the studio in their respective cars, calling from their cell-phones and asking the staff if all the other models had arrived, not willing to be the first one in, each reluctant to be the one who came in and waited. This went on, till the photographer took matters into his hands, not wanting this formula driving to go on all night, and lied systematically to each one saying two others had arrived and so on. The shoot took place, and the photographs looked great. But, no one present that night ever forgot the fears these men displayed, when ironically, they had been called to participate in a shoot, which actually celebrated their handsome faces, great physiques and success in a chosen field. Unfortunately, their immature behaviour left behind impressions that were anything but glorious. Deepak Chopra believes that control is the way the ego solves the problem of fear. "Whenever any of us falls into controlling behaviour, one of the following scenarios is at work in the unconscious: o We are afraid someone will reject us o We are afraid of failing o We are afraid of being wrong o We are afraid of being powerless o We are afraid of being destroyed Fearful thoughts keep chasing each other in a vicious circle. Insecurities mount and the fear of loss of control leads to more fear, and a paramount desire to keep the face of control secure. What do we achieve? Tension and unhappiness. Fear is a feeling of the human ego. It is not an emotion the soul is familiar with Dada Vaswani also believes that one of the greatest maladies is loneliness, and all fears arise from a basic fear of abandonment and frustration. He says that long queues outside cinema theatres indicate the growing internal loneliness, when all diversions are sought externally, with little thought for introspection or self-expansion. Mind games, instead of soul-food. Fears are only self-imposed limitations, not lines drawn in concrete. You can learn to use the computer even when well into your 60s, if you believe you can do it. But if the fear of embarrassment or failure holds you back, then it is the fear that controls you

and the desire suffocates and dies. You will sadly, take away from yourself a minor but significant sense of accomplishment. You give the fear a larger-than-life status, and put life itself in the sidelines. Fear is undermining. If fear has its rationales - of caution and wisdom - give it a good hearing, then proceed. If fear gains the upper hand, confusion prevails. Objectives blurs, confidence is lost. What is the choice you want to make? A few smudges on a clean mirror don't make the mirror useless, the smudges just have to be wiped off. Disarm the Dragon with Loving Forgiveness The presence of fear indicates the inability to love completely. We often hold fear up against ourselves as armour. An instrument of defence even in the presence of family and friends. Why is fear a tool of survival? Love ensures a more comfortable trek, some provision for nourishment and protection against a few blows and setbacks. Fear can't be part of this ongoing, wholesome process. Yes, life's journey requires checks and surveys, of pauses and progress, but certainly, the journey can be free of fear. Free of believing in half-loves, inadequate communication and incomplete acceptance. Fear predicts an inability to let go, a restraint and an inactive pause in which precious moments of growth are arrested. Instead, use the power of visualisation to untangle knots. Think of yourself as the victor in spiritual warfare, where negative thought is defeat and positive endeavour a spur. Let go of the thoughts that attract the fear to you. Set yourself free and invite the free flow of love and good energy. The most vulnerable is the most fearless. Like a newborn, says Deepak Chopra in his book, The Path to Love: "Newborn infants, because they have no past, lack all defences; a baby is completely vulnerable to any intruder or harmful influence, utterly dependent on outside protection to survive. Yet, paradoxically, no one is more invulnerable than a newborn child, because it has no fear. Experience has yet to create its imprint on the nervous system, and without a frame of reference there is no threat." Chopra points out some patterns of futile behaviour: o We constantly compare ourselves to an ideal that we can never live up to. The loveless inner voice drives us by saying, "You aren't good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, happy enough, secure enough." o We look for approval in others. This behaviour basically projects our inner dissatisfaction with ourselves in the hope that some outside authority will lift it from our souls. o We rely on love to remove the obstacles that keep it away. All sorts of unloving behaviours are allowed to persist with the attitude that we will become affectionate, open, trusting and intimate only by a touch of love's magic wand. This very instant, do yourself a favour. Trash all debilitating thoughts. Empty the mind, while simply knowing that the Self is all, and set yourself free. Because fears are just hollow concepts built in the mind and drawn from interpretations of experiences. If a salesperson in a store has been rude to you once, you shudder to enter the store again, even if you quite like what's on display inside. Ever paused to consider that perhaps that salesman is not employed there any longer? Or, you can learn to ride a bike and wobble

along in the fear of falling, but if you believe that it's just a wonderful joy-ride, choose to steady your hands and look straight ahead, hey, it could well be one unforgettable ride.

Make up Your Mind by Swami Veda Bharati You determine your mind by the thoughts you think moment to moment. so choose the mind you wish to have and think it into being In the previous articles we have described the aims of Indian psychology up to its penultimate goal. The rishis did not study the secrets of the mind by observing animal and human behaviour. They studied and analysed it by using themselves as guinea pigs. What happens to the mind if it concentrates on a flame for one hour a day for six months? What happens to it if the object of concentration is flowing water, or a dot, or a certain thought? They observed the changes in the states of consciousness and recorded their observations in short scientific formulae, sutras. We can understand these formulae and replicate them only if we replicate their methodology, the steps in self-experimentation. This is why the practice of meditation is the lab work of spirituality. The formulae on the mind are not to be found in one single text. They are scattered throughout the literature that serves as a guide to different contexts of life. The actual methodology and the guide to experiments is found in the oral tradition of the meditation masters and its aims can be achieved through discipline, anushasana. We cannot learn to use our minds in sattvic patterns, as described in the previous sections of this article, without first learning how our minds are formed, from what sources is the mind derived. o The true field of our individual mind is a wave of the universal mind. It is the purest crystal, the most beautiful place in the universe; nothing can be more beauteous, more glorious, more illuminated and calmer than this wave-field. It is closest to atman than any other entity in the universe. o At the moment of being conceived into the current body, we bring from the past lives all our samskaras, imprints of past actions and experiences, whether they be sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. o The mother-mind and the father-mind are infused into this wave of the universal mind which is patterned by previous samskaras, subtly altering the pre-existent pattern, imprinting on it the mother-father samskaras to a certain extent. o From the moment of conception, whatever is happening in and to the mother's mind is being passed on to the mind of the foetus. The foetus is not merely taking physical nutrition through mother's body, its mind is being constantly reshaped. o The kind of sattvic, rajasic or tamasic food the mother eats also impacts the foetus's mind. So, for example, the food (a) obtained by causing pain to creatures will create a

painful mind prone to hurting living beings, and (b) cooked with anger, it will contribute to creating an angry mind. o From the moment of conception, the mind is constantly in a state of flux and change. It is never the same from moment to moment. A moment, kshana, is defined by the yogis as the time it takes an atomic particle to traverse to an immediately contiguous point in space. In that moment, each moment, the mind is reconstituted, has changed from its preceding state. This is a person's primary education. o The processes that go into the making of a foetus's mind continue after the child emerges from the womb. At first the parents, immediate family and others determine the composition of our minds but, later, throughout life we ourselves are choosing the constituents of our mind moment to moment. Our attitudes, temperaments, inclinations, habit patterns, addictions, mental engagements, are all being set in this way; some being weakened by making different choices, some being strengthened. Whatever we fill our minds with is what we become. Yo yach-chhraddhah sa eva sah. These determine our pleasantness or unpleasantness; our social skills or clumsy communication; violence or docility; our success in marriage and profession or dismal failure. Alldepends on how we constitute and reconstitute our minds moment to moment. Our happiness or suffering, success or failure, are not created by 'others'. They are our own doings. Let us not blame our parents for our unhappiness and lack of success. The freedom of will is always at our disposal which we can use to alter our own mind's composition, and thereby our future and fate. The will is an innate attribute of our spiritual source of which we have not yet spoken - but hope to do so in the forthcoming discussions. Freedom means freedom from our psychological patterns by the application of the resources of the spiritual will. "No one loves me". If this is your complaint, learn to become lovable. "No one listens to me". If this is what many hear from you frequently, tune your mind to a state whereby others do wish to hear your tone of voice. Choose what you wish to be, and start working on that state of being by cultivating the relevant thoughts. If you wish to be perceived a certain way by others, let that kind of fragrance in words, tone, body language, manner of glance, exude from you. What we are is primarily what our mind is. What do you wish to be? Cultivate that being by cultivating that kind of mind. Have you been ignored? Disliked? Opposed? Become such that no one is ever again inclined to ignore you, dislike you, oppose you. Select the thoughts that are conducive to cultivating that kind of personality. Think those kinds of thoughts repeatedly, and in time, without any effort on your part, others will say, "S/he has changed, has mellowed, has become so likable, lovable, so inspiring, such a loving guide". Often in the course of spiritual counselling I hear spouses and others in relationships say, "Oh, Swamiji, s/he will never change". My question always is: Would you change? Take

the initiative. Your act is your act; the samskaras you wish to imprint upon yourself are of your choice. The kind of personality you wish for is yours to choose. Through being the way you wish to be, you will evoke the desired responses from others. There are two reasons that induce people to say 'yes' to someone. Fear. And love. May you be such that your presence melts hearts and all are inclined to say 'yes' to you - not because they fear you but because they love you so.

Mission Divine Life mission, near vadodara, is a flourishing spiritual organisation committed to promoting a global spiritual resurgence as commanded by lord lakulish, 28th avatar of shiva. uniquely, the organisation believes that liberation is through the attainment of the divine body. Here, a sketch of the organisation and an exclusive interview with its present head, swami rajarshi muni. The scorching, dry, May gust was like the blast from a furnace. We were perpetually chasing the shimmering mirages that appeared on the baking asphalt, only to vaporise into thin air as our jeep sped upon them. There were hardly any trees—a distinctive feature of this water-starved Saurashtra region of Gujarat, and the flat, scrub dotted landscape was desolate, if strangely alluring. Hours later, we arrived at Jakhan village, near Limbdi, in Surendranagar district. Here, 50 acres of land is being developed for the establishment of‘Rajrajeshwardham’, the international headquarters of Lakulish International Fellowship’s Enlightenment (LIFE) Mission. Water has already transformed this land, a donation from the local community, into a life-attracting oasis. As freshly watered young trees swayed in the breeze, squirrels gamboled about, doves gurgled and an egret fussed about in a puddle. Under the busy hands of skilled sculptors, an impressive ‘trimurti’ complex of three temples, one each devoted to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, is fast taking shape. Closely supervised by a Sompura, temple builder, all rules governing temple building have been stringently followed. Thus, no iron has been used, even for reinforcement; instead, different sections ‘the male and female components’, have been individually carved, designed to fit snugly into each other to ensure a strong edifice in this earthquake prone region. Craftsmen from Orissa have just finished carving the 50 stone apsaras to support the massive roof of the temple. In keeping with scriptural prescriptions, a massive bathing tank has been excavated. ‘Sudha Sarovar’, which will have separate sections for men and women, is fed with water from the Bhogavo river, an undertaking that will also improve water supply in the region. In the pipeline are a yoga institute, high school, charitable hospital, technical school, vocational training centre, library, gardens and fountains, besides accommodation facilities for visitors. Aimed at mankind’s spiritual emancipation, this ambitious project, is, infact, the fulfillment of a divine commandment received by Swami Kripalvanand from Lord Lakulish, the 28th Avatar of Lord Shiva. Lakulish, who preached the Sanatan Dharma about 5,000 years ago, has, I am informed, reappeared on earth for the re-institution of this divine knowledge in our age. It started in 1913, when Swami Pranavanand was initiated by Lord Lakulish in the Divine Yoga. Practising in seclusion, he became a highly attained yogi, conquering hunger and thirst. In 1931, he initiated Swami Kripalvanand, who immersed himself in sadhana for

almost 40 years. In 1956, Lord Lakulish appeared before Kripalvanand, commanding him to work for a global renaissance of Indian philosophy and spiritual culture. After him, this task fell upon his disciple, Swami Rajarshi Muni, the present head of the Lakulish spiritual lineage. Life Mission is the outcome of his commitment to the execution of Lakulish’s wish. Currently based in Kayavarohan, near Vadodara, Life Mission boasts an outstanding record of service in the social, cultural and spiritual spheres. Through the Lakulish Institute of Yoga, thousands of students over the world have been trained in this discipline. Awards won by them in yoga competitions worldwide, including the recent Yoga Olympics at Argentina, testify to the level of excellence of the teaching. R.J. Jadeja, who heads the Lakulish Institiute of Yoga, explains its role in popularising yoga. “Through our camps held all over the country, we aim to make the immense benefits of yoga available to all. Besides, our efforts have helped to bring academic recognition to Yoga and also pioneered its inclusion among competitive sports. Besides, it is the only institute of its kind that conducts its activities almost completely free of cost”, he says. At a typical residential workshop at Kayavarohan, students learn asanas and pranayam techniques. Evaluated at the end of the workshop, they return for progressively advanced seminars. At the successful completion of each level, a certificate is awarded. Besides the yoga workshops, Life Mission has also established more than 17,000 culture centres to promote spiritual values worldwide. Yogesh Shah was a disciple of Kripalvanand since his childhood days in Malav. Today, a successful businessman settled in Mumbai, he feels graced to be involved with Life Mission. “Working for the spread of spiritual values and universal brotherhood gives me peace and is satisfying. Truly, it is my life and whatever I do for it still doesn’t seem enough,” he says. Spiritually, an important belief of the spiritual lineage of Lakulish is the concept of the divya deha, divine body. Considered the highest attainment of yoga sadhana, it confers upon the sadhak, immortality and eternal freedom from the cycle of life and death. The path to its attainment is encapsulated in the secret yoga, handed down by Lakulish himself, to be passed down from guru to student. In an exclusive interview, Swami Rajarshi Muni talked about Life Mission, yoga and the divine body. Excerpts: Can you tell us something about Life Mission? The task of enabling a rebirth of Bhartiya sanskriti was given to my Guru, Kripalvanand, who initiated this work, but died before it was completed. As social transformation on this scale is not easy to effect, initially I continued to concentrate on my own sadhana in seclusion. However, when I myself received the darshan of Lakulish commanding me to continue the work, I got more involved. Life Mission was started as a means to fulfill this task. We work on two fronts. Firstly, by propagating our spiritual culture the world over. This is achieved through our various Sanskar kendras, being opened all over the country and abroad. Secondly, we concentrate on seva and public welfare, by providing drinking water, education and professional training, medical services, etc. We are supported by local

communities, and not just Hindus, but even Christians and Muslims are actively involved in our movement. Spiritually, what is the major aspect of the Lakulish lineage all about? The most important spiritual aspect of the Lakulish spiritual lineage is the attainment of the 'divine body’. You can find scriptural reference to this in a shloka from the Shvetashvatar Upanishad, which says: “One who has attained a body baked in the fire of yoga is free from disease and death.” It means here that the body gains immortality. This is true freedom from the cycle of life and death, not liberation as a state after death. If ‘moksh’ means liberation from rebirth and death, then you are only liberated if you do not die! Only through the attainment of the divine body are you truly liberated from the constraints of time and space with the power to assume any form, anywhere in existence. Has anybody managed to attain this Divine body yet? (Laughs) Several people have attained the ‘divine body’. Sant Kabir, who took samadhi by covering himself with a cloth, was assumed dead by his disciples. However, when they opened the shroud there was no body, just a pile of flowers! Similarly, Meerabai’s mortal remains were never recovered; she left behind only some articles of clothing. Sant Dnyaneshwar took samadhi in an underground cave, which was sealed. 250 years later, on hearing voices inside, people opened it, only to see the Dnyaneshwar still meditating inside. He asked them to cut off the roots of a nearby tree that were choking him. These are only few instances of the immortality of the divine body. Another point. Old age is the degeneration of the body, which takes over when active growth stops. As part of the process of attainment of the divine body, a reversal of ageing takes place. This is why Dnyaneshwar is popularly believed to have composed his Dnyaneshwari at the age of 15 years. The whole point has been missed here, because, due to the reversal of ageing, he only resembled a youth without facial hair and other signs of age. (He refers to his book Divine Body through Yoga, available in Gujarati and Hindi, where various spiritual personalities from different religions who have attained this state are mentioned.) We have always considered the body to be impermanent and unimportant, while it is the soul that remains eternal. What is the soul? The atman is only a smaller spark of the Paramatman, the universal soul. This Paramatman cannot be extinguished, though individual sparks may cease to be. The normal body, as we all know, is composed of the five elements, tatvas. Through yoga, it is possible to combine and fuse these together to form energy—Shakti Tatva. As the universe was created from energy, so, to go back, we need to transcend to this energy, called Ishwar Tatva, or Paramatman, which never dies. This energy can assume any and as many forms as it desires. However, this is beyond human language and understanding. Being impossible to understood without experience, the scriptures described it as “Neti! Neti! Neti!” How can one attain a divine body? This state is the result of intense yoga sadhana. Call it, karma yoga, gyan yoga or bhakti yoga, all these teach the way to God. The word ‘yoga’ stands for ‘unison’—of the

individual soul with the cosmic soul." It is not without reason therefore, that each chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is also called yoga. Yoga teaches us that whatever we are—is also the universe. The cell is the smallest unit of our bodies and each cell has a nucleus. All the stars of our cosmos are like the nuclei of our cells. Therefore yoga instructs us to know the body in order to understand the universe. Science may teach otherwise, but in reality we have three bodies. The gross body of flesh and bone is the outer third layer, besides we have the subtle and causal bodies. While in our waking state, our oneness is with the gross body. However while dreaming in sleep, our consciousness is one with the subtle body. The third phase, that of dreamless sleep is the causal state when consciousness is completely withdrawn. Yoga teaches that even the universe has three bodies. Our state of consciousness connects with the corresponding state of the universe It is in the fourth state, beyond even that of the dreamlessness known as Turiya, that one merges into the blissful totality of the Self, which is essential for the attainment of the divine body. In a nutshell, yoga enables you to transcend these lower levels of consciousness and attain direct contact with the soul, known as atman sakshaatkar or Paramatman sakshaatkar. Can you elaborate more on the role of Yoga? Ashtanga yoga consists of yam, niyam, asana, pranayam, dhyan, pratyahar, dharna and samadhi. Yam and niyam increase the satvic gunas in a seeker. The asanas, done with pranayam, help to experience the subtle body, which culminates in the keval kumbhak or the complete cessation of respiration. Dhyan is total concentration and pratyahar is pulling the mind inward. Dharana, focus, draws up consciousness from the lower realms and bringing it up to the 18th point, which leads to samadhi, where thought ceases completely. Intense sadhana while in nirvikalp samadhi, or the permanent stage of samadhi leads to the attainment of the divine body. To reach this stage, you need a guru, who gives the ‘key’ to sadhana only when the student is ready. I got the ‘key’ from my guru, who got it from his. Only a guru parampara whose spiritual head holds this ‘key’ is a valid one. This knowedge is always originally handed down by God himself, Lord Lakulish in the case of my tradition. Can any human being aspire to a divine body? Unlike all other forms of knowledge, the Vedas are not an intellectual creation of man. There are no credits to any authors, because the sages simply wrote down what came from God Himself. That is why we call it Sanatan Dharma or Eternal Truth. I call it Sanatan Dharma, not Hindu Dharma. If a person from another religion also follows it what problem can anyone have? You can be a Christian, Muslim or Zoroastrian and still follow this religion. By yoga sadhana under a teacher anyone can aspire to the final state of the divine body. This is God’s knowledge and there can be no copyright.

Breaking the pain chain If you are aware in the present, you break away from past and you create a new future, and you heal=you are no more a victim, but a survivor. When a couple enters into a relationship, they bring into the relationship a lot from their past. If it is not disposed of, it affects the interpersonal relationship between the two. If you have in some way been emotionally scarred prior to entering a new relationship and those scars remain unhealed, then you may be inadvertently and unintentionally contaminating the relationship. Sexual molestation or physical abuse as a child may come in the way of freely participating in an intimate relationship. If you have had a painful and combative relationship with either one or both of your parents, you may have great difficulty relating freely with your partner. Sigmund Freud’s view is that all symptoms, strange and unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving, are due to an effort to cope with and adjust with life, which though necessary to survive at a particular time and in a particular environment, might not be appropriate in the present scenario. In addition to emotional scars, we also carry thoughts, feeling and behaviour patterns of our childhood in our body-mind. Each person has three ego states, which are distinct sources of behaviour; the parent ego state, the child ego state and the adult ego state. When you are acting, thinking and feeling as you observed your parents to be doing, you are in your parent ego state. When you are feeling and acting as you did when you were a child, you are in your child ego state. When you are dealing with current reality, gathering facts and computing objectively, you are in your adult ego state. The truth is that you cannot give away what you do not have. If your heart is encumbered with pain and angst, and if your mind is controlled by unconscious childhood patterns, you cannot give unencumbered love to anyone. You become part of the ‘pain chain’, wherein your own victimisation is transferred to other people; a ‘victim’ creates another ‘victim’ and the ‘pain chain’ goes on. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can effectively compartmentalise your emotional pain and keep it from infecting your relationship. It requires immense amounts of energy even to keep it contained, where it constantly bubbles waiting to erupt. Moreover, the very fact that so much of energy is devoted to containment of the pain undeniably changes you. In fact, if there is anything worse than having a problem, it is denying that you have one. You may have been victimised but understand that those who have victimised you have themselves been a victim of circumstances. One victim victimises another. And you create more victims if you don’t consciously choose to break the ‘pain chain’. I am not suggesting that you as a child were accountable for what happened to you. Having said that, accountability would mean that the adult (grown child) holds the

responsibility for what he or she does about the aftermath of painful events in life. If you are aware in the present, you break away from past and you create a new future, and you heal—you are no more a victim, but a survivor.

Mapping your Mind To take control of your life, buzan brothers propose radiant thinking, a brain-based mode of advanced thought, and its natural expression, the mind map Summary of mind map laws Use emphasis • Always use a central image. • Use images throughout your Mind Map. • Use more colours per central image. • Use dimension in images and around words. • More >> Have you ever wanted to improve your memory, creativity, concentration, communication ability and learning as well as thinking skills, general intelligence and quickness of mind? Did you ever realise that although you are knowledgeable enough about your subject but less and less able to pull all the details together in order to write about it? Students can best understand this problem when they face difficulty in assembling their thoughts after going through verbose class notes. And when the exams knock at the door, they end up sifting through guide books. Most of us, in our daily lives, face the same problem—of taking a decision or finding a solution. Having identified this, two British scholars penned The Mind Map Book, a groundbreaking, colourful note-making technique which propounded the idea of Radiant Thinking and its best natural expression: mind mapping. It is now estimated that there are over 250 million mind mappers worldwide who have benefited after applying this unique technique, claims the book. The colourful mind maps where you see more of the picture, in colours leave indelible mark on the network of tunnels (suggested by the guru of lateral thinking Edward de Bono) in your brain. And the results are incredible. Tony Buzan, world’s leading author and lecturer on the brain, learning and thinking skills and also the originator of mind maps, and his brother Barry Buzan, a professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, realised the need to help 95 per cent people on this earth who face problems in areas such as thinking, memory, concentration, motivation, organisation of ideas, decision-making and planning. The result was mind maps, also termed as “the Swiss army knife for the brain”, which were introduced to the world in 1974, with the publication of the book-Use Your Head. Divided into sequential levels for a beginner to an advanced student, The Mind Map Book makes it easy to remember things and think brilliant ideas. It teaches you, step by step,

how to systematically take control of your life. One chapter describes how the great brains used more of their natural ability and how they were intuitively beginning to use the principles of radiant thinking and mind mapping. People from all walks of life, for example, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Beethoven, James Joyce, Vincent van Gogh, Mark Twain— all used mind mapping to express themselves in ways that reflect the full range of their mental skills. The standard linear note-taking style of students at all levels in school, college and university only allows part of the complete picture to you as there is no free radiation of ideas. These notes lack the visual rhythm and pattern, colour, image, visualisation, association, dimension, spatial awareness etc. Hence nothing new emerges. This technique utilises only a fraction of the brain’s enormous learning potential. Here originates the concept of radiant thinking that brings the gigantic data resting in your brain cells to its logical conclusion, where you start learning in a better, faster way. Radiant thinking refers to associative thought processes that proceed from or connect to a central point, leading to a coloured graphic image called mind map. It provides a universal key to unlocking the potential of the brain. The mind map harnesses the full range of cortical skills—word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness—in a single, uniquely powerful technique. How does a mind mapper start the process? In the beginning, the mind mapper creates a central theme from which its associations radiate in the form of branches and subbranches and so on. Every key word or image thus added itself brings the possibility of a new and greater range of associations. More and more related and unrelated ideas occur during the process, forming patterns of association. In order to create a mind map, you first identify your Basic Ordering Ideas (BOIs) that are key concepts within which a host of other concepts can be organised. For example, the term ‘machines’ contains a vast array of categories, one of which is ‘motor vehicles’. This, in turn, generates a large range, one of which is ‘cars’. This brings in the type of car such as Maruti that can again be subdivided into various models. So machines would be the BOI not Maruti as ‘machines’ structures a huge range of information. If mind mappers give more emphasis to colour, pictures, codes, dimensions, diagrams, numbers etc. their mind maps become more interesting and entertaining which, in turn, aid creativity, memory and specifically the recall of information. The full power of the mind map is realised by having a central image instead of a central word, and by using images wherever appropriate rather than words. Why images? Well, the Buzans have a convincing answer. Quoting the article ‘Learning 10,000 pictures’, written by Lionel Standing in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, where he commented that ‘the capacity of recognition memory for pictures is almost limitless!’, the Buzans add that pictures are more evocative than words, more precise and potent in triggering a wide range of associations, thereby enhancing creative thinking and memory. The three ‘As’ of mind mapping are: • Accept • Apply

• Adapt Accept means one should set aside any preconceptions one may have about one’s mental limitations and follow the mental mapping laws and recommendations (see box) correctly; Apply is the second stage where the book suggests to make at least 100 mind maps, developing your own mind mapping style. Adapt refers to the ongoing development of the mind mapping skills. Thus, after following the mind mapping laws, one can reach a stage where things become immensely clear. With the help of a well-crafted mind map, you can organise yours as well as other peoples’ ideas; enhance memory; think creatively; create a group mind by bringing individuals together; analyse yourself; solve personal problems; maintain a mind map diary; presentations; management; teaching; story-telling, etc. The choice is enormous. One interesting chapter in the book is the compilation of 17 notes of great thinkers from all walks of life in the form of a quiz. They clearly show that it is natural for an advanced intelligence to use a greater than average range of cortical skills.

Loving What Is Byron katie is a revolutionary spiritual teacher who invites us to conduct a penetrating analysis of our beliefs and concepts through a process she calls 'the work'. these four questions and a turnaround help us to cut through all illusions and embrace what-is Many people spend 10, 20, 30 years in sincere spiritual study and practice, only to realise they still hate their jobs, their mothers, and the noise coming from the neighbour's blasting stereo. Sounds familiar? If so, according to Byron Katie, it's because we're seeing everything upside down. What we believe to be true, isn't, and what we've been told works, doesn't. We blame, fear and react because we've not gone within to find out what's true for us…not because we didn't want to, but because we haven't known how. Byron Kathleen Reid, a businesswoman and mother living in the high deserts of southern California, became severely depressed while in her 30s. Over a 10-year period, her depression deepened, and Katie spent almost two years seldom able to leave her bed, obsessing over suicide. Then one morning, from the depths of despair, she experienced a life-changing realisation. The remedy that brought Katie her freedom is something she calls 'The Work', a penetrating inquiry process of four questions and a "turnaround". By exposing unconscious beliefs to the clear light of direct investigation, the mind wakes up to its innocent mistakes and connects with its inherent joy and clarity. The Work is astonishingly simple, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen, paper and an open mind. Since 1986, Katie has introduced The Work to hundreds of thousands of people in over 30 countries around the world. In addition to public events, she has introduced The Work in corporations, universities, schools, churches, prisons, and hospitals. Time magazine has profiled Katie, calling her "a visionary for the new millennium". Katie has two books to her name: Loving What Is and I Need Your Love - Is That True? This interview is the transcript of a 75-minute telephone conversation between Pune and Germany. Excerpts: What does the term 'enlightenment' mean to you? People often ask me if I'm an enlightened being. I don't know anything about that. I am just someone who knows the difference between this hurts and this doesn't. I am someone who wants only what-is.

So what would you say to all the people who are searching for this concept called enlightenment? I would ask them to question their stressful thoughts. The Work is four questions: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true? How do you react when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought? And then the turnaround, which is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe. When you question your stressful thoughts, the mind naturally finds peace. How does The Work lead to peace? It's like this. I'm walking in the desert and I see an enormous snake, and I'm terrified of snakes. So I jump back and my heart is beating and I'm paralysed with fear. And then I happen to look again, and I see that the snake is actually a rope. Right. Now I invite you to stand over the rope for one thousand years and try to make yourself afraid of it again. You can't. It's not possible, because you have realised for yourself what is true. That is self-realisation. You realise that the snake is a rope and that there's nothing to be afraid of. It was just a misunderstanding. The mind is full of apparent snakes - the stressful thoughts that cause us sadness or anger or depression. And I can tell you that every snake in the mind is actually a rope. There are no exceptions. If you think you have a problem, you're confused. If you think that there are any problems in the world, you are confused. You're looking at a rope and seeing a snake. Life is not fearful. It's our unquestioned thoughts about life that cause our suffering, not life itself. Life is benevolent and kind and good, and we always have more than we need under all circumstances. But it takes a thoroughly questioned mind to see that. Most seekers believe that the entire journey of spirituality is to get rid of thoughts, but your version is quite different. Well, in my experience, if anything exists, thought does. When I first woke up to reality, I fell in love with thought; you could say that mind fell in love with mind. That's all there is. If there's no thought, there's no world. And, you know, thoughts are like children. If they're resisted or suppressed or neglected, they're going to scream, until we meet them with understanding. It's not helpful to believe that thoughts are obstacles to happiness. And we humans have been trying to get rid of thoughts for thousands of years. It just doesn't work. You can't let go of thoughts. No one has ever been able to control his thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don't let go of my thoughts - I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me. Right. As we question what we believe, we come to see that we're not who we thought we were. The transformation comes out of the infinite polarity of the mind, which we've rarely experienced, because the "I know" mind has been so much in control. And as we inquire,

our world changes, because we're working with the projector - mind - and not with what is projected. We lose our entire world, the world as we understood it. And each time, reality gets kinder. The bottom line is that when the mind is closed, the heart is closed; when the mind is open, the heart is open. So if you want to open your heart, question your thinking. Yet so many teachings of the past tend to hate thought, or they make it sound like a real villain… Hatred is hatred, whether we hate thoughts or people. It's a very painful emotion. But so many of these wise people, including U.G. Krishnamurthy …he has written a book, Thought is your Enemy. (Laughs) Well, it is until it's not. But it's painful to have an enemy. It's the war with the self. Thoughts are friends, they're part of reality, and until you deeply see that not even thoughts exist, you'll spend your whole life struggling against them. I like to say that arguing with reality is like trying to teach a cat to bark: hopeless! When you argue with reality, you lose - but only 100 per cent of the time. I meet many seekers and I discuss The Work with them and the argument they give is that 'this is all mental'. (Laughs) They're absolutely right. But there's nothing that is not mind. They believe that there is some space, which you have to reach, which is beyond the mind and only that will set you free. That's the story of a future. And the future is always imagined; it never comes. There is only this moment right now - and not even that. The Work's four questions and turnaround are very threatening to the closed mind. It begins to lose its identity. It has its sacred story of reaching a goal, getting rid of thoughts, attaining some transcendent state called 'enlightenment'. So-called enlightenment experiences are stories of a past. When you question what you believe, you lose all your stories about the world, you lose the whole world as you understood it to be. It takes a lot of courage to go inside yourself and genuinely answer these four questions. I have sensed the power of these myself and I just can't believe that these four simple questions can do so much damage. They just demolish everything…and so much love appears. Yes. We begin to see clearly because the mind is not at war with itself. In fact, we become excited about reality, even about the worst that could happen. We open our arms to reality. Just show me a problem that doesn't come from believing an untrue thought! It's like rolling around heaven all day - just show me a problem! Katie, in your experience, without stories and concepts, how does one experience something like food or sex or whatever? Ah, it's all fabulous! (laughs). You experience it all with such gratitude and joy and appreciation, because there is no control in it. The taste of broccoli - what could be more enlightening than that? Or sex - it's the epitome of letting go, surrendering to God, which

is another name for reality. When sex is without control, you have no idea what can happen. An orgasm can be so intense and last so long that it could kill you with ecstasy, you just can't know. But because there's nothing that you can attach to, you're fearless, you're completely open to it. You often say that all pain is a result of concepts and beliefs - right? Well, all suffering is caused by believing our thoughts. Suffering is always optional. Sanity doesn't suffer - ever. Suffering has nothing to do with the body or with a person's circumstances. You can be in great pain without any suffering at all. You can be in pain and be in heaven, or you can be in pain and suffer. How do you know you're supposed to be in pain? Because that's what's happening. To live without a stressful story, to embrace what is, even in pain, that's heaven. To be in pain and tell the story that you shouldn't be in pain, that's hell. So pain doesn't have to do with thinking? Well, ultimately it does. All pain is projected, and it takes a very clear mind to understand that. But when people do The Work, pain changes. The joy overrides the physical identification of 'I'. You have probably noticed it in yourself to some degree. If nothing else, you stop fearing pain. Now that is definitely true about the pain reduction; but if pain is a result of concepts, even pleasure would be a result of concepts. Absolutely. So, what is this joy or ecstasy that one is having in sex? What I say is, Who cares? Isn't it beautiful? (GD laughs and Katie joins in) So you don't mind if the good stories are functioning? Absolutely not. If you're having the most wonderful dream, would you want someone to wake you up? I love my dream: 'This is a perfect world. I love my husband. God is good.' But if you're having a nightmare, you may want to wake yourself up. And it is our responsibility to wake ourselves up. I love my world. I love myself. So don't bother to wake me. I'm having a wonderful dream. Yes. But you know, many of the things you say, they just cut through the old spirituality which is against every dream, every pain and pleasure, absolutely… Well, love is the power; and the beautiful dream is nothing more than the clear mirror image of itself, and all identification is felt in that. It's felt as a balance and celebration of its true nature. And true or not, it is balanced. We live in a state of grace. All the pain we have ever suffered, all the pain that any human being on this planet has ever suffered, is over. How could life be any kinder than that? Okay, Katie, one personal question. I have sent it to you as a question at the Parlor on your website, but you haven't had a chance to answer it yet. This thing about receiving other people's thoughts and energies... there is still a part of me that believes that. I seem to suffer the symptoms of people's physical illnesses.

What I love about separate bodies is that when you hurt, I don't. It's not my turn - it's your turn. When I hurt, it's my turn. And when you are in pain, if I project what that might feel like if it happened to me, then I am feeling that projection. I am not feeling your pain; I am feeling my own projection. But what about when I suddenly get an asthma attack and later on I find out that it happened to my mother simultaneously? That's a beautiful connection and closeness. Right. But it's painful. I have trouble with it. So what are the concepts one could question on this subject? 'I feel my mother's pain'- is that true? No, you were feeling your own pain. It's not possible to feel another person's pain. Who would you be without your story? Pain-free, happy, and totally available if she needs you. She is having her asthma attack; you are having yours. And if you did a poll all over the world, you'd find out there are thousands of people having these attacks at the same instant, and you could just as easily say, 'Oh! It wasn't my mother's, it was that little boy's in Bolivia!' 'I was feeling my mother's attack' is that true? No. It was 100 per cent yours. Right. Then the third question: 'I was feeling my mother's attack'- how do you react when you believe that thought? Well, I just heard some of your reactions: you become mystified, you start entering a magical world, a superstitious world. Maybe you feel responsible for your mother. And maybe you start feeling like someone special. Yes… I become 'psychic'. Yes. It's painful to be special that way. Is there anything to this psychic stuff at all? For me, no. If I'm not interested in being special, or being more gifted than ordinary, nonpsychic people, then I just notice, and question my thoughts, and turn them around. 'I was feeling my mother's attack.' Turn it around: 'I was feeling my own attack'. Isn't that as true or truer? Yes. And if your mind is clear, sweetheart, if you're not attached to living or dying, an asthma attack can be a beautiful thing. I would also question the thought 'I need to breathe'. Wow… nice. I took a drink of water one day, and it went down the "wrong pipe" - that is, it went down the right way even though people call it the wrong way. I was breathing water, not air, and because I didn't believe the story that it was supposed to be air, there was no problem. Because I didn't have the concept 'I need to breathe', for a moment I was a fish. The water went down, then it came up. It was so gentle, as if my lungs were being rinsed out. No story, no resistance. We resist the story, not the experience.

Wow! But if I believed the thought 'I need to breathe', then I would have had a big problem. It would have been a very painful choking. Perfect. We really are amphibious, though we wouldn't live very long that way. (Both laugh) Okay, Katie, last question. What about this whole game of crystals and stones and stuff? Just beliefs? If you believe that putting crystals on his bed is going to help you, I say, "Good! Do it!" Until you can question what you believe, it may be the kindest way. But there is no truth to any of this? Not for me. And even if there is, what isn't love? You can put a crystal near me or cup of decaf or a telephone or an apple. The meaning it has is whatever I put onto it. I get what I project. And if people could understand the mind, they'd realise that the mind creates the whole world. People believe what they think, and it becomes mysticism. And that's okay, until they're ready for something more mature. So when all is said and done, nothing has any reality in itself except what you put on it. Totally. Nothing else is possible. You really demolish the whole world… (Laughs) No, only the world of suffering. (Both laugh)

The Pursuit of Perfection The pursuit of perfection will lead us to excellence and release our highest potential In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ tells his followers: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". The call to perfection is one of the several yearnings embedded in man's heart. It is one of our chief motivating factors, driving the sportsman as much as the chef, the artist as much as the craftsman. Even the toddler painstakingly rolling a clay chapatti on her chapatti stand is responding to that ancient drive. And yet when this pursuit is inappropriately applied, it fills up the waiting rooms of therapists and psychiatrists and is one of the chief sources of our misery. The serial, Desperate Housewives, has one such perfectionist. Her perfectly baked and presented muffins and impeccable house only have her family up in arms. Many of us, as the lady in question, make perfection our identity. We slip on this persona like a dress to cover up the untidy chaos within us - dissatisfaction and discontentment, self-doubts and fears. We use this identity to bolster up our sagging self-esteem and to put others down. No wonder no one wants to be around us. I once knew someone who was so particular about her upholstery that going to her house was like being in a minefield. One hardly dare sit lest it create a crease or God forbid, stain. When we use this drive to create an identity or to improve our self-esteem, we also set the stage for constant disappointment and self-condemnation. For the zeal for perfection ensures that we will keep failing. And if perfection is our identity, we will not be able to bear the failures. It will hurt our sense of self, shame and embarrass us, and create negative labels about ourselves. The combination of high self-expectation and poor selfesteem is a lethal one. For the drive to perfection to be healthy and wholesome, we have to develop a sound self-esteem that is based on who we are and not on what we do. Only then will we be free to experiment, innovate, and try again and again as we must if we are committed to perfection. Self-esteem also frees us of the self-consciousness and self-doubt that interferes with our focus and commitment to the task. So what must we do to pursue perfection?

Cultivate mindfulness. Perfection is impossible to attain if our minds are not on the job. We cannot dust a room perfectly, park a car perfectly, execute a dance step perfectly or have a perfect bath absentmindedly. Most of us act on auto-control. Everything becomes a habit, a matter of course and once that is so, perfection is doomed. The pursuit of perfection also requires us to constantly strive, to keep bettering ourselves. When we are committed to perfection, it does not matter what we do, whether it is cooking a meal, arranging the newspapers, dusting the dining table or creating a masterpiece. Our attention will be focused on the task and we will try our utmost to make it as good as we can. I have a sister in Kerala who is an artist in the way she dries and folds her saris. First comes the dip into starch water. Then she, along with anyone handy, will hold either side of the two ends of the sari and pull until the sari is stretched taut. It is then gently laid on the bed of pebbles that constitutes her front yard. The hot Kerala sun bores down upon it and dries it in half-an-hour or so. Now crisp like rice paper, she proceeds to fold it with meticulous perfection. So good is she at the art that she simply does not need to iron her saris. A friend of mine confesses to being a dedicated packer. I have seen her at the task and marvelled at the sheer artistry of the effort, as packages of various shapes and sizes are patiently juggled until they fit like a jigsaw puzzle. I remember the perfect chutney sandwich I once had at a theatre during an interval while seeing a play. A mundane piece of food was made sublime by the attention to detail, the freshness of the bread, the right quantity of butter and the dexterous blending of flavours. It simply does not matter how inconsequential the task is. What matters is how much attention we pay to it and how sincerely we strive to master it. It follows then that perfection is pursued through incremental efforts. The Kaizan approach of constant self-improvement is a succinct formula. Through its application, we compete with no one but ourselves. It does not matter where we are on the scale of perfection, whether at the nadir or at the peak. It only matters that we keep trying. A klutz in pursuit of perfection has a better chance to be an ace ballerina than a competent dancer who is not interested in improving herself. Excellence is won through the pursuit of perfection. As we keep competing with ourselves, as we shave off a second from our running record, or make a chapatti rounder than our earlier attempt, we land on the cutting edge of excellence. We are as good as we can get today. Tomorrow, we will push the envelope once again. Life begins to be truly exciting and even mundane tasks become absorbing when we approach them from this vantage view. Washing dishes, sweeping the floor, cooking, cutting vegetables, making a balance sheet, directing traffic, driving, each of them can help us get that much closer to perfection. That is the point of perfection. Perfection, like other absolute ideals, can never be won, but its pursuit is the most powerful drive we have to move along the path of growth and self-realisation.

Gift of the Present Being in the now is at the heart of all spiritual practice and the secret of enlightenment. however, tethering the mind to the moment is not the easiest thing in the world. here are some techniques. Life is now," exhorts Eckhart Tolle, author of the bestseller The Power of Now. The key to unlocking one's innate creative potential is to step out of tensions from the past and expectations about the future and being fully in the present moment. Eckhart Tolle was under 30 years of age, fed up with living when he chanced upon this truth, which forms the core of his teachings. Shannon Duncan, a self-made millionaire, was under 30 when disenchanted with his riches and success, he embarked upon a similar set of revelations, which led him to write Present Moment Awareness. The wisdom these new age teachers bring to us isn't exactly new. It also forms the basis of the ancient Buddhist practice of Mindfulness. New age or call it simply timeless - cultivating present moment awareness is a technique that could help you realise your own highest potential. Recognise your Mindset Most of us tend to be either wallow-ers or wait-ers. The wallow-ers carry into each moment baggage from the past. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and non-forgiveness typify the wallow-er mindset. The wait-er mindset is typical of those who are so busy getting to the future - that perfect job, house, or relationship - that the present is reduced to a mere means of getting there. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress and worry go with living too much in the future. Recognising which side one tends towards is an important first step. Psychological Versus Clock Time Learning to distinguish between psychological time and clock time is an important second step. Clock time enhances our productivity and effectiveness - enabling us to plan things, keep appointments, schedule work. For instance, learning from a past mistake and not repeating it is using clock time but dwelling upon it in guilt and regret is to be in psychological time. Similarly, setting oneself a goal and working towards it is to function in clock time but believing all one's happiness and fulfillment will come from it, is falling into the trap of psychological time. Psychological time is blurred with emotions and impairs the ability to function optimally. "Think of these emotions as raindrops on a car's windshield. If we become absorbed in them, then we can't see where we are going or what we are going to crash into. But, if we take a deep breath and look through them, we still know they are there and that there is also the road ahead," explains Shannon Duncan. Becoming aware of the grip of psychological time and shrugging it off and returning into clock time or present moment awareness, creates the clear space for accomplishing our

goals in life. Mindfulness in Daily Life The practice of specific techniques, incorporated into daily living, can also provide a way forward. "It is essential to bring more consciousness into your life in ordinary situations when everything is going relatively smoothly. In this way you grow in presence power," advises Mr.Tolle. Routine Task Mindfulness Mindfulness can be practiced in the most ordinary situations. You can begin by choosing any routine chore- brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, watering the plants, typing a page, anything. Now devote your full attention to the task. Try brushing your teeth mindfully by being aware of smell, taste, texture, touch, and movement. By paying attention to the minutest detail. The quality of your attention can transform the ordinary moment and reveal its unique potential. This magical quality can be transferred too, to your relationships. Simply take a few minutes off to observe without labelling those closest to you. Just try looking at your child, at your partner, your mother. Really pay attention to them as they are. Whenever you're caught evaluating what you see, just note "thinking" and come back to seeing with bare attention. In sharing the pure essence of their being, you enter into a deeper communion. Listening Shutting the eyes and focusing on listening to all the sounds around is another technique for fully entering the present. The trick is to be still and attentive to sound. Let sound in, hearing sounds as they are without judging what you hear. There's no right or wrong sound. Just listen - a dog barking, birds singing, a car honking, traffic whirring past, a faucet dripping, a colleague's cough, a phone ringing. As you listen to this medley of noises of life playing out, you experience the richness of being connected to all life and are able to detect the melody underneath. It's all right here in this moment. Body Scan Developing a conscious awareness of the body helps to keep the mind in the present moment. Practice this age-old yogic technique: Lie down in a relatively quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Lie on your back with your legs outstretched and your arms at your sides. Feel the alignment of your body as a whole, and feel the floor support your body. It is important not to try to relax or to try to achieve anything. Just pay close attention and notice sensations as precisely as you can. There is no right or wrong thing to feel. Bring your attention to the toes of your left foot and become aware of any sensation of temperature, touch, moisture, or air currents. Let your attention rest there for a few seconds. Then, as you inhale, let go of the toes and bring attention to the bottom of the foot, then to the top of the foot, then to the ankle, then the lower leg. Follow all the way to the left hip and then start with the toes of the right leg. Scan your whole body this way.

Regular practice creates a connection with the energy field of your body. When faced with a challenge -creative or otherwise - a few moments of retreating into body consciousness can create that space from which to jump forth with confidence. Awareness of Breath "What's nice about using the breath as a focus for mindfulness is that it is portable, always available to our attention, and is a natural rhythm of the body," says Dr Ernest Shaw. Find a comfortable chair or cushion to sit on. Sit erect, but relaxed. You can close your eyes or leave them partially open. Now bring your attention to your stomach. Notice it fill with the intake of breath, and then fall when you exhale. Just pay attention to the rising and falling of the belly. Do not try to alter your breathing in any way. Just be with it as it is. When your mind wanders, which it will and you realise you're no longer with the breath, but caught up in thinking, just make a conscious mental note that you're thinking and come back to the breath. This is all you have to do - return to this moment whenever you realise you've drifted away. Watch that Thought Paying attention to the mind itself can paradoxically serve to still it. Just sit quietly and direct your mind to watch the next thought as it comes. For a while, as you wait in perfect alertness, there will be no thought - only your watching presence as it stands guard. Schedule Witness Breaks The essence of transformation is "a non-judgmental witnessing, viewing, or seeing of yourself and how you interact with your life." If through the helter skelter of our daily routines we can take a few moments to catch ourselves in the act of living, the selfawareness can serve as a powerful torch illuminating the way ahead. With the aid of an alarm in your wristwatch or through a timer on your PC, randomly schedule a witness break or two through your day. As the alarm goes off take a few seconds to observe yourself - what are you doing? Make it a habit to monitor your mental-emotional state through self-observation. "Am I at ease at this moment?" is a good question to ask. Or you can ask: "What's going on inside me at this moment?" Just a few seconds of observation before you carry on with whatever task you are engaged in is all that is required. Learning the grammar of present moment awareness could help you write a new chapter in your life. Charge your life with the current moment and the present could be your best ever gift to yourself!

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