FESTIVAL OF SUN BATHING

Here’s me, wishing each one of you a Happy & Vit.D rich kite flying season. May you be rich in it!
Go out more often and absorb as much of it as possible.

Watching with bulging eyes and a child’s fascination, I held onto Baba’s finger as we walked down the beach. The turquoise waves were glittering against my eyes and the joy of the beach goers was almost infectious.
“Maybe it isn’t just me. I should find out if turquoise is on the happy colour spectrum according to colour psychology”, I made a mental note.
Almost immediately scrapping away the note; like an inquisitive child that’s incapable of containing her curiosity, I shared my thoughts with Baba hoping to catch an insight. He smiled. Continuing to walk as if he had a preset target in mind. But what was the hurry? We were just taking a morning stroll.
Weren’t we?!
Further ahead on the beach, we reached a stretch onto which the city seemed to have shifted its bedrooms. There were people by the hundreds who were laying there, lazy-ing around against the sub-urban busy backdrop. Spread out on their beach towels, generously rubbing sunscreens onto each other, floating on the turquoise creating an illusion of the black spots created when the eye hasn’t adjusted itself to the sudden brightness.
A few more meters and I could taste the salt in every bead that slipped off mu forehead and onto my lips to a degree that I could go on, no more. Not knowing that it was going to be a long walk, I had neither packed a bottle of water nor a hat; just flopping away in a pair of flip-flops which were beginning to feel uncomfortable in all that sand huh was quickly heating up now.
Holding Baba’s finger a bit tighter I silently signalled for him to stop. But to my amazement he did not just continue to walk he also did not look at me for a second. It was as if he too was silently sending me a message that he couldn’t be stopped. Red in the face with borderline dehydration, a growling stomach and now a slightly peaking temper; I held my ground throwing dead weight on Baba’s fingers.
I’m not sure what happened in that minute. What I saw next is not something I had expected. He looked at me with a child’s irritation in his eyes and then pointed at the sky with the awe of a child at an amusement park. I mean, this was beach and not DisneyLand!
I only understood the situation better after his next set of words, “walk a little more for my childhood’s sake?” Only then did my eyes honestly scan the skies to find the sun changing filters every now and then. There were kites all over. It wasn’t January but May, and yet the sky filled with colour.
And so we walked…

In Northern India, the month of January sees a steep drop in temperatures. The days are shorter and the sight of sun is even more rare. And if you have a chance to talk to the members of Gen X and Baby Boomers, you’ll find out that these freezing months and chilled breezes were invites to colourful kites painting the sky bright.


The kite flying, as my grand parents and parents have explained to me, is an excuse to get out in the sun after all that time of being bundled up under layers of clothing and holed up indoors. It is an excuse to get some exercise and release those chemicals while also absorbing some Vitamin D!

Our body produces vit.D by absorbing sunlight. This ‘D’ helps in absorption of calcium, resulting in healthy bones. Along with osteoporosis, it also reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart diseases, depression, diabetes and obesity.
One of the easiest source of vitD that is freely available to all of us is the Sun! But with a growing indoor life style, majority of the world population has a deficiency of it (mostly in the developing and developed nations).

So here are some eatables thatch help you gain more vit.D for a better mood, easier weight loss, stronger bones and better lung functioning.
1. Sesame: It is almost second nature to start craving for sesame (til in hindi) as a part of my regular diet just a soon as the winter comes. They could be just roasted, made into energy balls using jaggery to bind them or in the form of dips! They are one of the most under rated sources of vit.D and easily accessible. (I’m going to share a few links with recipes for the same, at the bottom).
2. Milk & Milk Products: Be it cow milk or alternate sources of milk (soy, almond, etc.), they are both great sources of vit.D! Cottage cheese, yoghurt and cheese also contains certain level of vitamin D. Nowadays, there is also fortified milk and milk products available at stores.
3. Mushrooms: They are a delicious source of vit.D as well as potassium. The level of the vitamin varies among the various kinds of mushrooms. Personally, I can add them to everything, right from soups to appetizers and salads to curries and noodles and pastas and rice (just not the desserts).
5. Egg Yolk: Often discarded for its high levels of cholesterol and disliked for its taste, this yellow softness is a sweetheart. The whites contain proteins but the vitamins and minerals are stores away in the yolk, making the consumption of the whole eggs are wiser decision.
6. Orange Juice: While most fruits lack vit.D except for oranges; they are a good source of calcium as well as vit.D. A glass of OJ can provide us with our daily requirement of D!

So here’s me, wishing each one of you a Happy & Vit.D rich kite flying season. May you be rich in it!
Go out more often and absorb as much of it as possible.


Sesame Seed Recipes:
Sesame Ladoo (power balls)
Sesame Dip
Sesame Sticks
Sesame Milk
Misc.

Aesthetic Home Remedies

Your home stocks more than you know! It holds ingredients to a lot of our everyday requirements.

As I change into my comfort night clothes after an evening of pleasantries, celebration and festivities, making my way to the sink with a tray full of things to use before I hit the sack, I realised that this is something I want to share with all of you.
(While it comes from a woman’s routine, it is absolutely hetero friendly; it is actually quite metro!)

There is a lot that goes on with our skin hair and body during the festive season and here’s how I like to prep, mend and maintain taking care of myself.

  • Get as much water as you can. Between meals (never along with the meals), as soon as you wake up, as a mixer, as juices and high water content fruits and vegetables. HYDRATE!
  • Add as much fruit and greens to your diet as you can. They could be your pick me up snack, a side to your mains, or sometimes it is the main.
  • Have green tea… I love playing it up with flavours and sometimes just go with the warm water. It helps a great deal with feeling lighter after heavier meals and is also helpful in digestion.
    Of course, there is the infamous lime in warm water with some ginger in the morning for digestion and weight loss 😉
  • Also, ICE CUBES!!
    I love scrubbing a couple of ice cubes onto my face post washing my face at night. And in case I’m about to use makeup, it is a great way to prep the skin.
  • While mash potatoes are my guilty pleasure, they serve a higher purpose for me. Half a potato peeled and finely grated and used around the eye considerably helps with the under eye.
  • Take a tomato, slice into two with a pinch of turmeric (for added antiseptic benefits) sprinkled on it. Now rub it on your tan affected areas and you’ll see how this simple home trick lightens the skin within a week.
  • For the last minute outings, when my skin isn’t feeling it- just take a teaspoon of honey and scrub it over your face. Leave it on for 10 minutes (I usually prefer visiting my closet during this time). And once you wash your face, you’ll be in for a surprise! The Glow is so worth it!!
    Also, on somedays, I add a pinch of turmeric (remember- antiseptic); it helps with the complexion.

There are somethings that are in my shower cabinet and I hate to run out of:
1. Apple cider vinegar
2. Castor Oil
3. Coconut Oil
4. Boroplus
Let me explain to you why I let these bottles crowd my space.

Apple Cider Vinegar
This one here is God sent.
Take a spoon of the vinegar with three spoons of drinking water in a glass and gulp it down. Do it on the morning after a junk filled and/or heavy dinner or when your stomach hurts.
For the ones with acne scars, fill a container with water and apple cider vinegar in equal quantities. Apply the mix on the scars two to three times a day. With patience, watch how your scars lighten and even disappear.
For the times when dandruff is an issue, take 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water and slowly pour it into your shampooed hair. Allow it to sit there for 5 to 10 minutes before you rinse it. No need to condition your hair after this.

Castor Oil
As a person with very light eyebrows born with hardly any, I use a q-tip dipped in this magic oil apply it generously in the area and leave it on for the night. It is a slow process though.
Before hitting the sack, I use massage a good quantity of it into my skin- face, hands, legs, palms and feet. It nourishes like no other.
For the hair, I’ve been using it along with equipment-proportioned olive oil and almond oil for the last year. The mixture sits tight in the cabinet and I remove the quantity that I need and warm it up before applying. (do not leave it on for more that 45 to 50 minutes).

Coconut Oil
Through summers I prefer using coconut oil for my skin as it is lighter.
Combine it with sugar crystals on your palm and use it as a lip scrub for instant soft pink lips.
It doesn’t suit my scalp, but if you are okay with it add it to the hair oil mix mentioned above and savour the healthy hair!

And most importantly, it’s my favourite makeup remover of all times, from just kohl to a full coverage, you name it and it takes care of it by leaving your skin moisturised.

Boroplus
A coat of it on my lips as I fall asleep is a must! I wake up to soft lips with no chapping or cracks. It works for elbows and heels as well!


All the above pointers are something I swear by!
As the name suggests they are home remedies that I’ve been handed down by my grand mother and mother. Some are quick fixes and some take their own sweet time.
If you plan on trying them, make sure to do a trial patch before you go all out, as each skin is different and what works for me might not always work for you. But majority of it mostly will!

Please do comment and share if you have tried or heard of any such simple home remedies that can make our lives easier in the most natural ways.

Our Greatest Fear

As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Written on the inner side of a hardbound notebook in which I collect ‘Favourite Quotes and Words’ since years now- these above lines are often read, often ignored and often taken for granted. But most importantly, these words have been the first thing that I read when I open this book for a place to hide in or a place to find answers. They were never land picked by me but I carry them around as an invaluable gift.

If you allow them, they will lift you up on some very gloomy days. If you soak them in, even for a moment, they will lift that weight off your shoulder. If you believe in them, they will show you a mirror you often forego.
And trust me baby, they will have the exact impact that you permit them to. Or they could also be just words when you want them to be.

Being

Raavan laugh softly. ‘Because it’s very easy to counsel people that they should be calm and centred. But no one tells you how to do it!’

‘I’m sure you’ve been told that the only way for the mind to find peace is by learning to be calm and centred.’
‘Yes,’ said Raavan, rolling his eyes.
‘Why did you roll your eyes?’
‘I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.’
Vedavati laughed. ‘I didn’t say it was wrong. I just asked why you did it.’
Raavan laughed softly. ‘Because it’s very easy to counsel people that they should be calm and centred. But no one tells you how to do it!’
‘Exactly. That is the problem. People keep thinking that they have to do something to achieve that state. Be successful in their profession, perhaps, or go on a holiday, or make the right friends, or find a different spouse… But even after they make the change, they find they are not calm. So then they think they have to do something more. Something different. It’s a never-ending cycle. Basically, calmness and centred ness are always elusive because people assume they have to do something, gain good karma, to get there.’
‘So, the problem is with our focus on karma?’
‘Yes. It’s very difficult to be calm and centred if your entire focus is on that. For karma is action in the hope of something in return. Like, if you give charity to someone, you expect at least respect in return. It’s a transaction. And if the result of your actions is not what you expected, you feel let down and become unhappy. Even worse, if the karma you get in return for your actions IS, in fact, what you expected, you discover that the happiness you derive fro it is fleeting. If dissatisfaction is guaranteed, how can you find peace of mind?’
‘How?’
‘Simple by Being what you are meant to Be. By staying true to your Swatatva.’
Raavan leaned back. The beauty of the logic filled his mind.
Vedavati continued, ‘I’m not saying we shouldn’t focus on karma. Without our karma, we may as well be dead. But karma should not be the centre of our lives. If we truly discover our Being, our Swatatva, and live in consonance with what we are meant to be, then everything becomes easy. We don’t have to try hard to carry out our karma. Because we will not do anything in the vain hope of something else. We will do it simply because it is in consonance with our Being. With what we were born to Be.

Book: RAAVAN- Enemy of Aryavarta by Amish

GLOSSARY:
Swatatva: one’s true self, Being
Karma: the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences (Hinduism and Buddhism)
Consonance: agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions

The Circus Elephant

The show stopper for me always remained the elephants. The ginormous and magnificent beings that have ears and noses larger than all and suspiciously tiny eyes.

As a 90s kid, a large part of my summer vacations was making a day out of a trip to the local circus. We’d spend days planning the day; making a group, convincing parents, thinking of the potluck, prepping for the post show games in the garden and actually picking a date- most of which was done by the mothers while we just nagged around.
As trivial as it sounds right now it meant a great deal then. The drive to the venue was filled with incessant chatter among cousins and friends, trying to recall the events of the previous year’s circus, making creative assumptions about everything we wished to see in the current year’s performance and how much fun the immediate future was about to be. There was a large part of this conversation which revolved around the food our mothers had packed, the sandwiches and juices, the jams and candies… no one wanted to talk about the fruits of course.

The sight of a familiar, larger-than-life, multi-coloured, striped tent would automatically have us gushing. Our caps and hats in place and shoe laces tightened, we were like bulls waiting to charge, waiting to find a seat and waiting for the show to begin. Visiting the zoo was one of the compulsory trips on our annual curriculum, but a circus always held a different charm. The animals were the same, but here they were let loose instead of being inside cages and yet they were sources of entertainment rather than being intimidating; funny, isn’t it?
Year after year, the routines remained the same. The monkeys cycled, the gymnasts were on acrobats, the dogs carried baskets of flowers and sometimes fruits, the lions roared, the bikers rode in horizontal circles defying gravity, the masters made the lions act like tamed dogs, the magician pulled out vibrant ribbons, white pigeons and rabbits from their hats.

The show stopper for me always remained the elephants. The ginormous and magnificent beings that have ears and noses larger than all and suspiciously tiny eyes. Unaware of the order of the food web or placement of herbivores in it, to me they were the most powerful of them all. The reason they had all my attention was because despite their size they played the role of a juggler with hats and colourful balls. They stood on two legs over an inverted bucket. They made me laugh and tickled my ribs like the clowns around them.
Why was someone who is strong enough to uproot trees with a whisk of its trunk alone, being so cordial?

The answer of course came much later. Years after I had stopped going to circuses. Years after the use of animals at circuses was declared as cruelty against animals. It came in a lecture when the professor was teaching the concepts of Conditioning, Learned Helplessness and Parenting.

A baby elephant is left in shackles and nailed to the ground for majority of its free time. Every time it tries to break free, it is punished with severe pain around its ankles. With years of trial and error resulting in pain and failure, it learns a lesson for life!
Fast forward many years ahead, as a full blown adult sized elephant with the ability to crush anything and everything on its way, it remains humble. It is humbled by an experience of its childhood. It has the potential yet it undermine itself. Tied down to a spot with just a feeble rope and anchored to the ground using a disproportionately small piece of wood, it never tries to make a run for its freedom and allows itself to be commanded at the helm of a midget stick being pointed at it.

Many of our actions have consequences large enough to change the fate of a person and their self image.
When you compare between siblings or friends, you are always inflating someones self efficacy while deflating the other though the short term agenda was to motivate. When you tell your child that they are not yet prepared, you could be leaving a long term impression about them not being good enough. When you tell your spouse to be more like your parent, you are telling them that they do not compare or provide as well as you have been provided for. When you tell a hurt boy to not cry like a girl, you are forcing the thought process that girls are weak and among girls that boys are stronger. When you ask someone to work on their size, complexion and tan with the intention of helping them work on their appearance, you could be instilling an inferiority complex through discrimination.

There is an old hindi proverb “हाथी के दांत खाने के और दिखाने के और” which loosely translates to “elephants have different teeth to eat and different to show”.
It is the same with our words. They intend something but could have a very different effect.

The Backwards Law

It is only when you love all the colours in a rainbow do you accept the rainbow’s beauty or else you are just knit-picking!

Recently a friend shared an interesting post with me, via social media.
In all honesty its been a little more than a week since he shared it, but today I’ve decided to put it out here and share it with all you people.
Its taken me some time to ‘unpretzel my mind’ and its still a work in process…


‘Wanting positive experience is a negative experience; accepting negative experience is a positive experience. It’s what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backwards law”- the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more you desperately want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel, regardless of how much money you actually make. The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance. The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you. The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-entered and shallow you become in trying to get there.’


If you are wondering what took me so long to chew this up, gulp it down and try to digest it… well maybe you should read it once again. And then one more time if you still feel the same way.
And these multiple reads were what I needed to internalise these words in the first place. The idea of always being happy and being positive has been so largely marketed and glamourised that we forget that we are more complex machines than any we have created and that we have innumerous softwares that work parallel to one another and mechanisms which are far beyond our own understanding and control.
It is not just okay to feel low, in fact sometimes you owe it to yourself- if you are low, allow yourself to feel it. If you are feeling upset or even angry, you have a reason; so don’t undermine your own smarts. By this I don’t mean to say that you can do outrageous things and take extreme measures, all I mean is that we need to feel the whole spectrum of our emotions and then act with the best possible alternatives.

Have you ever been given a compliment which not only do you not understand but cannot even believe it because you think the contrary of yourself? And somehow that compliment or comment (as you don’t believe it) comes back to you from time to time.
Ever wondered why someone thinks you are beautiful while you don’t think your complexion is good enough or you are too tall to look good or too broad structured to look cute? Are people really always trying to flatter you? Could they have an ulterior motive to achieve by making you doubt yourself and classify your insecurities flawed?

It is only when you love all the colours in a rainbow do you accept the rainbow’s beauty or else you are just knit-picking!

Paper Boats

“Could you read this poem out to me?”

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream.
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of the village where I live.
I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know who I am.
I load my little boats with shiuli flowers from our garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land in the night.
I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting their white bulging sails.
I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the air to race with my boats!
When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.
The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their baskets full of dreams.

– Rabindranath Tagore

During a sweltering summer afternoon, my younger sister- who sometimes is an adult but mostly a teenager, walks upto me with a book of poetry held loosely in her hand. She sinks next to me on the bed while I continued watched the fan over head churn and spit warm air around.
With her head rested on my raising and falling stomach and cotton stripped pyjama clad legs hanging lazily off the bed, she asked out of tired curiosity “Could you read this poem out to me?”. While a bit agitated, I agreed as there was nothing better at hand for me to occupy myself with.
There were no conversations that followed. Just the two of us, lost in our own lands of thought, counting the boats we have sailed to no specific destinations and longed for a response from the universe.
With a decade between the two of us, after a year of this summer afternoon, it still amuses me how age truly is just a number and how I (even now) continue to dwell in my own child-like fantasies hidden under the drapes of adulting.

Note:
1. Shiuli: also known as night-flowering jasmine and coral jasmine
2. Child-like: when an adult continues to have (nice) qualities of a child such as innocence and trustfulness

To everyone out there…

You need not trust blindly, just show that you’re interested.

The world will tell you there are things you cannot be.
You will speak up and you will be told to keep it down because it isn’t ladylike for a woman to be loud, this daring, this outspoken.
When this day comes, I hope you will tell them, better yet, I hope you show them how you were born with enough fire inside you to set the whole sky in flames.
When you do this, you’ll see how there’s nothing that scares them as much as a woman who is not afraid to use her voice.
But listen, be that woman anyways, because if there’s one thing I never want you to forget is that you can be anything you want to be.


To My Daughter by F.E. Marie

While F.E. Marie used these words to talk to the woman, I think every one deserves to have at least one voice that speaks to them this way. Be that voice to someone and mean it. Stand there, you don’t need to deliver grand gestures, just be there and hear them out. You need not trust blindly, just show that you’re interested.

Why am I asking for it?
Well, remember when I told you that I’m exploring my new religion (My Religion, My Resolution)?
Yeah, so I’m adding this to my list of humanity.
There are so many people who have potential but lack the support and courage to follow and execute their dream. Whether one succeeds or not, I believe everyone deserves a chance to at least TRY.

So here’s me, putting the word out in the universe and hoping it hits the right ears, knocks the correct doors and creates an upwards spiral!
Here’s also me, asking you to hear the voice in the humdrum noise.

18 Going 25 Something- looking back and moving ahead

Dear 18 and mid-20s,
Its okay, you are Fabulous!

As an 18 year old, fresh out of high school and waiting to start college/university, I remember being excited to have finally grown up.
There was a little extra bounce in my steps and extra swing to my ponytail. There was an air of confidence and my eyes glimmered with hope. The clarity of thought was unparalleled and my shoulders a little extra squared to take on the world!

I was willing to go down to the minutest of details of everything that I was asked, expected and even wished to do; simply because, you know… everything I did then was supposed to turn and mould the rest of my life. Every decision supposed to solidify the path that I follow for the rest of my life, every relationship I nurtured was to last till the end of my days, every belief system that I adopted was supposed to define life for the rest of my living.

I knew that by the time I was in my mid-20s, I would be an independent being with a certain professional stability with nowhere else to go but rise higher and higher. I knew I was going to be this person who would be wise and generous, witty and intellectual, smart and funny, attractive and well-built.
I would have a Masters degree in Economics and a passport full of stamps, speak two foreign languages and have friends across the globe, play the guitar and read minimum three books a month, have a walk-in closet and people whom I could trust with my life, a labrador with a person to share its warmth with.

Today, it’s been eight years since I was first 18, and to my comfort I haven’t really done most things that I had planned out for myself.
I’m a Psychologist who writes to understand myself better and somedays to just get through the day. I read, but more on the rate of a book a month and sometimes it takes two months to complete it. I have an inconsistent workout pattern and an unparalleled love for food. I’ve not yet filled my passport with stamps but love looking through the Atlas every now and then, and I know i’m collecting experiences to share with my kids and their kids in the future.
I don’t play any musical instruments but have a diverse playlist that caters to my every mood. The only amount of foreign language I know is what Narcos has taught me. Somedays I wonder what is it that I’m doing? But one thing has become abundantly clear, that I’m not looking at breaking any glass ceilings, professionally.
I do drive a stick pretty well and have made friends from different walks, ages and beliefs. I do not have a dog, but do take every opportunity to play with one when I find it. I still love dunking my cookie in the milk and finding shapes in the clouds!

Not wanting to start my 27th year on a low note I asked for help on my personal Instagram account (because that’s where we are the most responsive, as a society).
I asked for people to help me see me through their eyes.
I mean, looking into myself wasn’t looking very promising and uplifting in comparison to the 18-something’s image of current me, because you know- self doubt and esteem issues.

Surprisingly, what started with the intention of licking my wounds turned out to have more of a therapeutic effect. There were responses that spoke of my physical appearances and other socially polite things that we all do at some point or the other. Then there were those that put a smile back on my face and made me realise that I might not have become all things that I’d dreamt of as an 18year old, but I surely on the right road no matter the destination.

It began with “It takes a very secure person to do something like this”; it made me realise how I’d been open to all kinds of responses and willing to go on. But this response just prepared me better.

Some said that I have grown up to become a sensible woman, understanding and simple. I realised that I do have quite a few virtual friends whom I’ve rarely or never had the chance to meet in person, and real ones whom I meet as often as I can.
There is family who are like friends and friends like family, and I couldn’t have wished for more. They find me annoying and incorrigible, but adore me none the less. I do have sour patches, but I know in my heart that I’ve done enough to sweeten them before I gave up; no regrets there.

It was repeatedly mention that I do travel quite often and that helped me make peace and hope for more in the future.

To think about it, the most rewarding feeling was the realisation that I am happy. Inspite of all the things that I’ve not achieved, received, earned and created in comparison to my dream for myself. I’ve been blessed with more than I could have asked for.
Not everything has panned out the way I believed it would, somethings never even materialised. After all, what did I know then when compared to now?

I’ve lost people who I thought would last forever and have company in the ones whom I never thought I could understand.
Plans have changed multiple times. Some of them have felt like a train wreck, like hitting a dead-end with no where else to go. Very rarely does anyone ask me for my grades from high school and college, even though at the time it meant like the world depended on them. But everytime I meet somebody now, they want to know what I do; as do I about everybody.
Things that seemed like the indicators of the quality of my future at one point, seem so frugal now!

I still look for approval and validation every now and then, but I’m also learning to segregate the feedback. I’m learning to find it within myself rather than the world; and to the ones who are seeking it elsewhere, trust me pleasing and appeasing the universe inside yourself makes you more beautiful and appealing to the world outside of yourself.
To the 18 year old me I’m a grown up now, but today I’m still growing. I’m yet to make mistakes and learn new things about myself. I’m still setting goals and targets for my older self and setting my heart out to wander and understand itself better. I’m not perfect, but I know that there is no single universally accepted definition to perfect, either.

Making yet another time capsule for the next five years and allowing myself to be swallowed by the world. the world lead me. They say ‘Maturity is the price you pay for growing up’, I think I’m just keeping the child in me alive!

When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks,When you’re 40, you stop caring what everyone thinks, When you’re 60, you realise no one was thinking about you in the first place.

-Winston Churchill

And this here feels like my theme song!

IKIGAI And Ageing

Ikigai= Life + To Be Worthwhile
“A healthy mind in a healthy body”

With a growing fascination towards healthier living and being forever youthful, a trend that is fast spreading from the East to the rest of the world, IKIGAI- a Japanese concept/ way of living.

The word IKIGAI is made by combining two Japanese words: Life + To Be Worthwhile. The latter can be further split into Armour + Beautiful/ Elegant. This, for me, is the best way to understand the essence of a word that means ‘The Happiness Of Always Being Busy’. It is a process that helps one find their ‘Reason For Being’.

The Japanese are known for many things, some of them being their discipline, healthy habits and their highest number of centenarians (1). The island of Okinawa is famous for its longevity. And this longevity is usually attributed to Ikigai, along with a few other factors:

  • Healthful Diet & The 80% Rule (2)
  • Simple Life In The Outdoors
  • Green Tea & Warm Water
  • Subtropical Climate

Surprisingly, the Japanese language doesn’t have a word that directly translates to the word ‘retirement’, can you imagine that? Which, to me, seems to have something to do with ‘The Happiness Of Always Being Busy’, or so, I would like to believe!

A commonly known and addressed factor leading to ageing is stress. Yes, STRESS! We experience it in varied proportions each day.  So do the people of Okinawa. Then how is it that we show signs of ageing while they continue to glow, you wonder? Well, I did! So, to develop a perspective and with hope to find some mystical secret, I started reading about Ikigai, and here’s what I could understand.

They believe that we age in two ways: physically and mentally. And to better handle these signs, they have a set of practices. But before getting to prevention,they like to remain Mindful against stress. Here are a few steps on how:

  • By noticing responses, even if they are conditioned by habit. Its not about over analysing, its just about knowing how we react in various situations and why
  • By connecting with the here and now and avoiding presuming and assuming the cause and effect of things that may or may not happen. This helps in managing thoughts that have the potential of spiralling out of control and further elevating our stress levels
  • By avoiding working on autopilot mode. People who work on autopilot also tend to be mindless about some tasks such as an individual eating/ snacking while watching the television or talking on the phone usually is not sure of what and how many portions has he consumed.

The most effective way to avoid physical ageing is by keeping active at all ages and times. The Japanese are believers of minimalism, so to be involved in mild physical activities on an everyday basis is what keeps them moving at an age when the world retires. Our sedentary lifestyles, that include sitting for the better part of the day, are also considered responsible for physical ageing. There are a few simple lifestyle changes that could help all of us:

  1. Take the steps as often as possible instead of escalating and elevating your way up.
  2. Walk to your colleague’s desk once in a while instead on using the intercom.
  3. Walk the short distances for completing your chores.
  4. Actively participate in social and community activities to reduce screen time on a daily basis.
  5. Use pen and paper every once in a while instead of typing and swiping. This will help your fingers maintain their dexterity.
  6. Stay hydrated. Regularly consume water (preferably warm) by sitting down instead of standing. Sometimes the brain perceives thirst as hunger and sends faulty signals.
  7. Replace the junk intake with fruits and other healthier alternatives. (3)
  8. Get the right amount of rest; seven to eight hours is ideal. (4)
  9. Interact with kids and spend time with pets; they almost always make you move around.
  10. Be Mindful! Be aware of your daily routine in order to convert counter productive habits into fun activities.

However, not all signs of physical stress lead to physical ageing. This is because stress is psychosomatic (5) in nature. So basically, mental ageing also shows through physical signs of ageing? (double doomed!)

It is a known fact in the nervous system student community that in our 20s our neurons begin to age. While this happens at an alarmingly slow rate, our sedentary and high stress lifestyles play catalysts in this process. The process of mental ageing cannot be stopped but it can be slowed down through mental workouts.

Mental workouts are as important as physical ones. While it could sound intimidating, the neural connections can be activated and put to work by making simple habits.

  1. Regularly present your brain with new information. It could be by changing the genre of books or the school of music that you read.
  2. Learn a new language. Practice a different accent.
  3. Change the hand with which you perform simple mundane tasks, such as brushing your teeth, pulling out a hanger, turning knobs, etc.
  4. Solve puzzles and riddles. Play mind-benders.
  5. Learn how to use a new gadget.
  6. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people from different social, historical and cultural groups.

Just experiencing new situations can work as an anti-ageing strategy for the mind. And a positive outlook towards it all will generate better mental benefits.

“A healthy mind in a healthy body”
to me now seems like the Ikiagi way of healthy ageing  

*Picture credits to the very talented photographer Francisco Rosário and my friend Pei. They were graceful in sending me a fitting picture.

** This article is based on my knowledge and understanding of the concept thus far. Any form of suggestions, corrections and conversations are welcome!

Note:
1: People who live upto 100 years of age and above
2: To eat only to the point where you start to feel full and not until you feel stuffed
3: Refer to http://www.thehazywhisperer.com/2018/10/10/sugaring-it-down/ for some tips on healthy eating.
4: During sleep our body produces an important antioxidant called melatonin which helps in immunity system strengthening, delayed onset of Alzheimer’s, fighting heart diseases, protection against cancer, etc.
Post 30 years the melatonin production naturally reduces but can be improved by consuming a balanced diet, soaking moderate amount of sunlight regularly, avoiding alcohol.
5: A mental situation that manifests through physical signs such as acne, indigestion and ulcers.