Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A grand idea on the human identity

The ‘grand’ idea:
ko aham? so(sah) aham!
(Translation: Who I am? That I am!)
Indeed, "Who am I?" is the one of the most fundamental questions that can ever be asked.
The question of one's identity is usually taken for granted. Do you identify yourself by your interests..but those are fleeting and usually change over time. Do you identify yourself by your friends, they change too. It seems like there is a constant redefining of who one is.. every moment of one's life, even if one is not aware of this ongoing process.
Looking outwards into the world is one way to learn about who you are. Another way is to look inwards.
The grandest of the ideas on the subject of identity is that the human identity is perceived to be limited, when in actuality it is not.

Imagine an infinite column of energy that cuts itself into infinite number of finite parts..Now imagine that these finite parts take shape and form and imagine that these finite parts create different worlds by accessing the infinite source energy that they are a part of.
These finite parts pretend to live in those worlds that they created and make merry. These finite parts give themselves names and think that they are different from the other, simply because they have different names and shapes and interests! Now, imagine that these finite parts lose their connection with that infinite column of energy of which they are a part of, since they are caught up being ‘busy’ in their own world.
Now imagine a while later, these finite forms of energy begin to question their identity.. Who am I? Am I really this limited form or is there something more to my reality and my existence? One of the finite forms of energy even contemplates this on his spiritual blog :)

There are two 'aha' moments here. One is that the infinite one, the infinite energy can split itself up into so much of a diversity that the diverse parts consider themselves to be different and have their own identity.
The second 'aha' moment is when the diverse parts of the one, begin to question their own identity and begin to believe in this grand idea and ultimately know that 'unity in diversity' was not merely a manner of speaking but that it was referring to the ultimate grand truth.

Therefore, the grandest of the ideas is that we are a part of that infinite source pretending to be a finite form of energy (namely a body-mind complex). The grandest of the ideas is that all of life is just a game that is being played (matrix level). The grandest of the ideas is that we survive death, simply because we are a part of the collective (infinite number of finite forms of energy) that created this game of life, for the experience. The ‘identity’ not only survives death, the identity expands beyond death into that infinite source.

Note: The ‘that’ in the third line refers to the infinite source.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some excellent wisdom transmitted through channels on youtube

You can get spiritual food for thought, wisdom, from a multitude of sources in our digital age:
a) Experiences in life: They teach you a lot don't they..especially the "bad" ones.
That relationship that didn't work out and left a hole in your heart taught you about yourself, it refocussed you perhaps on what's more important in your life. Maybe you found the love you are seeking within yourself.
Personally, I have learnt a lot from graduate school. It has been a whirlwind 2 years so far, and I can't even begin to tell you how important these two years have been in shaping my spiritual perspective, that broader, larger than life perspective.
It has taught me so many things: how to respect people irrespective of their standing, how to be honest, how to not be too hard on myself.. I used to push myself hard and condemn myself when I didn't meet my goals. I learnt to be very gentle with myself. I also learnt about unconditional love due to a relationship. I thank that person for that experience.
These two years, have been far more enlightening spiritually, in building my character, my personality so to speak than academically. Academically too, I have learnt to become more efficient and focussed, but my greatest gift to myself so far have been the worst experiences I have had. For, I have learnt a lot about myself from these experiences.

b)Books: The single most inspiring source of wisdom and comfort I have had during the roller-coaster of my graduate school experience.
Numerous books have helped me understand the importance or lack thereof of so many things in life. Again, the most important thing I have learnt or understood is the perspective that makes life tick spiritually, physically and emotionally.
Perspective is such an important tool, for it is perspective that shapes your perception of reality and it is the way you perceive your experience that makes you label an experience as 'good' or 'bad'. Someone who had a laid back attitude in life would take a so called 'bad' experience much more easily than a person who is 'rigid' in his or her beliefs.
Well, do we need books to change our perspective? Apparently, some of us do. For some of us, even books don't suffice.. we need hard-hitting experiences to come to a point where we say, enough is enough.. this is not how I am going to live my life, this is not how I am going to look at my life or as in my case, I took on a perspective that "nothing really matters", which is not to say you don't do anything. But, what this "nothing really matters" means is that, circumstances are just circumstances without a label of good or bad, it is we that attach this label of 'good' or 'bad' to circumstances according to our beliefs and perspective. You may not be able to change the circumstances in your life, not just yet maybe, but you could definitely alter "your experience" of it, by having a much broader perspective in life.

c) Youtube: Yep baby. Youtube is just a click away and among the gazillion videos out there, there are some that really send the message across. Some of these videos, are delivered by non-physical entities through a trance channel medium. Now, you don't have to worry too much about the authenticity of these mediums, but believe me, the messages are as good in wisdom, clear and practical as I have ever come across in the many spiritual books that I have leafed through.
Here are some of them:

1) We bid you a great greeting, we are veronica!!!
2) Circumstances don't matter, only state of being does
3)On love

Enjoy and learn.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wonderful interview with Tulku Thondup 'plus' some reflection

Read it here.
I just ordered the book, "Boundless healing" by Tulku Thondup. I was in the university bookstore browsing through books, when I came across the book. I leafed through the chapters and liked the clear, succinct messages and meditation exercises.

Going beyond reading
Now, the important thing about buying spiritual books, I have realized, is to not just buy them and read 'em up like a paperback novel. Ofcourse, you will be doing that in the beginning, when you get on to this thing called the 'spiritual journey'. Once, you get the basic idea behind what this 'spiritual journey' is all about, it's time for action. It's time to stop bragging to yourself or others about the books you read, and actually implement the principles and the broader perspective you gain through these books into your life and see if there is truth to these meditations and if you feel more peaceful, etc.
I have been meditating regularly since July 11th 2008. Missed only a day or two so far.
Have I become enlightened? He he, that's a funny question.
Well, my understanding is that enlightenment is a process. It's not about getting there and it's all over. No, it's never over. But it get's better and better and better. More peace, more joy, more happiness, one little footprint at a time.

Effects of meditation
So how has my life changed since I began meditating? Again, a funny question. Not much externally. I am still doing research, being a geeky grad student, making two ends meet (well fortunately it does meet comfortably). It's not about what has changed externally, it's about what is changing within me. It's a subtle process, it's so subtle that you don't notice it.. Unless you do. I place a lot of emphasis these days on thought, word and deed. Because, I have come to believe, that what I think, say and act upon ultimately creates my reality, irrespective of how bleak it is out there, irrespective of what others say or think I am capable of, irrespective of.. well.. the list goes on. Note, that this thought-belief-creation paradigm is still a belief, albeit a strong one, in me.
Here's an interesting statement:
Whether or not you believe that your thoughts, speech and actions create your reality, that is whether or not you believe in this thought-belief-creation paradigm, you are right.
Because if you don't believe that your thoughts create your reality, you will see your life that way. You will think that, what the heck, I don't control my life, I just do damage-control all the time life throws the kitchen sink at me.. and you will be right... Because that's what you believe in.
So, there is no escaping this thought that your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions influence your future.

Ofcourse, you can't just explain away your life saying that: I brought on the bad experiences I had in my life, because I didn't take control of my life. Here's where, the bigger picture kicks in:
Certain experiences, especially the "bad ones", act as catalysts for change and therefore are supposed to be part of the "master plan". They force you to examine yourself, to take a deep look at yourself, and ask, what went wrong? Is this who I really am? And then you come to a new understanding of who you really are!!!

Who am I? - The fundamental question
This question, "Who am I?" is the most fundamental question you can ever ask yourself.
Some people might respond, 'what kind of a question is this? I am 'fill in your name'''.
Do you realize that your name is just a label. Now moving beyond, people would say I am my body. Some would say, I am just a bunch of atoms. Really? Do you think of yourself that way?
Because, I think that really forces you to examine how the bunch of atoms that make you up is gelled up together, so to speak, and does not fall apart.
Some say I am my mind. Some say, I am the mind-body complex.
Let's look at what the ancient texts have to say:

1) According to the vedas, we are not just made up of one body, but sheaths of bodies:
The physical body, the energy body, the mental body, the intellectual body, the causal body, and then comes the soul, the real you!
Wow, so if that's true, where is my energy body, I can't perceive it!.. That's a good statement.
Seeing is believing, right. Well, it depends on whether you can see properly or not!
One of the effects of meditation is that I am able to sense energy around me.

Sensing energy
For example, when I sit down to meditate, I sit in the traditional lotus posture (padmasana)
and I curl up the index finger so that it's tip touches the tip of the thumb on both the hands. Two months into the meditation, I could sense energy pulsing in and out of the tip of the index and thumb fingers when I sat down to meditate.
Also, I have had involuntary body movement during some of my meditations.
[Clearly to me, I wasn't causing it. Because, if I stopped the body movement, it would begin again - involuntarily.
I wasn't sick during that time, ofcourse I was having a lot going on in my mind, but no indications of any disease, physical or otherwise. During those early periods of my meditation practice, whenever I sat down to meditate, a gentle 'ticking' would begin at the base of my spine and gradually expand throughout my whole body so that I would be swaying rhythmically within a minute.

Other small things I notice is that, when I bring my palms together, facing each other, and with 5 inch gap (or any small gap) between the plams, I can sense energy exchange between the two palms. Now, what the heck is this energy exchange? When I move the hands apart, I feel as if something is tearing apart as if a rubber sheet was being stretched apart and when I bring the hands together I feel a pull again. It's a subtle sensation but very distinct. So, again, this is another example of what I mean by sensing energy.
Is this energy I am sensing, a part of the energy body? I don't know, but I believe so. You can't escape belief. You investigate a little, you believe a little. You believe a little, you get more clues and that's the game I am playing here.

Another experience, I frequently have these days, especially when I do visualization meditations or healing meditations (I visualize that I am bathed by healing light that permeates my energy body - oh yeah, putting theory into practice) is that:
I sense tingling sensations or crawling sensations on my head and sometimes on my forehead too.. but mostly on the top of my head. It might be because I have a lot of dandruff in my hair (!!), but why does the tingling have to happen only when I meditate and especially when I visualize healing light permeating my energy body?

Life after death
If it's true that we are made up of more than one body, what happens after death. Here's the kicker: Only the physical body dies, the other bodies continue to another plane of existence. What does this mean? It means that you, as you know yourself to be, your identity, as you think yourself to be, continues to exist beyond death.
Again, this is a belief, but near-death experiences kind of confirm this phenomenon of life after death.
Isn't it amazing to know and believe, that life exists after death, not as a mere fantasy of our imagination to alleviate the suffering that surrounds death, but as an actual reality, as real as I feel my fingers typing this sentence, if not, more real.

What do you fear?
What is the worst thing you can fear. Most will say death. Some say, they don't fear death, but the experience of dying itself. Oh common, how long are you going to be in this 'process of dying'. Ofcourse, if it's a terminal illness, which is a long process of getting to death, it's going to be painful...But again, it all depends on your perspective. If you firmly believe (with parts of your belief validated consistently by books and maybe your experiences too - out of body experience, for example) that life moves on after death :- you strip your physical body during death
just as you would strip down before you hit the sack, then you are actually releasing a heavyweight, your physical body and becoming lighter..and moving into light. He he, this is getting funny and I am getting light-headed...even more funny.

If you don't fear death, your worst fears are put to rest. Fear of losing a job, fear of losing a relationship, pale in comparison to the fear of death. But if you don't fear death, because of a deep understanding that you gain from reading spiritual books and also from meditation experiences (and/or some might add - salvia divinorum), your whole perspective towards death changes: There's no more deep mourning at funerals, atleast for you, since you understand that this guy who is dead is not really dead and is actually quite happier and lighter with the burden (physical body) that he has shed and you might actually want to celebrate death. And, the wonderful interview above, talks about the importance of understanding in a little more detail, this wonderful death - because it is supposed to be a wonderful experience.

Some books on death:
1) Home with God by Neale Donald Walsch - A clean spiritual book with ground-breaking ideas on death.
2) Heart links by Louise Platt Hauck - A nice book of real life (or death stories) on communicating with the dead or shall we say, 'not so dead'. Ha ha.
3) Buddhist texts - Tibetan book of the dead (I have not read this book).
4) Vedas and upanishads - Not on death per se but throw a lot of light on the ultimate question - "Who am I?" which, amazingly is consistent with all the spiritual literature I have come across on the question of human identity.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hail Barack Obama

What an amazing candidate with extraordinary oratorical abilities whose speeches inspire you at the core of your being. I am really happy for America, I am also happy for the black community in America and the hopes it brings them to see someone of their own become the president of United states. You should take a look at some of his speeches on youtube to see the truth and heart-felt conviction with which his speeches are given.
The one below seemed to me a really exquisite speech. It's hard to imagine that a politician can speak about ideals with so much conviction and consistency, as does Barack Obama. Hat's off to you, Mr. President.

Neale Donald Walsch, the author of a best-selling series of books, "Conversations with God", frequently talks about spiritualizing politics (that is doing away with all the mud-slinging that is oft a part of political campaigns and actions, and at the same time coming from core priniciples and ideals that reflect a strong character and a strong leader). And Barack Obama, I think is one person who lives up to his ideals both in private life and in public perview, which is important to be a leader who spiritualizes politics.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Excellent video on the concept of god

Watch the following video: It's hilarious to say the least and more importantly has a good message.
How we make up our ideas on god

Friday, October 17, 2008

Morning meditation vs Night meditation

Morning meditation:

1) You are fresh in the morning after a decent night's sleep. Your mind isn't filled with thoughts of the day's work. It's a clean slate unless you have got some pressing appointment during the day. But you can switch off that worrying mind just for those 20 0r 30 minutes and get a good start on the day.
2) Helps you be centred before you begin the day which ofcourse affects how you go about your day.

1) I don't think there are many cons. One disadvantage of meditating in the morning, specially if you are just getting into making this a habit is that you can skimp on the duration of meditation. This might be because you have to get going quickly because you woke up late or you have to prepare for a meeting, etc. But again, if the habit of early morning meditation is established, then this shouldn't be a problem.
I mean, you wouldn't skip brushing your teeth because you had to prepare for a meeting, would you?

Night Meditation:

1) It has helped me sleep better and sooner. As a graduate student, I find that it is easier to sleep late than early. What happens when you meditate after a tiring day is that because you are tired, your body goes into a recharging/relaxing mode and the brain gets the cue to trigger sleep and you feel sleepy.
2) I look forward to my night meditations because there is no time limit I have to follow (I don't have to get going for work) and it's also pretty quiet at say, 11:30 pm.

1) I wouldn't call this a con, but since we are limited to a pros vs cons discussion, I would say that if I meditate close to my sleep times, my meditation gets truncated because 10 minutes into the meditation, I am very sleepy. Almost like, my head is going to hit the floor if I don't exercise control.

I would view the above text as a healthy comparison of morning vs evening/night meditation. I just started meditating regularly 3 months ago, so I have found that a morning and night meditation is pretty fun-tastic.
Sometimes when I meditate during the middle of the day, I feel sleepy immediately. This is like a signal to me (the ego, the mind, etc) that my body is running on a sleep deficit. I like those reminders.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My core spiritual beliefs

Here are my core beliefs. Feel free to disagree with them. These beliefs are not taken from any religion but are definitely borrowed from the multitude of spiritual (not to be confused with religious) books that I have read:

a) We are all one (despite the apparent physical differences) - The essence of us all is one.
String theory in theoretical physics says that the fundametal elements of our body are not atoms or sub-atomic particles but strings of 'energy' that have different vibration frequencies. If our fundamental essence is indeed energy, and if energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then the next belief follows:
b) There is no death. Death is just a horizon, death is to the physical body, not to my 'identity'. My 'real self' doesn't die. And 'self-realization' is all about knowing and experiencing this 'real-self' which is eternal. That is to say, I don't fear death. Why will you fear an illusion?
c) God is not a person, sitting out there in heaven. God is in the present moment, in the mundane, in everything basically: God is an omni-present, omni-scient, omni-potent entity. Hence, it makes perfect sense to see god in every 'thing' (even rocks or mud or filth/garbage or air or water, etc) and every 'sentient being' (person: male, female, asian, black, white, blue; animals, birds, earthworms!!, reptiles, etc ).
In short, I believe that anything that you can imagine (Real or unreal) is a part of god. There is only 'one'.. but that 'one' has infinite 'manifestations', giving rise to these multitude of lifeforms and universes.
The mistake religions do is to limit god to a human form. If god is indeed a 'god', shouldn't that 'god' be all-encomapssing? Shouldn't that god have no boundaries? If god is really 'god', then it should be able to take up any form it so chooses or no form at all. Only then will god be truly limitless. Why don't religions get this?
Also my concept of god is one that loves unconditionally, a god that does not judge or condemn. Some religions have a hard time understanding this concept. Also they inject the component of fear anywhere and everywhere. You have to fear god's wrath, etc.. What total crap!!!
Man is made in god's image. The problem is that the man faltered. God didn't. So if you equate a
faltered man to a god, that is a mistake. A faltered man judges people, condemns people.
A sage neither condemns nor judges. A sage exudes peace and unconditional love. Now, equating a sage to god makes sense.
d) We are on this earth for a reason. We are here to learn from our experiences and grow.. grow spiritually. Indeed we are spiritual beings having a human experience (oft quoted).
e) Reincarnation exists and makes sense since if you only had a lifetime, your growth is limited to the experiences learnt from that particular lifetime. But you are a spiritual being that keeps on evolving (See d)), therefore, it makes sense to have many lifetimes of the 'earth experience' to evolve and learn all possible lessons on the earth plane of existence.

My first ever(professional) reiki experience

In short it was relaxing, it was interesting, and it was "spacey".

Detailed description
The Reiki session was held in a spa room. I comfortably settled onto a nice bed, laying on my back, and I was told to relax myself and be open to any experience I would have and also be open to let the ki or chi or prana do its work. Eileen started out with placing her hand gently on my chest and then going on to behind my neck, my forehead, my scalp, then moving down to the shoulder and chest again. Each hand placement was initially made for a minute or two. Thus far, I was just relaxed and didn't feel any sensations or heat that are usually said to accompany a Reiki experience.
She then moved her hand to my chest and placed it there for a prolonged period.. I started feeling heat on my chest and felt 'lightness' in the chest.
I asked her if she still had her hand on my chest, for I was not sure, even though I 'felt' pressure, as though from a hand. Just as I asked this question, I felt her two hands on my feet. Wow, so her two hands were on my feet, and I was feeling pressure on my chest, just as if there was a hand placed there. This was amazing. The pressure stayed for a while. Periodically, I was reminded to take deep breaths and allow the chi to work through.
I was then asked to flip over and Eileen worked her hands on my back and did I feel some heat there or what. I wasn't imagining it for sure, it was searing out there, though in a sort of bearable way. Eileen worked on the back of my neck, my hands. I remember her pressing my hand hard and the pressure stayed (similar to the chest), even though she went to work on my legs.
So this was again the case where, there was pressure applied onto my legs from her two hands and then there was the 'phantom hand' (sure did feel like that) applying pressure on my wrist.

At this point, I started feeling spaced out. I was feeling a little disoriented and the eastern instrumental music in the background seemed to be aiding this 'spacey' feeling. I was kind of scared, and mentioned this to Eileen. She suggested that I imagine myself grounding my body to the earth. I did that visualization and in a few minutes, I felt less dis-oriented. This dis-orientation is really new to me. I have felt this feeling once before, when I was undergoing a lot of changes in my life. And as before, it felt frightening and weird.

The reiki master mentioned that she had seen very few clients getting 'spacey' on their first reiki session. Hmm, I have been meditating regularly, the past three months, and that might have contributed to my current experience. So, after exchanging some more ideas, and having my questions answered (a lot of them), I left the place feeling a little 'spacey' but oriented back to the so-called 'real' world.

So from what I understand, the philosophy behind Reiki is that: The 'chi' (china) or 'Ki' (Japan) or 'Prana' (India) or the life force is a universal energy that can supposedly be tapped by anyone if required. Reiki is one such way of tapping into this 'ki'. The patient's or client's body is considered intelligent and wherever there is a need, the body directs the flow of the Ki through the Reiki Master's hands to the affected part of the body. So, in accordance with this understanding, Eileen let me know that I needed the energy most on my back and shoulders and hence I felt the ki there as 'a lot of heat'. This makes sense, since I sometimes carry a laptop along with many books in my backpack and my shoulders and back take a beating when I do that.

I am going to go for some follow-up reiki sessions and see how they go and what I experience.
I am pretty open to energy work and the like. It fits my belief system pretty well (although you don't need a belief system for Reiki, which is a secular practice) .

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Reiki session

I am gonna try out Reiki tomorrow. Scheduled for a 1 hr session with Eileen Dey.
Will post my first experience of Reiki...well actually not the first. I remember getting a mini reiki from my uncle, when he placed his hand on my forehead and I could feel the heat on my forehead..This was when I was in 5th grade. Hmm, anyway, I am excited..

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Twice a day meditation

I have upped my meditation practice to twice a day, roughly 20 minutes per session.
The last few weeks I haven't been having a great sound sleep for different reasons. I started incorporating meditation before sleep and so far (past one week), my sleep has turned out better.

It's amazing how you can give the excuse, " I don't have the time".. Do you mean to say, every moment of your life is occupied in some task or the other, without a break? I don't know about married folks, they sure have a lot going in their life, but bachelors like me, we don't have a good excuse to give for not finding time. I spend around 1 hr everyday doing random surfing (including checking mails, etc). Surely, that's not a great way of spending time is it?
You can always divert a portion of your day towards meditation..You will always find the time, if you are committed to meditation and realize its benefits in your life.
And don't worry about the lost time, the paybacks from committing to a meditation practice is pretty good.. balance, centredness, inner peace, joy, living in the moment, etc.

I see my meditation fit neatly into the morning ritual: Get up, have a bath, meditate, breakfast and off to work. When you think of meditation as a part of your routine, it's automatic.. There's no.. "Oh, I have to meditate today". Do you think, "Oh, I have to brush today?". It's automatic and almost sub-conscious.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feeling 'cool' during meditation

No, I am not talking about meditation being cool.. Well, it is if you ask me.
I am talking about the body, and more specifically in my case, the chest feeling 'cool' during meditation. This happened to me today. I sat down today for meditation for 20 minutes as usual. I felt very peaceful during the start of the meditation with my body feeling light too. Towards the end of my meditation, I felt small waves of coolness radiate from my chest... How do I describe this?
Have you had a cool mint.. How did your mouth or throat feel after sometime.. Pretty 'cool' right?
Now, the same 'cool' feeling in your heart or your chest.. That's what I felt.
Now, as to it's interpretation: Here's one. Boy, that feeling is still perceptible as I type this, 20 minutes after my meditation.
Supposedly, this minty feeling is an indication of heart chakra opening. Let's see.

I have been meditating every day for the past couple of months and the major benefit I have had from meditation is a feeling of centeredness and peace. What more is needed in life? Maybe joy? Well, all in due time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meditation videos

There are a lot of cool meditation videos on youtube. Some of my favorites below:

The sunset meditation video on this page is beautiful. Watch it if you have the time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meditation: From a swift river to a placid lake

Imagine yourself in a canoe moving on a swift and turbulent river. Can you stare into the depths of the river? Heck no.. You only have time to stare ahead and keep the canoe steady. After a while, the river reaches level ground and slows down, but the moementum generated thus far still makes the river move quickly, though less turbulently. Now, you try staring into the river, you can see some fishes below the surface, but no more than that.After a while, you notice that the river branches out into different tributaries. You choose to move on one of them.. You immediately notice a difference.. The water has slowed down quite a bit and it is moving along gently. You can stare at the bottom of the tributary and see the rough outline of the river-bed.
This is quite an improvement from the swift and turbulent river you started out on.
You keep rowing on the canoe and the tributary opens up into a vast lake. As you enter the lake, you notice that the lake is very still and that the movement of water around you is only due to the movement of the canoe. You slow down the canoe to a halt and stare into the lake.. You find the water is very clear, very placid and that you can easily see everything below the surface unto the depth of the lake.

Now, the connection of the above canoeing experience to meditation:
Meditation is a journey like canoeing. In the beginning, the mind flows swiftly and turbulently with a lot of thoughts, some of them quite wild. It's hard to silence the thoughts.. You just try to get through the meditation just like you just focus on keeping the canoe steady when it's on turbulent waters.
As you steady your practice of meditation, the mind slows down, though thoughts still come and go as they will. You experience very brief periods of calmness during the meditation.
You stick to your meditation practice and after a while, you find that the periods of silence keep increasing.. the river has slowed down quite a bit and the water is very clear.. the mind is like a tributary of the river.
Moving on, one day you find that you had one of those 'perfect meditations' - Your mind became a lake and you had virtually no thoughts..

This is the progress in meditation - You start with the mind being in the turbulent and swift river phase, moving onto the fast but less turbulent river, to the slow but clear tributary to the placid and still lake.

It is easy to lose heart in the swift and turbulent phase of the meditation, since sitting still seems so difficult. But once you move on to the fast river or slow tributary stage, you would have established a good meditation practice that would ultimately lead you to the placid lake - deep inner peace and happiness.

I didn't come up with the river analogy to meditation, I read about it in a meditation book called, "Joy of living - " by Rinpoche Mingyur. Ofcourse, I changed the analogy a bit, by adding a canoe and giving the idea of a journey!
Right now, I would say I am somewhere in between the fast river and the slow tributary phase of meditation.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Death...This five letter word evokes many emotions in hearts of people. The most basic emotion that comes out is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what would happen to our 'identity' after death. Will life as we know stop existing? Will I shed this body and take up another?
What is going to happen? I don't know.. So I am afraid..Afraid of the unknown.
Well, if you think logically, whatever happens after death will happen whether you fear that or not. So why fear death at all?
And if you start thinking on death philosophically, referring to some texts, your belief in life after death gets stronger and with that you belief, you wouldn't say,
"May his soul rest in peace..".
You would say, "May his soul enjoy its newfound freedom and rejoice and celebrate...". Indeed, some communities see death as a cause for celebration, not one for deep mourning.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spiritual Update

Spiritually, I am doing many things these days - Indeed, I have been known to be a jack of all trades, but I would also like to become a master of a few of them.
I am meditating regularly, though not at a scheduled time. I usually come to the university and meditate in the library! My house is not very conducive for meditation because it is right next to a busy arterial.
I am going for Tai-chi class every week and that's complementing my meditation.
I did an Art of Living course recently and practice sudarshan kriya atleast once a week.
I am going for running/hiking atleast once a week. Hiking, I have found is a very healing proposition. Being around in the woods calms and soothes the mind.
I usually do a 'do nothing, observe your mind' meditation. But of late, I am trying out the 'mindfulness meditation', where I observe the breath and through that I also become more aware of my surroundings.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spiritual books inventory

I thought a post on the books I have read, am reading, wish to read would make up a good post. Also, in future posts, I would like to capture the essence of these books.
I will be continually modifying this blog as I read more and more books and I will also capture the essence of the books briefly below.

Books read:


1) The Complete works of Swami Vivekanada - An astounding book covering the vedantic philosophy of monotheism and eternal reality. Also covers the four prinicple yogas - Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Raja yoga in detail. Swami Vivekanada was a great spiritual leader and monk. His most famous quote is: "Arise, awake. Stop not till the goal is reached".

2) Conversations with God series (Neale Donald Walsch) which include several books: Book 1,2,3. Home with God. Communion with God. Friendship with God. Tomorrow's God. - A wonderful series.
Note, though this book is titled Conversations with God - this book is not affliated with any religion and it revolutionizes the idea of what a God is - God is more than a mere person - God is emptiness. God is the all in all. God is life and God is Change.

3) Soul stories by Gary Zukav - Simple life stories, but profound spiritual lessons - That's the essential theme of this book. The life stories are taken from the author's life but the author took the liberty to modify them as necessary.

4) Past lives, Future Growth by Armand Marcotte - See life through the eyes of an accomplished Psychic. I believe that we are all psychics. Many people cosider psychic powers to be otherworldly. But Psychic powers are something that can be as intrinisic as the power of sight, the power of speech or the power of hearing. It can basically be seen as a latent power.
The essence of this book is that many problems we face in life might be carried over from past lives. We live lives to understand who we are and basically remember who we are through life's various experiences. If we don't learn our lessons in one life, those lessons need to be learnt in subsequent lives.
The essential perspective is that life's trials and tribulations are lessons for us - lessons for developing our character, lessons to grow spiritually, lessons to realize who we truly are and what our true potential is. Some lessons not learnt in previous lives are therefore carried forth to subsequent lives and this is where Armand comes into the picture - He lets you know what is the lesson to be learnt from the trial you are undergoing. He is helped by his spirit guides as is described in the book.
A wonderful book - I suggest you read this book with an open mind and be open to the ideas in the book, which are more important.

5) Miscellaneous ebooks: There are many ebooks that I have read that gave me a good understanding of the essence of Hindu Philosophy. You can look for ebooks by Swami Sivananda, Vivekananda, Krishnananda. Hindu Philosophy and new-age spirituality have a lot in common.
Both agree on the oneness of life - the essence of all kinds of life forms - animals, humans, even inanimate objects such as rocks, pebbles, and mountains is the same. Interestingly, String theory in Physics also says that the fundamental unit of matter is "Energy"!!! These energy are represented through strings which vibrate at different rates. The different rates of vibrations totally decide the shape, density, colour and other characteristics of matter (objects) that we see around the world. What does this mean? Appearances can be deceptive. According to string theory, strings (Energy forms) are more fundamental than the elementary particles discovered by Quantum physics.
In this context of string theory and Quantum physics, I have a read called "Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku. I highly recommend this book for readers who are interested in the progress made by physics in the past few decades in the understanding of what matter is fundamentally made up of.

6) "Call" - I read this book at the udub book store today (June 5th 2008). It's a book that in very plain english explains how the author had his spiritual call. Everyone receives the call, only a few are aware of it, and fewer heed it. The book explores the type of calls one can receive and is a philosophical delight to read.

7) Songs of the soul - I read this book recently (June 2nd 2008). It's a basic but very foundational book in how one begins on the spiritual path.
The key concepts are forgiveness, unconditional love (this word is often the least understood word in our human experience), one-ness of beings. The all in all is verily the self. The self is verily unconditional love, total joy, and total freedom.
All these words are synonyms of the essence, the brahman, the atman, the tao, the chi, the prana, the father, the holy spirit, the jesus, the rama, the krishna, the GOD. In Art of living, I believe, there is an exercise where you say to the other person, "You belong to me". This is a practical expression of "We are all one".
Note, that this needn't be a metaphorical statement and it is not. The essence in everybody is the same, the energy that drives the universe is present in every sentient and non-sentient object and that energy is "who you really are".

8) Soul Traveler by Albert Taylor - Describes the experiences of Albert Taylor in astral travel. We are pure consciousness covered by layers of bodies - There is the physical body, the astral body, the causal body, and so on. Albert actually narrates through his experiences what it feels like to shed one body and assume another one.
Taylor highlights that although soul travel might seem like an extreme adventure, out of the world experience (literally), such experiences also come with a sense of responsibility.
Books in progress:


1) Joy of living: A wonderfully simple book that touches on the various aspects of meditation from a Buddhist perspective. What are the common pitfalls that a beginner faces. Strategies to regularize the meditation practice. Fruits of meditation. Some results of scientific tests on the benefits of meditation.

2) The power is within you by Louise HaY: Louise Hay writes the book with utter simplicity so as to make the book easily comprehendable. Through various examples and true stories she relates the power of affirmations. The essence of this book is "What you believe, you become". But my personal perspective is that affirmations alone are not enough to attain equanimity and peace of mind. Though affirmations can be used to supplement a core spiritual practice that involves some kind of meditation. On second thoughts, I realize that prayer is also a form of meditation and affiramations can fall in that category.

3) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi: A very powerful intellectual book that describes the conversations that the great being Sri Ramana Maharshi had with people who came to his Ashram during the early 1900's. Sri Ramana Maharshi is a proponent of 'Jnana Yoga'. The question "Who am I?" is fundamental to many of the conversations in the book. It takes a long time to go through the pages of the book since you can't just do a light reading. The recorded conversations make you think about your own identity during the process of reading.

Books to be read:


1) The Tibetan book of the Dead.
2) The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
3) New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
4) A rigorous study of upanishads. There are many sources on the web to get
materials on the upanishads. The vedanta and upanishads form a core part of Hindu Philosophy, which by the way has little to do with the rituals of the Hindu Religion, atleast at the surface. The basis for the rituals could ofcourse be argued to be found in the philosophy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rocking motion during meditation - resources

During the past few months, I have meditated maybe 15 - 20 times. And during these 15 times, I have had 'involuntary' upper body rhythmic motions maybe 10 times. And believe me, I am not causing these motions. I tried to stop the motions, but they would begin again, involuntarily - So that told me that I was definitely not causing it.
Being curious as to what this "rocking motion" meant, I scoured the web for articles that explain the same. Most of the articles mention that this has something to do with the Kundalini Energy arising. Some say it's a natural thing that happens - The body makes some adjustments to the system during these motions - adjustments for the better.
Some say, it's about clearing energy pathways or chakras. So below I list a few articles that I think are relevant to this upper body involuntary movement stuff:

1) Kundalini Awakening
2) Spontaneous Movement
3) Odd rocking motion
4) Meditation
5) Raw foodie's story
6) Rocking?
7) Ecstatic Movement
8) Effects of meditation
9)More on tingling/crawling sensations

Here's what the book, 'Ask and it's given' by Esther and Jerry Hicks has to say about this(Pg 186):
"As you quiet your mind, you may feel a sense of physical detachment. For example,
you may feel no real difference between your toe and your nose. Sometimes you will feel the sensation of twitches and itches beneath your skin. And often, once you have released resistance and are soaring in your natural pure, high vibrations - you will feel an involuntary movement in your body. It may sway slightly from side to side or forward and backward, or your head may role gently from side to side. Any or all of these movements are indicators of your achievement of a state of meditation".

I think this upper body movement during meditation hardly affects my meditation. I am definitely intrigued by it, but keeping with the spirit of meditation, I just observe it as a phenomenon that's happening to me.

Chat on "Nothing Matters"

My gtalk status for the past few weeks has been "Nothing matters". Curious, my friend (AM) had a lot of questions to ask and that turned into a wonderful conversation that I would like to share with the world. Here's the unedited transcript of that chat:

AM: hey man
me: hey wasup
AM: hey u r in whch univ?
me: univ of washington
AM: oh
i think thats a very good app
from what i heard
me: yeah it is..
AM :)
me: but good app doesn't necessarily mean good research or good experiences :(
AM: hmm
how come
good experiences
hey tell me abt ur status message
nothing matters
whats the funda
me: Its based in philosophy
Nothing matters is - No matter what situation comes in your life, no matter how depressing it is, it doesn't really matter - Because the essence of you is not the ego but beyond that
Hence your ego might be affected by good or bad experiences, but the real 'you' is not.
AM: right
what u r remains the same
me: No what you are keeps changing - always, but what you are is beyond what you think you are
AM: hmm
how come that
u mean to say ppl are greater than what they think they are
me: Much much greater
AM: great as in qualities
or abilities
me: everything.. great in every aspect
AM: hmm..
but they underperform miserably
all the time
me: That's because of their belief that they are not good
anil.marthi: hmm
miserable people
i'm sick of them
me: No even you are one of them.. I am also one of them... Everyone has beliefs that constricts them.. Some have fewer such beliefs, some have many such constricting beliefs
AM: no man
i dont have any such constricting beliefs
im not saying that im great though
me: Well.. your last statement is a constricting belief
You believe you are not great
AM: hey i believe im great
but im not telling u that
me: He he.. think about this.. there is always room for improvement... alwaus
AM: right
me: And the improvement comes from changing your beliefs.. Hence constricting beliefs always exist
AM: hehe
how true
me: yeah.. don't believe in whatever I say.. see if it is the case..
AM: but then if u start thinking that how great we are, then our ego will boost
and self esteem too
and it cant easily tower other's self esteem
me: You can't just say I am great - you can't trick your mind - You have to also show yourself that you are great - Then your belief will become stronger
AM: true
still even if u r great
if you keep thinking u r great
it wont augur well with other ppl
u ll start having problems with me
abt how they shd treat you and all
me: You won't say to others I am great.. You will say you are as great as I am
AM: hmm
me: Everyone is great.. they just don't realize that.. so boasting will not help... but if by example you show to others that anyone is and can become great.. everyone will appreciate that
AM: hmm yes
but if u tell someone that
you are as great as i am
some just dont like that
like putting pseude and all
its not good
thiking that im great im great
me: Yes if they have a very strong belief that they are just about average.. So they don't like that because their constricting belief is strong.. In such cases, you should be very gentle in how you talk to them
AM: yes man
ppl will knw that they are good man
but still dont want to show it off
how abt that?
me: Why are you worried about showing off.. That shows that you are worried about what people think.. Which shows that you have a belief that your image is dependent on what others think... :D
AM: no no
not like that
im talking abt practical point of view man
not abt worry what they think abt me
i ve experienced this practically
it is always good to be very down to earth
and maintain a significant class in your manners and actions

me: My point is not that you go around saying that everyone is great.. My point is your "belief" should be that everyone is great and you use that belief to guide your actions...
AM: yea
me: Another thing philosophy says is life is a game.. It doesn't matter whether you win or lose a cricket match right.. That's why it doesn't matter what happens in life.. Nothing matters
anil.marthi: haha true
but u wont feel good with tears na
me: Who is getting tears?
AM: anyone
arising out of actions
me: Ok say you?
or me?
AM: me
me: Ok let's say you
Who is that you who is getting tears
AM: its me man
what ever the eternal self is thr, let it be
me: You the body, you the mind, you the brain, which you?
AM: but i can experience the pain of tears right
me: Your ego does...
When "you" identify with the "ego", "you" experience pain.. When "you - the real you" don't identify, you don't
AM: hmm true
still man.. u can expect people to separate ego from self all the time
that way there is no materialism
me: That's why people do meditation.. They want to stop the chattering of the "mind" or the "ego"..What happens, when the ego stops, "you" still exist
AM: im saying u cant*
me: Which means you are not the ego..
Yeah the point of philosophy is that materialism is not everything.. Materialism is ego gratification, but spiritualism is "real" gratification
AM: yeah
u r right
again we ll be back to ancient ages
we ll all become saints
no need of moeny
information technology
me: No we will be technological saints..
AM: thats even worse
me: No it is not.. I am not saying you should avoid technology.. Technology makes life easier.. But also understand that technology is not everything.. That's why I believe in spiritual materialism.. You don't have to go to himalayas.. You can do your work, have money and still be peaceful..
AM: hmm
me: I think we have discussed a lot of stuff man.. Don't believe anything of what I said.. Believe in it if you find it true for yourself... I also follow the same policy.. If there is something I wish to believe in, I see if it applies practically atleast to some extent...
AM: true
my TL recently indicated indirectly that i think im great
me: It doesn't matter.. What matters is what you think.. People may shit about you.. but what do you think..
AM: hmm
actually ny body language itself indicates that i have very self esteem or that i'm great
me: Hmm.. good..
But it doesn't matter even if I have a low self-esteem.. Nothing matters!
AM: haha
me: Everything is energy.. that's why nothing matters
AM: :)
me: Ok man... nice discussion.. got to go.. if you are interested in philosophy or spirituality, there are tons of good books.. you might find them useful
AM: sure

Friday, May 09, 2008

Expectation and its effects

The word 'expectation' is ubiquitous. The advisor has some expectations on the advisee.
The student has some expectations from the course she/he is taking. You might be expecting to land a job soon. The lover expects his lover to reciprocate his show of love. "We have high expectations of our employees", says the employer.
Let's say that you are expecting an important email. I have noticed many times, that when I expect an email, I sometimes don't get it, when I let go of that thought, and check my email, there it is sitting in the inbox, when I didn't expect it at all.

Expectation as far as I have come to realize is something that I can do without in life. Why? "Because it interferes with creation". We are creating every moment in our life. We are drawing our future landscape right here, right now through our thoughts, words, actions and our state of being. These four tools (thoughts, words, actions and beingness) are the tools of creation. What expectation does with this process is, it creates a sense of doubt in your creations. Why?
When you expect an email for instance, and you don't get it, there is an element of doubt that arises in your mind. Why is that person not sending an email. This 'doubt' is actually a 'thought' that interferes with your creation. Your creation is intended to bring you that email, but the expectation, which is just another thought, counteracts that creation unnecessarily because, well, thoughts are creative and hence expectation is also creative, only that the 'creation' of the expectation goes against your original creation because of the element of doubt.

Hence, it is always better not to have expectations on the behavior of any person or event in life. Then creations will always be as you intended, because, your intentions haven't been modified by the expectation.

Hence, masters, I believe, intend things and don't give a second thought to it. Because, they don't give a second thought, the first thought, which was their intention manifests without interference from successive thoughts (or expectations).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Meditation notes

I previously tried to set up a meditation routine by trying out a 30 day meditation experiment.
During this period, I was having difficulty centering my mind. I would also have frequent headaches, I would feel very sleepy during the meditations, etc. So I had to stop the experiment after a week.
Recently, what's happening is that I do meditations spontaneously. Whenever I feel calm and relaxed, I just sit down and let go, and usually after 15 minutes, I get a little restless and then I open my eyes.
It's a paradox that meditation is supposed to calm your mind but to meditate effectively you need a calm mind to begin with.
So what's helping me is to do shavasana before meditation. Shavasana or corpse posture in yoga is well known technique for completely relaxing the body. Once your body is relaxed, you can observe your mind easily during meditation.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fear and its ramifications - My thoughts

Fear in my experience hasn't helped me at all. People who have used fear to manipulate me have given me the worst in life. I have come out of these experiences becoming fearless and with a new resolve to face fear boldly. The worst thing you can fear is death. I don't fear that - I don't fear anything. It's easy to make the previous statement but difficult to implement it in reality. You have to be clear in life - You are not going to live a fear-based life, your life is going to based on a lack of fear or better, love.
Fear is basically 'false evidence appearing real'. The false evidence is your wrong perception of what is true.

Notice instances of fear in your life - Fear of losing your love, fear of displeasing your boss, fear of being less competitive, fear of being less productive, fear of disease, fear of... The list goes on.

Stop right now and think for a moment how your life would change when in these situations you replace fear by fearlessness and courage. Think of the opportunities you are missing by cringing in fear. If you can't imagine how not fearing would help, try it out. Try courage and being bold the next time you face fear in some situation in life. Look fear eye to eye and it should vanish.

You might ask, all this is nice but what if I lose my job because I was fearless with my boss. Well, you lose your job, you find a new job where fear doesn't have a high place. Also if you are afraid of losing your job, you are still caught up in fear, you are still caught up in 'what-if' scenarios. Let go of fear, try it out in instances that may not have huge repercussions and then you can extend the confidence you gain from these situations in life to any situations.

Live without fear, live in the present, and enjoy life to the fullest, enjoy the uncertainity of life and you would truly have lived life.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Some spiritual attitudes

Some spiritual attitudes that I have experienced or read in books so far

1) Be honest:
There is nothing like being honest as far as possible. It clear things up, clears up unwanted feelings, clears the road ahead and makes life easier. This is something I have learnt in grad life so far.

2) Respect: Everyone deserves respect. I used to judge people based on their academic achievements and skills when I came here. This attitude has caused me more trouble than anything else. Again, everyone deserves respect no matter their standing, no matter their behavior, no matter their situation.

3) Acceptance: I had a lot of pre-concieved notions of how my life should be. These things are not too bad, it's like having a plan. Only thing, plans can fail. And you got to accept the situation calmly and without resentment or hatred or other negative feelings when things don't go your way. Acceptance of the "here and now" is a very powerful tool, since it can liberate you from worries, from the past misgivings and from future uncertainities. This quality is something that I have grown to appreciate through my experiences in grad school.

4) Giving in your best a.k.a living life to the fullest:
There is a saying my parents and uncle would oft repeat: "When you eat, you eat. When you play, you play. When you work, you work".
The import here is that you giving in your "full mind" in whatever it is that you are currently doing or being. Don't worry about the future as you work over that report. Don't feel guilty for some past action when you are having your food.
This attitude as all other spiritual attitudes "makes life simple".

So doesn't matter how screwed up your life is, doesn't matter if you have been down the shit hole, doesn't matter if things can't get worser (by the way, they always can) - all you got to focus on is "now", "the now", "THE NOW". What are you doing now?
What are you being now?
What do you wish to do now?
Math analogy:
This is similar to the "memoryless property" of the exponential distribution which you encounter in probability.
Usually inter-arrival times of buses at bus-stops are assumed to follow an exponential distribution.
What this means is, it doesn't matter how long you have been waiting at the bus-stop, the probability that the next bus is going to arrive within 5 minutes is always the same!

So give in your best in whatever you do, give in your full mind to whatever task you are working on and that my friend, is "the way to live life to the fullest".

Work hard but do not have expectations on the results is another way of interpreting "acceptance". See my previous post on "Perfection" to know why we should accept the "here and now".
The previous post is basically a summary of the teachings in the "Conversation with God" books written by Neale Donald Walsch.

Is relaxation a spiritual attitude? Relaxation is a by-product of following the above four-attitudes. But if for some reason, you are stuck in life due to circumstance, then relax! There are powerful relaxation techniques available that calm you down from any possible situation you could imagine yourself in.This is a good webpage to know more about a relaxation technique.

My purpose of writing this blog is to truthfully record my spiritual learnings learnt from experiences and also from books so as to serve as a reference for me for the future and also to inspire the readers to get into the act of introspecting their lives and attitudes with the aim of spiritual growth.
A few books I recommend (and have read myself) to get started into spirituality:

1) Conversations with God series by Neale Donald Walsch - Includes Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Friendship with God, Home with God, Communion with God, etc.

I have read other books in bits and pieces: Eckhart Tolle's "The power of Now", Gary Zukav's "Soul stories", etc.

This is a very revealing video that I came across thanks to Erin Pavalina.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interpreting "Things are perfect as they are"

You must have heard of the saying oft repeated: "Things are perfect as they are. Situations are perfect as they are".

The basis for these statements is founded in spirituality and philosophy and I give two interpretations of the "perfect" statement:

1) Who am I?
The first interpretation is based on the definition of the self. Who is the real 'self'. New age spirituality and old age philosophy says that "you are verily the supreme spirit - The Tao, the Brahman, the Atman, The holy spirit, The father, The God, etc". According to this adage, you are no longer limited to the "Ego" or the self that we think we are. In that case, since you are unlimited in nature, the events or occurences in the real world have no bearing on your identity and hence you are "very ok" with any event or outcome that occurs. You are very ok with people's behaviors simply because you don't have any expectation on them and that is again because your sense of identity is independent of their behaviors: You are not insulted by them because 'you' are not 'you the ego', but you are 'you the infinite - you that cannot be tainted or insulted'.

2) Creation philosophy
The creation spirituality has that:
Creation occurs at three levels: Thought, word and deed. There is also another level, the level of being.
According to the creation philosophy, most of whatever we experience in life is due to our creating that experience through thoughts, words or actions.
Since we have created our experience beforehand, the experience should itself be perfect. If it is not perfect, then
we may have mistakenly intended or called forth another experience than we wished to.
Even in this case, since we are the creators of our experience, we can always "recreate" to create a new experience that we like or wish for.
But the problem with the creation argument is that the creation happens at three levels: sub-conscious or the unconscious, conscious and the super-conscious levels.
And people are not usually aware of what they are creating at the super-conscious level or the sub-conscious level. So they create at the conscious level and they assume that things will turn out the way they should. They do except when they conflict with what they are creating at the super-conscious level.

So in both the cases discussed above, things are indeed perfect as they are and as we experience them. In the second case, we may not be aware that we are creating at the super-conscious level. In the first case, we are not aware that we are the "supreme spirit".
But "believing" in the philosophy of "Thou art God" or "We are creative beings" and understanding what that means is sufficient for us to "act as if" things are perfect.

These philosophies give us a basis and act as an incentive for us to practice "perfection" or the adage that "Experiences, events, people's behaviors" are perfect as they are.

When you know that things are perfect, you don't have expectations on the result and hence the saying: "Work towards your goal but do not expect the results to turn out as you expect. That is to say don't have expectations".
When you don't have expectations in life, you "accept" with joy and love and peace, what you get. Isn't this a beautiful way of living life? Indeed this way of living life is a path to mastery - mastery of the self and experiencing who you really are (refer to 1)).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 9


During weekdays, especially when I have classes in the morning like today, its difficult to plan for meditation in the morning. For me mornings are like, I wake up half hour before I catch my bus and have just enough time to shower and brush.
I have 1hr pockets of free time spread out during the day.So today I was flexible about where I meditate. I headed out to the library, found a nice secluded spot and meditated while sitting on the chair.

Duration: I timed my stop watch for 30 minutes, but I felt intensely sleepy after 15 minutes. So I had to cut short my meditation at that point.

Sleep: I managed 5.5 hrs of continuous sleep yesterday with a total duration of 8 hrs (I woke up and slept again).

Miscellaneous:I should mention that I am using a very powerful relaxation technique before I go to sleep every night. It's based on a yoga-asana called "shavasana" or corpse posture.
As can be inferred from the name, in this technique the body becomes completely limp like a corpse and you feel very relaxed since most of the muscles are relaxed.
Note that in shavasana, you can be much more relaxed than when you sleep because in sleep the body changes position quite often leaving pockets of tension in the body at any given time, while in shavasana, you consciously ensure that you have relaxed every or almost every part of your body. Also, there is a total lack of noticeable movement in the body (except for maybe the blinking of the eye) while you are into shavasana.

You can know more about this relaxation technique here. Trust me, it's easy to do and gives you a deep sense of relaxation. Ideally done half-hour before you go to sleep or when you need to take a stress-release break.

30 day Meditation experiment day 8


Duration: 5 minutes. Basically I was tired at the end of the day and hence fell really sleepy after 5 minutes into the meditation. So I had to shift from a lotus position to lying down on the floor till I was refreshed again.
It seems like the best time to have an enjoyable meditation session is right after I wake up or sometime in the morning.

Monday, February 04, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 7


Today's session was like a long run. Long run in distance running is a training run where you run longer than usual but take it easy on the pace. (Ofcourse there's no real equivalent to pace in meditation. A close equivalent would be slowing down of the sense of time and being in the now. ;))

Duration: I set my stopwatch for 29 minutes. But after it beeped, I felt like going for another 15 minutes. Only problem was that my right leg was becoming numb in the half-lotus position I was sitting in.
I continued for another 8 minutes before I thought I was done for today.

The first 15 minutes or so, I was trying to come to terms with a few things and hence I wasn't exactly slowing down my mind. But in the latter half, my mind settled down and it was kind of peaceful till the end.

I really am looking forward to my meditation sessions these days. Partly because I find that my meditation sessions are getting better in quality and also because I have come so far (7 days) without a break. If there is one thing I have had a problem with in life, it's consistency. Consistency in work or hobbies (running), etc. But 7 days equals a week and that's good unless it's not(this idiom is borrowed from one of the many books by Neale Donald Walsch titled "Conversations with God" - A really interesting, intellectual and practical book series, but this would be for another blog post).

Meanwhile, I came across a nice blog that guides you in a very intuitive, straightforward and pedagogical way onto what meditation means, its significance and its practice and benefits.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 6


Summary: I didn't have a great meditative experience today.

Duration: I did meditation for 22 minutes after bath following suit on yesterday's meditation.

The first 10 minutes felt decent, I mean there were a few thoughts doing the rounds in my mind but it was as peaceful as yesterday. My upper body started rocking back and forth like yesterday but it wasn't as intense and frequent as yesterday. The last 10 minutes of the meditation, my thoughts were going places. So I decided to cut short the meditation at around 22 minutes though I had timed my stopwatch for 25 minutes.
Everyday brings a different meditative experience like life.

I did the meditation in the morning. In the evening, I went out for a 1 mile run that lasted 8.5 minutes. I have to see how these two practices (running and meditation) can be kept up simultaneously and regulary. Regular is a key word here, since any practice would be most beneficial when done in regular intervals.

I had bread and jam for breakfast, fruits and cookies for lunch!, and some mixed vegetable rice (spicy(note - spicy doesn't necessarily mean hot, some of you Americans have got it all wrong) and tasty food) for dinner. I would probably have some cereals for supper. I guess I have to improve on my diet, especially the breakfast.

Sleep: Yesterday I managed 3 hrs of continuous sleep and then I woke up every 1.5 hrs till I got up after 8 hrs of sleep. Sleeping has been a problem for me since the last 2 months and that's one thing that should change with this experiment.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 5


Interesting experience: If yesterday and day-before-yesterday, I experienced waves of sleep hitting me, today it was waves of upper body movement during meditation!!!

Deatiled report: I began meditating right after having a bath in the morning, i.e. between 1:05 pm and 1:27pm. Today was a much better experience in terms of mental peace than the last 4 days. That is not to say that I would expect it to be the same or better for the rest of this trial. I have stated this before, I state it again: "It is important not to have any expectations on your meditation. Receive humbly whatever you get.". I didn't feel any kind of sleepiness during the meditation today. Infact, I felt very relaxed, alive and peaceful and it felt good that I smiled as I meditated.
Posture: I was in the lotus posture with my hands in "Chin Mudra (index finger touching the tip of the thumb and other fingers straight)".

During the last few minutes of the meditation, my upper body and head started rocking gently back and forth. The rocking motion was involuntary and I wasn't contributing anything to it. The rocking motion subsided for a minute but increased in frequency during the last few minutes. Infact, it was reaching its peak as my stop-watch started beeping (I set the alarm for 23 minutes after I began meditating).
Even after I opened my eyes, my upper body was still rocking back and forth a bit.
I banished all fear of this strange experience and would have continued with the meditation if not for the stop watch!
Other points: I began the meditation with a prayer and terminated it with a prayer. The prayer is to the universal spirit for a smooth meditation experience and for the peace of the world.

Friday, February 01, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 4


Today I came across a few excellent articles on meditation. It's a great pleasure to know that there are articles that address the difficulties I am facing during meditation - feeling sleepy halfway, mind not calming down, etc.
Anyway, here are the articles: Meditation FAQ,
Meditation II

Today's Time: 6:20 pm - 6:40 pm

I felt sleepy after 10 minutes. Waves of sleep hit me as I meditated. Imagine, waves at a beach hitting your legs as you stand in the sand. It disturbs your stability right, it literally rocks your frame. That's what happens when the waves of sleep hit me. I just rock back and forth in the action of resisting sleep. During the 20 minutes on the whole, the mental activity slowed down a bit, but not too much. It's important not to have expectations during meditation because
expectations ----> Thoughts related to the expectation --------> Increased mental activity.

After meditation, I did some Pranayama (Anuloma/viloma - Breathing in and out) and then got up. This seems similar to warming down/cooling down after running (I am a runner remember, so running analogies r there).

After I got up from my half-lotus posture to sit on my desk, I suddenly noticed that my back was straighter than before and it felt good. So here's an immediate benefit:
Meditation sets your posture right while sitting in a chair.

I am signing off here today and looking forward to tomorrow's meditation.

30 day Meditation experiment day 3


Today I meditated from 8:00 to 8:10 pm. I had to catch a bus to go the department in 10 minutes so I cut the meditation short. I wasn't having the waves of sleepiness I had yesterday, but I felt rested during the last 5 minutes. It's too early to decide the effects of meditation at this stage.
I am a beginner in meditation but I have had tried unsuccessfully to establish a meditation routine before.
This is the main reason why I am blogging my meditation experience: So that I keep up my practice under the public eye :D

Let's see how tomorrow goes. Btw, I am also a runner, I haven't run in a week, so I have to see if I can run this weekend. I don't think running will take time away from meditation as I can always meditate before I wish to sleep and generally that will make me sleepier and hence I can easily fall asleep.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 2

Date: 1/30/2008

Method: Today I was too impatient with the auto-suggestive relaxation technique and went ahead with observation meditation at 5:30 pm. Five minutes in, I was feeling very very sleepy, it was like every 15 seconds a wave of sleep was hitting me. After a minute of the sleep waves, I just laid down on the ground. I relaxed deeply and observed my mind and the thoughts for about 20 minutes (its easier to lie down and meditate than sit down and meditate since sitting down you got to keep your position erect). It felt good at the end and strangely I didn't catch any sleep though I felt very passive and sedentary.

Sleep: Yesterday I slept for 6.5 hrs though I intended to sleep only for 5 hrs since I had an assignment due today. The quality of sleep wasn't any different - Many dreams in the sleep.
I generally sleep between 1 am to 8 am.

Diet: I have been on the same diet for the past two weeks: Bread and jam morning, veggie delite sub from subway for lunch, a litre of juice in the evening with some bananas and cereals/chappatis during the night.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

30 day Meditation experiment day 1

Date: 1/29/2008

Today is the first day of meditation.

Method: I did auto-suggestive relaxation of my body to quieten my body and consequently the mind. Having done that I observed my thoughts silently for around 5 minutes.

9:06pm - 9:16pm (10 minutes) - Autosuggestive relaxation
9:16pm - 9:22pm (6 minutes) - Observation meditation.

Noticeable effects: Well today is the first day, so nothing to document yet.
But I did feel much more relaxed midway through the auto-suggestive relaxation. But after that, the mental activity was the same through the end of the meditation period.

30 day Meditation experiment

In this blog series, I will document the effects (mostly qualitative) of a meditation experiment on my physical and mental well-being. I will also document the duration and quality of sleep on each day.

The meditation technique I am using consists of two parts:

a) Auto-suggestive relaxation : This is a relaxation technique where one relaxes every organ of the body by mentally focusing on the organs of the body and relaxing them. One needs to try this technique out to understand how it works.
b) Observation meditation: In this meditation, no mantra is used, actually nothing needs to be done. All I do is observe my thoughts non-judgementally and accept them irrespective of how good or bad they seem. I also don't participate with the thoughts. I just act as external observer.

Posture: I usually sit in padmasana (lotus posture) with spine erect. I sit on the ground on top of a folded sleeping bag.

Duration: For this experiment I will start with a duration of around 15 minutes and go upto 30 - 45 minutes by the end of 30 days. The duration for most part on any given day would depend on how long I am comfortable with the meditation. This duration, I have noticed, increases as one meditates regularly.

Time: I am a graduate student with loaded course work, so right now I am flexible with when I meditate. But if possible, I would like to do it at a particular time during the day, preferrably after waking up in the morning.

I am also a runner, so that is already a beneficial thing as far as physical/mental well-being is concerned. Ideally, meditation effects are studied by having a placebo group and a treatment group with similar characterisitcs. In this case, the sample size is 1, that is me!!

Diet: I am a vegetarian and include a lot of fruits, vegetables and bread in my diet.

Last but not the least,

Why Meditation?
For me life in the recent 1.5 years has been a total roller coaster. As mentioned in my 'about me', I am a Phd student in Transportation Engineering and I came to the US in 2006 with great expectations (not the book :D). I was really into research the last 6 months before coming here and I expected my research in a US university to match up equally to what I had done in India. Sadly, my expectations were dashed since I landed an inexperienced advisor with whom I didn't have great relations from the beginning. I was bossed around ocassionally and didn't like it (ofcourse the university is a really great resource in terms of books and people, just that having an amicable relationship with your advisor goes a long way towards productive research). Unfortunately I didn't think rationally about my other options. During this ensuing period which has lasted 1 year, I have had a lot of depressive periods and lots of experiences, so much so that I am no longer the person I was 1.5 years back. Back then I had a lot of expectations of the world, but now I am learning and possibly relearning the truth, "Having no expectations on people's behavior or life in general" would lead to very enjoyable or atleast more peaceful life. There's another truth that I am comprehending currently, "Nothing matters". That's right. The second truth follows from the first truth. When you have no expectations on people or events, you are ready to accept whatever life brings you, and hence nothing matters.

All this history is great you say, but why meditation specifically? Well, I have
learnt meditation in India during a spiritual workshop not unlike the many workshops that happen in US on a regular basis. The workshop was expensive but it gave me many important relaxation and spiritual exploration tools: a) Pranayama (breathing techniques) b) Different meditation techniques.
I am using one of these meditative techniques in my meditation experiment.
And these meditation techniques are purported to bring about a much needed balance to people(I am one of those people) who take a lot of stress. And I am not just stating this as an axiom, that's one of the purposes of this blog series isn't it: To answer the following questions:

a)Do these meditation techniques actually enhance the quality of life (we are not talking about material riches here although that could be considered a side-effect or side-benefit) - physically, intellectually, mentally and spiritually? Now what do we mean by spiritually here - Spirituality has to do with discovering one's true self and it is said that becoming more spiritual is consistent with an enhanced quality of life - an equanimous state of mind or reduction in mental noise, which is a product of the wandering and untamed mind, clarity in thinking and decision making, etc - You can put all the benefits of personal development into this category.
b) What experiences come about through meditation(Read here to know about my upper body movement experience during meditation) ?
c) How does the quality of sleep change with meditation? The last 2 months I haven't had a single night were I could say I slept deeply and soundly. Hopefully, this should change through this experiment.
d) How do the different meditation techniques compare with each other in their effectiveness? The current meditation technique I am using for the experiment is the "Observation Meditation Technique" described above.
Other meditation techniques I learnt at the workshop in India are:

Gap meditation:
In this technique one observes the gaps between thoughts and tries to increase the gap. So if I observe that on an average a thought pings my mind every second, I try to reduce this frequency or in other words, I increase the duration of the gap between thoughts and in effect aim towards a mental state with very few thoughts.

Ana pana sathi or observing your breath
This meditation technique is very popular among beginners in meditation. All one has to do in this technique is to observe the movement of breath. As the air moves in and out of your nostrils, you observe its flow and forget about the mind and its wanderings for the time being. The theory here is that, every state of mind has a corresponding state of breath. For instance: When you are angry or frustrated, notice your breath; you would be breathing in short, quick bursts. On the other hand, when you are really relaxed and peaceful, you would be breathing in deep and slow.

So I guess I have given enough background into the significance of this experiment atleast for myself (and hopefully for you guys too); now with the grace of the supreme being(Brahman, Tao, chi, or any personal diety) I hope this experiment turns out to be a personal success and of benefit to the readers of this blog.