Light the Lamp Within You

Karthigai Deepam in Tamil and Karthika Deepam in Telugu, this festival of lights signifies lighting the lamp within. This post details the story behind this festival and the also the inner meaning conveyed

We have moved on to a new site. Please click on this link to take you to the new site to read the full article…

Palming

Sit erect with your back straight.  Close your eyes gently.  Concentrate on your natural breathing – inhalation and exhalation.  Count 11 breaths.

Now rub your hands nicely to generate heat.   Place the palm slightly cupped on your closed eyes gently. Ensure that the palms are placed over the eyes in such a way that there is no gap for light to enter.  Do not press the eyeballs.  Allow eyes to relax in complete darkness.  Concentrate on your breathing and feel the warmth of the palms over your eyes.

palming

This practice helps in

  • relaxing your mind and body
  • removing dark circles around your eyes
  • adds glow to your face
  • makes you feel rejuvenated quickly

Why should we not learn yoga from a book or dvd?

The other day my yoga teacher shared an interesting experience. A woman from a club called him to conduct a yoga awareness session ACOGYT (Awakening Call of Golden Yoga Tradition) for her members. She had a strange request. He shouldn’t talk during the session as their members can’t understand English. He was requested to directly teach the practices. Wondering how to conduct an introductory awareness session without talking, he arrived at the venue. Ten minutes into the session he figured that most of the members can understand English. He went ahead with the session in the typical ACOGYT way predominantly interactive with some practices interwoven to make it experiential.

By the end of the session, the audience was enthralled. They were all physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychically charged. The organiser approached him in the end and apologised, ‘I didn’t know you speak so well. I didn’t want my members to get bored. Please do not take it otherwise. Thank you so much for the wonderful session’.

Similar is the experience during several ACOGYT sessions – even sceptic and uninterested members among audience end up getting involved and inspired. This is because as an expert trainer he knows to connect with his students / audience.

Yoga is a powerful tool to positively influence, integrate and harmonise all facets of human personality – physical, physiological, vital, mental, emotional and intellectual. This requires the teacher connects with the audience. We normally start any yoga session with the prayer – “Sahana vavatu, Sahanau Bhunatthu, Saha viryam Karavavahai, Tejasvinavadheethamasthu, Mavidvishavahai”. Through this prayer both the teacher and student seek to connect with each other.

Learning Yoga is about connecting with the teacher

Each individual is unique and has different needs. Same practice administered with varying levels of intensity can have varying effects on the physical and mental level of the student. A good yoga trainer understands this well and gives necessary inputs gauging the needs of the student.

Moreover, yoga deals with energy levels of the student. A yoga trainer invigorates the student during a session by connecting with each of his students.

Caught up with the new trend of e-learning and distance learning one is frenzy about learning yoga from a book,  a TV show or DVD. These can definitely not help achieve the objective of Yoga? Yes, one can use these for additional inputs to be clarified later with the teacher.

If you are serious about learning yoga the right way and benefit most from Yogic wisdom, you need to get hold of a good trainer nearby, and not pick up a book or DVD from a nearby store.

Anti-stress methodology in adults and children

Right understanding or Right knowledge is the perfect antidote to master stress. With the right understanding of prevailing stressful situation one has to explore and evolve alternate modes of handling it to come out of stress.

An adult empowered with various experiences, is more mature and is better placed to take appropriate decision even under stressful situations. Anti-stress measures in adults progresses through the stages of relaxation, acceptance and understanding based on the situation one is in. Intervention can be through yogic tools and techniques for relaxation; counselling; SWAN method to prioritize and solve problems; satsang – right company of friends, mentors and guides; and medication where stress has manifested at the physical level as disease.

SmileInStress

Smile-In-Stress

A child is dependent and has to abide by the decisions and instructions from parents at home and teachers at school. He/she has neither the requisite experience, skill, maturity nor bandwidth to take decisions. The responsibility for eliminating stress from a child’s life lies in its perpetrators – family, teachers and the education system.

They have to be provided a stress-free environment with appropriate tools and techniques.

  • The tools for providing right inputs and counsel could be bedtime stories, parents playing with them, friendly discussions, etc., Remember “the best gift parents can give to their child is, their time”.
  • Appropriate asana practices, pranayama, yoga nidra and other relaxation practices are yogic tools available to alleviate stress through relaxation both in adults and children.
  • Keep the negative environmental factors at bay or provide the right inputs about negatively influencing elements around them. For this a parent has to give some time to the child, be aware and observant about their environment, inputs, movements, changes in behaviour, etc.,
  • Diet – when, what, how much, prepared by whom, etc. also plays a role on influencing stress.

To do the above efficiently, parents and teachers need to be in a relaxed, energised and empowered state.

In situations where parents and teachers have a little role to play appropriate inputs through counselling may help. For example, education system may put pressure on the child. This is beyond the scope of parents and teachers to correct. However, they can take the effort to represent to the appropriate authorities with suggestions for improvisation. This effort could be in addition to counselling the child and keeping them in a relaxed state.

Hence, stress mastery through right understanding is the route for adults. Stress alleviation through relaxation is the best option available for children. During late-adolescence or early adulthood one can explore counselling along with relaxation techniques to handle stress.

As a person moves from a dependent (child) stage to independent (adult) stage one progresses from managing stress to mastering stress.

Know your thoughts

What do you wake up to, every morning?

Have you ever observed the constant chatter going on in your mind from the moment you wake up till you fall asleep?

Are you aware of what thoughts traverse your mind daily?

It has been scientifically proven that one does not have a big range of thoughts, but a small number of similar thoughts projecting themselves differently all through the day. As we know, our thoughts determine our action, our habits and ultimately our character.

Training gurus recommend that if one can manage thoughts, one can change their destiny.  But how do we manage our thoughts?

First we need to become aware of them.  For the next one month try this out…

Take out five minutes every day. Close your eyes and observe the thoughts that flow in your mind. You need not judge whether the thought is good or bad, right or wrong. You may simply observe the thought as if watching a movie.  At the end of five minutes, you may note down the list of thoughts that traversed your mind.

Doing this exercise for 30 days will help one become aware of their thoughts. Awareness solves 90% of the problem. It makes easier to move to the next step to manage the thoughts and reshape one’s destiny.

The Argumentative Couple

Ankur and Rishi are on a walk by the lake side. There is greenery all around. It is absolutely silent and calm except for the chirping of birds and the soothing sound of gentle breeze.

Both had actually set out for a stroll to chat on some interesting topic. But the weather was so engrossing they had not opened the mouth.  They are enjoying the weather to the fullest.

Screeeeeeech! 

A motor bike stopped suddenly on the road.  The guy riding the bike parked it and walked towards the bench swiftly. From the expression on his face one could observe he was very angry.

Ankur’s eyes fell on the girl on the bench equally agitated.  She was restless.  The mood of the duo is contrary to the surroundings.  As soon as the guy approached the girl he lifted his hands as if to slap her.  But the girl acted faster.

For a moment there was silence.  The guy was shocked.  Within seconds, the area was echoing with the arguments of the two.  They were both shouting at the top of their voices.  Probably, someone standing on the top of the mountain beside the lake, could clearly hear their argument.

Rishi was also observing this.  Suddenly, a smile emerged on his face.

When Ankur turned around to see Rishi’s response, he was surprised.  He could not understand why Rishi is amused. As if reading Ankur’s mind, Rishi started explaining.

“Can you observe Ankur, how both of them are telling the same thing and neither are able to understand that”

Ankur listened to their argument closely and concurred with Rishi. He could not understand why are they arguing, when both are of the same opinion.

He asked Rishi “why is this happening?  At the first instance, I don’t see any reason for them to shout so loudly in such a calm atmosphere.  Probably if they start speaking with each other calmly they will understand better”

“You are right Ankur.  They are not even two feet apart from each other.  Even a whisper can be clear to each other in such a calm atmosphere.  But the problem is  – physically they are very close to each other; their thoughts are also matching, but mentally and psychologically they are separated far wide.”

Rishi continued… “Contrary to what we generally believe, it is the un-manifest and not so obvious thoughts and emotions that drive our day.  If these two people become aware of their emotions and psychological distance, they will be able to interact in a pleasant tone and realise that their opinions don’t differ.”

Ankur responded in agreement.  He further added “I believe, even if they had different opinions, they could come to an understanding if they speak to each other calmly and reduce the psychic and emotional distance between them”

“You are right Ankur” agreed Rishi.

“I suggest Rishi, you should go and speak to them so that they stop their fight.  You should help them.”

“Unsolicited help or advice won’t work Ankur.  Now that they have vented out their anger, within a few minutes you will see that they would calm down and start talking to each other normally”

As they were conversing on these lines, they had moved past the boy and girl to the other end of the lake.  After about half an hour on their way back , Ankur observed the couple – now calm and talking to each other in a normal tone.

Ankur was once more convinced of Rishi’s wisdom.

CLASSICAL DANCES OF INDIA

There are many dance forms in India – some are deeply religious in content while others are danced just as an expression of joy or for relieving the stress after a day’s hard work. The classical dance forms use basically the same ‘mudras’ or signs of hand as a common language of expression and were originally performed in the temples to entertain various Gods and Goddesses. They were also effective in carrying forward the various mythological stories from generation to generation while entertaining the audiences.

BHARATANATYAM

Bharatanatyam

 Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest dance forms of India.  This dance originated in the state of Tamilnadu and was nurtured in the temples and courts of Southern India.   Bharata Natyam dance has been handed down through the centuries by dance teachers called nattuwanars and the temple dancers, called devadasis. The four great nattuwanars of Tanjore were known as the Tanjore Quartet and were brothers named Chinnaiah, Ponnaiah, Vadivelu and Shivanandam. The complete performance of this dance involves six stages known as Alarippu, Jatiswaram, Sabdam, Varnam, Padam and Thillana.  Nritta comprises of three elements – a basic standing position, movement of the legs and feet and decorative hand gestures.  Music for this dance is based on important tunes or ragas such as Bhairavi, Kalyani and Kambodhi.

 KATHAK

kathak

This style of dance which is said to have originated from the Jaipur and Lucknow gharanas is derived from the word Katha meaning ‘story telling’.  Traditionally the stories were of Radha and Krishna but after the invasion of the Mughuls, it shows traces of Muslim court etiquette.

The structure of a conventional Kathak performance tends to follow a progression in tempo from slow to fast, ending with a dramatic climax. A short dance composition is known as a tukra, a longer one as a toda. There are also compositions consisting solely of footwork.

MANIPURI

manipuri

This classical dance form is associated with the state of Manipur from North Eastern India.  The main theme of this dance is “Krishna’s Ras Leela”.  Manipuri dancers do not wear ankle bells to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet, in contrast with other Indian dance forms, and the dancers’ feet never strike the ground hard. Movements of the body and feet and facial expressions in Manipuri dance are subtle and aim at devotion and grace.  Ornamated and starched skirts are typical dress codes of the Manipuri dance.

 KATHAKALI

kathakali

It is a classical dance form of Kerala.  This dance form is based mostly on themes derived from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other Hindu epics, mythologies and legends. A Striking feature of Kathakali is the use of elaborate make-up and colourful costumes.  Loud drums are played while the dance drama, depicting the courage of heroic kings and the cunning of evil characters, is performed.

 MOHINI ATTAM

mohiniattam

Mohiniattam is derived from the words “Mohini” (meaning beautiful women) and “attam”(meaning dance).  This dance form is a beautiful feminine style with surging flow of body movements. Mohiniattam dance in Kerala is developed in the tradition of Devadasi system, which later grew and developed a classical status.  The theme of Mohini attam dance is love and devotion to god. Vishnu or Krishna is most often the hero. The spectators can feel His invisible presence when the heroine or her maid details dreams and ambitions through circular movements, delicate footsteps and subtle expressions.

 KUCHIPUDI

 kuchipudi

Kuchipudi derives its name from the Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh. In the seventeenth century the Kuchipudi village was presented to the Brahmins, who were experts in staging dance and drama. Kuchipudi exhibits scenes from the Hindu Epics, legends and mythological tales through a combination of music, dance and acting.The technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements.  Stylized mime, using hand gestures and subtle facial expressions, is combined with more realistic acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers.

 ODISSI

odissi

Odissi is one of the famous classical Indian dances from Orissa state. This dance traces its origins to the ritual dances performed in the temples of Orissa, by the devadasis.  The dancers use their head, bust and torso in soft flowing movements to express specific moods and emotions. This dance has been mentioned in the inscriptions and depicted on sculptures in temples like the Brahmeswara and the dancing hall of the Sun Temple of Konark.

E3 Communication for Success – Energy of Action

Healthy IO channels are the key to high energy of action. Through consistent practice, confidence is built up which enhances the energy of action. Disciplines like cleanliness, contentment, self-restraint, consistency, etc., helps in keeping your IO channels alert providing impetus to your communication.

Silence is also a tool to activate the energy of action. The mental chatter within has to stop to facilitate smooth flow of thoughts and words. There is a gestation period between communication conception and delivery. Practising silence for some time every day, helps to internalise this skill.

Practice makes a man perfect – preparing well in advance and rehearsing the same in mind before communicating helps remove obstacles and lacunae, if any irrespective of the channel of communication – oral, written or visual.

pic1

The pathway for a typical “Call for Action” communication…

Visuddhi chakra is the chakra directly related to oral communication while active manipura chakra helps build confidence. Yogic practices to activate the above chakras are the yogic answer to build energy of action.

Antarmouna practices help purify the chitta (memory), manas (mind) enhance buddhi (intelligence) build positive self-image and enhance clarity in communication.

It is to be noted that various practices and tools mentioned above, chakras and hence the three energies do not act in isolation or in a sequential order. They act concurrently. Practices to activate one energy will also have a positive indirect effect on the other chakras.

These tools learnt under expert guidance along with commonly taught communication etiquettes help one become an effective communicator.

E3 Communication for Success – Energy of Knowledge

Awareness of various elements that affect a communication enhances the energy of knowledge making the communication effective…

  • Why – the purpose of communication? There are four primary purposes of any communication
    • To survive
    • For enjoyment / pleasure
    • To share information/ knowledge
    • To evolve and attain fulfillment

In reality we do need all these four types of communication. Neither of them is superior or inferior. These four summarise the purposes of any communication and help determine the appropriate method or channel of communication.

  • How – various modes of communication? We may have to use various modes of communication. Sometimes two or more of the below modes – sama (emotional connect), dana (motivational communication), bheda (reason out through logic) and danda (punish/threaten). The purpose, audience, your position/relationship vis-à-vis the audience, Will of the audience, etc., will determine which mode(s) of communication one need to deploy.
  • When, to whom and where? help to structure the communication so that there is a perfect connect between the communicator and the audience. It is important to note that people are interested mainly in themselves. So, more usage of “you” will provide a better connect with the audience than “I”. A good communicator always builds his communication with the audience’s interests in mind, except when he is aggrieved or his basic interests are at stake. We come across communication workshops where it is suggested that people become aware of how many “I”s and “You”s one uses, to work upon that. This may not actually work, as the superficiality and artificiality in the same will be obvious to the audience. Research has shown that a self-centred person uses more of “I”. Working on one’s personality and developing an all-inclusive attitude will make more of “you”s come out naturally and attract people.
  • Knowledge of cultural, value propositions and interests of the audience vis-à-vis the subject of communication also helps to position the message with audience’s interests in mind.
  • Guna mix of the audience – when, why, where and how of communication will also be decided by guna mix of the audience. Dominant guna (sattva, rajas or tamas) mix of the audience means they are at higher receptive and understanding levels. This helps to choose the appropriate method, language and mode of communication.
  • Some common hindrances to effective communication – IO channel deficiencies, pre-conceived notions, self-image, generation gap, difference in thought wave-length, etc., are some of the common hindrances to effective communication. Prior knowledge of the same helps to overcome that to maximum extent.

p

Active Ajna chakra brings clarity, heightened levels of awareness and builds creative ability to handle obstacles and channelize the message ex-tempore during a communication. This is very essential especially for negotiators, teachers, trainers, etc., whose creative abilities are constantly put to test. Yogic practices to keep the IO channel in a healthy condition, practices that activate Ajna chakra, SWAN – self-analysis, etc., are some of the tools given in our scriptures to enhance the energy of knowledge…

E3 Communication for Success – The Energy of WILL

Firstly, both the communicator and receiver should accept and have the will to communicate. When the receiver is in no mood to listen to you, whatever you say will fall into deaf ears. When you do not have the will to communicate you will be very brief and speak in one or two-word sentences. Both the parties should have an open mind, respect for each other, interest in the subject, be in a physical and mental framework to communicate… Simply put…. both parties should agree to communicate.

The communicator has the bigger responsibility to understand these from the listener’s perspective and present the subject in a way that will enhance listener’s interest and willingness to listen.

Choosing the right time and environmental conditions when the listener’s will to listen is high makes difference to the effectiveness of communication. Having high energy levels will help to be aware of and use creative methods to enthuse the listener.

As a listener, high energy levels helps to listen through a very boring communication and still get the message without getting bored 🙂

Perseverance, consistency, discipline and awareness helps one to enhance the above skills. Healthy IO channels also help enhance the levels of awareness and Energy of WILL.

From yogic perspective – Shatkarma practices, Yamas and Niyamas help keep the IO channels clean and healthy. Yoga nidra also directly helps enhance the energy of WILL as it relaxes the entire physical body and clarifies the clutter in the mind. Practices directly influencing higher chakras help enhance overall communication ability.

Such information may look interesting to read and understand through intellect; However, applying the same in daily life by learning under expert guidance helps one appreciate it better.

%d bloggers like this: