Tag Archives: Mind

mind space

Here’s a thought that has been recently brought to my attention more than usual–mind space. The capacity of the mind is fairly large. I mean seriously, it is filled with just stuff. And everyday, we are constantly adding more stuff to it, whether we realize it or not. I mean its constantly processing, thinking, analyzing, organizing–it never stops! The power of the mind is unreal and crazy incredible. Its remarkable how much stuff gets put into the brain and the mind every single day.

The unfortunate part of it all is that a lot of that space is taken up by a lot of negative things. Judgements, criticisms, dislikes, jealousy, ego…all that gross stuff takes up a huge portion of our brain. What the crap?! It’s okay. It’s human nature to have an ego, and it’s easy to accidentally slip out a judgement or a negative comment. No biggie folks, it happens to me all the time.

But here’s the idea that has been popping up in a few books I’ve been reading, as well as some dialogues I’ve been listening to. Instead of filling our space with negative stuff that really isn’t good for us anyways, why don’t we fill our mind with positive stuff? Love, compassion, optimism? Those things never killed anyone! If anything, they help us grow into better human beings.

I know this seems like a simple and obvious idea and concept, yet, I’m not sure why it has never been so obvious of a decision in my life. I’m not just talking about positive thoughts and stuff. I’m talking about everything that we take in from our 5 senses should be positive. All of those sensations get perceived in our mind while the mind makes choices and discriminates between what to do and what not to do. So instead of sending sensations that aren’t super positive, why not send ones that are? Our mind can become purer, happier, more content, cleaner, all of these things that just make sense.

Naturally, as anything that is good for you, it’s easier said than done. It’s about making the right choices at the end of the day. I can sit and watch some reality show (which everyone knows I have my guilty pleasures of The Bachelor/Bachelorette), or I can read a good book. I can choose the slice of cheese pizza (which, again, everyone knows I’m a sucker for a good slice of cheese pizza) or I can pick the lighter and healthier option. The decision is ultimately in our hands of what to do and what not to do. However, the better the choices we make and the more frequently we make them, the more clarity our mind receives; and when we truly are stuck in a tough situation, our mind can immediately discriminate what’s the right decision and what’s not.

It’s all about setting up for later on down the road. The more confusion and cloudiness we bring in our lives now, the harder the decision-making process becomes later on. But, we have the power to reverse that!

There’s already too much negativity in this world. Fill your mind space with the good vibrations.

equanimity-love and compassion

I’ve encountered this idea of “equanimity” “being equanimous” etc. recently a lot. The idea is pretty simple at first thought. Treat everyone equally, and then you won’t create any extra “baggage” with them or their soul, which is ultimately a good thing.

Upon further thinking on this idea, I realized how much harder it actually is in real life. To not react with like or dislike. To not react with your ego attached to your emotions. To not be attached to your reaction, the individual, the end result. This is really hard when you start thinking about it. And personally, something I’m going through right now.

And then I started thinking, if I should be treating everyone equally (equanimously), then in theory I should be treating my family the same way I treat classmates, peers, even strangers. For some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to treat my parents, husband, family, the same way I treat the cashier at Target. Did I just create a hierarchy? Yeah, pretty much. I realized that I just created a system in my head where I placed my family on a higher rank of “people” then the people that cross my path once or twice. And here I am touting about how everyone deserve to be treated equally. Hello hypocrite!

What does that mean to treat someone with equanimity? In one of my classes yesterday, some students were saying things that I didn’t agree with. The first thing that popped in my head was rebuttals to their arguments. The second thing that popped into my head was that I should just let it go. It is what it is. They feel the way they do, and I can’t change it. I’m treating them with equanimity right? Wrong, because for a split second I thought that non-reaction is better than reaction. I talked to Nandan about this, and essentially the conversation lead to the conclusion that it’s not about inaction or not reacting. It’s about not having that attachment, which eventually leads to a pure love and compassion for everyone.

That’s the whole point of being equanimous (at least in our thought process). To treat everyone, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, strangers, peers, whoever with love and compassion. And that love and compassion should be the same for everyone. There is no hierarchy when it comes to who gets more compassion from you.

One of our classmates had invited the Drepung Monks to her house for a blessing, which was just so beautiful. But, after one of the monks lead a question and answer for a little while. He started talking about duality, and how everything has an opposite. The opposite of love is hate. The opposite of compassion is ill-will. The part that really stood out to me, was when he said that you can’t have both feelings in your mind at the same time. If your mind and heart are filled with hate, there is no room for love. If your mind is filled with ill-will, there’s no room for compassion. Which, then leads to un-equanimity! But, if your mind and heart is filled with love and compassion, there’s no room for hate or ill-will, and then you can act and talk from a true place of equanimity.

That was just so profound to me. We are so caught up in all these feelings of revenge and annoyance and frustration, that we literally have taken over our minds with negative emotions, that there’s no room for the positive and beautiful ones! Instead of focusing on why that person annoys you or irritates you or makes you so angry, why don’t we start thinking about how that person is just another person that deserves our love and respect? Because we let our ego get in the way, for one. But, in general it’s just too hard to love the other person, right? We’re a society of easy-way-out. However, I don’t think this method will work in the long-run.

Having love and compassion for even one person is hard, let alone the rest of the world! There are always going to be things that your friends and family do that just annoy you or put you over the edge. If we start thinking outside of our own self, and the idea that they are effecting me, my ego, we can start acting in different situations in equanimous ways, which will then leak into other realms of our life. Even the cashier at Target will feel your love and compassion!

Love and compassion are the way to go people! And what better time of year than right now to start practicing?

because y’all know I love gratitude

I know I’ve mentioned something about gratitude in several of my posts. I’ve posted a few daily encouragements that mention gratefulness. One of my favorite quotes by the most influential person in my life is “To be grateful is to be human.”

I want to pass on this video to you all about gratitude. Got 7 minutes? Go ahead, watch it now.

Did you watch it? I think it’s pretty amazing how something so simple (and free for that matter!) is the key to our happiness. This just further proves that all of this stuff we surround ourselves with doesn’t create a solution to our happiness. And, this is something that is even hard for me to fully act on most of the time. Doing all of the stuff that we love, hiking, shopping, reading, painting, whatever just makes life more fun. But does it really truly make us happy? Short term, maybe. But, we can’t keep living for short-term results, because then in the long-term, it can maybe cause unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It’s kind of like this. Why do we take vitamins and work out and even brush our teeth? Because we know that it’s good for us, and can prevent disease and  rotten teeth in the future. If we can take care of our physical self so that we can be healthy later on in life, why can’t we take care of our spiritual and mental self?

Something so simple, but so hard to do. Yeah, it means putting aside our ego for a little bit to let another individual, or thing, or whatever that you’re grateful for what they did for you; that because of them you succeeded in xyz. But, in the end, a little humility and gratitude does keep ourselves in check. And that’s not a bad thing, right?

So, go ahead. Tell someone thank you. And really truly mean it. Don’t say it out of an obligatory way like when someone holds the door open for you and you grudgingly thank them for that little task. Be grateful and be awesome!

Want to read the actual study? I haven’t gotten around to it, but definitely on my reading list. Here it is!

strengthen your mind

“No matter how healthy, intelligent or affluent we may be, if our minds are weak, then our happiness will also be frail and brittle. Our minds of faith, moreover, enable us to bring out the full potential in all things and situations, so it is crucial that we strive to forge our minds of faith.”  Daisaku Ikeda

The point of this blog is to let you in on my life and my thoughts and my experiences as I travel down this path of spirituality and my desire to seek Truth. Despite all of these great experiences and adventures I’ve been having, I forget my purpose and fall back in to the daily routine of life which includes home and work. 

This daily encouragement could not have come at a better time. I’ve been slacking on my meditation–a tool that I believe is one of the best ways to sharpen and strengthen your mind. I can’t say this is true or not, but to me the mind is a path to your soul, and your soul is the seat of your inner truth. Our mind is such a powerful, yet such an underused instrument in our lives. I forget this, and when I forget I begin to slack. Time to get back on a routine that involves meditation. Funny how these reminders come at exactly the time you need it the most. For me? I’m about to start a very stressful and anxiety-ridden couple months. I need my mind to be on point 24/7. Meditation time folks. Gotta get back in touch with myself. 

final thoughts on Vipassana experience

By the end of the week, I was able to sit longer periods without hating the pain in my knees and back. The more I observed my physical discomfort, the quicker it went away, even if during that one moment of observation.

I can’t say that I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish coming into the 10 days, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. But, I did learn some things that I’m deeming as important in my life journey, and will definitely play an important role in seeking the Truth.

1. I know I’m an emotional person. I react to every situation that comes at me. I now realize the extent to which this happens. How can I live a balanced life when I don’t even have a balanced mind?
2. I left Vipassana with a greater awareness of myself. I can definitely feel the sensations on my body, and I realize that they are there now. Do I still go in for that scratch on my nose. Yeah, a lot of the times, especially when I really can’t stand it. But, at least it’s not an unconscious act. I know that I am reacting. It’s not just another motion of life. Awareness-it’s a pretty amazing thing.
3. I left a huge grief in Kaufman, Texas. One that I wasn’t aware still hung tight to me. I realize that I let past situations determine my future sometimes, when it’s my current actions that determine my future. I’m learning to let go.
4. I have an attachment issue. To my friends, families, ideas, schools of thoughts. They’re in my comfort zone, and I’m scared to venture out. As much as I’d like to think that I’m open-minded, and as much as I am, I am actually very limited to what I am open-minded about. When it comes to spirituality, I like what I’m doing. Like I said, if I went to this pre-India, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. My world is being filled with so many new and exciting things, and it makes me so excited for my future, and the path I’ve decided to walk on. To become closer to the Divine, to have a real and fulfilling relationship with the Supreme involves so much more than I ever imagined, and I am realizing this a lot now. If I keep focusing on the one or two things that I don’t like about an idea, a person, a school of thought, I could be missing out on so much more that means a lot more. What is wrong with me!? At least this realization is coming now. Better late than never.
5. I want to live my life with so much love and compassion for all beings and creations that walk or sit this world.

At the end of the day, can I say that Vipassana Meditation is the technique I want to practice here on out? No, I can’t. It’s something I’m still learning about, and figuring out if it’s for me or not. But I can say that it has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about what kind of life I should be living, and want to live. A balanced life. A neutral life. A positive and hard-working lifeA life filled with love.

I am so in love with life right now, and I am so in love with the path that God is sending me on. My friend describes it as scary, but I like to describe it as fun and exciting.

May all beings be happy.

mind over matter

so what seems like the inevitable finally happened. i got sick. but, luckily not the stomach kind of sick that you would expect most foreigners to get (speaking of foreigner, i have an interesting post on this coming soon), but the fever and cold kinda sick. and let me tell you, it has not been fun. getting the chills and a cold straight from alaska is not the most pleasant feeling in this tropical feeling. so, i want to tell you guys how i got over this ailment.

it all started with what i thought were allergies. i’m highly allergic to what seems like every particle that’s in the air, so basically air. well, if you’re unaware, there is a lot of dust in india. i mean a lot. every where you walk, you’re inhaling a good amount of dust and pollution. so, it started off really mild, as in just a few sniffles and sneezed every now and then. typical allergy systems. nbd. my mom was coming in a few weeks and she was gonna bring my zyrtec for me.

well, she came, and i took that zyrtec everyday, but nothing happened. ok, still, it’s only been like 2 days, it’ll take some time to kick in. well, it’s safe to say something kicked in, but it wasn’t the zyrtec. i got sick. sick like with chills and runny nose, and i don’t want to do anything but lay in the bed sick because my body was so achy. bleh.

it didn’t help that i hate taking medicine. i really don’t want to put in anymore chemicals in my body than i do already, so naturally i got yelled at by aunt, grandmother, and mom for not going to the drug store to help shake this. i was gonna fight this and let it run it’s own natural course.

but here’s how i actually got over my sickness: i kept telling myself that i’m okay, and that i wasn’t sick. and i know it sounds silly, but self-pity isn’t going to help you feel better. i don’t know the exact psychology behind it, but it has a lot to do with attitude and perspective, and this is something i learned very early during college. if i’m going to have a negative attitude going in, then how can i expect to have a positive attitude during? positivity breeds positivity. it’s as easy as that.

our brain is the most powerful organ, and if we choose to actually use our brain for the better, then we can make a lot of situations into favorable ones. we have the capability to manipulate any situation. but are we going to manipulate it for the positive or negative?

here’s a daily encouragement that is perfect for this situation:

It is only natural that sometimes we fall sick. But we must see that sickness as a sickness that originally exists in life, based on the principle of the Mystic Law. In other words, there is no reason to allow yourself to be controlled by illness, for it to fill your life with suffering and distress. From the standpoint of eternal life through the three existences, your fundamentally happy self is incontrovertibly established.  Daisaku Ikeda

Mosquito Bite Count: I squashed a mosquito 5 minutes ago | Serious Craving: Olive Garden Bread Sticks

peace and love all.

it’s like a web

It’s been a few days since my last post. nothing extremely exciting has happened. I think I’ve finally gotten settled in and have a routine to follow everyday. The days are still going by pretty quick. I mean, I’ll be home in 70 days (and for all you Christmas extravagants like myself, that’s 70 more days until Christmas). There haven’t been any monkeys since my encounter on Friday with them. Thank the freaking goodness. But, I did see a peacock! My aunt’s friend has a weekend house about 25ish minutes away from the city (long way away, remember?), so I went with them yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of peacocks in the area. I didn’t get any pictures, but peacocks are everywhere in India, so I’m sure I’ll get one soon enough. Fun fact: the peacock is the national bird of India. Not sure what the U.S.’s is. I think Tennessee is the mockingbird. Not really sure though.

Anyways, I guess the other cool place I went to yesterday was the Kakaria Lake (wiki link). It’s this huge lake in the middle of Ahmedabad. Definitely check out the link. Lots of cool things go on in lake area–they have a zoo, aquarium, a train at night, light shows, food vendors, etc. My aunt and uncle took me at what seemed the crack of dawn for a morning walk. I kid you not, when I say this place was JAM PACKED. I didn’t realize there were so many morning walker enthusiasts on a Sunday morning here. Fortunately, it was somewhat cool outside.

Where I’m getting at with this, is going to the lake reminded me of a verse I learned in Sanskrit class the day before:

Shashina cha nisha nishayaa cha shashi

Shashina nishaya cha vibhati nabaha I

Payasaa kamalam kamalena payaha

Payasaa kamalena vibhati saraha II

Here’s the rough translation: The moon shines because of the night and the night shines because of the moon. So, the sky shines because of both the moon and the night. In the same way, the lotus looks beautiful because of the water, and the water looks beautiful because of the lotus. So, the lake looks beautiful by both the lotus and the water.

Essentially, what this shloka, or verse, is getting at is this ideaa of “paraspara”. What it means, is that we are who we are because of the relationships we have in our life. A husband is because of his wife, and a wife is because of her husband. A shopkeeper is not a shopkeeper without customers. A brother is not a brother without a sister, etc. You guys get the drift. But, this idea of interdependence is pretty cool if you think about it. We’ve created a huge tangled web with the rest of the world and the people who live in it. Pretty neat huh? It really hits on the quote “no man is an island”.

I went to Texas this summer, and remember having a conversation with a friend a long the same lines. When I wake up and have a cup of coffee, it’s not just me that poured the cup. But, you have to think back to the origin of the coffee plant. Someone had to plant it, harvest it, bag it, ship it, package it, ship it again, shelf it, etc. Our actions are never really solely done by us and us alone. There is someone else always involved in the process.

I think this is especially important for anyone on any kind of spiritual path. The relationships we create in our life all play a huge role in our ultimate relationship with the Divine. We are all a little piece of the Supreme, so by the friends we pick and the relationships we nurture, we are surrounding ourselves with small pieces of the Ultimate. So, don’t ever feel like you’re alone in any situation. There is always a presence of someone else, an invisible hand if you will, that has helped you get where you are. Having this attitude can bring humbleness into our lives, and humility is a virtue all religions endorse.

Mosquito Bite Count: It’s never ending; 5 | Serious Craving: Caramel Lattee

entrance gate to the lake

how pretty is the sunrise?

if you look closely, you can see different color rings around the sun, getting brighter and brighter.

an island in the middle.

tick tick tick and tock.

Yesterday, I was at my cousin’s place just hanging out. All the kids here take essentially what I call extra tutoring classes for everything. And I don’t mean just the ones struggling, everyone. For every subject. It’s a little ridiculous and I wouldn’t have survived in school or college here. They call it “tuition” (pronounced tyoo-shun) and they literally go to these things for hours upon end. She was getting ready to go to her tuition for accounting. She’s taking the last step for the equivalent of our CPA in May. Anyways, I asked her how far it was from her house. And she goes, “Yeah, it’s pretty far. Like 15 minutes away.” I thought in my head, are you joking? 15 minutes in America is nothing. Even in big cities where you have crazy awesome public transit, 15 minutes is nothing. It takes me 20 minutes just to get to Wal-Mart from my house. I was really shocked at the perceptions of time here. Even when I landed at the airport, I asked my aunt and uncle how far home was, and they said it’s about 15 kilometers (which I quickly figured out in my head, based off of a 5k being 3.1 miles, is about 9ish miles away). To me, that was nothing. 9 miles is an easy 20 minute car ride. But here, 20 minutes seems like the equivalence of 3 hours. I thought back to the countless number of times I drove from college in Birmingham, AL all the way back home to Memphis. That was a long 4 hours. But 15-20 minutes…?

I started to think about the importance of time, and the utilization of it. We’re always complaining how we don’t have enough hours in the day. I wish I could count how many times I’ve said myself, or I’ve heard others say, 24 hours just isn’t enough. But, when you look at it from a bigger perspective, it really is. I’m 22 years old, that’s the equivalent to 192,720 hours. Now, tell me that’s not a lot of hours. So the question becomes, how can I stretch every minute I have as far as possible? How can I really utilize each hour that I’m awake so at the end of the day I’m not complaining that I didn’t have enough time to get X,Y,Z done.

The past few months, I’ve been living at home with my parents and just working on applications for grad school and stuff. But other than that, not doing a whole lot more. I have a routine, but I definitely have plenty of free time during the day when my parents are at work. A really good friend of mine semi-got onto me for not making the most of all this time I have. And, he’s right. Instead of watching 5 episodes of HIMYM, I could cut back to 2 and spend that extra 1.5 hours to read or perfect a skill, or learn something new. But, it’s just so much nicer to be passive than active, right? Well, we all know that quote, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” or some variation of it. So back to my original question, how can I stretch one minute to make it last “forever”?

Every morning, I wake up and meditate. Not for super long, but I try to for at least 30 minutes. I really recommend everyone just sitting by themselves for even as little as 5-10 minutes and just clear your mind and try to just focus on being in that moment. Anyways, this morning I was you know, meditating, and without thinking, my hand moved to my face to scratch an itch I had. Now usually, when you just quickly scratch your head or arm, that sensation goes away fast. Go ahead, try it right now. Experiment time: how long after do you feel that scratch? Ok, so I went and scratched my face. And I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but I kid you not, that sensation lasted for at least 5ish minutes, and more than that, I felt it deeper than just my outer most layer of skin, seriously permeating through however many layers of skin there is, down to muscle and bone.

I think this is the answer to my question. We need to figure out a way to make these sensations and eventual perceptions that we feel last longer than a few seconds. One way to do that is the ability to control our senses. This is one of the messages found in the Bhagvad Geeta. As humans, it is easy for our senses to control our mind. We like something, we’re attracted to that, we want to taste that, all of this then controls our actions. But, really, it should be the other way around. Our mind should be strong enough to control our senses. I don’t know the science or philosophy behind this, but if we can control our senses, than I think we can control what we feel, and make that feeling last longer than it really does. In turn, we might be able to make our time last longer, because we would be able to feel the after effects for much longer. Any experts out there please feel free to comment!

I woke up from my nap today (napping is somewhat mandatory here. Ha. Everyone takes a good hour, two hour nap if you’re home in the afternoon), and found a bird trapped inside the house. There are 3 windows we have, and the middle one was open, but it was trying to escape from the window that was closed. But, the funny thing was, the solution to his problem was literally right next to him. He just couldn’t see. This is so applicable in our lives, if not for you, than definitely for me. The answer to so many of our life questions is right in front of us, but the hard part is realizing that it’s there. My life has become now, more than ever, a spiritual endeavor to seek truth. And the solution to this thing we call life is here. It’s written by our ancestors and sages and saints and thousands of people who have come before us. But, if I don’t stop watching TV all day and try to uncover what’s out there, how am I going to be able to travel down this road? It’s as easy as stretching the minutes of my life as far as they’ll go.

Mosquito Bite Count: 2 | Serious Craving: back to Taco Bell. Yum.

the little bugger trying to get out.

he’s out. and free.

last one. he’s so cute.

not quite 17 things I’ve learned this past week

Today, I woke up early to go to a park and read the Geeta. Well, a transliteration of it at least. A very good one might I add. If you want to know the author, let me know. But, back to the point I’m trying to make. A lot has been on my mind the past week, and it’s really hard for me to express those thoughts. I get embarrassed, and afraid. Afraid that people will judge me for what goes through my mind. Maybe they won’t agree with it, maybe I’m too scared to not be accepted. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe maybe maybe. This is what my life has become. Endless amounts of maybes that encourage me to teeter on yes or no. Like my mom always says,”maybe is not a real answer”. And she’s absolutely right. Everyone knows the definite answer to every situation, idea, feeling, thought, question, everything…but we’re just to something to admit it. Acceptance. We all strive for it. But is it absolutely necessary? We came into this world alone, and we are going to leave alone. I know that this is a semi-depressing thought, but it’s the truth. The people and things that we surround ourselves with in our lives are there to make this journey we call life a little bit more pleasurable. We learn from them and these things, hoping that at the end of the day we have become a better person. So maybe if we thought of life in this sense just a little bit, we probably wouldn’t have so many “maybes” and we would probably be more confident with ourselves.

While reading the Geeta this morning, I came across a few things that I think if I understood better, I could learn to be a more confident individual. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me understand the purpose for what i’m living a little bit better:

  1. we have 5 senses. we let these senses take control of our actions. wrong. our mind needs to control our actions.
  2. everyday we are led by our desires. we want this and that, and all those things over there. but, are these desires going to help us grow towards our ultimate goal?
  3. we are all connected. all humans are part of mankind/humanity/whatever shall you. so, if one person is affected, than so everyone else is too. this leads to my 4th point
  4. why are we not more merciful towards the other human? are we not all part of one species? doesn’t it make sense to have a little bit more sympathy for other people?
  5. my final point: everything that makes us up as an individual is constantly changing. it changes with the people we are with, the situation we are in, the surroundings that consume us everything–our personality, ego, senses, emotions, will, intellect. EVERYTHING. how can we honestly say that we are this, or that we are that when we aren’t anything but situational.
point 5 is what i will elaborate on this week. so look out for that. until then. peace to you.