Monday, January 20, 2014

Being so inconsiderate

Honk! Honk! b@dw0rd$! It's a daily struggle on Bangalore roads. Every single person is in a hurry, except the people crossing the roads. People crossing the road, seem to have learnt an art to put their lives in danger with a calm look on their face. It simply amazes me when I see people dodge a big huge bus rushing towards them with a gentle and not to forget accurate movement of their hips. And while doing so, continue to merrily talk on their phone, like nothing out of the ordinary happened.
Not to forget the fast and furious 2-wheelers on the roads. You can see kids, toddlers dozing just behind the handle bars; while the rider coolly, races just against the wheels of a loaded truck. Only a fool would say this is not dangerous. But people are like this, or I think have learned to live like this; art of risking lives.
And the mighty comfy 4 wheeler cars, what can I say! Every car driver seem to have lost their patience! If a car slows down or God forbids stops on the road to give way to an old couple crossing the road, the cars behind will honk to glory and will not miss to shout a few bad words. It costs agony to be courteous while driving - be it to the pedestrians or fellow cars.

Why are the buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians so careless? I will make sure I cross the road, others go to hell. I will make sure I race the trucks, who cares of the on coming traffic- they'll stop or find a way out. I will make sure I drive my slow truck on the fast moving lane, who cares if I am slowing the traffic on a free way?

Why are we so inconsiderate?

I think the learning starts at home. How many times do parents stop kids from throwing a banana skin on the road? Forget kids, how many times do people think twice before spitting on the road or throwing thrash on the roads? Keep your houses clean, don't care of the neighbors, or a passer by. You may think uneducated would behave like this. But education plays a very small part here.

One day I was watching a lady and her grandson water plants in a building complex. There were no water pipes, they had to fill water in a bucket from a tap which was a little far from the plant bed. After several trips, all the plants were watered except a few at the end. As the kid was going to water those, the granny stops the kid saying, no no don't water them, those are not ours! What? You planted a few plants in the building complex, so they become yours? But those others, ignore those? What would you loose to water the rest of plants and use the water you had with you? What is that you are teaching your kid?

This is just one example. We can see a similar kind of behavior even in corporate places. How many times do you see people walking in groups, occupying the full breadth of a road? Or people standing right at the entrance of a door or gate and engrossed in talking? Or how many people hold the door for you? In fact if someone happens to hold the door, the next few in line would see how best to squeeze through the open door.

The attitude of keep ourselves, our family and friends happy, while others don't exists - is ruining us. 'Being Human' is just a brand of clothes worn but not understood. Soon, more and more generations down the line will become more oblivious of those around.

Why are we turning out like this? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Infertility - husband's point of view

Came across yet another post on a beautiful representation of emotions going through a person's mind caught in the trap of infertility. This time husband's point of view.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Visit to a temple

One day we were visiting a temple near our house. It was some occasion, I don't particularly remember. So the place was crowded with people from different paths of life, young, old, locals, some visitors. As soon as we entered the temple, I saw some women filling 'daone' (a sweet that is offered in the name of God and then distributed among the devotees as prasad-basically return gift from temple). I was excited to help too. They were very happy to have another helping hand. So after a quick 'darshan' in the temple, I went and joined the volunteers. What surprised me was none of the people (my friends and relatives) except one came forward and joined me to help. They preferred sitting right in front of the deity seeking blessings.
This bothers me. You are in a temple seeking for blessings or some kind of connection with God. What better way than to offer service? People tend to do things that they have been seeing and doing from childhood. Go to temple, offer flowers, money to God, make promises to offer more money or some goods IF my dreams get fulfilled.
Ok, ok. May be I am being too judgmental. We may not know what people have going in their lives. May be just sitting before the idol brings peace they are looking for. But then I don't see that sincerity in their behavior while in the temple either. They would start gossiping with friends and relatives that they meet, or show off their expensive jewelry or sarees. You can hardly see anyone with eyes closed, calm composure, relaxed. Everyone seems to have a anxious look on their face, as if remembering all the sin they have committed and waiting for God's pardon. The focus is more on, have I completed all the rituals properly? Did I take 1 or 3 turns around the idol. Did I ring the temple bell when I entered. Did I do a saashtaang namaskar (pray bending knees down on the floor, nose touching floor)? Did I get to eat the prasad! Do I have enough to share with my folks back home who are not with me. Did I give enough money to perform some ritual and did the priest say my name correctly before God. Else, God may give blessings to someone else by mistake.
So while I was enjoying talking to the strangers while filling the prasad, the temple bells begin to ring loud, announcing an aarti; basically the time when priest talks to God asking for blessings for people present before him and offers the prasad and distributes it among people. BTW, this is also the time, he goes around with a lighted diya and people make sure they get to touch the diya; otherwise the temple visit will not be complete. Priests collect money (small change) as he carries out this act.
So, as the bells started ringing, people with me left whatever they were doing and ran inside the temple. I had no choice but to follow them. The scene inside the temple was chaotic. There was a big rush, each one trying to get in front so that they can 'see' the idol clearly. My friends and relatives were not behind either. One shouted to the other 'come this way', almost pushing few others along the way.
Here my problem was, how can people not understand that just like how important it is for you to get the 'darshan' and the best spot, so it is for other people too. What if one of your relative cannot stand in front? What if one of your relative cannot touch the diya when the priest comes with the diyas? Don't you see others are humans too and probably God would like some order while prayers are being offered. So let those who got ahead get the best view and be the first to get the prasad. Why this race and fight?
Again this bothers me. No one seem to be considerate of a fellow being. Even at an auspicious place like a temple.
Outside the temple, you can usually see some beggars seeking the temple visitor's kindness and begging for a a few rupees. And usually what is the reaction from the people they get? They are completely ignored or looked at with doubt that these beggars may rob my shoes I left at the door. Very few are kind enough to give some change to them.
Again this bothers me. You can spend hundreds on some rituals and prasad, but cannot spare a little to some needy? I've heard people say that these beggars should not waste their time on easy money but go look for some job and earn money in a more dignified way. But my point is, if you give the same money that you would otherwise offer to the temple, to the beggar instead, will you become poor? Temple has enough money. May be with the money you give to the temple, the God idol will be painted in gold, or worn some expensive jewelry. Why do we need this drama? Why not make use of the money to feed someone who cannot afford a day's meal? May be with the money you give, they will be able to apply for a job.
What is your imagination of God? How do you please and seek God's blessings? Do you question the ways you have been taught? No, then why not? 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In India...

After staying in US for over 3 years, we shifted to India in March 2013. While in US, for last couple of years, I had tried to make positive changes in my day to day life, by taking up meditation, reading, being with nature, involving myself in volunteering activities whenever possible. My motive was to find out the secret of being happy, how mind and emotions work, learn what it meant to be free. I was reading and following some of the gurus by reading their biographies, their teachings etc. I was very excited to come to India, most importantly looking from my search for life's meaning path that I thought I was on. I don't claim to have taken up the right or best approach or techniques. But I knew I was eager and willing to put effort to know the unknown.
I knew that when we move to India, meditation, volunteering activities, interacting with people, sharing, caring, giving, learning would become less of an effort. For example, I thought getting involved in some volunteering activity in India would be easier as I would know more people, also there are more people who need help. I thought meditation or listening to scriptures or being part of satsangs would be easier than it was in US. I want to share how it turned out.

Meditation had become a regular practice for me and I was not sure if I could continue the same when in India. When we reached India, we were put up in our company guest house for a month. Every time I sat for my practice, either there were people upstairs, downstairs making noise, someone screaming, cars stuck in traffic honking non stop, some construction sound in the background. I was not used to do my practice with so much noise pollution. I thought, may be people in India who do practice meditation must be experts to be able to filter out this noise.
In office I found out that there is a meditation room open 8 am to 4 pm and was extremely delighted. With lot of time spent in daily commute, it was next to impossible to dedicate regular time at home sitting quietly concentrating on thoughts and mind and breath! So office meditation room was a blessing. But the attraction soon faded off. First day when I was in middle of my Oooommm recital (in my mind, eyes closed), a heard someone bang the door as he/she made her way in the room. Then thomp! thomp! threw her heavy bag on the floor. Psst, psst made some sound like she had a bad day (btw, the day had just started). Then started doing yogasanas making panting sound at every posture she changed. How inconsiderate! Obviously I was so annoyed. Why are we allowing yoga exercises in the mediation room? Can we keep separate hours for yoga, I inquired. But to my surprise, all I got in response was, we should adjust.
I thought to myself, I should be accommodating. I should try to come in some other time in the day. But somehow, whatever time I tried for next few days, I was disturbed by that girl (somehow it seemed like we both followed each others timings for few days) or someone else. Soon, I learned to ignore the distraction and do what I had to do. But I noticed one change in me. Initial few days, I tiptoed in the room if I saw someone sitting in meditation. But now I did not try to tiptoe or push the door slowly as I entered. I knew people did not care; no one either complained if I shut the door hard, or were grateful if I tiptoed. Unfortunately, I had become like one of the others. Well! Soon after, I did not even feel bad that I did not care.
Talking of distractions in that room, one day I was sitting in one corner calm and relaxed, counting my breathing. Suddenly I hear a fart! Loud noise and then such bad odor, I could puke. I wanted to get up and run. But I felt irresponsible if I stopped mid way, so i continued and fought the smell like a warrior. But all the while I only thought, why the hell people don't clean their tummy before a workout or meditation, or just walk out if they feel the urge. I was so annoyed! But I braved the storm (in fact one other time too) and learned to adjust.

As soon as I joined office, I got informed of a volunteering drive in campus. Mainly the idea was to collect money from people in the office and help needy students with books and stationary. I was very thrilled and was eager to be part of the initiative. The event was a success and the intended needs were met. But I was so surprised to see the participation and volunteer numbers who stepped up. Mere less than 100 out of 20,000 odd people volunteered. Even whose who did, did not show the eagerness to help. Some did not show up in meetings, were too shy to ask for money from people, could not contribute any ideas that could help the cause, were least bothered to know what was happening and how the event was progressing.
When we went for collection, the responses we got from people was even worse. Why should we contribute? Explain to us how the money will be spent. What is the guarantee that the students need what we are giving them? Well, c'mon! All the information is available online. Do you think the money will be misused? Then don't give, but don't dishearten those who want to! What I struggled to understand was, why was it so difficult to trust such an initiative? We were part of the same company, all information was transparent. What else?

I think this post may end up being too long. I'll continue in my next. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sachin! Sachin!

Sachin Sachin! Every fan of Sachin who saw him walk out of the ground must have had tears in their eyes. You are my hero! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Infertility - emotions difficult to cope with

It was around the same time of the year, Oct 15th to be precise two years ago that I had a spontaneous abortion. I was 15+ weeks at the time and it was my first. I had no idea, that even after 2 years, I would still be childless and fighting infertility.
One way, this horrible experience changed me in a lot of ways. I have become more compassionate, I meditate which has been the biggest positive change in my life. My interest in human psychology has grown few folds. I am not scared to question human beliefs, religious and spiritual traditions. It has been quite a journey so far.
But it has also been very very difficult to control the sudden urge to cry or feel bad for myself.

I came across this letter that someone like me struggling with infertility wrote to her family and friends. It exactly portrays the whirls of emotions that went through me in the last two years. I may not be feeling the same way right now, but it does give a sense of what people like me wanting for a child go through.


I want to share my feelings about infertility with you, because I want you to understand my struggle. I know that understanding infertility is difficult; there are times when it seems even I don't understand. This struggle has provoked intense and unfamiliar feelings in me and I fear that my reactions to these feelings might be misunderstood. I hope my ability to cope and your ability to understand will improve as I share my feelings with you. I want you to understand.
You may describe me this way: obsessed, moody, helpless, depressed, envious, too serious, obnoxious, aggressive, antagonistic, and cynical. These aren't very admirable traits; no wonder your understanding of my infertility is difficult. I prefer to describe me this way: confused, rushed and impatient, afraid, isolated and alone, guilty and ashamed, angry, sad and hopeless, and unsettled.
My infertility makes me feel confused. I always assumed I was fertile. I've spent years avoiding pregnancy and now it seems ironic that I can't conceive. I hope this will be a brief difficulty with a simple solution such as poor timing. I feel confused about whether I want to be pregnant or whether I want to be a parent. Surely if I try harder, try longer, try better and smarter, I will have a baby.
My infertility makes me feel rushed and impatient. I learned of my infertility only after I'd been trying to become pregnant for some time. My life-plan suddenly is behind schedule. I waited to become a parent and now I must wait again. I wait for medical appointments, wait for tests, wait for treatments, wait for other treatments, wait for my period not to come, wait for my partner not to be out of town and wait for pregnancy. At best, I have only twelve opportunities each year. How old will I be when I finish having my family?
My infertility makes me feel afraid. Infertility is full of unknowns, and I'm frightened because I need some definite answers. How long will this last? What if I'm never a parent? What humiliation must I endure? What pain must I suffer? Why do drugs I take to help me, make me feel worse? Why can't my body do the things that my mind wants it to do? Why do I hurt so much? I'm afraid of my feelings, afraid of my undependable body and afraid of my future.
My infertility makes me feel isolated and alone. Reminders of babies are everywhere. I must be the only one enduring this invisible curse. I stay away from others, because everything makes me hurt. No one knows how horrible is my pain. Even though I'm usually a clear thinker, I find myself being lured by superstitions and promises. I think I'm losing perspective. I feel so alone and I wonder if I'll survive this.
My infertility makes me feel guilty and ashamed. Frequently I forget that infertility is a medical problem and should be treated as one. Infertility destroys my self esteem and I feel like a failure. Why am I being punished? What did I do to deserve this? Am I not worthy of a baby? Am I not a good sexual partner? Will my partner want to remain with me? Is this the end of my family lineage? Will my family be ashamed of me? It is easy to lose self-confidence and to feel ashamed.
My infertility makes me feel angry. Everything makes me angry, and I know much of my anger is misdirected. I'm angry at my body because it has betrayed me even though I've always taken care of it. I'm angry at my partner because we can't seem to feel the same about infertility at the same time. I want and need an advocate to help me. I'm angry at my family because they've always sheltered and protected me from terrible pain. My younger sibling is pregnant; my mother wants a family reunion to show off her grandchildren and my grandparents want to pass down family heirlooms. I'm angry at my medical caregivers, because it seems that they control my future. They humiliate me, inflict pain on me, pry into my privacy, patronize me, and sometimes forget who I am. How can I impress on them how important parenting is to me? I'm angry at my expenses; infertility treatment is extremely expensive. My financial resources may determine my family size. My insurance company isn't cooperative, and I must make so many sacrifices to pay the medical bills. I can't miss any more work, or I'll lose my job. I can't go to a specialist, because it means more travel time, more missed work, and greater expenses. Finally, I'm angry at everyone else. Everyone has opinions about my inability to become a parent. Everyone has easy solutions. Everyone seems to know too little and say too much.
My infertility makes me feel sad and hopeless. Infertility feels like I've lost my future, and no one knows of my sadness. I feel hopeless; infertility robs me of my energy. I've never cried so much nor so easily. I'm sad that my infertility places my marriage under so much strain. I'm sad that my infertility requires me to be so self-centered. I'm sad that I've ignored many friendships because this struggle hurts so much and demands so much energy. Friends with children prefer the company of other families with children. I'm surrounded by babies, pregnant women, playgrounds, baby showers, birth stories, kids' movies, birthday parties and much more. I feel so sad and hopeless. My infertility makes me feel unsettled. My life is on hold. Making decisions about my immediate and my long-term future seems impossible. I can't decide about education, career, purchasing a home, pursuing a hobby, getting a pet, vacations, business trips and houseguests. The more I struggle with my infertility, the less control I have. This struggle has no timetable; the treatments have no guarantees. The only sure things are that I need to be near my partner at fertile times and near my doctor at treatment times. Should I pursue adoption? Should I take expensive drugs? Should I pursue more specialized and costly medical intervention? It feels unsettling to have no clear, easy answers or guarantees.
Occasionally I feel my panic subside. I'm learning some helpful ways to cope; I'm now convinced I'm not crazy, and I believe I'll survive. I'm learning to listen to my body and to be assertive, not aggressive, about my needs. I'm realizing that good medical care and good emotional care are not necessarily found in the same place. I'm trying to be more than an infertile person gaining enthusiasm, joyfulness, and zest for life.
You can help me. I know you care about me and I know my infertility affects our relationship. My sadness causes you sadness; what hurts me, hurts you, too. I believe we can help each other through this sadness. Individually we both seem quite powerless, but together we can be stronger. Maybe some of these hints will help us to better understand infertility.
I need you to be a listener. Talking about my struggle helps me to make decisions. Let me know you are available for me. It's difficult for me to expose my private thoughts if you are rushed or have a deadline for the end of our conversation. Please don't tell me of all the worse things that have happened to others or how easily someone else's infertility was solved. Every case is individual. Please don't just give advice; instead, guide me with your questions. Assure me that you respect my confidences, and then be certain that you deserve my trust. While listening try to maintain an open mind. I need you to be supportive. Understand that my decisions aren't made casually,I've agonized over them. Remind me that you respect these decisions even if you disagree with them, because you know they are made carefully. Don't ask me, "Are you sure?" Repeatedly remind me that you love me no matter what. I need to hear it so badly. Let me know you understand that this is very hard work. Help me realize that I may need additional support from professional caregivers and appropriate organizations. Perhaps you can suggest resources. You might also need support for yourself, and I fear I'm unable to provide it for you; please don't expect me to do so. Help me to keep sight of my goal.
I need you to be comfortable with me, and then I also will feel more comfortable. Talking about infertility sometimes feels awkward. Are you worried you might say the wrong thing? Share those feelings with me. Ask me if I want to talk. Sometimes I will want to, and sometimes I won't, but it will remind me that you care.
I need you to be sensitive. Although I may joke about infertility to help myself cope, it doesn't seem as funny when others joke about it. Please don't tease me with remarks like, "You don't seem to know how to do it." Don't trivialize my struggle by saying, "I'd be glad to give you one of my kids." It's no comfort to hear empty reassurances like, "You'll be a parent by this time next year." Don't minimize my feelings with, "You shouldn't be so unhappy." For now, don't push me into uncomfortable situations like baby showers or family reunions. I already feel sad and guilty; please don't also make me feel guilty for disappointing you.
I need you to be honest with me. Let me know that you may need time to adjust to some of my decisions. I also needed adjustment time. If there are things you don't understand, say so. Please be gentle when you guide me to be realistic about things I can't change such as my age, some medical conditions, financial resources, and employment obligations. Don't hide information about others' pregnancies from me. Although such news makes me feel very sad, it feels worse when you leave me out.
I need you to be informed. Your advice and suggestions are only frustrating to me me if they aren't based on fact. Be well informed so you can educate others when they make remarks based on myths. Don't let anyone tell you that my infertility will be cured if I relax and adopt. Don't tell me this is God's will. Don't ask me to justify my need to parent. Don't criticize my course of action or my choice of physician even though I may do that myself. Reassure yourself that I am also searching for plenty of information which helps me make more knowledgeable decisions about my options.
I need you to be patient. Remember that working through infertility is a process. It takes time. There are no guarantees, no package deals, no complete kits, no one right answer, and no "quickie" choices. My needs change; my choices change. Yesterday I demanded privacy, but today I need you for strength. You have many feelings about infertility, and I do too. Please allow me to have anger, joy, sadness, and hope. Don't minimize or evaluate my feelings. Just allow me to have them, and give me time.
I need you to be strengthening by boosting my self esteem. My sense of worthlessness hampers my ability to take charge. My personal privacy has repeatedly been invaded. I've been subjected to postcoital exams, semen collection in waiting room bathrooms, and tests in rooms next to labor rooms. Enjoyable experiences with you such as a lunch date, a shopping trip, or a visit to a museum help me feel normal.
Encourage me to maintain my sense of humor; guide me to find joys. Celebrate with me my successes, even ones as small as making it through a medical appointment without crying. Remind me that I am more than an infertile person. Help me by sharing your strength.
Eventually I will be beyond the struggle of infertility. I know my infertility will never completely go away because it will change my life. I won't be able to return to the person I was before infertility, but I also will no longer be controlled by this struggle. I will leave the struggle behind me, and from that I will have improved my skills for empathy, patience, resilience, forgiveness, decision-making and self-assessment. I feel grateful that you are trying to ease my journey through this infertility struggle by giving me your understanding.
Jody Earle

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mind, Thoughts and Us

Our mind is constantly feeding us with thoughts. Thoughts of our past, or our future, sometimes just self made-up memories. Mostly the feeling associated with them are that of fear or apprehension/worry of future events or grief, loss, despair of past memories. Why does this happen? Can we control this? Do they affect our lives in any way?

I have been doing my personal search and learning of consciousness mainly through meditation and reading and following posts from people who I believe have a common purpose. I feel my desire to learn or explore the 'truth' as they say in spirituality, leads me to useful sources. Sources, those at the moment, help to answer my questions. I don't know what is right and what is not. But I trust intuition and my gut feeling that leads me to a satisfying place at the time.

As I was reading the book 
Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, I was amazed by the varied belief system and thought process of people who they believe are so close to God. What is God to them? Why do I not see those Gods that they do? Are they happy in life because of their faith or because of something else? Then they are sad too, so why are they sad?

I am learning that we are responsible for our own experiences whether good or bad. When things go wrong, we like to find someone to blame it on, and God seems an easy way. But why would God want us pain or suffering. Because we may have done something bad so this is our punishment or old bad karma? But who decides good or bad? Then we plan on bribing God or make him happy using drills we have known from childhood. These explanations does not make sense to me. So I keep looking for answers.

When I am meditating, I can get to a state where a thought about anything becomes painfully energy draining and so it feels great to be void of any. Where does my grudge or my reasons to feel bad for myself, or the bad memories go at that time? Same, when say I am enjoying an evening with my friends? Or I am reading a book of my interest. So, it means that I am no longer in pain for any reason at those times. Mostly, these 'bad' feelings come in when I am idle and have no better things to do. But knowing that I can be in a state of no thought and so of no pain is revolutionary. It means that with focus, and that is with intention I can choose to have no thoughts. But how can we be with no thoughts all the time? But at least it clarifies one thing, and the most important thing. And that is pain or unhappiness is linked to my thoughts. Of course, it also means, happiness is linked to my thoughts. Basically, feelings and emotions are. So this means that happiness or sadness are my choosing. 

I came across Abraham Ester Hicks videos where super beings talk to Ester Hicks. They talk about being in the vibrational vortex and the universal law of attraction. The theory is that, we are all vibrations, including our thoughts. Whatever we desire, the universe is waiting to give it to us. There are no exceptions. We however need to be in our vibrational vortex to receive what is given. Basically, it is the feeling-good space.
I read her book called 'Ask and it is Given'. In her book there are many techniques explaining how the law of attraction can be used to fulfill your desires.

Our subconscious makes up 85% or our total mind power. Very little as 15% is conscious. What does this mean? Say we pick a glass of water. The focus to pick the glass is conscious. But which muscle to contract and how to move fingers is subconscious. Our subconscious is continuously learning from our tiny conscious and is controlling our life so to say. What I felt going through the book was that the techniques were mainly how to be conscious and deliberate in choosing thoughts which thus affect the subconscious. Most of the time, just thinking about what you want does not work effectively. You need to communicate this to the subconscious in a way that it understands and remembers.

I try to be conscious and aware of what I am thinking throughout the day. But many times thoughts involuntarily bring feeling of pain, jealousy and fear. As soon as I realize I am doing that, I think of something else. It is a continuous deliberate process. There are however times when I am engulfed with a low vibration feeling, say of jealousy. I feel angry and frustrated. I realize that, but I just cannot change the thought to something else. During those times, I just surrender and acknowledge the thoughts. That's the best I can do at that very moment. I keep assuring myself that this is just a thought. Once the intensity of it goes down, I switch to a happy thought.