5 Ways to powerful use of ‘Silence’

In silence many answers lie

In the middle of a heated argument on feminism she chose to remain silent. She carried a wise smile and people around thought she had no opinion. But she was crystal clear in her mind and heart. Silence has its own beauty, its own message – one of the post powerful forms of response.

I have listed 5 ways by which you can use SILENCE effectively to your advantage. The advantage being you keep your peace of mind even in the most desperate of the situations.

Where your opinion does not count

You meet people in life who seek opinion but every single time they do what they think is right. There is nothing wrong with it. But you getting involved even momentarily, empathizing and giving your suggestion is simply a waste of time. Consciously identify such people and choose to remain silent.

Where there is need for some space

Many a times there are arguments that blow out of proportion. Both the parties that are involved go aggressive with strong opinions and high pitches making the situation bitter. In such a scenario one can choose silence to create a space for both the parties to rethink and react. This is applicable in both personal and business life.

Where the banter is unnecessary

In every social circle there is gossip and back biting. Engaging occasionally is one thing but becoming a regular (just because staying silent puts you in a dim light) takes you nowhere. Yes, man is a social animal but be selective with how you socialize – be a part yet not be a part. Let socialization be for good – stay silent and the conversation dies its own death, giving you a chance to steer it in another direction.

When you don’t have knowledge

There are forums and topics about which you have little or no knowledge. In such a situation be present to listen and learn. Today everyone wants to talk sometimes blabber with whatever little they know in their heads so that they appear updated. There is no harm in not speaking because it is humanly impossible to know it all. Accept that they know more, they know better.

When there is need for peace

Peace eludes us as we multi task and juggle with a tight to-do and too much to handle on every single day. You would be surprised to know what some silence can do to your day. It re-energizes, it allows you to self-converse, and it saves you from burn out. Whenever you feel overwhelmed give silence a shot and see how it works wonders.

Go for silence with full confidence – it will only solidify your character. Drawing a little something from mythology many revered saints practised ‘MAUN’ though their wisdom was beyond the reach of a common man. The intelligent one knows when to talk and when to remain SILENT…

In the comments section tell me about a situation where choosing silence helped you better.

Un-mindfulness

Today I heard an audio by the respected monk Dandapani while I was on my morning walk. He was discussing how our ‘Monkey Mind’ does not allow us to concentrate. How we are no longer a mindful lot, who cherish every activity, every experience. How we are always wanting to know and go to the next hour, the next job. What amazed me was one fact that came up while he was speaking – that we are not learning to be in the present and that is known to all. But what we are not realizing is that we are actually practising the opposite day in and day out.

For instance every time you converse half- heartedly, every time you dislike a Monday morning, every time you flip your time between work and social media, every time you are not enjoying a social gathering you are in, every time you are having a meal simply to satisfy your hunger and not relishing it – you are practising Un-mindfulness. And you are practising it so hard that you are becoming an expert in it.

It is a known fact that if we follow a method for long, it becomes a ritual. Similarly the inattentive way of living has become our life style, our personality. Some call it multi- tasking and some call it pressure situation – but we are equipped to concentrate and come out of it. In reality even when we multitask we are doing one activity at one time because that is how we are designed to be.

It’s a myth that doing many things will take you places – the eternal truth is doing the right thing at the right time with adequate focus will help you transcend because you in your heart you would know that you have given the best of your finite energy to the job in hand.

Think about it!! And drop your thoughts in the comments section to make this discussion more valuable..

Bridging the gap

“When we were of your age we did not have things our way. We strived for it, sacrificed so that we could be in this place.” Sounds familiar? Every youth must have heard these lines from parents or grandparents or uncles or aunts and even elderly people living in the neighborhood. The two strongest emotions that arise whenever these lines are uttered are that of humor or anger. Can we keep both aside and think from a third perspective of understanding. That is one way of bridging the gap.

Let me correct at the onset itself understanding does not equal to surrendering. That’s a very limited way of looking at it. It’s as weird as if I step into the sea, the waters will take me in. There are many other possibilities you can feel the water and step back, you can swim or you can even sail through. Let us look at how we can make the last option possible – ‘Sailing through’…

Take it light

Keep conversations light. Elders have their way of putting things across but you need not take it heavily. Because that’s when the words become bitter, expressions become stronger and you lose both the possibilities of understanding or making them understand. Being elder to us they have that natural urge to control and guide so their tone becomes imperative. On days like these it is better to step back. Create a space where matters can be kept on hold be it education, job or relationships.

Gauge what matters and how much

While you have created a space – decide on what you really want. If the point of conflict is about something that you are really passionate about, muster the courage and put forth your plan. Be soft-spoken and thorough as ambiguity about your idea makes most of the parents anxious. Convince them to give you a chance and hear what they have to say. Assure them that their insecurities will be taken care off (and you better mean it) because you never know if there is a hole in your boat.

But contrary to that if you yourself are in self- doubts consider listening to them. The latter is beneficial when you are unknowingly falling prey to herd mentality and fads that in no way connect to your personality. What is strange is that deep down inside you know it but for social validation you choose the veil. In such cases which are very prominent even amongst grown- ups parental reservations actually help one find the real meaning to life.

After all they are people who have contributed to your growth, trifling your relationships with them over pesky matters is not worth. Even they put in a lot of efforts to create a rapport with your new persona (that changes with puberty, college, higher studies, first love, poor results or excellent scores and the list goes on). For parents they grow with their child.

Never underestimate them

We often read stories of toppers coming from humble backgrounds. Yes every child is blessed and they must have worked hard but even their parents must have burnt the midnight oil to make them into the person that they are. However less is the exposure of a parent given their life span they would always have some valuable inputs to give if given a chance. So hear them out non- judgmentally breaking your own molds, inside which you have buried their experiential wisdom.

Find a mid- way out

It need not be their way or your way. In most of the cases one can find a mid-way – try reaching there the fastest. If you think your parents will not budge and you don’t wish to give in either, proceed your way with conviction. Worst case scenario is if its they who turn out to be correct, admit that you were wrong and best case scenario is that you succeed even then be humble and pay them your respects.

Fight with compassion

When as a child we make mistakes our parents scold us, reprimand but at the days end they always make it up. Till the time things are sour, a part of them is with the child and it is only for the betterment that they maintain a curt distance. Can we please treat them the same, it’s okay to have disagreements but as you fight for your dream, your passion, and your love can the fight be compassionate? Can the words and actions be chosen with due consideration to what they have given us over a life time? And trust me it is not as difficult. Yes, they put up a strong face but inside they already know they have lost to your decision, help them transcend.

You may think that my article is dwindling towards the side of the parents but somehow the aggression is uncalled for even in the most extreme situations. They have been patient with us when we messed up out of innocence and they deserve to get the same back. The rules of Karma never change.

Let’s talk heart to heart

Meditation, spa, sleep, vacationing – the words give immense peace. In fact the mind starts wandering in the imaginary bubble where we are engaging in these activities. Why do they rejuvenate? I guess they break the monotony, allow us to stop thinking about our commitments for a while. One such getaway could also be a heartfelt conversation with someone close to you or someone with whom you just connect. In the quest to have an active social media presence we have forgotten the charm of a good conversation.

The following three points are a feeble attempt to put the abstract gains of an undistracted chat in words:

It helps us to learn values when the other person shares his/her ways of handling of uncomfortable situations. Why am I so sure about this? Because as a conversation gets deeper, the ‘not so good’ part of a person’s life is out naturally. Post its out in the open it is human mindset that they will either share their virtuous approach or they will confess how they did not manage it well. In either case you learn.

It helps to catch vibes. Yes you may argue how is that a benefit? While having a good concentrated conversation as we discuss the highs and lows, we emit a mix of positive and negative vibes. While a positive vibe is all good to take home, in case of a negative vibe as you try to correct that person (you would do it because you don’t have meaningful self-dwelling conversations with anyone and everyone) in the process you end up checking your behavior too.

It helps us to understand how are life is not as bad as we sometimes feel it is. As it is only during such conversations that you come to appreciate all that you have.  The interaction makes you feel lighter and more often than not leaves you wiser.

Empathy encompasses all the above feelings as unintentionally you do put yourself in the other person’s shoe – And empathy is a value that is seriously lacking in today’s times because people consider empathy to be synonymous with surrender and unnecessary sacrifice. It has lost its original meaning which was unconditional love. 

Now I would like to steer you to how we can have a heartfelt conversation so we move on from abstract to real visible factors.

The first thing to keep in mind, I know every reader must have guessed by now – No mobile phone checks. Taking a call may be necessary; if you are in between some important task being available is necessary. But we all know where we stand – unnecessary checking of social handles and scrolling. Boom!! The conversation is wasted.

Be a listener. Don’t engage in a talk to answer, to show your greater side. While the other person is speaking, you cook up your response/reaction well in advance. What is the harm is taking a pause to register what he/she has said and then replying or sometimes may be not responding at all as you have nothing much to say.

Treat it as meaningful. Today cafes, restaurants, open public spaces are used more and more to do more work. People everywhere are seen with laptops and mobiles attending to messages, emails (both work related and casual). Two people simply talking are looked upon as old school or may be less busy. Shatter that cliché. I would say it is modern; it is in vogue to have a mindful and good conversation with someone whom you wish to connect with.

Be it a group of men or women or kids who are out together – I notice a disconnected, a continuous stream of halfhearted exchange of words. Same is the story between two lovers, parent and child or any two people who are known to each other. We are unknowingly missing out on a lot due to these incomplete conversations – that lack feelings and attention, words and learning. May be this somehow links to rising cases of depression in all age groups?

Take a moment to ponder and recollect your last healthy conversation – when, where, with whom? Let us learn to talk, to listen and to engage with full interest and inclination.

A day well lived

A day well lived – sounds so good. How often do we say this at the end of the day? On the days we have more in our hands we complaint of fatigue and the days when our plate is relatively empty we crib about monotony. Especially amidst the Mumbai hustle, one seeks activity and urgency – because busyness is a measure of the value of a person. 

Courtesy the busyness almost everyone craves for some time to chill over the weekend or at the day’s end. It’s a cycle – first submerge yourself in excess work and then shrug it off by visiting clubs and restaurants. What is insane is that even after all the work and play Jack is still a dull boy – coz for Jack nothing is enough.

A day well lived is a day that provides adequate space to attend to one’s commitments (personal and professional), space to rest and recoup and space to observe and learn. Unless one has all the 3 dimensions one would end up feeling empty despite a so called occupied day. By adequate space I mean ‘No rush’. Attending to each hour with peace and an expanded time sense (‘I have enough time for everything’).

However currently, the societal standards about time and work management are so distorted that an expanded time sense looks like a rare reality. A few lifestyle changes can however alter the scenario pleasantly.

Mindfulness

Do you know what the constant sense of hurrying to the next job without properly attending to the job in hand does? It leaves you incomplete even after giving time to the current job because you were not mindful enough. Result is you are unhappy and insecure. If one gives dedicated attention to one job/one activity/one responsibility at a time with minimum multitasking, one is likely to succeed better.

Believe in time

Each one of us has the same 24 hours in a day. Yet a few achieve so much and a majority is dangerously lost in ticking their to- do list. We need to believe that the day is just enough to attend to all that we wish to. It is not a piece of some self- help book content, it is practically applicable. Just tell yourself and all around – “Oh I have enough time today, I will take my jobs one by one with peace.”

An energy aligned to-do

A doable to-do is important. One that is not too easy and not too difficult. At the beginning of the day you feel your energy and you roughly know what your day is likely to hold. In sync with the same one should plan a happy to-do. Do not try to include everything in a day, keep it alternate or twice a week so that you can give undivided attention to the job in hand.

Shift gears in case of change

It so happens that we plan something and the day turns out to be completely opposite due to unforeseen events. In such a situation do not take much time to shift gears. A plan B is not needed always, often it’s wise to go with the flow. If you resist the current, the wave you feel tired, but if you flow along with alertness there are chances you will be washed ashore.

Respect yourself

We often tend to be very virtuous towards people and work. But when it comes to self-care and gratitude towards self, we lack. There is no point in stretching yourself (physically and mentally) beyond a level. Its okay to let go mid-way, only to resume the next hour, the next day. Overwhelmed behavior often leads to more unfinished work.

Consistent doable goals go way beyond unrealistic targets. Seek what is real, cease to run behind the mythical, the illusionary… Real is a peaceful and pleasant ‘Day Well Lived.’

The Richest Man in Babylon – Review

The Richest Man in Babylon as the title suggests is setup in and around the prosperous town of Babylon of the golden era situated by the banks of river Euphrates. What was unique about this town was the riches that lied within its vast walls. The town has been beautifully described as a place that drew the attention and attraction of traders and merchants for the thriving business opportunities that lay there.

This book takes us to the ancient era of antiques and barter where people valued their gold, silver and copper similar to how we value our currency today. It has fables of slaves and masters where labor is presented as a commodity. It is thin as if a child’s read but has deep financial concepts covered within. The book runs like a story with fictional characters all of who belong to the conventional Arabic culture.

It looks like a tale straight from Arabian Nights but it is only after you are half way through you see the intertwined economical wisdom and by the end of the book it reads completely as a recommended report by some consulting firm (but narrated creatively thereby sparking the reader’s interest)

What is narrated in the book is something that we already know – about how to make money, how to save money and how to multiply money. But what we are reminded of is that all of it requires sincere hard work and adequate planning which is not as complicated as we make it to be. 

It vividly narrates ways to ‘Cure a lean purse’ and also sheds light on lending, borrowing, gaining and losing. Every idea is conveyed by way of a story of a merchant or a baker or a landlord or a moneylender. As these different characters interact, they spill the simple secrets of making and keeping what is the most desired -‘Gold aka money.’

Wise anecdotes throughout the book also discuss missed opportunities, right and wrong means to increase the flow of money. The best part is the length which is short and the message precise.

A delightful read though quite a bit of text is presented in its archaic form with words like thou, giveth, thee but please do not regard it as a put off as in the flow of the tale, one can easily comprehend and make sense out of the language despite its Shakespearean feel.

The author George Samuel Clason started by publishing pamphlets on financial handling and success in the form of a Babylonian parable way back in 1926. It was widely distributed by financial institutions among their customers and employees. One of the most famous ones came to be ‘The Richest man in Babylon’.

The author makes everything appear so lucid for instance controlling expenditures is easier said than done but one cannot defy its role in building financial strength. Whenever he mentions this fact, he makes it a point to assert that there is a difference between control and misery which one should keep in mind before pursuing this path.

My takeaway from this book is that the secret to changing our own fate lies in dedicated efforts and resolute practices which one should adopt to save and multiply money. After being perseverant for the desired time one will experience that the saved money that they invested in various ventures is working for them. Does it not sound ideal?

Enchanting Matheran

                  “After every holiday big or small, you leave a part 

                                           of you behind in that space,

                                 It changes a little something in you.”

We did a weekend trip to Matheran – the simplistic no vehicle, red mud town. History says the town was developed and maintained by the Parsi community. Even till date many prominent properties are held by Parsis. The in vogue Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi – Broken is beautiful manifests itself in its ultimate form throughout Matheran. The town boasts of structures that are worn out but engaged happily in serving tourists and locals. There is a feeling of acceptance wherein people are on peaceful terms with the way things are – less developed.

Wooden framed windows, cottages and bungalows, healthy plain food, lesser busy people, lush green trees, not so concrete roads, roadside vendors expecting nothing more than the minimum, empty noon streets, poor mobile network, monkeys functioning almost like humans, horses and hand carts everywhere. That’s about it – Matheran’s description is complete. But what is vast is the silence that reaches beyond your senses to your soul. A city soul would wonder whether life can be so simple.

We stayed at Hotel Regal – given the deadly combination of lower tariffs and our high inclination towards spending we booked suite rooms to justify our standards. Little did we know that even the suite there is basic but what is advanced is the staff’s willingness to go the extra mile to serve the guests. A plain show of humility in service and self -respect for their position, their work. Many a times we experience the staff judging the visitors in premium luxury properties. There is an unsaid code to dress and behave in a particular way. But Matheran welcomes the king and the pauper alike.

The sunrise is one of the most attractive offering of the town. The way the sun gradually rises and fills the area with its light and splendor is a sight to see. In one of my Instagram posts I had put a small couplet

                      “The beauty of sunrise cannot be undermined

                        It gives each one a chance to rise and shine”

The spectacular sunrises visible from multiple points in Matheran are a physical tribute to my ode.  Charlotte Lake situated at a walking distance (2kms) from our hotel was enchanting. Surrounded by swaying trees on both the sides, the soothing breeze invites every onlooker to sit on the benches there and spend some time gazing at the calm waters. We could feel the bliss also due to the time that we chose to visit the lake – early Sunday morning. We covered all the points riding on horses that only added to the simplicity of the holiday. The market there is a small 1km stretch with pavement vendors and shops. The place is known for its handbags and footwear. We did some small time value for money shopping and I am looking forward to putting those things to use.

All the properties there boast of delicious Gujarati food probably because of the dominance of Gujarati tourists. Jaggery was a part of almost every recipe and the starters were selected such that it gives a multi cuisine look to the buffet with items like spring rolls and Manchurian. Unlimited buttermilk only added to the slumber that I entered after every lunch.

Sleep was so quiet and aimless. Why aimless? Because here in Mumbai people sleep only to get up. It’s sanctity as body’s way to replenish and rejuvenate is not recognized at all. In fact so much was the delight that I bought home the idea of calming my inner chaos completely before going to bed so that I experience a similar sleep regime. I have been fairly successful in doing the same (as I said in the beginning – some things change)

The nearest spot beyond which cars cannot proceed is Dasturi (also connoted as Aman lodge). After that it’s a 30-40 minute horse ride to Matheran, many people also easily walk it up. You can also take the toy train provided it’s functional and empty (as numbered limited seats are allotted). A peace loving town with cozy properties reminding every tourist of the old world charm where things were mended not thrown or replaced.  

What defines you?

Your identity

Your identity defines you in the eyes of self and others. What do you think forms your identity? The bigger things like your status, qualification and professional success, right? But there are many smaller things that too contribute to forming your image, your identity. Their impact is less but not innocuous. Things as simple as

Your clothes

Second skin as it is rightly called. The fabric, the fall, the patterns, the brands are collectively suggestive of your lifestyle and even your approach to your commitments. Love for comfortable simple clothes or heavily designed clothes, traditional wear or western wear, formal or informal ….the list goes on (thanks to the booming apparel sector that has something to offer for every pocket and preference) Yes people don multiple styles but there is one common thread that runs through all their choices and that is the element of their identity.

Your food

The 3 common types of food discussed in Hindu Vedas are – Sattvik (Mild, raw, freshly cooked, healthy, green and vegetarian), Rajasik (Cooked, spiced, oily, flavored) and Tamasik (Processed, stale, stored, rotten). I have described the three types in the simplest way possible. Again your food habits shuffle between the three categories but there is one which is predominant, find the one and know how it is a part of your identity.

Your content

The books and magazines you read, the articles in the newspaper that catch your span better than other stories. In the digital era that we are living in, the web series that you choose to watch. Trending or self-found, historical or modern, fun oriented or intricate…. It is impossible to list the categories in this case. Try and find what category hooks you up better and it will help you know your identity a little better.

Your physique and posture

Most of the days you are alert or dull, uptight or slouching, whether you walk with a zing in your feet or just trudge along. How happily healthy your skin and structure appear? Your physique and posture are one of the key factors that determine your identity – totally evident, making an immediate and strong impact. Others notice it first and the acknowledgement keeps you going or pulls you down also. Yes, inside everybody lies a beautiful soul but what catches your sight is first the external followed by internal (That is how nature works)

Your energy

The way you approach your routine. The bestseller ‘Ikigai’ mentions an interesting concept of micro and macro flow. Micro flow consists of mundane day to day chores – but the way one handles them puts one in place for the macro flow activities like pursuing their passion, being innovative and genuine. You are a sum total of your energy. Whether the task is complete or incomplete is not a sufficient barometer, what matters is you accomplished it with what energy? – Positive or negative, enthusiastic or forceful. Yes, it is abstract, but it creates your aura and hence your identity.

You want to build a desirable identity – think about all the above elements holistically and you will be able to identify yourself better. No choice or person is good or bad – it is just that more the elements are in sync better will be the quality of your life. A conflict is an indication of you digressing from your true self which is not ideal. 

A casual evening


She sat by the window to spend time introspecting and writing

The air was cold; the trees were still, the weather simply amazing

She spotted two birds playing and swaying, one soaring the sky

In the neighboring window an elderly man sipping on hot chai

On the small road below a few teenagers chattered their way along

Two women engrossed in talking may be deciding right or wrong

Clouds were swiftly on the move, the skies dull white and celestial

A young woman, with a bag was headed to buy some essentials

Few kids were down, running and challenging, riding their bicycles

Yellow and white butterflies in the garden flew in motions cyclical

She sat there waiting for her bright introspective idea to arrive

And smiled as the authenticity of daily life bought her poem alive

Diwali…

Diwali is a special time of the year. It’s a time of families and friends coming together. Economically it is a period when the money flow is high as consumers buy household items and personal products. The logic is everything that needs to be replaced should be done on Diwali. If the house is due for paint, it is scheduled in a way that it is done before Diwali arrives so that the house is at its best. Dry snacks and traditional sweets recipes are not revised an entire year until its Diwali time. 

An important part of a good Diwali for an Indian homemaker is the extent to which she and family have managed to deep clean the house. I too relate to the cleaning process as it helps in putting items kept away into use and also those which are no longer suiting our requirements are either disposed or donated. Diwali is thus symbolic of Declutter. 

As the house, garage, office readies itself to welcome Goddess Lakshmi on the eve of Diwali; there is a positive aura around. People are in a phase of new start, better start – the reason behind Mahurat trading in business. The origin of this festival lies in the homecoming of Lord Rama where the entire Ayodhya was lit to celebrate the win of good over evil. Thus, this festival also carries a goodness vibe, a restoration of faith in all that is morally correct amidst the unnecessary worldly chaos.

            Wish we could extend the decluttering to our minds

    Wish we could take hopefulness deep down inside our souls

   Wish we could add the sweetness to our words and  gestures

     Wish we could for once believe in ourselves and change our                                                obsolete thoughts and limiting ways

The weather is cold and the heat all absorbed, mornings are brighter and nights are calmer. The external atmosphere also facilitates the process of renewing relations first with self and then with others.

Happy Diwali to all my readers!!!