Using Barriers To Level Up

straitjacket

Let’s explore how might we breakthrough to the next higher version of ourselves using barriers to help ourselves and possibly enable a shift in our lives by understanding external cues and seeing what they trigger in ourselves which then gives us a chance to change those external cues through our actions which are born out of brutal awareness. I use brutal awareness because all have us have very minimal practices of observing ourselves to the actions, words, the self-concepts that we create, our reasons for justifying our failures etc. I will talk more on how I dealt with honing my latent awareness to the next level of “Brutal Awareness” in one of my future posts.

To understand this better here is a brief introduction to understanding how we are nothing but the sum of our habits. Most of our behaviors have been shaped by conditioning which we have accumulated over the years. Conditioning has shaped has in myriad forms, external attractions that are targeted on us (#consumerism), habits that we have picked as a part of our culture and our own up-bringing and even certain self-concepts that we have of ourselves of which we are totally unaware of consciously or sub-consciously.

I can sense few of you going – What! This is horseshit, how can my culture have anything to do with the habits I have now? Before, you jump to another site just read the rest of the write-up before making that click. Just play along with me…:)

Let me explain – Nothing in us is spontaneous. Everything we have or do is learned or acquired. This conditioning of my muscles for posture and movement is beneficent and essential. I could hardly live a human life without it. What is important to realize is the price we pay for it. Every conditioning is a limitation, a curtailment, a censorship even. You are enabled to do this…at the expense of giving up other possibilities and other ways. Muscles are close to nerves, sensations, therefore the conditioning of my muscles affects my emotions, and through them my behavior. There is no such thing as an innocent conditioning. Each service carries its price tag. As Westerners, they have been trained to walk fast, and that has imprinted a brisk step in their whole life, thoughts, work and this has led them to always be in a hurry to get things done, to reach places, to obtain results with quick efficiency and purposeful resolve. On the other hand, an Indian like me has been taught to squat since childhood, and in that posture, close to the earth from which he comes, he learns patience and peace, lives in cosmic contemplation and waits for eternity. (Sometimes I exaggerate a lot :-P)

The shaping of my muscles has resulted in the shaping of my mind. A whole way of life has already been inscribed into the marrow of my bones by the very way in which I have been taught to walk, to sit, or what have you. And if such a harmless exercise has already marked my life and steered my thoughts, I begin to think with curious anticipation of the more direct and concerted ways in which society and tradition has bent into submission not only my hands and feet but my values and tastes. A long conspiracy waiting to be unraveled thread by thread. Most of us act and move most of the time like automatons, and the common pattern in society around us makes us forget the long conditioning that has resulted in the stereotyped behavior that dampens our reactions and impoverishes our lives. To realize the extent of such bondage is the first step towards liberation from it.

Our whole organism has been conditioned to enjoy, accept, do,repeat certain things, and to reject others. This isn’t a conscious process anymore, but a pre-programmed choice that is triggered by my cells within me before I know what is happening in the recesses of my mind. It’s the automatic pilot that steers its course without any reference to me, though I am in the cockpit! The method is comfortable and safe, but only for a routine flight. Now I want to explore new horizons and charter new routes. While thanking my muscles and dendrites for their unfailing service in the past I want to let them know from now on I call the shots and lead the fight. I want to re-own my organism and bring to the movements of my body and my life a new spontaneity. I want to unwind before it’s too late. This is what I told to myself more than a year back.

One thing that has helped me in my journey and also in realizing all this is my inquiries with myself and also most of my mentors. Frederic comes to my mind at the moment as he is one person who has had a huge impact on me in this space of learning to be authentic. Owning my past so that I can create my future. You can check out his site here.

Since then, my journey has been about testing each and every self-concept, limiting beliefs, extreme reach barriers that I had in myself and deconstructing them one by one by testing them. Invariably, all of them turned out to be false assumptions. Here is one other article by another blogger who has had a huge influence on me and my thinking. His name is Ramit Sethi & he runs a personal finance blog and his site is mainly about ‘psychology’ among other things disguised as a personal finance blog. Here is an article he wrote in which he talks about extreme reach barriers.

Now, coming back to what I was inviting you to see. Think about such things in our lives that we have, think of all the things that we script for ourselves and the moment when we need to do something that challenges the very notion of that scripted story, we bend ourselves into submission and what do we do again – follow the ant farm like we used to instead of breaking away and charting a new course for ourselves.

And guess what? Most of the changes that we dream of are overwhelming – and we let them bring our self-concepts to the fore and we go back to doing the same things –

  • Very same coffee-day outings
  • Make fun of people hitting the gym
  • Make fun of people who have protein shakes in their homes.
  • Just crib a lot and keep thinking inside – Man – this is so not for me.

(My Wish-list I unknowingly kept dreaming to for the last 10 years and as I asked around with a lot of my friends, I found it wasn’t just me. We were all doing this!)

  • I really wish I was a morning person
  • I want to wake up early.
  • I want to start off productive, and yet I didn’t.

Wouldn’t it be better If I simply said to myself, I’m not a morning person; I work better at night (because I’m a creature of the night :-P), and that’s where I’m going to spend my productive time and I know that it takes me a little while to get up in the morning. Wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge that and work under those constraints, than to beat ourselves up and feel guilty for twenty years trying to do something that’s probably never going to happen again?

Constraints Inspire Creativity – Don’t remember where I read this but this came to my mind as I’m writing this.

Or put it another way; wouldn’t it be better for myself to simply say, “You know what, three times a week is just too big of a goal. It’s embarrassing, but who really cares; I’m going to do it once a week. I’m going to go out for a run and I’m going to run for twenty minutes, and that’s it.” And after I did that for one week, and felt weary and after three weeks started to feel a little better, and at four weeks I told myself, “You know what? I miss that run. I’m going to do it twice.”

This is when my baby steps towards regaining control over my health began.

When I often do my behavioral design interventions with people, I prefer to work with the people who do, who say, “You know what? I am afraid of changing my appearance,” or “I’m afraid of working out because I’ll become like one of those guys who’s always doing protein shakes,” another thing I used to say to myself.

Though I don’t do it myself as I worked out a alternative workout/eating routine for myself. 😀 I’d see these guys in the gym and I would say, “I’m not going to take protein shakes,” “I’m not going to be one of those dudes.” It’s about understanding the role of food,weights, and cardio, and all that stuff, none of which I understood before I started researching about the human body, athletes workout routines, why they did what they did etc.

So what was my natural response? To say, “I don’t want to be like those weirdos, I’m not going to do any of that.” Instead, had I looked deeper, I would have said, “You know what? I’m afraid of actually changing. I’m afraid of trying this for six months or a year and seeing no results. I’m afraid of actually succeeding, because if I do succeed, then are my friends going to think I’m a weirdo, because now I go to the gym a lot or I have this bottle of protein shake on my kitchen counter?” Those are all the true deep fears, but I didn’t have the introspection to be able to acknowledge that.

Now this was so true in my case, I had built up all these extreme reach barriers in my psyche that I was unaware of which was like a chain around myself that I’m walking around with every single day. So, I’d like to invite you to look and observe yourself in everything that you do. Scratch that, just take your health and your inclination towards health and workouts. Observe your thoughts, behaviors, actions and write them them if possible. Now, step by step test each one of those assumptions and I bet you all of them will go Poof! if you would stick to it.

Identify your constraints that you have and go crazy – hack them down. If something, works let me know. Even better, I’m throwing this offer – Take a challenge with respect to your health. Identify your constraints and your barriers note them down. I’ll gladly offer you a free consulting session for an hour in which I’ll work with you in helping you break down your barriers.

If this sounds good and you are up for the challenge – leave a comment here with your email id and I’ll get back to you.

P.S. ( I’m giving out 10 slots), so hurry if you would like to un-script your script! :).

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Let’s Rethink Learning

Writers BlockI guess I could call myself smart. I can usually get good grades. Sometimes, I worry that I am just a tape recorder…I worry that once I’m out of college  and people don’t keep handing me information with questions in another job, I’ll be lost.  – Person A

The things I’m scared of is, say I got fired, I’ve got nothing, nothing to help me get another job..I’ve got no other skill.  – Person B

These were the exact words of two youngsters among others who answered to my inquiries with them and I wouldn’t like to take the names of these two people: one who is pondering over leaving his current job, and the other who is about to graduate from college which says not only a lot about themselves but also about the sad state of education in India.

There are 2 good reasons for reconfiguring 21st century education: economic and personal. The well-rehearsed economic argument says that knowledge is changing so fast that we cannot give young people what they will need to know, because we do not know what it will be. Instead, we should be helping them develop supple minds, so that they will be able to learn whatever they will need  to. If we can achieve that, we will have a world class workforce comprising people who are innovative and resourceful.

My personal argument converges on the same conclusion. Many young people are floundering in the face of all the complexities and uncertainties of modern life: the relatively successful children of the middle class, like Person B, as much as the more conspicuous, traditional failures of the education system such as Person B. Person A sees himself as ready for a life of tests, but not the tests of life. Person B doesn’t even believe that he has it in him to master a new skill. Now people like Person B are labelled the “losers of the system. These are the people for whom the system isn’t working!

They differ greatly in how ‘literate’ and ‘numerate’, but Person A & B are both, in their different ways different! They think that school hasn’t only failed to give them what they need; it has actually compounded the problem, and they are right again. Many young people live in a Matrix world in which there is often no consensual ‘reality’, no agreement about what to do when they don’t know what to do. Their public culture of ‘cool’ is, in part, a reaction to their sense of inadequacy and a sense of extreme insecurity in the face of real difficulty. Young people want more real-life gumption, initiative, just as their prospective employers and anxious governments do. More fundamental even than the concern with literacy is the need to protect and develop young people’s ‘learn-ability’ (A word that I’m throwing around). That the need is personal and social, even more, than it is economic.

Government reforms have tinkered with existing provisions and structures in dozens of ways: the timetable, the curriculum, the methods of assessment and so on. Such tinkering has been going on for a long time, and it hasn’t addressed the hole in the heart of education which is leading young people to make statements like the ones mentioned above and these are a result of what they are experiencing so keenly. However, recent progress in the human sciences is beginning to fire people’s imagination with new possibilities. Science cannot tell a society what its schools should be aiming to achieve, but it can suggest new avenues of thought. One of these is that its actually possible to help young people become better learners – not just in the sense of getting better degrees, but in real-life terms. One contributory line of thought comes from cognitive science, one from neuroscience, and one from a Russian psychologist Lev Zygotsky. Let me address the first two as the last one has been addressed before here.

P.S. There is another worldview / model that I’ll present in the coming months which is a hush hush secret for now!

In cognitive science, a revolution has taken place in the way we think of ‘intelligence’. For a while, people believed that it was a blob of mental resource that God or your genes gave you when you were born; that it didn’t change much over the course of one’s life; that if followed you around from place to place and didn’t vary with the situation; that it’s main effect was to set a ceiling on what you could achieve; that when you struggled or failed, that was evidence that you had got to the limit of your ‘ability’; and that you could make a reliable measure of the size of someone’s reservoir of intelligence by asking them to solve abstract puzzles under intense pressure. We now know that this model is scientifically vulnerable, factually incorrect, and educationally insidious. It is vulnerable because, you cannot separate ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’  in that way. Its incorrect because intelligence varies enormously across time and place, and IQ bears no relation to being real-life smart.

Its dangerous because it leads people to feel ashamed (rather than challenged) when they find things difficult, and therefore it undermines their ambition and determination. Here is a wonderful online service that I have been following for the last one year and now it’s available for people. They can create their own memory banks online and for free! It’s called Cerego. Check out their awesome learning platform here.

In fact, there is enormous room for everyone to get smarter by developing their ‘learn-ability’. Even if there were some hypothetical limit on my ability, in practice I am nowhere near it. True, I am never going to be as fit and strong as Micheal Phelps, nor as fast and tough as Usain Bolt, but that doesn’t mean that it is therefore a waste of time of me hitting the gym. And when I don’t go, the whole point is to get sweaty and find it ‘hard’. Pushing myself needn’t mean ‘I’m hopelessly unfit – and that’s that: it just shows that I’m in the process of getting fitter.

Lauren Resnick, the doyenne of educational psychologists in the US, now defines intelligence as ‘the sum total of your habits in mind.’ And habits grow, change, and can be broken.”

This work is also showing that growing more intelligent isn’t just a matter of learning a few techniques, or even mastering some new skills like ‘critical thinking’. Its as much to do with attributes, beliefs, emotional tolerances and values. And these change more slowly. You can’t change someone’s interest in learning overnight. But schools and classrooms have systematic, cumulative, influence. For example when teachers change their way of talking with their students about learning, those students’ attitudes change, in turn, within a term (and by the way, their results go up). To get a deeper insight into this, I’d highly recommend Parker Palmer’s book – The Courage To Teach & The Heart of A Teacher.

The second discipline is neuroscience. One has to tread carefully here, for a great deal of B.S is being talked about the implications of brain science for education. It isn’t true that playing your baby Mozart will make him/her smarter, nor that your child’s brain will dry up if your kid isn’t drip-fed water from a fancy bottle, though some people will try to tell you otherwise. What is important is the understanding that the brain is built to distil the world’s hidden regularities into practical expertise, fueled only by interest and attention. It does so continually, without any supervision, either internal or external, and often in the absence of any conscious comprehension of what is going on. Indeed, the effort to seek or maintain conscious comprehension can get in the way of this brilliant ‘natural learning ability’. Something I learnt myself and have seen it in action from another one of my sources. His name is Jinan and he runs a natural learning initiative around India and blogs about it. Check out his radical insights here.

Thinking too much can decrease your intelligence. Being explicit and strategic are not always the smartest ways to learn, and people who become too addicted to conscious clarity undermine their creativity. We are discovering that, during early life, this natural learning ability, placed in an adequate setting, develops itself by discovering and exploiting a range of ‘learning amplifiers’. There are many cells in the human brain – the ‘mirror neurons’ – that automatically get ready to initiate an action that they have just seen someone else do: so many, that it begins to look as if we are hard-wired to pick up the habits of those around us.

As the brain builds up a stock of mental models of different people, so we become able to ‘put ourselves in others shoes’ which is another ability that is activated only after the age of 7, and lets us explore different scenarios. We can sometimes benefit from turning down the ego control, and become quietly receptive to the internal pattern-seeking and metaphor making that is latent in the brain’s modulus operandi, and this intuitive receptivity, if we cultivate it, becomes central to creativity. And, with language, we develop a whole new toolkit of ways of thinking and learning.

Each of these ways of learning –

  • through Experiential Learning
  • through Imitation
  • through Imagination
  • through Intuition
  • through the Intellect

We never grow out of the need for any of them, nor do we ever cease being able to refine and develop their power further.

Yet education has tended to treat intellectual learning as the tops, and to neglect the continuing development of others!! If a teacher never lets her students see her being a learner, but only a ‘know-er’, s/he is depriving them of the vital experience which their brains are built to pickup, and to turn into more effective ways of learning for themselves. Helping young people, become better learners means daring to give up the old-fashioned belief that a teacher’s top professional responsibility is to be omniscient.

There are, in short, many lines of educational exploration that are being opened up by the new learning sciences. Already dozens of practical methods for building young people’s ‘learning power’ have been devised, and ingenious teachers throughout the world are developing more by the day. Some of these are quite unusual or challenging, while others add depth and coherence to more familiar aspects of ‘good teaching’. Many more questions have been raised that we are yet to solve – but that, or course, is the essence of learning.

  1. What kinds of topics are best for developing different kinds of learning muscles?
  2. How are minds stretched differently by hard and soft sciences?
  3. How is resilience, say, different for a 4 and 15 year old?
  4. How widely do people vary as learners, and can we help them import their best learning habits from sports or the dance class into school and the other way round as well?
  5. What ways of organizing schools will be the most successful for both developing learn-ability and mastering important bodies of knowledge at the right age and facilitated by the right person with a correct understanding of the child?

As I say, we do not yet have the answers to all these questions. The realization that learning is learnable, and that learning is a much more complex and variegated process than schooling has traditionally assumed, will underpin innovation and changes in the field of educational research going ahead. Stay tuned to my further posts in the coming months, I’m working on something crazy along with my mentor and friend Glen to address this issue.

P.S. (If it’s knowledge you want, it’s usually easier now to get it from the Internet, anyway.)

The Hack of “Lesser Decisions”

BitchOne of my previous blog posts on creativity was inspired by Twyla Tharp more than anyone else. I have been following and reading books of tons of successful people and testing everything systematically in my life to create meaningful impact and what she calls the Creative Habit  has helped me more than anything else is because it so closely falls in line with Behavioral Design. What has helped me on my journey towards improving my “FOCUS” on much needed areas like

  • My Health
  • My Learning Projects
  • My Travels
  • My Research
  • My Work

has been taking every area as a potential area of growth and automating all my decisions that I need to take which are so trivial every single day.

Let me explain it better by taking Twyla Tharp’s example itself. She describes her morning routine of rising early and going through the same morning rituals; same coffee, same bun. She puts on the same leotards, goes down the same elevator to the same street corner, puts her arm up in the air and gets into the first cab that comes along. By the time she gets to the studio she has made no significant decisions. Stepping out onto the dance floor, her dancers await. It’s eight in the morning and her first decision is yet to come. It will be a creative one.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Every successful person if one observes carefully can notice that they never ever “sweat the small stuff”.

Everything that they do, the little things are so ingrained in their lifestyle that it has become second nature. They don’t even need to think about it as they have important decisions to make later. Now, what can we learn from this? I’m not asking to you become and act like a automaton. No! What small choice like these can we eliminate in our daily lives that will enable us to lead a life with more ease. Of-course personally, I have cheat days in the week for myself so that in the weekends I can gorge “GUILT-FREE” on non-vegetarian dishes as much as I want. This is a commitment I made towards my health. I follow a Vegetarian diet in the week and have 2 cheat days to snack on 1 solid meal guilt-free on the weekends which server as “SMALL WINS” for myself. 😀

Fact is, our lives are so filled with impedimentary drama and ancillary decision-making that there is little time left over for work.

Designing some days of our lives in this way is so much more helpful than letting ourselves fret over the small things. What a relief! Again, this practice enabled me to have more space with myself and get my creative mode on and focus better. Most of us don’t have the responsibility of running the largest economy in the world, or even the talent and production needs of one of the world’s best-known dance studios.Just as my job is easier than Twyla’s or the president’s, my routine is simpler too. I don’t get in a car to go to work, and I don’t wear a suit.

The whole time I have something else in front of or next to me: the real task for the day. The real task is often a blog post other than my day job, or something else. Hopefully, before too much time goes by in the morning, I’ll have switched over to that task and made it my focus. I think it’s good to break up your routine from time to time. But not everything should be a surprise.

If you want to get something done, especially creative work that requires focus, you need to reduce the other decisions you make.

When you know what you’re going to wear the next day, what you’re going to have for breakfast, and what steps you’ll need to take to get started on your work, you’ll be much less likely to get sidetracked by making these decisions in the morning.  You’ll begin the day ready to pound things out, and then you can make some real decisions.

How do you begin your morning? Any new habits that you are taking away? Let me know.

PS: “We cannot directly choose our circumstances, but we can choose our thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, we shape our circumstances.”

 

Wired To Learn

nlclogoEver feel like you are far more capable than what society expects of you, even far more capable than your expectations of yourself? I know I do. Remember being a teenager, and school being less about a passion to learn and more about getting good grades. How many times did you sit in class bored and desperate to just get AWAY!!!

Every teenager in the world has felt that sometime in his teens and Albert Einstein acted on it. At just age 15, he was sitting in class and all of a sudden he decided that enough is enough and got up to walk right out the door. And HE NEVER WENT BACK.

“It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry” ~ Albert Einstein

Remember being a kid and just wanting to play around with stuff, pull things together, and knock things apart. To which the grown-ups were saying – No No No ! Or being called “GOOD” for sitting still and “NAUGHTY” when you couldn’t bear to sit still any longer. It is all well-intentioned of course but that doesn’t make it any less INSANE! Because the fact is that our capacity to inquire and learn knows no bounds and scientists have proved it by research as well. With the development of MRI scans in the last 25 areas, it has allowed scientists to observe which parts of our brain is used in different kinds of thinking. We now know infinitely more about how we learn and what makes up “HUMAN INTELLIGENCE” and its extraordinary.

So, want to know what we are really capable of?

Then read on, let’s start at the beginning.

A baby’s brain is amazing. It doesn’t take 9 months to create. It has taken 7 million years and more than 350,000 generations. All the skills, knowledge and talents cultivated by our ancestors are stored inside it. All of them are like numerous software programs which can only be activated by the baby engaging with its environment. Here is the striking thing – If not activated at the most appropriate time they simply disappear. Take language, if a child doesn’t hear language by around the age of 8 they may never learn to speak. So, you may begin to see just how vital our normal interactions are. They ignite our dormant intelligence and reinforce it too. There is something else; we have evolved to learn things by looking at things from different perspectives and making connections between different things and we do that by play. So wouldn’t it be amazing if we bore all this in mind when we are raising kids and letting them play when they are younger and older too?

In conversations with my one of my mentors, Glen Martin who is psychotherapist with decades of experience under his belt dealing with kids who have had all kinds of disorders stamped on them. I learnt that the human brain undergoes “pruning” successively at regular intervals of time while we grow up. Those areas of potential which go untapped only make it harder for us to work on later in our adult life. It’s not that we can’t do it later, it just gets more harder to do that. Yes, for some kids the medium of instruction is vital, for some the environment matters, but in general freedom to learn by doing and learning from play, failure being encouraged is what cuts across all kinds of learners and learning styles.

Charles Darwin’s teacher once remarked that “He’d never amount to much because he spent too much time looking at insects”. So let children play, because it’s never just play. Of course, it takes more time and energy to do this. But, when you are deciding where to focus resources for kids learning. You couldn’t do better than focusing during pre-puberty. That’s when we learn by copying the people around us. After the age of 12, it’s all about change. Say goodbye to sweet, pliable, innocent and easy child say Hello! to rebellious challenging teenager. Arrrgh! Many parents would go nuts when their kids begin freaking out in their teens. (Jokes apart). 😛 (Mine did as well)

Ah! Well. Let’s understand what is happening in that brain. Loads of the connections made during childhood are breaking up and re-forming. From 12 – 20 – the equivalent of a earthquake takes place in a young person’s brain. No more going along with what the grown-ups say. The adolescent brain needs to go it own way.

To this, Oh No! Say the parents. But,

Oh yes! Say evolutionary scientists.

Because if we hadn’t developed this urge to do things differently, we wouldn’t have made it this far. Up until about 60-70,000 years ago. It was okay for the children to grow up like their parents. But then came the ICE AGE. Thank goodness for the handful of our ancestors who chose to break away from their doomed parents freezing to death in their ancestral caves. They built rafts and set off across the ocean hoping to find warmer climate. Critically, this made risk-taking the essential feature of adolescence. We shouldn’t undermine it. We must learn to honor it for what it really is. The defining struggle, the moment when the next generation challenges the status quo and pioneers new ways of thinking and being that ensure our survival.

Just imagine if we actually gave adolescence the freedom to enjoy that struggle. Rather than forcing them to sit passively in class.  How about we begin trusting that their earlier clone like learning now will enable them to spread their wings and work things out for themselves. If this sounds terrifying, it needn’t be. Because if we allow their natural curiosity to flourish in childhood. They will be bursting with a longing to learn and climb unscaled mountains of the mind. That’s not scary, it’s fucking exhilarating! ( I can speak for myself here with a 100% gut conviction) \m/

This is the way we have evolved to be. It’s what makes us fulfilled well-adjusted human beings. Let’s stop trying to live in a way that so goes against how we are hard-wired to live. Let’s allow ourselves and our next generation to reclaim the gift of our ancestors. Adolescence isn’t a problem; it is but an opportunity that we are setting fire to everyday in most schools around the world. Personally, I don’t know if me being right-brained had anything to do with me breaking all the rules, getting in all sorts of trouble during my adolescence but it sure did build in me the heart to experiment things my way. Yes, there were a lot of beliefs that I had to bust and a lot of backtalk’s with parents, family that happened but it helped me find my own way and still am exploring it. Yes, sometimes it feels so unsure/ There have been days where I had to depend on some unknown force in the universe to get me through and things did work out but my contention is this.

I can summarize my process of learning as follows:

  • Observe
  • Copy / Imitate
  • Research
  • Practice
  • Vomit
  • Deconstruct
  • Craft
  • Voila! ( My own piece of genius) 😀

isn’t it about the adventure? Learning to learn, learning from failure, learning from everything around. This is a much better, fun filled path I’d choose any day than doing things the conventional way.

The Illusion called “Death”

Life….Death. What do we do when you lose a loved one? And I feel so many of us, we have lost someone, someone who has passed. For me, when I look at death. It’s really just a change of state. It’s nothing more nothing less. Essentially, for me there is only life, we are immortal. When I tell a lot of people, they go nuts. They retort, quite often –

What do you mean we are immortal?!

You are going to die as well!

To that I say yes, I’m going to die in a physical sense. Then again energy can’t be destroyed; it just gets transferred into something else. So many of us, even as a society we aren’t ready to talk about death. We don’t mention death on a dinner table. Even when I go to a funeral, it gets awkward – a lot of times before I had the feeling of not knowing what to say. I have had friends and relatives who have passed away during my journey that made me enquire this area deeply with me and my mentors. Sometimes I have even used the word “passed” which everybody does and I realized it’s often used with such a euphemism that a lot of us haven’t really come to terms with it. For me, death and life are so interconnected with each other. In essence, there is no separation really! Yet, there are so many of us that look at it with “eyes of duality”. If there is life, then there is supposed to be death.

DeathFor me, life and death are one and the same because essentially how do you even know you are alive? And this is something I have asked myself, and people say – Duh! You know because your heart is beating. But, essentially the answer comes only when we put it in our mind and start thinking and also deeply feel about it and discover it for ourselves. It’s everything that we put in our mind which tells us who we are. It’s the image that we have of ourselves, whether it’s our bank account or our name. All of these things are all coming to an end everyday! Yet, there is something that is eternal. That’s what I’m connected to. For me, I just realized that a lot of people are afraid of physical death as they are afraid to leave behind everything that they have worked for in this world (reality). The name, the cars, the status, the bank balance, the relationships and essentially what is going to be left is this impersonal energy.

Society is funny, because one way we are afraid of death. So many of us, we don’t talk about it. We celebrate life! Someone is born, say a child is born. Beautiful! Everyone is smiling, light just magically shines in all around us and we are all in a state of grace so to speak. On the flip-side, when someone dies we don’t even know what to do!

Essentially I realized that a lot of us, we aren’t even mature enough yet to talk about this transition which is taking place which is so fundamental. In essence, it’s the other part of birth. And a lot of times I look at it like – We are afraid of death as a society but at the same time we are involved in wars. We are the only species on the planet celebrating people dying on the silver screen, and at the same time, it’s one of these things because when we look at the elderly as well. A lot of people are fearful of death. But at the same time, many people live life like the show must go on and it must go on! And at the same time we don’t really realize…for me I had to realize that death is humanity’s shadow. And I myself had to merge with this shadow to realize that I’m timeless, I’m immortal. Essentially, I have been here not from the beginning because this whole concept of having a beginning and an end is again an idea; as in my mind there is no beginning and an end. The whole concept of time is really a human man-made invention and for a lot of us time is fear.

We celebrate birthdays in our society and there is nothing wrong with it as well. Essentially all of this leads us to count our own demise.

Hence, TIME = FEAR which = SCARCITY which helps us and keeps us in a perpetual state of survival.

Many of us are living our lives and at the same time we aren’t able to see that we are living in a transient universe and for me this has been something that I had to look in the mirror and tell myself. Wow! Isn’t this amazing! Even in the cosmetic industry, there are products that are out there to make you look young which again isn’t wrong in itself. What I feel though is that there is something that is so fearful in people and they aren’t going through this movement through life. For me, as co-creators on this planet, it doesn’t matter if I live 100 years or 500 years on this planet. It is again just a drop in the ocean when compared to the amount of time and space and eternity. It makes me realize the fragility and sacredness of life and also the fact that we are limitless beings.

Essentially, for me everything equates. Death equals everything how? Everyone is equal through death. Then again, death is just a change of state. I’m not afraid of death because I’m not afraid of life anymore.

Since the last couple of months, my journey has been of surrendering and dropping the sword. To see that there isn’t any battle to be fought. Death is just a big business and to see it etched in humanity’s mind that this is it! This is the end which makes me laugh at this indoctrination we have been infused with. It’s a virus that can be zapped just be recognizing it with our cognition. For a lot of us, we begin to worry that we can’t live past a hundred and twenty years which again is another set of B.S. code we have picked up in our programming from schools where we were crammed with facts. I’m wondering if this is also programmed into our DNA!  Because more and more I realize that with a cure, there is no profit and that’s why do really the host of pharmaceutical companies that keep pushing the limits on increasing longevity and wellness, do they really want people to live past a 120 years? This question cracks me up every single time! Then again, it is a frightening thought with all these people now who are realizing their greatness who now are beginning to see that we are transformers, we are timeless, we can live as long as we want. Even within this human body, a lot of us have just accepted this indoctrination that this is how we are going to age. It’s almost like we have been put under a spell of some sort.

Some cultures celebrate death. Certain African and South-American cultures embrace death. Why stop there! In West Indian funerals, I have read that people dance around and celebrate that person’s life. A lot of this really is based on our belief systems. It’s amazing just to see how such cultures view death. It’s not about being in fear of the unknown. This fear of the unknown in me surfaced when I was talking to Kiran (another mentor of mine) a month back and from then I have made the resolve to get to the bottom of this and this blog post is my experience of all my reflections since then.

Death is the unknown. It’s the grim reaper. Death is the shadow. It’s what lies behind closed doors which no one wants to see.  When I realized there is nothing to be afraid of and there is no battle, I realized that all of this is beyond human comprehension in terms of words anyways. It’s indescribable. Only silence can maybe get even close! But words, just forget about it!

There is a saying as well –

WORDS WERE CREATED TO HIDE THE TRUTH I love this sentence! Gives me goosebumps all the time.

All the words that we use to talk about death through words is only going to contaminate it. We just need to be silent. This is it!

As I see it, the universe uses everything in nature. It doesn’t waste anything in it. It will also do with our bodies what it needs to do. Whether it’s to create grass, trees or what have you. But, for me I have always seen that the universe is this impersonal energy. Nature is a transformer and we aren’t separate from that. In my mind, I know that I will be used for something else. For me, it’s empowering to know that and there is nothing wrong in talking about death. A lot of people don’t like to talk about death still there is death all around. As if by not talking about it it’s going to disappear.

A lot of people are dying all around us every single day. I believe most of us don’t have a holistic approach to death to realize that it is the incomprehensible. No one really knows why people die. Of course some people do certain things which lead to their death. I’m talking about the random things that happen, for me this shows me the infinite possibilities as it’s really incomprehensible. Sometimes, only in silence do I get most of my answers towards the mysteries of life as it speaks volumes. For me the body never lies, why don’t we become alchemists? There is no death in nature. There is always creation everywhere. For me, a part of being an alchemist is to always stay in a state of creation or co-creation. There is only transformation and immortality! Essentially there is only life in existence. I just see it like that! This is nature’s secret for me.

Just look at a garden, where is death? The flowers are continuously blossoming; there is only a change in state. Yes, a lot of people have lost loved ones! But, energy is never lost. Everyone is constantly undergoing continuous transformation like how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Some people have other ideas about death. Some people become very masochistic and say we are all going to die so let’s create as much havoc and pain as possible. All of these people have neglected their heart space. All of these people have shut down their hearts due to which they have become desensitized. When you can’t feel anything how can you be aware of what’s happening and this is what has happened to most of us.

So, while we are here, for me it’s about living in the moment. When we are in the moment, we aren’t aware of fear. When we aren’t in the past nor the future we are immortal we don’t have the illusion of death. Sometimes, I wonder if we created the internet to only find ourselves or maybe it is the way of the universe to make us realize who we are. A mentor of mine, Glen Martin who happens to be a psycho-therapist with decades of experience under his belt with whom I have most of my conscious conversations indirectly pointed this out to me. After our chat when I woke up the next day I had this stroke of insight, instead of allowing the pointer to point. We make the grave mistake of trying to understand the pointer and getting ourselves even more confused than before.

Why can’t we just develop the willingness to put aside all our education to know this place-less place and stay in touch with it? Maybe then we can see that the universe let’s us flirt with anything that we desire 🙂

‘Thought’ Hack

Your thoughts hold power. The power of your thoughts, secrets of the mind and reality. A lot of us on our journey have had our share of “Aha!” Moments. Aha! I get it now – we say to ourselves!

A similar moment happened to me long time back but over the last few months I have a better understanding no scratch that, when I gave up my understanding I began to just observe with brutal awareness and allowed the impulse of the moment to guide my next action.

The light bulb goes off right in our heads, that’s what happened many times in my journey as well. We live in the world we are thinking of. Whatever we are thinking we are creating. The universe aligns to our thoughts, our thoughts are information highways that send messages to and from the body. Many times, if we look at the events in our life, overcoming certain challenges, its because we have changed the way we think.

It all starts with our thinking. When you see it in your life, then you see that we are co-creators, we are gods, we are made from the same fabric as the universe which is fascinating because then we also get to see on the flip side how much RESPONSIBILITY we have, because we are the architects of our own reality.

IdiotBoxBlue

Everyone wants your mind. (Seriously they do!). I say, let go of society’s expectations. (This is what I tell myself). In clearing the mind of utter B.S. we have to see this, just look with a willingness, just LOOK. This is why the newspapers are full of information, the TV…everyone wants to control your thinking. We have to see that our thoughts are so powerful that they create the world around us. If someone can control your thoughts, they can control your world. Every thought we have is a catalyst for every action.

Positive thinking has a huge effect on the body because such thoughts change the bio-chemistry of the body. It is also why “ATTITUDE” is also important as the way way we think affects the way we feel. Thoughts are a collection of emotions. “E-MOTION” as in energy in motion. We are living in a sea of energy. A sea of infinite potentialities and possibilities.
What I found out about positive thinking is that it does wonders! But, we mustn’t forget NEGATIVE THINKING, and the power of negative thinking. Let me give you an example:

Many times when people get angry, we say that this is a negative emotion. However, there is a lot of energy being generated. It becomes internally destructive as its essentially an implosion from within. We are bringing all the energy internally which we must learn to release externally. This goes back into mythology as well. We had many princes in folktales who were slaying the dragon, but guess what they didn’t kill the dragon as they saw the power of the dragon. It could take them anywhere they desired. To infinite heights, the DRAGON was the representation of their lower nature. So, in essence, once we master our lower nature which is “Negative Thinking”, it can actually propel us to a higher self. For me, what I do on my journey now is – I don’t judge Negative or Positive thinking by itself. It’s a myriad of separation of what many of us have gotten ourselves into. But, it all starts in the way we see the world. How we see the world is how the world responds to us.

We see this in quantum physics as well, even Max Planck, Greg Braden who have done so much work on this. But, it goes back to the ancients – they knew that everything in the world was connected. They knew the power of our thoughts. Everything is mental.

mind_over_matter_by_elixsir-d4dauv7.pngIn quantum physics, they now see that – THE OBSERVER CREATES REALITY SIMPLY BY OBSERVING. The observer is the observed. The observer isn’t separate from the observation. The experimenter isn’t separate from the experiment.

Just by thinking about something, we are changing it. That is how deep thoughts go! Sometimes many of us in our lives we are thinking about other people and coincidentally there is a saying that “IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT SOMEONE, THEY ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT YOU”. We are sending text messages through our thoughts. This mind that we have is the original internet. We are the original technology. When I am walking, running or just sitting, I am conscious that I am creating my reality through my thoughts. We have to become aware that we have infinite power and that is why there is a war on “CONSCIOUSNESS” on the planet because once you know thyself you become super-powerful. You begin to strip all of these layers that society has labelled on us.

You are this. You are that. No!

  1. We are whatever we think we are
  2. We are whatever we tell ourselves.

On a deeper level, many of us living in the 21st century have these desires. A lot of people say –

  • I want this beautiful woman.
  • I want money.
  • I want this handsome man.
  • I want that dream job.
  • I want that house on the hill.

Whenever we say “I WANT”. We are sending a signal to the universe that we don’t have what we desire. Therefore, we will remain in LACK!

What I began doing in my life since the last 3 months in my HOP (A daily ritual of mine) is to move from

“I NEED” TO “I WANT” TO “I HAVE” TO “I AM”

I don’t say I want health, I say I AM HEALTH and so on. Scientifically, studies have also shown that while trying to lose weight If a subject says – I am thin even thought h/she is fat. The results are much more in the favor of the subject over a period of time than the person who says to himself – I AM FAT and I AM GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT. This is again one of the rules of the mind that we must understand to take advantage of.

What is Expected Tends to be Realized

To know more about other mind rules follow this link.

Changing the words changes the thoughts. The thoughts change our actions and interaction with the world around us. The field, the energy around us, the DNA within our bodies influence the world around us. Aha! sends off electromagnetic signals to the world around us. It’s more powerful than the brain.

Electromagnetic_Fields

Therefore, the power of aligning with your heart influences the world and can help raise the vibration of the planet. Our thoughts are so powerful, that once we take hold of a positive intention. we can create miracles. I have seen it in my life. That’s why we have to be careful where we place our focus.

Because whatever we focus on grows.

We Turn Into Whatever We Are Tuned Into

The affirmations we have, the way that we see ourselves shapes who we are. And that’s why it all starts with perception. It all starts by having the best image of yourself in the head because that’s what creates who we are. A lot of us, we go on with what people tell us. We feel that we aren’t good enough. We have this internal dialogue. We are forgetting that the words we use also govern us.

That’s why instead of I can’t  I usually say “I CAN”.

(Akshay, who is a mentor of mine will be laughing when he reads the below content and probably will gear up to sue me for copyright issues :-P) Jokes apart read on –

Questions and affirmations like

  • What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  • When was the last time I did something for the first time?
  • Cows chew, leaders take notes
  • Be Shameless! Request support and admit you’ve messed up
  • Get Uncivilized. The worst thing that could happen is for you to get civilized.
  • Normal is boring.
  • Confidence comes not from always being right but not fearing to be wrong.
  • My mouth talks and I do.
  • There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.
  • My deeds today, decide my better tomorrow.
  • Be in a peak state.
  • No matter how ugly/bad the situation is, OWN UP for it.
  • I am a Champion and I know it.
  • Be a Challenger- Create possibilities, drop considerations.
  • Hackers are not satisfied till they get their job done.
  • Leadership is not about who you are or what you do, it’s about who you are being.
  • Being is decisive.
  • Leadership is not about feelings. It’s about commitments.
  • Life never exists someday. It exists now.
  • Use leadership to contribute, not to dominate.
  • No new actions, no new results.
  • Be an Owner- Drop complaints, take responsibility.
  • Have the willingness to stand for your dreams, even if it means to stand alone.
  • The future doesn’t just happen. I create it.
  • Step out of your comfort zone.
  • You have got to be unreasonable if you’ve got to be unbeatable.

We have to see that, there is a power in the words that we use everyday. Language is the power of thought. If I’m thinking of a table, then I’m creating a table. You can’t say a word without thinking about it. Words are therefore spells. We have to use words that empower us. We have to use words that help us create our own reality.

Through mind-power we can do phenomenal things. Haven’t we all heard stories of people recovering from a terminal illness when they were told they had 6 or less months to live.

Because they told themselves –

I’M SORRY! I HAVE GOT SOME WORK TO DO!

That is the power of thoughts. ANY FUCKING THING IS POSSIBLE. We begin harnessing our thoughts when we begin tapping to the power of now. When we begin living in the present moment. When we are following our heart-space, when we are opening our heart-space. When we are letting go of fear. All around us there is distraction, there is media-manipulation through the TV, certain ads, religion. Anything that you can think of, that doesn’t remind us of what we are. We have to remember WHO WE ARE.

The sub-conscious programming affects our thoughts without us even knowing it. Certain times, people fall asleep with a certain song. Not realizing that. Because all thought is is energy. Through sound vibration you can actually change the way people think. That is why its amazing to listen to uplifting music to your heart, mind and soul. There is a difference between thinking and being.

Many of us, we are caught up in thinking, thinking and thinking. Sometimes, we see people staring into thin space.

I-think-too-much-and-then-put-myself-into-a-bad-moodWe have to ask ourselves, how are our thoughts serving us ?

Are they elevating us into higher realms of awareness or are they draining our energy away? Many of us, we get caught in the trap of thinking about the same thing over and over again. What I found that has helped me is to let go of thoughts.

Okay, but how the fuck can one do that ?! You might ask! Read on…:)

Secret – Tapping Into The FLOW

We may have experienced doing some activity when we stop thinking completely. For me its playing BASKETBALL. The bills I got to pay, places I have to go to, all of which evaporates and there is nothing but the flow of infinite energy. Sometimes, people get headaches.

What is a headache? It is but a thought above your head that isn’t going away anytime soon. (:-P) So, to free ourselves from that, we have to stay dynamic, stay fluid. We must always unblock the energy in us through eating beautiful food, getting back to nature, planting our feet. Being in a environment that allows us to tap into our being where we won’t have to do all the time, because our thoughts are our commands.  When we step into being, we are letting go. There is nothing to do as we are embodying the totality of our existence. It just takes once idea to change the world.

That is why its amazing to see the whole world uniting, raising the frequency on the planet. The world is an idea. All ideas must change. Money is an idea, schools are an idea. The buildings around you are ideas formulated in the mind of someone like you and me. Therefore, the world is never one thing, it’s dynamic, it’s forever changing. In essence, we are a reflection of the world. If you desire peace in the world, you must create peace within yourself first. And, the more and more I see how we are architects. We are painters. Life is a canvas we draw on in our minds. We are living in magical times right now on the planet, we have to open our minds to a whole world of infinite possibilities.

So make your own way. The power lies within you.

Time to Speed up slowly :)

YinYANG

A few months back, I think just after March. Everything that I had worked towards in my life to realize my purpose which was to build a social enterprise and an organic environment in the education space in India by gaining all the skills I needed to run everything by myself came to an abrupt stop. I believe this growth phase of my life was mostly driven by the “YANG” psyche mindset I picked up from my mentor Akshay and the organization CareerKraft. It was all about making things happen, if there was one saying / quote to sum it up. It would be this.

” To hell with circumstances, I create my own opportunities”

I really had a hard time accepting the cards I was dealt with in my life. No money to go after things I loved to do no scratch that – I CRAVED TO DO! but couldn’t. This was a repeating pattern in my life even up until my 3rd year of my college life. I found solace in only 1 thing and at only one place and that was in a Basketball court where I can shut my brain off and just “BE”. But, since I started interning at CK, my mindset and perception underwent a major shift one which just kept pushing me to poke all the boundaries that I had unknowingly set around myself. And, it did happen. It took me more than 6 months to bust all my limiting beliefs, one by one. By, screwing up more and more my view of failure was fundamentally altered. I began to believe in this eco-system that I was destined and was just supported to all extent to become whatever I wanted to be.

BUT LIFE HAD OTHER PLANS FOR ME!

I had to move on with towards my next phase after graduating from college which was into IBM. Before IBM, I never intended to work as I had just started a company with my uncle which got me really pumped up about entrepreneurship. I really wanted to make that happen but soon I realized “I WAS IN OVER MY HEAD” as I was still a novice in talking to people.

 

  • I COULD NEVER KEEP A CONVERSATION GOING WITH ANYBODY FOR MORE THAN 5 MINUTES.

  • I WOULD END UP MAKING A FOOL OF MYSELF.

  • AT SOME POINT I WAS JUST LOOKING FOR MORE AND MORE OF INSPIRATION AND ENDING UP NOT TAKING ANY ACTION AT ALL.

  • I HAD NO PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS WHATSOEVER.

  • STILL NO IDEA WHAT MY PASSION WAS AS I WAS PASSIONATE ABOUT EVERYTHING!!

  • I WAS LIKE THE 4th HORSE WHO IS READY TO BE WHIPPED TILL THE PAIN WENT INTO MY MARROW OF MY BONES TO REALIZE MY OVERCONFIDENCE AND OVER-DEPENDENCE ON OTHERS INSTEAD OF TRUSTING MY HEART AND GUT.

  • STILL KEPT BLAMING PARENTS, FAMILY, LIFE ITSELF FOR NOT STACKING ODDS IN MY FAVOR.

  • MY WRITING SUCKED !

At first, I saw my life post March as a curse that would never end. But, it turned out be a blessing. Similar to the blessing of the 4th horse in the zen fables. Even, as I write this post now. I have overcome all these fairly well though they do surface up at times. Still, some remnants are left that are burning out slowly. Then, the moment came where everything I had worked for was right in my face again

BUT LIFE HAD OTHER PLANS FOR ME!

Whatever I did, I just couldn’t get there. It was as if an invisible fourth wall was right in front of me. I could see clearly right in front of me all that I wanted was in front me, yet I couldn’t reach it no matter how hard I tried. I burned myself out completely. Though, I could go on. Now, I envisioned things backwards all my plans that I had if they had come true how then did I feel about all of it?

It was just a moment of success after which I still felt empty. I knew something was amiss. A lot of these moments, when I stated above – “LIFE HAD OTHER PLANS FOR ME”. I realized it was my heart telling me to look at what’s obvious to which I had remained oblivious all this while.

Going on from April 2013, I decided to follow this voice to see where that would lead me. It took me to an Unconference that happened sometime in June where I entered a world that was so full of life.

People talking about things like –

  • SAVOR LIFE, Spirit of co-creation, learning together, living together
  • unlearning everything you know
  • tapping your abundance
  • living with life and as life itself
  • MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL – TO JUST SLOW DOWN and NOT DO ANYTHING and still get EVERYTHING DONE!

I was dumb-founded. It was like I was in a place where I told myself these guys are certainly a bunch of hippies and they have just given up on being ambitious and fighting for what they believed in. How mistaken I was…..they knew the simplest secret to LIVE. That is being completely naked to every moment and seeing the beauty of what unfolds. This was a world, where everything I had learned was the same but spoken and conveyed with a subtle variation. Here I realized what Rumi said many years back –

“WHAT YOU SEEK IS ALSO SEEKING YOU”

I just told myself, I had been dismissive about all this. What’s the worst that can happen? let me SLOW DOWN for sometime and see where this takes me. Nothing happened for more than a month. Slowly, crazy synchronicities started popping up everywhere. It was as if I had become a magnet and everything that I needed started coming to me without me doing anything. And, when it did come then I’d go into CK mode with the spirit of the new world that I had experienced. All this mostly have been possible due to 4 people, Arjun Som for insisting me to attend this conference in the first place. Rohit for constantly reminding me the subtle power of this space. And Kiran whom I see the as the complete polar opposite of Akshay for giving me enough space to learn by myself the beauty of life as it is. Frederic for helping me deeply understand my inquiries with myself. One more person being Glen with whom I will deeply treasure most of the conversations we struck. It did feel like meeting myself through each one the them.

I thought I already knew and understood what “WHAT IS” is but no, life had invited me to truly look, just see for what it is. Even, while I’m writing about it now…..I have goosebumps all over my body and a surge of energy that just imploded from my heart throughout my whole body.

I realized how insignificant I am when compared to life. I am the space around which everything happens. I can observe everything as if this is a movie of my life and some character called “Bharath” who is going through all this. When I let go of everything I learnt, when the observer became the observed then the magic happens. A place-less place, the edge, NO-THING that has always been here and is right now. Remaining in contact with it allows me to flirt with anything I want. This phase I learnt about the “YIN” way of life. Truly realizing and knowing what I am and what I can be. I am something more than my purpose, the life I was born to live.

AND YES IT’S TIME TO SPEED UP NOW SLOWLY 🙂

What a great pit-stop to unlearn and re-learn everything I had learnt backwards and upside down. Now, truly I feel IMMORTAL and capable of doing anything I set my mind to. And, if I don’t get to do that. I’m perfectly fine with that also. 🙂

Every day from now on is a day where BHARATH shows up plays around, experiments all day,

maybe he will suck at a lot of things,

maybe he will just read and write all day,

maybe he will get hurt or anything can happen.

He will share what he knows, he will co-creates, he will keep on learning

AND

he will let go of everything to look forward to another day while resting in the lap of life itself.

  “ROCKING CHAIR ON A FERRARI” style!