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9 life lessons I could relate to lessons from running

9 life lessons I could relate to lessons from running

“Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or other new beginnings.” ~ Amby Burfoot

The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon recently saw its 14th edition completing in all its glory. The streets of Mumbai came alive in the early hours with hoards of cheerleaders, music bands, people lining up to cheer their folks, runners across different categories reaching the finishing line in exhilaration – it’s an extremely buzzing atmosphere every year.

Now, I have always been a sport enthusiast and a fitness freak but never so fond of running. However, last year I decided to attempt running purely for fitness reasons and also to satiate my fetish for attempting the new. And it turned out to be quite an experience to be part of a marathon training group and subsequently run three 10k marathons. What I landed up learning while running is I realised what we all learn from life everyday. A few take-aways I would like to share here:

  1. Action – We all think of doing so much in life, but very few take the necessary steps to initiate an action plan. Dreams will only remain in our wish-list until we act upon them. Action counts.
  1. Motivation – Self-motivation is the key to achieve our goals. Life’s path, just like the running path, is uneven with several twists and ups and downs. What we constantly tell ourselves, the inner dialogue we have and how we push ourselves is what really matters at every step.
  1. Team Strength – When we work together in a group of like-minded people with common interests, the strength that we derive from each other is unparalleled. Being a part of an extremely enthusiastic training group (read related links below) has been highly inspiring and encouraging. A big reason I could push myself out of the bed in the early hours and put on the running shoes. 
  1. Setting goals – When I began training, I could barely complete 1km. of constant running. Then I started setting small goals – running up to that electric pole without stopping, running on a trot until 5 songs on my playlist got done, running for 20 minutes non-stop, etc. and thereby gradually increasing the targets. Within a few weeks of training, I could manage to run my first 10k marathon! Setting short-term goals is the key to long-term success. Small steps lead to bigger steps; small achievements lead to bigger achievements.
  1. Mind over body – In running as in life, it is the mind that rules over the body. Runners often suffer from cramps mid-way through the marathon, get dehydrated or have to face extreme climatic conditions. It is their unflinching will-power that keeps them going towards the finish line. So in life, we got to endure with our inner strength to move ahead and hurdle all tribulations until we reach our destination.

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t

  1. Slowing down – During the course of my training, I experienced discomforting pain in my knee for the first time. I had to let it heal and was forced to take a break. In life too, sometimes situations leave us with no choice but to take a pause. It is then essential to rejuvenate and restart.
  1. Enjoying the journey – As kids we were taught that participating in activities is more important than winning. And as adults we also realise that it’s enjoying the journey that counts as much as reaching the destination. Being out in the open close to nature in the wee hours of the morning, with uplifting music for company and great team spirit around, made the experience a lot more fun. Not to mention the exuberance of finishing a marathon. In which ways are you making your life’s journey enjoyable?
  1. Getting out of our comfort zone – Every instance in life when I decided to venture into something seemingly difficult, I have grown immensely as an individual. My self-confidence took a huge leap. It is extremely vital to stretch ourselves every once in a while, challenging our resilience and expanding it. Growth truly lies in stepping out of our comfort zones.
  1. You are on your own – You start, you run the marathon and you finish on your own. Even though everyone is running together towards the same finish line, you are alone in your race. People will advise and encourage and be around, but you got to run to the finish line on your own. You and your thoughts. You and your self-talk. You and your journey. Isn’t it just the same in life?

Related links:

http://www.striders.in/training-programs/striders-training-program/

http://www.jollygymkhana.in/activites-marathon.html

Featured image courtesy: Pixabay

 

Practicing gratitude is a magical attitude to live with

Practicing gratitude is a magical attitude to live with

“Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~William Arthur Ward

My first blogpost in the new year – it is gratitude that comes to my mind. For everything that came into my life last year, feeling overwhelmed with people and things that I am blessed to have. Looking forward to the new year with a sense of humility and grace.

There have been innumerable moments of despair, like there is with everyone, when life seemed bleak and hopelessness crept in. As I kept seeking answers from the universe, I was drawn towards many self-help books that explained the mystical ways of the universe. Books that touched upon the various aspects of spirituality and the cosmos. One of the many books that had an impact on me was the iconic bestseller ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. And one of the many practices it mentioned that touched upon me was the attitude of gratitude.

We are often habituated to look at all the negative things in our lives, focusing on our problems, the lack of something, anything that is missing, stuff we don’t have and our complaints.

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. – Christian Science Hymnal

I asked myself, how could I be grateful for what I have when I have lost everything I wanted? I asked myself, why should I say thank you to life when it has cheated on my kids and me? As I continued reading the powerful processes explained in ‘The Secret’, something inside of me stirred. I was willing, though reluctantly, to try the exercise of gratitude.

When we decide to change direction, acknowledge everything that we do have and be thankful for that, a significant shift in our energies takes place. When we appreciate the simpler pleasures of life, the universe opens up bigger opportunities of happiness. Gratitude works like an antidote to dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. It becomes a shield protecting us from negativity in our lives. It changes our perspective towards life events and people. Gratitude leads us towards the divine light, peace and happiness.

Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have, and you will attract more good things. – The Secret

Maintaining a Gratitude Journal

Keeping a gratitude journal wherein we write the things everyday we are grateful for is a life-altering exercise. We do not realize that there is so much we take for granted – if we acknowledge all our blessings, our perception changes and something inside us shifts. Journaling was something I loved practicing so starting an exclusive gratitude journal was simple. What was difficult was recollecting the things I was grateful for.

There were days when I would be so angry and bitter, that at the end of the day I could feel thankful for nothing. That’s when I started feeling grateful for my life, my health, my limbs, my senses. The stuff I so took for granted like the roof above my head, the food I eat, the daily comforts and luxuries I enjoyed. And more importantly, all the people in my life who cared and loved me unconditionally. Just their presence and concern was a huge factor to be grateful for.

Practicing gratitude has changed the way I perceive life. It has helped the healing process immensely. Subconsciously I have attracted abundance in different areas of my life. It has had a positive impact on all my relationships. Even when I think I have little in life, I feel life has given me a lot. Every night, I make it a point to write down at least 5 things that I have felt thankful for during the day. It’s a daily chore that sets the tone for peaceful sleep and a positive start to the morning.

Read: http://soulmom.in/everything-new-enriches-lives/

The simple ‘Thank you’ that we were taught as kids, little did we know then the immense power this phrase has. No matter what your life situation is, count your blessings and be grateful. The universe will fill your life with abundance and contentment.

On a closing note – ‘Thank you’ for visiting and reading this blogpost.

Related links:

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprahs-Gratitude-Journal-Oprah-on-Gratitude

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/100-reasons-grateful-today/

Image courtesy: Pixabay

“She Let Go” – A Poem!

“She Let Go” – A Poem!

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After having shared my difficulties with letting go in the previous post, I chanced upon this very beautiful poem by Rev. Safire Rose and thought this would be a perfect sequel to ‘Letting Go can be very hard’. Serendipity anyone?

Over the years, I have struggled to let go of so many things – both tangible and non-tangible. It is an ongoing process of releasing all that I want to cling on to so very tight. Every time I let go of something painful to release, I feel a void within me. But the emptiness that follows brings with it a sense of freedom and lightness –such a precious feeling that is!

We do have the power to make a conscious choice of dropping the baggage behind and moving forward. Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go:

“She Let Go” by Rev. Safire Rose

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Would you like to ‘Let Go’ of something today? Do mention in the comments to really let it go, take a deep breath and notice how you feel! 🙂

Morning Dose of Inspiration

Morning Dose of Inspiration

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“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~Buddha

In life’s most painful moments, the nights seem darker than ever before. Anxieties and fear grip you so hard that uninterrupted sleep becomes a rarity. And you dread waking up to the mornings that seem to have nothing to offer.

I had spent several sleepless nights turning and tossing with worries. And rose to the mornings, clouded with a sense of hopelessness.

Then one fine day, I happened to visit our family friend and philosopher guide, as well as an acclaimed author, Mr. Russi Lala. During our profound conversation, he gifted a magical book to me – ‘Opening Doors Within’ by Eileen Caddy. He asked me in his hoarse and subtly compelling voice to read it every morning, unfailingly, along with my practice of Quiet Time that he sincerely advocated. Read here: Quiet Time

Since that day, my mornings did not change. But the way I looked at my mornings had started to change.

img_2152‘Opening Doors Within’ is a divine journal that offers an inspirational message for every day of the year. The author Eileen Caddy received personal guidance from a still voice within her, a source she calls the God within. These celestial messages are like your meditations for each day – simple and practical teachings that bring hope, faith and inner peace.

It is amazing how every time when I read the message for the day, every word is just so relevant to my state of mind. As if God is reading my mind and churning out just the words needed to lift my spirits. It feels as though my own inner voice is talking to me, prompting me with some action steps in a particular direction. Guiding me, filling me with optimism and subtly nudging me to make the right choices. Thanks to this book, I now believe in small miracles.

img_2132Just while I was enjoying these daily teachings, comes along another similar gift, this time from my Dad – ‘Each Day a New Beginning’ by Karen Casey, Hazelden Meditations. It consisted of daily meditations especially meant for women. This book too had a message offered for every day, along with a quote from well-known women.

I begin my day reading the messages from these books. They are my morning dose of inspiration filling my day with renewed motivation. They serve as a daily reminder that yesterday is gone, and with each sunrise comes new hopes, new aspirations and new actions.

The way we start our mornings surely sets the tone for the entire day. So do whatever it takes for you to get inspired. So that you rise beautifully, ready to shine anew every single day!

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Yoga and Me

Yoga and Me

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” ~ The Bhagavad Gita

I am fortunate to have had an inclination towards Yoga from early days. For when I look back at my most difficult and challenging periods, one significant thing that helped keep my sanity was my regular yoga practice. This morning routine was the only thing I looked forward to when there was nothing really going for me during the difficult days.

Yoga is aptly known as a union of mind, body and soul. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve a healthy body and a peaceful mind. The yoga practice is a holistic combination of specific postures(asanas), breathing (pranayama), meditation(dhyana) and relaxation (dharna). What began as a fitness drill to tone my body, gradually evolved with time to becoming a channel connecting me with the mind and spirit. This ancient Indian science of exercise and healing has now become a way of life.

Yoga and its many rewards
The benefits of doing yoga are immense and renowned the world over. However, I believe each one of us can have a unique experience with this marvellous practice. For me, it is a communion with the self that continues to nurture me in all three realms:

On the physical front, yoga has always had a rejuvenating effect on my body. It recharges every inch of the body like no other workout. The energy that is emanated during the session feels cosmic, almost divine. To an uninterested onlooker, yoga may seem like a slow and boring stretching routine. But it does a lot more than what meets the eye. It plays a vital role in removing the toxins and releasing the tension from every part of the body. It enhances respiration and results in improved vitality. I feel increased flexibility and agility in my body, with significant muscle strength and body tone as the apparent results of dedicated yoga practice.

Mentally, yoga has empowered me to take control of my mind. With augmented self-awareness, it has tremendously helped in keeping my stress and anxiety at bay. I have learned to maintain a balance in my thoughts and emotions. It has taught me composure, especially during times when it is imminent to become reactive and flare up. It is the most natural way to attain perfect harmony and equilibrium. It has boosted my self-confidence.

On the spiritual front, it is positively about my individual consciousness being in unison with the universal consciousness. Having a deeper understanding of my body and mind, I feel ready to connect with the higher spirit. Yoga brought to me a sense of victory by calming an agitated mind and helping me rise above the negative accumulations of my life. I feel joy and contentment at a deeper level during and after the practice. I recognise new levels of inner strength that prevent me from crumbling, when everything around me is falling apart.

I recall a game we had played amongst friends, wherein we had to designate the first adjective that comes to mind for everyone and write it discreetly on a paper. All of us wrote down the words that best described our friends in one word. During revelation, the word that was most commonly used to label me turned out to be ‘calm’. And this, at the time when I was already in the gruelling separation period in the midst of my acrimonious divorce.

Did Yoga do that to me? I wonder….

The practice of ‘Quiet Time’

The practice of ‘Quiet Time’

Quiet Time

“Often the best gift you can give yourself is time alone- time to ask your questions and listen quietly for answers.” ~ Katrina Mayer.

As a child, I was privileged to have been introduced to an organisation called Moral Re-Armament (MRA), currently known as Initiatives of Change (IofC). Talking about this worldwide movement, its philosophy and the people behind it deserve a separate blog post. But for now, I want to highlight the one thing (out of many) that I learnt here – the practice of Quiet Time.

There is a little tiny voice within each of us that is always available to talk to us. Some call it God, some call it the spirit; some prefer calling it an angel guide and some call it our inner conscience or inner voice. It’s not so important how you label it, as long as we care to listen to it. The practice of Quiet time is to consciously dedicate certain time of our day to sit down without any distraction and listen intently to our inner voice. It is an effective exercise to seek inner guidance and clarity.

When there is darkness all around us and we tend to lose it all, this little voice shines like our beacon of hope. When you are flustered with the many questions that face you and you know not what to do, it is this divine time that helps you seek the answers from within. It gives your mind a chance to restore itself and bring order. So listen. Just listen.

This practice of Quiet Time has been my rock solid anchor in troubled waters. Amidst the chaos of many voices that surrounded me during turbulent times, the soothing sound that came from inside of me acted like a balm to all my wounds. Being in Quiet Time brings clarity when the mind is confused and stuck. Listening intently just puts things in perspective. Anytime a problem arises, I find it very helpful to become quiet and turn inward. And the voice that comes from within is aligned with your true self!

Recommended Practice Tips:

The early morning hours as soon as we rise is the best time of the day to be in silence. But that’s only a preference and should not restrict you to not do it at all. You must set aside at least 15 minutes (ideal is 30 minutes) in your daily schedule. It would be nice to practice this outdoor in a place close to nature. Maybe a quiet spot in a park close to your home, or by the seaside or on your terrace. Any place which is peaceful and non-crowded. It’s perfectly okay to even observe quiet time in your peaceful corner at home, be it in a balcony or your bedroom. As long as it’s quiet enough for you to be by yourself, undisturbed, to enable you to listen.

Be away from the cell phones, tablets and electronic gadgets that keep shouting for attention all day. Switch off from everything and everyone completely during this time. Write down your thoughts if you desire. Stay away from all voices so you can hear your very own from within.

Enjoy every moment of silence in your Quiet Time!

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