Compassionate Listening

If you’re a regular reader of my blog then I am confident you have a healthy sense of self-awareness. Not because I know more than you or anything like that, but because you take the time to contemplate a dimension of life that is deeper than the empirical senses. Beyond the veil of what we see, smell, touch, taste and hear there is another element to existence that can only be encapsulated through a higher sense.  Continue reading “Compassionate Listening”

Why You Should Fear NOTHING

It was early July 2015. Summer was in full swing, but in San Ramon, CA it felt like spring and fall were playing music together.

The sun felt like a warm blanket on a cool day, the leaves were multicolored and almost translucent. I picked one up and held it in front of the light for good measure and was in awe holding nature’s stained glass.

This was my first joint sales day with my new manager. I was nervous but excited because I respected his vision. He was someone that could help me become a better leader for this company.

I walked into the business complex, went to the 4th floor and buzzed the door-bell. My manager opened up with a look of worry and seriousness. He asked me to follow him into a room where another sales manager was seated.

I was asked to sit across from them and was handed a letter of termination.

The other manager who actually wanted me to work on his team looked at me with sincere eyes and said, “I’m sorry man.”

I was fired and my heart sank into knots.

I gave them my computer, phone and any pertinent company information and was asked to exit the premises.

I’ve never wrote about this until today and the thought of it still makes my heart sink and blood boil.

For 10 years I gave this company my everything. I cultivated strong relationships with colleagues. I eased the fears for my customers during our worst disasters and made them become fans of our company mantra “people, service, profit”. I used my ingenuity and went above and beyond my duties as an employee and closed business.

I liked what I did and was good at it. And now it was all being taken away.

I exited the building and walked to my car in tears, but a glimmer of hope overcame me as my manager ran to the parking lot.

I actually thought that he might re-consider my termination. Instead, he needed my company ID card. Employee number 642104 was nothing but a figment of my imagination. My soul felt deeper into an unknown abyss.

That day the world slowed down. I had a firm grip on the steering wheel to stop from shaking. I could feel a volcanic tornado forming inside of me only to be washed down by a thunderstorm.

No Sympathy

I reached out to my closest friends and family about the news. I was expecting some consoling words or gestures of good-will, but instead everyone that I hold dear said:

“This is the best thing that could have ever happened to you.”

I was a little shocked, but as the week progressed I started to understand why.

I’ve always loved to create. I had an eBay business in my early 20’s, found a wholesaler of a popular supplement company and sold protein powders to fellow college students, started blogs on finance, motivation, beagles (RIP Esha), mindfulness, food and marketing.

I got absolutely no sympathy from my loved ones because they saw much more in me.

Fast-Forward 2 Years

To tell you my entire story would take a book, but my setbacks did not end with getting fired.

I had just recovered from ankle surgery and learned how to conduct physical therapy on my own, my fathers cab business was taken over by Uber and had to help him financially as well as myself, family tensions where fragile as my parents divorced and I was still recovering from a break-up.

Nevertheless, the next few years was a time of self-exploration. I tried dabbing my foot into uncharted waters of ideas.

I continued to blog and fell in love with writing again, learned about affiliate marketing, started coding, producing videos, got into photography, learned the art of meditation and other mindful practices, explored the nature in California and felt something that I haven’t as a child.

Freedom.

I tapped into my savings and vanquished the idea of security because there is no such thing. I invested in myself and vowed to become a better person because its how I would be the best for others.

Today I work as a free-lance writer. My passion has become my livelihood.

I failed to see what others did at the time — that getting fired was the opportunity that was chasing me.

Why have NO Fear

I wanted to share my story with you not as a means to self-indulge in my misery and re-invented passion, but to tell you not to fear.

I was put in a situation where much of my life for the past 10 years was abruptly taken away. I felt naked, but it brought me to a realization that is obvious but its need to be repeated is crucial.

You are capable of much more than you think

Whether it’s being a better employee, a better partner to your spouse, finding love, reaching fitness goals, etc.. you are worthy of good things.

I’m not trying to preach as a motivational figure, but through everything I experienced the zeal for life has not escaped . I can confidently tell you — it’s possible to make what you desire happen.

The more audacious the idea the better!

We only have but a moment to live so instead of waiting for something drastic to happen like getting fired- I say DIE.

Die to the moment, die to your last breath and die to FEAR.

Let your intuition guide you because this scares fear.

Our trip here is short. Live with urgency.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you love. If you work full time, have kids but are passionate about something — then work on what you love for 5 minutes! If you have a grudge with someone that you know you’ll miss if they died — Forgive them and tell them you LOVE them today!

By the way, I love you all. I love you for reading what I write. I love you because you let me be a part of your day, and I hope I make your day a little better.

We all have the tools within us to live the way we want. Be a child again and live life with possibility and optimism. Our world has enough bad news. We need more compassion, empathy and more folks that care.

Make it a point to contribute a different point of view- a better point of view.

Life is not about overcoming the wall of fear, it’s about realizing that it was never there to begin with.

The only thing stopping you is YOU. We are our biggest fan and critic.

I asked a close friend a while ago if I’m cut out to be a writer to which he replied, “do you write,” I said, “Yes.” Then he said, “You’re a writer.”

Maybe life is as simple as doing what you intend on doing. Maybe there is no magical formula or 10 steps to success. Maybe it just happens because you want it to and put efforts towards it everyday. Maybe fear is the road-block we create but it’s also the one we can destroy.

Do our evolved brains fail to see what is so primitive? Can it really be that easy?

I think it can. I think you can make happen whatever you wish.

I will continue to progress and hope you do as well.

Sincerely,

Anand

Everyday Practical Ways to be PRESENT

I’ve been practicing meditation with formal and informal training for a few years now.

Today I wanted to share practical things that have worked for me and may work for you.

Now before I begin, let me just reference that meditation is much more than sitting in one place for extended periods of time. Although, I do this for about an hour a day, it came with practice and making the decision to live as a monastic for 10 days — but through experience, I’ve learned that moments of joy and bliss are open to us at all times.

Let us explore further and together. Continue reading “Everyday Practical Ways to be PRESENT”

Setting Fire — The Inward Revolution

A Noble Act of Defiance

In the 1960’s Monks in Vietnam burned themselves alive in protest to the war. (click here for pictures)

They did so with peace and grace.

They saw what was obvious for many of us. That violence doesn’t solve a thing.

They took action, and however you may feel about their decision, it was rooted in peace.

People who take on Monk-hood are respected in the Asian subcontinent because they have removed themselves from worldly pursuits.

Their life has become one of celibacy, simple accommodations and a relentless pursuit to perfect the art of meditation.

All their duties carry a focus to bring compassion to the world and attain liberation.

I don’t know what it means to be liberated or what’s nirvana — nor will I assume what it is, but nonetheless, the way these monks burned themselves alive and still kept a calm demeanor is something I can’t help but admire.

Meditation

I had an “Aha” moment after years and years of self-introspection, a minimalistic lifestyle, contemplation in nature, experiments with drugs, long bouts of fasting, cold showers, spiritual lectures and tons of reading.

I was searching for something but didn’t know what. Maybe it was the search for the meaning of life..maybe it was for joy??

I had no real direction.

The moment everything changed for me was when I decided to stop the outward search.

Meditation was the answer. The funny thing is the answer was with me the whole time.

The thing that I was searching for, was searching for me. When we both finally converged, this thing called “LIFE” made a little more sense.

Popular belief states that we should seize the moment, but I believe that the moment seizes us.

Meditation is when I confronted the self and became responsible for every feeling I have and every action I perform.

Meditation is when you begin to see yourself as the examiner of thoughts -and if a thought happens to consume you, you’re able to disengage and come back the present moment.

The Inward Revolution

It’s the revolution that is seldom talked about.

The world of war, politics, greed, famine, poverty, criminal activity, financial burden and every other conceivable problem we have will never go away.

The problems in our life is the FIRE. It will burn for the rest of our life and long after we’re gone.

The inward revolution is the war that we are constantly waging with ourselves.

We’ve been accustomed to point the finger at others for our troubles (mentally, socially, psychologically, financially and physically) without acknowledging that we are the culprit.

Spirituality is the acknowledgement that you’re creating your world moment to moment and every action your perform and every thought you think has a consequence.

This is more widely known as cause and effect.

The ability to look inwardly and solely rely on yourself as the solution for all problems takes an extraordinary amount of discipline, trust and patience.

Most people in the world won’t be able to do this because let’s face it — it’s easier to blame others for our state of mind.

It’s easier to trust others than ourselves.

It’s easier to find instant gratification even though the best things in life are deferred.

It’s easier to have an excuse.

It’s easier to compartmentalize and label all our baggage as good and bad.

It’s easier to stay stagnant with our problems than realize that there are no problems — only the ones we hold onto mentally.

The inward revolution is about confronting the uncomfortable and painful and to understand that it wasn’t all that bad.

Equanimity

When I went on a 10-day Vipassana Meditation retreat I had many great revelations.

Despite the joy and almost MDMA type of euphoria that I experienced daily, none was more profound than the pain that hour long sits induce.

Sitting in one place is hard enough and doing it 10–12 hours a day can be torture and for me it kind of was — but after 3 days into the 10 day sit I was making peace with the pain.

I was able to feel the burning sensations and invited them with the same acceptance that I invited the euphoric feelings.

Similar to my physical pain I also experienced mental pains.

I uncovered the temporary bandaids of past problems and performed deep surgical drilling to eradicate them for good.

Pain is simply a sensation that comes and goes. It’s when we attach ourselves to these sensations that we inflict pain.

When we can make peace with the pain and when we understand to dance with the world of change we can live with equanimity.

Change is Inevitable — Now is all we have

I’m probably stating the obvious but we all know that everything in the world is in constant flux.

Despite this rudimentary knowledge, many of us will continue to live in the past and future narrations of our wondering mind.

Living this moment and seeing it for the change it is can be difficult, but once you cross that hurdle, life becomes intrinsically more beautiful.

Living in the now might seem like some new age term, especially in my home of San Francisco, CA — but living in the present moment is deeper than that.

Our psychological well-being as people depend on accepting and surrendering to this moment.

This is not to say that we should nullify the need to pursue and attain our goals, but more-so to be at peace with what is at all times.

Closing

The Monks in Vietnam had to take action. They did so as they saw most effective.

In the midst of the FIRE — they peacefully gave their lives because the act of compassion was bigger than them. I envy and appreciate their sacrifice.

They did not die in vain.

Through them we can learn.

The lesson is that no matter the fire in your life, no matter how much it burns and tries to consume you — if you can stay calm and see the situation as something that comes and goes, then you can uncover what we’re all generally chasing in this world.

Joy.

To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour — William Blake

With Love,

Anand

Seneca – 8 Lessons from Letters to a Stoic

I’m currently reading Letters from a Stoic from Seneca.

He was a Roman Stoic Philosopher. His work has been geared to help people through a variety of ways.

Whether it’s wealth, love, education, death, joy, getting older, etc.. Seneca has something to say about it.

Although, I haven’t even scratched the surface of this book, I wanted to share some parts that I underlined and wrote commentaries on. 

This post is rather long (5 pages), so reading a quote and my commentary in sections might be better.

1. On Friendship

“And this is what we mean when say the wise man is self-content; he is so in the sense that he is able to do without friends, not that he desires to do without them. When I speak of being ‘able’ to do this, what I am saying in fact amounts to this: he bears the loss of a friend with equanimity.”

Commentary – I find contentment in solitude because no matter how many friends or lovers I may have, I’m still alone. Thoreau once said, “I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” As I become older my circle of friends grows smaller, but these relationships are as deep as they would be with a lover. My time with friends are special. I look at every interaction with one as my last. I know death is looming at a time and place that is unknown, so you could say I have prepared for death. I will continue to expand and strengthen the roots of all my relationships, but understand there transient nature. I’m not attached to anyone person, however, the ephemeral nature of life has left me with a relentless pursuit to show as much love as one can in every encounter with another.  Continue reading “Seneca – 8 Lessons from Letters to a Stoic”

Nataraja – Shiva as Lord of the Dance

Shiva - Lord of the dance

I was born in California and grew up in a Hindu household but never understood the religion.

While younger, I took part in rituals that were performed at Pooja’s (prayer meetings) without understanding why?

I asked questions to the elders but no one close to me could give a sufficient answer.

Even the pundits that performed the ceremonies knew very little except what was regurgitated to them by another.

Was there a deeper meaning to all these traditional practices or were they done without purpose and simply handed from one generation to the next?

This bothered me.  Continue reading “Nataraja – Shiva as Lord of the Dance”

What is Meditation

As I sit at my local coffee shop writing these words to you I feel joy.

I do not know where this joy comes from nor do I care.

It’s in moments like this that I take a step back, breathe deeply and relish in my current environment — because no matter where the mind decides to travel, I can only be here. Continue reading “What is Meditation”

Unlearning to the Path of Joy

  • We may travel to far places
  • We may acquire opulence through the material
  • We may have many lovers, friendships and a great social life
  • We may find love in another being to pass our time with
  • We may have beautiful children that we care for deeply
  • We may carry deep and strong belief structures about creation, the government and mankind
  • We may have dreams, aspirations and passions

Continue reading “Unlearning to the Path of Joy”

I can hear the Stillness – but have a way to go

“Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.” Lao Tzu

Stillness

I was helping a friend shoot a video for his non-profit this weekend.

We decided to head to a path in Golden Gate Park that I frequent during morning runs.

The pathway was next to a frisbee golf course.

We were positioned to shoot a short clip when a group of guys who were taking part in this intense sport (sarcasm), signaled us from afar to move back.

Actually the gesture was more like get the F*** out the way. Continue reading “I can hear the Stillness – but have a way to go”