When this cute kid kicked Cancer’s butt!

When this cute kid kicked Cancer’s butt!

Hey people,

When I was a kid, I was intensely, madly, passionately in love with cricket. If you had have asked me what I wished to become once I grew up, the answer would be nothing but ‘a cricketer.’

I mean can you match that craziness of playing cricket whole day without worrying about, home, school, classes, any comic strips/ cartoons! Talk to me about the game, and I can talk for hours…I lived for Cricket and could see the same match for continuous many days till the time I would know the scoreboard numbers by heart.

Hi, this is Rohit, and this is my story of courage, determination, and fearlessness. 

This is a story of a twelve-year-old boy who fought a fierce battle against Cancer when he wasn’t aware of the seriousness of the disease. Let’s dive together to the memory lane.

Sometimes, real superheros live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.~ Anonymous

I remember that day of autumn was no different.

It was afternoon when I accidentally (or rather, fortunately) tripped while playing. For some reason, I couldn’t get up for a few seconds. Somehow my Dad sensed that something was wrong (You see, there is a reason they say that parents are God!). I had swelling in the left knee. Since the pain killers did not work for days, our family doctor asked for X-Ray of my knee. Later I was sent for MRI as he could sense something fishy.

And that’s how my journey with Cancer began in the year 2004. Ummm…Stupid Cancer, I was too little for this!

The MRI scan gave a clear picture that it was an initial stage Osteosarcoma, a kind of Bone Cancer in the knee (if you have watched The Fault in Our Stars, it’s the same disease Augustus Waters suffered). 

Within a week, I found myself at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai.

In those years, Cancer was not a disease much talked about. There was a stigma attached to it (there still it, but I guess it’s better now). My parents thought they would hardly find any patients in the hospital as we never heard anyone with this disease! ( I talked about stigma thing!). But we had a completely different picture altogether. With thousands of patients, this place looked nothing less than a ‘Mecca’ for Cancer patients where every patient had his own story.

And there I saw a million emotions in those quiet faces. But if you strike a conversation, they were more than happy to share their part of the world.

Their journey has stories of diagnosis, disappointment, and a ray of hope when they started their travel to this unknown city. After all, everyone needs a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry!

Once in TMH, they started their procedure with biopsy.

And it was tough I tell you! I still remember the pain it caused when the needle touched the bone. As I pen these lines, I still shiver with pain. The pain was so intense that I did not allow doctors to complete the process properly.

The thought of getting surgery scared me! No! Not because of the pain, but because of the fear.

Would I be able to walk again?

 How am I going to be a cricketer?

I saw my dreams getting shattered!

And then I resisted the treatment. ‘Oh! I can get well by medicines only!’

(The picture above is my parent’s favorite of all. They think I have incorporated all my childhood strength in this yellow color.) 

Somehow my sister convinced me to get admitted, and I trusted her words. I sometimes feel that being a kid can be one of the greatest blessings. This moment you are sad, and the other moment you find happiness in little things. You aren’t aware of any negativity in life!

Life is ‘fun’, ‘games’, and ‘happiness’ and that’s the best part of childhood!

Very soon, I knew the names of chemos instead of my classmates!

My treatment consisted of a total of nine chemotherapy cycles broken into  – three chemotherapy cycles, a total knee replacement surgery, and then six more chemotherapy cycles. Each chemotherapy cycle was for five days and it was intense. All the heavy medicine injections were given through a catheter tube (thin flexible tube) which went straight to the heart from the right elbow. The tube was there for the whole 8-9 months.

Since the chemotherapy had made me vulnerable to infections (due to low white blood cells), I was given injections for the next one week after every cycle to manage that. (Are you afraid of injection! Oh! I too belonged to the same category till they stopped scaring me!)

I wish it would end just this way, but wait there is more!

Chemotherapy does not come alone, it brings along with it other side effects of treatment too which includes weight loss, low appetite, no taste in food along with certain every food restriction to name a few, and I had them all.

For one year, I had to eat everything home-made boiled/cooked just so that my body did not have to fight another infection in between the treatment. But how could a Mom settle for tasteless food for her son even if it had to be boiled!

She would try to make the best of what she could every single time, even when she knew that I would vomit the food as soon as I take it! 

In those tough times, my parents were my pillars of strength though it was harder for them. Now when I ask them ‘What kept them going‘, I see their sheer determination of bringing me back on my feet.

They believe that there are equally good and bad times in life. If this phase is putting you down, you will equally have good times tomorrow. But for that to happen, you need to fight out this time with your heart.

I have ‘this mantra’ for my whole life now!

There is a small incident I remember which still occupies a big place in my heart.

And that was the support of my little young army of friends. One of my childhood best friends, Utkarsh visited me and brought cards sent by my school classmates. This kind gesture was more than enough to push me harder towards getting better, I now knew that I was surrounded by so many lovely people, and I looked forward to my bright days and my happening life with them.

I guess everything together helped me to recover faster!

Here is a little piece of advice from my heart to yours: When you love people, let them know. Tell them that they are valued, and there is a reason they are here. Your good words will help them move forward during their hard times.

As a young adult, the memories haunt me sometimes. When you are a kid, your mind is less occupied with ‘bad thoughts’.

But as you grow up, the negativity piles up and tries to make room in your heart. And here comes your will power to control the negative thoughts and keep a positive approach towards life. I have also learned to believe that whenever one finds himself in any crisis, it is important to keep your trust firm. Now that trust can be on your God, or any invisible power you believe in!

Many times when someone says that ‘I was too young to remember anything from my days of treatment’, it surprises me. Because it’s not easy to forget a major life event, and the pain you suffered. (Also, I was in Class Six, not a kid to forget things! I always knew how to smile. Any day! Can you see that above?  😉)

And Cancer is not a disease that happens to every other person (Thankfully. Phew)! Neither do such phases come and go. They always leave ineradicable traces in your mind and remind you to be thankful for whatever you have.

And here I am! Thankful to everything!

Thankful because I am here, breathing and living my life. It might not be the ‘best’ as per society’s standard, But there is life! There is always something to be thankful for, even if it not according to your expectations. If you enjoyed your life before cancer, then do not be afraid of life post-Cancer because you will find the beauty in your life again.

 If you are brave enough to start, you are strong enough to finish! ~ Gary Blair

I still have few scars on my body due to the treatment, surgery, and the catheter tube, but I am not afraid of them. Because they always remind me that I am stronger than whatever tried to hurt me!!

You see, I believe in magic! And years later my diagnosis, I am still a cricket lover (also a food lover now (sneak- peek into my world)). Who knows, a few years from now, you might see me in the stadium, if not playing cricket than may be accompanying Sunil Gavaskar in the commentary box of Eden Gardens, and going for the famous snacks post the match. 😉 🙂

May we all learn to trust, grow and remember that ‘This too shall pass!’

Health and Healing on your way…

Rohit

P.S: Childhood Cancer is worse. When you are an adult, you can do things to take care of yourself, but as a kid, there is so much at stake! Whenever I visit the Childhood Cancer Center, my heart screams in pain. Please do share this story among your circle to let everyone know that there is faith, there is love, and there is healing too. This face needs love and recognition. ~ Ankita

How to forgive? (or not!)

How to forgive? (or not!)

Hey peeps!

After new year’s eve, a video resurfaced where-in Pope Francis was greeting the crowd of pilgrims and children. The crowd looked excited, and everyone wanted to shake hands with THE POPE. Suddenly, a woman grabbed his hand. While he tried to move on, the lady pulled him back, and kept saying something. The ‘not-so-gentle’ pull annoyed Pope, and in frustration he slapped her hand and moved on (Video Link).

Do you expect something like this from a Pope? I know, I know, many of you would be surprised to know about Pope’s behavior because isn’t he the one who teaches the world about kindness, compassion?

And when it was time to practice what he preached, he contradicted his teaching!! Oh man!

However, I know there would be different set of people who would see pope as a ‘human being’, a person who in spite of his wisdom and teachings makes mistakes. And there comes real compassion (Pope later issued a public apology for the same).

“The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”Louise Hay

Now, what if you aren’t like a pope (which you surely are not!), and don’t forgive (which includes forgiving ourselves too) easily? I see your hands raised up! And you can count me in too!

I don’t forgive easily. I love to hold grudges, and decorate it in my grudge cabinet. Like talk to me about my boss from previous company, and I would pick one grudge from my cabinet, and would tell you thousand reasons for why I still hate her.

There are many articles I have read which talks about how good it is to forgive, and move on. They say that it can pretty much offload too much of weight from your shoulders, and I whole-heartedly agree to this.

While I have been successful in forgiving many annoying events and people in my life, there are still many events which are stuck, like a lump in my throat, and doesn’t matter how much I try to spit it out, it’s still there! A little part of me does not want to forgive! Forgiveness feels impossible in many cases. Are we in the same boat, mate? Cheers!

Days ago I was listening to a podcast by Tara Brach, and she said that when we are consciously or unconsciously, not able to forgive, it means we are holding onto a thought, or trauma just so that we can unconsciously protect ourselves from experiencing that pain again.

It simply means that we are yet not ready! Our body knows better. Over years I have learnt that healing is not linear. It takes times to heal wounds, and it take seasons to lighten the scars.

Same goes with forgiveness. It needs patience and love. A little part of our body needs us, and our inner child wants to hear that, ‘It’s okay if you can’t forgive now. We will keep doing it, and someday we will be successful.’  And I have noticed that it releases some blocked energy. I mean, it really works, even if you are not that ‘into’ your body to notice it.This simple ritual says that it’s good if we do not judge ourselves.

You see I can say to myself, ‘All the spiritual talks you talk, books you read is bullshit. You haven’t learned anything if you can’t forgive! You definitely need a spiritual retreat once again!’

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” ~ Marvin J. Ashton

Come On! It don’t need anything external to validate myself. A little love, and self-compassion is what I need. Therefore, here I am ‘Forgiving myself for not forgiving’.

Once I tried to dive deeper into finding the reason about ‘why can’t I forgive’, and I found an underlying fear that if I forgive, someone ‘else’ will do it again. It’s like creating an imaginary shield in my mind. But the truth is whether we forgive or not, it has nothing to do with other person’s behavior. People do what they want to do. They rarely think from other’s perspective, simply because they can’t.

We can not control how others see the world, but then we can define our boundaries.The fact is, we do have a choice, though we are not aware of it most of the times.

I mean I HAD a choice when my manager talked rudely to me, and the choice was to respond though calmly yet assertively, and it could have led me to the situation where I had one ‘less’ grudge in my grudge cabinet.

As soon as we decide that we won’t tolerate ‘something’, there comes the power, and a plan on how we can do it. (I am still defining my boundaries, so count me in here too, mate!). And I am learning this slowly.

Over the years, number of self-help books have taught me that ‘how a person behaves’ has nothing to do with ‘me’, it’s all about his past life, his piled up stories, his griefs and insecurities. While it still causes irritation to think that ‘why I am being treated badly for what he/she has experienced‘, it actually helps to calm down a little bit, and let go of the anger. (Pic on right: Just to fill the page. Lol).

It reminds me of one of my annoying managers in India. Every time he would shout at one of the team members, we would joke, ‘Aaaj fir biwi se lad kar aaya hoga.‘ (He sure would have fought with his wife today again.), and this would cheer our mood.

Final thought: Every action which is inspired by ‘Love for ourselves‘ is bound to heal us. And while we stress enough on giving love to others, showering the world with kindness and compassion, the first person who deserves our is ourselves. While we all strive to be perfect, just accepting ourselves as we are now, and at the same time working towards healing, is incredibly powerful.

I hope we all learn to have faith in ourselves, and our unimaginable healing power.

I hope we remember to ‘Forgive ourselves for not forgiving others’.

Love and big hug,

Ankita

When Strength found a lovely face!

When Strength found a lovely face!

Hello World!

Life can be a bit rough and distressing sometime but if you look at it with a positive outlook you’ll witness that all of this is going to be
worth someday. Everyone has a story, a lesson to teach, and wisdom to share. Every story inspires. So, here I am sharing mine, a small part
of it.

Hi! This is 19 year old cancer survivor Prapti talking. I was 17, young, naive and reckless when it all started. I remember that things
weren’t going fine that time in my life. My physical and mental state wasn’t good. My body was signaling towards something. My stomach
felt bloated, there was anxiety, sudden weight loss. One fine day, I told my mother about it (mothers are goddess), and same day she
took appointment of a Gynecologist.

No, I’m not going to the hospital”, I told her because I was afraid of gynecologist.

My mother won the argument, and we went to the doctor next day. The doctor advised an ultrasound. Next day I got my ultrasound done. The radiologist called his senior, his senior called the third person. I could see a question mark on their face. The whole procedure lasted for 45 minutes. Next thing advised was few blood tests, and a CT scan because ultrasound didn’t make anything clear.

A day after, CT scan was done; I found the whole procedure astounding (I am a curious child who can be dangerous sometimes). Then next day I got my report, and we headed straight to the doctor’s cabin. After few checkups and I was told to wait outside while my mother stayed inside.

After a while, I could hear some noise.

I could see my mother coming out of the cabin.

This feeling was not new. I could sense all of it. I could smell what all was going to happen. I trusted my instincts because 5 year back I lost my brother to brain tumor. I decided to remain silent.

I took the report and searched every scientific word on the internet while my mother was sobbing. It breaks my heart to think about it again. It showed Stage 3B Immature Teratoma!

The body never lies! Period.

I went back to my mother. I told her, “We’ll get out of this soon.”

Courage speaks when YOU are numb!

Tickets to Mumbai were booked. We went to the city of dreams with some hope.

October 1, 2018, my registration was done. A card with my details was hung around my neck. That day, I met people to whom I’ll be forever grateful: My doctors!

Tests were done, biopsy was done and within three days I got the confirmation. I was told that the treatment would last for 4 months which will include 4 big rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery if needed. Okay! Bring it on. I’m ready. I was already aware of chemotherapy.

It takes courage to choose hope over fear-Mark Zuckerberg

I was admitted on October 5th for the chemotherapy. It was decided that only 75% dose will be given. I had all the effects. The damage in the liver disease went to Stage 3. My pulse dropped to 48 due to which the first round was stopped in the midway. It was not a good experience at all.  Same happened with the second round. I remember we used to sleep in casualty all night. Out of 30 days, I would spend 22 days at the hospital.

Why all of this is happening to me only?”, I had this thought in my mind. I guess when you are stuck in the middle of life by a crisis like this, your vision is blurred, nothing positive comes out and the mind screams to get some answer, ‘Why me! Why me! Why me?’ I clearly didn’t bother to see the suffering of the other patients.

Second round was over by the end of  November. I got my CT done which showed that I haven’t really responded to the chemo. The report mentioned two lesions of 20*17 cm and 15*10 cm. It reached Stage 4.

I was shattered and hopeless. Meetings were done, and surgery was planned. I somehow knew that this surgery is going to be worth it.

Surgery was to be done on January 4th, 2019 in the morning shift. I was shifted in the Operation Theater. I could see 19 patients of every age lying on the stretcher outside their respected OTs. All smiles lit my heart. All of us were in the same boat, and all of us trusted that we would land safely to the shore.

I could see my Name and details on the whiteboard. Big lights, machines, doctors and BEEP BEEP sound in the background. “Is this a real life or a Bollywood movie?”, I asked myself.

The whole procedure gave me 38 stitches. It was a Unilateral Oophorectomy .I came back with 4 tubes coming out of my body. My stomach was flat now. Finally, my 5 kg tumor was out.

Ah! What a relief! This made me feel strong. I knew that I’ll appreciate it. More importantly, I wasn’t hopeless anymore.

There’s only one mantra with which you can make any tough situation look easy, i.e., you telling yourself, “You’ve got this, and you’ll come back stronger”.

Childhood Cancer is too challenging and seeing those little warriors on the ground fighting this deadly disease was my biggest source of motivation. When life knocks you down you only have to look around, and you’ll find everyone is fighting his/her own battles which is tough in itself. Some show strength, while some surrender.

I choose to be a warrior!

Two more rounds were left. Each time I was given 100% dose. I didn’t have any side effects this time. What made this difference?

I believe it was my positive outlook, my affirmations that ‘Things will get better’, and my surrounding which filled me with positive energy and hope.

The 4 months treatment took 9 months. I lost one year of my life to Cancer. But I gained strength, wisdom, positivity, and the confidence to face whatever comes!

After 100+ blood requisitions, tons of medicines, 4 rounds of Chemotherapy, and 1 major surgery the AFP level came normal, and I was declared cancer free. Yaaaay!!!! I came back home as a fighter. I was welcomed with a greeting card made by my little sister who stayed home away from everyone else.

But there was more! The struggle didn’t end there. People made fun of me whenever I walked out of my home due to the hair loss. Neighbors would look at me. Some actually called me a boy. Every day I was being asked about the scars chemo gave me.

For months I faced these kinds of issues but I didn’t owe anyone a reply. As human beings, we are insensitive many times. We judge easily. One day I actually saw two girls pointing at me, and laughing about my short hair.

Today, I am a proud owner of a tiny ponytail. Everything is still there; the scars, the stitches, some long term effects as well.

Cancer taught me so many things! I am happy that I have actually changed my way of living in a better way AND most importantly that I’m alive. Now when I look back, I know that there is a ‘higher good’ in every ‘bad’ situation. If thing wouldn’t have happened this way, I would have not met the people whom I love now. Especially, my doctors with whom I crack jokes now. More importantly, I am no more afraid of Gynecologists. Lol.

I personally think that sharing our stories not only help others but it also helps Us. Think about letting go of all your worries by talking about it. Offload all those thoughts that has been eating you up. This worked as a therapy for me, and I’m sure this will work for you as well.

Talking about some myths, unilateral Oophorectomy is normal. Women still functions normally. I mean look at me! Don’t I look super healthy, super happy, and super charged!

What else do I need in this life!

Thank you LIFE, for I have YOU, and you have ME!

Let’s not forget, we are no less than a warriors. Share your struggles, you never know whom you are inspiring!

WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER.

Love and healing,

Prapti

Note: Hey guys, Share the article as much as you can. The world needs courage, strength and faith, and most importantly, the beautiful face above needs recognition!- Ankita

My 10 days Vipassana meditation experience

My 10 days Vipassana meditation experience

Hiee people,

What will be your reply if someone asks you about your most memorable memory of life?

Hands down, for me it would be my 10 days Vipassana retreat experience. If you are into reading self-help and spiritual books, a little dig into the pages and everywhere you can read about ‘being grateful’ for little things.

Eckhart Tolle says, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” 

However, I could never connect to this feeling. I tried hard to feel grateful, but the miseries would hit my mind saying, ‘Duh! It’s fake! Isin’t it?’ And I would get back to my real world. My world which was full of pain, problems and mental agonies. But Vipassana helped me to see ‘MORE’, to be thankful to my body if not for anything else, for it exits and re-creates itself every moment to help me see everyone and everything I love!

It allowed me to understand that beyond my so called ‘miserable’ life situation, there is ‘LIFE’, which is primary, which is already whole, complete and perfect.

I guess its complicated to put it in words about how I felt, I would still give it a try to put down my day to day feelings about my stay.

So, here you go!!

  • Day 0: Husband and I left home at 3:30 in the evening as we had to reach the center before 5 pm and it was about an hour drive. 15 minutes remaining for the destination and suddenly we started moving on the roads surrounded by hills and big bamboo trees on both the sides. Who knew there would be a different world of awareness in between those woods hiding from our eyes! Once we signed in and got into our respective rooms (which was separate for men and women), we gathered in the dining hall where we did some formalities and met our course manager. Husband and I talked for the last time before 10 days silence and gave confidence to each other that we WOULD stay and complete the course. An hour later we gathered in the meditation hall where we met our respective Assistant Teachers. I had a blurred vision of my husband in that dim light standing at one corner on other side. First instruction for meditation was given and we went to sleep at 9:00 pm. (Do you see the gong in the picture?)
  • Day 1: The gong at 4:00 am reminded me of my school times. I was so excited to start the course that it didn’t take me time to get up. 4:30 am and I was in the meditation hall. Yuppie!! But then who knew that it would be a roller coaster ride! Two hours passed like two days as my mind couldn’t concentrate on breathing. 6:30 am to 8:00 am was breakfast time. And that we meditated again till 11:00 am. I could feel the anxiety now as my thoughts where dancing boogie-woogie on the floor of my mind. ‘I am screwed up!’. While eating lunch at 11:00 am, I felt like breaking the boundaries and run. ‘But then everyone around is eating silently!  Looks like I am an alien to this world. Phew!’  The next meditation spree started at 1:00 pm and continued till 5:00. Now I was super exhausted, more because of my mind. I remember my mind singing a bollywood song ‘kithe chali hai morni banke’ on a repeat mode. 😛 5:00 to 6:00 pm was snack/ dinner and tea time. At 6:00 we came back for another round of meditation and everyday’s Discourse (final thoughts) by Goenka ji (teacher who started this technique in India) where her would talk about next day schedule. I somehow managed to sit till 9:00 pm. Knowing that husband was there going through same mental chaos as mine gave me some relief and strength. My mind was super active with negative thoughts on bed, and I don’t remember when did I sleep.
  • Day 2: I had slept just for 4 hours and didn’t realize I have taken a good nap in the hall during morning meditation. ‘What am I doing? I am not here to sleep!’  Throughout the day I kept fighting with my sleep cycle though the mind was less chaotic, and I was able to sleep peacefully at 10:00 am. Strangely, I have started noticing my body sensations too.
  • Day 3: Day 3 was even better and it felt like I was enjoying the process. I was trying hard to find a way to know if my husband was doing okay. I was worried, ‘What if he runs away?’ Lol. The feeling of calmness was there throughout the day. With fewer naps than yesterday I managed to meditate almost 11 hours! I was happy I came here! Yaaay!!
        • Day 4: It started with the same routine but we would be getting actual meditation technique in the afternoon at 3:00 pm. The teacher said that for the last 3 days we were sharpening our mind AND attention to do Vipassana in a better way. However, I experienced something magical at 11:00 am. I was concentrating on my breath when my right hand started vibrating. It was very intense. I could feel it for 5-6 seconds and then it was gone. ‘What happened just now? It is said that we are made up of frequencies. Did I just experience that?‘ My teacher had an answer to it: ‘Observe it.’  My mind was like, ‘That’s it? Okay!’ In the afternoon we were given Vipassana technique.
      • Day 5: It was just half day that I had been practicing Vipassana, and I could feel my body getting heated up. My chest area, belly and pelvic area, hands, thighs, every part was burning.  But the technique said that we had to observe our sensations! Lol. Okay. By 7 pm my body was a coal mine. The heat made me feel like I would vomit and cry. Did I say that we were not allowed to move our body too. Ouch! Eckhart Tolle says that ‘every emotional pain we experience leaves behind a residue of pain which lives on in our body in dormant state. The moment you observe it with your presence, the identification is broken.’ (‘Read Power of NOW.)  I could relate. I guess I was holding too much of anger. While returning back to my room at 9:00 pm I noticed that I had a back pain 3 years ago (which I thought was gone) had resurfaced! Day 5 ended as a painful day. Though I was still going strong! 
       

      • Day 6: I expected that my morning would begin with same heat in my body, but it was different. The heat had subsided a little. It had now localized to some areas and was less intense. ‘When you become a watcher, pain-body or negative energy will continue to operate for a while. Since it has certain momentum, it would keep turning for a while and may create physical aches and pains. Be present. It will go away- Eckhart Tolle’. Now I could relate to what I had read in his book. By afternoon, many other body parts started paining again. When I asked my teacher about it, she had same answer for every question I had, ‘Observe it’.  Urgh!
      • Day 7: Oh! My teacher was so true! The shoulder pain got less intense! However, my whole body was sore. Day went by and I kept meditating. But at 9:00 pm when I went to bed I had some weird experience. I was trying to sleep observing my sensations when I felt a sudden surge of energy. It felt like there was a part in my body (lung area) where there was no blood flow for many years, and suddenly energy started flowing there after ages. I felt good for sometime, but as soon as the mind got into action, the sudden flow of energy made me scared. I suddenly switched on the light out of fear. ‘What was that? Something supernatural? I want to run. Should I bang manager’s door? Is there a way to escape?’ I was scared, scared of the experience, scared to quietness, scared of myself. The whole hostel was quiet. It felt like it was just me and my mind screaming and daunting. ‘I am not meditating for remaining 3 days. I will just walk in the woods, and stay in the room. God! Please help me.’

      • Day 8: I skipped morning meditation at 4:30 am but then there was this breakfast thing at 6:30 am. The morning felt a bit lighter and better. The mood made me go to the meditation hall once again. ‘Oh! Today is not as bad as expected!’. Accepting all my negative thoughts and emotions, I kept meditating. However, today I took more breaks, walked in woods, soaked the sun and drank the wind. I guess that’s what they mean to say when they say that nature heals. The environment made me calm, and I geared up to start my practice again. I was back on the mat and realized being much lighter. The body was still heated and soared but it was less painful as compared to day 5. My back pain too was almost gone, and it felt like I had released some weight I was carrying on my shoulders. 
      • Day 9: There were so many  ‘Go to home’, and ‘Stay here’ moments. The feeling continued throughout the day. One hour I was miserable and another hour, I was Okay. But then somewhere I knew, ‘I can’t do this anymore’. It was good that course was coming to an end else I would have a mental breakdown.
      • Day 10: Hurrah! We could talk today! Just after morning meditation session from 8-9 am, we were allowed to talk to each other. Everyone started chatting like anything! But I was still in the mood of quietness. I took my lunch plate and sat in the corner alone without talking to anyone. Suddenly a  girl passed by and said, ‘Looks like you still want to enjoy the serenity’. ‘Yes, I am just sinking in the feeling’.Please go! I don’t want to extend the communication’, my mind said. Few minutes of conversation with my husband in the dining area, and I felt like pouring my heart and crying. Any ways, we had to maintain the separation of men and women till day 11 when the course was about the end. I couldn’t sleep at night. There was a mixed feeling. I wanted to go/I wanted to stay. But the fact is that this experience was life changing. I thanked everyone around mentally for being a part of this thrilling experience and slept peacefully.
      • Day 11: We all gathered in the meditation hall in the morning. The final lecture with Goenka ji, and I bowed down in front of meditation hall for everything it had given me in last few days. I now knew I was tough. I now knew I could endure pain with a happy face. There was a feeling of exaltation and heightened awareness, as if something within me said, ‘This too shall pass. Stay present! Enjoy till it lasts!’ Funny enough, my 3 years of meditation experience was nothing as compared to what I had experienced in these 10 days, and still it was just the beginning. And I owed everything to this place! 

      I remember leaving my room with my bag when I saw two girls standing outside. We smiled looking at each other and suddenly I said, ‘Thank you guys for being a wonderful companion in my 10 days journey. I hope to see you all soon.’ And this time I really felt grateful saying this!

      As I listened to my inner voice, it whispered, ‘Dhamma Torana ! I will be back again! ‘

      Much love and peace on your ways…

      Ankita

      5 ways Green Tea could add to your Well-Being!

      5 ways Green Tea could add to your Well-Being!

      My Tea lovers!

      How does it feel when the aroma of freshly brewed tea enters your nose? It is a long lasting scent that helps keep you smiling and fresh throughout the day. Well, the first thought which comes into our mind as we hear tea is a box of ‘Lipton’ or ‘Red Label’ tea. At least that’s what I have seen growing up at my house! But are those tea bags of ‘Lipton’ really beneficial? What if a small change can turn this beverage into a ‘medicinal drink’? Here you go my love. 🙂
      Ditch your normal tea with Green Tea! 

       

      What turns it into the safest and healthiest drink?

      Green Tea is made from Young shoots of Camellia Sinensis bush, a plant from India. Of all the teas, Green Tea undergoes the least transformation. It’s processing is still done manually for most part. This helps to keep the medicinal value of Green Tea intact. 

       

       In his book ‘The 17-Day Green Tea Diet’, authors Simon & Schuster suggest that if you drink four cups of Green Tea everyday accompanied with few more diet changes, you can loose large amount of fat. So, technically Green Tea also helps you to loose that extra amount of unwanted stuff from your body!

      • Green Tea deactivates your Fat storage genes:- It turns off the genes which are responsible for weight gain, and makes weight loss effortless. Two of the primary nutritional tools to turn off fat genes are EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) and Folate that are found at high levels in green tea. 

      • Green Tea protects your body from toxins :- One study found that Macha, a Japanese Green Tea protects body against liver and kidney damage. Another study published in the journal Biological Chemistry showed that green tea protected the liver from stress caused by alcohol (If you are fond of alcohol, don’t forget to drink your green tea the next morning!)

      • Green Tea boosts the immune system :- What makes this Tea special is the presence of a compound called polyphenols, most commonly known as Catechins. Catechins are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and help remove pathogens from the body. It is important to note that Catechin content of Green Tea varies greatly depending on area of cultivation, harvest season, and processing technique.

      •  Green Tea protects your body against Cancer :- Green Tea contains several Catechins, the star among them is EGCG. EGCG has been found to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in human Lukemia, renal cancers, Skin cancers, Mouth cancers, and Prostate cancers. These studies are significant because studies conducted on animals have shown that Green Tea prevents the development of many cancers triggered by carcinogens (cancer causing particles). Study also shows that EGCG stops angiogenesis ( formation of new blood vessels) around cancer cells.

      • Green Tea protects your heart:- Green tea has significant amounts of Flavonoids, a kind of antioxidant that protect against heart disease.  It slows down the breakdown of LDL cholesterol preventing blood clots and improving blood vessel function.  Since drinking Green Tea is associated with lower Cholesterol it results in less case of artery blockages.

      Which Green Tea to choose?

      When looking for a good tea, look for something which has good content of EGCG . The picture on the left shows the ranking of teas with respect to concentration of EGCG. Gyokuro Tea is my favorite, and it ranks second in terms of concentration of EGCG i.e has very high concentration of EGCG followed by Sencha Tea, Matcha Tea.
      If you are in India, you might not find Gyokuro Tea, but Sencha and Matcha Tea can be found on Amazon website. As a general rule, Japanese teas contain far more EGCG than Chinese teas. 

       

       

       

      How should you brew it?

      The brewing period is also an important factor while making Tea. An infusion of less than five minutes allows only the extraction of 20% of Catechins. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to brew it for minimum 8-10 minutes.

      Tea is an exquisite medicine that may prolong human life. The mountain country and the valleys where tea grow is holy and powerful. If you collect the young shoots, use them to brew tea and then drink the beverage, you will enjoy a long life. –EisaiKissa Yojoki (“Drinking tea for health”)

      In summary, Green Tea contains large amount of Catechins, compound that boast many anti-cancer properties, and prevent you with various other diseases. If you do not like it’s taste or you have hard time adjusting to it’s taste, you can add little bit of Honey or any sweetener or a dash of fresh lemon juice to make it taste better. The tea master Sen-no-Rikyu said that the ritual of tea consisted of nothing more than act of boiling water, making tea, and drinking it. With all that we have learned since then, we can add a fourth action to the master’s list : Keeping us healthy.

      Love and peace always,

      Ankita