How to face your fear AND befriend courage :)

How to face your fear AND befriend courage :)

Hey peeps,

Months ago, I was walking in the trail when I saw a beautiful deer. I was amazed. It’s not normal to see deer, and here it was, an alert, beautiful piece of art standing in front of me. It made me so happy that I decided to stand there so that I could watch it more. Few more movements when it didn’t recognize that it was being watched, however just as it came into the consciousness of being watched, it ran!

Hey! Hey! I am not gonna harm you! I didn’t move either. i just wanted to watch you. Please don’t run!

Ha! I wish it had listened to me, and faced it’s fear. May be we could be good friends, and I could bring home made food for it for my next trail visit! You missed a great opportunity my DEER!

Well, we do behave pretty similar when it comes to facing the fear. We panic, and the heart signals the mind to run! While it’s easy to run from an enemy, it gets nearly impossible to run from ‘Fear of Unknown’.

Fear of next doctor’s appointment.

Fear of talking to stranger.

Fear of speaking up in a meeting.

Fear of asking for a hike.

And the list is long enough to fill our day with virtual uncertainties, and jittery feelings.  While fear has some important message to convey, fighting with the feeling makes us skip the learning, and we get stuck fighting our inner demons. Here are some of MY go-to-methods. I hope it helps you too:

  • Invite them to tea: There are times things go out of control. You want to speak to someone, but you can’t. It’s something personal. An uncomfortable feeling runs in your body, and you want to run. It happens with me every time I have a doctor’s appointment. I don’t want share it with my husband as I feel like he is telling me same thing every month, and I still don’t get it. Lol. Anyone who lives with Cancer can tell you that how overcoming fear can be an ever-evolving process. I get up, I fall again, and the cycle continues. However, something I do many times is to ‘invite my fear to a tea party‘ where we chillax, and talk to each other about our needs. A warm cup of tea in my hand, and I sit in silence trying to sip in the fear, and ask myself, ‘What is something which is making me afraid?’ As we talk, ‘Fear‘ relaxes, loosen up, and so do I. It helps! At least till the time, it doesn’t knock me again!
  • Talk to friends/family: When ‘YOU’ can’t be your best friend, look for support. It Give your fear a voice. Call someone. Speak up. It’s perfectly fine if you want to cry. Cry your heart out. Feel the ‘feeling‘ again, and vent out every insecurity which is making your mind a battleground. Most of the times the other person would push you harder to make you climb the wall of courage however, even if doesn’t happen, you will see the walls of your fear falling down. You can see the other side, which is not that scary, I promise! (And in case you have no one to talk to, send me an email. I can be your ‘Fear buddy’.)
  • Meditate/Pray: Trust the divine, when you can’t trust yourself. In the last 3 years of my Cancer journey, there are days I have lost hope, I have cried infinitely, I wanted to jump from building, but I survived, and I am still standing strong. Something which helps me when nothing else does, is to remember the divine. I remember once I read in a book by ‘Wayne Dyer’ that he pulls an imaginary rope, and holds it whenever he feel down. The idea clicked me. While I cry, I just try to hold my cloth, or a bed sheet part, or anything and imagine that it’s God’s finger. Trust me, it works. It makes me calm. Somehow my inner child knows that she is being protected, and she is relaxed. There are many days when the only way I could sleep is by holding the pillow cover.
  • Fake it till you make it: Alfred Adler developed this therapeutic practice in 1920 where he asked to ‘fake‘ the feeling, till you get used to it. While there are times you just want to surrender to fear, ‘try’ putting a courageous face once. Every time I visit Cancer hospital, my inner child cries like anything. I want to run, scream, and do whatever could be done to avoid the visit. But, alas! I can’t. And therefore, I try to put a courageous face. I smile a lot. I talk a lot. To every receptionist, every nurse, every volunteer.

  Hey! I din’t feel any pinching while you took out blood. You know your job so well! Thank you!

  I like your watch. Where did you get this from?

  Hey Nicole, what’s the plan for Halloween? I am sure your son would be pretty excited.

Funny enough, now I know many staff from the hospital. Sometimes even when we don’t interact, I get a warm ‘I KNOW YOU‘ smile. No, No! I am not a courageous person, even though I am practicing this for last 3 years, but I surely have made some difference in my thought process, and in the lives of many people.

How do you get yourself to a point of believing? Start make-believing. Be like a child, and make-believe. Act as if you have it already. As you make-believe, you will begin to believe you have received.Rhona Byrne

  • Visualize: Have you tried visualization? It works! I remember when i had to teach Yoga in my building, I was scared like anything, I had never faced and talked to 10-15 people together, and then I thought of trying to visualize. And I swear, the actual experience turned out to be better! There are times you are afraid of a meeting, presentation, or you have a meeting with your manager. You want to give your best! Try visualization. Sit for 5-7 minutes. Imagine the scenario. How are you dressed, what are you talking about. Imagine yourself being confident, and talking about your points in a clear and concise way. And at the end imagine that the other person is happy with the conversation, and you too are proud of how you handled the situation. Try doing to as many times as you can. May be before going to bed, or just rising from bed. Tell me how it goes. ūüôā I can assure you that it’s gonna help you!
  •  Move your ass: This is nothing new I am gonna talk about. ‘Move you body’ buddy. Exercise releases hormones which makes your body relax. It helps clear the fog of your mind, so that you can see a clear path ahead, and know which way to proceed. Doesn’t matter if it is as simple as skipping, running or 15 minutes of Yoga. It will help you snap out to fear feedback loop.

Being afraid doesn’t make you inadequate. And I have never met anyone who is not afraid of ‘nothing‘. But everyone finds his/her way of dealing it. I see thousand faces of fear every month when I visit Hospital. Some look scared, while some hide it behind their face, some will accompany it to the prayer room, while some decide to cry.  And trust me, every form is beautiful in it’s own ways.

Fear is one of biggest enemy one can have! It’s lying there in a dormant state. Always! When triggered, it comes in various shapes, size, people, events, and experiences. But if you see clearly, it is trying to make you a better person. Either you face or surrender to it, both ways the universe is teaching you the best of it’s lessons, ‘Face it, even if you hate it or Let go of what you can’t control.’

Universe always gives you more than you would have asked for. If not a gift, may be a lesson, which is going to help you. Always!

What do YOU do to befriend your fear? Share in comments ūüôā

May you face your fears, and spread courage, and positivity,

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, ‚ÄúAcknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.‚Ä̬†

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. ūüėõ 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. ūüôā
      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.¬†–Eisai,¬†Kissa¬†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