The Balance of Life

(Published in Spiritually Speaking of The Daily Guardian on January 11, 2021)

Life is such a balancing act: Head and heart, family and work, business and social and the balance of our physical and spiritual worlds.

We live in two worlds at the same time: Our physical world, where the focus is on material things, money, competition, facts, organisation, planning and accomplishing. We are in this physical world, but we are actually spiritual beings who are temporarily being held here by our physical body.

A key to balance is to realise that we are eternal souls currently here on planet earth. This is not just theory or philosophy but comes from our own experiences. When we truly understand ourselves as the souls we are, we can relax and enjoy the journey. We can also learn from all the experiences we are having here. We are souls with a body, not a body with a soul. When we know and live from this understanding, life becomes more content and satisfying. We can be involved in the physical world, not controlled by its challenges but learning and assimilating all the lessons we learn.

In the end, even the physical is spiritual. Our life in this physical world is an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve.

Balancing our physical and spiritual worlds means living with practicality, with facts and organisation along with the essence of the True Self. Our true essence is the good, kind, loving, spiritual beings that we are. This True Self shines when we are relaxed and feeling connected.

The key to staying connected with the True Self is aligning thoughts and actions with our true inner being—thinking in a solution-oriented way. Do we tend to spend too much time complaining to ourselves or others when faced with challenges? Do we give up when we face a challenge, or do we evaluate the situation, tune into an inner guidance and keep moving along our path?

Living in two worlds at once means we stay tuned into our values and purpose. We know who we are, where we are, and where we are going. Through this inner connection nothing stops us from living our dreams and desires.

We have a divine inner guidance to help us create the life we are here to experience. Qualities like self-love, self-respect, perseverance, enthusiasm, joy, love, kindness, patience, discipline and faith are also strengthened through this inner guidance. Some of those qualities may be well-developed already, while others we may want to expand in ourselves.

We need to be sincere with ourselves. Consistent self-reflection, or regrouping through meditation, walking outdoors and being creative helps keep our balance and boosts our progress.

What are the aspects of a balanced person? Physical, mental, emotional, social, financial and spiritual.

When it comes to life, happiness, and well-being, there isn’t one single area of life that we need to focus on. Instead, life is multidimensional and constantly changing.

Focusing too much on one area can cause the other areas to be neglected. This is why practicing balance and having a complete picture perspective toward life is so important.

These are some of the areas of our lives that need to all be balanced as much as possible.

1. PHYSICAL

The physical aspect of life includes our health and the way we take care of our bodies. This includes what we eat and drink, exercising and hygiene.

Our body is the most precious gift we have in the physical world and without it we can’t exist here. If we are not healthy, we certainly can’t enjoy all the other aspects of life. For that reason, taking care of our physical health is the very first step on the road to happiness.

2. MENTAL

If we don’t take care of our body, then it will slowly deteriorate. And the same is true for the mind. Just because you don’t have to go to school anymore doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning new things and challenging your brain. Reading books. Learning new things. Following the news. These are all ways to keep our minds sharp and continue to update our knowledge and beliefs. Learning is something that should be a lifelong process.

3. EMOTIONAL

We also need to pay attention to our “emotional” side. Emotions can often seem like something that we have limited power over, but being a more emotionally intelligent person means becoming more self-aware and learning how to better regulate our emotions and behaviour. It is crucial that we know how to reflect and navigate through our emotional worlds.

4. SOCIAL

Healthy relationships are an essential ingredient to happiness and well-being. Having a social life and a sense of belonging is a basic human need that can’t be avoided. Even introverts need a few true friends to give them a sense of purpose and meaning. We are social animals and one of the reasons why our souls have come to Earth is to experience living with others and to learn from the lessons that relationships give us.

5. WORK/FINANCIAL

Another aspect of a balanced person that cannot be ignored is our material needs such as food, shelter, healthcare, and other basics to living a healthy and dignified life. For most people, this means having a job/career that both supports their material well-being, as well as their psychological well-being. While we don’t always get a choice in what we do for a living, there are important ways to give ourselves more power over both our work life and financial life.

6. SPIRITUAL

Spirituality can sometimes be the most overlooked aspect to life. For many people, religion is their main source of spirituality and meaning, but we don’t necessarily need religion to find a larger purpose to life.

Art, culture, philosophy, relationships, meditation and creativity can all play a role in creating more meaning in our lives and living more purposefully.

Have faith that life is good. Faith does have an important role in good living. Don’t underestimate the importance of seeing the good in things, even our very worst experiences can be valuable, as they are only lessons that make us stronger. Every moment is a source of wealth. Practice living richly.

Don’t underestimate the importance of “spirituality” or having a meaningful life. When you have a spiritual core, you can withstand almost any difficulty or hardship. It can empower you and motivate you to a whole other level.

And finally, there must always be a balance between giving and receiving. Neither extreme is good. We must do both.

Be balanced in everything that you do.

Lessons From A Rare Year

(published in Spiritually Speaking Column of The Daily Guardian on December 28, 2020)

2020 is about to end.

The cycle continues.

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on the year gone by and to introspect on the lessons we all learned as individuals. It is also a great time to apply those lessons in the New Year that is coming in. While this year had its challenges, it wasn’t all bad. It has taught us many important lessons as well.

This was one of the most significant and eventful years in human history. The global pandemic dominated this year in every way. Whether it was the lockdowns, the economic slowdown or the race for the vaccine. New terms that were unheard of now have been sealed into our global consciousness, such as—masks, quarantine and social distancing. This year has been quite a wild ride and most of it was spent right at home. Like a global reality show we all were in tune with global events through the Internet, social media and streaming services primarily.

Millions of people have been infected by the virus. Hundreds and thousands have died globally. Millions around the world have lost their jobs and businesses. It has been a year of several challenges. But has it been only bad? 

Not at all. This has been a year of many lessons. While we all sat at home mostly in the earlier part of the year during lockdown, we also got a chance to rediscover our loved ones and ourselves. Many families have become closer to each other than before. Many people have had precious time to look inwards and rediscover themselves.

Everyone must have learned their own individual lessons. But there are some that hopefully most of us learned. One is that we are literally in ‘the same boat’. Remember all the things we have heard about a global crisis affecting us all? Well this was at least in the last 100 years the first crisis that truly affected us all. We all went through lockdowns, shutdowns and quarantines. This was not confined to some part of the world but rather the whole world and these kinds of global events happen very rarely.

So since we are all in ‘the same boat’ we can also conclude that we are truly ‘not alone’. Whether we like it or not, we are a global family. Like all families, we have our moments, our ups and downs but that does not change the fact that we are all one global family.

On an individual level, we have realised that life is a lot vaster and deeper than we thought. Life is not just about money and career. Life is about family, creative talents, relationships, introspection, health, change and adaptability among many other things.

On the global scale remember that 2020 is the year that has brought us both virus and vaccine. So while many got sick and passed on from this physical world, many more recovered and were granted a new lease of life. That is what we need to focus on and celebrate. Darkness came but the light prevailed. 

Now we are in the last week of 2020 so ask yourself the new things you learned about yourself or your loved ones this year. We all need to be thankful for our lives and those in it. Take this moment to realise that even our lost loved ones are still with us but in a different state of existence. Let us thank God for every blessing we have. Have faith in yourself that there are better days ahead. 

The cycle of time is perhaps best symbolised by New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Every year we go through this cycle—like a soul that reincarnates through a multiple series of births and deaths. December 31 is generally a day of celebration. But what is being celebrated? The year gone by or the new year coming or both? I would say both.

We look at the experiences we had in one year, introspect and process those learnings and lessons and then apply them in the next year. A lot like the cycle of karma.

We all are human and make mistakes. We all go through cycles of happiness and sadness. We all have moments of companionship and loneliness. We all go through sickness and health and so on. Life is a cycle. Nothing is permanent. This too shall pass. So don’t get attached to individual moments but enjoy them and learn from them.

Apply the lessons that you learned. This is a great time to do new things and form newer and better habits. It is also a great time to look inwards and see the glorious divine light of love inside you. By our positive and creative thoughts, words and deeds we can spread new light upon the world. These do not have to be big things. If we all just do good in our daily lives, in our normal interactions, we will be doing a great service to the spiritual development of the world. Hopefully, that will create a chain reaction or a ripple effect. 

We are living in a very significant spiritual period when we enter into what is called the ‘Age of Aquarius’. On December 21, 2020 the Great Conjunction occurred when Jupiter and Saturn appeared to be in a straight line as seen from earth and this happened in the constellation of Aquarius. It is said that this is the beginning of a new era of spirituality on earth. Let the light of the Divine shine in your hearts and souls and let us celebrate our humanity together. We have come through a challenging period together and should celebrate. 

I wish you and your families a very happy, safe, healthy and insightful new year. 

As we all enter the New Year together, remember that your life is precious and you are here for an important reason: Be God’s love. Be God’s light.

The cycle continues.

2021 is about to begin.

Be The Love And Light This Christmas

(Published in The Indian Express December 25, 2020)

When Jesus was born, a great star appeared in the sky over Bethlehem to herald the coming of Christ. Three wise men from the East saw this star and came on their camels to meet and worship the newborn babe. They found him in a manger and gave him gifts. They recognised this child as a Divine soul.

This year, on December 21, 2020, a sign in the heavens was given as there was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius. The brightest seen since the year 1226. It is also said that this is heralding the Age of Aquarius, which is believed to be a new era where there will be a powerful surge of spiritual consciousness on the planet.

Christmas is a great day to look at the year gone by and process everything you experienced in that particular year. Christmas is a day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but it is also a day that we celebrate the year gone by as we prepare for the coming year ahead.

Should Christmas of the year 2020 be any different?

Well it is different because the year 2020 has been an unprecedented year! It started off in a grand way. The beginning of a new decade. Like the years 1717, 1818 and 1919 before it, 2020 is one of those years that comes only once every 101 years, where the first two digits are the same as the last two. The next time this type of year comes by will be in 2121.

So right from the beginning, 2020 came with something unique in our collective minds. But what a ride it’s been. Nobody could have imagined all the things that would happen.A global pandemic spread throughout the planet and forced nations to lock down.

Covid 19 brought the whole world to its knees. New terms that were hardly of any consequence in our global consciousness last Christmas have been branded into our collective global consciousness like – masks, lockdown, travel bans and social distancing.

We all were forced to stay at home and that left us no choice but to look inwards and introspect. Many people fell into depression, loneliness and sadness. People all around the globe suffered financial challenges because of lost jobs and failing businesses. People got infected and fell sick and hundreds of thousands bid goodbye to this planet and set sail back to the spiritual realms from which we have all come.

But despite all this, there was something interestingly good about the year. 2020 was a great gift to humankind!

We all experienced something together as a species. It taught us valuable lessons. It made us realise in the most dramatic and almost cinematic way that the important things in life are our relationships with each other and that we are all literally ‘in the same boat’.

Videos and social media posts from various platforms popped up showing us how the lockdown affected people’s lives in remote corners of the world and this brought a strange type of relief, joy, happiness and camaraderie. It has shown us that we are quite literally all equally vulnerable and that as the fictional Jack Shephard from the famous TV show Lost says, “If we can’t live together, we are going to die alone!”

The virus sees not one’s religion, financial condition, gender, political views, nationality, caste, creed or colour. The virus is the great leveler.Not just the virus but many other things that happened in the world this year strengthened the bond of people all over the world. There were riots, floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes in various parts of the world. But despite that, there was hope! For through a mass scale global effort of science despite the odds, the year 2020 has seen both virus and vaccine!

Remember earlier when I mentioned we are all ‘in the same boat’? There is a story of Jesus in the Bible about this:Jesus Calms the Storm (Luke 8:22-25)

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

In times of crisis, it is natural to be afraid. It is natural to get negative thoughts. But this is the time to pray for faith. For faith leads to perseverance, tenacity and resolutions of the challenges we face.

Christmas is a time to reflect and process the events of the year. What did you learn spending time with yourself? What did you learn about your loved ones and family? Have you counted how many things there are to be thankful for? Going forward, how will you change yourself in order to change the world for the better? We are all very lucky to be living in these highly spiritual and eventful times. This is a year that historians will be writing about for centuries. It is a year that marks the beginning of a new era of humanity.2020 has been a year unlike no other experienced by anyone alive on this planet.

On this Christmas Day 2020, I bring you good news! We will survive and things will get better. We have all gotten through this together. We remember those who we have lost but we know they are still alive in the spiritual realms, where we will all return someday. But there is no hurry. There is much to do still.You are not alone! Even if it feels like that sometimes. The ride can be scary but we are in it together.

This year has been called by many as the ‘Great Awakening’. For many have felt our connection. We are souls who have come here to explore and bring the love and light of God to everyone else.

This Christmas let us celebrate the lessons we learned this year. Let us celebrate our connection. This year like never before, we felt connected as a global civilisation. We realised that the important things in life are not connected to material things but they are connected to freedom, to exploring, to seeking, to learning, to loving and to being one world connected together.

Like the star that shone the night of Christ’s birth, let your light shine! Let the love and light of Christ be reborn within you! Keep introspecting within and soon like the wise men found the Christ child, we may find the Divine light and love of God within us or the Christ consciousness within us.

Let us be thankful to God to be alive! Let us be thankful that we are all connected! Let us aim to do our bit to make the world a better place. After 2020, we now welcome 2021. In this new year, let us resolve to tackle our individual, local, national and global problems without being afraid and having hope and faith that things will get better.

Peace be unto you and yours! Be God’s Love! Be God’s Light!I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2021.

Your Circle Of Light

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on December 14, 2020)

Each one of us exudes a spiritual light which is an energy that vibrates according to our state of spiritual consciousness. What we do not always realise or recognise is the effect that our light can and does have on others in our circle.

 Whether our light shines bright or dim, we are unknowingly helping others around us and teaching them to become more consciously aware of their own light. Our interactions with other people create an ever changing circle of light which changes both in its spiritual luminosity and in its dimension.

This circle of light works in both ways. The light of others also can help us to gain valuable lessons in our own lives as well. The light of others can also assist in either brightening or dimming our own light depending on its quality. Remember how we were all taught in childhood to be careful of the company we keep? This is not only a subjective life lesson but it is an important spiritual truth—we absorb the light or energy of others and this includes the quality of that energy.

 Our goal should be to brighten and strengthen our own light through thoughts, words and deeds of kindness and cleanliness. When we cultivate our own inner light through prayer, meditation and unconditional love towards God, self and others we begin to inwardly glow with a more radiant and resplendent light that will be seen by the spiritual eyes of others and will touch the hearts, minds and souls of humanity.

It is this light that illuminates the universe. The light is brilliantly luminescent because it is God’s or our Source’s (whichever you prefer) light. Our Creator’s light lives inside our hearts and souls and has been placed there purposefully for us to seek, access and use it to benefit the world.

By connecting to this Divine source of power (fuelled by unconditional love) in our hearts, we can learn the ways of divine healing, love, wisdom and creativity.

In the beginning, God told us to “be fruitful and multiply”. This is not only about multiplying physical things but also multiplying our creativity through art, science, humanity, philosophy, economics and many other things that can be used to make this world a better place. Also we need to be fruitful and multiply in terms of our good and loving thoughts, words and deeds and further strengthen and energise our own circle of light of which we are the center point. This will then lead us into higher levels of consciousness and this is what creation is all about.

All we are doing is returning back to our Divine origin and source and learning new things along the way but at the same time remembering that which our spirit already knows and has always known but simply temporarily forgotten. The quest for meaning, purpose, maturation and evolution of our soul is a quest to reconnect to Home. It is the journey to know and awaken to our holy self.

The journey Home to God, accelerates and expands our capacity to hold and elevate light and love for ourselves and others by incrementally stripping away layers of the false ego centric self.

It takes time and practice through meditation and prayer to develop an intimate relationship with God. In fact, this transformational process is underway daily as God calls us into deeper levels of relationship which lifts more and more of the veil of unconsciousness. This veil has purposely hidden our Divine identity by keeping us focused on earthly constructs such as the delusion of material life in order to aid in the awakening process. However, this does not diminish the light and wholeness that already exists within.

Our humanity is complex; it has created barriers and resistance to searching deep within ourselves. It takes patience and commitment. As humans, we are always looking for validation, safety, self-worth, acceptance, love and connectedness. Many of us have learned to look outside of ourselves for this fulfillment, and yet we still do not feel whole or understand our true nature. It is only in connecting to our own self and developing self love that this awakening will happen. Self love is not selfish or narcissistic. It does not mean to only love yourself, rather it is about making your inner self the source of love and happiness that will then radiate outwards to everyone in your circle of light.

As part of our human experience, the ego’s role is spiritually useful in teaching lessons of contrast so that we can awaken daily and evolve. These are opportunities to experience ourselves and keep choosing love. Ego consciousness keeps us focused on the outside world and the light of others. We are attracted to the ethereal shining light of others, just like a moth to a flame. Your light is no different. You are seeing a mirror image, a reflection of yourself in your highest form, your Divinity, which is your true identity intertwined with your humanity for this particular life experience. Due to being a part of a cosmic collective consciousness, we are all privileged to the same knowledge, wisdom, love and light. Our soul recognises this light in others as a kindred spirit.

The more you search within yourself, you will understand and trust that you already have everything you will need for your time here, the more you will experience lasting peace, joy, contentment, creativity and love for your journey. The map for your journey lies within you and only you. No one else has your map or knows your path. Dive deep into the abyss of self and you will find more treasure and the brighter your own light becomes as you constantly receive gifts in all different forms. God wants to help you find these hidden treasures and celebrate them with you. God wants you to be eternally happy.

 As you learn how to sustain a deep relationship with your Creator, you will find that you lack nothing and are everything as oneness. If you rely too heavily on the light of others to guide you, you will never have enough time or enough desire to search inside yourself to learn what your own light’s higher purpose truly is. Keep turning inward to the unconditional love that awaits within you.

Then your circle of light will shine so brightly that others will be guided to God’s light in their own selves and that is the highest service you can do for humanity. Be God’s love. Be God’s light.

God is a God of small things

It is the small things that matter in life. It is often the things that we do or say in our day-to-day lives that have a large impact on those around us.

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of the Daily Guardian on November 30, 2020)

We all want to do great things in life! It is human nature to want success, contentment and happiness. What exactly constitutes these things varies from person to person. Some want good health, wealth, fame, harmonious relationships and the list goes on. 

Everyone on Earth must have wondered why they are here. We all feel like we have a ‘mission’ of some kind to do something big, important and significant in the world. Humans by nature generally crave excitement and this we believe will come from something big. A huge announcement or a huge event that will suddenly change the lives of billions. But reality is different. In the end of days, we will see that it is the ‘small’ things in life that are actually the ‘big’ things from the divine perspective.

Let me share with you a story I read in one of the several books about near death experiences (NDEs) that I have read (I forget the exact book, but I remember the story).

There was a lady (let’s call her Martha) from New York City who worked in a large advertising agency. She had a few degrees and was an academic topper throughout school and college. Martha worked as a senior executive and had a six-figure annual income. All the things that most professionals strive for. But luckily, she still retained a compassionate nature. One day, her colleague lost her husband to cancer and did not come to work for a few weeks. A few weeks later, the colleague came back to work but was depressed and lonely and sat and cried on her chair. When Martha was leaving office that evening, she noticed the colleague crying and gently walked into her office and softly put her hand on her colleague’s shoulder. She didn’t say a word but just the energy of compassion and consideration she exuded was enough to make her colleague feel a lot better and she actually stopped crying and smiled. 

A few years later, Martha had a cardiac arrest. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, but her heart stopped for a few minutes. She was declared clinically dead, but somehow in a few minutes her heart started to beat again and she was alive again. She recounted an amazing story! 

When she ‘died’ she left her body, went through the tunnel, saw dead relatives and was shown a life review by a being of light. Surprisingly to Martha, the ‘significant’ events of her life were not related to the degrees, the designation or the salary that she got. The significant events of her life were related to the so-called ‘small’ things she did. In this life review she was shown and re-lived the moment described earlier when she comforted her colleague. This was something that Martha had actually forgotten about, but in the eyes of God it was one of the most significant moments in Martha’s life. For, it was a moment when she acted compassionately towards her colleague and gave her solace and hope. In that moment of reliving, Martha was actually made to feel the joy and comfort that her colleague felt. That, in itself, was a rewarding feeling. Martha returned to her earthly life and shared this story with the world.

Each one of us has our own such moments in our lives when we may have said something kind or did something compassionate to make somebody else feel better. It is moments like this which God considers important. Never underestimate your capacity to have a significant impact in the world. By doing these small things in our daily life to those that we encounter in our lives we are making an impact in the lives of others and thereby our world.

Great souls like Jesus Christ who come to our world from time to time give us an idea through their lives about the importance of humility. God chose Jesus to be born not to a king, queen, prince or princess but to a humble carpenter and his wife. Jesus was not born in a castle or palace but in a humble manger. A manger is a place where hay is put to feed animals. So even the place of birth of Jesus was in a place of service. This is a symbol of truth that on earth we are here to serve one another through love and compassion. 

In his bestselling book, Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about how small things done repetitively over time makes a huge impact in the end. He gives the example that a flight taking off from Los Angeles to New York City has to change its heading by just 7 feet south and it will end up in Washington DC. A small deviation in direction multiplied over time will end up in landing in a place 365 km away. This is the way we should look at our thoughts, words and deeds. We do not need to do ‘big’ things to have a long lasting and ‘big’ impact on the world. Just doing random acts of kindness and paying forward the good things is enough. But they need to be done consistently over time. 

Whether we know it or not, whether we accept it or not, the truth is we are all in the same boat together. We are on this small planet at this particular moment in history for a reason. It may not be the exact reason that you have in mind but in time it will be revealed to you. God is a God of small things. It is the small things that matter in life. It is often the things that we do or say in our day-to-day lives that have a large impact on those around us. 

In today’s trying times, the world can use some goodness. You have that power in you. Nothing you do for someone is too small. It is more important to consistently do acts of love and kindness over time than to do one big act once in a while. When we keep doing good things, they become habits and having a habit of doing good is the best habit to have. Be God’s love. Be God’s light. 

Water of Life

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking Column of The Daily Guardian on November 16, 2020)

We are inseparable from water.

The first time we experience water is from within our mother’s womb when we are floating in the warm and dark amniotic fluid that gives us life and makes us grow into newborn human beings.

Every creation story of all major religions and myths begin with a water story. Life both in our individualistic way and life on the planet itself begins inside water. 

We are 77 % water at birth with our skin delineating the boundaries of our internal waters. This is a fact of our existence: We are a body of water. 

The water that flows through our physical being is deeply connected to the rivers, lakes, streams, waterfalls, seas and oceans of our planet. We are all one in that sense. Their fate reflects upon us. When we pollute them through our careless acts, we are polluting and damaging ourselves. When we strive to clean and protect them, we are healing ourselves.

Waterfalls, rivers, lakes, streams and oceans have always had a deep impact on the human psyche. The sounds of waves and waterfalls and even the falling rain provides an instant calming and relaxing effect. The touch and sound of water instantly communicates with the waters within us and reminds of us of our connection. We feel a sense of calmness and peace that transcends all of our distracting and anxious thoughts. It puts us into a meditative state of mind. It reminds us of our own spiritual self and its characteristic of being a wanderer.

The Biblical verse about the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters is soothing as it gives an idea of the Creator’s closeness to this aspect of creation.

Water is able to purify and renew. The body needs at least eight glasses of water a day in order to keep our inwards ocean satisfied. 

Two exercises for healing and restorative aspects of even thinking about water are mentioned in Water, Wind, Earth and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements by Christine Valetrs Paintner.

  • “Begin your time of prayer by finding your pulse and reflecting on the life-giving blood and water being pumped through your system. 
  • “Spend some time by a fountain, listening to the flow of the water and contemplating its invitation for your own life. Pay attention to those places where water wants to surge up and offer its refreshment. Make note of the streams, rivers, and other water sources near you as places for prayer.”

Watching the vast, mighty yet tranquil ocean with seemingly endless boundaries is one of the best therapies. The serenity it brings to the mind, body and soul is not less than the power of meditation. The rhythmic waves dancing on the shore, the radiant blue-green hue, the squealing birds, the solitude of the beach, everything is perfect to connect to nature which in turn makes one connect within.

Standing near a powerful waterfall and watching the myriads of water drops flowing over the rocky edge in a cascading volume is one of nature’s most wonderful gifts. The mighty roaring sound of the water crashing and the sight of the mist rising up is something that can be done for hours and hours. Just sitting near a waterfall and closing your eyes and hearing that sound is a form of meditation that brings bliss, joy, comfort, serenity and at the same time impresses upon the mind and soul of the power of nature.

So what is so mystical about water? The fact that it is life sustaining says much more than what we take for granted. 

Water is one of the five elements of life. It is a cleanser and healer. Water is the opposite element of fire and hence both of them balance each other. Metaphysically, water holds vibrations perfectly and for sustained periods of time. The element of water symbolizes the ebb and flow of our complex emotions. Too much of this element in our life can ‘flood’ us; too little can ‘dry’ us up. Maintaining a sense of equilibrium is hence crucial.

We have used water for healing since ancient times. Every culture has the practice of purification through water. For example, baptism in Christianity and bathing in the Ganga river in Hinduism. Most ancient cultures uphold spiritual creation stories accepting water as the origin of life. 

Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese scientist who revolutionized the idea that our thoughts and intentions impact the physical realm, is one of the most important water researchers the world has known. For over 20 years until he passed away in 2014, he studied the scientific evidence of how the molecular structure in water transforms when it is exposed to human words, thoughts, sounds and intentions.

The extraordinary life work of Dr. Emoto is documented in the New York Times Bestseller, The Hidden Messages in Water. In his book, Dr. Emoto demonstrates how water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations. He did this through Magnetic Resonance Analysis technology and high speed photographs.

Likewise positive words and energy can have an impact on the water that is within us. That water energised with positive vibrations can heal us from and prevent us from getting negative vibrations which in turn cause diseases of the mind and body. 

Other practises involving water that can be used include salt water cleansing to cleanse off negativities from you and your house. Words yelled in anger, hatred, fights and negative emotions from people in our house can lower our energy. Spray the water mixed with lime and salt on your walls and windows. Wipe it off clean.

Take rock salt and mix it with warm water in a bucket. Put your legs in the bucket. Sit with focus on good intentions. You will feel lighter and relaxed after this therapy. Please throw the water in the sink as it contains the residue of your negativity.

You can also soak in a bathtub filled with lukewarm water mixed with Epsom salt and essential oils. Use candles instead of artificial light. The calm effect it will have on your body and mind is incredible.

By warming water, we are essentially inducing fire elements in water and hence using both to our use. Cold water can also be used if we want regenerative vibrations and cool off from tension.

Water is an inseparable part of our lives. Recognizing it spiritually makes us aware of the significance and magical effects it can have on us.

May we get cleansed and nourished by the magic of divine water, eternally!

Let Your Light Shine

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on November 2, 2020)

Darkness is not the opposite of light but the absence of it. We are all striving for light in our lives and this is the season of the year where we celebrate light. Dussehra and Diwali are both connected intrinsically to light.

But in the process of celebrating the victory of light over darkness, we tend to forget that these are not opposites of each other but one is the absence of the other. There is no light in darkness and there is no darkness in light. But yet for us human beings to live and experience life we need both of these things.

Light and darkness happen to all of us. Generally we associate light with goodness and knowledge and darkness is associated with evil and ignorance. Every religion in the world associates light with the divine creator. We celebrate the victory of light over darkness every year on Dussehra and Diwali (which is also referred to as the ‘Festival of Lights’). We celebrate the victory of deities over demons. But the most important lesson from these annual reminders is not about that event itself but how to incorporate these into our own daily lives.

The victory of light over darkness should also be the story of our own lives and this is one of the reasons we are incarnated here in the first place. Our souls are learning lessons every day and one of the most important of these lessons is this. Let light shine in and through your lives.

When bad things happen to us, we often question fate, destiny and even God. “Why me?” We often ask. But these are moments in our life that teach us the most. If it were not for the ‘dark’ moments in life we would never grow as human beings. Difficult situations happen to us and they happen to everyone. There is no point in blaming others or destiny. These moments are meant for us to experience and learn from.

Without darkness there would be only light and nothing else. No picture would form. There would be nothing to see. No contrast. We need various levels of light and shade for any image to form. The same is the case between darkness and light in the metaphysical or spiritual sense. They can exist without each other but it is in the mixing of them that our creation exists.

Instead of asking “Why me?” when bad things happen, a better question is: “Why not me?” Isn’t it more profitable spiritually for us to experience a ‘bad’ thing and grow from it then to just keep on living a life with no challenges? Life without challenges or conflict is like a poorly written novel. No conflict means no story.

Everyone has difficulties. Just because someone has more money, fame, power or relationships than you do doesn’t mean that they do not have problems. Everyone has their own problems but they are different.

But what does all of this have to do with how celebrating festivals of light should be about our lives? The darkness within us is doubt, fear, prejudice, greed, hatred and so on. We have all read this a million times perhaps. But here is the point. The light comes into our lives not when these things disappear but it is in our correct handling of them that light becomes more powerful.

No matter who you are, darkness can enter into you. It is in how you deal with that darkness that determines how much light comes into you to fight the darkness. Everyone can be tempted—Jesus and Buddha were both tempted by darkness. Their light shined brighter as they were able to overcome the temptations.

We all fight a daily battle within us. There is a constant battle between good and evil within us. It is always about fighting temptations. But temptation is not always what it seems to be.

Temptation isn’t always about controlling yourself from doing something. It is also about how you think about and deal with hardships. More subtle temptations exist that you may not even have ever realised or acknowledged before. For example, the temptation to blame others for your own perceived misfortune, the temptation to hate others before even knowing their background or circumstances, the temptation to procrastinate and be lazy, the temptation to think you are better than everyone, the temptation to think you are worse than everyone, the temptation to think it is someone else’s responsibility to help make the world better, the temptation to be lonely and have self pity and so on.

These subtler temptations are the darkness and many others like them. They are hidden and not seen. When the ‘light’ of awareness and realisation falls on darkness, the latter is revealed and exposed. That is when they can be dispelled.

The eternal battle between light and darkness is traditionally thought of a battle of good vs evil. But it can equally be between ignorance vs awareness, dependency vs independency, sadness vs happiness, doubt vs confidence, giving up vs trying again, loving yourself vs dependency on others, and so on.

This list could go on forever. But that is what light and darkness is about. It is about constantly discovering and realising things and learning how to overcome the negative thoughts and energy and replace them with positive thoughts and positive energy. It is about realising that everything happens for a reason and we are meant to learn from it.

There isn’t a better example than the year we are living in today: 2020. It has been a game-changing year. The global pandemic has changed our lives, forced us into quarantine, kept us in one place pretty much, economies have shut down temporarily, many have fallen sick and unfortunately died. It seems like a dark year.

But let some light into the picture please!

For every one person who died, 95 or so have recovered. For every day that you were locked indoors you must have had some time to contemplate. For every moment away from office was a moment with your family. For every moment lost in travelling the world was a moment that you could have looked inwards into your soul. Lost business and job revenues plenty, but also new opportunities for a new world. For every day that pollution could have grown, clean air emerged, twinkling stars and snow clad mountains could be seen from the plains. So suddenly it seems like a year full of promise, a year full of light.

Let your light always dispel your darkness. Wishing you all a happy Diwali.

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi-based businessman and author.

Why it’s important to live in the ‘here-now’

Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant
communication with other people, constant bombardment with
information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.
But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the ‘here-now’.

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on October 19, 2020)

The present moment is the only reality. Everything that is happening to you is happening in the “here-now”. Being aware and centred in this current place and time is the only reality and is the true way to happiness. How much of our time have we wasted in pondering about the past or the future? The past is past and the future is not here yet and will never be. The reason that the future will never be here is because it is always something that is unreachable. When tomorrow arrives, it is no longer ‘tomorrow’ but ‘today’. Have you ever planned a vacation and during the days leading up to that vacation felt a kind of anxiety about the days leading up to it?

 If you use your present time thinking about the upcoming vacation, then you are not experiencing the present moment effectively. You may not be able to concentrate on your daily tasks because in your mind you are constantly thinking about the upcoming vacation. Eventually the time comes and you go on your vacation and before you even realise it, it is time to go back home. Instead the moments leading up to the trip should have been savoured and enjoyed for what they are. 

They are as much a part of your life as the trip itself. In other words, do not ignore or be unmindful of the present by constantly anticipating the events of the future. The “here-now” is the only reality. Time is a precious commodity which is to be cherished, each and every moment of it. Rushing through it either physically or mentally is also wasting it. Each moment is to be experienced for what it is. Even the moments of boredom. For they too shall soon pass.  Even the slower moments in life if you are completely present and immersed in them will increase your appreciation of them and relaxation in them.

 Focusing elsewhere in time and only thinking about the past or future will lead to anxiety and stress. This will also make you feel perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with yourself.  The cure of this is to constantly remain in the present or the “here-now”. But how can we do that? “Here-now” means being aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by the ruminations of the past or worries about the future but centred in the here and now. All attention is focused on the present moment.  

This is the key to being healthy and happy. It fights anxiety, cuts down on worrying and rumination and keeps you grounded and connected to yourself and everything around you.  Present moment awareness is the one sure way of having a complete experience. Our minds and thoughts are mostly in a constant state of flux moving from one time to the next—back and forth— past, future, past, past, future, future. Either we spend most of our time thinking about the past or worrying or planning our future. Very rarely is our mind on where we are and what we are doing.  In each moment of our lives is a lesson to be learned. Each moment of our lives is a hidden adventure that can be enjoyed. 

A great way to experience the “here-now” is to focus and pay attention to our breathing. The simple act of breathing in and out and observing it will bring us to the present moment. This is also the most simple and basic form of meditation and will do wonders to soothe our minds of all worry, stress and anxiety. Being “herenow” through breathing is a great way to anchor us to our reality. Also, many people in today’s world have forgotten the art of simple passive observation. Try this following experiment. While going for a walk or drive turn your brain and your consciousness into purely receiving mode. Eliminate temporarily the transmission mode. This means do not ‘think’ but simply observe. 

 Suppose you are a passenger in a car. Just look outside the window and observe. No thinking, no worrying, no phones, no communicating but just observing. You will be amazed by the result! Even your daily route to work which you may have travelled hundreds or thousands of times over the years will reveal many surprises unnoticed before. You will see new alleys, lanes, signs, trees, structures and other things never before seen.

 If done for enough time you may even hear a Divine inner voice inside you that will point out this truth to you gently. It may say, “I have led you down these paths every day, but you never noticed these things till now.” The observer then realises that though she had travelled on this route perhaps thousands of times earlier, she had never noticed so many of the things she saw that day. 

The fact that she could even hear the Divine voice talk to her could also be an indication of the same phenomenon—that sometimes the mind has to be still from the thoughts of yesterday and the hopes or worries of tomorrow and just be in the “here-now”. The Divine voice itself could be calling out to us all the time but perhaps could never be heard because of this same lack of observation of what is. Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant communication with other people, constant bombardment with information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. 

But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the “herenow”. With all this constant race and pursuit of material things, we forget the simple things. The butterflies and flowers, the leaves swaying in the trees, children playing in the park, the setting sun, the wind blowing through your hair, the joy of seeing a baby laugh or simply to sit in the rear seat of a car and observe the world as it passes by. 

There are so many things you will notice if you just look and see. It is not a ‘waste of time’, for at the end of the day, what are we really here in this world for? Sure, it is important to do things also. It is important to work and play and laugh and cry and love and hurt, but it is also very important to process all that information. It is important to feel the moment. It is important to live in the “here-now” and just be! After all, we are all human beings, not human doings. 

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi Based author and businessman

Don’t worry be happy

(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on September 14, 2020)

‘Here’s a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry.. be happy!’ 

This is the opening line of the famous song by Bobby McFerrin back in the 1980s called ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’

Now, more than ever, people all over the world should listen to this song and heed the gentle yet most powerful advice ever – DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY!

Life is a study in uncertainty. Each morning is a new mystery. We have no idea whatsoever how things will go. Today could be just another day or it could be the last day of ours on this planet. Does it matter really? The only thing that truly matters is that we are alive at this moment.

Worrying is an exercise in futility. Though it is one of the most common traits in human beings. The thing about worrying is that it is totally useless. If you have the power to change or prevent something, then do it. If you don’t have the power to change or prevent something, worrying about it will make no difference whatsoever. 

Does this mean that we should be totally passive and fatalistic? Not at all. Just because worrying solves nothing doesn’t mean that we just sit there and do nothing. Do your best to create a situation that you want and let nature do the rest. Have faith in the Divine and leave the fruits of your action in the hands of the Divine. 

One of the ways to stop worrying is to look at your situation in life and be thankful. People often complain about things that they perceive to lack. Not enough love. Not enough money. Not enough of this or that. Instead people should sit back and count their blessings. Not metaphorically. Actually sit down and make a list of all the things in life that you have. Be thankful for what and who you have in your life. 

Your health, your family, your job or career, your education, your ideas, your friends, your life itself. Surely everyone has something to be thankful for. Focus on these things and be thankful. Doing this, will create a ripple of positive energy that flows outwards from you. In time, when you realize how much you have to be thankful, you will start to feel positive and happy and this will spread to those around you.

Do not ever worry about things. If you have power over them, correct them and if you have no power over them, there is no point in worrying. But remember this, prayer and faith in God can and does change things many times. 

The times we live in are stressful indeed, but when stress begins to control us, it can lead to fatal consequences. We have all heard about the things that are bad for us – smoking, drinking, obesity, etc. but the real killer is stress. The bad news is that we live in a world full of stress. But the good news is that stress can be managed. When we realise this, we can take control of our lives and overcome the stress. How?

Happiness is a hidden gem that often remains hidden. But yet, the irony is that it can be achieved rather easily if we change our approach and attitude towards life.

There are many ways that we can make adjustments in our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that can lead to us being happy.

Physically

As you read this article, you are breathing. Feel the air coming through your nostrils, feel it going into your lungs and be aware of it as it is exhaled. Simply focusing on your breathing is relaxing and regularly doing this is perhaps the easiest form of meditation. It reduces stress and will make you more centred in your thoughts.

Exercising is also a great way to reduce stress and make you happy. One can start with taking a daily walk for a minimum of 30 minutes. While you are doing this, try to think of something pleasant or funny. Try not to think about work or other stresses while walking. Going to a gym and exercising is also great and remember that you can start with lighter exercises. The feeling you get after exercising is the reward itself. Generally, one feels very relaxed and happier after a workout.

Mentally

There is a whole world of information and knowledge that is waiting to be discovered. Read something online or watch some interesting videos on YouTube. Watch something funny on TV. Humour is a great stress reliever and puts things into perspective. Life is not meant to be always serious and humour is a great way to remind yourself about the balance needed in life.

Reading transports your mind into another world of sorts. Imagination and wonder are great ways to be happy and reduce stress.

Writing is also a great way to relieve stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to write an article or a book (although that would be great) even just jotting down your thoughts in a notebook or writing a diary is a great way to let out vented up stress and energy and express yourself. You never know what comes out of you when you write. Every bestseller began with a single word.

Emotionally

In our daily relationships, there are good days and bad days. Sometimes we have fights, arguments, and disagreements with people whom we love. Sometimes we suffer from breakups, separation or divorce. These situations can lead to major emotional trauma and stress.

But the good news is – don’t worry, be happy! Believe it or not, you are the only one person responsible for your own happiness. We tend to become emotionally dependent on others. But we must love ourselves too. This is not a selfish kind of love. It is not saying that we don’t love others, but it is saying that we love ourselves just as we love others. 

Watching a nice movie, play or reading a good book can also lead to an emotional charge that will not only entertain you, but also teach you some new perspective about life. It will help you to get rid of emotional stress.

Spiritually

We are spiritual beings currently on planet earth to learn, explore and grow. The sooner we realise this, the sooner happiness will come.

Prayer can be as simple as just talking to God the way you talk to yourself. Be thankful when you pray but don’t be shy. Express your desires to God and if it is something good for you, the process will begin that will cause that to manifest. 

Chanting the name of God or a mantra is also a way to charge you spiritually. An instant blessing is received by a person who takes God’s name with reverence. 

Meditating increases our awareness and leads to a state of bliss that relaxes us and decreases stress and also gives us a glimpse into a larger peaceful world of energy and love. There is a field of spiritual energy that surrounds us and binds us. Meditation helps us gain access to this field. 

Soon we realise that we are on a spiritual journey and the only thing we take with us back to our spiritual home after we leave our bodies is our thoughts, feelings and karma. In the end, all is good.

So once again, don’t worry, be happy!

Calculating The Living Cosmos

(Published in Spiritually Speaking The Daily Guardian August 31, 2020)

“The cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” –  

Carl Sagan (1934-1996), US astrophysicist and creator of the hit TV show ‘Cosmos’.

A lot has been discovered since the time Carl Sagan passed away in 1996. We now know that there are most likely at least one planet around every star in the universe. That is a lot of planets and stars. For us to understand our cosmos and our role in it, we should start by looking inside our own selves. Is the material cosmos a smaller part of a larger energetic and spiritual cosmos? It could be. But first, let us look at some mind boggling numbers. 

There are over 7.8 billion human beings on planet Earth as per August 2020. Let us take that number as 8 billion. That seems like a lot of people doesn’t it? But it is insignificant compared to the number of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. There are 400 billion stars in our Galaxy. Divide 400 by 8 and you get 50. That means there are 50 stars in our Galaxy for every human being on planet Earth! That is right. Imagine the size and vastness of the Galaxy. Imagine how many places and things there are and how many intelligent forms of life must be out there.

Macrocosm and Microcosm

The good news is that  our Milky Way Galaxy is not the only galaxy. Latest estimates by astronomers put the number of galaxies in the ‘known’ universe at about 2 trillion i.e. 2,000,000,000,000 and on an average each galaxy has a few hundred billion stars. And according to what we know now – each one of those stars should have at least one planet. 

The way the universe is made is orderly. All of these 2 trillion odd galaxies are not just randomly floating in space. They are arranged into clusters and superclusters. Our own Milky Way galaxy is a part of the Laniakea supercluster of galaxies. It is mind boggling to think of the immensity of the universe outside the earth.

But wait a minute! This immensity of the macrocosm of the universe is mind boggling but equally mind boggling is the fact that the microcosm is equally if not even vaster. Did you know that an average 70 kg human being is made up of about  7 x 1027 (7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) (that is 7 Octillion!) atoms! In each breath there are trillions of atoms exchanged. Also it is estimated that we have about 10 trillion cells inside of us.  

That is way more than the estimated number of stars in the known universe which if you take 2 trillion galaxies and the average number of stars as 100 billion per galaxy comes to 2 x 1023 or 200 sextillion stars! To give you an idea of the sheer magnitude of these numbers – there are more stars in the known universe than the total number of grains of sand on every beach on planet earth. 

But the number of atoms in one single human being is much more. In fact it is 35,000 (7 octillion divided by 200 sextillion) times more than the estimated number of stars in the known universe!

So our bodies are grander universes in themselves.

96 per cent of the universe is either dark matter or dark energy.

Now we all know that we live in a universe of energy. There is something beyond the material seeable universe. There is an entire energetic and spiritual plane of existence. But where is this? Can we actually know it and can it be discovered or at least do we have a hint of this huge colossal spiritual universe?

Actually, we do. 

It is now known that despite the hugeness of the whole universe with all its trillions of galaxies, stars, planets and all – all of this so-called ‘material’ universe comprises only 4 percent of the universe’s mass. Approximately, 23 percent is ‘dark matter’ and 73 percent is ‘dark energy’. Here ‘dark’ refers to unseeable, undetectable and unknown. The nature of these two things is unknown to scientists at the moment but they know that these things not only exist but that together they comprise 96 per cent of the known universe. Imagine that! 

The same applies to the microcosm as well. If you look at the atomic structure, most of the mass is inside the nucleus but that comprises a tiny percent of the atom’s size. Plus there is a huge distance between each atom in terms of the tiny atomic scale. You can say that most of the atomic world is comprised of ‘emptiness’.

What if even all of this is just one large part of something much much bigger? Well, modern science says that this entire universe itself could be just one out of possibly infinity of other universes which collectively can be called the ‘multiverse’. So the Cosmos (remember the quote by Carl Sagan in the beginning of this article) could be way bigger than what we originally thought.

We are Godstuff

“The Kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 17:21 of the Bible. When the creation of the Cosmos took place, the raw materials had to come from somewhere. It is too simplistic to say that they “just came” out of nowhere. The basic building blocks of the entire Universe are the same three subatomic particles – protons, neutrons and electrons. There is absolutely no difference between the protons, neutrons and electrons in you and the chair you sit on. They are the same. There is fundamentally no difference between anything when it comes to the basic building blocks that make everything. This is important to note because it immediately makes you feel the ‘oneness’ of all things throughout the Cosmos.

So, the Creative power that made the entire Cosmos had to have used ‘itself’ as the basic ‘stuff’ that made the protons, neutrons and electrons as well as the almost unimaginable energy that goes into every single atom of creation. So not only are we (as the late astronomer Carl Sagan loved to say) ‘starstuff’, but we are all ‘Godstuff’ that has been mixed and matched in different permutations and combinations and is made to interact with each other amidst the delusion that we are actually separate. We are as separate as the individual drops in the ocean – which still retain their existence in some stretch of imagination, but at the same time, have merged with the larger entity called ocean. They still exist, but now as a part of a larger, more powerful being. Like the cells in your bodies are individual beings in their own sense – they have a fixed boundary or body, they are born, they reproduce, they absorb oxygen (so they breathe in a sense) and then they die. They may even have consciousness, but miniscule compared to the consciousness of a human being. Yet, our physical bodies are nothing more than a conglomerate of trillions of cells. Are we the single body or the sum total of trillions of cells?

So what is 96 percent of reality? 

Most of reality is unseen and unknown currently. Let us propose a theory. But first a quick reference to the world famous book written by Paramahansa Yogananda ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. In the chapter ‘The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar’,  Yogananda tells us about the physical, astral and causal universes. The physical is the material universe, the astral (energetic) is more subtle and is the place the souls go to after leaving earth and the causal (spiritual) is even more subtle and more refined, this is where more advanced souls go and ultimately the highest plane of existence is the merging with God. Each one of these universes have their own sets of planets, stars, solar systems  and galaxies. 

I feel that this could be the answer to what is 96 percent of reality. Maybe ‘Dark matter’ is the astral universe and ‘dark energy’ is the causal universe. Yogananda did also mention in the book that the physical is smaller than the astral and the astral is smaller than the causal. 

If so then 96 per cent of the Cosmos is spiritual and divine in nature and just waiting for us to explore it. The best part is we are our own spaceships in this regard. Meditation can give us glimpses into these vasts energetic and spiritual realms. Go deep inside you, take a deep breath and explore the vastness of the glorious infinite realms within you!