I have, and failed many times. But this time,I have done it continuously for more than 10 days! Takes 21 days to create a habit, right?
Journaling is a great way to make sense of your emotions, and lay down your thoughts. Especially for people with anxiety, it is a great way of calming down. It is also good for planning out your day. Journaling in the morning is a great way to plan your day, and increase your productivity meter.
Personally, journaling helped me in all the above ways, and I share with you little tips, for you to get started too.
Keep it Simple
I always thought keeping a diary meant long, elaborate letters to yourself, beautiful pictures, and colorful pages. But there is no need to make it such a long task. Journaling can be something as simple as just writing your goals for the day, or one affirmation you want to focus on, or one thing you want to be more mindful of.
Keeping lists is a great way to plan and give structure to your Dairy. It is also a great way to pack a lot of information in a small space. Some examples of lists can be 3 wins for today, 5 things I am grateful for, 2 things I look forward to today, etc.
Journaling prompts is a nice way to add some fun to your journal and make it more interesting. You can find all kinds of journaling prompts from Pinterest. Download them and take a printout, cut them. Fold and make chits, put in a small jar or box. Occasionally take them out, whenever you are bored or lack inspo.
What do you think, what is your experience with journaling, and did this inspire you to start it?
Recently I have been missing my dear cat Monu a lot more than usual. It was his 1 year death anniversary a few days ago, probably that’s why. I know that most of you will think, ‘ come on, he was just a cat,’ not to me, to me he was my dearest, closest, truest friend.
He came to us at the end of Dec 2020, and he was so cute and small, he was just 3 days old! A cat had given birth in my cousin’s apartment, but sadly nobody in the litter including the mom had survived, except him. Because my cousin’s family had a dog, it was dangerous for them to keep the little kitten, so they gave him to us. In the starting he needed to be fed every few hours. I still remember for the first one month we used to wake up every night to feed him.
For the first few weeks he just slept, and he was so cuddly, he used to love to snuggle. But we were new with cats, thus we were a bit hesitant, so we built a bed for him, lined it with a heating pad and a few blankets, and he slept there. Now I wish I had snuggled him as much as I could every opportunity I got.
When he got a little bigger and a little stronger, he started playing. He used to look so cute running around the house, room to room. It was so simple, playing with him then we used to play a lot. We used to crumple up pieces of paper, or tie up a handkerchief in the shape of a ball, and throw it around the house. He used to love it, he would go chasing after it, jumping trying to catch it. We would call them “ चूहे “ which is the hindi term for mice, because he would try catching it, and attempt to kill it after. In the beginning he would bring it back after catching it, as if to tell us to throw it again!
When he got a bit older we started taking him out, just in the apartment. He liked it a lot, and he never ran away, we never used a leash. He used to just wander around us, sniff the plants, and sit under the shade. It was really hard bringing him back up though, we had to take a badminton racket so we could bang it on the floor to scare him, and he would come running back up. He knew the way home. In fact, one day when I was meditating, I heard scratching and whining outside the door, I opened the door to see Monu trying to open the door. Apparently he had somehow managed to reach the ground floor from our balcony, and he had come straight back up!
When my tournaments started, and I got busy, I started spending less time with him. I would play, and take him out rarely. Definitely, there was a bit of selfishness involved,
I was not doing great in chess, I was lacking, losing, in a slump. So I just practiced a lot, and I was a bit demotivated so I started wasting a bit of time, but no time cannot be afforded to waste, so guess from where did I compensate? My time with Monu, the biggest mistake of my life. Bigger than all the chess blunders I have made and will ever make.
All this time though I was not spending with him, I knew he missed me, he had started becoming lethargic, eating more, he used to sit by the window and stare out for hours.
I guess my biggest mistake was thinking there will be a tomorrow; I will play with him tomorrow, I will spend time with him tomorrow, Monu will be here tomorrow he ain’t going anywhere. Well there is no tomorrow now is there?
I don’t think there was a tomorrow ever, even if there was it didn’t matter. One day, 30 days, 45 years, it’s all too small to make a difference, it is the same. What matters is making use of every moment we have with them.
After he died, I didn’t feel sad about the fact I only had one year with him, what I regretted the most was not making use of every opportunity I had with him to make memories, to play, to be with him.
This is what Monu taught me, amongst the many other things he did. Thank you so much Monu for teaching me this valuable lesson, and being a part of my life.
My favorite moments with him were, sometimes when I was practicing chess, he would just come scatter about all the pieces on the board, spoil the position, stand in the center, and just flop down! Like right there, and just look at me like “hey, I am sitting here now, that cool?” Me, I would love it.
एक दिन मैं अपनी माँ से शिकायत कर रही थी जैसा कि आमतौर पर बच्चे करते हैं। मैं कॉलेज की छुट्टियों में घर वापस आ गयी थी । मेरा काम का बोझ बढ़ रहा था, और मैं इसे ठीक से मैनेज नहीं कर पा रही थी , इसलिए मैं थोड़ा तनाव में थी। मैं बस ये सब अपनी माँ को बता रही थी “कोई काम नहीं हो रहा है” “मैं मैनेज नहीं कर पा रही हूँ”। फिर मेरी माँ ने अचानक थोड़े जोर से कहा “आओ यहाँ बैठो, ध्यान से देखो, मैं तुम्हें दिखाती हूँ कि काम कैसे किया जाता है।” फिर उनहोने एक कटोरी में गाढ़ा सरसों का तेल लिया और खाली बजाज आलमंडल आयल की बोतल ली। उस शीशी के उपर ऐक छोटा सा छेद था, जैसे जयादतर केशमार्जन शीशीओ के ढकनो में होता है। जिसने भी कोशिश की है उसे पता है की इसके माध्यम से अंदर पानी डालना भी नामुम्किन के बराबर है। मेरी माँ ने देकते-देकते वह कटोरी उठाई और वो गारा सरसौ का तेल एक ही धारा में उस छेद के अंदर दाल दिया। में शब्दहीन रहे गया, एक बूंद भी इदर-उदर नहीं हाई थी। फिर मेरी माँ ने कहा ” यह, ऐसे होता है कोई भी काम, इस एकाग्रता से, और इसे ही ध्यान कहते है।
There is a phase that chess players go through in which instead of creating play of their own they just react to their opponent’s and if he is playing without one they just make waiting moves until he comes up with one. But the problem with this approach is you will either draw or lose, you can’t win. I can’t speak for everyone but there are a number of reasons this happens. One of them is fear – ‘I can’t mess up if I don’t do anything.’ Another one is laziness- ‘this requires too much brain. Let him do the hard work of coming up with something.’
And I certainly know what it feels like, because I am going through the same phase. Well it is better than before:- now I can make plans, take initiative, etc earlier to win I would solely rely on the opponent to mess up. But the problem, tournament class players almost never blunder big time. Plus, chess is a game of war, you need to trick your opponent, take him by surprise, you need to be one step ahead, which you can’t if he has the lead. He is in control, he is literally making you play the moves. There is another saying in chess:- Every move you make should have a positive base and be geared to increasing the advantages you already possess. It is so true, and so amazing how these two things connect in chess as well in life. In chess if you lay back and give free rein to your opponent, you will get knocked down in no time, same way in life if you keep waiting for something to happen, one day you will be beaten up and disappointed. I mean that is what I have learned about life from chess and my dad would be a great example about this. Because he started learning guitar recently, at this age he left his job and started a business, he started meditating two years ago, he also started dieting and exercising completely turned his health around. Now did he have some kind of divine revelation or anything else like that- No. He just decided to take the lead. We can do the same for ourselves:- you know instead of waiting for something amazing to happen, we make those things happen like doing at least one new thing every week, taking control of our health, working with our fears, etc. And just like that we are in control…
Well, to these widow mothers of Vrindavan it can mean the world. Yearly thousands of widows flock to Vrindavan in seek of shelter and refuge. They are socially prejudiced against and are abandoned by their families. They have no means of making money, but in this city, they are at least guaranteed one meal a day. Unfortunately, their living conditions are awful, and very few have access to good medical care. On the bright side, there are many devoted NGOs who are determined to change this. They have set up refuges for them in the form of ashrams, where they provide food, clothes, and medical care. One such NGO is the Paramhansa Yogananda Public Charitable Trust. I visited them 2 months ago, and today I would like to share my experience with all of you.
They provide them with food, and medical assistance, they have even set up ashrams for them to stay.
Out of all the organizations, I have visited, this one just felt very special. Probably because they have a very loving, and joyful atmosphere. Even the sevaks who work there are always smiling and joyful. It is like you can see the materialization of the famous principle, “ What goes, comes around.” They are serving but I can see they are getting so much in return because they are abundant with love, joy, and bliss. It is because they are serving with expecting nothing in return. It is like they have become channels through whom the divine is actually helping the Mothers. Somebody I know used this analogy when “water flows through the pipe, the pipe cannot help but get wet.” One of my other friends, who is a Brahmachari and has been meditating for several years, said ‘I can see the reflection of the divine on their faces.’
Jayeeta Mam who runs the trust and overlooks everything is a wonderful and loving soul. I had the honor of staying with her the entire week.
I think I should tell you a bit of a backstop also of how I ended up there in the first place. I had attended a ‘Seva retreat’ and Jayeeta mam had come to give a talk there about their work in Vrindavan. And also to invite everybody to a Seva Pilgrimage which they were conducting on Janmashtami. So a seva Pilgrimage is like a group of volunteers will go there for like a week, and there will be activities like visiting the ashrams, the mothers, talking to them, sitting with them, etc.
There will also be a little bit of Pilgrimage like visiting the temples, kirtan, satsangs, etc.
Anyways, coming back to the story, I just felt so inspired, and I knew I had to ask my dad for permission. I had no hopes though, he would say yes, since it is very far, and I would be traveling alone, my exams were coming, etc. But he was very excited, even more than me! We talked to Jayeeta Aunty, I call her aunty, and she was just so welcoming, that we booked the ticket instantly after reaching home. I stayed in her house the entire time as I mentioned earlier and she looked after me like a mother, I didn’t feel like once I was in a stranger’s house. Not to mention, she also fed me like a mother, I gained weight in only a week! Anyways I am getting distracted again Jayeeta mam is a kind, magnetic, and wonderful soul. Some other people who are part of the team, Radha Mam, Rama mam, Tripti Mam, Rajesh Sir, so many more, but the amazing thing about these people are some of them have terrible backstories, almost all of them face domestic violence, some of them are single mothers, coming from poverty, but not once you will hear them complaint. Jayeeta Mam was once telling us a story of a sevak, she was holding a dirty diaper in her hand. Some of our mothers who are paralyzed are dependent for everything on the staff. So this sevak she was on her way out to throw the diaper. Jayeeta Mam was visiting the Ashram then, so as soon as the sevak saw her, there came a huge smile on her face, and greeted her with a very excited greeting. Completely oblivious to the diaper in her hand.
When it comes to resilience nobody beats the Widow Mothers. These are people who have lost everything in their lives, thrown out by their children, faced extreme poverty and social discrimination, but they stand strong. In fact one of the mothers, the trust found, was living in a box! Then there is the story of Pushpa Dasi MA who was also found by our staff in extremely bad condition. But when you meet these mothers in the Ashram, how can I even describe it, they were just so blissful. Like not a single tear, no complaints, no reminiscing of the past. You sit and talk with them, they will talk very happily, they will feel very grateful if you give them a massage.
The motto of the Trust is ‘ Restoring the dignity and divinity of widow mothers’ ; they have taken up numerous initiatives to do so. Some of them are organizing regular kirtan with the mothers, reading scriptures with them, doing early morning exercises, coloring, etc. They are not only providing them with a place and food but also helping in their spiritual and emotional upliftment. Plus, they are also fighting the social stereotypes attached to widows for so long.
One such initiative in which you can help out is the ‘Circle of Love’. Circle of love is a weekly 15-minute Whatsapp video call, with one of our mothers. The main aim of this is to provide the mothers with loving companionship but also to promote the spiritual upliftment of all the volunteers doing the call. How does this help the mothers you might ask, these mothers have experienced abandonment, humiliation, and loneliness. This call helps them emotionally, they feel less lonely and are happier. In fact they look forward to it a lot. Jayeeta aunty once told me they will fix their hair and stress about their appearance. Another question you might ask is what will I say to them, actually there are many things, you can read to them, sing bhajans with them, they will share stories of Krishna with you, some recipes they love, etc. I was a bit hesitant to do this call too since I am not that great 🙄 when it comes to talking to people. But I had absolutely no problem talking to Pushpa MA, we clicked instantly, she is always so cheerful and talkative. In fact I cannot skip it now!
Circle of Love is a perfect name because that is exactly how I felt, when I went there, when I do my calls, I feel surrounded by a Circle of Love. I invite you🙏to be a part of it too, So what do you say, can you spare 15 minutes weekly?