Mild or severe that is only semantics

yoga_postPeople often tell me now that the multiple sclerosis must have been pretty mild. The fact is, mild and severe are just words. Here, I can share only my story. In 2002, I was thirty-three and working as a software professional in Mumbai when multiple sclerosis (MS) first struck me, though it took me nearly four years to be diagnosed and begin the healing process in earnest. MS is an inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate with each other and the rest of the body.

I was caught by surprise by the various health problems that had started attacking me one by one; for all these years I had been taking reasonably good care of my health. Every morning I took a walk by the sea side. Though I never really went to the gym, I usually used the stairs in my building instead of the lift as a minimum fitness routine.

Since I didn’t know back then that I was suffering from MS, I kept myself engaged in my literary pursuits. Two of my books, One and The Magic Liquid were published in early 2005.

But at the time that my mind was active, my physical condition was plunging low. MS was slowly and stealthily entering my life, though I was not aware of its entry.

So, in a sense, I became a writer at more or less the same stage as MS entered my life … and writing became my tool towards healing myself as well as helping society. I had started writing in 2002 as an outlet for the anger and helplessness I felt after the Godhra riots. Many followed after that. Now my sixth book Dancing with Life: Living with Multiple Sclerosis talks about my journey with MS and how it has changed me as a person. However, before reading this book, you must know what this book is not. This is NOT a medical book of any kind. It is NOT about a universal solution to MS, the ailment I was diagnosed with. It just talks about therapies and thought processes that have proved beneficial to me, and I hope might prove beneficial to others. This has made others also better and essentially, that is my best reward of all.

Essentially, its is a book affirming the power of life, the power of hope, and the power of strong determination to live life with a purpose. It attempts to give hope and power to everyone, whether or not one has a health challenge.

In other words, it is a book that tells us to never give up on life.

Those who wish to buy my book on healing from multiple sclerosis can do so at

<http://www.flipkart.com/dancing-life-living-multiple-sclerosis-english/p/itme9bdjmhmjbynn?pid=9789381398814&ref=L%3A-2962529945395445276&srno=b_70

Or

http://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis/dp/938139881X/ref=sr_1_1/279-7583332-8041567?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442035925&sr=1-1

Users outside India can buy the book at

http://www.uread.com/book/dancing-life-jamuna-rangachari/9789381398814

The eBook versions are available at

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis-ebook/dp/B01HB9KRDM

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dancing-with-life-jamuna-rangachari/1123950921?ean=9789381398753

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/dancing-with-life-2

 

 

 

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Cancer injected with a gift of happiness

happinessI met a young mother full of verve in my colony recently. She knew almost everything about nutrition and health. I asked her if she was a doctor or a nutritionist to which she just shook her head.

After she left, another young woman who was sitting next to us told me her story, which one could call heart wrenching or inspiring, depending on one’s perspective. This lady’s young son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just ten. After a few rounds of chemo , radiation and the works when she found no improvement, for a while she felt extremely  depressed and went into the “Why me?” kind of thought pattern.

The doctors did not have an answer, her friends did not and she just started praying again and again for guidance.

Serendipitously she met a senior in the ward who told her that all she could do now was to make her son as happy as he could be in the days of his life to make his mind and spirit more robust.

With this began her journey of looking for solutions for a complete life for her son. She began consciously giving him healthy, nutritious food and taking him to see all the events he loved. The boy started taking part in all games and sports in the colony, read a lot of books and made many friends everywhere.

With this, the little boy’s life changed from being only about treatment to one that made him look forward to life.  Life for him and the family started becoming joyous with hope for complete wellness injected in the process.

“I do not know what will happen next but I do hope and pray for as must happiness as is possible for my son. This can happen only if I myself remain as happy as I can be. This is possible only with complete faith that I shall be guided on the right path by the Almighty,” became her mantra in life, which is why she became an inspiration to everyone around her.

After all, this mantra is indeed applicable to all of us.

Gratitude, the mantra of life

gratitudeRecently met an old man who was aged 87 on a morning walk. He was grappling with Parkinsons and had recently lost his wife who had also been grappling with an illness.

“The very fact that I had an opportunity to serve my wife is something I was always grateful for,” After a pause, he continued, “I also had a home in which I could take care of her.” I asked him if he missed her now to which he said, “Of course I do but I do know she has moved on to a better world and am therefore thankful for God’s mercy in not subjecting her to more challenges,” he said. As far as his own illness is concerned, he again only thanks God for his mercies in giving him a complete life. “Then and now, my only communication with God is to thank him for all that he has given me,” he said.

I realized more than ever before that it is indeed only gratitude that we should eternally convey to the Almighty no matter whatever the situation that we may be placed in may be. Life is indeed all about perception. We become what we are through our own perception of the world. A challenge becomes an opportunity instead of an obstacle and we then become inspirations not people who are either ignored or pitied.

This is true for all situations in life and like the gentleman said, our world could indeed become a better world with just the simple prayer of thanking and not deriding or asking for anything.

If we all begin thinking like this, the world itself would be a better place where we perceive blessings and not problems.  The more we notice blessings, the more the blessings that are endowed on us. This is the pattern of the Universe.

Maturity with awareness

maturityI recently got a message that talked about what maturity, or what was termed in the message as ‘spiritual’ maturity.

Now, I am a staunch believer of a higher power, whether we call it a higher consciousness, inner power or spirituality. The fact is whatever one may call it we all need to focus on what we need to do.

The fact is any kind of maturity is possible only when we work on our own selves in all areas. We often do not this at all but just focus on the externals, whether it is other people and what they should be doing or see what even we think they should be thinking of us and everything in the world.

The reality is that the more we focus on others, the less work we do on ourselves. This is a simple, logical truth.

No matter how much success we get in the external world, true success is when we are comfortable with where we have reached and what we have attained. This comes only when we know what we are doing and this comes only with complete awareness of our own selves.

Essentially, peace comes only when we seek to please own selves. This does not mean we do not care about others. In fact, when we seek to please own selves we will realise that the more we please others, we will understand it is indeed relationships and understanding others that is the one factor that makes us more complete. Even if there are so called conflicts, we need to think about what these issues are trying to teach us.

After all, we must remember that life itself is all about learning lessons all the time, however old we may be. After all, when we stop learning, we stop living.

Adieu, Louise Hay

louisehayesWhen I came to know recently that Louise Hay, who had brought in the power of affirmations, hope and faith had left us, I started thinking about what she and her book meant to me.

We all know that Louise Hay has inspired millions of people to heal themselves. As far as I am concerned, I too read her book, Heal your life, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). According to her theory, MS indicates rigidity and lack of flexibility.  In my case, I have always been extremely determined in doing my best in my profession and in all other areas. If one thinks deeply, determination when carried to the extremes does become rigidity as well.  This rigidity usually focussed on the results that I started expecting for my efforts.

Now, I have understood that I need to accept the situation I find myself in and am yes focussed on doing my best but am NOT focussed on the results that I would get.

This brings me to another tenet that I have been taught since childhood, that of the Bhagavad Geeta  which says “Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani”. When translated it means “To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof.”  When applied, it  means that our only concern should be about doing your duty to the best of your ability. Don’t worry about the results of your actions for those are outside of your control.

This when applied in our lives is really complete acceptance of the situation we find ourselves in while continuing to do our best in all the areas we find ourselves in. I tried doing this to the best of my ability and found that this ailment was not so dreadful after all. In all areas, I just did my best and did not expect anything. Soon, Voila, I did find myself completely healed through alternative therapies, primarily acupuncture whether one calls it a cure, a remission or recovery. This indeed is the pattern of the universe. Miracles do happen when we accept and then surrender to the divine will.

As far as Louise Hay is concerned more than the cause she had pointed out, what she had given me was an indelible hope that nothing is incurable and we do have the power to heal ourselves.

The affirmation she suggests for multiple sclerosis that I suppose is applicable to everyone is “By choosing loving, joyous thoughts, I create a loving, joyous world. I am safe and free.”

In my case, I did affirm  all the time and it surely did help me in never feeling depressed in any part of my journey of healing.  This I am sure did have a role to play in my recovery.

Seek and let seek

indianflagWhile wishing everyone a Happy 70th Indian Independence Day, I request everyone to pause and think about what being Indian is to us.

India and Being Indian to me has always been all about accepting and understanding all the cultures this land has been home to.

We have been home to many saints and philosophers and have never stopped learning spiritual lessons all the time.

seekingApart from established religions, India has always honoured the mystic, the seeker, people who wants to have nothing but God in their lives.

In India, spirituality and religion are part of everyday life. In no other country, perhaps, will you see a sadhu (a renounced ascetic or a practitioner of yoga) walking on the street with just a blanket and his rosary as his possessions without attracting any attention. India is home to all the major religions of the world, thriving in harmony since centuries.

It is perhaps only here that one can see people making the symbol of a cross while going across a church, giving a chadar (blanket) to a mosque and then proceeding to a temple to pay obeisance at a temple while singing the gurbani (hymn) of the Sikhs and/or a Buddhist chant to complete the process of reaching out to the Divine.

Why just organised religion? Even minstrels of all kinds are always honoured in this land. In fact, even became insane for the love of God is considered a valid path like those shown for instance by the Bauls.  The word Baul comes from the Sanskrit “Batul,” which means mad, or “afflicted by the wind disease.”  The Bauls are India’s wandering minstrels of West Bengal, whose song and dance reflect the joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine.

This is true Indian freedom. Freedom to pursue the path you wish to while respecting all who follow their path. For in India, it is the act of worship is the thing that matters not the names and symbols.

This is indeed the true strength of India. It is not just ‘live and let live’ but ‘seek and let seek’.

 

The three sieves

There are many oft repeated tales that we all need to keep telling ourselves to lead a life that does not harm others and our own selves also.

socratesIn the times of social media and exchange of excessive information exchange, this is indeed what is happening to most of us all around. The three sieves of Socrates indeed guide us to understand the principles we ought to apply. .

Socrates had many students. One day, he took his students to go outside. When they were passing a village, there was a man running near Socrates, almost out of his breath, : “Socrates I have to tell you something about your friend who…”

Socrates : “Hold on”,

“About the story you’re about to tell me, did you put it through the three sieves?”

The man asked : “What are three sieves?”

“First sieve, did you examine what you were about to tell me if it is true?”

The man scratched his head and replied : “Well… I just overheard about it from others”.

“Oh, then there comes the second sieves, sieves of good. Is it something good what you’re about to tell me?”

“Ehm… maybe it’s the contrary?”

“The third sieves, is it necessary to tell me what you’re so excited about?”

“Well, Socrates…I don’t think it is necessary”.

Socrates smiled, “Well, if the story you’re about to tell me isn’t true, good and necessary, just forget it and don’t bother me with it”.

This is perhaps why people like Socrates rose to the highest level of humanity as he could focus his energies on only those things that mattered and just ignore those things that either had no relevance or substance to move further on the right path.

Let us try and apply these very principles in these days of TRPs and trying to prove ourselves right in each and every area of life. This would be good for us and by extension for the world.

Reprogram and deaddict yourself

livingfreeMany of us may think addiction is only about substance abuse either smoking, drinking or using drugs. This is actually not true and complete at all. Addiction could be about anything. One may be addicted to sweets, situations or even people. Now, there is nothing wrong with either the people or things we are addicted to. It is our attitude that needs to change.

How do we do this? One thing we could explore is to see how the addiction makes us act mechanically like a robot. I know a friend of mine who would blindly keep eating sweets although she had been diagnosed with diabetes. This of course created problems but she could just not stop. To change the pattern of tests and retests, she had to reprogram herself. Slowly she did begin changing her behaviour and life did begin to change.

The same is true even of emotional needs. Many of us are addicted to other people’s opinion of us. This is surely not necessary and logical. We could be happy when compliments are given but not make it an addiction. To change the old programming, choose one or two short, pithy reprogramming phrases that counteract specific demands.  Thus to counteract the demand for approval and /or compliments, the phrase “I don’t need approval/compliments” would be appropriate.

Similarly for a situation when one is addicted to never making mistakes, we could say, “I don’t have to reject myself if I make mistakes” would help. We could reprogram by replaying the scene and re-experiencing our emotions.  We could get in touch with the suffering your addictions have caused us and with a determination to get free.

Some simple steps we could use are

  1. Close your eyes. Take ten deep, rapid breaths. Tense the  muscles. Build up all the emotional energy we can.
  2. Reprogram with intensity and power.
  3. Repeat your reprogramming phrases with gut-level determination until we feel that they have become part of us.
  4. Put yourself back in the same scene — this time with the new programming in operation.
  5. Reaffirm the new programming by visualizing yourself responding to the situation with new positive responses and feelings based on your new programming. Reaffirm that you can be free of old programming — free to be how you really want to be in order to enjoy all of your life.

With this, let our energy build for a drive toward freedom.

The two wings of enlightenment

togetherness2Though there is hatred ruling the world all over now, I firmly believe this time will indeed pass as mankind has shown us time and again that it is sharing and caring that can save us and the world.

All masters have taught us that in order to realize enlightenment, we must work on developing two qualities, wisdom and compassion. These two qualities are sometimes compared to two wings that must work together to achieve flight, or two eyes that work together to be able to experience depth perception.

What does being nice to others have to do with personal enlightenment?  Actually, it has everything to do with it. Wisdom teaches us we all are interconnected and therefore, interdependent. With this thought process, we begin to understand that the idea of “others” vs “self” itself is mistaken. Everything is interconnected. When we see someone suffering and feel their pain as if it were our own, we strive to lessen or heal that pain, we are experiencing compassion.

To truly understand the pain and suffering of others, we must understand pain and suffering ourselves. When we finally understand that others suffer in the very same way that we suffer, we can start to develop true compassion. This is not pity but genuine empathy. From this we manifest sharing, comfort, sympathy, concern, and caring, which are all manifestations of compassion.

When we begin thinking in this manner, we do indeed move on the path of enlightenment for it is never ‘us’ versus ‘them’ but all of us together that can save us and the world. This is the primary lesson we all need to learn in our lives if we wish to move on the path of enlightenment and not just speak of it using jargon that may sound fancy but no one really understands, let alone follows.

 

 

 

 

 

Victim to victor

There are many things we just ignore and push under the carpet. One of them is that of social evils like child abuse. This is an issue all of us usually ignore as we somehow think it happens to others and never in homes that seem to be educated. There are some like Harrish Iyer, however, who have moved from being a victim to a victor.

harishiyer“My uncle was giving me a bath when I was 7 years old, and that’s when it first happened. At 12, I began to get gang-raped by his friends, and I would bleed but keep quiet as I felt I would not be considered ‘man enough’ to not bear pain?”, he says. As it was his own relative, he did not know what to make out of this seemingly regular event.

Harrish decided to make the motto of his life to be the protection of other children from sexual abuse. He has become a mentor to many and is guiding them on how to take care of themselves.

Throwing off all poisons

Carrie Fisher, the late actress and writer said. “Resentment is the poison you swallow hoping the other person will die.”

This did not mean he wanted to punish and take revenge on anyone. “Though I have been through 11 years of hell I don’t think the world is a bad place. I thank my bullies, because they got me to a place where I have the opportunity to touch other’s lives. I believe that hate only destroys the person who indulges in hating, not the person being hated so I don’t wish to spend my energy in hating my uncle.” Thinking about life and its ramifications in general, he continues “If I could, I would send a therapist to help my uncle. He also needs to be helped, after all”.

We can see that he has indeed grown as a person in all areas, always focussing on what he can do and NOT making his life that of victimhood.

 

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