5 Life Lessons Straight From ICCU

 

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Recently I spent nearly twenty days in the ICCU, when my father was hospitalized. It had become a regular routine for me, to go to the hospital every morning and come back in the night. I spent most of my time there during these days. The ICCU was always bustling with activities, with critical patients being brought in all the time. Being an intensive cardiac care unit, there was always an emergency, 24/7. Though my dad was quite stable, overall it was quite a mind-numbing experience. I used to stand alongside my dad’s bed most of the time and witness all the action happening in ICCU, merely as a spectator. But I believe that every incident, person and situation brings in valuable life lessons for us to grow and evolve spiritually. My experiences there have certainly made me more humble and grateful than before.

On the very next bed to my dad’s, there was a 13-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with a hole in his heart. The family was poor and did not have enough finances for the surgery. They waited for two long months, before they were ready for it. The little boy was admitted and the surgery was scheduled for the next day. The boy seemed to be quite unaware of his situation and the happenings around. He had a very cute and innocent smile on his face. He was busy playing mobile games, while his mother kept asking him to sleep and take some rest. She was continuously stroking his head with lot of love and concern.

When I came back the next morning, the bed was empty. “Has the boy gone for the surgery?” I asked the nurse. “No sir, he passed away in the morning!” She said with a sad face. “What..???” I just could not believe what I heard. I could feel my heart shatter into thousand pieces. The least I could do was to sit there silently and pray for his soul.

There was another couple who had come from a village in Punjab. The wife was to undergo an open heart surgery. The man had sold all their property so that his wife could get the new lease of life. It is really sad that medical facilities are so expensive and unaffordable to the economically weaker section of the society. She underwent the surgery but developed complications thereafter. Her husband was very nervous and requested us to pray for his wife. In the hospitals, generally, the patient’s relatives develop an instant bond with each other, as they are going through common issues. By evening there was an emergency with the lady; while the doctors were trying to resuscitate her, relatives of all patients were asked to wait outside. About an hour later, the doctors announced that the lady was no more. Her husband was inconsolable.

During my visits to the hospital in those twenty days, I came across a lot of shaking, heart-rending, and overwhelming stories. There were a few intermittent emotional moments, when I saw rakshabandhan being celebrated in ICCU. One sister tied rakhi to her brother who was in a critical condition. She tried hard to hide her tears, wore a forced smile on her face trying to hide the feeling of uncertainty that this could even be their last rakshabandhan together.

While I saw quite a few deaths happening there, there were patients who bounced back to health and left for their homes with their loved ones. Overall it was an indelible experience.

This time spent in ICCU reiterated some of the life’s important lessons to me:

Lesson # 1 :  Live every moment fully

All that we have is the present moment. Most often we forget this and spend all the time worrying and fretting about things that may or may not happen and loose the precious moments that life offers us. Life is only happening NOW. Live it fully.

Lesson # 2 : Be grateful for the smallest things in life

Consider yourselves blessed that you are still breathing and alive. We often forget all the blessings bestowed upon us by life and only focus on the lack. But such incidents like the ones mentioned above, help us realize that just being alive and healthy itself is a huge blessing and a big enough reason to be grateful for.

Lesson # 3 : Find your purpose and follow it

If you are still breathing and alive, means you still have a purpose to be fulfilled on this planet. We all have a purpose in this lifetime. However it is important to discover that and work towards it.

Lesson # 4 : Life is transient. Be humble

Death is inevitable; irrespective of your position and socio-economic status. So always be humble, as you cannot fight this mighty force. Being humble keeps you grounded and keeps your ego at bay. You realize that you are not the doer. It is the universe that is working through you and you are just a medium for the larger plan of the universe to be fulfilled.

Lesson # 5 : You don’t carry anything to the grave, except your deeds

Be kind and good to all. Don’t be judgemental. Respect and love others unconditionally. Don’t do anything that will make you regret and feel guilty later. Your deeds, are the only things that you are going to carry to your grave.

Life is your best teacher. It will always bring you challenging situations with a hidden and priceless lessons. Be conscious and open to learning those and you will never look at life with the same eyes again.

So, here’s me signing off, wishing you a healthy happy and a regret-free life.

 

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Meeting with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam – A spiritual experience

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22nd October 2013, will be ever etched on my mind. Afterall, You don’t meet a person of the stature of Abdul Kalam every day. I distinctly remember, there were butterflies in my stomach, while Aruna and I were waiting in his office for our 8pm appointment. We were there to present my first book KEYS to him. He was my hero and I had painted a particular image of him in my mind. Already anxious, my mind was crowded with thoughts… ‘how will he greet us?, what will he say about my book?, will he really entertain us as we had no real agenda for the meeting?’, ‘what if a cold response from him shatters the image I have so lovingly nurtured.’

My chain of thoughts was interrupted, when his secretary called out our names. He ushered us in APJ’s office.

His office reflected his persona – simple, warm and welcoming. He got up from his chair to greet us.

“So Mr. Santosh Joshi, what brings you here?” He asked with a bright smile, signalling us to sit. Sitting in front of a person who was the people’s president, a recipient of Bharat Ratna, a scientist, a teacher and above all a favourite leader of one and all, did make me nervous.

However, slowly the anxiety I was experiencing, started to dissolve in his sublime presence. His friendly voice and infectious smile drove away all our discomforts.

“Sir, you are a great inspiration in our life and it has been our long cherished dream to meet you in person, hence we are here.” I said trying hard to put the words together. I gave him the book and a sketch I had drawn of him.

“Oh, I am glad to meet you as well” he replied modestly. Then I briefed him about what I was doing and how I wished to present him my first book and seek his blessings. He patiently flipped through the book, asking questions with lot of interest. He said he was pleased with the way the book has come up.

“You have given me the book. What should I give you?”, saying this he got up from the chair, fetched a copy of ‘Ignited Minds’ from his cupboard and wrote a beautiful message, “If God for us, who can be against us”, and with his autograph gifted it to me. He wished me luck and said, “You are doing a good job. Inspire as many people as you can”.

We requested him for a picture, which he readily agreed. The whole experience was so overwhelming, that we got goose bumps and our eyes moistened. We touched his feet and left his office with a heart filled with gratitude and amplified love and respect for this adorable human being. We were bowled over by his humility, simplicity and greatness. It was feeling one gets in the presence of a spiritually evolved soul. No wonder today when he has left his body, every Indian is grieved. Only a divine incarnate can impact and inspire so many lives. In my view, he was truly a modern spiritual guru.

Rest in Peace APJ… We will miss you…

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True Freedom

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Our country achieved freedom from foreign rule 67 years back, but have we attained true freedom yet…?

As a life coach I come across  many people during my talks and workshops. The one thing I find common in most of them is that they are not free. Rather, most are imprisoned in the self created web of guilts, regrets, hurts, fears, self doubts, limiting self beliefs, etc. This happens with all of us. The web gets denser and stronger day by day, and a point comes when we feel impossible to break through it and get out. We become prisoners.

I know of a lady who has gone through lot of suffering in her life for almost a decade after her marriage. She was married in a joint family and was ill-treated by her in-laws. As a result she went through a lot of trauma. After about 10 years of marriage the couple moved out of the house and the family business into an independent life. But even today when we meet she talks only about those 10 years of distress in her life.

Once she told me , “I want to try your PLR therapy. I am curious to find out how my in-laws were related to me in my past birth. They have made my life miserable.”

“Sure we can. But what is the problem now? You are the master of your own life . I feel it is high time you let go of the past.” I replied.

“You don’t understand. It is easier said than done. They have spoiled 10 beautiful years of my life. How can I let go?” she said somewhat irritated.

I realized that she had completely ensconced herself in the self created web of victimhood. So much so that she was thriving on the sympathy gained from people around her and was comfortable living that way.

When we are born, we are free spirits. We can easily cry, laugh , make mistakes, forgive people, and let go. we don’t carry any baggage. Hence as a child we can experience freedom. Nothing is impossible for a small child. He is ready to explore anything because he lives in that space of ‘freedom’, where everything is a possibility.

Then what happens as we grow…? We are told, ” you are a grown up boy now and boys are not supposed to cry!” or “you are a girl, you are not supposed to laugh so loudly!”,” What will people say?”, “you should do this and you shouldn’t do this”. ” you cannot think in a particular way” and stuff like that…Our life slowly gets defined by the dos and don’ts of the society. Without realizing we get moulded in a way people  around us want us to. Even the freedom of thoughts is taken away from us. We are supposed to think how other people want us to think. Sounds ridiculous, but its true, and we start living a life of others. Slowly we start thinking that this is how life has to be lived, in a set pattern, confined and defined by the society, caged in the negative beliefs.

To experience true freedom we need to go back to the time when we were born…. by stripping off the layers of conditioning around us and letting free that inner child. Do what we always wanted to do in life rather than being dictated by others around us. We must realize our true potential to achieve greatness in life. We need to break free from the cage of dogmas, set patterns limited self beliefs, feeling of being victim, helplessness, fears, deceits and other negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, resentment, guilt, and regret….. and live as if “Sky is Not the Limit”…..  in True Freedom.

Spirituality beyond assumptions

Breaking stereotypes!

The past few weeks has seen an offbeat online campaign doing the rounds. It showcases girls and boys holding a whiteboard in different settings, the white board has a message that busts a common prejudice. Cheek and thought-provoking, the campaign has really inspired me to write this blog.

Since, I changed my job and went into the line of spirituality; I have heard all negative opinions or false perceptions about spirituality. Today, my blog is aimed at #breakingstereotypes about spirituality.

Myth 1: To be spiritual, one needs to be secluded

You can be spiritual wherever you are

You can be spiritual wherever you are

One of the biggest myths about spirituality is that you need to get away from normal human civilization. This is the biggest lie of the century. You don’t need to go to the Himalayas or any other spiritual place to be spiritual. It goes beyond space and circumstances. Spirituality is just a way of life. It is nothing but living from your heart and going with the flow of the universe. It can be practiced even in the midst of chaos. Keeping away from friends and family is definitely not a compulsion!

Myth 2: One can’t enjoy materialistic things or cannot live a modern life if spiritual

There is nothing wrong with being ambitious or wanting a fancy car or a big house. In fact, spirituality tells us that we are here to enjoy and celebrate life. The universe has abundance and you can receive anything you want. One should not feel guilty if one is involved in the business of earning money or material wealth, as long as you do it honestly and with detachment.

Myth 3: Spiritual people need to be “serious” at all times

I have heard many people say that spiritual people shouldn’t speak loudly, laugh too much or act like immaturely. In reality, not all spiritual people are serious. In fact, if your core personality involves talking and laughing loudly, you should never give it up! Have you heard of the concept of Inner Child? It says, each one of us has a little child within us. We need to pamper and give attention to that child in order to remain happy. Great Sufis and saints have been child-like and had no qualms about playing with little children. Life is beautiful, and we must acknowledge it and be happy. One needn’t behave in a certain way just because he is spiritual.

Myth 4: Spirituality is only possible in a guru-shishya environment

You don’t need to follow a sect or spiritual guru to be spiritual. All you need is an inquisitive mind, and you will get the answers. Whenever you need the guidance, the universe will send you the right people, opportunities and events to help you find your answers.

My attempt at busting a myth!

My attempt at busting a myth!

 Myth 5: You need to follow the spiritual dress code

Another common misconception is that spiritual people need to wear flowing clothes or robes. I have been told, many a times, “How can you be in the spiritual line if you wear jeans and a t-shirt?”

According to me, clothing is just a choice and does not reflect a person’s way of being. Especially, in today’s age! Spirituality does not put any restriction on clothing.

Myth 6: You need to follow a religion to be spiritual

In religion, someone experiences the truth and tells it to you. You follow. Spirituality is experiencing the truth yourself. Religion, cast, creed has nothing to do with spirituality. There are numerous paths that can take you to the same goal. You can even create your own path.

Myth 7: People are inclined towards spirituality only if something goes wrong

I have seen perfectly happy people having the desire and yearning to know more about life. They are determined to go higher on spiritual levels. Spirituality is not just something to come out of your problems, but a way of life.

Myth 8: Spirituality is for oldies only

In one of my workshops, the youngest participant was 16-year-old and the oldest one was 92. I even know of a girl who is a past life regression therapist since she was 18. She is full of life and has given life advice to people four times her age!

Some people think spirituality is only for their old age. This is another untruth. Age has nothing to do with spirituality. You could be of any age, when you start on this path.

According to me, children are natural meditators and very spiritual

According to me, children are natural meditators and very spiritual

My only purpose of listing out all these stereotypes is so people do not make the mistake of generalization. There surely are people who fall into the category of these stereotypes but that doesn’t mean all spiritual people are the same.

If you are looking for answers about your life and seek a path, don’t be influenced by what is popular or by other’s opinion. You should determine what is right for you and follow that. Let your inner wisdom be your guiding light. And keep in mind not to judge others on their path either.

Meditation – A way of life

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Meditation is perhaps the most talked-about word amongst today’s ‘spiritual’ populace. The problem is that it is also the most misunderstood word. Each person will have his or her own definition or understanding about what meditation stands for. There’s nothing wrong in this as long as everyone is practicing what is being preached. However, most often the truth is otherwise.

Few thoughts on meditation we all get from time to time…

  • I know meditation is great for my mind, body, and spirit. I deeply feel the need to practice meditation daily.
  • Many times I think randomly, “I should meditate at-least sometime,” but when it comes down to it, I really don’t.
  • I strongly suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way.
  • I’ve read many books on how to meditate or I have attended many meditation classes, however it doesn’t help.
  • I also know all those ways to meditate feel like work

If you get similar thoughts as well, you are definitely not alone. In fact, you will be a part of the majority. If that makes you feel good… great! Most of us will be feeling the same way about meditation. Meditation is work; meditation is boring; meditation is time consuming; meditation is only for a few special people; it’s for people who love mysticism; Meditation is a part of religion or religious activity. These are all the examples of common misconceptions about meditation. These are also the most often used excuses for not meditating.

But let me tell you, meditation is not all that hard. Believe me. Once we make up our mind, we just need to find a quite place. That’s it. We don’t really have to do anything. As a matter of fact meditation is actually going from ‘doing something’ to ‘not doing anything’. Even if we are able to experience the present moment to its fullest by just “Being”, that’s enough. Meditation is a process which takes us from “doing” to “being”. After reading many scriptures, books, practicing various types of meditations and interactions with masters, my personal experience is that whatever is hard to do is simply not meditation. I have found that the simplest and easiest way, which is also very effective, to meditate is through introspection or “just being”. It takes away the importance normally given to the knowledge of doctrines, scriptures, etc. before starting to meditate, making it extremely simple for a first timer. I have observed that most of the time, lot of importance is given to what you know about meditation or how it is practiced, or it’s good, bad, and side effects. This really creates a false aura around meditation, which makes a new comer really think whether this should be taken up or whether this can really be followed regularly; or what if one is not following or practicing it regularly. In reality, anyone… I repeat, “anyone” can practice meditation, whenever he or she can, without any limitations of place, time, type of clothes, method, posture what so ever. It’s that easy. Let’s not make it complicated… really. Even a little child can just be… or an old person for that matter. Lao Tzu, a mystic philosopher of ancient China said, “The way to do is to be.” We can call this self observation… meaning just observing the breath for example, or the how beautifully the wind flows making the leaves of a tree sway, or the blueness of the sky, or sound of a bird. We can even observe our own thoughts, how beautifully they are woven; one leading to the other.