Friendship Lives In The Heart

Frnd

My dad who is 89 year old was recently recovering from pneumonia at home, after about a week of hospitalization. One day when I entered his room to give him medicines, what I saw made me really emotional. He was staring at a photograph, with tears silently rolling down his cheeks. When I went closer, I saw that my dad was staring at the picture of his best friend Mr. Gill, who passed away almost eight years back. He used to lovingly address him as Sardarji. They must have been friends for only a decade, but they bonded instantly because of their common interest, game of cricket. If they were not able to watch the match together, both our phone lines would be continuously engaged, as a parallel commentary and analysis of the match would go on between the two.

That day, my dad was terribly missing his dear friend. It was an unusual sight for me as I had never seen tears in my dad’s eyes. I could feel the intensity of his emotions. We all were there with him, but none could fill the vacuum that was created by a friend who left this world.

That is the role of friends in our life. They are a real treasure. Friends are the ones with whom you can share anything under the sun, be it your first crush, an argument with your father, your failure, or your success. They know most of your secrets. You know that your friend will not judge you by any of these things and continue to love you unconditionally. A true friend will stand by you even during your roughest and toughest times, fight with the entire world for you, and just be there for you. Their sheer presence gives you strength and comfort. A friend is an extended part of your own self.

When I think about friends and friendship, my childhood memories suddenly come alive. Since technology had not taken over our lives that time, playing outdoor games with friends was quite prevalent. I remember coming back from school, flinging the school bag, quickly changing the school uniform and running to play with friends. We would have fights on the playground both physical and verbal but everything was forgotten the moment we left the play ground. When it got too late in the evening, one of the moms would come and drive us all back home. Back then, we would just barge into our friends house any time, have food with them or demand something to eat, which the friend’s mother would lovingly cook. Even the simplest of foods would taste like nectar in the company of a friend. All this created an everlasting bond between friends. It created such a beautiful space that allowed you to be yourself. Thanks to the technology that kept that has kept the bond alive even today.

Relationships have always been the focus of my life. And I feel if you have even a few true friends in life, you are amongst the richest people. However, friendships do not happen overnight. You need to invest a lot of time and energy into it. I am fortunate and blessed to have wonderful friends. Some of my friendships have lasted for ages while some for a short period of time, but all of them have been truly soul-nourishing, something that I will cherish until my last breath.

Frnds-1

Every person has his/her own ways of developing friendship, but I would like to share few secrets from my life that may help you develop an everlasting, genuine and amazing friendship.

  1. Always Be There For Your Friend : Being there for a friend in need and during challenging times, deepens the bond. Sometimes you may need to go out of your way, walk an extra mile, do a little sacrifice, put others before you; but trust me it always pays in the long run. A relationship is always two-way. You receive what you give.
  2. Never Let Ego Come In Between : Remember, your friendship is much greater and valuable than your ego. Whenever you have an argument with your best friend and it impairs your relationship, try to mend it even if you think that you were not wrong. These kind of skirmishes are small to begin with but have the potential of becoming big spoilers and in breaking the relationships.
  3. Forgive Easily : ‘To err is human’, so forgive easily, as one small mistake or incident cannot have the power to ruin your friendship. Change your perspective of looking at the situation. Empathise with your friend and understand why he/she behaved the way they did. Putting yourself in that situation will make it easy for you to forgive.
  4. Spend Quality Time : Friendships are nurtured in the heart. In today’s technological world we are in touch with or friends on social media and phones. But on these platforms, we generally put up a façade and do not reveal our true feelings. To develop a deeper, genuine and authentic friendship, we need to break free from the façade and develop a heart to heart connection. This is only possible when we spend quality time with friends. Going out for a movie, or dinner or an outing or doing something of common interest works wonders
  5. Never Be Judgemental : Never form a judgement about your friend and assume things based on hearsay. Sometimes we can easily get carried away by an incident, or someone telling us something about our friend. That is the real test. Instead of believing them and being judgemental about him/her it is best to clear any misunderstanding there and then.

Wishing you a happy and enduring friendship, now and forever.

Meeting with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam – A spiritual experience

DSC09083

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…

DSC09084

DSC09086

Question life at every step

Don’t follow society’s laws blindly. Each life is different.

At the age of 4, your parents enroll you into school. After you pass out of school, you go to college. Even if you graduate, you just have to get a masters degree because you won’t get a good job until you have one. If you can get an MBA, even better! You’ll score an awesome job! After that, you have to get married and within a few years, have children. Now get them admitted into the best schools and colleges, their life depends on it! After that’s settled, get them married. Once you have grand children, hurrah, your life is complete! You can securely retire from your job so you can rest and spend time with your grandchildren. Maybe even use this time to finally think about spirituality, God and death; until the day finally arises, where you have to leave this planet. That’s life, as society dictates it.

Sounds quite fair, if that’s what you want to do in life. But millions of people go through this pre-decided process even without giving a single thought to whether they really want to go through it. Have you ever questioned yourself about what you want?

Think about this, if you only had one year to live, what would you do? In an instant, you would forget everything that anyone has ever told you and think about yourself, your needs and goals. You’d probably make a list too. So why not think about it now?

As a past life regression therapist, I have taken people into their past lives to relieve the negative emotions of those memories. I have noticed that during these sessions, most people die with the regret that they could not do what they wanted to.

That is why it is so important to question ourselves at each and every step. Are you doing something because you really want to do it or because it’s the norm? I have myself faced such a situation and made the wrong decision.

When I was in school, I liked painting, playing cricket and singing more than math and science. After every result day, I’d spend my time cheering up friends and making them smile. I was very happy doing this. But at the end of school, when I had to make a decision about what to study in the future, I was confused. My family said that boys do not take up arts, so that was out of the question. According to them, I should become an engineer or a doctor. All my friends in school signed up for the pre-engineering test, and so did I. To my surprise, I passed the test and got into an engineering college, and became an engineer by default. After passing out of college, I was offered a job in a reputed company in Mumbai, so I took it up. After 17 years in the corporate world, I realized that I am meant to do something else. But it wasn’t too late. I made a correction and became a life coach.

Like me, there are so many people who say they took up the wrong job, made wrong decisions and ended up at the place, far away from where they wanted to be.

This is why it is so important to ask, is this really what I am meant to do? Do I really want to get married, and when? Do I really want to have children, and when? Am I studying something I am interested in? I have finished my education, do I really want to get a job now, or do something else? Don’t follow society’s law blindly. Each life is different.

As parents we need to always support our children with their decisions. The upcoming generation has the potential to break society’s barriers and dogmas which have existed for thousands of years. Don’t label children, who ask why or do only what they want to, as rebellious. They are giving rise to a more inquisitive and progressive society.

 

Random acts of kindness heal your soul

During one of my Delhi workshops, a participant Rakesh Suri had told me about his initiative for street children. Along with a few like-minded people, he had started a computer literacy programme where underprivileged children were being trained to use computers. I was very inspired by this initiative and decided to meet the children of these schools, the next time I was there. That moment came in January. Before entering the school, Rakesh introduced me to another core member of their team – Arjun Verma.

Now I was told, 70-year-old Arjun Verma, for several years walked with a huge hunchback and needed the support of a walking stick. His health was very fragile and he was always irritable. However, there was one thing that would make Arjun smile, his dream to help destitute children. Arjun had been talking about doing something but this thought remained a dream for a long time. One day, he decided to follow his dream and with the support of a few people, *Computer Shiksha became a reality.

I was happy to hear this story. The only thing I was confused about was the description of Arjun. In front of me stood a healthy, charismatic and charming man, who looked nothing like the description given of an old, fragile, hunchbacked man who could not walk without a stick. That’s when Rakesh explained that a few weeks after he started this initiative, Arjun’s life changed drastically. Without any medical treatment or support, he started walking straight. All his health issues vanished. He felt more energetic and enthusiastic towards life. He identifies more with his new self than the man who walked with a hunch back.

Truly inspiring. And a real example of how healing takes place. All Arjun needed to do was give back to society. The law is indeed true – “whatever we give others, nature gives us back in manifolds”. Teaching computers to little children not only improved his overall health but also gave him joy, peace and inner satisfaction.

After Arjun (gentleman seated on the right) started this initiative his life changed drastically

*Computer Shiksha is a team of like minded people working towards computer literacy among underprivileged children in Gurgaon. You can find more information about the noble initiative on http://www.computershiksha.org.

Meditation – A way of life

DSC02572

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.

DIFFERENT KEYS

Image

Why are we humans always experience conflict with our past self, present self and future self? I discovered that the key to a great life is harmonizing these vital parts or dimensions of our personality. I am an HLP practitioner and I vouch for its effectiveness as it integrates the three dimensions of life into one.

The H of HLP or healing of the past sets the foundation for an enlightening inner journey. Never look back or regret, but keep moving forward. Whatever happens in our life, happens for a reason, which are our lessons. We should always remember that even failure is a path towards success. Thus, acknowledging that we have erred and forgiving ourselves is the basic tool to faster healing. I have introduced several techniques and exercises in the book that gently nudge the hidden hurts from the subconscious into the open, showing you the right way to tackle them. I have extensively spoken about the path towards forgiveness and self-acceptance, through chapters like letting go of past burdens, embracing the inner child and the gift of forgiveness.

The L of HLP; living your present is the second part of the book, which highlights the wonders of living here, now, at this moment. People forget that life actually means the ‘present’ moment. Past and future are not really the life we should bother about as they don’t exist. Through the book I help you find out your true purpose of life. Without that knowledge, the satisfaction of living the right life is lost. One needs to therefore realize the paramount importance of the “here and now”, in the best way possible. In a sensitive way, I give the myriad secrets of discovering your life’s passion and purpose, the power of doing things right now, the secret to being happy any time, and the power of gratitude.

The third section of the book talks about the P of HLP, which is planning the future. For many of us ‘planning for the future’ means either saving money or following a set pattern planted in our minds by elders. Like in the recent movie, Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani actor Ranbir Kapoor says, why would we want to follow a mundane life pattern when we can have some fun? Like finishing studies by a specific age, getting married after you turn 25, then take care of your kids, retire and wait for the angel of death. That doesn’t mean you don’t have this life. However, life is much beyond this monotony. In the book I have made it clear that saving money or following a conventional lifestyle forms only one part of the whole planning process. The really crucial treasures of planning one’s life are: being your own navigator, listening to your inner voice, inviting yourself to practice better faith and acknowledging and cherishing every relationship in your life. I often hear people say they work for 18 hours a day. My question to you: is that success? Spending 80% of your life at work means having 80% of problems at home. Do not choose between your work and family, rather create a balance.

I would quote something that author James Patterson and former Coca-Cola CEO Bryan Dyson has said, life is a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. They are work, family, health, friends and spirit; and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball and it will bounce back even if you drop it. But the other four balls are made of glass. Dropping one of these means they will be irrevocably damaged or even shattered. One must understand that and strive for balance in our life.

Door that led to KEYS

Door

Though it is an age of fingertip technology and advancement, with solutions to mostly any problems in our life, emotional traumas are not handled easily by us. These days, emotions are the major culprit behind all the issues in our life. Even if the problems are physical like lifestyle related diseases, relationship and situational issues, the root cause has to be our emotions.

These emotions can be the guilt, regrets, anger from our past we are not able to let go off, or the anxiety, fear and insecurities of the future, or jealousy and hatred that can play havoc to ourselves. It is therefore very important to manage our emotions, as our everyday problems like parent-child issues or even suicides and terrorism around the globe is caused by it.

However, I want to make it clear that we are the masters of our own destiny. We can manage our emotions. I wanted to make people realize this. This was the reason I wanted to reach out to people and say that we can heal our emotions. The best way was through my book explaining the same.

I cannot find happiness anywhere but within myself. It is a state of mind. Don’t be sad if you don’t want to be sad. The ‘keys’ are in your hand. You feel how you want to feel.

Through my workshops I realized that people need help in managing their emotions. Also, they don’t understand that every moment that passes becomes past and cannot be retrieved. We are adding a bit to the ‘past’ every second of our life. It is very difficult to get our history back. So instead of worrying about the past, we should embrace the present moment to contribute to a better future.

Thus, the idea to write my book came through my workshops, my friends and people I counsel. Keys was indeed the key to reach out to all of them. I had to make people understand that a balance is very important in life. Whether it’s the balance between the past, present and future or between your work and family life. KEYS gives you that.