Reflections On Slowing Down

What does this phrase ‘slow down’ mean to you?

We all have heard of “slowing down” a lot this year, haven’t we? 

Perhaps a bit too much. More than we’d have liked anyway. 

The pandemic seems unending even with the uplifting news of vaccine(s) ready for rollout. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, slowing down perhaps meant restriction in travel, meet-ups, shopping, venturing out for recreation etc. As we approach the end of an infamous year, as conscious beings, we must ask ourselves that what exactly has this enforced slow down brought us. 

Has it all been gloom and doom? 

OR

Have we emerged stronger (both internally and externally) having survived thus far? 

As I write this, I wonder why would anyone want to slow down by choice?! 

Life’s a race, right? 

gif of Jim Carrey typing at a maniac like speed.

Right from conception in the mother’s womb, we’re supposed to be running towards the grave. Often, without purpose or meaning; lacking any direction yet always having the certainty where we’re all heading for the same destination (death). 

I think of all the happy times in my life and realise they all went by so quickly. At least what I feel were happy moments in retrospect. I doubt if I was enlightened enough to recognise and relish those moments as blessings and be immensely grateful. If we look at life from this perspective, we realise it is relatively brief and uncertain. 

If we go by the western and Abrahamic school of thought, then you just have one life, one shot at fulfilment. After that, it’s either eternal obscurity/enjoyment or eternal damnation. Well, no wonder, the ideas emerging from the west have taught us to be in a rush. 

When we’re overwhelmed with life, our mortal bodies, emotions or dealings with others are usually the times’ well-wishers advise us to relax and slow down. When too many accidents are robbing people of their life the government comes out with warnings of ‘speed thrills but kills’. 

I think our ‘body’s government’— the Soul also comes out with such warnings in the form of anxiety, depression, confusion, disease and so forth. That’s when we need to check in with ourselves and see how to serve ourselves best. 

I have personally realised lately that I have been someone who’s been in a hurry for some reason. My friend Aditi pointed out how I spoke fast while conversing. It was pointed out a few others also previously when I worked in theatre. My saving grace was the diction; otherwise, the words would have felt muddled up. I’d like to think the same about going through life; if we’re too much in a hurry, events can feel muddled up.

There were many other areas, also where I thought I had always been in a rush. I do feel ‘experienced’ enough to share some of my personally realised benefits in slowing down in different areas of life. 

  • Safer vehicular drives
  • Better decision making
  • Better digestion due to mindful chewing of food
  • Savouring food items 
  • Better running (more on that in a future blog post)
  • Better writing
  • Better spiritual साधना (practice)
  • Better conversation flow

I’d like to leave you with some solid wisdom shared by Sadhguru is one of his disciples’ gatherings. I’ll humbly paraphrase what I heard in my words and understanding.

“Slowing down should mean slowing down the chatter of the mind. Slowing down the breaths (via yoga), words that come out of your mouth…your activities in the world.”

Thank you for reading this. Let me know what you made of this post. 😇

Taking it slow and easy,

Kushagra 

MY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE WEEK

This week I suggest a couple of things that are diametrically opposite in their effect upon you. 

A heart-warming movie: Matilda (available on Netflix) is about a little girl who discovers the power of her mind and uses it against a bully. 

A heart-breaking novel: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by the immaculately talented Elif Shafak. The story of the life and death of a hooker in Istanbul, Turkey. You can find my review here.

On connections

Jane Dutton, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Business School, gives an intriguing insight through her research. She says: 

“Any point of contact with another person can potentially be a high-quality connection. One conversation, one e-mail exchange, one moment of connecting in a meeting can infuse both participants with a greater sense of vitality, giving them a bounce in their steps and a greater capacity to act.” 

Aditi and I have begun an accountability pact to nudge each other towards crafting a  daily fitness schedule. Over the past week, what I have been observing is in absolute resonance to Jane Dutton’s findings in her psychological study. Our accountability pact is merely working upon a simple exchange of text in the morning to remind the other of their target. That’s it. As simple as that. No big words, no high brow philosophy, no loud motivational manifestos. Just a kind nudge. I’m happy to report that so far is it working. Of course, I’d like to point out that we are being gentle in our approach and setting small, achievable targets first to establish habits and then build up from there. We are following an idea of what can be paraphrased as: 

“Small steps and a big priority.”

Why Connections Matter

Snoopy hugging Charlie Brown

Every once a while, say a week, or in a fortnight, my dear friend Rohit comes over, and we spend some time reflecting and sharing about life as it is over coffee. Just about an hour spent talking about growth, opportunities and upliftment energise me personally tremendously. Same is the case with my friend Rizwan. We have our periodic audio note exchanges to talk about the glory of God, living, gratitude and stuff like that. 

I also fondly cherish visiting a dear friend’s place and meeting his family a month back. Just a brief amount of time spent laughing, sharing joy and grief was enough to keep my spirits high for a reasonable amount of time. 

Ideally, one would derive all the joy and peace from within. However, it’s a process. Until you reach there, it is smart to invest in equations with fellow humans that uplift consciously. 

Our Responsibility

Gif from a tv series called Outlander

Investing in human capital means you give out what you wish to receive. This is something I swear by and has worked magically well in my life. 

You give out love, respect, joy, service, admiration, support, smiles, kindness. Do you notice something? Each of these words that I have written has a specific vibration of its own. Merely reading these words makes you feel good, doesn’t it? (Another reason why you should consider including Japa meditation— repetition of God’s holy names in your schedule. For more on that, check out this blog of mine called, A Higher Taste And A Higher Purpose.)

Make your move. Go and do your bit. It doesn’t take much. One heartfelt interaction and BOOM! We are creating a bridge of rainbow between one piece of life to another. See how it keeps you afloat even in the toughest of times. 

Thank you so much for reading this. 

Wish you joy, celebration, laughter, smiles and health! ☺️

Kushagra

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE WEEK

Reflections 2020: On death, lessons and REcommendations

Approaching the final days of the year, I find myself nostalgic about the past; not just the year that went by, but years previously as well. For reasons known best to my higher self or perhaps due to years of unconscious programming, the mind kept replaying events that still carry a significant emotional charge.

“Why did I act the way I did?”

“Had I been a little more patient, things may have turned out differently..”

“I wish I could get another chance…”

“Wonder what direction life would have taken had I taken that route..”

Such thematic statements might ring a bell for some of you and resonate as well. I’d like to think I have company is this bitter-sweet misery of replaying events that are long gone. I sadistically hope it is not just me who keeps them alive within the realms of mind.

Usually, year ends bring joy, renewed hope, excitement and wonder. Life sends another milestone your way. No matter how good or bad the journey from the last milestone to the imminent one turned out, you can make new plans for the journey ahead. You can choose to pull your socks up and play with renewed zest this great play of life.

As the year-end approaches, I also find myself contemplative of my death and mortality. The year has been full of news of people dying. Death was an essential topic of the year’s news and overall conversation. People dying all around and I miraculously survived to type this blog out, and you’re reading it! If this doesn’t make us feel grateful, I don’t know what else can.

Death was so close and yet, this year we got lucky. Some year though death will come knocking. And when death knocks, I will have to answer. When death calls, you can’t hide, delay, feign occupation with work or trick it.

I would love to live more because no matter the challenges living may give death is unknown territory. Wisdom tells me not to make bets about unknown territories. I have felt scared and anxious about the inevitability of the death milestone. However, what has to happen will happen. Why fret now? I’m sure I wouldn’t have to work hard to attain this milestone, it’ll come to find me. A better question to reflect for all of us is how to live while we can. 🙂

Enough of philosophising life. Let me first thank you for being here and giving your time to my ideas 🙂 Thank you for continuously supporting and inspiring me to write and share. I’ll leave with some things that made an impact on me in 2020.

Gyaan

a light bulb plugging into the power outlet to light up
  1. There is so much value in saving.
  2. Many phone calls can be texts; meetings can be calls. Though when you want to connect an in-person meeting indeed cannot ever be replaced 🙂
  3. Home cooked meals are the best. Eating out is over-rated.
  4. Exercising (movement of the body) is a sure-shot way to make you feel good.
  5. Reading is one of the best investments of your limited time on earth.
  6. You feel happier when you choose the idea that you do not know it all and you can’t, and that’s alright.
  7. It is entirely A-okay to be apolitical. There are always ‘sharper’ and ‘compassionate’ minds who know it all and are sure about their definite opinions. 🙂
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  9. Don’t hesitate to change if the chance presents itself.
  10. Humility and kindness make others, and most importantly, you feel good.
  11. You gain a lot of power when you speak sweetly to people. 🙂
  12. Use Youtube Premium 😎
  13. Less sugar is (sadly) good for the body. 😞

My Favourite Films and TV series from 2020 (not necessarily the ones that had their release in 2020)

An empty cinema hall
  1. It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
  2. 1917
  3. Bombshell
  4. Eat, Pray, Love
  5. Up in the Air
  6. Begin Again (Best soundtrack as well)
  7. Modern Love (Tv series on Prime)
  8. This is Us (highly recommend)

P.S. If someone can help decode TENET for me, I am sure that would make the list as well.

Favourite Reads: Fiction

Two adjacent shelves full of books
  1. Midnight Library, The Humans by Matt Haig (Highly recommended)
  2. Anxious People by Frederik Backman
  3. Graveyard Book, Ocean at the end of the lane and Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  4. Flatshare by Beth O’ leary
  5. Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  6. Mahasweta by Sudha Murty
  7. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
  8. Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

Favourite Reads: Non-Fiction

  1. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  2. Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  3. Atomic Habits by James Clear (Highly recommended)
  4. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  5. On Writing by Stephen King
  6. The Incredible History of the Indian Ocean by Sanjeev Sanyal

Favourite Reads: Self Help/Spiritual

  1. Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer
  2. Mahaviri by Nityananda Misra
  3. Life of Ramanujacharya by Naimisaranya Das
  4. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  5. Death an inside story by Sadhguru
  6. Vishnu and His 1000 Names by Eknath Easwaran

I’d always fondly remember this year as a time when I got an opportunity to read more than ever. My Goodreads tells me I surpassed by reading goals by 142% ! Better yet, I enjoyed it a lot. 🙂 Prioritising reading time helped me immensely. Why and how I could read so much, I’ll share soon either through a blog, podcast or IGTV 😁

If you feel so, please do share your best parts of 2020– lessons, recommendations and anything else that you would like 🙂

I wish you joy, growth, peace and harmony for the next year of your life.

Hope to meet you with another blog,
Kushagra