Clambering

It took me 3 attempts, 3 egg yolks, a large glug of melted silken butter and a decent amount of bicep strength to whip up hollandaise sauce – admittedly I gave up after the second try and was then drawn back to the hob to try one last time.

Final result = A sore rotator cuff, a yellow velvety, lemony hollandaise sauce – but….

And it is often this ‘but’ that keeps pushing us to get the ‘right’ thing, the perfect look, the supreme feel -just scrambling for heights which aren’t even meant to be climbed in the first place. Attempting to correct or deal with something that ‘seems’ defective or flawed.

In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Paul Hewitt explains that are three kinds of perfectionism components;

“Perfectionism is about to attempting to correct or deal with a defective, flawed, not-good-enough sense of self” Paul Hewitt

Self-Oriented Perfectionism – Which includes behaviors such as setting exacting and exacerbating standards for oneself and then measuring them with stringent and often berating censures. Paul continues to evaluate that this kind of behavior also includes a motivational concourse. However, in order to attain and achieve perfection or else to avoid failure, can and does lead to anxiety and depression to say the least.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism – Setting beliefs and high expectations for others, followed by stringent evaluations. The report suggests that kind of behavior can manifest itself into lack of trust and feelings of hostility towards others. However, on a slightly positive note this dimension also alludes to facilitating others’ motivations and abilities.

Socially Prescribed Perfection – This entails the subject’s belief or perception that significant others have unrealistic bars and standards for them, and there is an unsaid pressure that is exerted for perfectionism. Now the loop hole in this case is most often than not it is not reality and simply a perception which ultimately manifests itself through anger, dissatisfaction, cynicism and anxiety.

You know life really isn’t meant to be a mathematical equation where 99 will always come before 100.

A conscious effort to better ourselves and attaining perfection has a very thin line in between and we don’t even realize when we cross the border and turn our own expectations into demons. The demon that urges us to draw the straightest line, make the most luscious hollandaise sauce, perfect the finest embellishment, adorn the rightest posture in yoga and the list goes on and on.  And in all probability when we do fall a tad bit short, that same demon, demonizes us even further.

Why do we have to castigate ourselves for falling short?

Humans are not meant to be perfect creatures, what if we don’t have to carry this heavy appendage? – for starters we would definitely breath better. This incessant desire clouds our mind, and the moment self-acceptance trickles in, the heavy cloud dissipates rather quickly.

Simplicity, really is in self-acceptance, plugging our little gaps with patience and time, reducing self-directed reprimands, holding our wrong selves with gentleness. Perhaps setting achievable goals and patting ourselves irrespective of failure or success.

Oh! and by the way hollandaise sauce doesn’t reheat very well, so when I did reheat it for the final serve, family had to resort to a rather liquid emulsification of egg yolk and butter…ah well, what to say!

Feature Photograph : Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Turrets & Crenellations

In the modern-day world as much as the importance of ‘Non-Attachment’ is being proposed, even more so is the rapid increase of misunderstanding associated with it. Cold callousness, arrogant apathy, dire disinterest or uncouth unresponsiveness… are just some of the conjectured thoughts that come up with the word.

ASSUMPTION

Attachment, as we all know brings with it a huge quilt of expectations. Expectations which are often camouflaged and restrictive. The bottle neck, that reduces the inner landscape, decreases clarity of purpose and fogs intent. What we often don’t realize is that we are creating our own tunnels, our own turrets and our very own crenellations.

SUFFOCATION!

Conjectured layer of promises, prospects and designs of how things should be, what conclusions should be, how reactions and actions should be…like a potato dauphinoise thinly sliced, seamed in with flavored cream, spices and sometimes cheese – A luxurious side dish at the end of the day

FRENCH

Little do we know that this very quilt, which might originally seem protective and snug will leave us naked and exposed. Not to anyone else, but to ourselves only. The fort of innate security comes crashing down the moment things don’t happen the way they shouldhave been.

SUFFERING!

And then comes the real catch, that if you don’t have expectations then you are probably indifferent. The fear of becoming a ruthless, cold creature, or arrogant keeps taking us back to tethered ropes where we seem to think that unless we bring the boat back we won’t be successful. Attaching success to people, situations and things – in turn identifying with incompleteness.

PUZZLE

Non-attachment is really not any of the above. In simple terms it is not adhering to anything and acceptance of everything. Certainly not, does it imply that there is lack of warmth, purpose or intent – in fact if anything it is just that and so much more. Warmth of inner spaciousness, purpose of the development of spiritual muscle and intent of acceptance.

BREATH

Whether it is work, relationships, food preparation, sport drills or yoga practices – all we do is charge ahead with full force and an honest resolve, without waiting for the ideal outcome. In fact, there is no outcome because that would mean that we are forging ahead of time and not really enjoying the continuity of the present moments. Primarily not clinging to thoughts, results, rebuttals, destabilizers, brokenness, failures and frustrations! And open and whole heartedly submitting, accepting – what was, what is and what will be!

AH! RESPITE

Featured Photo: A tunnel-eye view of Dubrovnik City, Croatia

Trenchant

I used to wonder if hurtful words are more harming or ungainly actions, and also not sure which precedes what. Words or actions, either or, they are both expressions being hurled at us. More than anything, it is the cadence, the tempo and the rhythm at which they are hurled. The words themselves might be meaningless, however, the fury behind them kills it all.

When hurtful words are hurled at us, it is often the ego that screams for a reaction, a reaction so forceful that it demands a retort, inclusive of the same venom. The ego feels injured more than our real being. The loud egoic voice in our head, constantly demanding answers, vying for attention, preying on negativity – blinds us, prevents us from taking a step back, breathing in some fresh oxygen – OUCH!

And before we know the damage has been done!

Sarcasm, hatred, anger, jealousy, negativity all stem from fear – and the most delicious meal that the executive ego fancies is fear. The ego hunts for little remnants of fear, deeply embedded in our pain bodies, using a bicycle pump inflates it, dresses it up like a role play costume and puts forward a mask that can sometimes be anger or sarcasm or any negative emotion for that matter

As Eckhart Tolle, explains in his latest book, The New Earth we all have pain bodies, simply stated – ego breeding spaces in our minds and bodies. It exists in all of us. The executive ego needs to feed on disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, envy and so much more. Pain body rises from genetic, environmental, emotional and physical baggage, that we tend to store within. The ego feeds on the past, anytime we feel we have been wrongly dealt with, feeds on elements that give it a further boost, leading us to think victimization, think anger, think judgmentally, reach baseless conclusions and the list goes on and on. The relationship between the pain body and the ego is filling each other up to the brim.

An explosive marriage between the ego and pain body plays a huge role in splintering our relationship with ourselves more than anything else. Our inner bonds are bombarded away in a deathlier manner than our external relationships. Every time we retort angrily we lose ourselves more than the outward loss, a bitter remark ignites more within than outside, a sarcastic retaliation annihilates the inner nerves more than outer ones …OUCH

And before we know the damage has been done!

Featured Photograph : Mud Volcano in Hingol National Park, enroute Makran Coastal Highway in the Gwadar/Awaran District , Pakistan

Amrit | امرت

Synonymous with Ambrosia, the Drink of Gods, Amrit has been understood as a substance to be ingested, having qualities of being alive forever. Having a Sanskrit origin, it does anchor its meaning to immortality.

However, Amrit, really is the nectar of consciousness. The very seed that we plant between moments of silence and chaos, the space between the in and out breath, the movement between the switch of one foot to another in a stride, the moments of silence when a glimpse moves into a gaze, the miniscule stillness before day break…

For instance, drawing one’s attention to a largely automatic breathing regime, also slows the breathing down. Its only when we are conscious of the sound of breath, or the movement of the lungs and abdominals is when we focus in the presence of just the moment. It is often said that during moments of external or internal chaos, unsettlement or disagreeability we should try and breathe. And the counter defense often is, but are we not breathing all the time?

 Yes, we are breathing but with little or no presence. And our breath is the easiest of the tools, honing in, dissipating the mind chatter, diluting the external noise – and then targeting our entire being towards the breath, slowing down if need be, closing our eyes if that’s what the situation demands and giving a large enough pause before our reaction is what amrit is! Rarely is the case that attentiveness to our breath, gives any room for the mind to wander…

“Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation” Rumi

I would imagine that Amrit is often thought of as aliveness and a plausible reasoning could be that when we become conscious of the present, we essentially create space, internal landscape widens, external sensorial stimulations are at their lowest, the past weakens its hold on us and the fear of future releases the grip… enabling us to sit down, accept the moment – discarding all internal and external threats so that we can breathe a little better, think with more clarity and take action with purpose . The process surely seems long and tedious, however, with practice, the space between responses does increase – whether the space is between thoughts, words or actions – amrit helps us to make better decisions, leading to emotional satiation, which eventually leads to calm nerves, connectedness and peace!

Featured Photograph: Wazir Khan Mosque –  The iconic mosque, with its faience tile work, incredibly placed in the heart of Lahore, Pakistan

Khamoshi | خاموشی

Last year I was at a gathering where the chatter across the room was reaching unsurmountable heights, primarily in terms of noise. I was straining my ears to try and comprehend at least some part of it, as expected I failed miserably.

When the room did go quiet (some Godsent silence cloak) I managed to whisper “ I think we don’t know how to listen, we listen only to…” and before I could finish my meagre sentence there was an uproar of “I knowwww riggghhttttt.” Instantly I adorned a smile and squirmed back into my social shell (which, by the way I have started carrying with me everywhere now).

Agree that there is much to say, and once said, we are instantly preparing responses to our own verdicts rather than waiting , breathing and just letting things be.

We often say things to receive a response, however the reception of that response is often pre-conceived, in our own fabrications and notions. The actual words never reach our ears, because long before, they have been robbed of their subtle element by the artillery called ‘impatience’ and what really does fall on our ear drum is just a beat that we chose to play.

But then how do we tune into our own broken strings if there is a perpetual hum drum on the outside?

Listening requires effort, because it is a mix of patience, non-judgement and complacency that we don’t have to respond if we don’t have anything substantial to say.  But the human ego only gets massaged when it is heard loud and clear, the need to be heard is always jumping leaps ahead than the patience to hear.

When we fail to listen to others’ patiently, we must realize that we are ignoring our own inner clankings as well. Perhaps our confusions want a solution, or maybe our body is sending a message or perhaps our emotions want an ear. Sometimes the emphatic denial of our inner voice makes our outwardly voice so strong that we are unable to listen to others and us!

Featured Photograph : Kotor, a quaint, picturesque little town in Montenegro

Petrichor

14 February, 2019

Often times I have found myself tongue, thought and expression-tied, simply because I cannot seem to find the right word to put forth a series of thoughts. Recently came across this word ‘petrichor’ which describes a certain smell– the initial fragrance that a dry, parched soil gives off when it meets the first shower of rain.

Growing up in Lahore this experience had its own resonance and depth, especially the monsoon rains, when the dark thick clouds would gather together and then pour unabatedly, and the earth would rise to meet it with the same vigor, letting off a pleasant whiff – a whiff of relief, a whiff of gratitude, a whiff of complacency, a whiff of a tight hug.

Lahore cannot be described in words either – it is an experience! A city that is iconic, embracing, warm, forgiving and possibly one of the most beautiful historic cities in the world. A gentle gait to the city, a lazy hum of the traffic, the smell of burnt sand which warms and cooks rather milky and juicy corn on the cobs, the sight of the star lit midnight sky during load shedding evenings, the freedom of a fast car driving along the stately roads beside the canal, 1992 cricket world cup, dadi key qadmoon kii chaap, Dr. Ahmer and Dr. Zoya’s beautiful romance in Dhoop Kinarey, gas heaters in the dense winters, moong phalli, sar kiye yeh pahaar by Strings, eid kii churiyaan, gannay ka russ (sugar cane juice), bholi kii chaat (a tangy yogurt snack), raat ka sukoon (peaceful nights) and not to forget barsaat kii Khushboo ( the smell of the monsoons)

And at times i resignedly agree that it is better to stay tongue-tied. Surely, the whiff of rain-kissed soil cannot be contained in such a matter-of-fact word! Just like Lahore can never be contained in any prose, poetry, canvas or blog!