Thursday, 4 September 2014


If you can read this, thank a Teacher.
Today, 5 September, India celebrates 'Teacher's Day.'  Students all over the country honour their teachers, felicitate them, and use this opportunity to express their love and gratitude. 

It got me thinking about...well, who is a teacher?

We've got accustomed to tagging the label of Teacher onto someone who comes into a classroom setting and instructs students in academic subjects. A true definition of teacher is anyone who has touched our lives and inspired us to improve on what we were. 

There is no age consideration here. My children have been among my best teachers, guiding me in new technological advancements, cheering me in all my endeavours, and showing me the path to joyful living.

Even our experiences, both good and challenging ones, are teachers that shine a light on what we need to learn, making us stronger mentally and spiritually. People who are difficult to deal with, teach us tolerance and patience, as well as creative ways of handling them.

Books are wonderful teachers, throwing open whole new worlds for us to explore, taking us to places we have wanted to go to but never did. The internet has worked its way into this list too!

Very apt indeed are these words I read somewhere: Everyone is my teacher...some I seek...some I subconsciously attract...often I learn simply by observing others...some may be completely unaware that I'm learning from them...yet I bow deeply in gratitude.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Eating Off A Banana Leaf With Your Fingers

In the south of India, meals were traditionally eaten on banana leaves, while sitting cross-legged on the floor. Even today, this is how meals are served at weddings and other celebrations.

It is believed that this practice has several benefits. Ayurveda gives a great deal of importance to banana leaves, and uses it in many of their treatments. When hot rice is placed on the leaf, it absorbs the chlorophyll from the leaf. Sitting cross-legged on the floor while eating helps in digestion, and ensures that one doesn't eat too much.

Here is an extract from .com/culturebuy

Ever wondered why people eat with their hands in Kerala. Eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit. That is the Vedic wisdom behind Kerala's famous Banana Leaf Experience whose pleasure can only be appreciated fully, it is said, if one eats with hands and not fork and spoon.

Our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements. The Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. The thumb is agni (fire) -- you might have seen children sucking their thumb, this is nature's way of aiding the digestion at an age when they are unable to chew; the forefinger is vayu (air), the middle finger is akash (ether -- the tiny intercellular spaces in the human body), the ring finger is prithvi (earth) and the little finger is jal (water).

Monday, 25 August 2014

Meditation Or Tango Dancing

Do you sit in meditation each day? If not, then try dancing the tango. According to this report, scientists have found that tango dancing leads to a calm disposition, reducing anxiety and stress.

Here is an extract from the report:
For years, cultures around the world have been using meditation to calm the brain and enter states that are not only psychologically beneficial, but also physically beneficial.
As scientists learn more about our brains and how they operate, it has become apparent that Tango dancing, of all activities, can lead to the same mental states experienced by people who meditate on a regular basis. Additionally, the more skilled the Tango dancer, the more likely they are to enter this state at deeper levels.
One experiment, presented by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, looked at whether Argentine tango is as effective as mindfulness meditation in reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mindfulness meditation refers to meditation wherein one is consciously aware that one is meditating, as opposed to the various types of meditation that involve entering a trance or a sleep-like sleep-like state.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Heaven & Hell...

A belligerent samurai challenged a Zen Master to explain the concept of 'Heaven & Hell.'  But the monk scornfully replied, "You are nothing but a fool. I cannot waste my time with those like you."

The samurai was very offended. His honour was at stake. He flew into a rage, and pulling out his sword, shouted, "I will kill you for this impertinence."

The monk remained calm and undisturbed, and he replied, "That is Hell."

The samurai was surprised at this response, and he saw the truth in what the Master was pointing out to him regarding the fury that had him in its grip. He quietened down. Putting away his sword, he bowed deeply, and thanked the monk for this insight.

"That," said the Master, "is Heaven."

Heaven and Hell are not places that we will go to when we die. They do not exist out there somewhere, as we have been taught. Heaven and Hell are states of mind, and therefore they exist right inside us. 

When we are grateful, loving, kind and happy, we experience heaven on earth. When we complain, criticize, judge and hurt others, we suffer the agonies of hell.

Faith in ourselves and in our world, a healthy self-confidence, good fitness and health, and helping others, puts us in a heavenly place. Fear, worry, anxiety and a selfish attitude lead to hellish conditions in our minds and thoughts. 

The choice is ours. We create our own heaven and hell right here in this life.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Living Life Your Way

A great story to drive home the tendency we all have, in varying degrees, to judge our fellow humans. The following picture and article are taken from this link. 

Go to the link to read the comments of others, some of which are wonderful new perspectives of viewing the issue.

A Reddit user going by the handle "european_douchebag" posted a surreptitious photo of a Sikh woman with the caption "i'm not sure what to conclude from this." The user's apparent confusion stems from the fact that the woman—bound by her religion not to cut her hair or alter her body—has an abundance of dark, untrimmed facial hair. The mind of european_douchebag was SO INCREDIBLY BLOWN by the fact that women have hair on their bodies—and, yes, faces—and that some women are bold, self-assured, and pious enough not to cave to western beauty standards (and gender expectations), there was nothing for him to do but post her photo online and wait for the abuse to flood in.
But then something totally lovely and unexpected happened. The woman in the photo responded:
Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn't know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled :) However, I'm not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it's who I am. Yes, I'm a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body - it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn't reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying 'mine, mine' and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn't important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. :-) So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I've gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. :) I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.
And then, THEN, something even more miraculous happened—the original poster apologized:
I know that this post ISN'T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you're making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.
/r/Funny wasn't the proper place to post this. Maybe /r/racism or /r/douchebagsofreddit or /r/intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn't be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit's been in the news alot lately about a lot of cool things we've done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I'm sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn't 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It's fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.
I've read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I'm sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I'm sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I'm sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet's faith in what she believes is astounding.