keep pushing through

There’s a popular adage by Robert H. Schuller that we all have come across: “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” There’s great truth behind it.

No matter what you’re experiencing, keep pushing through.

If you feel deserted and lonely and those you’ve counted on most have gone away from your life, keep pushing through

If you feel abandoned by other people or by the Higher Power, keep pushing through.

If it feels as if that indescribable magic has dissipated from your life, and you’re being treated like a second-class citizen, keep pushing through.

If you feel your journey has stalled and you’ve been left sitting on the curb, keep pushing through.

If you are feeling angry, frustrated and confused about your current circumstances or how things have gone in the past, keep pushing through.

If you’re constantly feeling guilt, shame, regret or despair, keep pushing through.

If you have not gotten back in sync with clarity and you don’t know where you are and you feel you no longer have a destination to go to, keep pushing through.

Things will change, this too shall pass. The magic will come back, and you will again experience joy, clarity and happiness. You’ll again feel connected and aligned — to your best self, to the Higher Power, to nature, to the Universe and to this life that you’ve been gifted with. But first, no matter where you are right now, the most important thing that you can do for yourself is to keep pushing through. And the sun will shine upon you again, and all the good that you desire will come to you.

As Dale Carnegie has remarked, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

focus on doing your best

When Gretchen Rubin, the author of the New York Times bestselling books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home and host of the award-winning podcast Happier, was asked in a recent interview how she maintains her inner calm with something so exhausting and unpredictable like a book launch, she replied, “I think about actions, not outcomes. That way, I stay focused on the things I can control (more or less). So I don’t think about ‘making the book a success,’ but ‘writing the best book I possibly can.’ “

This mindset aligns beautifully with the notion of Karma Yoga, wherein the goal is to detach our ego from the results and just focus on doing actions. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna instructs Arjun, “Desire for the fruits of your work must never be your motive in working… Renounce attachment to the fruits.” He further adds, “Work done with anxiety about the results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety in the calm of self-surrender… They who work selfishly for results are miserable.”

When we operate with results in our mind, we operate in a selfish manner and look at success as a ‘prize’. We distance ourselves from our humanness and goodness. In addition, we get stuck in the negative loop of ‘comparison and competition’ that deteriorates us and our well-being. As a result, we constantly feel anxious and overwhelmed as we pursue our desired outcomes and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to perform.

When we focus on our actions, it becomes less about winning or losing. Instead, it becomes more about gaining mastery and getting better day by day. We become more experience-focused, instead of being driven by rewards. As we let go of distractions and disturbances and the tension whether we are going to get our desired result or not, we focus on conquering ourselves and doing our best bit for the day.

The truth is that results are never in our control, what we can control are our actions and our attitude. A great reminder to keep us grounded in our daily life is this quote by T.S. Eliot: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” When we don’t have the challenge of getting results dangling above us, we bring the locus of control in ourselves. We simply focus on doing right, aligned actions and living an intentional and meaningful life. Things may or may not turn out the way we wanted them to be, but we are happy that we gave our very best and dedicated ourselves to the process.

When we simply focus on doing the best we possibly can in all the things that we do, we experience an unparalleled clarity and tranquility. And this is what inspires us to keep moving forward, regardless of the fact that the outcomes are in our favor or not.

the power of an open heart

As we embark on the journey of opening our heart and growing ourselves emotionally, it also leads us to opening our minds and expanding our consciousness. We attain increased clarity of mind and thought.

As we clear the channel to the heart by immersing ourselves in our emotions and expressing them while letting go of the old ones, we end up clearing the boulevard to the mind as well.

We are all aware of the mind-body connection, but there’s also a mind-heart connection that we need to pay attention to. Like a sore body or being sleep deprived can cause hazy thinking patterns, in a similar way, a clogged and aching heart can cause dysfunction in the mind as well.

Trying to think clearly with a blocked heart is a futile attempt and it’s both difficult and annoying. Instead of treading on this frustrating path, it’s best to relax and open our heart. And soon by virtue of the mind-heart connection, our thinking will become clear again.

In a nutshell, whenever you feel cloudy and confused, experience a tug of war within, and wrestle to get the answers that you are seeking for, let go of the struggle and stop trying so hard. Move your body and release the knots of physical energy. And then, open your heart and get in touch with your feelings. Soon, the fog will start to disappear.

Without putting too much effort or any force, your thinking will become clear again. And you’ll experience zero frustration and suffering in this process. That’s the power of an open heart, things will get better effortlessly and naturally, almost like magic.

the goodness of yoga

This essay is an excerpt from The Way of The Karma Yogi , my new book.

Yoga, now widely practiced all around the world, is not a religion but a way of living that promotes a balanced development of the body, mind and spirit. Unlike other physical exercises that focus primarily on physical well-being, yoga takes a comprehensive approach and helps in our spiritual development as well.

The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ which means to connect, join or balance. Yoga is generally defined as union: union between the limited self and the Divine Self. The ultimate goal of yoga is to help us realize our identity with the Divine Self and attain enlightenment. It makes us aware of our intrinsic nature and helps us get in tune with it. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches us: “A person is said to have achieved yoga, the union with the Self, when the perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires, and becomes absorbed in the Self alone.” Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev calls yoga “an expression of life.” He points out, “Yoga essentially means finding the keys to the nature of the existence.”

Many people think of Yoga as stretching, holding the breath and doing a set of difficult pretzel-like poses, but it is far beyond that. Yoga is a practice that elevates the life force within. It helps us feel energized and rejuvenated and bestows upon us the power to have better control over our body and our mind.

Yoga helps us attain personal expansion through a series of comprehensive physical and mental exercises comprising of various body postures or ‘asanas’, breathing exercises or ‘pranayama’ and meditation or ‘dhyana’.These exercises help recharge our body, mind and soul and offer us the following benefits:

  1. Increased strength and flexibility
  2. Comprehensive fitness
  3. Inner peace and tranquility
  4. Weight loss
  5. Improved respiration
  6. Increased energy and vitality
  7. Better posture
  8. Improved sexuality
  9. Better sleep
  10. Increased Immunity
  11. Better cardiovascular endurance
  12. Increased metabolism
  13. Enhanced blood circulation
  14. Increased self-awareness
  15. Improved focus and concentration
  16. Enhanced mental clarity
  17. Improved memory
  18. Better mood

Along with the above-mentioned benefits, Yoga also assists in reducing stress and tension in the body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps in removing any negative blocks from the mind and getting rid of toxins that accumulate in the body. As a direct result of these benefits, Yoga keeps us away from premature aging as well.

In September 2014, while addressing the 69th session of UN General Assembly, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi urged the world community to celebrate today, i.e. June 21, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, as International Yoga Day. In his address, he stated: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

days of the week

We only have seven days a week:

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

As you can see, none of them are ‘some day’ or ‘one day’. They’re just a fragment of our imagination, an indicator of a life not fully lived.

We’ve got to make the best of what we have. So, pick a day and just get going. No delays, no excuses.

who do you want to be?

In Hindu mythology, Arjun was considered one of the best archers and warriors in his era. He was certainly the most influential of all the Pandavas. His exceptional battle skills along with his sharp thinking made him unstoppable.

There’s a story from his childhood where Dronacharya, who was responsible for teaching both the Kauravas and Pandavas the skills of warfare, decided to put all of his disciples through a simple test.

He got all his students together and asked them to strike the eye of the wooden bird with an arrow. But before letting them take their chance, Dronarcharya asked each one of them a question.

He first called Yudhishthir, the eldest of the brothers and asked him, “What do you see there?” Yudhishthir replied, “I see a wooden bird, the branch and the tree, the leaves moving and other birds.” It was not the answer Dronacharya was looking for.

The other students who followed gave a similar response:  bird, leaves, branch, tree, and other elements, and Dronacharya, unsatisfied with their answer, asked them to put away their bow and arrow. When Arjun came forward, with an air of confidence, he said, “I can only see the eye of the bird.”

Dronacharya smiled because he was right. All other students had set their eyes on everything around the bird, but Arjun was the exception — he only set his eyes on the goal, the eye of the bird, and nothing else.

This is a key lesson both in archery and in life. Unless an archer aims for the target, he or she is unlikely to hit it. In this day and age, we need to be like Arjun and simply focus on our goal, not letting the distractions and noise bother us. With so many irrelevant things vying for our attention on a day-to-day basis, we need to train ourselves to step away from the chaos and concentrate on things that matter the most to us.

It’s important that we spend some time — real and uninterrupted — to figure out our personal pursuits. What’s most important to us? What brings us profound joy and satisfaction? What are our top priorities? And then, we need to ignore everything else, set our eyes on the goal, and work towards accomplishing that.

you are a gift

Unfortunately for some of us, our parents never communicated to us the notion that we were gifts to them and this world as we grew up. The specific reasons would have been different, but the common experience that we went through was that they were not there for us the way we wanted them to be. They had their own issues and problems to deal with and maybe that’s why they were not able to accept, embrace, appreciate and celebrate us for the gifts that we are.

As a result, most of us end up developing a deep subconscious belief that we are a burden to the people around us and to the world. This toxic belief can have a negative impact on our relationships with others as well as our living experience. Instead of enjoying and capitalizing on our uniqueness, we start hiding in the shadows, afraid to reveal our true selves. We start impairing our relationship with the Higher Power, and blame ourselves and our flaws for not living a life of exuberance and magnificence.

If you’re someone who has that belief, then it’s wise to let it go.

We are not a burden to anyone. We never were, and we never will be. It’s time to decimate this corrupt mentality and fix this bug inside our brain’s operating system.

You are a gift to yourself, the people around you and the Universe. And if anything or anyone makes you feel a different way, don’t listen to them because they are wrong.

You are meant to be here and it’s your birthright to express your uniqueness, have an amazing life and attract people, circumstances and experiences that soothe, uplift and elevate you.

Enjoy and celebrate yourself because you are special and unique. And believe that you are a gift — to your friends, to your family, to humanity, to the cosmos and most importantly to yourself.

forging your character

The world that we are living in today is full of traps. There are forces lurking around that want to tempt you, seduce you, change you, and distance you away from your time, money and attention. But a powerful antidote to all these degrading elements in the society is a solid character. It’s a bulletproof shield around us that protects us and keeps us safe.

The more we question the invisible dogmas and scripts that we have been given and the more we pit them against the education that we gain in order to test them out, the more clarity we’ll attain and the better we’ll be able to guide and navigate ourselves through the evil mazes and labyrinths of this life and stave off any dark forces. We’ll have our own beliefs and convictions that will help us avoid negative people, toxic relationships, soul-crushing jobs, shrewd marketing gimmicks and any other dangers that usually afflict the uninitiated.

This is one of the primary reasons why self-education is so important and why we can end up paying heavy prices if we ignore it and don’t work on ourselves.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

It’s important to have thoughts and convictions that belong to us and not anyone else. Not only will they keep us aligned but they’ll also serve as our beacons to stay on the right path — the path that resonates with the character that we are forging for ourselves.

true success is abstract, not material

How do you define success for yourself?

This is a key question that we all need to answer at some point in our lives. And the sooner we do this, the better it is for us.

Most of us get trapped by social conditioning and start believing that success is all about having great wealth, supercool cars, a loving family, taking vacations at gorgeous locations, and wearing pricey clothes and accessories. These are all wonderful things to have, don’t get me wrong, but an important truth that a majority of us don’t know is that success transcends material possessions and desires. In other words, success always trumps stuff.

Success is not about what you have or how much you have. Success is about how you feel. Success is satisfaction. Success is balance. Success is abstract and it can’t be confined by the material possessions that we have with us.

You may be the richest person in your country or even the world, but if you don’t feel satisfied in your mind, if your pursuits don’t bring you joy, if your life is out of balance, if you feel insecure, if peace of mind seems a far away destination, and if you hardly get to experience the tranquility within, then you’re not successful by any means.

True success is a feeling, not something that’s tangible. And that’s where most of us go wrong. Measure your success by your own standards, not by others’. You are the only one responsible for the way you define your success, and you have to hold yourself accountable every single day. In this material world, success is deemed as something extrinsic, but true success is always intrinsic. The external manifestation of material objects and possessions is just a byproduct of it.

As Gaur Gopal Das writes in his book Life’s Amazing Secrets, “We tend to take everyone at face value, equating what they have on the outside to how they feel on the inside. The paradox of our times is that those who have the most can often be the least satisfied. We have mastered how to look successful, but not how to organize our lives so that we feel successful.”

less wants, more freedom

We can’t deny the truth that when we curb our desires and limit our wants, we not only free up our precious resources — our time, attention and energy — but we also gain more freedom.

In today’s world, we are all slaves to our wants, which are further fueled by countless temptations, advertisements and the seductive forces of commercialism that prevail in society today. We mistake our desires and the items in our wish lists as our needs, and keep working relentlessly to fulfill them even if it involves giving away our precious resources and our freedom.

It’s akin to slavery in ancient times, however, the tyranny that we subject ourselves to in the modern world today is actually self-inflicted. Just think how drastically things would change if you let go of your unnecessary wants and keep a check on your desires. You would be able to let go of that hectic job and that controlling boss and find a better work environment. You would be able to move out of the city you’re in right now and spend time at a place that you have always wanted to be in. You’ll be immune to current trends and fads and let go of the cycle of compulsive buying. You’ll be less affected by the critics that lurk in our society and spend more time doing things that you truly love. Right now, you may not be able to do these things because certain people have power over you and this power only exists because of your wants. Hence, the best way to change the current scenario is to cut off your wants; once you do that, the chains are off and you’re free.

As Socrates said, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

One thing that we can remember is having more wants means we need more money in order to fulfill them, and wanting more money basically makes us a servant to the people who have it.

Serve others with a meaningful purpose and a noble cause. A good thing that comes out of this approach is that we retain our personal power and protect our freedom. But when we serve others so that we are able to extract money out of them in order to fulfill our wants, we end up losing our power.

Choose the way of less because only that leads us to true freedom.