Monthly Archives

February 2013

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Help! I’m Sick….Again

February 26, 2013

In the past week alone I’ve come across 3 people who’ve been down with fever. “There’s a virus going around”, “The weather is changing” and numerous other justifications are also floating around. While sometimes our systems can’t help but succumb to the onslaught of germs and disease on our bodies, I still believe that if we’re vigilant and just a bit more carefull, we can avoid falling prey to the seasonal germs. I read up on it and here are a few tips to tide you over the ‘illness’ season.

1. Have hot water + lemon + ginger every morning. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory ur properties. In addition to this, according to Ayurveda ginger creates warmth in the body which aids in fighting disease and keeping your immune system up and running.

2. Don’t add sugar/milk to tea to get the maximum anti-oxidants in the tea. The anti-oxidants that are being chased out of your tea by the milk you’re adding can contribute immensely to keeping you healthy (taking into consideration the amount of tea we drink on a daily basis!). Also, sugar causes inflammation and makes your skin sag prematurely.

3. Purple cabbages has anti-oxidants and help improve circulation. And available right here in our Conoor market!

4. Have turmeric. Eat it in your food or apply to your skin. If there is a wonderspice – this is it.

5. Have cinnamon. Anti-oxidants + anti inflammatory + anti bloating. So add to your tea instead of sugar!

6. If you have a cough – add thyme to your tea. If you want glowing skin – drink green or white tea. If you’re just looking to stay healthy – have green tea. And if you want to fight stress – drink some black tea.

7. Cut down on milk. Besides causing secretion of mucus in your throat and nasal passage it increases insulin production, causes oily skin and thereby pimples. Also, research has shown that it contains 59 active hormones. In addition to this it contains allergens, fat and cholestrol, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses. Also, milk has a lot of calcium but for calcium to be absorbed by our bones we need magnesium. And milk does not contain magnesium. We’ve traditionally been brought up to believe that milk is essential to good health. Read up on this a bit more and then make your decision.

8. Don’t have coffee post noon. Caffeine takes about 5 hours to leave your system and you don’t want it interfering with your sleep.

9. Keep all electronic gadgets out of your bedroom. The waves produced by electronics suppress the production of melatonin in your system and melatonin is responsible for sleep.

10. And lastly – DO YOGA!!!!

A lot of the guidelines might sound extreme, such as not adding sugar and milk to your tea, but once you start to do this mindfully, you will start to appreciate that very little goes a long way in keeping you healthy. Also, a good way to start is to try something for a finite amount of time. So for instance, banish electronic gadgets from your bedroom for 10 days and see if you sleep better. If yes, then continue. Give 10 days to the first 9 points listed above and on the 10th day decide if you want to continue for another 10 days.

The 10th guideline is non-negotiable. You must practice every day. Without fail.

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The Vipassana Meditation Retreat

February 11, 2013

daily schedule A Tibetan lady I met last year in Vienna said to me, “I go to a beauty parlor for my body, but I go to India for my soul.” So, while a trip to the beauty parlor is essential and relaxing, once in a while it is necessary to look within and ensure that things are OK.

I heard about Vipassana mediation many years ago through someone who had attended the course. I vaguely remember her repeatedly saying, “It’s really good, really good. If you get a chance you should do it.” A few months later I met an officer who had done the course. Again, “It’s really good, really good. If you get a chance you should do it.” And then finally one day I got a mail from the meditation center saying my application had been accepted. My fiancé (now husband), was worried because the course would end 4 days before our wedding and he didn’t want me to come out in the mood to renunciate all the worldly pleasures that he had promised to me. I held my ground and drove down to Alur village, near Bangalore. I did get married and almost 2 years later, while the husband was on the IDT, I went back to Alur to undergo the course again.

The Vipassana Meditation Course is a 10-day meditation retreat where you learn the meditation the Buddha practiced. However, it is not a practice limited to Buddhists. It is a practice that works on an individual’s mind and body. It is a process of observation of the sensations in the body and not reacting to any – i.e. practicing equanimity.

At the start of the course students have to take 5 precepts:
(1) not to kill
(2) not to steal
(3) not to commit sexual misconduct
(4) not to speak lies
(5) refrain from intoxicants.

In addition to these there are 3 more precepts for the old students:
(6) abstain from eating after midday
(7) abstain from bodily decorations
(8) abstain from using high or luxurious beds.

Furthermore, students are not allowed to indulge in other meditation techniques, rites or rituals, any form of worship and any physical exercise during the course. Also, students are not allowed to wear/use rosaries, religious objects or talismans. And lastly, all students have to take a vow of silence.

While not speaking, and for that matter, communicating in any way, for 10 days may sound very difficult, I assure you that not eating after midday for 10 days is more difficult. The vow of silence is important for any form of meditation to be successful. Perhaps an outward silence is not as important as the silence within. However, if you’re not quiet on the inside, it will come out through your mouth. I remember how difficult it became to sit for meditation on the 10th day, which is when our vow of silence ended. The daily routine, otherwise, left very little time to talk. After sitting straight for an hour it is essential that you lie down to give your back some relief. Never have I been more grateful for 5 minutes of free time in which I can just lie down and close my eyes. So tiring is the routine that many people would fall asleep in the 10-minute breaks that we had in between our meditation sessions!

The technique of Vipassana requires daily practice. An hour in the morning and one in the evening is the minimum requirement. There are no shortcuts in the technique. With consistent practice it gives amazing results. This is what Kiran Bedi found when she arranged for the Tihar Jail inmates to have a Vipassana Meditation 10-Day Course. I suppose even the powers that be agreed because they awarded the Magasaysay Award to her for her initiative.

Everyone has an issue or other in their lives. Some big, some small. Many of us have gone through emotional trauma that has changed us forever. All around us there are manifestations of inner turmoil (backbiting, cribbing, rudeness, nastiness, jealousy, ill will, foul moods etc.). We aren’t impervious to all the negativity around us, but perhaps we can start by reducing the negativity within us. Vipassana can show us how.