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Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

Addiction in India: The War Goes On!

I am so thankful to Aamir Khan for giving voice to an  important & relevant major cause, which exists in our country but no one is willing to listen. I am an addiction counselor, who came back to my country with huge dreams of  changing the world of addiction treatment here. But am not ashamed today to accept  that I left my struggle because it was full of hurdles.  I am so grateful that today after watching Mr. Khan’s episode of Satyamev Jayate, my candle of hope has started burning again.

I have worked in various addiction treatment setups in India and it is sad but a fact, that most of them are only there to mint money. No one has a clue of what works. Because people are needy they trust them which is then misused. I was a part of this system. It made me question my integrity and disturbed me. I wanted to help but didn’t know how. I realized how much it means to me to find the answers. I traveled to the hub of addiction study, United States of America, and completed my chemical dependency certification and worked there for some time. It helped me understand this dubious disease in a better way.

I came back with huge dreams and hit the reality pretty soon. It was a WAR against the age-old mindset. I gave up but with time I had learnt one important lesson that I am not here to change the nation but to give something back to the society. Even if one person learns something from this blog, I would think that my goal is achieved. I have this powerful tool of my blog today and this post goes for the passion of my life… Addiction. Though in the show the talk was only about alcohol but here we are going to talk about addiction, whether alcohol or any other chemical ( marijuana, cigarette, cocaine etc.). The disease remains the same.

We have a very sorry state of addiction in our country. There are so many prevalent misconceptions & myths that there is no help for it.  I would like to put some light on this topic through an Indian perspective:   

  • Addiction is a disease not a bad habit or moral issue: Why in a party some people can be decent drinkers while a few make a fool of themselves. People actually wait for them to bring entertainment in a lifeless party.

I will give an example to make you understand it in a better way. Two friends decide to go for a drink. Let’s say Mr. X & Mr. Y.

Mr. X suffers from addiction while Mr. Y has no such disease. When they have the drink, Mr. Y may enjoy it but for Mr. X it is a new never  felt  before state. Mr. X is never going to forget about it.

  • Chasing the dragon: Then the chase starts. An addict, every time when goes under influence, it is with the wish of reaching the same state it felt the first time. This never happens only the substance keeps on increasing.
  • Tolerance is not good: How many times have you heard someone boasting that I can hold my drink . The biggest indicator of chemical dependency is increased tolerance of the substance.
  • The different stages of the disease: It’s an ongoing treadmill which ranges from experimentation, use, abuse to dependency on the substance. If you have the disease and you introduce your drug of choice to your body, this is how the disease will progress.
  • Hit the rock bottom:

Tony Robbins once said there are two things that motivate people to make dramatic changes in their lives: inspiration and desperation. In the journey of addiction recovery, there needs to be a kick which can stop us from the journey of  self-destruction.

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Practical Spirituality

One useful thing which I have discovered from my sessions is the concept of ‘ Practical Spirituality’. Now, what on earth does this complicated word mean?

There are two basic kinds of human beings; the saints & the commoner.

The saints are those, who are free from the  boundaries of  greed, materialistic comfort, emotional needs or any temptation. They are the ones we seek to guide us. For them spirituality is a way of life and by looking at them we do get inspired but at the same time anything which they do seem very unapproachable to us. We take it as something which could only be appreciated but not replicated and in a way it is true that leading a saint like life is quite a challenge.

Let’s come to our level, i.e., a common man’s life. This life is full of challenges and comes with its own share of goods and bads. Everyday is a struggle between our angel and devil side. Some days the angel wins over the devil while some days the opposite happens. There is an ongoing war of choices going on inside us, which is mainly between right and wrong. It is always easier to pick up the wrongs because they come in attractive packages and also tempts us with the shortest route to our materialistic gains. But these choices somewhere also start damaging our inside harmony and disconnects us from ourselves.

The saints, we know, leave everything because the worldly glitter is too tempting. They don’t want distractions. Their main and only goal is to find the answers of their existence. They renounce to rediscover.

Our goal is mixed; we want to acquire in this world but also there is a need to understand our entity. There are various needs in us, ranging from materialistic , emotional to self actualization. When this need is not met, we become disturbed and restless. We start seeking answers from places which are incapable to do so. If the awareness of our real need doesn’t dawn on us, we start walking on a destructive path. We start filling our voids with unhealthy habits.

One major question here is:

Is it possible to find a midway which is spiritual but also connects us with this world?

I get this from a lot of people that Spirituality & Worldly are two opposite worlds. There is a strong belief that to find goodness you’ve to leave everything in this world and start living a monk life. I disagree strongly, Divine is inside us…Why are we convinced to find it in the outside world?  Sometimes a sacred bliss could be found in a simple worldly hug you give or receive from a person.

From this thought emerges the concept of ‘Practical Spirituality’. Find your connection to yourself, as worldly possible as it could be. For a common man, it is impossible to leave his responsibilities and obligations and go in search of himself. Even when he tries to lead a life as a good person, he has to consider a lot of pros and cons on an every day basis. Then why does he need to leave everything to be spiritual? Why can’t he find his road of spirituality embedded in his everyday life only?

Spirituality is a very simple concept ( No, it is not a typo).

It is trying to find an answer to your very existence, who are you & what is the purpose of your being in this world? We are all born with innate goodness and there is a lifelong magnetic attraction towards this divine part of us.   

For some, it takes ages to figure it out while for others it is there without even asking. It becomes more complicated when you start looking for it as a thing found rarely . This world is full of spiritual experiences, it is just that we tend to ignore it because we can’t believe that something so talked about could be found or experienced so easily.

Let’s talk about how can we be a part of this world and at the same time be as spiritual as possible:

  • The first step is to try to be a good human being, whether religious or not is another thing. Religion could be an excellent way of finding spirituality but not the only way.
  • Try not to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is very difficult to be at peace when you know you’ve disturbed someone else.
  • Sometimes just shut your mind & listen to your heart! This will connect you more to yourself than any other spiritual talk.
  • Have faith in a higher power.
  • Choose happiness & positives.
  • Stay away from being judgmental. Always try to be open-minded.
  • Live in the moment.

“There is a bridge to the sky within your soul and a doorway to healing and peace within your heart.

If we look inside and embrace our true essence we bless the source of life.”

– Micheal Teal

What if…If only?

What is the main thing which comes between us and our happiness? What is it, which stops us from living our life to its fullest?

A simple imaginative ever going comparison of  What if…If only?

Human Beings have this imaginative perfect world in which everything is great ( that is why it is perfect…Duh!). Now, in the real world, they tend to compare everything & everybody with their imaginative perfect world. Nothing real, obviously, couldn’t reach anywhere close to their perfect world counterpart and even if it does, the rating scale again goes higher.

This is true for all of us. How many of us can deny that they don’t have their perfect world in which everything is according to them, no one is there to stop them. We could have a villa full of servants, a beautiful partner without any conditions or could be the ruler of this whole world.  We also have perfect situations in which we win all the arguments and every time we open our mouth something witty or sharp comes out of it. No one can make a fool of us or disrespect us.         

Even though we very well know that its a fake world but in our real world, there is always an unconscious comparison going on. For everything, our mind whispers, what if….if only? This stops us from accepting the reality or being grateful for what we have but actually makes us unhappy, complaining and a cribber.

There is a very thin line between, when we dream of something and it is achievable and we aim for it and those situations which are beyond us. In these situations if we bring out what if…if only, it is only going to flood our lives with regret.  A very good way of judging whether you are crossing the boundary is checking with The Serenity Prayer. It’s the best tool to be as worldly spiritual as possible.

It’s simple, if you want to be happy and contented, stop looking for it. When you look for something, you always have set parameters, let go of your criteria.

You’ll find that happiness is right there, where you are!

“Happiness is making a bouquet of those flowers within reach.” – Unknown

Shut your Mind, Listen to your Heart!

“I want to go to McDonald’s and think that it’s a four-star restaurant.

I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.

I want to think M&M’s are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to lie under a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer’s day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care.

All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible.

I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.”- Unknown

Have you really observed a child, he is blessed with the power of innocence and love. He does what he feels like regardless of whether he is making the right moves or not. He is governed by his Heart. I agree that you’ve to grow up and learn the way of the world, but in this learning we are also learning to be shrewd, opportunist and gaining baggage of stress?

Our adult life has become a chess board, where we are always playing against something or someone. There is always a race going on in which we’ve to be on top, in return even if it means stepping over someone else’s territory, we don’t mind. The world has taught us to think, see our gain in a situation and move forward to achieve.

Sadly, in all of this we lose our innate nature of trust, acceptance, unconditional love and the beautiful gift of innocence! We become slaves of our reasoning and mind. We all have the gift of having an inner voice. The voice which guides us, shows us the path of righteousness. We keep muffling that voice everyday, till we become accustomed to living without even realizing it is there.

We have become a human machine, happiness is there but with a condition. We become happy but it is so short-lived because it is always dependent on an outer reason, it seldom comes from within.

When we are born we are not bound with chains. We are like a free bird, which knows how to fly high and be itself but as we grow social conditioning starts tying us in chains. We have to be logical and find reasons in everything. This limits us to experience the whole realm of the beauty of life, as anything which goes beyond our explanation, is trashed by our mind. We also devoid ourselves from a range of emotions because that doesn’t go with our image of a reasonable adult.

When was the last time you heard your heart’s voice?

I know we have priorities and our duties, I am not saying leave all of it . What I am trying to convey here is learning to respond to these situations with the help of the voice which lies within you. I know it is difficult to rely on a voice for an important decision, so why not start with small matters and test the results. Go for a combination of both, strike the right balance!

The world is running after spirituality. What is it? It is not a huge complex phenomenon but a simple connection to oneself. If you want to minimize the inner turbulence, start depending on your inner strength. If something doesn’t make sense to you or you are not comfortable with a decision, pause and reflect and choose the path shown by your heart.

Your brain could let you down but your heart would never! When you’ll start living in harmony with yourself, you’ll see how it will spread around you…It is a ripple effect.


Partial Acceptance

If you’ve read my posts, you would know I am a firm believer in the first step of acceptance.

For any change in us, we need to ACCEPT that there is a need for change.      

For any growth in us, we need to ACCEPT that there is a need for growth.

For any desire in us, we need to ACCEPT the need for it.

Even for being at the same place, we need to ACCEPT that we are happy with our present state.

So, acceptance is the key but what is acceptance?

You’ll say when you realize and give your approval to a particular situation or thing. And it is so right, when we start gaining  insight of a situation. It starts from becoming uncomfortable with a certain thing/ situation, realizing that something is not right and some work need to be done.

Analyze the situation, understand the issue and then accept that we need to change!

A mother having problems with managing her child with a disorder, won’t be able to do the needful until she accepts that her child needs help. A marital problem can’t be sorted until the people involved accept that there is a problem in their relationship. You’ll only be happy if you accept your original self with your challenges and strengths.

As an individual, when do you feel complete and secure. When you accept yourself as you are without any ifs and buts but is it so simple to achieve?

We struggle with the acceptance with our excuses and reasoning. We accept our challenges but not fully and consequently our work with  them is also partial. We like to go for partial acceptance because it allows us to live in a fake world without dealing with our inner conflict. This also makes us look for recognition from others, makes us lose confidence in ourselves. We stop the process of growth because we start living in the denial of there is no room for improvement.

Think about it, when was the last time you accepted something without any buts. If you are honest to yourself, you’re going to have a problem in recollecting it. May be you were fully accepting but that lasted for some time and if the time length was long the acceptance was not 100%. The moment you start having problems with acceptance, your growth goes through a downfall. You start putting your reasoning and stop the process.

So, what is the way of working on acceptance?

Be honest to yourself and embrace yourself the way you are. There is no place for bargaining. The moment you’ll surrender you will see the possibilities. You enable yourself by giving the strength of acceptance and working on your limitations.

For eg., Tina needs to work on her empathy. She realized that  a lot of time she is insensitive to people’s emotions. In the beginning she had issues in accepting her insensitiveness. Whenever she tried, her brain told her yes you did cross the line but what about certain situations where you were not so bad. This struggle went on for a while, until she realized she really need to do something about her situation, otherwise would end up as a loner. She understood her need to surrender to her insensitiveness, which in turn will help her accept it and work on it.

Until you live in denial you are snatching opportunities from yourself for growth. You’ll keep on fighting acceptance of your challenges and would fail in leading a contended life leading to restlessness and confusion. You’ll try to find the answers without any success.

Do remember acceptance is a process and need to be worked on everyday basis. If you are ready for being a better individual come out of your partial acceptance mirage and then you’ll see there is no limit for growth!

“Self-acceptance comes from meeting life’s challenges vigorously. Don’t numb yourself to your trials and difficulties, nor build mental walls to exclude pain from your life. You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory.” – J. Donald Walters

Relationship : What makes it work?

Relationship: is an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring. This is a definition I got from the internet which actually describes the crux of relationships, but as an individual surrounded by it, we know it is not this simple.

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships. “- Anthony Robbins.

In other words, our relationships make us, who we really are! I have read somewhere this amazing comparison; Just as ants make anthills, human beings makes relationships.

All of us crave to make the most of each and every relationship in our life; be it a friend, coworker, family or a loved one. We try and try, most of the time oblivious to what exactly we are working on?      

We work really hard on different relationships and our roles in them. We try to be or get the best possible outcome from these relationships. It is what makes our support system, gives us strength to deal with life issues and be sane. But, have we ever wondered what is the source of having what we call as ‘Ideal Relationship’ ?

As I have already shared, It begins with You!

For the success of any relationship, we need to begin from within. Have you ever even considered a possibility of a relationship with yourself?

Working on our inner turbulence, the miscommunications and disparity of thoughts within ourselves. Have you ever heard more than one voice coming from inside you and sometimes it has reached to a level of chaos? Is there a problem cropping up in your relationships, which reappears even after great effort from your behalf? Are your relationships making you emotionally exhausted and you find yourself craving for space?

If these questions make you stop & think, then it is the time to reflect on your relationship with yourself.

Is this even makes sense because if we go by the definition, it clearly states that a relationship is only possible when more than one person is involved. But, let’s look at where is all this originating from? Isn’t it from a relationship we have so far conveniently ignored?

The way we treat ourselves, if someone else treats us even 1/10oth of that, we would kill that person! We have never given ourselves equal rights, let alone the privilege of a relationship. Imagine someone you won’t even give a second glance, you actually place yourself in the same category.

You are seeking answers in this world but the truth is, it lies within yourself. You’ll listen to anyone and everyone but would certainly make your inner voice shut.

Let’s get back to the Serenity Prayer, the only thing which we can change in this world is ourselves but sadly we spend most of our lives changing others. We keep on doing so ignoring the need to work on the relationship which could yield results.

Break the dynamics of any relationships ( as also shown in the picture) and you would find that the things which need to be worked on to achieve optimal relationship status is a quality you either need to change or inculcate.

Let’s give it a try. Start building relationship with oneself. Take some time out…Say hello to yourself. Let the journey begin!

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with. “-  Wayne W. Dyer

We and our Addictions

Whenever we use the word addiction, it is generally associated with a substance. The picture which comes to our mind is of someone in a secluded place, in a grave kind of state, leading a sorry life.    

But, the addiction I am going to talk about today is something closer to home. I am going to talk about the thing or behavior which is beyond our control, which we understand we need to get rid of but somehow aren’t able to bring ourselves to do it. It can be our addiction to junk food, getting involved with the wrong kind of guy, not able to manage time effectively and so on.

Before going on, think of a behavior or thing which you are making constant resolutions to change or give up but it is not happening.

I’ll take the  example of  ‘loosing your cool on a loved one ‘, even when we know we shouldn’t do it as it hurts us too, we are not able to control ourselves. We have done our share of talking to ourselves, made a pact that the next time if a situation like this is going to rise, we won’t repeat what we did the last time…. But the same or worse happens when the real situation comes. It feels it is beyond our control, something which is not in our hands.

The reason for the need for change in behavior or thing usually is a consequence or a negative outcome we are facing due to it. We face the results, make promises to ourselves on not going on the same path again but everything falls flat on our face as soon as we are in front of our problem behavior or thing.

Now, picture a person, you call an addict. Is there a difference between him and us? You’ll say certainly, for being an addict there need to be a substance.

You are right but what about the behavior difference?

  • An addict has no control over the substance, the same is the situation with us, as far as, the behavior we need to work on is concerned.
  • An addict is not able to do anything about his addiction even after consequences and same goes for us.
  • An addict operates on immediate gratification and we are not far behind. We indulge in the behavior because it is something which is giving us immediate relief though it may hurt in the long run.
  • As an addict we are also developing a tolerance for that behavior or thing. The intensity keeps on getting worse.

It is perfectly fine to be a little doubtful about your addiction after this. Don’t worry this is not a post to make you feel bad about yourself but the aim is to challenge ourselves, to work on us and grow as an individual.

Even if we accept that we are powerless over a certain behavior or thing, what is the next step. I’ll say, something very similar to the treatment of chemical dependency. You should not mess with this certain behavior.

I have seen, in the course of my practice, it’s a vicious cycle. Until and unless you are not in it you are fine but the moment you indulge in the behavior/thing, you lose all control. You become an audience and witness yourself repeating the behavior/thing again and again. Enable yourself by not experimenting with this certain problem.

Going back to our example, of losing your cool on a loved one. If you feel a situation which could make you upset is rising, walk away. Don’t think that let me convey this message in a decent way and leave. Because chances are you’ll start on the vicious cycle, and won’t be able to make your point and leave but end up losing your temper again.

I believe God has made us the master of certain things but at the same time we have our challenges. This is the difference between a common man and a saint. We just need to accept the things which are beyond us and leave it to those who could handle it.

Deal with your addiction and stay sober…Renew your Spirit!

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