Emotional Reserve

I think we all have this thing called Emotional Reserve. The capacity to respond emotionally to a situation or to a person. I think it comes with an upper limit and a lower limit as well. In addition to that we also have 2 kinds of emotional reserve. One positive and one negative.

As we go about our lives, we build up and stock this emotional energy. We use positive to balance out the negative. The way to deal with negative emotional reserve is to find a way to let that out. We do it many ways – physical, mental etc. The ways we let the emotional charge could be – writing, talking to friends or family, just yelling it out in a shower, working on something or even sex. Unlike negative reserve which needs to be drained now and then, we need to do the exact opposite of it with positive reserve. Do some conscious acts – to build it. Follow a routine, play with a baby, be generous with words, acts – meditation and sitting in nature, being in the present.

The positive reserve can be used to balance out the negative reserve but it doesn’t work always. Otherwise we wouldn’t need anyone else in this world. This world exists as an exchange medium of these energies. At the end of day we are left with what we did with these both reserves.

All this sounds very, very obvious. Yep. This whole blog post is my way of letting go of some of my negative emotional energy.

Coincidence – when Universe whispers

I would probably sound very cooky in this post, but it’s ok. I still want to talk about it.

There are moments when I think I feel very connected to – I don’t know how to describe it but let’s call it nature. Like nature in a sense – the omni-presence that is all around us, whether it’s natural or man-made. It was one of those days. I was reading – The World is Sound and was thinking about how I have always felt this connection to the Universe though sound. I am not a musician but I have this ear for anything that is beautiful and awe inspiring. Anyhow, I felt connected and then I was driving to see a friend and turned on NPR. There was a talk going on, I tuned in half way through. The speaker was just amazing. Funny and really deep thinking guy. A guy who rolled with punches in his life but still can make others laugh. I was dying to know who that is – but the program keep continuing without interrupting or telling who that is. I could tell the person who was interviewing is Ira Glass Adam Savage, but have never heard of the guy being interviewed. I was getting extremely excited because whatever this guy was saying was something I feel deep down. I felt instantly connected.

After like 30 mins of driving and reaching my destination I was still in car sitting and waiting to find out who that is. It was City Arts & Lectures episode and the guest was Marc Maron. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about him. After googling him and reading up I came to know that his date of birth is same as mine!! I mean I know it’s stupid to see coincidence and I am just joining the dots like a child but what are the chances? I was shocked – because whenever I listened to a stand up comedian I would laugh and forget about them but this guy made me feel very connected to the stuff he was talking about – about life, money and how he does things he does. It completely synced with me and moved me.

It felt like I was connected to something higher than me before and it responded back to me with this amazing experience. It was just mind blowing. Coincidences abound my life, regularly but this one was big and meaningful.

Nostalgic Water Pot

Today has been a weird day. I am exhausted physically and mentally. When I do, I think what happens is I tend to get Nostalgic and long for some spiritual connection. I don’t know what it is but I can only sense a longing. It’s not physical or mental but just a little flickering presence of spiritual longing. I catch myself humming bhajans which I have long forgotten and I keep wondering about the path I am on.

Our lives are defined by destinations we seek. At least at this worldly level. The spiritual world is however is defined by moments. A moment of awakening and a moment of just pure witnessing. I don’t know what it is – I can’t put my finger on it and say this is it. If I do that I will bring it to this physical realm and it loses it’s meaning. But I feel like these are moment defined by images and music. That’s the best I can do.

Last time I was visiting India, visiting my grand parents in a remote village – I came across a woman who was heating up a pot of water. It was twilight. People are back from fields and they are done with their chores, worries and anything related to physical world. That single mud pot, boiling water under a fire created with twigs etc – was etched in my memory. It was my window to the other realm. At that moment, I stopped and took all of it in. The image of what I was seeing was trivial, but what it represented to me at some deeper level was profound. I can’t express it – but when I think of that water pot, it reminds me of something big. Something beyond me. I just had a glimpse but it felt like eternity. I captured it and am carrying it with me. That moment.

This feeling of longing also reminds me of a particular song. Here it is. When I listen to it, it completely takes me over and makes me forget everything around me. It plucks the nostalgic strings that not know of.

It is indeed a rendition of a beautiful bhajan. A bhajan that captures how Radha used to feel when she used to miss Krishna. Again those things are labels, names, ephemeral – the essence of it is – longing. Which is exactly what I am feeling.

This is me

Watching this moved me a lot. This was me growing up. This was me in every social situation that I came across. This is still me. I vigorously cut those cutouts and work very hard to fit myself in. It never worked perfectly and I ended up carrying so many of them with me. This is me. This made me both sad and happy.

The Astronomer in Me

When I was a kid, I don’t know when exactly but I wanted to become an Astronomer. I used to tell people and the inner me that when I grow up I will be an Astronomer. It made me immensely happy. That kid in me was just dreaming up things. I used to visit my grandparents’ place – a remote village where people slept at 7pm and skies were clear – I could see million stars in the sky and never have to think that it won’t be possible to touch them one day. I was a dreamer.

As I grew up I changed my life goals. I switched from Astronomer to a Number Theorist. I was obsessed with numbers and would dream up numbers. Then came a phase where I dreamed up of being Physicist. Like a serious one. I even dreamed up of becoming an Astrophysicist! Sigh.

Tonight was an emotional night. I met a lot of friends and couple of drinks later, as I laid back in a hammock to witness the night sky with my daughter as I started to tell her stories of Moon and Stars – I witnessed a bright sky (8PM) and one single star. The ambient light of Oakland has let only one star to glow in the sky. It was a sad state. It moved me. It looked like my lonesome dream of Astronomer stuck in space time. It was pretty sad.

I spent some time on feeling nostalgic about it and realized that dreamy Astronomer boy is still within me. I had a very rare glimpse of that boy who would spend hours just staring at sky and wondering how they lit up, far far away. I miss that dude. I miss that Astronomer kid. Long time back when we moved into our new place I was excited that we have a new place and ample space to finally have our own Telescope to look at sky – but then Sangita mentioned – that in this country having a Telescope is creepy that you use to look into your neighbors houses! Thanks Hollywood for killing millions of kids dreams!

It’s ok. I can still look at bare skies and transcend into that kid who still has that gleam of excitement about being made out of stardust. I love looking up night skies and having that feeling.

Parenting through Incentives

Off late, I have noticed a weird behavior on my behalf. It is with respect to my daughter who is 2.5 years old. I have noticed 3 dominant reactive patterns of behavior in me. When I am trying to get something done by my daughter or make her to do something I usually do one of the 3 following things.

  1. I try to scare her by saying that I will withhold love. For example, I would say – “Ok, you don’t seem to be interested in getting ready for school – so I am leaving you here and going to my work”
  2. I try to compare or show preference to something/someone else. For example, I would say – “Ok, if you don’t get ready soon I will take Tina (her toy) to school and you will be at home”
  3. I try to cajole her with incentives. For example, I would say – “Ok, you can watch one show or you can eat one yogurt squisher if you get ready for school”

I know all those sound very brutal, but I have been so implicitly using them that it took me a while to catch myself doing it. I spent some time trying to understand where this stems from. I mean, these are learned behaviors which I am modelling for my child and she is going to learn them too. If you think about it – the above list can be easily modified and applied to how we do our jobs. A employer would basically make you work by -

  1. Scare – If you don’t do your job – you will be fired.
  2. Compare – The others are doing a better job than you.
  3. Compensate – If you finish this in half the time, you will get a bonus.

These methods involved in getting someone from point A to point B – seems universal. Upon digging a little deeper I realized there already exists a Strategy of Persuasion in Indian philosophy called – Saama, Dana, Bheda, Danda. Saama is Persuasion, Dana is bribing, Bheda is threat, Danda is punishment. There are 3 more in that list – Maya – deceit, Upeksha – ignoring, Indrajala – jugglery.

Not matter what other connections I find – in the moment I don’t feel right about this. I don’t think parenting can be done with above techniques. It’s easy to follow those techniques but I think it’s creating a bad model for your child. Unfortunately I don’t know (at this moment) what my alternatives are. I mean I don’t have any other ways to get my daughter inspired to do something. I am in a dilemma.

My Worst Fears

Couple of days back I had a great realization. I realized what my greatest fears are (and have been). I mean I kinda knew some – but this time I came across the core of them. We all have our own dark corners and I nurtured mine with complete denial and ignorance. It was culmination of what I have been reading and that one amazing video watched the night before. Here is the book -

tamingA simple and amazing book which talks a lot about how internal chatter creates these seemingly uncontrollable gremlins that we carry around and believe the picture they paint as true. It’s really hard to identify them as they usually become part of our identity and severely limit our scope to catch them in action.

The books premise is – there is a core in everyone of us. The pure core and then there are these gremlins. We are kinda slaves to these gremlins (if you watched Cloud Atlas, there is a perfect example of it in that movie. The “Old Georgie” is nothing but a personification of Gremlin). Gremlins control us based on a pattern. They keep us anywhere except the present and now. Obsess about past, fear the future – that’s gremlin talking.

I think that book needs to be re-read and re-read till we can clearly identify and sort out those gremlins. So, here are my worst fears.

1. The Fear of not fitting in : This is so much part of me that it was really, really hard to dislocate and watch it. Basically not fitting in for me means anything from clothing, accent, pronunciation, culture, politics, knowledge, humor, sports, finances, habits and everything else. I am so dreaded by the fact that I won’t fit into something that I will totally avoid anything if I have a slightest hint of not fitting in well. It’s a painful truth and probably has kept me off of many astounding opportunities in my life but yeah that is my fear and it’s part of me.

2. The Fear of not being nice : This is nuts as well. I hate to be one with conflicts. I mean internal conflicts I seed and grow a many but outer conflicts I can’t take it. I am so scared of not turning out to be nice to other people that I will actually avoid them rather be angry at them or even show even a hint of discontent. Once again this fear is part of me and defines me.

3. The Fear of not being smart enough : This is the most craziest and the more I dwelled into it the more I realized that this is a double edge sword. I hate to be not smart enough among a peer group. If I am among a bunch of smart people, I strive really really hard to act and do smart things. But on the other hand if I come across someone who is not as smart as I think they are – then I drop, I completely drop and “act” stupid to accommodate me. So, I act more smart and more dumb when required to fit into the above two fears.

Remember the question here is NOT “why am I this way?” Doing that encourages another gremlin and you lost your battle already. It’s just to put the fears out. Pull out these grotesque creatures I have nurtured and created since my childhood and just watch them. Just be aware of them and do nothing. As simple as it sounds, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. Just writing this blog post makes me think that I am publicly shaming myself and making vulnerable to outside world.

The video I talked about which helped me to figure out the above process is by Alan Watts. Here it is.

I created this blog to actually post stuff that surfaces in my psyche and in the past there have been many books and stuff I read that have helped me to identify these. Here are some of them that come to mind.

I just came across this gem – The Blerch is nothing but a Gremlin - http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running




practicingmind artofwar mastery