Health · Kajal

A Healthy Resolution for 2018

IMG_1777A recent post of Rachel’s talked about New Year’s Day Intentions. I myself have always set resolutions or mapped out how I am going to live the year. I start with the best of intentions but it always falls apart. So this year, my plan was to stay unplanned.

Then, last week, between PMS migraines and stomach cramps twisting my body inside out, a thought popped into my head – HEALTH. More importantly, my health. In more than 20 years, since I started working, even probably when I was back in high school, I have never said my health comes first. I just take it for granted. My decision for 2018 – health comes first. There was a literal light bulb over my head. If my body is doing well, then I am doing well, and all will be well.

My mom told me that when she was growing up her dad would always say, “Health is wealth.” And she has been on my case these past several years, especially the past decade, for me to take better care of myself and not stress myself out so much. And like most things, mom knows best. Admittedly, it took me a while to catch up to her wisdom.

I’m tired of feeling like total shit from migraines and how they inhibit from living my life. I’m fed up with, yet again, having to tell my husband, a friend or one of my parents, “Sorry, I am not well. It’s a migraine.” Even worse, pumping myself full of the shit medication that has so many side effects that are not good for you. Don’t get me wrong, the medicine works when I need it and has saved me so many times. But I just want to be healthy and not have to rely on it so much.

So, let’s see how putting my health first, my healthy resolution for 2018, goes.

-Kajal

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Flow · Garden · Kajal · Meditate

A Pop of Color

Just finished working and realized I needed to enter my post. I had all these pictures I had set aside for my blog but couldn’t figure out how to move them from the file where I had saved them, until just now. Hence my posts not having any images all these weeks!

The first thing I thought when I closed my work email, I need a pop of color, something that makes me happy. And flowers do just that. There is a meditation technique called the “Heart of the Rose” where you take a rose and look at it starting at its heart or center and then notice its color, texture, fragrance and design (Source: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma). Let thoughts come in and out and bring yourself back to focus on the flower.

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Doing this for just even a few minutes, helps to calm your thoughts and cool your mind.

-Kajal

P.S. Thanks to Rachel for her kind words about my posts last week. While I would always miss her posts, I figured she was out or just got busy with kids or work. I’m super-glad that she felt she could step away and not feel any pressure – that is what is so great about doing this. Otherwise the process of writing becomes burdensome and loses its joy. When I was at Dartmouth, I think I lost some of that joy as a Creative Writing Major (that and being surrounded by a lot of literary egos). Through this process, I’m slowly starting to regain that joy with every shaky phrase and awkward stumble of a sentence. For me, I had been wanting to write the post about Tao for a while, it’s so nice when your peer/colleague/writing buddy sees an “expansiveness of voice,” I certainly was trying for more, so to speak, and it is so nice that it was noticed!

 

 

Kajal · Soul

Lessons of a 99 year-old Yogi

On Thanksgiving Eve, I went for my much overdue annual physical. More than eight hours had passed since my last meal. My bladder was on the verge of exploding due to my paranoid obsessive over-hydrating. I was hangry and in a state.

Despite my efforts to hydrate, it took the lovely woman drawing my blood a hour to find a vein. When I got home and back online for work, I could barely type. With each keystroke, I felt like more blood was being drawn from me.

Light-headed, semi-starved, I made it to a lovely pre-Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Instead feeling refreshed and rejuvenated the next day, I woke up unable to turn my head left. The recurring literal pain in my neck had joined me for Thanksgiving day.

Not wanting to disappoint anyone, including me, I pulled myself together and headed to see my husband’s family. There I was greeted by the soulful smile and glittering eyes of Tao Porchon Lynch, also known as the world’s oldest yoga teacher and a close family friend of my in-laws.

We had barely started to speak about her recent trips to India where she had taught an audience of 11,000 people, when she kindly asked me to give her my foot. As she pressed firmly and deeply into the sole of my foot, the tightness in my neck started to wane. Enthralled, humbled and honored to have this precious moment with her, her words filled my soul. “Every day, I say, ‘this is the best day ever,’ and it is,” she explained. Truthfully, I was also a bit ashamed that she was helping to heal me, when as the supposedly younger one, I should’ve been taking care of her.

I could go on and continue to process this amazing Thanksgiving gift. I will probably write more about it as more epiphanies come to me. I just wanted to take a moment to write about the experience and share Tao’s spirit and loving heart is an example to us all. Wherever she goes, her pure soul brings out the best in others.

-Kajal

Kajal · Meditate

‘Countdown to 2018’

Santa has barely made his rounds dropping off presents to eager children awaiting his arrival with loads of milk and cookies. Christmas trees were just dressed to the nines, their lights and shiny ornaments glittering in wait as more and more presents were laden beneath their boughs. Now the cookies are all eaten, leaving only delectable little crumbs to pick up with your fingers and last bits of wrapping paper make their way to the waste bin, as we bid farewell to yet another holiday season.

Meanwhile dreidels are just recovering from making their spins. Menorahs buffed to perfection are placed back in storage for safekeeping. And the delicious crunch of a crispy latke is no more than a faded memory.

With these holiday traditions behind us, all that’s left with six days until 2018, is this ominous pressure to feel like 2017 mattered. Everywhere I look, it’s a “Countdown to 2018.” Before I graduated from college, time was infinite. I never felt the passage of time, everything was timeless. The only pressure I felt was being underage and finding something fun to do with friends. But every year, since graduating college, the passage of time becomes more real. The countdowns only add more pressure, much like the cork popping out of a champagne bottle on New Year’s Eve as the clock counts down and we celebrate the arrival of another year.

This period between the holidays and New Year’s is an odd sort of no man’s land. Despite having experienced it so many times now, it still gives me a sense of discomfort, and a slight twinge of pathos as I try to find meaning in 2017, the year. Like there must be something more I must be doing with my life in these final few days, besides repotting plants and sewing tears in jackets and comforters.

With six days and counting, I work feverishly to get ready for 2018 (including making a few resolutions that I am sure I will never keep) and make sure 2017 was the best year ever, to date.

Kajal

Hitting the Wall

My to do list was long today. It started at 8am with getting work done in the apartment, working all day with the usual phone calls and emails, dropping off a package at the UPS store and closing out with a trip to the dentist followed by a hair appointment. (Thankfully, every interaction I had, whether colleague or clerk, was truly pleasant.) I just got home at 9:30 this evening and settled in to write this blog.

Somewhere around 3pm, I hit a wall. Like my body knew the holidays are around the corner and it just said, “That’s enough, leave me alone.” I’ve been pushing through ever since, mentally crossing off each item on my ‘To Do’ list, each satisfying check giving me the energy to keep going on.

In one of my many interactions today, someone mentioned they are going on a trip to Mexico for New Year’s. It sounds so good. Soft white sand, a warm breeze and a cocktail with a mini umbrella in my hand. What a lovely thought.

-Kajal

gratitude · Kajal

A few of my favorite things

‘Tis the season to be grateful. In all honestly, I am a bit tapped on the writing front from doing it for a living. So what better subject than a list of very random things I am grateful for, in no particular order, to help me with my personal creative writing process.

Tea. Green, Earl Grey, Chai, Chamomile…how do I love thee, let me count the ways. A cashmere glove of comfort enrobes me whenever I put my hands around a cup. Simply put, tea makes everything better.

Giraffes. Typically known for their long necks, giraffes also have the biggest hearts in the animal kingdom, weighing in at 26 lbs. In yoga, we learned about the jackal mind, which is judgmental, and the giraffe mind, which is patience, and understanding of people’s needs. Having a giraffe mind, one is truly linked to the heart.

Aromatherapy. Earthy tea tree, soothing lavender, herbal and healing eucalyptus all open up and free the senses.

Aroma Diffuser. How else to spread the lovely aroma of these essential oils, then with a diffuser?

Good Health. So last week, after writing about the need to balance chakras, mine completely broke down as a result of food poisoning. (Sidenote: My apologies, especially to Rachel, but it felt like my body was being invaded by a black hole and could barely operate.) Everything from my Root (Survival) chakra, to my Crown (Wisdom/Spiritual Connection) chakra was out of whack. The absence of health, and now the slow return of good health has made me appreciate mine so much more. My grandfather used to say, “Health is wealth.” Truth.

Wow, that felt good. Write what feels good, ooh, I like that. Give it a try next time you are feeling empty and need to fill up.

-Kajal

Chakras · Kajal

My 3:40 a.m. Wake Up Call

Yesterday I woke up, checked my clock to see whether I had time to snooze only to see 3:40 glaring back at me. I was so panicked to see those numbers, I completely missed the AM and bolted out of bed to my work phone that I keep in the other room. My fear of missing meetings and conference calls and everyone at work thinking I was an imperfect slacker overtaking every cell in my body.

My heart was pounding so hard, if I hadn’t been able to get hold of my breath, I think I could have had a coronary. In hindsight, it was terrifying. Yes, the uncontrollable heart pounding, but even moreso, the fear of not being able to get it back to a normal hearbeat. I lay back down in my bed, taking each breath in and out slowly, the way I have described in previous blogs when describing centered breathing.

The heart is the fourth of seven chakras which consist of:

  • Root Chakra – Survival
  • Sacral Chakra – Creativity
  • Chest/Solar Plexus Chakra – Will Power
  • Heart Chakra – Compassion/Connection/Love
  • Throat Chakra – Expression
  • Third Eye Chakra – Intuition/Thoughts
  • Crown Chakra – Wisdom/Spiritual Connection

Anahata, the original Sanskrit name for heart chakra, literally translates to “unhurt, unstuck, or unbeaten.” According to my research and yoga teacher training, feelings of shyness and loneliness signal a blocked heart chakra. The inability to forgive or a tendency to lack empathy, suggest you may be leading with your head more often than your heart. On the flipside, an overpowered heart chakra equates to feelings of codependency, the need for acceptance from others, jealousy or harsh judgement of others.

Whenever, I am feeling off kilter or like my center is missing, it’s time to realign my chakras. My pounding heart at 3:40 am was certainly a wake-up call to regain this balance, especially of my Anahata.  It was a stark reminder to go back to thinking from my heart and not from my head, especially with those I love. Unblocking my heart chakra, through yoga and letting go, is an ongoing process. But whenever realignment or balance is achieved, there is a strong sense of calm and peace. Stating an affirmation is also a great step to reaching balance. What better way to work a little writing exercise into this than to write your own affirmation?

Here are some examples:

  • I am open to love.
  • I am peaceful.
  • I accept things as they are.
  • Love and acceptance are abundant in my heart.