Year 22: Annual reflection post

Starting out, I made a decision to transform myself and the year of ‘me’ has been the best year of my life so far, and it’s only going to get better from here. I am committed to getting better each day, as cliched as that might sound. However, those who do it, know the feeling you get every day upon waking up, when you know that it’s a fresh start, and the day has to be made grand. While there are ups and downs, the determination and fearlessness make it seem like progress regardless of how the day goes. When you’re driven to do better, live better, feel better, everything you do, every person you meet, every thought changes, and you experience abundance for being true to yourself.

Once the mind set itself I realised, that I wasn’t competing with anyone anymore, rather, creating my own segment. Most people work because they want to prove something to someone, for me, that person is myself. It’s been a roller coaster of a year but I’ve had me throughout, and I’ll always have me. When you shift from being emotionally dependent to independent, you realise that it is ultimately your own wellness that transcends into all relationships in your life. So, I choose to be happy, so I can make all the people in my life, happy! I do believe that most people come not to stay but to teach you something in life, so all the ones who’ve left me, have left me with a valuable lesson that adds to my life, for that I’m thankful.

I seriously set out this year with the mission to improve the quality of my life. For that, I decided to start meditating and while I had done it off and on as a runner and athlete off and on, doing it on a daily basis has affected me very, very deeply. I’m calmer, much more proactive, creative and am able to observe and monitor my thoughts. They say life is what you think of it, and for me, my life is love, growth and abundance.

I must acknowledge how blessed I feel for I’ve traveled the world and back. Most people cannot envision a better way of life, for they’ve never stepped out of their homes. Through my travels and my books, my mind has expanded my imagination and filled up with gratitude. If one is seriously considering personal development, the combination of meditation, traveling and books is what I would recommend, undoubtedly.

Always been a thinker and never one to share much, however, I tested vulnerability this year and shared some unspeakable truths about my life with certain people I only met this year. It has improved not incrementally but at least 10x the quality of relationships in my life. And while everyone I chose might’ve not been the right person to confide in, I’m glad I did it, for it was a personal growth experiment and it was important to me.

After a lot of soul searching and working on it, I’ve finally found the meaning I wish to give to Aqaya. It is my first venture and my baby, but it is not a real word and has no definition. I’ve decided what it will mean from here on, and it is ‘eudaimonia’, human flourishing i.e. prosperity through empowerment. One of my entrepreneur friends made me realise that how in every society there are people who fight for the next generation. Who work towards making the world better for the coming generation, and are responsible for continuation of human progress and evolution. I want to be one of those people who fight for change, of thought, especially. The logo of Aqaya has double infinity in it, and now I want it to mean continuation of progress and flourishing.

While this year, I worked with several start-ups, now I feel like Aqaya is ready for its next big steps. I felt it was important for me to experiment with various things so as to define what I wanted to spend my next few years building. On purpose, I chose to work a lot with the underprivileged , travel, run half marathons, teach Zumba, move to another city, meet new people, work on several start-ups and a lot of new experiences just so I could arrive at what mission Aqaya should be aligned to.

May this coming year, help me take the warming up of this year to another level, and bring life to what is already a reality in my head. Speaking of reality, I wrote a particular sentence after something had a profound effect on me,”My reality was painful so I created a different one.” You see, as devastated as you might be, or how much you might’ve suffered previously, is no reason to still let it affect your future going forward. You can claim your life, if you stop playing victim, and take charge of your thoughts, your vision and your ambition.

After all, “where there’s life there’s hope.” (Steven Hawking)

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What do runners think about while running?

On my regular runs, I normally listen to podcasts. They distract me from the physical work, and engage my mind. It feels like I’m expanding my horizons along with my endurance, which is a very rewarding feeling. This sense of contentment dawns over me because I learn something new, I listen to conversations among great minds all while challenging myself to go on for longer, get better. Tim Ferriss, Jonathan Fields, Kevin Rose, Dan Carlin are some of my favourite podcasters, by the way, just to give you an insight into what I normally listen to. They’re all like human guinea pigs that do crazy ass experiments to improve the quality of life, something that I seriously believe in. Becoming the best version of yourself is what they talk about, so if you’re interested, do tune in sometime!

Although podcasts are great company to be in, during my 20Km runs, I have these physically daunting laps wherein I need to switch off from the distraction because it no longer helps. The thoughts about knee or body ache, distance still left to cover, my speed, comparisons with other runners and all things about running crop up and I have to bring myself back to the present again, almost forcefully. I’ve read about mindfulness a lot, which really helps me during my runs, as I focus on my next steps rather than distance, and focus on form rather than aches. I try to breathe almost as if I were meditating, deep inhales, strong exhales (enough to attract attention, and scare people along the way), and keep moving. I’ve realized how much of a difference it really makes, to live in the present, to be in the moment- I’m not sure if I never truly knew what that felt like before. I want to extend my runs to 30Kms then ultimately marathon distance (42.195Kms).

It is mentally agonizing to run long distances especially when you’re just starting out. I always was comfortable till about 10Kms, but this 20Kms is something very new to me- and might take a few weeks before I finally get used to it. I can’t help but wonder though, what is it that the elite marathoners think about or focus on during their runs? Isn’t it fascinating that they can keep their heart and in this case legs where their mind is? Even during my long runs now, I have this great, powerful force that comes upon me, towards the last few Kms especially. I almost visualize this wonderful, almost blinding white light lining my body internally, activating all my chakras, and making me one with the universe. I have written about how I value the divinity that is within us, the tremendous powerhouse of energy that lies within- and it isn’t something that I just write about to get attention, I have felt it. I feel it. Today, as I was running, only after 2.5Kms, my right knee started hurting awfully, and I was reconsidering my training regime but then I knew if I could get my mind to it, I’d do it. And, I did it! As I write this, I have an ice pack around my knee, because after the 20K, I could hardly lift my leg off the ground but during the run, I endured, I mastered, and I felt spiritually connected and massively inflated from within. This vision sprung into my mind from somewhere- of my sitting by the beach and meditating. I knew peace, and in my head I joked to myself that that could be the island that I’ve always dream of buying (yes, larger than life vision, you may laugh). The vision saved me from myself and my thoughts today.

It is in your most challenging phases that you realize how strong you are, how much you can really endure and how limits only exist in our heads. I know that as I keep evolving and improving, I’ll become a more focused thinker and gain clarity of thoughts- but for know my pseudo spiritual sense is my drive forward. I cannot help but wonder, what really goes on in the minds of the runners around me? I can say for sure, if they’re doing long distances, they’ve got a winner’s mind- cause this takes all you got, boy!

Suffering to meaning, real quick

As a writer, I’m always making notes on my phone with all the different ideas I get when I’m traveling. This is what I wrote yesterday on my 1 hour 45 minutes long journey from Gurgaon to Delhi.

Time & Date: 19:51, 16th October 2014.

Do you ever have those outer body experiences when you tell yourself that you really can’t believe that you’re actually going to do something ? It feels just so unlike you, something you would’ve never thought of doing maybe just months ago, but now you’re on your way rather intuitively. Without having given it the slightest thought, I could feel that I had undergone a transformation of attitude, and I was surprisingly unfazed. I always thought paradigm shifts like that would stir you up, leave you restless because you shut the doors to your past and have to renew everything. I guess that the moment wasn’t such a big deal because it was months of hard work, pangs of all negative moods, interlaced with extremes of emotions that had led me to it. When you go through heartbreak, no strike, heart ‘remodeling’, you need to rebuild various aspects of lives. Stages of grief is something that is supposed to describe what you’re going through, but I don’t believe that you can clearly discriminate or describe the stages when they’re happening to you. Someone once told me, ‘there is no closure, because things never end,’ and that threw me further into the abyss. I knew I had to hit refresh at some point, but I was so attached and smitten by memories that it felt wrong to consciously let go. Thoughts through action where changing into habits, and the memories became a habit, it was one of the things I regularly did, reactively.

You know the big wheel of life is always rolling, and you can never know the odds, but if you choose to sit out and not play, you will never win. As precious as the memories were to me, I came to a point where I realized that I had to shift to valuing my life, my gifts, my aspirations and myself. Otherwise, I would’ve been forever missing out on life, and that’s too beautiful a gift to miss out on.

If you’re going through a tough time, accept it gracefully, because it is in those lowest of moods and painfully miserable moments that you begin to hope that there’s something better out there. That hope, leads you to seek, to find meaning and get you out of whatever you’re going through. There will be several moments of loathing, mourning, dread and hopelessness but just know that it gets better right after that. Always wait for the next morning, the next adventure and the next chance at life. Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search For Meaning wrote, ‘If there is a meaning in life a all, then there must a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death life cannot be complete.’ Another line from this book that I absolutely must share: Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and psychical stress (he is talking about the concentration camps, where his family members were gassed and he literally lost everything!).

Coming back to this moment, I have removed myself from the past and placed myself in the present. I’m living forwards, and each morning I tell myself; ‘no regrets!’ trust me, saying it out loud has a profound impact. From someone who’s been down, I reassure you in Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Find a new purpose, a new goal to work towards and perhaps one day, you’ll write to me describing how you feel what I feel this night. The stars are shining bright for me tonight, the night feels magical and I’m in such a good place right about now. I’m all right, I’m happy and I’m striving, and yes cherry on the cake, I’m on my way to see two beautiful people who are wonderfully compassionate and infectiously affectionate.

Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. 🙂

The best kind of marriage

Within us is tremendous energy, within us it the glory of the worlds. Each individual is a miracle and divinity resides in everyone. The homeless person you see across the road from you and the person you see on the cover of The Fortune magazine, have the same potential and are made of exactly similar things. Thus, there’s never good or bad, and there are no principles- there are only events, there are only circumstances. (Balzac said so, and I concur.) What makes us different, what makes each individual is the realization of this potential. We’ve heard way too many tales of tables turning and people going from rags to riches. What is it that made them different? The way they CHOSE to control their circumstances, the way they chose to not be victims but choice makers i.e. choosers.

Imagine, how differently you would live, if you were to realize that a universe resides within you. You are not an individual, you are not alone..you are a part of this huge masquerade that’s been on forever, and you’re just passing by in human form in this life. I’ve always written about how we are bigger than our experiences, our thoughts and our feelings- for we can analyze and control them. The true beauty of life lies in the fact that even though each one is unique, we are exactly the same. What if I were to tell you that you’re never really alone, all your energies, all your actions connect you to this big conundrum that we do not have the insights to breakdown.

Elizabeth Gilbert described it so truthfully and eloquently in her book Eat, Pray, Love that I’m going to sum this post in her words. “Human discontentment is a simple case of mistaken identity. We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears, flaws, resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace. That supreme self is our true identity, universal and divine.”

Yes, there are externalities and social commitments that we are exposed to and have to live with, but in the end, we are each a part of this extensive and expanding wonder. Try and achieve stillness for a while, embrace your present and feel in sync with the power stored within you.

The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote, “You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.” I’m not particularly religious, but I am undoubtedly spiritual. For me the best marriage would be the kind that connects the mind and the body to the omnipresent and grandiose spirit.

So look yourself in the mirror, and feel grand because you are so.