Here are seven simple ideas to live by in 2019. The core of these ideas are as old as mothballs. However, I have researched, applied and polished each one of them for you like a gemmologist polishes a rare gem:
Idea 1: Step out of your Mental Underwear and Step into your Body: Most intellectuals I know have their feet stuck in mental underwear. If you are a knowledge worker, chances are that you live most times inside your head. Walking and cooking are two of my favourite ways to step out of the head. A walk stretches all my muscles while cooking stretches my senses: touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and experiencing the alchemy of elements. Cooking is a very transformative affair. One can convert the raw elements of the world: air, water, fire and earth into sensuous and salivating fares. Interestingly, your body is no more than a cooking pot that is transforming earthly atoms into flesh, blood, bone, thoughts and emotions. You are that master chef stirring your own body and senses into memorable human experiences. The bridge between your mental and physical body is breath. Next, whenever you are too preoccupied with mental activity, just remember to follow your breath. Your breath will lead you from excessive mental activity to your body awareness.
Idea 2: To Bring Magic into your Life Consider the Magician that is your Self: I have been meditating for as long as I can remember. The one truth that is now firmly established in my mind is this: the world out there is just a piece of magic; the real magician is the living Self within. Think of a deluded dog unsuccessfully chasing its own tail. The dog forgets that that tail is its own extension. Your world is just an extension of your mind. This mind is the projecting machine; it will project whatever you want it to. If you are tied to the world of projections: Tuscany house, trophy spouse, sparkling champagne bottle or racing car in full throttle, you will forget the magical mind that conceives and creates all of these and more. The trick is to observe the mind and know for certain that all that you are looking for in the magical world is right there inside you. Next time whenever you see magic out there, just trace this magic to its source. Seek the source of all your pleasures inside the mind and you will find it.
Idea 3: Re-kindle the Fire of Love by Reclaiming Your Other Half: I was in a barber shop in Pune western India and came across this line printed in the mirror in front of me:
LOVE BEGINS WITH YOU!
Love is a fire that cannot be covered by insurance. It is more than an alliance of affection and addiction. Many of us know that marriage is the victory of imagination over intelligence. However, very few discover love as the purest form of intelligence unclouded by imagination. Love works effortlessly to make this universe whole. Every human being, by definition, is what Indian rishis describe as ardhanariswar: half man and half woman. Carl Jung, the Western analytical psychologist conceives the integration of the feminine and masculine principles as animus and anima. The Chinese describe the same phenomenon as interdependent yin and yang. Love is the synthesis of your polar identities. Love is a movement of intelligence that leads you to complete yourself.
Idea 4: Find Gainful Unemployment in a Busy World: Several years ago I was challenging some Silicon Valley techies to get out of their self-imposed busyness by learning how to occasionally get lost. I asked them to randomly write on some days UNEMPLOYABLE TODAY in their annual calendar and see for themselves what happens. This is not a manifesto for being lazy but a resolution for remaining sane in an insane world of anxiety and hurry sickness. Unemployability can be truly gainful if it gives your perspective and the big picture. Busy is a status symbol in our world. The pecking orders in our society are determined by the Supremely Busy, Suspiciously Busy and Busy without any Business. Nothing hides the frustrations of our hollow lives than the appearance of busy-ness. We have become so undesirable to ourselves that we cannot sit down to find appointments with ourselves. Self-appointment is like oxygen in our lives. It gives us the much needed fuel of reflection in the age of frantic and robotic action.
Idea 5: Don’t Get Stuck in Plans; Clarify Your Intention: Think of your last year’s plans for losing weight, writing a book or clearing junk from your home. How many of these plans did you have to revise at the end of the year? Haven’t all our plans in the past been subject to ruthless revision by reality? Don’t get stuck in plans. Have clear intentions instead. A clear intention finds its own system for its actualisation. A good system, backed by clear intention, delivers in the long run. Think of an out of practice tennis player planning to win a tournament as opposed to a regularly practising rookie who has developed a system of practice throughout the year. Who do you think will have a better shot at the championship?
Idea 6: Melt Yourself! Flexibility is Life, Rigidity is Death: Every day, I scan and feel my own body from the tip of my toe to the top of my head. Any part of the body that remains unobserved and unfelt for a long time loses its flexibility and becomes rigid. If you pay attention to the energy flowing through trillions of cells that constitute your body, you will feel your body melting like ice under the gaze of the sun. The body will feel a lot more like a river of energy and a lot less like a block of flesh and bone. My deepest spiritual experience has been not just about melting but about feeling the feather lightness of being. Here is what the mystic poet Rumi said about melting:
- You may melt yourself down
- Arrive at the place where you disappear completely
- Become no-body
- Observe and see
- One has seen everything in nothing
Idea 7: Finally, Review what You Call Faith: Let me ask you this: Of what use is a faith that can move mountains but not your belly fat? The sad story of our religious lives is that we have greater faith in idols and icons rather than our own selves. Faith in your own self is like the stirring of an eagle in its nest when the dawn is yet dark. Faith is our own deeply felt Self that is the essence of our whole existence. There are as many faiths as there are individuals. We are 7.7 billion different people on this planet. Why were we created as unique beings if there was no unique way of accessing the divinity that is in us? Don’t lose sleep about a God out there watching over you. If there is something watching over you, it is usually the income tax authorities. Just keep a watch over your own actions and your own intentions. Eat light, breathe deep and observe yourself-you will soon find your faith!