What’s your IKIGAI?

Diagram of Japanese ikigai concept

Things have been extremely difficult for all of us for the past few months. No one would have ever anticipated this pandemic that has gripped our lives.

We have all some time or the other heard stories of war, partition, epidemics and holocaust from our parents/grandparents. And now as we grope to come to terms with this situation I am sure this story of our own struggle and survival will be shared with our own grandchildren.

However , as we continue trying to find some semblance into our ‘not so normal’ life and coming to terms with our new reality , there’s no better time than now to refocus our energies, and really plan out our hopes and goals for the future.

While most of the world’s population is struggling with unemployment and loss of life of their loved ones, we are still trying to find the truth of our own reality and are looking out for a better way to fully embrace everything life has in store for us.

Enter ikigai, the age-old Japanese ideology. A combination of the Japanese words “iki” which translates to “life,” and “gai”, which is used to describe value or worth, ikigai is all about finding joy in life through purpose.

In other words, your ikigai is what gets you up every morning and keeps you going.

The origin of the word ikigai goes back to the Heian period (794 to 1185). Clinical psychologist and avid expert of the ikigai evolution, Akihiro Hasegawa released a research paper in 2001 where he wrote that the word “gai” comes from the word “kai” which translates to “shell” in Japanese.

During the Heian period, shells were extremely valuable, so the association of value is still inherently seen in this word. It can also be seen in similar Japanese words like hatarakigai, which means the value of work, or yarigai ~ga aru , meaning “it’s worth doing it.”

“Gai” is the key to finding your purpose, or value in life. Basically it’s all about overlapping four main qualities: what you are good at, what the world needs, what you can be paid for, and of course, what you love.

Many sociologists, scientists, and journalists have researched and hypothesized the usefulness and truth behind this particular phenomenon, and they’ve come to a number of very interesting conclusions. One particular theory is that ikigai can make you live longer and with more purpose and direction.

What’s your ikigai?

Each one of us has certain habits that shape our day. Our routines of daily activity form what’s most important as you begin each day to what’s not.

It could be doing some form of exercise early morning before doing anything else or praying as you wake , followed by getting all the normal things one does sets the pace for the routine as the day advances.

I start mine with yoga followed by my hot steaming cuppa chai and reading the newspaper.

And then I get down to my blogging, or any other writing, for about an hour or so. That way I have dedicated time to my health and one of the activities that give ikigai to my life- which is writing. This gives me a sense of having accomplished in doing something I am passionate about. I then get to organize the day and all the other random things.

You have to understand one thing- ikigai is not always about financial endeavors. Having a hobby that you can dedicate your time to, raising a family, or being able to work and make steps towards diving deep into that passion project you’ve always fantasized about, are all ikigai.

If you’re feeling lost or unsure about what your ikigai is, there are a number of ways to refocus your mind and purpose.

It doesn’t matter whether “you are a teaching, the mother of a newborn child or a Michelin-starred chef’ – if you can find pleasure and satisfaction in what you do and you’re good at it, congratulations you have found your ikigai.”

Basically all you need is to “gain awareness of the current status of your life.”

Don’t fret if you haven’t found yours yet. Just go with the flow of life. Research has uncovered that just like music taste, fashion and, opinions, a person’s ikigai can change and morph with age. And it’s never too late to start doing anything at any age in life and then enjoying it .

Now, when the world order is changing, it’s time to refocus on yourself, your passions and embrace the larger picture that is life.

]f you can find pleasure and satisfaction in what you do and you’re good at it, congratulations you have found your ikigai.

Madhavi

 

Karma

Image result for circle of life painting

Of late I find myself drawn to the spiritual state of mind or wakefulness as I would like to call it. I think of it as a shift into a more expansive, higher-functioning state in which we experience a strong sense of connection with the world around us and other beings along with a sense of inner quietness, and a keen awareness of our surroundings.

Karma is one topic that has intrigued me no end. Every time I decide that I want to write about this topic, I realise that I know so little of it.

karma depict

I remember reading a proverb in school “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

If you sow a flowering plant and you get a lush garden of flowers, you plant a cactus and all you get are thorns. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.

The much-misconstrued word ‘Karma’ has more or less an abstract concept that most people fail to understand.

Karma is nothing but a state of action, whether mental, physical or verbal. To put it simply we merely create our own reality and ‘Karma’ awaits our actions, to fill up the gaps we left and life comes full circle.  It’s the actions of your deeds. Every action, every thought, brings about its own corresponding rewards.

Gandhiji explains such in a simple yet profound way:

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

What we do every day becomes our everyday karma. It could be helping people in any way we see fit – holding a door open for someone, giving some money to a homeless person, buying someone food, donating old clothes etc., etc.

Now two questions: What is the possibility that the person we’ve helped will reciprocate, or “pay it forward”? What’s the possibility that this action created a positive source of energy?

I read these sacred words, etched on a doorway “Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.”

Are these words the key to karma and destiny?

Some say that Karma is linked to rebirth. Each and every action we take in life ripples out from us like a stone hitting the water. The ripples have untold effects on others, and will flow back to us at some point in the future. The fruit of our previous actions are like echoes, and they cannot be escaped.

We are all born into certain circumstances, cultures, places on earth, wealth or poverty, with specific genetics, talents and drawbacks. We don’t have any control over these circumstances. Is it the wheel of karma that everything in our life takes place due to past actions and that present actions affect future lifetimes?

Have you noticed as to why do good things happen to “bad” people and bad things happen to “good” people? Is Karma is a way of explaining misfortune in the world, for those who do not appear to deserve it? Could their misfortune be due to wrong actions in their previous life?

Do the repetitive negative thoughts about your life drop away when you realise that you have absolutely created and caused EVERYTHING that is happening to you right now? And that at some point in your life, you chose it, by your actions and your thoughts.

Is Karma also a way to explain things like child prodigies, who are exceptional artists or musicians at a young age, with little to no training?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, or saying: never mind, karma will get them?  I know I have. In moments of anger, betrayal, hurt, I have definitely thought ‘don’t get so worked up about this, karma will seek them out’.

But, as I seek to find the answers to all my nagging thoughts and questions, one thing I do realise that karma is a universal law, it is far more significant and meaningful than one can imagine.

And understanding karma is a key to living well.

Be Flawsome

Image result for japan broken objects

 

Isn’t it strange that when we look at photos of people enjoying themselves we think their life is all glossy and absolutely frikkin perfect.

We are so busy enviously looking at the shiny exteriors that, we couldn’t believe, if told  that their lives are filled with dark clouds. That they could be drowning in an abyss of deep depression and a feeling of abandonment.

Betrayal, instability, emotional abuse, loss and so many more issues that people tend to cover up with their most radiant smiles to avoid being questioned. A lot of us are uncomfortable to even hear about depression especially from someone who we think has it all. But the best of us, the rich, the famous, the successful, have faced issues of depression at one time or another.

I myself have been through rough patches. There are so many days when I feel lost, anxious,stressed ,alone, heartbroken and depressed. Nothing in particular brings about this sense of misery, but on some days everything around me is infuriating. I feel my life is going nowhere. There is a sense of disillusionment of having achieved nothing so to say. Most of my 30 years or so have been spent looking after my kids and the elderly at home. Although for about 6-7 years in between I was employed full time, and needless to say those were absolutely the best days in my life so far.

Today I feel that I haven’t accomplished much for myself. I know I could have achieved so much more. And that helplessness, that pain of underachievement and a demon in my head constantly reminding me of being a disappointment just eats me up from within.

And however much I try to focus on the good and the positives the pain eventually catches up. I am not completely unfortunate but neither am I contented with the way things have unfolded in my life.

And so this post is for all of you like me , who have and are struggling to keep your head above the water and have tried way too hard to keep darkness at bay.

It’s for those who have missed countless opportunities and adventures, and lost many friendships.

Remember you are not Alone.

You are a tough fighter and a brave survivor. You are human and you are supposed to make mistakes.

Please hang in there. Life is beautiful, and it has to be enjoyed every moment

Find the smallest thing each day that will bring a smile on your face. Just because you are struggling it doesn’t mean you are a failure. Some flowers take very long to bloom. And it’s absolutely fine to feel pain. It makes you so much more human.

Use this pain to help somebody who needs help. Use this experience to reach out to those who are afraid and shy to speak up.

Listen to those who do not speak about their problems.

A kind word,

A helpful gesture,

A loving heart,

That’s all it takes to be someone’s pillar of strength.

And most importantly DO NOT FORGET TO LOVE YOURSELF. You are GOD’S BEST CREATION.