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

 

Losing Someone

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Isn’t it strange, how many ways there are to miss someone? You miss the things they did and who they were, and you also miss who you were to them, and how much you mattered.

Coping with loss is a strange concept. I suppose we are never prepared to handle how to “cope.” I think you live with it, as best you can. I don’t think we ever really get over it. We just get up and continue on every day, but somewhere deep down we are different because of it.

These are things I learned from losing people I love. I still say love, present tense.

When you have lost someone you love — I mean really, truly loved — you start to notice grief in other people too. The reaction you get when you share your loss with them, can tell so much.  It’s like they get a strange look in their eyes if they have lost someone too. You start to recognize each other like you are part of some terrible club.

If I had to put the look in their eyes into a word it would be tired. Grief can make you so terribly tired. You get so sick of carrying all the weight in your heart.

Life keeps happening even if you need time to grieve. And you find yourself faced with the dilemma of the huge life ahead of you. Minutes, hours, weeks, months, years….. all seems too impossible to tread at that moment.We just learn to live from one moment to the next, taking each breath as it comes. .

I have to say I think it is cruel that the world does not stop when one needs time to grieve. No one teaches you what it feels to lose someone or how to walk your way through it. No one tells you about the stages of grief.

And that they do not come in any specific order, or that they do not have a time frame. These five emotionally heavy stages of grief , namely; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance do not happen chronologically.

Of course, how we almost wish they each happened in a specific order. That way, we could wait for one to pass and check it off the list, getting closer to the final stage of acceptance.

The reality is that the bad days do not ever really go away, and that is okay. Some days are marked on the calendar — anniversaries, birthdays, holidays. And it is okay to miss someone on those days.Even if it happened a long time ago it still matters. It may also be a blessing to know this pain, to have had someone who made saying good-bye so impossibly hard.

You are never ready for big changes, even if you think you are. And that’s the truth- things hit you the least way you expect them to— even if you have had time to prepare for it.

When we mourn, we often forget that we did not just lose them; we lost part of ourselves too.Everything changes in an instant you cannot control, and you are left to deal with the aftermath.

I want to remember the people I love and I want to keep talking about them. Everyone deals with it differently, and there is no wrong way to do it. I will not let death take away the good memories I have of someone or make the time I spent with them seem less important, while remembering the beautiful moments you spent with them.

I know that is what they would want for me, and how they would want to be remembered — with love and joy instead of pain and tears.

To my Mom and Dad, who taught me so much more than the things in this list. I love you, present tense. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity and how much I still miss you. You gave me a forever within the numbered days we shared.

And to my Mom- in- law who taught me to be content with the little things, but dare to dream of the bigger ones.

I hope you’d be proud of who I have become.

And to everyone who has lost, and to those who will understand this. I pray for you to have days where you think of them and smile. 

-Madhavi

Timeless Existence

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I am living in a timeless existence.

I don’t know what day of the week it is unless I look at the calendar; I don’t know the time unless I glance up at the clock.

I wake up to the chirping of birds and follow the circadian rhythm of my body.

My table is not a banquet full of dishes anymore; it’s just one dish which is enough for me and my body to curb the hunger.

I have filled my home with music, at all times. With the sounds of spirituality, early morning, blending effortlessly with the sounds of drum beats, as the day ends.

I am aware of the inhalation and exhalation of each breath I take, thankful to just be.

I walk up to the terrace of my house every evening as the sun sets, glancing at the twilight sky sending a silent prayer to the universe to heal each living being.

I exercise, I look after my health, I pamper myself with rest , I read, I write, I paint, I am keeping my mind busy  learning a language, creating contents for a course I may use in the future, I connect with nature, I pray, I meditate, I get in touch with all my loved ones and more than all of this, I am grateful and eternally blessed to have some wonderfully loving people, some who have always been there and some I just met, around me at all times .

I have learnt the essence of living with the bare minimum and the precious state of just enjoying the moment in a timeless existence.

 

-Madhavi

 

 

 

Niksen-The Dutch art of doing nothing

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It’s always amusing when a single word from a foreign language kick starts an entire lifestyle trend, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes all a person needs is a little bit of inspiration, or a spark of encouragement, to make changes they’ve been craving all along.

Do you remember hygge, the Danish concept of coziness that captivated people’s imaginations?

Or lagom, the Swedish idea of living in moderation and friluftslivb- the concept of open-air living?

And more recently one heard of dostadning, a.k.a. Swedish Death Cleaning, or the act of slowly and steadily decluttering one’s home as the years go by.

And now another word is making its way into wellness headlines, and this time hailing from the Netherlands.

The word is ‘NIKSEN‘ and it “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use.

Why is it so valuable, you may ask? Well, for one, it stands in stark contrast to the way in which most people live these days, rushing around from dawn till dusk with an unending to-do list.

The duties never end. We do this, despite knowing how unhealthy it is, depriving us of downtime, of sleep, of time to think, of time spent with family and engaging in hobbies.

Whereas mindfulness is about being present in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be, even letting your mind wander rather than focusing on the details of an action.

Practicing niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking at your surroundings, simply sitting in a chair looking out of the window, or listening to music —as long as it’s without purpose, and not done in order to achieve something or be productive.

Studies have shown that niksen offers emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold.

Another benefit of niksen is that it can help people come up with new ideas, when we do nothing; our brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems, which in turn can boost one’s creativity.

For many, doing nothing isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact, it can be somewhat challenging to sit still and stare out a window when one is used to doing something at all times.

But then one has to dare to be idle. It is all about allowing life to run its course, and to free us from obligations for just a moment. We need to train our minds to wander in a way that’s imaginative and creative. Some “gateway” practices to niksen could be taking a walk in nature, gardening, and reducing tech tine or just meditate.

Niksen gives a name to a concept I already embrace at home. I adore lazy weekends with my family, when there is nothing on the docket and nowhere to be. My favorite evenings are the unscheduled ones, when I can lie on the couch and read a novel. I suppose one might call that productive, but to me its pure idleness and I love it.

Niksen is the antidote to stress and burnouts.

Niksen is giving you permission to hibernate without an intention.

Niksen is taking time off to embracing life’s pauses.

 

M

 

 

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Let Go!

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IT IS NECESSARY TO LET THINGS GO, BEFORE THEY BECOME TOO HEAVY FOR YOU TO CARRY.

Permanent happiness comes from you choosing to be permanently happy. When you choose happiness, then you attract happiness all around you.

The most INTENSE fight a human will ever have is between the person they are and the person they are capable of becoming.

If you want to SUCCEED in your life, remember this phrase: The past does not equal the future.

Because if you failed yesterday; or all day today; or a moment ago; or for the last six months; the last sixteen years; or the last fifty years of life, doesn’t mean anything. All that matters is: What are you going to do, right NOW?

When you hold on tightly to a thing, an ideology or even an identity, you create an ego around it and you begin to identify with it.

You forget that you are naturally formless and free. Be a mirror reflection of the abundance and infinite potential of the universe that is displayed at that particular time and space.

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.

Anger, hatred, jealousy, and many such negative emotions engulf our mind and disturb our peace.

They do not belong in your heart and in your head.

Let them go as they are very heavy and, unhealthy for life:
The past can be our enemy…Let it go.
Guilt can be our enemy…Let it go.
Pride can be our enemy…Let it go.
Ego can be our enemy…Let it go.

Breathe!
If you want wisdom, empty your heart of ignorance. If you want contentment, empty your heart of greed. If you want serenity, empty your heart of ill will.
~Buddha

 

-M

She is an Alpha woman

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You will spot her from a mile away.  She holds her head a little higher and she has a certain air about her when she walks. Making her own way in the world, she knows how to get what she wants……Yup SHE is an Alpha Woman.

So, why is it that most men are scared shit of an alpha female?

Well, I guess men don’t like to be challenged, especially by women. I hate to say this, but in most cases this is true.  So, when women challenge them, men feel uncomfortable and intimidated with the idea that a woman might be better than them and because they are afraid they might lose their ‘macho-provider’ attitude.

Some men rely on good looks and a few pick-up lines to impress a woman. BUT, Alpha women don’t fall for that kind of crap. They need much more from a man to be impressed (if they are to be impressed at all). They want brains, looks, humor…They want the whole package—because they themselves are the whole package.  Too many people think that an alpha woman is just a dominating bitch with no softness to her, but that’s not true at all. Her soft side is as powerful as her hustle.

Let’s not beat around the bush and face the facts here. It takes a very strong and secure man to date an Alpha woman.

And if you land yourself an alpha female, it’s pretty normal that the more you get to know her, the more she will scare the hell out of you, because of how fearless and outspoken she is.

She says and does things with great intensity, and it can be a lot all at once if you’re used to women who are more doting and submissive.

She’s as fierce with her words as she is with her heart and if she falls for a man, she falls deeply. There’s no in between with an alpha female. She works hard, plays hard, and loves harder.

An alpha woman isn’t one to sit back and let life come to her — she goes out and makes stuff happen for herself. She’s not a lazy partner and makes sure life is organized and stress-free. She genuinely enjoys responsibility. Alpha women seek partners who are motivated and want to build empires with the men they choose to spend their lives with. SHE’LL PUSH YOU TO BECOME BETTER.

She’s not the type that’ll let herself go because her personality type simply won’t allow it. She takes care of her health, her finances and her emotional well-being no matter what disaster might be thrown her way. She’ll do whatever she needs to feel good about herself because feeling amazing allows her to bring her best and happiest self to the relationship.

She might come across as too much to handle or as a woman who doesn’t need anyone, but if she chooses to date you, remember she chose you too.

Dating her is a pretty amazing experience if you can look past the initial intimidating traits she possesses because those traits are actually what make dating her one of the best experiences you’ll ever have.

If you’re brave enough fully submerge yourself in the relationship, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t dated an amazing alpha female sooner.

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-M

 

 

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