Inspired by an inspiration: Kiran Bedi

I recently had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest ranking female Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. Her speech, aimed at career women, was one of the most inspirational that I have ever heard.

While we were waiting for Dr. Bedi to arrive, there was a current of excitement among the audience. And once she entered, her presence was almost tangible; she has this aura of energy and awe surrounding her, and the anticipation mounted.

Her hold over an audience was undeniable, as once she started talking there was not a murmur to be heard among the crowd. Since the lecture was aimed at women, she started by asking us what we really wanted to hear her speak about. She initially shared various strategies that she personally used to achieve all of her professional goals, and then opened the floor up to questions. It was an extremely inspirational and very interactive session, and though it’s hard to recreate that energy in words, I’ve attempted to capture the essence of her talk.

The most important thing she mentioned was to create a mission statement for your life. This, she said, would help you to know what you want, what is important for you. If you’re a person who is focused on your career, for instance, you will need to design the rest of your life in such a way that you are able to focus on your work without being pulled in multiple directions or feeling guilty about not concentrating enough on your home and family. On the other hand, if your family is more important for you, then you know that you don’t really need to compare yourself with the other go-getters at work. Then you know that you need to find a job and a position where you can balance your work with your home, and you don’t set unattainable goals that then de-motivate you. So, creating a mission statement will help you to know what you want — and be true to that.

When she was asked about her career and how she moved up the ladder among the male dominated IPS cadre, she said the answer was “focus.” Focus on what you want and on doing what you have to do — the rest, like promotion, will come. When you are true to what you’re doing, and are focusing on getting what needs to get done, done, recognition is bound to follow.

Another important thing when in the corporate arena is to strengthen your home — that has to be your sanctuary. Then no matter what is happening on the outside, at home, where it matters, you can come back and be rejuvenated. Make friends with your mother-in-law; she can be your best support system, Dr. Bedi advised. If she believes in you and helps you, then you can go to work knowing that your home is well taken care of. But at the same time, she warned women against putting all of their finances into a joint account.”Keep a personal account. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and it’s important to be protected,” she advised.

Her greatest strength has been her own inner strength. “Strengthen yourself from the inside,” she advises. “Be of inner steel, strong and pure steel — be secure in what you are. The security has to come from within. If you are strong inside nothing can shake you. You can deal with anything. Tomorrow if people around you are not there, can you move on on your own? That is inner strength.”

It’s also important for you to be your own friend, she counsels. Just the way you ask a friend for advice, ask yourself for advice. Would you be comfortable choosing a certain path? Ask yourself that. Be in touch with who you are and be true to that, that’s one of the important life lessons she shared with us.

Dr. Bedi is also a firm believer in the power of the mind. “The mind is wonderful — it can enslave you and you can enslave it — depends on your thoughts, which can change,” she says. “Thoughts are powerful. When you’re thinking of something, you’ll get the right kind of books/music that will speak to you, that will help you move in the direction of your thoughts.” That’s why she advises people not to focus on their problems. Focus instead on finding solutions — you’ll get answers in a few hours…suddenly, unexpectedly. Work on your mind; change its pattern from negative to positive. The best way of dispelling negative thoughts is to read inspiring books, listen to inspiring music, meditate…It helps.

Filled with anecdotes from her own life, as well as the problems and solutions she gave to people through her television show Aap Ki Adalat, her lecture was uplifting and thought provoking. It left us with a sense of empowerment and a road map of suggestions that we could follow to be more in tune with ourselves and to be successful in every sphere of our lives.

Resolving to keep resolutions – 4-month check-in

New year resolutions — don’t we all have them? Mine were:

With the start of the fifth month of this year, I thought it would be a good time to do a check in. I’ve been a great one for making and breaking resolutions really quick, but this year, I chose them with care, ’cause these are things that really mean something to me.

Checking in:

Find a creative outlet – This isn’t going all that great, unfortunately. I did put eye to lens recently, but not nearly often enough. I also picked up on my altered books after a really, really long break…but work pressures can really put a crimp on creative juices. But, there are 10 months still to go this year — I hope to be able to devote more time to pursuing my creativity this year.

Never stop learning – This one’s easy-peasy to keep up with! I’m constantly learning new stuff at work — be it industry-related or inter-personal/managerial skills. Plus, I read a lot, so be it a “pulp fiction” book like Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti or literary fiction like Milan Kundera’s Immortality, there’s a lot to learn about ancient cultures and philosophy.

Stay in touch with friends – As usual, this one’s really lagging, badly. It’s not like I don’t want to keep in touch, but more like not being able to find enough time! 🙁

Lose weight and get fit – I’ve been working on this since the beginning of the year, I’m proud to report! Knowing how much I can procrastinate, this is a HUGE achievement. First, I had a personal trainer coming in thrice a week, but I wasn’t too happy with the results (which were zero!) At the start of this month, I joined the gym, finally! Had a one-to-one session with a trainer there, and I was thrilled with him! He was really upbeat and motivating, seemed to understand my concerns, and best of all, told me my goals were very achievable! I have a second session with him on Saturday, when he will give me an excercise and diet plan. Fingers crossed that everything works out this time. The signs, so far, are good! 🙂

Live, laugh, love more – Isn’t that a beautiful thought to live with? Every day, I’m trying…that’s the best that can be done with this one!

So in the final analysis, looks like some things are going great, some not too well, and one’s almost getting broken. But, hang in there resolution! I’m gonna save you still!!

Do your best and let it go

“The master does her best and lets go, and whatever happens, happens.” — Lao Tsu (Tao Te Ching)

That’s the mantra by which I’ve been leading my life…though I had forgotten it along the way. I stumbled upon this quote again, just when I needed it most! At the start of a new year, a new phase of my life (the rip-roaring 30s!) and just when I was beginning to allow a new pattern to emerge — allowing the “uncontrollable” to control me. So next time I’m going down that route again, I’m just going to re-member my mantra!

After all, how much of what we beat ourselves up for everyday is really worth what we put ourselves through? How much of it is going to matter next month, next year, or 10 years from now?

Think to yourself, when something is bothering you or a disappointment arrives: Is it really a matter of life or death, as my emotional reaction seems to insist, or just ephemeral local weather conditions which will soon be replaced by other thoughts and feelings? Thus, Buddha said to remind yourself that everything is impermanent, fleeting, contingent, like a dream, like an illusion. This will help loosen up your tight grip on unreality.

Why worry about that which is so fleeting and impermanent? It does nothing but detract us from our inner peace and tranquility.

Here is one secret of spiritual mastery and inner peace, freedom and autonomy: It is not what happens to us, but what we make of it that makes all the difference. We can’t control the wind, but we can learn how to sail better. It’s not the hand you are dealt but how you play it, as the cliché goes.

Touché!

Healing tools

I just came across this absolutely beautiful article called Gift Yourself with Healing Tools by Kay Nuyens. She says:

we all possess the inner resources needed to make changes in our lives. When we get in touch with our “Wise Mind,” the part of us that knows, we can be self-healers, Masters of our lives. Mastery means that we are no longer victims; we are no longer feeling out of control. Each of us has the capability to gather our inner strength and to select some strategies for healing that utilize positive belief and expectancy.

She shares some really wonderful tools for self-healing and meditation in this article — and the first tool, Progressive Relaxation, sounds like it could be a wonderful 5-minute stress buster at work too! The technique works by:

releasing tension through direct suggestions. Muscle groups begin to relax as we focus our breath and intention…I invite clients to imagine a healing, calming color and allow it to flow through every cell of the body, releasing all stress and tension. Breathe in peace and tranquility; breathe out stress and tension. Taking in some long, slow, deep breaths, counting from twenty-five down to one also begins to relax our body and mind.

The other interesting tool was Mindfulness — or using mental imagery to gather all the feelings and sensations being experienced at a particular moment, moving into that sensation. giving it a form and asking it for a message. It sounds easy, but I’m guessing that when you try it, it might require some practice before you’ll “get it.”

You can find the full article here.

No matter what

I was reading an article on the net about living on purpose and with soul. The article made you stop and think about “no matter whats” that we need in order to lead an authentic and generous life, that will empower and not imprison us.

So here are some of the influences, activities, and people that cause me to shine, that describes the environment that fosters my wisdom, and helps me to bring the best that is within me to the forefront.

  • No matter what, I need to have a space that I can call my own, where I can rest, reflect, think and play.
  • No matter what, I need a creative outlet. It helps me center myself and let go of some of my stress.
  • No matter what, I need a workplace that empowers me, where my contributions are recognized and acknowledged and where there are clear avenues for growth.
  • No matter what, I need to be surrounded by music and books — music to soothe my soul and books as they make me fee safe, somehow.
  • No matter what, I need to travel, to explore new places and cultures, as that keeps me alive and enthused.

  • Now, it’s your turn. Think about the influences, activities and people that help you to shine; and the metaphor that you would use to describe the environment that fosters your wisdom.

    What makes a life feel right?

    Is it success, less stress, positive relationships, personal growth or ongoing adventure? All of these are important, but of paramount importance are joy, passion and living from the heart. And joy, it begins with inner peace.

    It’s happened so many times that even after I go buy myself the latest toy — be it a new gadget or jewelry or what have you — but when I come home, there’s no excitement about the purchase. And I’ve often wondered why that happened? Perhaps it’s because we sometimes aspire for what we think we should, instead of what is personally meaningful for us. Bigger isn’t necessarily better…but doing what you love…that’s priceless!

    If some of your recent purchases or achievements ring hollow,

    check to see if the “cost” is too high, or if it’s something that’s not really meaningful to you. Sometimes the outer things we seek are just poor substitutes for an inner state we crave. when you experience the inner peace that comes from being the kind of person you aspire to be, you’ll find joy around every corner…in all the toys, experiences, beauty, and relationships that come your way.

    What about passion for life? That seems to have fizzled away. There are so many things that I love doing, but the passion to do them seems to be missing.

    Passion for life does not wear out…it fades from lack of use. At various stages of life we hit plateaus and then the choice is ours: coast downhill or climb to a new peak. If we make the effort and muster the courage to move forward in some dimension of life, we feel renewed. Energy and passion climb, and we feel fully engaged. But pass on all things new, and we get stuck in a rut of the known — smack in the middle of our comfort zone.

    That seems to be exactly where I’m stuck — things are comfortable as they are, familiar. To pursue my passions or to change them would mean undertaking some element of risk. So, what would I rather do? Stay stuck in the rut, or climb out of it?

    Think of the last time you tried something new — learned a computer skill, visited a foreign country, went to a party alone or just tried a new food. Even if it didn’t turn out as you expected, chances are you got a lift from taking the risk. Beyond the familiar — just past fear — is where life truly expands. Passion needs exercise.

    Just like I do! Un-stick butt from chair and move it! Find the joy, fight for the passion and create a meaningful life.

    A meaningful life is born in the soul, grown in the mind, and lived from the heart.

    Following the busy-is-better crowd means that we could miss out on the sense of purpose, on the feeling of having made a difference, of leaving behind a legacy…Instead, there’s constant motion, with one step merging into the next,

    and though [we may be] dancing as fast as we can, we often feel no sense of accomplishment. You’re busy, but what are you busy about? Are you keeping commitments to your self? Growing the gifts that you have been given? If not, you’re probably wondering, “Is this all there is?” Outer success does not equal meaning. And meaning does not just plop into your lap; it is created every day — with one thought and one act — at a time.

    God’s given us a wonderful present — the present! Each new day, new moment, gives us numerous opportunities to live a life of purpose.

    Staying on purpose requires listening, not to the cacophony of our 24/7 world, but to the wisdom in our hearts.

    How about meditating everyday? It used to feel good…it used to give me a sense of calm, of inner joy…but then, I got too “busy” to do it anymore. Maybe, instead of giving up on the meditation, is should start saying “no” to time wasters and “yes” to living a life that feels right.

    Silence, focus, conscious choices. I’ve learned that these are the things that add meaning to life.

    Thanks to writer Suzanne Zoglio for the wonderful article she wrote on Soulfulliving.com, which helped me look within and analyze my situation.

    Out with the old!

    Manifestation so works! I’ve recently been thinking about all the stuff that we’ve accumulated at home and all the work and effort we’re going to need to put in to throw things out. And today, I came across an article on just that phenomenon of accumulating and discarding.

    It seems to me that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them, paring our possessions down to a manageable cache. At some point, it is important to take the time to catalogue what it is we have, what we have accumulated, what we hold onto, what we have carried with us through the years, and what we would be better of letting go of.

    If we are to practice living life with intention, purpose, and appreciation, we are called to take stock — on every level imaginable — material, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And we feel the need to evaluate everything in terms of its value to us. Do our belongings, attitudes, ideas, obligations, commitments, habits, goals, dreams, relationships, and wardrobes still fit us? Do they suit us and our current life style? Are they flattering? Do they please us? Do they continue to serve us? Do they feed us what we need? Or do they drain our energy and slow us down by the amount of maintenance that they require?

    The author then goes on to list out a number of suggestions for clearing out…like…

    • Throw out, re-cycle, or donate one thing every day. This is a great practice in claiming what is important to you and discarding what is not.
    • Eliminate one food from your diet that you know you should not eat. When you get used to living without it, eliminate one more.
    • Send all of the novels that you know you will never re-read to a school or hospital library. And that pile of magazines, too.
    • Clean out your medicine cabinet and cosmetic drawers. How many of the products crammed in there merely mask superficial symptoms and flaws rather than enhance your essential strength and beauty?
    • Reduce stress through yoga, exercise, breathing techniques, warm baths, sex, music, art, meditation.
    • Slough off the old, like a snake shedding its skin, or a butterfly its cocoon. Emerge renewed and energized.

    You can read the entire article here.

    Divorced from reality…

    …for a few days when I went back home to Poona….

    Soaked up the cool air during breakfast in the garden every morning

    Soaked up the cool air during breakfast in the garden every morning


    It was a total break from the hectic pace of my “real” life. A going back in time, as I returned to my room — the place where I spent 20 years of my life — to a life sans responsibility…no need to think about work, to plan the next meal, to track groceries, or worry about mundane things like making up the bed. It was a return to innocence, to a time when responsibilities were something the grown ups had to deal with.
    Watched nature unfold around me on lazy monsoon afternoons

    Watched nature unfold around me on lazy monsoon afternoons


    The weather in Poona was lovely compared to the oven that is Delhi…cool breezes, light monsoon showers…perfect for lazy mornings spent reading the newspaper, breakfast in the garden with the singing of the morning birds…late morning spent talking with the parents, an afternoon siesta, long walks in the early evening, crowned by a shopping trip later in the day…a more languid, peaceful, soulful time.
    It was yesterday once more as I returned to the sanctuary of my youth --- my bedroom!

    It was yesterday once more as I returned to the sanctuary of my youth --- my bedroom!


    As some of that peacefulness clings to me still, I’m reminded of the lyrics to Dido’s Sand in my Shoes:

    Two weeks away it feels like the world should’ve changed
    But I’m home now
    And things still look the same
    I think I’ll leave it to tomorrow till unpack
    Try to forget for one more night
    That I’m back in my flat on the road
    Where the cars never stop going through the night
    To real life where I can’t watch sunset
    I don’t have time

    Wakeup call

    Today’s Reminders from God on my iGoogle page was:

    “All walls fall before you. Your faith and My Power are the only two essentials.”

    It’s such a reassuring statement to read first thing in the morning, especially when you’re going through as much mental turmoil as I am. There are so many decisions that I need to make without losing too much time.

    I had made up my mind to take a certain path if things at the work front didn’t go according to plan at the end of this year’s performance cycle. Now that the time has come to act, I find myself wondering if I should still stick to that decision, or take a slightly different approach instead. A part of me is worried about the recession, while another part of me just wants to go ahead and act. Caught in this dilemma, with no clear plan in place just yet, I find myself unable to act. Unable to sit down and list out pros and cons of different actions and paths and to take a decision.

    But this statement, so simple and powerful, jolted me out of this limbo that I find myself in. The time has come to act, and with my faith and His power, things will work out just fine.

    Finding meaning

    Three and a half billion years of evolution has built the need for meaning and purpose into human beings. It is as real as our need to breathe. —- Donna Druchunas

    And how do we uncover this deeper meaning to our lives? The deeper meaning of life lies where we choose to dig deeper. Ask yourself everyday what went well and why it went well. If you had a good conversation with an angry friend, describe what about that conversation went well. Did you do something different? Did you respond to a negative with a positive? Try to outline three positive things and the reasons why they went well at the end of the day. Daily practice will help you to build a good foundation for uncovering meaning in your life.