A Tapper

You may well ask: What is a tapper? No, I don’t mean someone who tap dances (I wish!). I am referring to tapping, a self-management, stress-reduction tool which I learnt about some fifteen years ago when I was going through a bad patch in my personal life and I had found it quietened my mental chatter most effectively, slowed my breathing and pounding heart, and sometimes gave me answers to my issues. Since then I have used tapping at various phases of my life but it is only recently that I have taken my “personal peace procedure” seriously and committed to tapping everyday. Thus T for I am a Tapper in the same vein as Y for I am a Yogi.

Both involve daily practice which I find challenging. Like yoga, I have done tapping on myself on and off over the years. It helped me immensely again when I underwent surgery and radiotherapy. I used to do it religiously soon after I was diagnosed right up to the time I was discharged from care. It helped by making me feel calm and centred, allaying my fears, and even relieving some pain. I keep going back to it when I am undergoing stress which is what it is meant for but if done everyday when stressors may not be that traumatic, it has a cumulative effect like any exercise. It allows us to release emotional blockages in the body. Clearing blocks regularly and removing the emotional detritus that has accumulated over your lifetime is a daily technique called the Personal Peace Procedure, I guess because it allows one to make peace with what is, let go and move on. It is this daily, dedicated practice then which becomes part of one’s identity as a tapper.

Tapping (or psychological acupuncture) is the common name for Emotional Freedom Technique, EFT for short. It is so called because it involves tapping on several meridian points on the upper body, mainly the face. What it does is it calms the amygdala, which is the brain’s flight or fight response. When the amygdala senses danger it triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which, in turn, prepares your body to flee or fight. While the amygdala is intended to protect us from danger, it can interfere with our functioning in the modern world where threats are more subtle in nature. By simply tapping and thus calming the amygdala, anxiety can be reduced and that allows for clearer thinking. Check out the demo in the video below.

Tapping can look strange and weird. Some years ago it would have been considered as woo-woo. Perhaps many people are still skeptical. But in the last decade, it has come into its own with over a hundred scientific papers which are evidence-based. In one research, it was shown that cortisol was reduced by as much as 43% with one hour of tapping, (although it can be effective when done for as little as 3-5minutes for straight-forward stress relief).

In fact, tapping does so much more. It can be used to relieve pain, boost your mood, clear trauma, overcome phobias and addictions to name just a few. It is said to rewire the brain’s response to stress and change any negative conditioning that has developed in childhood.

Personally for me though, I finally decided to get certified as a practitioner because I wanted firstly to support cancer patients in their journey as I had experienced the benefits myself. But my greater passion is to take in into schools. I am of the firm belief that it is a simple, gentle and effective tool that each child should be equipped with from a young age so that they do not have to carry a lot of emotional baggage into adulthood.

Simultaneously though, I have to continue tapping on myself everyday.


I thought for this blog I would recap on some quotes I have used in previous blogs. Do leave a comment which is your favourite and why.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus

“A merry thought is medicine, ill thoughts dry the bones”. The Bible

“Wrong happens. You have to make the right happen.” Gopal Gaur Das

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” Francis Bacon

“The paradox of personal growth is that it begins with self-acceptance.”  Carl Rogers

“If we still ourselves we can mirror the Divine perfectly”  Sarah Blondin

“Think the thought until you believe it. Once you believe it, it is.”  Abraham Hicks

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates (5th C BC)

“The way to use life is to do nothing through acting. The way to use life is to do everything through being.”  Lao Tzu (6th C BC)

I am Health

My choice of word for the letter H might come across as unusual as my other words so far like Authenticity, Curiosity, Detachment, Forgiveness… have been more personality qualities or traits. I might have gone with Harmony or Hope, both of which are also important for me. But at this point in my life, Health stands out like a sore thumb.

So why Health?

As far back as I can remember, I was a robust child and young adult. My mother would always say with pride to her friends how I was no trouble at all, to the extent that she never had to take me to the doctor’s. Apart from a tonsillitis operation, I breezed through my youth without any health scare or major complaints. I understand today that my mother’s repeated declarations were actually an expression of gratitude.

Youngsters, full of energy and vitality, feel invincible and sometimes overlook the fact that one has to take care of one’s health as it is not guaranteed to last. Though, try telling them that and it will fall on deaf ears.

I only woke up to that realisation myself in the last twenty years when my health issues surfaced and I think on the whole, I have faced my challenges full on and remained strong in spirit, in spite of them. I am also fully aware and grateful that my physical difficulties, though stressful, have never been as debilitating or crippling as for some others.

But I sometimes wonder where that robust young girl disappeared, and on reflection even though I thought I had been very resilient in later years, a certain negative thought pattern had crept in slowly and insidiously. The ‘poor me’ mentality. Why is one thing after another happening to me?

I think I work hard to stay on top of my health issues, having kind of taken the reins in my own hands. Chronic pain does not seem to be a priority for general medicine practitioners and sometimes the sufferers are left to their own devices. There are many modalities out there which help with healing and I have heard and read about many miraculous self-healing stories. So why cannot I do it?

Lately I have been feeling stuck and not having much success, in spite of knowing that I have to address my negative thought patterns which create depressing feelings because “Your body hears everything your mind says.” Naomi Judd. So “To change your body, you must first change your mind.”

Healing with the mind has been around for thousand of years. It is written in the Bible:

“A merry thought is medicine, ill thoughts dry the bones”.

Making this shift from ill thinking (Oh dear! What now?) to my new mantra I am Health, is what I have been focusing on for a while but with not very significant results. Then as synchronicity would have it, just yesterday I listened to an interview with Brandy Gillmore PhD, an expert in mind-body healing which not only reminded me of the science behind the mind-body connection but also reinforced the need to create a radical shift in my feelings and reprogramming my mind at a deeper, subconscious level.

Our thoughts do really create our lives more than we realize and thoughts create feelings. I am aware that I have a tendency to bury my emotions. So it’s been a while that I have been working on identifying specific emotions, like anger, hurt, rejection, resentment… and either tapping on them or meditating with supportive soundtracks to let them go. The complexity arises when there are more than one emotion and one has to work harder.

Gillmore also emphasised the greater importance of accessing positive emotions like feeling loved and being connected which she demonstrated with a visualization exercise that helps you feel lifted. I am familiar with such practices and her pointing out that it is even more important to raise our energy’s vibrational frequency is a reminder for me to do it more often. She also suggested to use music to help you feel good which I also find helpful. As Gopal Gaur Das says:

“Wrong happens. You have to make the right happen.”

What’s more, I was reminded that you have to reinforce the new programme over and over again till it becomes the new norm. Thus my journey in self-healing continues and it just struck me that this path is linked very closely to my endeavours in being more Authentic, Curious, Detached, Grateful, Forgiving, Joyful… because I believe all those attributes can promote wellbeing and Health.

Busting Beliefs (Re-Cap)

In the preamble to the A-Z of Just Being, I first introduced the importance and relevance of Just Being, then covered the Bane of Being Busy which illustrated how busyness affects our lives and does not allow us to pause and actually be. Next, the Bliss in our Breath highlighted some ways to use our breath to help us sit in silence, quieten the mind to go within where we can access our true being. Before we finally get into the A-Z itself, I would like to shine a torch on our limiting beliefs because we first have to be aware of them and then get past them to be able to move forward.

Till the age of six to seven, children are sponges. They learn and absorb the attitudes and behaviours from the people closest to them. And the startling truth is that they become so programmed by those beliefs and habits that in their adult lives they run on auto-pilot, living by the conditioning of the sub-conscious mind for more than 90% of the time, downloading copies of other people’s behaviours. 70% of these programmes are disempowering and self-sabotaging and very often they are not even aware that they are doing that.

Furthermore, even if they want to consciously change their habit or behaviour, it is not that simple because the subconscious programming always has the upper hand. Thus, the importance of connecting with our sub-conscious through meditation and other practices, which also help us in becoming aware of our habitual patterns that stem from acquired beliefs before we can work on changing the belief itself.

Beliefs are a form of hypnosis and they are not necessarily true. Perhaps the mother of all limiting beliefs is “I am not good enough”. This belief comes in different guises: I am not smart enough, not young enough, not rich enough etc. And people’s habits, views and behaviours are conditioned by these beliefs. So to change the outer we have to get to the inner.

We are so much more than our limited mind and our object is to change our view of the world and ourselves. We see life through the filter of our beliefs, get stuck in freeze mode and even look for evidence that our beliefs are true. The irony is that we experience what we believe. What is reality? Is what I think true? Question your existing thought patterns: Are my beliefs true for me today? Are they serving me in the right way? ((Because beliefs always serve in some way, say for protection, which you may no longer need.)

A very simplistic example: I grew up believing I was hopeless at maths. So for most of my life my mind would go blank at the mention of numbers. But thinking about it, I realise that nothing extra was done at that point in time to address my poor performance. So now I keep my mind open and give it a go at least. And going back to “I am not good enough”, that goes totally against the grain of our true essence. We are all whole beings, loved unconditionally by a Supreme Being. We are totally worthy and do not need anyone to validate us. Just that over time, acquiring various labels and roles, being shrouded by limiting beliefs we have shrunk, hidden and ignored our inherent magnificent identity.

So healing and growth start with self-love and acceptance. Growth means becoming more of who we are; not trying to change per se but growing. In order to be whole we must accept all of ourselves, warts and all The first relationship then, is really with yourself.

“The paradox of personal growth is that it begins with self-acceptance.” Carl Rogers

Three exercises/tools I have found to be useful are:

1/ The first exercise is in two parts.

a/ Become a witness to your thoughts, feelings, emotions and perceptions. Learn how to witness your inner world. Make a list of your beliefs around yourself, relationships, health, work, money. Examine them one by one, honestly asking why you hold the beliefs that you do and how relevant or true they are today. See if you can make a shift. Do you think you have to work hard to make a living? Why is there evidence now that when you are in flow, work can be easy and abundance follows?

b/ Reframe that negative belief into something that feels true to you. Change “I am not good enough” to “I am Ok” Even if you cannot go as far as “I am more than enough”. But take a leap of faith. The ideal would be to be independent of this conditioning so that you can go and experience a deeper part of yourself which is a field of pure potential. The key word here is “to experience”. If you go within on a consistent basis you will discover experientially that you are whole and more than enough.

2/ Make an appreciation list of who you are now. I found this difficult to start with but slowly the more I dwelled on it the more positive qualities I came up with and it transported me to a better place. You can even ask close family and friends to tell you what your strong points are. Why wait for a eulogy which you will never hear, I say? (And as an aside, keep pointing out what you appreciate about the same people closest to you because what you give out comes back to you.)

“As you think thoughts that feel good to you, you will be in harmony with who you really are.” Abraham Hicks

3/ The third is actually a tool I discovered some 15 years ago and recently I have become a student practitioner of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or tapping. I find tapping very soothing because it reduces stress and anxiety levels very quickly and as it involves tapping on several meridian points, it shifts blocked energy more easily than talking or thinking things through. You can actually tap on your limiting beliefs to try and shift them and you can also tap on enhancing self-love and self-acceptance. Many You Tube videos are out there for you to give it a try. (For deeper issues working with a qualified practitioner is always advisable)

Connecting with your true self and having a loving relationship with yourself is an on-going process. It takes time, patience and commitment. “When you work on your inner sense of worthiness and value, your energy levels go up. your insights, creativity and your belief in yourself all increase” David Hamilton PhD. That is perhaps when we can take our personal growth to the next level. Enter A-Z.

The Bane Of Being Busy

Have you ever wondered what people must be doing when they put on their What’s app status: Busy or Can’t talk or Urgent calls only?

Being busy has become a fashion statement. It is equated with success and worthiness and being in demand . John Hopkins researchers call this ‘the cult of busy’. But with no pause button to reset the mind and body, stress and burnout have been on the increase. In fact, stress is the leading cause of many of the physical, mental and relational issues that come from the constant state of busy-ness. Stress, has been defined as pressure (that is the situation) over resilience or inner strength. Today, with the pressure of both work and home life, the denominator (resilience) is very often ignored. In our busy-ness we live outside-in, rather than inside-out, which is the ultimate way to create the strength to tackle pressure.

Work, both in the workplace and in the house can consume our lives if we let it. On the one hand, it is both necessary and healthy. It allows us to be productive… and pays the bills. On the other hand, when we forget the work-life balance, things go awry. We have 24 hours in a day. In the schedule of a 9-5 work-day, people work 8 hours, should have 8 hours for family, play, recreation, and 8 hours for sleep. Are you mad? Who has that luxury today?

Partly it boils down to unsound prioritization and to poor time management skills and maybe also to the fact that success is very often determined by externals like making it to the top or acquisition of one’s dream house. We have confused our roles and professions with our ultimate purpose in life which is related to our ‘being’, to experience our inherent qualities of peace and joy. That is a constant, whereas goals are forever changing. We are always in search of a new destination, forgetting to enjoy the journey in the process, waiting for happiness when we have attained a certain goal, then latching on to the next, never quite content on the way, not understanding that if the being is healthy, the doing will automatically follow.

Being too busy is also very often used as an excuse to get out of doing things, like doing exercise or meditation, or even meeting people. It can be a form of distraction, an escape from not facing issues in your life. Sometimes it is a form of procrastination when you submerge yourself in not very significant work, avoiding the very thing that needs the most attention.

But for many busy-ness has become an addiction and addiction supresses the conscious mind. We are rarely in the moment, in the now, tossing between the past and the future, unable to smell the roses. Sometimes we aren’t present, even when we are physically present, because even our minds are consumed by busy-ness.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. Running on a frantic and relentless timetable all day, constantly on adrenaline, not only are we depleting the body but also the mind. Even our leisure time is very often regimented. The irony is that, out of idle reflection comes inspiration. Remember how Archimedes had his Eureka moment in the bath! Creativity and wise decision-making is only possible with clarity. But most of the time our minds are blurred and out of focus, (like the photograph below), as we zoom from one activity and thought to another. Stress is created by repetitive fearful thoughts. We are beset with worries and this leads to over-thinking which in turn reduces soul power. When you are faced with hurdles you need energy to jump and negative thoughts deplete energy. Resting the mind creates peace and silence is intuitive power. That is the antidote to busy-ness.

This busy syndrome is unfortunately, also passed on to children. Most unwittingly, ‘tiger mums’ who push their children towards being the best at everything, taxiing them in their 4x4s from one activity to another, are laying down the roots for another generation who will believe that you are only good enough when you are doing something and when you have achieved excellence.

Moreover, there is another irony. Some people can be busy doing nothing. Then there are others…and these are the really successful ones… can be doing a lot yet always have time for one thing more. It is a mind-set. If the auto-response of my mind is standard: ” I am busy. I don’t have time.”, this starts making me unavailable to myself as well as to those around me. I confess to once having a favourite auto-response myself: “I am tired”. Till I learnt that each time I used those words I was creating and reinforcing that same reality. So why not use a positive mantra instead? Sister Shivani of the Brahma Kumaris, inspired by her mentor, suggests using the words “I am easy” instead of “I am busy“. Just changing our vocabulary can have an effect on our consciousness and thus our experience of life. “I am busy” can create clutter in the mind and blockages in the body whereas “I am easy” can shift the energy and create lightness. Try it for yourself (and leave a comment to share how you get on).


Now how did that happen? Totally immersed in the mobile and not seeing the caution sign? Or more specifically not paying attention, being distracted, and simply not being mindful?

You see, having to be mindful comes into play in our lives so much of the time that I think the importance of mindfulness can be highlighted on two levels. That is the way I see it. (Leave a comment after the post, if you agree and even if you do not). Thus M is for Mindfulness.

If you look up the word ‘mindfulness’ in a dictionary, you will find two meanings:

mindfulness [ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs] NOUN

  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I dare say that the first definition is something all of us must have been reminded of as children and actually taught….mind your Ps and Qs…which once again according to a dictionary definition is not only about minding your language (how you speak and what you say), but also minding your manners (how you behave) and what you do. In today’s world, language has gone out of the window with ‘f…’ this and ‘f…’ that and so has behaviour to a great extent with all the violence around us. Thus perhaps all the more reason for people to think about being mindful im just the everyday sense.

So in everyday life, I’m sure you will agree that we need to be conscious of what we say and do in our interactions and how we respond. I can go further today and say we even need to be fully aware of what we say to ourselves too because our perpetual negative mental chatter can be most toxic. But do we always come from that state of being conscious and aware? Are we mindful?

I think that is where the second definition of mindfulness comes in. Modern day living has hijacked mindfulness. We are constantly bombarded with so much information, our heads are either in the air or in the sand because we are overwhelmed. Our minds are in constant flux, not being centred and grounded. Moreover, with the fast pace of our stressed lives, we have become habituated to living on autopilot, reacting to our environment rather than responding consciously with awareness.

In 1979 it was Jon Kabat-Zinn who developed an eight-week program to help terminally ill people to reduce their stress and anxiety. This programme is now widely known as MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). As the name suggests, mindfulness is at its core.  Since then, substantial research has mounted demonstrating how mindfulness-based interventions improve mental and physical health—comparably so to other psychological interventions. And thus mindfulness has become a practice, together with meditation, breathing and other modalities which focus on the present moment to help relieve stress and remain centred. Kabat-Zinn’s own definition of mindfulness is obviously helpful and overlaps the dictionary definition:

Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. I then sometimes add, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

What is key in both definitions is that it is an awareness that we actively have to focus on and achieve ‘on purpose‘. It is not random. It is a ‘therapeutic technique’. That the focus should be on the present moment (and not flitting between past events and future plans), in ‘our bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings….non-judgementally and accepting. Kabat-Zinn elaborates further that it promotes ‘self-understanding and wisdom’ which can be seen as a benefit in itself besides stress reduction.

Perhaps the definitions sound complicating but it is very simple. It is just observing as a detached witness what is happening around you.

My own introduction to mindfulness as a technique came about when I was asked to eat a piece of chocolate as slowly as possible, being aware of all the sensations, how it looked and felt first in my hands, how it tasted at various stages, how it smelt, what other sensations. It was the most difficult thing for me to do as usually I would gobble a piece in seconds. But it was also an unbelievable experience because chocolate never tasted as good. Mindful Eating is one form of mindfulness.

What I find easiest though is Mindful Breathing, just observing your in-breath and out-breath and letting your thoughts go without judging them. I find it relaxes me instantly.

The key to awareness is to formally integrate moments of mindfulness in your day. There is a study in which a group of people who did their everyday washing-up mindfully, really paying attention and engaging all their senses, felt much more positive.

I also believe that being mindful of one’s blessings, being part of one’s gratitude practice, is also very calming and gratifying. (Gratitude is also one of the nine core attitudes according to Kabat-Zinn needed to cultivate mindfulness). Even in dire straits, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”. Kabat-Zinn (click to watch his short video on attitudes)

To finish off on a sombre note, one crucial aspect of life to be mindful of is our mortality. In the words of Sadhguru:

“Life is a brief happening. We live thinking we are immortal. But if you remember your mortality everyday and wake up feeling grateful for another day, you will be more spiritual”.

I think this applies to all adults, even the young. Maybe especially the young because in our youth we keep so many things on hold that we might want to do for a later date but in the end sometimes it is too late. Thinking of our mortality everyday then is perhaps the secret to living in the moment and really appreciating life.

It’s not the end of the world

I grew up (maybe like many of you), dreaming and drooling to songs with words to the effect:

“You’re my world, You’re every breath I take.”

or “Why does the sun go on shining?…. Don’t they know it’s the end of the world ‘cos you don’t love me any more.”

I think this perspective of love is not only conveyed across cultures so that you would get the same melodramatic lyrics in various languages and to some extent, it still is prevalent in the latest songs, as well as in movies and books. It is no wonder then that some youngsters might take on this screwed up idea of love in which one is totally immersed into the other to the point of losing one’s own identity and becoming completely dependent on the other for one’s happiness, even though I believe to some extent, that this generation is more mature and wiser than the last one at a similar age. I ,for one, was a sucker for these songs and this was my view of love for many years…till I became wiser.

Indeed, I remember an incident when I was waiting in my car to pick up the kids and was listening to these so-called ‘romantic’ songs when a friend got in to sit beside me. She actually remarked: “No wonder you feel depressed when you listen to such sentimentality. Change it to something lively.” Since then I make sure that I put on some upbeat music when I am down.

One of the reasons why people get disheartened is this very reliance for their happiness on situations and on others, be it a partner, friends or even children. Co-dependency has been romanticised to the point that one believes that cannot live without the other. With children, some parents seem unwilling to cut the umbilical cord even when the children have grown-up and flown the nest and continue to rely on them for their joy.

Every soul is on his own journey and one can only stand by the other to a certain point. It is up to each individual to first love and accept himself. It’s only after you find yourself that you can expect to find your soulmate. Only then can you actually love someone else in the true sense of the word. If you are ready to do the work you simply grow and evolve together with someone and become whole, like fitting pieces of a puzzle together. In point of fact, you do not need someone to complete you. You are innately whole. There is nothing to fix. That truth for me was a game changer. So too the truth that I could cultivate my own happiness as our Joy is in our own hands, and we do not leave it to others to fulfill our needs.

Unmet expectations is another cause of heatbreak and maybe one of the most difficult to reverse for some, especially where children are concerned.

“Expectations are often subtle defense mechanisms against the fear of uncertainty and helplessness, retreating into your mental stories of how things should be, giving an illusion of control” Nick Wignall

When we drop our expectations (not because we don’t care but because we do), this allows the other person space to be himself/herself. It also avoids the disappointment one feels when things do not go our way. It is an illusion to think that we can control either people or situations. if we can let go of judgements and our inherent need to feel in control, we can then practice acceptance and compassion for all, as well as have faith in the way life unfolds for you.

Without expectations and all our gamut of negative emotions and judgement, maybe we can also allow ourselves to disengage from the drama in our lives. These songs accentuate the drama. I now cringe when I listen to the maudlin lyrics even though the music brings back memories of sorts. The intensity of the drama is equivalent to the intensity of the pain. The challenging event or situation, any heartbreak, is meant to teach us something. Keep the lesson and let the drama go.


When I came across the idea of ‘detachment’ some years ago, as a way of living or even a spiritual practice, I had found the concept difficult to digest. How did one ‘detach’ oneself from loved ones, external events, goals and roller-coaster emotions? What was wrong with attachment? Wasn’t it a good thing? What did ‘being detached’ really mean? But the more I delved into the subject and started practising it in fits and starts, (because it has never been smooth-sailing), it began to make some sense, especially in those times when I experienced its benefits and noticed small changes in my state of mind as well as behaviour. So even though this might be the biggest challenge of them all, D is for Detachment.

The first hurdle was to understand what detachment actually entailed. As I keep reiterating in my blogs, I am no guru or expert. This is just my own grasp of this particular principle. And I would love for readers to comment on their take.

Firstly, I found it easier to understand what detachment is not. Being detached does not suggest that you are any less committed to a person, a job, a task or a goal . It does not mean being indifferent or less caring. So is it possible to remain detached and still care and love? We are supposed to give up not on our families and our work or our desires and our capacity for enjoyment, but our tendency to identify with our bodies and personalities.

That leads us back to soul-consciousness as opposed to body-consciousness. The spiritual exercise of the mind involves taking the mind out of the physical body to our state of being a soul, or pure Consciousness mainly through awareness and meditation. In that state, you become the Witness or Observer of what is happening in the external world. You detach from external situations and people because you no longer get entangled in any drama, be it personal or otherwise. Simultaneously, if you draw your strength from your core and natural state of being, you can navigate your life from a place of love instead of fear. This in turn, would generate, positive thoughts and feelings about life, your relationships and your work.

As discussed in my other blogs, we are the creators of our thoughts, which then give rise to your feelings. Detachment means to be able to create your feelings, independent of the emotions of others, which means you remain uninfluenced by people and situations.

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, an eminent Swiss-American psychiatrist:

There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions come from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace and joy. From fear, comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt…..But it’s more accurate to say there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together at the same time.

Having a love-oriented mindset thus helps us be in charge of our feelings. From what I have understood detachment is the ultimate practice to avoid suffering. So if we can master our feelings and stay on top of them by continually focusing on love, we can start letting go of pain. Decisions made out of love promote feelings of acceptance, abundance and compassion whereas decisions made out of fear are based on scarcity, ego and insecurities.

The root of suffering is attachment, when you hold a person or an object as a part of yourself. When that person or object is criticised, neglected, does not live up to your expectations, or leaves you, you experience a sense of loss. Attachment does not allow for independent feelings and results in pain. If you want to be happy, you must learn to let go of fear and expectations and to love and appreciate while remaining independent and detached. Expectations give you an illusion that you are in control but no one can control anyone, not even one’s children. Control over others makes us feel powerful but it is a weakness because our mind is dependent on their actions to feel good. To foster inner calm, we need to let go of expectations and our ideas of how things should be and stay focused on how things really are. The opposite if control is acceptance. We only need to hold ourselves responsible for our own actions and not for what we cannot control.

That holds true also for outcomes. We get so attached to our goals, targets, results of a project and various endeavours as well as dreams and desires that we get frustrated and despondent when they are not realised or at least not to our expectations once again. Detachment here means to do the work as best as one can, maybe in the name of service if possible and then simply let it be and allow life to flow, by being present and not worrying or obsessing about the result. This allows us to find freedom from the need for things to go a certain way and also to accept uncertainty which is the field of all possibilities.

The Law of Detachment says that in order to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to relinquish your attachment to it. This doesn’t mean you give up the intention to create your desire. You don’t give up the intention and you don’t give up the desire. You give up the attachment to the result.” Deepak Chopra,

Finally, happiness and sadness are a part and parcel of life, the yin and the yang. It helps to remember though, that they are both impermanent. So I think detachment also involves living moment to moment. If with the consistent practice of meditation and mindfulness one arrives at a point that one lives in the present as far as possible, one can stop re-living and letting go of past traumas and stop worrying about the future. One then also learns to be comfortable with change and uncertainty. All is well, now, just as it is, even if it is bad. It will pass. That is the mantra. That is another way to let go of pain and remain detached.

So step in, step back, watch, let go and let be.


I really thought I had ‘gratitude’ under wraps. I considered myself generally of a thankful disposition and some years ago when gratitude journaling and other such practices became popular I considered to add them on to my prayers of gratitude and started my own daily ritual because I wanted to experience what it felt like and test it out for myself. So, apart from praying in gratitude, I decided to be more conscious and consistent in having appreciative thoughts and for a while I even wrote them down everyday. What I noticed was that the act of writing and repetition of words like: “I am happy and grateful that…” followed by three “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you” (as suggested by Rhonda Byrne) did help to actually bring about and expand the feeling. Repeating the words rote-like even with feeling did not have the same effect. The process definitely confirmed the idea that you cannot be upset and grateful at the same time. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inwards and extends outwards.

But recently, I have been feeling that something was missing. Thus, ‘G‘ for Gratitude as I explore where I think I might be falling short.

It could be that since I have stopped writing down daily the ten things I am grateful for, the magic is not that powerful. When I had been doing it regularly, at the end of the month, I really could feel almost a sense of euphoria. The benefits of the practice of gratitude are well documented and there are also studies showing how it boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health. But I still think of ten things in depth, so why has the joyous outcome diminished, I ask myself? Maybe because there are days when I do not do it or do it in a rush? Could be.

There is yet another possibility. Of late, I have found myself whining to the point of nagging. That awareness reminded me of the the 3Cs. which I reflect are in some way diametrically opposed to gratitude. When we criticize, our minds seem to hone in on finding fault and spotting blemishes. When we complain, we are not appreciating. And comparing sucks us into a maze that is difficult to extricate ourselves from. It dawned on me then that even though I am grateful for a lot of things starting with the first thank you for another day, if I am also constantly complaining or criticizing or comparing, be it vocally or in my head, that would surely drastically reduce the total value of my gratitude exercise. In fact, it could nullify it.

The problem is that as humans, our tendency is “to attend to, learn from and use negative information far more than positive information”. (Vaish et al 2008) So we tend to dwell on the one thing that did not go well rather than the ten things that did. This is called the ‘negativity bias’. So if I am complaining or focusing on the lack, the negative, in that moment I become ungrateful and lose the plot.

If we recognize all this, the answer then is obvious: Stop criticizing, complaining and comparing. Much more difficult than sitting down quietly and jotting down things you are grateful for. Though I would add that if one is consistent with any gratitude practice, one is more inclined to look for the positive and the ripple effect on the 3 Cs would be obvious.

We are not only critical of others but sometimes we can be our own harshest critic. In that event, be aware of and challenge your negative self-talk also. Instead start appreciating and savouring the positive, be it in moments, experiences, relationships as well as one’s own strengths and talents. This conscious effort is another way to count one’s blessings and be grateful….even in distressing times.

“Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance” Eckhart Tolle

Taking it one step further, being thankful then involves the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness in words as well as in action. The practice of gratitude then shifts from a comparatively passive mode to an active involvement. Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude argues that gratitude is an affirmation of goodness, the sources of which are outside ourselves, either other people or higher powers.

“I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we have been supported and affirmed by other people”.

In the same way that we praise the Lord (if we are religious) or marvel at the mysteries and beauty of the Universe as one way of showing our gratitude, what if we could also praise (appreciate) the people in our lives more often? “When we expand our capacity of appreciating others and life, we expand our capacity to appreciate ourselves”. Mike Robbins.

Here, I must acknowledge and appreciate my strength in that I put this into practise reasonably frequently…even though the possibility of expansion is always there. And I think I am so conscious of the importance of this because one of my pet peeves is obituaries. I think Nobel Laureate Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore sums it up beautifully:

When I’m dead

Your tears will flow

But I won’t know.

Cry with me now instead.

You will send flowers

But I won’t see

Send them now instead.

You’ll say words of praise

But I won’ hear.

Praise me now instead…..

The Firsts

Even though ideally one is meant to find joy and happiness within oneself, thus eliminating the need to look outwards to other people or circumstances, there are definitely moment’s in one’s life that stand out because of the joy one felt at that time. A first medal, getting your first set of wheels, be it a bicycle or a car, a memorable holiday, a first kiss, a promotion, a wedding. Very often, the first of something.

Remember the impatience you felt when you could not balance on a bicycle and someone older had to hold the saddle to help you? Then just at the right moment without you even being aware, you were set free and found yourself pedaling away on your own, slowly racing down the road with the wind in your hair. What a thrill!

Or the day, when after weeks of practice, with butterflies in your stomach, you go up the stage to perform your first solo act or recital and finish to the roar of applause, mostly coming from where your parents and family are seated. Such a sense of pride all around!

Then there are the milestones. How many letters or emails have you waited anxiously for, to receive one finally, with news of an acceptance to a school or a university, a job offer, maybe a promotion? The relief mixed with joy!

Or the day you took your vows standing next to the person you had committed to spend the rest of your life with, maybe a little nervous but mostly happy beyond measure.

Maybe you have experienced the indescribable delight of holding your newborn in your arms for the first time, your heart filled to bursting, when the agony of the labour pains immediately become a memory of the distant past, as you take hold of one of the curled up tiny fingers of the little one.

So many memories filled with joy, made more joyous by the anticipation, the effort that went before or maybe just the exhilarating experience in itself. Sometimes they can be a source of comfort and more serene joy as we reflect on them, not in the sense of nostalgia “of the good old days” but really in gratitude and appreciation of your life thus far.

In fact there is a technique in Neuro-linguistic Programming called Anchoring which is used to instill positive feelings when you are stuck or feeling low by remembering a time when you felt that feeling. So actually reliving a time when you felt joyful (or confident or…) and then choosing an anchor device that involves touch such as touching your thumb and forefinger or making a fist until you feel the same joy wash over you again and then activating the anchoring gesture, you can access that joyful (or confident…) state at any time.

Go down memory lane once in a while and make some mental notes meditatively. I just did and found myself feeling blessed and joyful.