Be a Wise Charioteer

The charioteer has been shown on the chariot, holding the reins of the 5 horses. The horses are mischievous and adventurous they will lead the chariot and the charioteer astray if left to their own devices.

They are the greatest companions for the charioteer and allow him to move forward at great speed. However, if these same companions are distracted and influenced by enemy tactics, then the charioteer is at risk of also being deluded into making the wrong move and becoming trapped.

I the soul am the charioteer sitting in this body. The five horses represent the 5 senses: to hear, to see, to taste, to smell and to touch. These are my great companions. They are a part of the body, the chariot; they are separate from the charioteer, the soul.
However the senses can be pulled and influenced in all directions. The job of the charioteer is to direct them and not be influenced himself. To use them but not to become enslaved to them and the information they supply.

With these under full control the charioteer is able to withstand all challenges that come in his path and move with great wisdom.

Be a wise charioteer.

Who is the Master and Who is the Slave?

A Guru was walking through the market place with his disciples. They saw a man dragging a cow by a rope.

The Guru told the man to wait and asked his disciples to surround them.

“I am going to teach you something” and continued... “Tell me who is bound to whom? Is the cow bound to this man or the man is bound to the cow?

The disciples said without hesitation “Of course the cow is bound to the man! The man is the master. He is holding the rope. The cow has to follow him wherever he goes. The man is the master and the cow is the slave.”

“Now watch this”, said Sankara and took a pair of scissors from his bag and cut the rope. The cow ran away from the master and the man ran after his cow. “Look, what is happening”, said the Guru, “Do you see who the Master is? The cow is not at all interested in this man. The cow in fact, is trying to escape from this man.” This is the case with our MIND.

Like the cow, all the non-sense that we carry inside is not interested in us. WE are interested in IT, we are keeping it together somehow or the other. We are going crazy trying to keep it all together under our control. The moment we lose interest in all the garbage filled in our head, and the moment we understand the futility of it, it will start to disappear. Like the cow, it will escape and disappear.” We can allow disappearing of all the unwanted things from our mind and feel relaxed.

All It Takes is Ten Minutes

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions).

How Schools Kill Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Time to take time out : Getting your brain rebooted

Albert Einstein stated that “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” When we forget that gift, we cannot expect the way we treat others – or ourselves – to be as constructive a force as it should.

We shoulder unreasonable deadlines, put in 14-hour days, and routinely skip lunch. We can’t sleep. Our necks hurt, our eyes hurt, our hands hurt, our shoulders hurt. We run out of physical, intellectual, and emotional energy. As glorious as our technology is, it has become a leash that makes it impossible to separate what we do from who we are.

Yet it need not be so.

Meditation is like flossing our teeth. We all know it’s good for us and that we should floss daily. Usually, though, we tell ourselves we just do not have time for it. And what, if anything, does meditation have to do with interpersonal skills and manners, much less business success?

The goal is to live in the moment, which is the only reality we know. That means clearing our heads of the noise, confusion, and clutter that sends us back ruminating over our past or into the fantasy that is the future.

Athletes call it visualization, which is simply a positive mental rehearsal of what they are about to do. Whatever you wish to call it, meditation has as much to do with effective human performance as Shakespeare has to do with literature.

In his classic book “The Relaxation Response”, Dr. Herbert Benson proved conclusively that meditation lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. Recent studies also found that meditation relieves insomnia, a plague of our times.

Simple as breathing

In his Harvard Business Review article, “You’re Working Too Hard,” Dr. Benson argues that by getting our minds off whatever problems we are trying to solve, we reboot our brains and ultimately arrive at longer-lasting solutions more easily.

That really is as simple as breathing. Take deep, relaxing breaths: inhale deeply through your nose, letting your abdomen expand like a balloon, thus allowing more space in your chest for inspired air; as you exhale slowly through your nose or mouth, let your abdomen deflate. You don’t have to exaggerate either the inhalation or the exhalation; your body knows what to do.

Your mind will not stay blank. Rather than fighting your thoughts, simply do not follow them. Instead, let thoughts come and go, and keep returning to your breath. The goal here is to connect with your intuition, the sacred gift, as Einstein calls it, and not tether yourself to the rational mind, the faithful servant.

Resetting ourselves in a positive position merely requires closing our eyes, shutting out external stimuli, and breathing. Meditation evokes a relaxed focus, not necessarily spiritually induced.

Meditation is merely the practice of being quiet, turning your attention inward, and focusing your mind. Once we connect with our intuitive mind, we then are able to put our thoughts to work making better choices that result in more effective behaviour.

So, you might wonder, what is our time investment here? It only takes a moment. When I was in Saudi Arabia, one very accomplished scientist, on extreme overload from professional and family demands, allowed me to test the argument. We set our smartphone timers for one minute. We closed our eyes and did some belly breathing. When the alarm rang, she was refreshed and better equipped to handle the immediate challenges ahead.

I ask you, can there be a greater Return On Investment for a single moment spent getting our brain rebooted?

Perhaps marshaling our personal technology is not quite the same as heeding the haunting call to prayer. Yet, for me at least, pausing thus is just as profound.

Try it.

(Mary M. Mitchell has written several books on the subject of etiquette, now in 11 languages, most recently “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Modern Manners Fast Track” and “Woofs to the Wise”. She is the founder of executive training consultancy The Mitchell Organization (


Keep your brain ticking

Senior Consultant Neurologist Dr. J.B. Peiris suggests some simple ways to keep your mental faculties healthy

A few days ago a friend of mine asked me how best to remember names. Having faced the problem myself (possibly, a familial trait) I could not think of a suitable answer immediately. So, I did some thinking, reading and surfing and here are some interesting facts, myths and food for thought.

By the time you are 65 years, your brain isn't what it used to be- you will start to notice the signs: you forget people's names and you cannot remember where you left your keys or mobile phone. Clearly not everyone ages in the same way

Reaction time is slower and it takes us longer to learn new information. Sometimes it takes longer to retrieve information, resulting in that tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon — where you almost have that word or that thought. That's typical of the middle-age brain.

There is a good reason why our memories start to let us down. At this stage of life we are steadily losing brain cells in critical areas such as the hippocampus - the area where memories are processed. This is not too much of a problem at first; even in old age the brain is flexible enough to compensate. At some point though, losses start to make themselves felt. It's true that by midlife our brains can show some fraying. Brain processing speed slows down. Faced with new information, we often cannot master it as quickly as our younger peers. And there's little question that our short-term memories suffer.

There are, however, some brain functions which improve with age. We actually grow smarter in key areas in middle age which, with longer life spans, now stretches from our mid 40s to our mid to late 60s. In areas as diverse as vocabulary and inductive reasoning, our brains function better than they did in our 20s. As we age, we more easily get the "gist" of arguments. Even our judgment of others improves. Often, we simply "know'' if someone — or some idea — is to be trusted. We also get better at knowing what to ignore and when to hold our tongues.

Fresh thinking about the brain
An old myth in neuroscience is that once a brain cell dies off you can't replace it. But many studies have now shown, that there is, in fact, brain cell growth throughout life. It continues to develop, and even continues to grow new brain cells. So the brain can continue to learn throughout the middle age years and beyond.

Plasticity of the brain
The brain can be changed or moulded to suit the needs – the concept of "Plasticity" which relates to changes by adding or removing connections, or adding cells. Research has shown that in fact the brain never stops changing through learning.

In a recent study referred to as "your brain on Google," healthy, middle-aged volunteers, all novices on the computer, were taught how to do a Google search. They were told then to practise doing online searches for an hour a day, for seven days. After the week's practice, the volunteers came back into the lab and had their brains scanned while doing a Google search. The scans revealed significant increases in brain activity in the areas that control memory and decision-making.

The area of the brain that showed the increases was the frontal lobe, the thinking brain, especially in areas that control decision making and working memory. With practice, a middle-age brain can very quickly alter its neuron-circuitry; can strengthen the neuron circuits that control short-term memory and decision making.

It is also known that other areas of the brain also increase in size with usage. For example, the finger area in the motor cortex in Braille readers and professional string instrument players is more extensive than in a normal individual.

The ability of the brain to change with learning is what is known as Neuro-plasticity.

Remembering names and numbers
Let me now try to answer the question I posed at the beginning – how to remember names and numbers.

Repeat it 7 seconds later
Train your mind frequently by repeating to yourself anything you need to remember as quickly as you learn it. This is very useful especially when remembering phone numbers and dates. Repetition is a simple system on how to improve memory power, but it works even for long term memory. Recall it after 7 seconds to store it in memory.

Write it down
Let the paper remember for you. The point is to have use of the information later, and if that's more easily done by way of an "external memory device" like pen and paper, why not take advantage of these tools? Also, writing things down is another way to more strongly "fix" something in our minds.

Imagine the future use
If you think about how you will use information, you're more likely to remember it. For example if after learning a new algorithm in a math class you imagine using it during a test, you'll probably remember it better - particularly when taking a test.

How to improve ‘brain fitness’
Consider the brain a muscle. Variety and curiosity is the basis. When anything you do becomes second nature, you need to make a change. If you can do the crossword puzzle in your sleep, it's time for you to move on to a new challenge in order to get the best workout for your brain.

Brain aerobics
What exactly constitutes a brain aerobic exercise? To qualify as a brain aerobic exercise, the activity
  • Needs to engage your attention
  • Must involve two or more of your senses
  • Must break a routine activity in an unexpected, nontrivial way
Play games
Sudoku, crosswords playing chess or bridge, dancing regularly and electronic games can all improve your brain's speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and more. These games are also fun. You'll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day -- spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.

Daily meditation is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different mental state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness.

Turn off your television
Television can stand in the way of relationships, life and more. Turn off your TV and spend more time living and exercising your mind and body.

Exercise your body to exercise your brain
Physical exercise is great brain exercise too. By moving your body, your brain has to learn new muscle skills, estimate distance and practise balance. Choose a variety of exercises to challenge your brain.

Read something different
Branch out from familiar reading topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel. Read foreign authors, the classics and random books.

Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill works multiple areas of the brain. Your memory comes into play, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Learning a new language or becoming computer literate is equally good. Reading Shakespeare, learning to cook and building an airplane out of toothpicks all will challenge your brain and give you something to think about.

Make simple changes
We love our routines. We have hobbies and pastimes that we could do for hours on end. To really help your brain stay young, challenge it. Change routes to your destinations, use your opposite hand to open doors, and eat dessert, shave, and brush teeth, texting, using the computer mouse. Writing with the other hand is a useful way of using the non dominant hemisphere to do a component associated with speech – usually located in the dominant hemisphere.

The brain is an organ like no other. You can ‘exercise’ it in many different ways and this is the best way to make the best use of it. Use it or lose it, is true of the brain; importantly you can use it in many different ways.


A Tale of Two Seas

Here is an interesting story on two seas with some interesting lessons. I had heard of Dead Sea in school. No one ever told me this side of the story. You may find it interesting. I look forward to your perspective.

A tale of Two Seas Sitting in the Geography class in school, I remember how fascinated I was when we were being taught all about the Dead Sea. As you probably recall, the Dead Sea is really a Lake, not a sea (and as my Geography teacher pointed out, if you understood that, it would guarantee 4 marks in the term paper!) It’s so high in salt content that the human body can float easily. You can almost lie down and read a book! The salt in the Dead Sea is as high as 35% - almost 10 times the normal ocean water. And all that saltiness has meant that there is no life at all in the Dead Sea. No fish. No vegetation. No sea animals. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea.
And hence the name: Dead Sea.
While the Dead Sea has remained etched in my memory, I don't seem to recall learning about the Sea of Galilee in my school Geography lesson. So when I heard about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea and the tale of the two seas - I was intrigued.
Turns out that the Sea of Galilee is just north of the Dead Sea. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea receive their water from river Jordan. And yet, they are very, very different.
Unlike the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee is pretty, resplendent with rich, colorful marine life. There are lots of plants. And lots of fish too. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is home to over twenty different types of fishes.
Same region, same source of water, and yet while one sea is full of life, the other is dead. How come?

Here’s apparently why. The River Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee and then flows out. The water simply passes through the Sea of Galilee in and then out - and that keeps the sea healthy and vibrant, teeming with marine life.
But the Dead Sea is so far below the mean sea level, that it has no outlet. The water flows in from the river Jordan, but does not flow out. There are no outlet streams. It is estimated that over 7 million tons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day. Leaving it salty. Too full of minerals. And unfit for any marine life.
The Dead Sea takes water from the River Jordan, and holds it. It does not give.
Result? No life at all.
Think about it.
Life is not just about getting. Its about giving. We all need to be a bit like the Sea of Galilee.
We are fortunate to get wealth, knowledge, love and respect. But if we don't learn to give, we could all end up like the Dead Sea. The love and the respect, the wealth and the knowledge could all evaporate. Like the water in the Dead Sea.
If we get the Dead Sea mentality of merely taking in more water, more money, more everything the results can be disastrous.
Good idea to make sure that in the sea of your own life, you have outlets. Many outlets. For love and wealth - and everything else that you get in your life. Make sure you don't just get, you give too.
Open the taps. And you'll open the floodgates to happiness. Make that a habit. To share. To give.
And experience life. Experience the magic!

Do you talk to yourself?

An activity in which we all indulge in at various times and quite often during the day is having self-conversations.  Sometimes, this is done consciously when you know you are talking to yourself; at other times this is done unconsciously when you are not even aware that you are talking to yourself. 

Compared to what others tell us or about us (negatively), it is vitally important that you are extremely careful about what you are telling yourself.  This is because self-talk strongly influences our perception.  Perception is the way we see ourselves, others, situations and personalities. 

The first step therefore, even before you start anything else in your self-improvement strategies is to become fully aware of what you are telling yourself.  If this self-talk is channeled appropriately, they can be empowering and constructive; if not, they have the capacity to make you feel weaker and pull yourself down. 

Self-tallk has immense potential – far more than you realize – even when you realize it.  Unfortunately, the potential can be used both positively (in your own best interests) or negatively.  You can use self-talk to feel liberated or limited.  You can use self-talk to feel free or frustrated.  You can judge, criticize and condemn yourself.  You can also encourage and motivate yourself.  It is important that you create thoughts of acceptance, respect and approval for yourself by yourself. 

Do not be dependent on how people see you; your core needs to know that YOU love, respect, accept and approve of yourself.  It makes your inner self extremely powerful and feel appreciated! 

Positive self conversations are not fantasies or disconnecting from reality and a few minutes given to the activity do a lot of benefit and no harm at all. Although self-talk can be engaged in whilst driving, cooking, eating or walking, it is more powerful when your complete focus is on the conversation you are having with yourself doing nothing else at that time.  This means that you have dedicated optimal mental energy to the activity of talking to yourself.

Meditating for Peace

A racing mind that reacts sensitively to little things indicates thinking that has lost its spiritual strength.  Meditation restores that strength.


Sit comfortably and relax.  Take three deep breaths.  If I were to ask you to imagine a point of subtle light between your two eyebrows, would you be able to do so?  Now visualize your star-like form and experience stability and contentment in this inner value of peace, inner peace is your own treasure.  Generally, at this stage, you can fully let go of all your concerns, tensions and worries and allow yourself to become deeply peaceful even as you continue to focus on your breath.  Focusing on your breath, continue to visualize this star-like form gently throbbing, vibrating and expanding – waves of energy radiating outwards towards the world.  Imagine this radiating energy giving the gift of peace and calm to all those in the outer world as it reaches them.   

As you radiate the power of your peace into the world, you do so with great love... As you give the gift of peace, with love, you are aware that you are able to serve others, reach out to others, in this invisible but extremely significant way. This awareness brings about a new sense of meaning in your life and you experience deep feelings of happiness within your heart. It is a happiness which takes the form of bliss, a bliss or satisfaction experienced as an invisible fruit received in return of unconditional serving. You realize that your peace does not live alone. True peace is that which is shared with others...

What lies on the other side?

A sick man turned to his doctor,as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side."

Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't know."

"You don't know? You, a professional, do not know what is on the other side?"

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing...


I know my Creator is there and that is enough."

How do YOU welcome the morning?

Nature is equipped with tools to help all of us in our spiritual well-being. In fact, other than humans, every other living being has retained the art of natural spiritual development.

Why you ask? The answer is simple. All of us are buried in a mechanical life. Consider how we get up each morning. Most of us are harried at the start of the day itself, and get into the highest gear as soon as we get up. We go about doing our chores mechanically and on to the rest of the day.

On the other hand consider our feathered friends. The crow for instance has its own unique style. When it wakes up in the morning it doesn't just get up and fly away in search of food. Crows sleep with their feathers over their body. When it wakes up it first raises one wing and has a peek around to welcome the day. It goes back to sleep and after a few minutes it rises slowly and greets the day.

Can't we adopt this technique to condition our fast paced lives? When you wake up in the morning, pause for sometime, welcome it with a smile. Pause and meditate on its beauty. Take just a moment --- it will not disrupt the mad rush that you believe, awaits you ahead. This one moment will leave you better equipped to handle the day ahead.

Horse Sense

Just up the road from my temporary home was a field, with two horses in it. From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if one stops the car, or is walking by, one will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him. This alone is amazing.

Listening, one will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, one will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. Attached to her bridle is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know where she is, so he can follow her.

As one stands and watches these two friends, one sees how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray.

What is the message for us?

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