Thursday, December 3, 2015

Obstacles or Opportunities?

An obstacle is anything that obstructs my path on the way to getting to my destination. Yet, on the other hand, we have all experienced at times that an obstacle, rather than stopping us in our path, can very often take us to places beyond our expectations.

Whether it is physical blocks and boulders that get in our way, or whether its mental and emotional barriers, no one likes obstacles. When they appear, they create disappointment and disillusionment, which saps our energy.

Obstacles or problems mean that we have extra work to do, whether physical or inner work. We are forced out of our comfort zone, we are obliged to look deeper, to make judgements and take new decisions. We have to stretch ourselves. But, we can also ask ourselves, what is wrong with this stretching? Isnt it a good thing to move out of our comfort zone occasionally? And why should it not be an overall positive experience?

From another perspective, the obstacle can indeed be a blessing. The key is in maintaining the right attitude; keeping calm and trusting that all will be well.

If we are always stuck in the same rut and not willing to grow, then where is the newness, and where is the evolution? We may be celebrating annual birthdays, but where is the spiritual growth?

When obstacles or difficult situations appear, firstly we have to learn to accept them as life lessons, and not immediately resist them. Do not fear them. If you fear them they will have a hold over you. This acceptance will halve the burden immediately. If we fight and scream, then that just makes the lesson harder to learn.

In fact, a conclusion I recently came to in my own life is that there are no real obstacles out there, but the actual obstacle is within me here. I become my own worst enemy when I refuse to see the issue for what it is, when I continue with negative thinking, or when I refuse to change; when I dont take ownership and instead continue to blame. If I manage to change all these factors around, then the obstacle can indeed become a blessing and an opportunity, taking me to new and perhaps more interesting horizons.

Sometimes people begin with an aim in mind and then when the path to that aim is blocked, they lose heart, lower their aim, or lose their sense of direction. What would you call this? Being a coward, giving up, surrendering? Or, is it possible to see the obstacle as simply a test in the drama to see how strongly you want something, and how willing you are to give it your all?

If you change direction because of a hurdle in your path, then you may say that you are keeping your aim but simply taking another route to it. That may be the case, yet why are you not willing to continue along the original path? Because when we do, and when we overcome that hurdle, then we move to the next level, and will feel empowered as a result of it.

The key is to remain calm and composed amidst the chaos. If we get caught in the whirlwind of the what, and when, and why, and how of our obstacles, then the queue of questions never stops, instead it keeps elongating. The mind becomes busy and scattered, and an unfocussed mind can never make confident decisions. A confused mind will not have the power to see beyond the obstacle and appreciate the beauty of what other possibilities are evolving in the moment.

As I create positive thoughts, remain still and silent inside, then I am able to see the whole dimension of the situation and not just the isolated components. I can truly see that there is some benefit in what is unfolding in front of me. The obstacle is perhaps protecting me, guiding me, showing me something new, giving me something better. But I need to have presence of mind to appreciate this new scene. This is a great step forward in self-mastery.

Its Time... to see the obstacle as a blessing in disguise, something to learn from and grow. Changing our perspective is the first step towards changing our destiny!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ignite Your Light

Diwali is a great time of celebration in the Hindu calendar, and this spectacular event will be celebrated on 3rd November throughout the world.

In reality its true significance is something that touches all of our lives. It is often described as the festival of lights, and the idea of light as a symbol of enlightenment and new life occurs in many cultures and religions the lights on the Christmas tree, for example, or the festoons of light, which are an integral part of the celebration of Ramadan. There may be darkness all around, but the lights offer hope, happiness and joy.

Likewise, it is sometimes in the darkest times of our lives, when the soul is looking for inspiration and hope that enlightenment can come.

Festivals such as these punctuate our lives and serve to remind us of the deeply spiritual in a life that can sometimes be overtaken by the ordinary. They awaken meaning and purpose in our lives and teach us to look towards greater, higher and nobler things. They remind us that even when it feels that the light of the soul is almost extinguished, God can come into our life and re-light our lights, reawaken the spirit and renew our spirit.

In Hindu mythology, it is said that the celebration restored light and life into the kingdom, ushering in a new dawn, a new age of truth and righteousness. Although these festivals have been celebrated for thousands of years, it seems that there has been no time in history when the significance has been so relevant as it is today. In this time of extreme corruption, greed, warfare and human violation, it is truly a dark time for the collective souls of humanity. All of us are touched in some way or other by negativity, and we are yearning for the light, to be free once more of the mental and spiritual prisons that we have created for ourselves. We long for the light of truth once again.

But just as day always follows night, invariably darkness is followed by light. And in this time of darkness we are also witnessing a revival of the true values of the self the soul. The people of the world are ready and waiting to come back to real peace, truth and happiness. This is the real lighting of the lamps enlightenment of the soul after having lived in exile, the dark night of the soul, away from its own truth.

Before the advent of extravagant electrical displays, the lamp or Deepak was a clay vessel with a white cotton wick. The wick is fuelled by oil, and for as long as the oil is replenished, the wick will keep burning brightly. In the same way, we are reminded that this body of mud is simply a container for the soul. More important is what it contains, the real self the soul. The Almighty lights our light, but it is up to us to keep it burning by maintaining the fuel our spiritual practice and our effort in bringing truth, goodness and compassion and service for others into our everyday lives. If we forget the importance of the fuel and become too focused on the vessel itself, (the consciousness of the physical and material, and becoming absorbed in the ego self) then our light will go out.

In reality there is no darkness, only the absence of the light. This is why in life importance is given to gathering knowledge and wisdom through scriptures and science. Yet the authentic power lies in the implementation of our real values and the way to the light is not to be out there, but to go within. This is silence power!

When the end is reached, there is a new beginning. Diwali is an auspicious time, the confluence of the old and new. It is seen by a businessman as a time to close old business accounts and to open new ledgers. It reminds us to finish the old and useless, and instead look forward with optimism, hope and with an attitude of newness.

Its Time... to light our light. It is not simply enough to strike a match in order to light the wick of the soul. One needs to continuously immerse oneself in spiritual wisdom and practice and maintain a steady awareness of soul consciousness and ones eternity and not just be focused on the vessel of the body! So whether its 3rd November or not, let us all take the time to light the light of the soul by seeing ourselves in a new light!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Is God Really Holding a Stick Up There?

Growing up in England, I was never really convinced as a child that God was an old bearded fellow living in the clouds just waiting to catch me doing something wrong. And if I did, a strong thunderous voice would emerge from the ether, shouting, there, got you!... followed by a wallop from his long wooden cane. Control by fear has never been the best form of motivation in any arena, and it seemed to me very unlikely that the The Almighty would have to resort to such scare tactics!

The Day of Judgement has been mentioned in just about every religion. Its not one of those things we like to talk about, and for sure no one has an exact handle on what actually will happen on that day. But suffice it to say that there will be a time when we will have to answer for our actions and we will be rewarded or not depending on our deeds. Yes, we are certainly responsible for our actions, but do we really suffer at the hands of God? My opinion (and probably also my preference) is that, although there will surely come a final day of judgement when we have to hand in our account books to God, we are also paying smaller fines now. Do we have to wait in fear and hope of the last day, when we will find out whether we have won or lost the lottery? Or is there a subtle GPS system constantly at work, giving us feedback as we go along?

Leaving the last day aside, there could be no greater punishment than losing ones happiness in this moment now. The pain of making mistakes and having to pay off our small debts along the way is our internal guidance system helping us to improve ourselves. Together with happiness, we lose our judgment, we lose our clarity; these are all small consequences for breaking the laws of harmony, or peace, or love or kindness etc.

Punishment is only a natural and automatic consequence of us breaking spiritual laws. As we lose our happiness through our wrongdoings, our conscience is stricken and we strive to get ourselves back to that place of inner peace again. And its a good thing that we have this constant inner guidance day after day, its designed to prevent us from straying too far away from the track. Yet it will only work if we pay heed to our own friend and conscience, our inner voice.

For those who cannot tune in to their inner guidance system, it means that they have gone too far down the wrong road, their conscience has been killed, and that is a very sad state of affairs. No conscience means they will have a really hard time improving their soul and balancing their spiritual bank account. So on our journey to that day, if we are feeling the consequence of our actions, it is only our soul yearning to return back to that original pure state when the slate was clean. For example, if we did not feel pain in the body, we would not know there is something we need to give our attention to. In the same way, pain in the soul directs our attention towards what needs cleaning or tidying or fixing within the soul.

We cannot get away with doing what we want, and not be accountable for our actions. No law states that not any physical or spiritual law. So for sure that day will come when justice will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This is why God is also remembered as the Supreme Judge. Why does every soul on earth remember God at least once in their lifetime, even if its during their final moment? Because the Supreme Judge, the Lord of Righteousness, appears as a mirror in front of us for us to measure ourselves against. And only the Righteous One can reveal to us our faults. It is then that we may have a deep sense of regret that we left it too late. The Holy Koran refers to ... The day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions. It will be a day when everything is revealed to all, and the sorrow in the soul will be the real consequence, or punishment.

The only way to experience a good Day of Judgement is if I have been good all along; that I have ensured that our every moment is spent in a worthwhile and righteous way now. I dont believe God is faulting us for our vices, since we receive the pain of that here and now. He is faulting us for not striving to our highest perfection, for falling short of what He knows we can achieve. I believe our greatest pain in the end will not just be because of the sorrow we have given to others, but because we did not live out our full potential in the soul. Every soul is created full of divine virtues and powers. And this will be the greatest regret that I did not love when I could have, I did not respect, I did not give, I did not use my power in the right way, I did not live my truth, when I easily could have!

God is the Ocean of Love. He teaches us with love and if we do not learn, then we bring on the consequences for ourselves. Its Time... to listen to our conscience and to learn from our mistakes. Dont leave it too late! God is the Ocean of Love. He teaches us the laws of life, and if we do not heed to them, then there are always consequences!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

You are a Guest!

Do you realize that you are a guest in this world? If you think you are here to stay forever, or if you think you own whatever you have, then think again.

We come into this world with an expiry date. And yet we live as though we have the elixir of physical immortality, and the impunity to do whatever we wish. If we do not wake up and see our reality, we may die without ever having lived.

Looking back at the times when we were guest in someones home or in another country, we felt relaxed. We did not carry everything on our shoulders and so there was less stress and tension. We accepted, in the name of change or a holiday, the different facets of another lifestyle or culture. We did not try to fix or control, we accepted and embraced. This is what would be defined as a good guest: one who respects the people and the place.

Guest consciousness is very important on a spiritual path. If I am a householder, it means to feel burdened by the responsibilities, which on a spiritual path means to be heavy and stuck. As I remember that I am a guest at all times, then I understand that nothing belongs to me, I am just passing through. Then I remain aware that I do not need to collect or hoard things. On the contrary, I need to travel light.

Light here means less mental baggage. It means not holding on to the past or anything that is not useful on this journey called life: impressions, mental attachments, and negativity. The more baggage I accumulate along the way, the more I become weighed down and rigid. I am not able to remain easy and flexible; in fact, I will have too many thoughts, fears, complexes and preferences. When I am caught up in these then I cannot enjoy each scene that comes in front of me. I have no room to appreciate the beauty of each moment.

Guest consciousness means that nothing belongs to us, and yet everything belongs to us! If I worry and fret about a few personal possessions, then I become like a beggar and will not be able to open my eyes to the fact that the whole abundant world is provided for my enjoyment.

Another aspect of guest means to be a trustee. I do not own, but use everything as an appointed guardian. My duty is to look after whatever is in my trust, but I do not get caught up with the pressures of ownership. This is a very delicate balance, but if we can master this deep spiritual point then most of our fears, attachments, worries and sorrows would melt away. Take the example of parenthood. If I see my children as my property, then I feel I have a right over them, I will have attachments and expectations, I will be frustrated, sometimes disappointed, and my love and happiness will be conditional. Joy will be there at times, but so will sorrow.

On the other hand, to see my children as people in their own right, as souls who are each on their own journey of life, I realize that I am simply a guardian and mentor to them for a short time. I care for them and fulfill my duties to the best of my abilities. I guide and support them but I dont try to live their lives for them. Then, when they are ready to fly the nest they go with my love and blessings and without sorrow. In this way real respect is maintained, and relationships prosper.

We should also remember that we are custodians of this wonderful planet. It is the only one we have, and yet we use it selfishly as though it belongs to us only. We abuse, exploit, destroy and pollute, as though it is ours to do with whatever we want. But in reality we are only guests in this world for a short time, and we need to leave this temporary home in good order for our future family members to enjoy.

In fact I am not only a guest but I am a foreigner also in this world. My real home is elsewhere. If I believe myself to be a soul, then my home would not be a material world, but rather a metaphysical one. Then I realize that even this body does not belong to me, I will not take it with me when I leave. All I will take is the result of my actions in this world. So, like a good guest, I should not leave a mess behind me, rather I should aim to leave the world a better place than it was when I arrived.
Its be a good guest and to make the most of your stay!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bored to Death

"And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself."
― Charles Dickens from his novel Bleak House, spoken by Lady Dedlock

The expression 'bored to death' was first coined by Charles Dickens in his serialized book 'Bleak House' in 1852.

Things have changed a great deal since then we live in a globalized world where just about everything we can want is potentially at our fingertips. Technology and science is advancing at a tremendous rate and the opportunities that come our way can be almost endless. Yet, do we find life any more entertaining?

Boredom must be one of the greatest insults to ones self, ones time, and ones precious inner resources. When we live in an era where there are oodles to see, feel, touch, taste and experience, where is the time to get bored? Never before has there been so much on offer for the soul and the five senses to be engaged in. It is therefore not the fault of the world for lack of stimuli, but it is ones own lack of ability to be entertained by it all.

No matter how much we try and be creative from the outside, yet if we are not enthused from the inside, then no amount of stimulation, challenges or interest will excite us. We have to be imaginative and resourceful but first with our own thoughts. If I have not learnt to use my mind in the right way, then of course it will go off track, meaning it will not cooperate with me and I will find myself misplaced. Life will feel dull and boring, as I am not living in alignment with my purpose.

The reason boredom deserves scrutiny is because boredom is like a slow growing cancer; a dangerous state of mind to be in. It gradually eats away at our passion, our determination and our purpose, and our will to emerge our highest potential. Boredom can also be injurious to health: When researchers in a famous Whitehall study followed the lives of middle-aged civil servants in the UK, they found that the people who are most likely to get bored were 30% more likely to die over the following three years. Reinforcing Dickens expression!

George Harrison was quoted as saying that the Beatles saved the world from boredom! Whilst music can certainly be therapeutic, whiling away time on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media sites will not save you from boredom. They can be entertaining for a short while, but a real connection begins with real people in real life.

There is enough explanation on the net about boredom from various viewpoints such as those of psychology and philosophy. However from a spiritual perspective, when one is bored, one is totally in disconnect with the inner self. There is a whole world waiting to be explored inside and yet one is facing the opposite direction.

There seems to be a lack of awareness and attention to what really matters most in life. No meaning, a lack of happiness and contentment. This is purely a state of mind. There is a powerful saying in the Holy Gita, that when you conquer the mind, you have conquered the world.

Learning to master the mind by giving it powerful and constructive thoughts will ensure that we keep our mental state elevated. This is not meant to imply to keep the mind constantly busy with a string of thoughts; it means to be busy in the experience of each thought content and satisfied in the experience of it. Once I have enjoyed the thought in my mind, I can then enjoy it once more in action too! This keeps me stimulated. If I am not inspired, I will be expired, meaning, I become the reason to create my own spiritual death. Giving rise to a completely new meaning, to be bored to death.

Its Time... to understand boredom and to be creative from the inside out. Create powerful and constructive thoughts. Be inspired and not expired. And YOU will become the reason to save the world from boredom!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Economy of Thoughts

Have you noticed that it often only takes a few minutes to do that same thing that we previously spent hours thinking and worrying about? We can waste so much time just thinking about the action rather than getting on and doing it. Tackling the ironing, writing that report, planning a get together... so much energy could be saved if we just did it rather than just thinking about it.

We all know how to economize on our food or our wardrobe, yet how many of us think to economize on our thoughts? Every thought created that is not utilized can be said to be a waste thought. And not only does it go into the bank account of my personal wasteful thinking, but I am also dumping waste into the world. Vibrationally and karmically this is not good.

Why is the atmosphere so heavy in some places? Its possibly due to a surplus of thoughts whether misunderstanding, confusion, anger or sorrow. We consciously or subconsciously pick up on these heavy vibrations. Even in a home, where members of the same family do not talk to each other, the atmosphere becomes heavy and loaded with too many waste and negative thoughts.

We live at time when we are completely overloaded with information, and a lot of it is negative. It is very easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of thoughts that just result in hesitancy, confusion and maybe even sleepless nights. A lot of our stress can be attributed to the dozens of (often little) things that we just never seem to get around to. They appear on our to-do list day after day, they fester at the back of our minds and may even wake us up in the middle of the night.

Like the satisfaction gained from clearing out clutter from the cupboards, we also gain a great sense of freedom from clearing the clutter that is occupying our minds, and it can be as simple as just making a decision to just get on with it. And if we can make a habit of clearing away the old stuff before we start anything new then we can also create some new healthy habits that will stand us in good stead for the future.  If we give our mind a discipline or a routine to follow, there is no decision to be made, actions become automatic and we create less waste. If for example, you know you have to go to school from 7am-2pm or go to work from 9am-5pm every day, then there is no margin to even entertain anything else.

In the same way, if we decide to allocate a certain time to do something and just do it, then it is out of the way, and we will often realize that it was not the big black cloud that we thought it was, in fact it was probably much easier than we had anticipated and the feeling of having the burden lifted makes it well worth the effort.  And there are so many little things that we can make into a daily habit or routine, so, after a while, we find ourselves doing them on autopilot. For example, a friend of mine has decided to learn a new language, and has made a habit of listening to lessons each time she does some ironing. So two tasks that were pending day after day, have now become an enjoyable duo.

I like to listen to TED talks whilst I am walking, and its great to know that I am keeping the body and mind fit at the same time. But in the past exercising was one of those things that somehow rarely got ticked off the to-do list. So stop procrastinating, find a creative and enjoyable way to get the little things done, so that they are out of your head. Another way to deal with them is to evaluate... if something is taking up a lot of headspace and yet its just not getting resolved, then is it really needed? Instead of worrying and fretting about it, just decide to let it go. Don't sweat the small stuff as they say! And maybe then we will have the time and space for the things we really want to do.

A critical factor must be to recognize the important things in our life and somehow fit them into our day. There is a great sense of accomplishment when we get things done. An idea implemented, or a vision brought to life gives us a great inner feeling. So if you have been thinking to write that book or climb that mountain, just do it... NOW!

Its time... to clear the clutter and create some healthy habits so then we can do the things we really want to do, and do them NOW!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Sun

The sun is often considered to be just an 'ordinary' star, but it's far from being ordinary for those who live on planet earth. We would not be able to survive in this world were it not for the sun, the very center of our solar system. Yet just how appreciative are we of this great energy?

The sun is the biggest and brightest spotlight for this earthly stage. Imagine, if you can, a world with no sun. Complete darkness. No light, no heat, no life!

Plants depend on the warmth and light of the sun to create nutrients through photosynthesis, in order to survive and thrive. Humans too, lose nutrition if not exposed to the sun daily. The sun is the biggest heating system ever, yet we do not get a bill at the end of the month! Without the heat of the sun, there would be a continual ice age!

As the sun hides itself away every night, a hormone called melatonin is released, which signals the body to feel drowsy and to sleep. And we sleep with confidence every night knowing that the sun will rise again in the morning and there will be daylight. As the sun rises once again so does human life.

We take it for granted that the sun is there for us constantly, and yet this massive energy machine does not ask for or need anything from us, it just continues to give, to serve, to feed all life on this planet.

The above is not a science lesson, but a gentle reminder to appreciate all the natural things we take for granted on earth. In many ways the sun can be seen as a symbol of the Supreme Sun and this is why, across the world and across the ages, the physical sun has been worshipped and often praised.

God has been thought to be to be brighter than a thousand suns. This has been taken literally, but more realistically it describes the magnitude of the power of this being, that can never wane or diminish. God does not need anything from us, He simply continues to give, to radiate light, love and power. It is up to us to open our curtains and doors and to allow the light to shine in.

Gods light is healing and soothing. As we bathe in this light, He gives to each one individually, nourishing the spirit. There is no other energy that can do this work. Without Gods light, there would be no enlightenment in this world; we would be living in darkness darkness of the spirit.

All around the world in different cultures and religions there are many different concepts about God. One such idea is that He is everywhere omnipresent. Yet be realistic, could he be in the alligators and crocodiles? Or could it be that His light, like the light of the sun spreads far and wide, whilst He himself stays static in one place?

God is the most powerful force ever, yet His love and compassion are the most gentlest of virtues. We feel strengthened by His wisdom and yet humbled by His love. He is there always, waiting patiently, it is we who have to pay a visit to His doorstep.

His is not the language of sound, as in this earthly abode, because his language is of the heart and spirit. He hears our deepest thoughts, and intentions and that is why our words and actions must be matched by our thoughts and feelings. As we know, it is in the stillest of moments that we can truly and deeply connect with Him.

The physical sun is 93 million miles away from the earth. If we tried to reach there it would take a very long time! But as for the Supreme Sun that One is just a thought away. Now, which is more amazing? The one we can see, or the One we cant?

Its time... to not only sunbathe in the light of the one you can see, but also the One you cant!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Art of Being Well

Many think that wellness is same as health. That's not exactly the case. Wellness is what comes after good health. Good health makes you feel normal, wellness makes you feel better than you were, both physically and mentally. This doctor had something to say on the subject, and it's well worth listening.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sleep Tight Sleep Right

In this fast paced, rat raced life, when we are struggling to complete our TO-DO list, it may seem that cutting back on sleep may be the only answer. Yet we all know from experience that if we do not get adequate sleep we not only become grumpy and not nice to be around, but it can also be detrimental to our health.

Although I am no sleep doctor or professional of any sort, I have learnt a thing or two about using meditation as a tool to deepen the quality of my sleep. In fact, it is not only at the end of the day that we have to be concerned about our sleep. The quality of our waking hours will also determine the quality of our sleep at night. Try sleeping after a bout of anger, after gossiping about your friends or being unfaithful to your partner. The chances are you will be tossing and turning in your sleep and you are not likely to come out of it feeling rested.

Although many will argue that we need 8 hours of sleep a day, it has been proven time and again that in practice, yogis do need less sleep. Having a simple and uncomplicated lifestyle also helps, as does a vegetarian diet since a plant-based diet is much quicker and easier to digest.

But the main reason the yogi needs less sleep is because of their ability to manage their thoughts. If we are able to have fewer but more powerful thoughts, we conserve our energy and are able to stay light and stress-free. So we don't leave all the hard work and responsibility to our sleep factory to replenish us, but with meditation and peaceful thoughts we are able to constantly rejuvenate ourselves.

We can complain about having bad dreams but this is the result of not having done the work of cleaning our sub-conscious. Filtering our thoughts, letting go of the past, and choosing to retain good memories, are all ways in which we can help to make our dreams sweet!

With the advent of electricity we have turned night into day and day into night. If we would follow the rhythm of the day as nature intended, we will be in tune with the natural energies that surround us. Staying awake at night throws us off balance. The body will function, but not optimally.

Firstly, before retiring to bed, it is important to sit for a few moments of reflection to check on the day and see how positive or otherwise we were and how much we may have misused our precious energies. Therefore, if we need to ask for forgiveness or apologize to someone we should. If we settle the karmic accounts of the day, we will sleep with a light heart.

Secondly, as we lie in bed, imagine floating off to a land of light, the home of the soul; this visualization helps us to realize that we are not just this body and the paraphernalia that is connected with it. Just as actors go home after their performance, so too we need to take off our costumes and return home after a days performance! This world of the soul is a world of light, simple and quiet. Take thoughts up above to this place of silence and visualize the body resting down below. In the morning, imagine that I, the soul, have come down from this world of light, free from all worldly concerns, and ready and eager to play todays scenes on the stage of the world.

Its time... to improve the quality of our sleep by improving the quality of our thoughts. Use meditation as a tool to improve the state of mind. Bring closure to the day and awaken refreshed and ready to tackle the day's TO-DO list.

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Busy-ness is Laziness

Laziness and its companions, lethargy and sloth are such paralyzing habits that they can make a highly intelligent, a very rich, or even a very religious person completely destroy their life and fortune. Laziness can take many forms, such as idleness, apathy, procrastination and inertia amongst others. It may stem from boredom, tiredness or world-weariness, but underlying all of this is fear. Paradoxically, laziness can be a form of inner restlessness and peacelessness, a lack of purpose, direction and meaning. Thus, conquering this merciless habit is the key to happiness and inner contentment.

Laziness as explained in Wikipedia is 'a disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to do so'. Retired people who sit in an armchair on the beach all day would not necessarily be deemed lazy, they are reaping the reward of a lifetime of activity and their old age somehow gives them permission to sit back and enjoy the sea and sun! Yet if a young person were to be sitting in his place, most would question why he was a lazy bum!

Yes, it is interesting how we all seem to want a carrot every morning to wake us up. Not a carrot as in your morning juice, but a carrot of enticement as in some kind of motivation that pushes us out of bed and out of our homes. Perhaps it is that hefty pay packet, or perhaps it is the sheer joy of fulfilling your passion and dream. Yet just think: if that were not there, would you still be motivated to jump out of bed so early in the morning?

Some think that laziness is about bad time management, but really its about self-management. To overcome laziness, I need to create a high sense of self. I need to do it for me. When I make my bed in the morning, I do it for me because I deserve and desire to live in a tidy environment. When I wash and place the dishes away, I do it for me, because I deserve to live in a clean place. I do these things from a place of self-respect and not just because of what others might think.

Laziness is not simply inactivity. The spiritual aspirant may not appear to do a lot sometimes, but please do not confuse sitting for hours in meditation on some holy mountain as a form of laziness. Those who have found their calling, and can sit still with a purpose are not lazy, but instead they realize that being' is a most important precursor to 'doing', if your 'doing' is to be of significance in the world. However, just as outer laziness can ruin a life, so spiritual laziness can be an even greater downfall.

In Hindi, the term for making effort, 'pursharath' literally means 'for the sake of the soul'. Hence, when I do something, let it be for the sake of the soul and not just as a chore or labor.
In religions, laziness is considered to be one of the major vices. Christianity tells us that sloth is one of the seven deadly sins as it can breed poverty as well as wickedness, for we all know an empty mind is a devils workshop.

In the Quran the Arabic term كَسَل (kasal) meaning laziness and inactivity is the opposite of 'jihad-al-nafs', the struggle against the self. In other words, against ones ego.

In Buddhism, the term Kausidya is commonly translated as 'laziness' or 'spiritual sloth', meaning that even though one may be a workaholic and spending 16 hours a day at work, yet, if that one gives little or no time to cultivating virtue or purification of mind, then he is said to be lazy.

In fact, a wise old lady once told me 'busy-ness is laziness', which after some reflection I found to be true. When we want to avoid doing the inner work we get busy in the mundane.

So let us take a reality check on our spiritual journey: Are we not doing certain things despite knowing, and despite being able to at this point? How enthusiastic are we about cleaning up our soul? Are we procrastinating in this very important activity? And if so why? Is it due to some fear or pain?

Take time in meditation to have a look at the dark side, ask some deep questions of yourself, and shift your focus to something meaningful and exciting that will stir you out of your stupor and sluggishness.

To end with some humor, a wit by the name of Hal Cranmer writes, 'For all these arguments against laziness, it is amazing we work so hard to achieve it. Even those hard-working Puritans were willing to break their backs every day in exchange for an eternity of lying around on a cloud and playing the harp.'

Its time... to get 'busy' in overcoming laziness!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meditation - A Practical Way of Life

Once we have taken our morning dose of peace and power, it's important to top up throughout the day. Even a cell phone needs charging if it is to be of any use. In the same way, the battery of the soul needs to stay fully charged. These practices do not need to take additional time from your day: rather it is just about creating good attitudes and habits that can immeasurably improve the experience of life.

A useful spiritual tool to help you manage your thoughts throughout the day is that of 'traffic control': taking a few moments every hour to observe the flow of thoughts through the mind. Is the inner highway far too busy, are there any road blocks? Are you coasting smoothly along the scenic route? Are you in the driving seat, or is your mind running on auto-pilot? Fixing an alarm to go off every hour is a good method to help stop and check the quality and quantity of your thoughts. Once you identify the problem, you can begin to troubleshoot!

The yogi (mediator) is more conscious than the average person of his thoughts throughout the day. He or she pays attention to keep thoughts positive. Wasteful and useless thoughts discharge the battery, and one negative thought is enough poison to kill an optimistic attitude, a positive perception, pure feelings, and loving relationships. The yogi makes every effort to keep his thoughts elevated at every moment, knowing that each thought has a consequence.

Meditation should not be something we just tick off on our list once a day as we might with our daily exercise or everyday chores. It can become a new and exciting way of life, a positive new lens through which we view life in a very different way. This lens does not judge or discriminate, hurt or destroy, compare or compete. It embraces everyone and furthermore, it invites the yogi to enjoy every scene in the drama of life, knowing that each one is a life lesson that can only bring benefit.

As we meditate, we flow with life, we do not resist or control. We breathe meditation. Our persona becomes cooler and calmer. It does not suit a yogi to sit and gossip all day about others or to keep complaining about the world and its leaders! We become more accepting of everything; our heart opens up. Yes, even to that noisy neighbor or heartless boss! When Christ said 'Love thy neighbor', he didn't just mean the one living next door to you, but the one beside you on the bus or train, the one in the other cubicle at work, or in the queue in front of you.

A yogi has no enemies. He knows that each and every person is playing their own unique role. He does his best to perform only good actions that give happiness to all. But even this needs to be understood well. Some people try to make others happy in order to simply feel good themselves. That is not correct. If we come from a place of knowing that we are beings full of unlimited qualities, then our happiness cannot run out, nor do we get tired of giving. And neither does the yogi feel sorrow if someone doesn't accept their good wishes: the outcome is not their concern, and will not influence their stage of positivity.

Ultimately, the yogi will not only create the state of mind that they want to experience, but will positively affect the world and people around them.

If this all seems too out of reach, then just remember that all mediators had to start somewhere, and you may just find that once you begin to apply meditation practically in your life, then your life will naturally and automatically change for the better!

It's time... discover the benefits of making meditation a part of your life. Become cooler, calmer and happier by practising some simple spiritual tools throughout the day and dont forget... to charge that battery.

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

Monday, February 2, 2015

Slow Down and Stop Rushing

'What is this world if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare...'
Slow Down and Stop Rushing

In todays crazy world its easy to spend a lot of our time rushing from A to B, only to find that those few seconds of haste dont make a significant difference in our day. Rushing around without hardly a minute to spare has become a necessity or even an addiction. In our pursuit of speed, we lose our peace in the soul and create unnecessary adrenalin in the body, which only fatigues the muscles and makes us more tired than productive. Learning to slow down is the key to being more effective!

Imagine a world in which everyone decelerated just a little drivers, motorcyclists, housewives and executives. For a start there would be fewer accidents! Giving way to others with grace may mean that you will be a few minutes later at the most. Is it really so important that you save a few seconds at the expense of your sanity or blood pressure? Imagine living your life at a slightly slower pace, and enjoying the moment instead of always frantically scrambling to whats next.

Very often we jump from one action to the next and forget what we just did or which direction we just came from. We are so heavily consumed in action that we lose awareness of everything around us and consequently we lose the experience of the moment. Then we dont have time to pause, smell the roses or enjoy the moment!

We create for ourselves a vicious cycle. We find ourselves running after time, and as we hurry, we make mistakes, accomplish little and therefore need more time to do the things we need to do!

The key to breaking this vicious cycle is to resist the very thought of haste. To slow down means to step into the present moment, to be alert, conscious and aware. Then as we become focused, we can harness our inner powers and are able better discern and decide. Instead of simply reacting we can choose the most appropriate responses. Its a change of attitude from feeling out of control to being the master.

And when we sit to reflect at the end of the day we are contented and at peace, knowing that every minute was used in a worthwhile way and to its best advantage. In this way we can honour our daily tasks and responsibilities and sail through them with lightness and ease.

The example of the tortoise and the hare is an excellent one slow and steady wins the race!

Its time... think before you speak, think before you act, and to think before you think...! Taking that little extra time to hold this attention will reap greater dividends in the long run. Become like the tortoise, smell the roses and thereafter be the master and go within your shell.

Its Time is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound.

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Amrit Vela - Time of Nectar

Amrit Vela is commonly known as early morning meditation. How early, you may ask... to be precise, at 4am! What is so appealing to yogis about this unearthly hour? Well, Amrit means nectar while Vela means time or moment. As one sits in meditation and in contemplation of God, one is able to taste the nectar, the sweetness, of this divine relationship and take sustenance to empower the self. It is a very special, silent and personal time with the Almighty that is much more difficult to recreate once the world begins its busy, noisy day. It is the only time to take real power from God.

Sikhs believe that the day is divided into 8 parts or 8 'pehrs' of three hours each, and the time between 3am and 6am is the highest energy. Buddhists also have an early morning meditation ritual. In Islam the first prayer of the day, 'Fajr', is also before sunrise. Hindus too believe in the 'Brahma Muhurta', time of God, which occurs exactly for the first 48 minutes, of the one hour and thirty-six minutes before sunrise everyday. This is a time, they say, that is conducive to learning and mastering the scriptures, music and any other art form. There is also a widely held belief that the early morning hours are the time when the gods or angels are encircling the world. They are ready and waiting to bestow blessings... but only to those who are awake! Which gives rise to the saying: if you snooze, you lose!

The benefits of Amrit Vela are endless, and the practice is not as difficult as some may think. Yet some peoples immediate response when asked to try out this daily practice is one of shock and panic, especially those who go to bed at this hour! In response, I would say, try it and give it a chance. Dont look to see what you losing, but look to see what you are gaining! Losing an hour or two of sleep is really nothing, compared to the power, confidence and spiritual stamina you will gain from awakening early and absorbing this early morning spiritual energy. The feeling for me is one of intricately fine tuning myself to Gods vibration, which in turns enables me to fine tune to the world, so that I can begin to know exactly what to think, say and do.

I personally have been waking up at 4am everyday since 1983 and I thoroughly love it. I have never got bored with it. Its a discipline I took up early on, and it has been a part of my life ever since then it is just not negotiable. If due to sickness or travel I miss this early morning appointment, then there is definitely the feeling of having missed something important, like missing an important dose of powerful medicine! Of course in the beginning it is easier when you are practicing with others, but after a while when you get the hang of it, and are enjoying it, then sitting alone is also bliss.

Of course it does help to go to bed early, and to go to sleep with the right type of thoughts: peaceful and positive, in remembrance of the true nature of the self and God. Going to bed at 2 or 3am is not ideal. In truth, one really needs to ask oneself the question; what is the real benefit of the late night entertainment, when perhaps it could be replaced with the early morning one! Late nights mostly drain you and give you hangovers, the morning one will recharge and revitalise you. Amrit Vela, is the only true time to fill up high quality fuel in the soul, for the rest of the day you will not pass such a petrol pump no matter how powerful your meditation is.

So what do you do once you have managed to wake up and get out of bed? Wash your face, and have coffee or tea if you feel you need it to stay awake. Then set a dim light and sit to meditate in your favorite place. Open a window for fresh air and fill your lungs with the morning ozone. Light a candle if you wish, but remember that that is simply a pale reflection of the light that is inside of you, the sparkling light sitting in the center of your forehead.

Amrit Vela is normally a time to bathe in the blissful experience of God, and our higher self. A time to quieten the mind and to keep the thoughts calm and still. Sit and absorb his love, energy and pure vibrations. It is not really a time to think of mundane matters such as work, or to try to resolve the inner and outer conflicts that may be ongoing; reserve those issues for your later meditations. In fact, as one fills oneself with power at this most auspicious time, one is able to gain the inner strength to overcome many of the obstacles that arise in ones life.

Its Time... to wake up in the early morning hours and to fill up from the Supreme Source of love and light. Enjoy the sweet taste of Amrit Vela and awaken not only the body, but also the soul!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Critical Not to be Critical

Have you noticed how some people just seem to find fault in everything? You go out with someone and buy them coffee but the cup is just not big enough (or small enough) or the chairs around the table should be blue instead of green, or the flowers on the table are just not fresh! Some people have the habit of commenting on, and criticizing just about everything. What is it going to take to be positive and to look at the brighter side of life?

No one wants to spend a day with a critical person. If you have tried it you know just how it feels. When someone continues to find fault in you, or the objects around you, or the way you run your life, then you feel as though you want to run from them as fast you can. Commenting on a persons possessions or circumstances is almost the same as insulting the person themselves.

Criticism is an expression of disapproval and always follows a judgment. It almost implies that our life needs a performance review and in this case we have failed... at least in the eyes of the beholder! The fact is that criticism usually tells us more about the critic, than the receiver.

Critics are usually critical of most things and most people, usually because they are unhappy people and want to share their dissatisfaction with everyone else. Unfortunately their complaints will not change the world or other people, and so they will never be happy.

Critics have a time and place to carry out their 'vocation', but unsolicited advice, especially when delivered with an air of superiority, never goes down well. Knowing what to say, when, and where, and with whom, an art is. But if we have a tendency to be critical (and who isn't, from time to time?) then the lesson we really need to learn is how to be happy with ourselves.

It is not our true nature to focus on the sad or bad. Focusing on the faults of the child will never make him or her grow up to be a 'somebody'. Rather, he will always be seeking the approval of adults or peers even when he is in his rocking chair because that is how he has learned to measure successes

The soul blooms when there is love, acceptance and acknowledgement. Its much nicer to be complimented than complained about. Take birthdays as an example; the day when your inbox is filled with good wishes and blessings from all over the world. How do you feel?

Try taking a few moments every now and then to just see the goodness in all the things around you and all the people in your orbit at any given time. The critic can always find something to complain about in any situation, but it is really simply a point of view which is coming from a deep seated negative attitude, which can be shifted.

Even if you can see that something or someone needs improvement and can benefit from that, just try in that moment to accept the situation or the person... comment later if need be... but in that moment control your emotions, just try to expand your tolerance level, and increase your acceptance level. This very deed may help the other to seek guidance for improvement, or invite comments. But moreover, you will feel better for keeping a positive vision. You will find your relationships will improve in leaps and bounds.

Another major aspect to this whole exercise is to master the ability to remain quiet with the mind and the lips for a while, especially when I want to jump in or to react. If my mind is like any unleashed dog that barks and bites at anything passing by then it means I do not have a grip on my mind or my tongue.

Learning to stay positive is a training we must give to the mind if we are to survive and not get stressed and stained by life. You may, for example, see the dry bare tree and think how ugly it is, but switch your thoughts to how momentous it is that the tree is still standing, and see its majesty instead. Someone may not get you exactly the gift you wanted, but at least they had the thought. Or, you may have a challenge with your colleague at work, but hey, think again, are YOU perfect? And would it really hurt to be co-operative rather than critical?

Treating ourselves more kindly and shifting our vision towards appreciation and gratitude for the people and things around us are the best antidotes for criticism. When I feel a sense of contentment within, then I dont notice the little things around me that would otherwise bug me. And if I feel content with myself, then I am less likely to feel hurt by the criticism of others. Instead I can send them positive thoughts and good wishes, for they are the ones who are in need!

Its time... to shift your mindset and take a positive view. Being critical is destructive and unproductive, so for your own good and the good of others... its critical not to be critical!

'It's Time...' by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London