Book Review – Yoga Nidra

 
Yoga nidra is a gift to mankind which helps in easy relaxation. I have been fascinated by yoga nidra and went to great lengths to make it a point to attend group sessions on yoga nidra. The magic it created in me made me go back to it over and again. When I got a chance to read this book, I wanted to understand what are the variations I can use in my daily life without needing external help. 
 
I didn’t need to know about its uses because I practically received the benefits already. The book explained to me the reasons behind various instructions which I followed in the yoga nidra session. I didn’t know the requirement of why I should feel that my body is heavy and then again it is light before. Here I got to know that it is used to keep the mind alert. I didn’t know that order of rotation is important and I end up using my own convenient order. The order is important to establish pranic flow. All these days I have been scouring for methods to release energy from the suppressed feelings and here I get to know how the symbols used in yoga nidra already do the job for me.
 
Notes

  1. The ordinary things you do daily are not exactly relaxation in scientific terms
  2. There are 3 types of tensions – muscular, emotional,mental.Unless you relieve them, you will not feel refreshed even after a good night’s sleep
  3. If you are trying to change with your intellect, your results are superficial.
  4. Using sankalpas in yoga nidra, the author changed thousands of lives including criminals.
  5. Mind is extremely receptive in the state of yoga nidra. 
  6. A person’s basic nature can’t be changed. It can be observed looking at his spontaneous acts
  7. Sankalpa is a major aspect in yoga nidra. Using this, you can achieve your destiny
  8. Even though sankalpa can be used to eradicate bad habits, it should be used for achieving self actualization which in turn helps in eradicating the bad habits. A greater understanding of sankalpa is needed before it is put to use.
  9. This process brings you to watch the subconscious and unconscious levels of karma, samskaras. Experiences like levitation might also occur.
  10. It has the power to active extra sensorial perception
  11. Yoga nidra and hypnosis are not the same. In hypnosis, you go into deep sleep and the brain is completely shut down whereas in yoga nidra you don’t sleep and your brain is fully awake. Ida and pingala are closed in both hypnosis and yoga nidra but in hypnosis sushumna is also closed whereas in yoga nidra sushumna takes the work of ida and pingala.
  12. The order of rotation is important because it establishes a pranic flow
  13. The images which are provided in the yoga nidra session are meant to release the energy which repressed thoughts hold.
  14. It is advisable to record the instructions or use a guided tool initially because you don’t want the brain to be working in an active state trying to recollect the order.
  15. It can be also used in a short way as a divider between work life and home life

Further Reading

  1. Learn how to use mandalas to clear the archetypes

 
Yoga nidra is useful to increase your learning capacity, reduction in stress, intrauterine growth in pregnant woman, reduction in hypertension, control of psychosomatic diseases, depression including suicide prevention and much more.
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and read the book to understand the science. If you don’t need the theory, record your own audio of the original instructions or use guided audios to start practising yoga nidra twice a day. 
Happy relaxation!
 

Book Review – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Print | Kindle
 
I had great expectations from the book when I picked it up. It came up in many book recommendations and it was one of the famous books on the subject of decluttering. But I was disappointed. I finished the book in one night as there was not really any engaging content. The author goes on and on about her obsession for tidying up and how she chose a profession which involves that and helps clients tidy up without a rebound. She randomly quotes examples of different clients and their clutter. Then she ends the book saying there are no real rules except for deciding for yourself what you really need. The book and her profession looked like works on only one principle of the nudge a person needs to clean up. She doesn’t talk anywhere about how to prevent the new things from piling up after the clutter is cleared to prevent the rebound she keeps mentioning in the book.
 
The best thing I like about the book is the author asks you to visualize how you want the house to be and then start discarding everything which doesn’t bring you any joy.
 

Notes

 
Mistakes in tidying up

  • Tidying up by location instead of category
  • Sending the clutter to parents
  • Keep things  “just because”
  • Folding seems like extra work because you will wear it again

 
Tips

  • Designate a spot for every category in the house
  • The proper order is to place the clothes that are lighter in colour at the front and gradually progress to darker colours at the back
  • Fold each piece of clothing into a simple rectangle
  • Use photos, posters and ornaments to decorate the inside of cupboards
  • No music while cleaning up the house
  • Easy first and difficult ones last
  • If you feel someone else is untidy check yourself first
  • Visit model homes, ideal lifestyle
  • Hanging takes up more space than folding

 
Other benefits

  • People lost weight after letting go off the clutter

 
Food for thought

  • Letting go is even more important than adding
  • We attend seminars because we feel the passion of teacher and experience the learning environment
  • When we fold we should put heart into it and thank clothes for protecting our bodies
  • What you wear in the house impacts your self image
  • An attachment to past or anxiety about the future

 
Further reading 

  • Learn more about Feng shui
  • The art of discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi

 
Happy Tidying up!
 

Book Review – Steal Like An Artist

I came across Steal like an artist in the to-read list of a lot of creative giants. Only after reading it I understood how overrated it was. I would be lying if I said, I didn’t enjoy the style in which Kleon wrote the book. If I were to steal from an artist, it would be from Kleon. I will give a 5/5 for his writing style. But the content, it is old stuff in a new cover. If you constantly read self-help books, there is nothing new you will be learning in this book. I ended up highlighting the quotes which Kleon has sourced from different places to create a story rather than original points.
 
Nevertheless, here we go with the main concepts from the book.
 
“The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original”, nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references of the original.”
 
Kleon has collected so many such beautiful sentences which are the soul of the book.
 
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
 
Steal like an artist is for those who were not listening while reading other books and might end up listening now.
 
“Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively.”
 
This is a gem. If you can keep this in mind, next time you save something, you know whether you are a hoarder or an artist.
 
“You are only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.”
 
Another way of saying you are the average of five people you are surrounded with.
 
“Chase down every reference.Go deeper than anybody else-that’s how you will get ahead.It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.”
 
For those who don’t know how to research, this helps. Most of the books I end up reading are the books I started with. I pick up one concept from the book I read today and read a lot more to gain in depth knowledge.
 
“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away.”
 
I collect 5 times the books I am capable of completing.
 
“They just show up to do their thing.”
 
Photography is all about creativity. When I first started, I was average but I was still showing up daily and posting pictures. One of my friends passed a comment on how art is about creating a masterpiece when you feel like and not creating average stuff daily. Today, she hardly pursues it while I am on my way to mastering it.
 
“First you have to figure out who to copy. Second you have to figure out what to copy.
Don’t just steal the style. Steal the thinking behind the style.”
 
This is another mistake which rookies make. They only see what is visible and not what the original creator’s thought process was.
 
“The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like.”
 
I decided to write my next book on mindfulness so that I can get my hands dirty on this topic.
 
“Keep all your passions in life.”
 
For those who mock at you for being jack of all trades and master of none, you need to remember this. Creativity blooms when you can marry your hobbies with each other.
 
“Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a raise file.”
 
I was too narcissistic at one time in my life that I actually had this documented. Just something to read when I feel low. 
 
Happy stealing from an artist!
 

Book Review – Eckhart Tolle -The Power of now

Power of Now was in my to-read list for 3 years. All I knew about it was the story of a man who went from suicidal feelings to a joyous life. In my pursuit of mindfulness, I ended up picking this as the first book.
 
The entire book revolves around one concept “Now”. The past is for regrets and the future is for anxiety. The only moment you have control over is now. But you are wasting it away in the past or future. 
 

Why should you read this book?

 
I felt motivated to stay in the present after reading the book. There are a few instances in the book where Tolle questions you and gives you tips to stay in the present which are quite helpful. Apart from that the book is mainly theory on mindfulness which helps you catch yourself from drifting. 
 
Two main concepts which influenced my life.
 
1.Timelessness
 
We measure time in seconds but when you stay in the present is when you go into timelessness. It sounds absurd but at the same time means so much.
 
2.Giving energy to an emotion
 
After reading the book, whenever I experience a negative emotion, I keep a check on what are the thoughts I am holding to which is providing energy to the emotion and fueling it. I don’t live in the present like Tolle but this sort of awareness will definitely help me get closer to it.
 
This book is not for someone who is looking for readymade solutions. It is like the textbook on mindfulness concepts.
 

Notes

 
“Have you found the off button?”
 
That’s a very strong question to which a lot of us have a wrong answer. We don’t switch off. We switch the channel. If only we learn how to off our minds whenever we wish our lives are so much under our control.
 
“Just become intensely conscious of the present moment”
 
This sounds like a very tough job. But he gives a practical way to do this. If you are walking, pay your complete attention to the steps, movement and breathing.
 
“Everytime you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger”
 
If you have 100 thoughts bombarding you at the moment, if you can let go off the 101th thought, it is a little success to celebrate.
 
“80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless but because its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful”
 
When I did my thought tracker exercise a few years ago, I realised how I was wasting away my life worrying about the same things daily.
 
“To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important.”
 
The very reason why we are either regretful or anxious.
 
“No-mind is consciousness without thought. Only in the way is it possible to think creatively, because only in that way does thought have real power”
 
Tolle explains the creative artists and scientists get their breakthroughs in no-mind state.
 
“Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet”
“Research shows that strong emotions even cause changes in the biochemistry of the body”
 
“If you cannot feel your emotions, if you are cut off from them, you will eventually experience them on a purely physical level, as a physical problem or symptom”
 
It is one of the signs of the negative energy which is stuck in your head and shoulders as tension.
 
“What’s going on inside me at this moment? That question will point you in the right direction.”
 
“If there is no emotion present, take your attention more deeply into the inner energy field of your body”
 
This is one of the practical tip which helps you deal with identifying how emotion is affecting your body.
 
“Vibrational energy of the emotion keeps feeding the original thought pattern”
 
The very reason why you should be aware of that you and your mind are different entities and everything your mind says should not be bought.
 
“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you whereas joy comes from within.”
 
The reason why you are never satisfied with pleasure but joy makes you satisfied.
 
“The greatest part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.”
 
If your mind dictates how you should feel, you have no control over your happiness.
 
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present”
 
When you stay in a state of denial, you are stuck in the same thoughts which broods negativity.
 
“To complain is always non acceptance of what is”
 
A simple truth which is very difficult to follow.
 
“You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state”
 
While other self-help books simply tell this, here he explains how to check the sanity of your inner state.
 
“Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in suffering”
 
I definitely noticed how self-pity reduced once I stopped complaining about how bad my life is.
 
 
Check out the book here in case you want to give it a shot.
 
Happy staying in the present!
 

Book Review – 10% Happier

 
After reading Power of Now, I was in search of a book with practical advice on mindfulness. One of the suggestions was 10% happier. I started the book with a 10% increase in excitement to know how to implement the power of now. 
 
By the end of the first chapter, my excitement levels became neutral. I thought Dan Harris was introducing himself. But, near the end of the second chapter, I doubted if this book was about mindfulness or not. I wavered between giving up on the book and skimming through it. I felt it was not worth my time to read what Dan Harris did for a living and his experiences as a reporter were. There might be a lot of others who had that sort of free time to read about him and get to know Dan but I didn’t. My goal was clear. I wanted to understand how to live mindfully daily.
 
Luckily, I came across a page, how he sits up all through the night reading ‘A new earth’  by Eckhart Tolle. This reminded me how even I read Power of Now because I could not keep it aside. Finally, he gets to interview Eckhart, that is where the story gets interesting. Dan looks at Eckhart, the man who is spiritually awakened as an alien and whatever he says seems practically impossible. That is exactly how I felt about mindfulness as described in Power of Now. Later, when Dan meets Deepak Chopra, he realises how Eckhart was genuine and Deepak was just a fraud who claims to know it all but can’t practise the same in his life. While Eckhart has just one secretary, Deepak has an entire business product range to run. The funniest part of the story comes when Dan meets Vitale, who speaks in the DVD version of Secret. Vitale said that thinking should be coupled with action which is glaringly obvious. But they still made millions of dollars out of that.
 
In search of practical solutions, Dan gets introduced to works of Dr.Mark Epstein by his wife. After reading endlessly all the works of Epstein, he felt that Epstein conveyed the message in a more practical way than Tolle. As usual, Dan now goes on to interview him. Unlike the previous people he met, he found him human who just embraced Buddhism and implemented those principles in life. Through him, he gets introduced to meditation and a retreat program.
 
The crux of the book starts here. Dan goes on to describe the experiences he goes through in the process of meditating daily and how the retreat program went from undoable to bearable. Similar to Dan,I always wanted to go for a Vipassana retreat but I always feared it. I also went through a lot of arguments in my mind about meditation to make peace with it as it is today. In the next few chapters, as he talks about his journey I could empathize with him and felt that I am not alone in the journey of mindfulness and everyone else out there also goes through the same stages.
 
In the last few chapters, he talks about incidents how people took him to be weak and not so ambitious just because he is into spirituality. He beautifully explains and sets things right in his career by showing that going after mindfulness and being relaxed is not the same as being lackadaisical. 
 

Why should you read this book?


Throughout the time I was reading the book, there were multiple moments when I thought this is the line which my friends who think spirituality is pseudoscience should be reading.
 
You should read this book, if you want to understand how meditation has got nothing to do with religion or spirituality and how you can practise mindfulness as a normal human being. 
 
You should not read this book if you are looking for tips on how to meditate. This book is mostly about the journey of Dan. 
 
This book is best for those who are struggling to meditate and are not sure if they are on the right path. You will find a virtual companion through this book.
 
In case you plan on reading it, here is the Kindle version.
 
Happy becoming 10% happier!
 

Book Review – The Relationship Cure

Author: John Gottman
 
Print Copy
 
The relationship cure is a book true to its words. Even though some of the concepts were already known ones but the basic framework for a healthy relationship has been put in a neat and easily usable way.
 
The five steps involved in building a connection with anyone is
1.Analyze the way you bid and the way you respond to others’ bids.
2. Discover how your brain’s emotional command systems affect your bidding process.
3. Examine how your emotional heritage impacts your ability to connect with others and your style of bidding.
4. Develop your emotional communication skills.
5. Find shared meaning with others.
 
The beauty of the book is the way the author explained everything through examples which are easily relatable. Also, he mentions how it should not be done and the right way of dealing it. Even though most of it looks like common sense, that is the same common sense most of us lack when it comes to relationships.
 
A lot of relationships die because of the resentment which builds due to improper response to emotional bids. This is usually called as incompatibility whereas in reality it is just a matter of paying attention to your counterpart.
 
Even if you learn to pay attention, there is a way to communicate what you feel. You can’t be blunt and hurt the other person when they are trying to go out of their way to build the relation. There is a dedicated chapter which teaches you the basic way of communicating without offending the other person. The favorite part of this chapter for me is to collect emotional moments everyday.
 
Apart from the above, there are a lot of tests for you to figure out where you stand. The chapter on emotional command systems helped me in my project of classifying people based on their personality types. It explains that conflicts arise between two people because they don’t understand the emotional command system each one is built with.
 
Your present emotional intelligence is heavily dependent on the family you were raised in. Even though a part of it is influenced by the genes, the major part of it can be attributed to the brought up. There are tests to identify which family you were brought up in. Using that you understand the reason why you respond to emotional bids the way you do right now and how you can change them.
 
“Your eyes won’t lie”, this is a common statement I heard growing up. That’s true when it comes to body language. Even if you are saying nice things, when you don’t really mean it, it will show up in your body language. Any person with a bit of emotional intelligence will be able to pick up those cues.
 
The last but not the least part is about finding a shared meaning. Most of the deep friendships I have seen in my life rise through these. My meditation teacher also often advises me to find a deep shared meaning to build relation with anyone.
 

Who is this book for?

 
It is for anyone who is struggling to cope with their emotions. Even though the heading reads as a book on relationship, it is more about understanding yourself first. It helps you evaluate your current emotional intelligence, gives you tips on improving your intelligence and then apply them in your relations.
 

How should you read this book?

 
Don’t read it as a novel. Read a concept. Test it. It might take a week to a month. Then come back and evaluate where you stand and then proceed further.
 
I read this book at a stretch. But I realized that I wasn’t benefiting at all from the book. I will break it into actionable points and work on them over the next year.
Purchase your copy here.
 
Happy becoming emotionally intelligent!