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Body, Soul and The Mind

Image: Samurai Art

I search the vastness,
The deep recesses of my mind.
I close my eyes, but it only turns me blind.
Staring in this void,
No answers I can find.
An epiphany occurs,
The pieces of puzzle I must bind,
Body, Soul and the mind.
So, I plunge in my heart, I heard that’s where the Soul resides.
The darkness rings a familiar hollow,
Like the one in my mind.
Still searching…
Maybe it’s the way I am spending my time,
I plan to change, but the body’s still left behind.
Through hindsight, I realise,
The stress response built along the course of my life.
Progress seems slow, but it will compound over time.
I try to configure my bearings,
So I set upon this journey, in the darkness of the night.
Astrolabe in my hand, I reach a turning point,
I must sail and ride the waves,
For I am the warrior of the light!
Light above, light below, light all around me!
Darkness is no more, so long as I hold the pieces of this puzzle, tight…

Affairs of the heart

I am a work in progress. I am working towards being a better human being. The essence of our being is reflected in our hearts. Our hearts are like mirrors. They either show our own ugliness, or they show the goodness.

One of the ways that helped me figure out, how many grudges and ill feelings I had been holding inside, was through meditation. I developed this meditation technique back in 2018 after, a friend told me about compassion meditation and shared some interesting facts about how our brains are wired, how the subconscious plays a key role in shaping who we are, and why we feel and do what we feel and do?

This meditation technique is known as Compassion Meditation. A Buddhist practice. The link attached is a short lecture with a guided practice.

I adopted this technique the way it would work for me. Here’s a short description of it, if you prefer to follow this method, I describe it briefly below:

  1. Start by sitting in a relaxed position in a quiet place. Make the body still.
  2. Close the eyes. Cutting off the sensory stimulation.
  3. Be present by focusing on the individual sounds in the surrounding (not busying the ears).
  4. Establish the focus on the breath. A few deep breaths to connect with the present moment.
  5. I start the compassion meditation by being compassionate to myself. I say a prayer in my head imagining myself, I echo this prayer until the force of the prayer is all around me in my head, then I start including those who are close to me expanding the circle of compassion in my head with every prayer. After that I bring the image of the whole earth in my head and echo the prayer in my head. The prayer translates in English to: Our Lord, have mercy on us. Bestow mercy on us!

The practise can last from anywhere from 5 mins to 20 mins.

This meditation technique really helped me let go of grudges and resentment I didn’t know I was holding on to. When I first started practising this technique, images of people that I disliked or was angry or holding some negative emotion for, started to pop up in my head while meditating. I countered this by including those people in my prayers too. I realised that I was holding onto unnecessary and unwanted feelings and emotions. I started becoming more aware of my negative side. I questioned myself why I didn’t like them? Was it useful to hold on to grudges and resentment? Was it helpful? Eventually, I was able to include everyone in this meditation practise without feeling any grudges, dislike, and resentment towards others. 

Back to the intro… I am a work in progress. Although I was happy to discover that some negative emotions found place in my heart and head easier than others. To give you an example, anger and fear found place in my heart and mind easier than other emotions like hate and envy. The reason I am writing this is because, in the past week or 2, I find that anger and fear is once more easily finding place in my heart and occupying my mind. However, armed with the tools to combat them, I am able to keep my composure. However, I cannot remain calm in everything I do, so this highlights that I should start practising this meditation daily, looking deeper inside my heart and subconscious. I am also sharing this because since developing this method, I have consumed a lot of content and found out that similar practices of contemplation have been part of the Islamic tradition too. Here’s a lecture series that talks about the practise of Tafaqqur by Dr. Abdullah Rothman. He talks about 9th century scholar Muhasibi, who mentioned a similar practise in his works. Muhasibi highly influenced the main scholar of metaphysics Imam Ghazzali.

Few months back, I also came across compassion meditation practise in Professor Jason M Satterfield’s course for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Techniques for Retraining the Mind’. This meditation practise is especially useful in identifying and contemplating upon the state of our hearts and rectifying its affairs. It’s also helpful in combating anxiety and depression.

Fragility

It’s very easy for me to talk about the good things that I am constantly trying to improve on and implement.

Today I want to talk about the difficult stuff. Fragility- how vulnerable humans can be? How easy it is to do away with the positive emotions that require a lot of work to build and let them be overwhelmed by the negative emotions that are quick to take over. Our survival mechanism that has been built in us, ensures that we feel these negative emotions for our own benefit. This is how we survive and thrive in the world.

To give you some context, I took up some challenges to build new habits and compound on them, all was well until it wasn’t. One of the challenges was a combo of meditation and exercise twice a day for 90 days. I meditated and exercised at least once every day for the last 50 or so days. I have skipped the last 3 days and missed some meditation sessions and/or exercise combo that goes with them, so there goes the 90 days challenge as I broke continuity. It doesn’t sound that bad writing that yeah, I missed those 3 days, but when I talk about why I missed those 3 days, it may sound that I went through a slump. In those 3 days, my mind was occupied with anxiety, worries and cues for depression seemed to be returning. I was trying to suppress those emotions simultaneously, which is the worst thing to do when feeling such way.

” It’s good to express your emotions and it’s not good to suppress your emotions”.

This is a line I repeat often in some classes I have been holding. Yet, I was not exercising this myself. That said, I don’t mean that you should scream when you’re angry or eat sugary foods when craving food. Good and wanted emotions are good to express and bad and unwanted emotions should be managed and controlled. The 3 days I skipped on all the little things I do to win the day and ingrain the process fell apart. In those 3 days, I felt a lot of other emotions too; self-doubts, feelings of being ungrateful, feelings of burn-out because I may be trying to take on too many tasks, combined with some concerns for my well-being and health and thinking how this may impact me. All of this to me, highlights how fragile and vulnerable I can be at times and, how easy it can be to get derailed. I can go into much deeper details and how my mind works but that may not necessarily be how your mind works. If you have through experiences learnt the cues for anxiety and depression, if you have learnt through reflection how to overcome, if you have learnt to not suppress emotions, rather allow yourself to feel the emotions and then overriding it with your cognitions and actions to stop these cues from returning. This is how perhaps; I think I have been able to pick myself up through slumps and periods of low mood and energy. To re-centre myself, I have to take a step back and start again at the causes and resolving those causes. The causes and cues of these negative feelings and slumps can be rectified through addressing the cause and/or reinforcing the actions that will subside these emotions and bring back the positivity and process back in sight.

3 days of slump may have seemed like a huge setback to me in my head and because of the overwhelming feelings I felt in those 3 days. What helped me is being able to detach myself from’ my Self’ and observe myself objectively. I know that I can never do this with full objectivity but what helps me is, talking about myself in 3rd person as if I am not me and am just looking at my behaviour/actions because that’s what’s visible outwardly, I then observe my emotions and try see how they are affecting my thoughts and behaviours. Wherever there is a disconnect and wherever there is a causal reaction, those areas identified then need to be rectified. It may all sound a bit fancy because of how I might be explaining things, to give an example and make a relation between emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Consider this, which in my case, is one of the cues for depression and anxiety returning. What I want to do is wake up and carry on with my daily routine but instead, I lay about in bed. In not getting up off the bed, I start feeling lazy, this then brings feelings of being unproductive and uselessness, I reinforce these feelings through my actions of remaining lazy. The actions reinforce the thoughts in my mind that yes, the feelings and behaviours confirm that I am actually lazy, unproductive, and useless, the thoughts then turn to rumination. Rumination is a cue for depression returning. It’s not a simple process for me, thoughts, behaviours and emotions either reinforce each other or often there is a disconnect, when my feelings and thoughts lag the actions/behaviours. Sometimes it is my actions that lag the emotions. What I am simply saying is, yeah, it’s complex to explain it. Which shows how fragile and vulnerable I can be.

Once we are in the fragile and vulnerable state, our lower self, survival instincts, survival mechanism overtake our rational thinking and rational behaviour and we fall into old habits which may also be a precursor for anxiety and depression. We may feel afraid, we may become distrustful of others and/or ourselves. We may start eating unhealthy foods/ binge eat/ consume high sugar foods. We oversleep, we may lose our appetite, we may become disengaged with our surroundings and disconnected with those close to us.

Being able to reflect while going through this can be really helpful, as it can help you get back on track. I am a big believer in dreams and what shape they take in our sleep. If we try connecting to our unconscious and subconscious minds and what they are trying to tell us, we can recognise the areas where we have to give attention. I am not going to delve into interpretation of dreams. I am not an expert in the area, I feel that I am well connected with how my dreams are shaped and my ability to influence my own dreams in my sleep. Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. Reflection, allowing yourself time to feel emotions, accepting them is a good way to address the slump. Self-awareness and recognising early on the shift in your routines, behaviour and emotions is a great tool to possess too. Remembering this one line, that no soul is burdened beyond what it can bear helps me a lot. It helps me reinforce the confidence and grants me persistence and wisdom to keep working towards my goals and visions. The ability to implement even in small ways, this is the way to start working on your dreams and goals. Wishful thinking and having great ideas lead to get rich quick schemes and hoping for overnight success if you lack the courage to pursue them knowing and dealing with periods of setbacks. In modern age, our brains are more prone to instant gratification because of the impact of the social media, environment, constant bombardment of advertisements and reality TV shows.

Most of all knowing yourself and your ability to re-centre when overwhelmed is what can help you overcome setbacks. In all honesty I want to add that I don’t think I know myself well. It’s an ongoing process that perhaps never ends till you’re dead.

p.s. I do not suffer from clinical depression. What I talk about in this blog is the feelings of depression that people may feel in different stages of their lives. This is not an expert advice, just moments of self-reflection. I really wrote this to allow myself to feel all emotions and be able to reflect on them. It also helped me overcome the slump which in the moment was overwhelming. Keep a note of this when reading it. Thank you!

How to Read A book?

Currently I am listening to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil. The books are quite difficult to remember. I think they are meant to be this way. Even though I am taking my time listening, most stuff is really hard to grasp. I have started to think that for difficult books I should have the audible version and a paperback/hardback/kindle version. This is what I did when I Listened to The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. I read and listened to it twice. Got to do it one more time. Anyhow, this is the reason why I haven’t been able to write anything because I am trying to decipher what I am listening to most of the time and that has taken away some ideas from me perhaps or maybe not because I am writing even though I am not actually writing about Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Honestly, I think most of it went over my head and I can probably recall very few points. It was only the first listen anyway.

A philosopher according to Nietzsche, is a man who constantly experiences, sees, hears and suspects hopes and dreams, extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thought as if they came from the outside, from above and below as a species of events and lightning strikes peculiar to him; who himself is perhaps a storm which moves along pregnant with new lightnings; a portentous man, around whom there is mumbling and rumbling and gaping, something uncanny going on. A philosopher alas, is a being who runs away from himself, is often afraid of himself but whose curiosity always makes him come to himself again and again… (292 Beyond Good and Evil)

This reignited the thought, how to read a book? So, I went back and listened to this lecture by the humble man whose lectures are always insightful, thought provoking and full of wisdom. The book is titled ‘How to Read a Book’ by Mortimer J. Adler. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf includes his own learning experiences to give a fuller understanding of the book, he explains the book really well, the different levels of reading, the elementary reading, the inspectional/information reading, the analytical reading. He also talks about the 3 types of people, the dabbler, the hackers, and the masters. Dabblers take up a sport/hobby/goal to give up after they are bored, not getting any attention and/or validation. Hackers take up a goal and learn the principles and practise it but never perfect it, the masters spend years after years improving and enhancing their understanding, wisdom and skills in their field. A great book deserves to be read a minimum of 3 times. A great book is a book that you can come back to over and over again. Hamza Yusuf then goes on to explain how the books written by moderns can be summed up in a line and how each sentence written by ancients can be elaborated into a new book. This is very true with the new boon that kicked off for self-help, how to start your own business and how to become better at marketing. Most of these books can be summed up in a line and very few are worth reading again and again. He ends the lecture by analysing a poem. This is what I mean when I say that my auditory memory is good haha, I am surprised how much I can recall from the lecture. I haven’t even gone back for references. He also explains in the lecture the difference between literalists, who find it hard to extract the meaning of poem and metaphorical texts. He talks about classical reads/novels/books, he talks about understanding grammar, rhetoric, logic. The 3 R’s Reading, Writing and Rhetoric.

So, if you want to start reading difficult books, classical texts, and original books. I would advise you to start by reading Mortimer J Adler’s How to Read A Book or Listen to the lecture by Hamza Yusuf on How to Read a Book.

One of the reasons why collectively we are failing is because we do not make the effort to educate ourselves by reading and studying difficult texts. I remember in one of his lectures he said, “The giants of the past were vast.” In comparison to the work accomplished and level of literacy reached by the past generations, we may have advanced technologically, but in doing so we have become the slaves of it and we do not push to find our real potential, unravel our minds, we are addicted to comfort of our homes, tech, media. Our education system fails to raise up mentally healthy adults, this is a crisis we face. This is a crisis to address too. Hopefully, writing this gives me the courage, insights, and ability to chase after my own goals. Goals for creating a better educational system.

Welcome New Habits, Bye Bye Old Habits

Good habits and process compound. If you were to seek results, it’s the quickest path to lose sight of the goal, lose motivation. Especially when things are not as smooth flowing as per your expectations.

Most of us either overestimate or underestimate our abilities. It is better to underestimate as that keeps you in constant check to improve every day and focus on the process. We overestimate our abilities/capabilities due to one of the following: lack of knowledge, not enough experience, and overconfidence.

It takes time, consistency, and persistent effort with discipline to patch up routines, process; creating learning loops that put you on the path of incremental progress.

From my past experiences, habits you want to eliminate require a minimum 3 months to get rid of. This being the tough period which requires many other aspects such as replacing those habits with new habits, creating new interests or hobbies. Furthermore, getting rid of bad habits successfully also means knowing yourself and the cues that can trigger those habits to resurface. E.g. the place, the people, time of the day but more than these factors if you can recognise the cue that your hippocampus signals to your emotions and thoughts for the cravings is the first step in not falling back into the old habits. Our reward seeking hippocampus and amygdala which triggers emotional responses play a big role in emotional arousals, cravings etc. Ultimately, as a responsible individual, you should learn to not point fingers and find reasons as to why you fall back into the old habits, and instead, take responsibility for your actions. You control your actions, you are given the choices whether to perform those actions or not, whatever they may be. Here, of course I am talking about the things that are under our control and things we can influence.

The 2nd step would be changing your thoughts about those emotions, and those changed thoughts should propel you to take action that stops the bad habits from coming back. For example, if I crave unhealthy food, I will usually feel hungry too. How then, do I stop myself from eating unhealthy food? I may tell myself, that what I really need instead is water or a healthy sweet. Most of the time when we are hungry, what we really need is water. Once I change that feeling with a thought, then it is followed by the action. In doing so successfully each time, I could essentially train myself to recognise these triggers and create a process thereby which, I can stop the cravings for unhealthy food. Doing it over and over and through repetition of a minimum three months from my experience, it is possible to train ourselves to completely overcome a bad habit. An alternative to this step can be, action preceding thoughts and what we think about our emotions. Actions therefore lead and mind follows. You can tailor it for yourself and see what works best for you. I being, more a cognitive type, use the former approach more but obviously it’s a mix of the two, because a lot of the times actions provide the opportunity to reflect and then, they can be tweaked, improved and/or replaced with something different. Important point being we don’t know until we try change.

Over a period of time, even if you don’t reach your desired outcome, the progress and improving process will definitely be noticeable, so long as you are doing something right, using expert advice/help and taking help and support from those around you. This is just a moment of self-reflection for me personally, by writing this down, I am trying to peek into my own mind as if I were looking at myself as my own student. haha this is what solitude leads to… you become your own teacher, you become your own student, you become curious about different emotion, you have thoughts about those emotions and then you try dissect them, improve on them, think and reflect. Writing this out seems a bit hilarious but fun at the same time. Thank you Lockdown haha

I will keep this short and sweet and not jumble it up too much as this is not an expert advice, just a moment of self-reflection.

Chasing dreams

There is a lot of things I can talk about, when talking about fulfilling one’s dreams. The way I have always approached this, even before I began reading all psychology books, self-help books and talks; is through focusing on short-term goals and having the bigger dream etched in your subconscious. This then helps you be flexible no matter how meandering the path you tread upon is, there is always a centre to gravitate back to. When I say meandering, I don’t necessarily mean getting knocked down or falling in pits, I also mean, always seeking alternatives, being flexible and not fixated on a single path that will lead to that eventual success in the future.

When I was in school and college, I wanted to be an engineer and a pilot. Lol I am far from that path. I am not going to delve into my current path in this moment because I am enjoying the pursuit. However, this is what I will tell you, it has helped me overcome so many of my struggles and has helped instil good habits. It is a combination of good habits, processes and improving every day. I will keep following it as long as there is more room for improvement, which I see no end to 😉. For those of you who know me and are well acquainted know that I can sometimes be too stubborn, doing things on my own. Sure, things can be hard, you get steam rolled many times. That is the whole point, right? Grit, determination, and persistence. Along the road to achieve great things, your character is tested, moulded, and strengthened. You connect with strangers who have the potential to be lifelong friends, coaches, mentors, peers, and people who push you to be your best. You come across strangers who for no apparent reason will show hate- that is because they do not have the ability to either dream or the courage to pursue. They will always have excuses or negativity to discourage and derail you from your path. This is also part of the journey that tests your persistence and character. Your mission is to stay focussed and keep getting back up when knocked down.

It is how you choose to respond to different situations.

There is a false belief held by many people that, successful people are born rich, or they come from privileged backgrounds. They falsely measure success by money, material possessions such as cars and clothing and other indulgences of lavish and luxurious lifestyles.

Furthermore, those who become successful and get rich too, are demonized by those that are not. The class system is like a prison for the minds of the masses. Obviously, there is a whole area of inequality and equal opportunities to address here but right now, I want to talk about reasons why a lot of rich and successful folks should not be demonized. I was writing about this some weeks back but cannot seem to remember where lol.

What most people see is the tip of the iceberg. The peak! They do not see the failures, rejections, broke nights, fear, grit, courage. Either they have a false sense of success and they do not know how to measure it, or they are just hesitant to uncover their own potential and love to stay in their comfort zones. I feel that this deserves more explanation, but I may do the injustice of demonising other parties in the discussion if I go on about it. Personally, I look at individuals and do my best to not be prejudiced. I do not look at what group they are standing behind, what flag are they flying. Those attributes of an individual are pretty irrelevant to me until they prove it so through their tongues and hearts. Even then, perhaps because I believe in mercy and forgiveness more, I always encourage the art of thoughtful disagreement and negotiations instead of divisive actions that can escalate quickly. One such example is what is happening around the world currently. Protests turning into riots. The proponents of protests will say that our cause and agenda was peace, but they must assess the likelihood of mob mentality, individuals and groups that will take the opportune moment for vandalism. Many might not agree and back other evidence that may show that outsiders masquerading are responsible in reality for the riots and damage caused. Heck! I don’t even know why I am talking about this. Perhaps, because I recently read the book on the mind of the crowd. What influences them, what controls them, how they can be a good force and how easy it is to turn the situation into anarchy and chaos. Yeah, I know I said that I will talk about the mind of the crowd in a new blogpost, but that is such a lengthy topic. The blog will get all political because the book is based on revolutionary events and wars that have shaped our world. It discusses other historical events and how leaders emerge and qualities they possess. It is a great read for anyone who is a leader of a country, group, or community. Personally, for me, it is good knowledge to be able to maintain my individuality and not get caught up with the distractions that will divert me away from my personal dreams and goals. If you are interested the book is written by a French Psychologist Gustave Le Bon, I have two of his books. One titled, ‘The Crowd: The Study of the Popular mind’ and the other one which I still have not read despite owning it for nearly a decade, ‘Psychology of Revolution’ but I can assure you both books are rich and very thought provoking.

Sweet dreams are made of this…. who am I to disagree? I travel the world and seven seas; everybody is looking for something… this song just popped in my head while writing this ha-ha

I am planning to finish writing this and the other post that has been laying in my drafts, almost complete.

Being spontaneous sometimes, I cannot explain things the best way, because I am not really researching this particular topic just writing from what I have learnt from life experiences thus far. In one of my previous posts I mentioned that words are powerful, yes sure they are. However, when words are negatively impacting, all you need is a thick skin to deal with them thick skulls, the right kind of thick skills that you need to deal with thick sick folks. You see what I done there lol  

Ok, let’s get back to talking about chasing dreams, there’s many lessons that I can share from personal experiences, not all seem relevant to me right now but what I will share is that, learn from other people’s mistakes and experiences because if you don’t you will be learning the hard way by making all those mistakes yourself. Trial and error approach can be a good thing, it is not for everyone though because if you cannot recover from failures, you will keep falling into chaos. If you are set to learn from your mistakes, you best develop skills to coach yourself, be coach-able by listening to experts, reaching out for help, and accepting help. Synthesizing information. My belief is that knowledge increases when shared, knowledge is an asset unlike any other, if you are stripped away from all worldly possessions, you still possess your knowledge so long as you keep strong mentally. What differentiates those who reach their potential and those who do not with all great ideas is the ability to implement. A human thought! Is it really unique? We all share some connection and there are over 7 billion people in the world and many a generation that have lived on this planet before us. So, think about that again? Is your thought really unique to you? What is unique however, is the ability to act upon them.

Over the years, what I have realised is that it sometimes feels as if you cannot remember anything, all learnt knowledge has been lost. It is very easy to retrieve and access blurred information and memories if you apply the right methods in doing so. That is a whole different area where I may possess some practical skills, but my understanding and knowledge is not sufficient to even try explaining how that happens. How are those neurons wired? How do they get rewired? How do you connect old pathways again? What is the link between different compartments of the brain? Short-term memory (RAM) long-term memory (hard drive), then there are different methods like being able to recall through picturing and imagining. I don’t have a clue how to explain this but what I know about myself is this, my auditory memory is better, I absorb more information and understand better when I listen, I learn by doing, learning theory is good but application-less knowledge is easiest to forget.  Then for some other things I have a photographic memory, it is not the best photographic memory because perhaps I realised at a much older age that I have one. So, I am working on it slowly to improve it again. Neuroplasticity or what I refer to it in simple terms how malleable is your brain? Malleable materials can be hammered into sheets, ductile are used to make rods and wires. That is where I get this word from, it may save you a google search if you have never studied physics. I have never studied biology. I used to hate rote memorisation when I was younger. Even though I had a really good memory, it is just that at that age I did not know which methods worked better for me. I have always understood concepts better. I had some teachers who saw that in me.

Anyway my main point and why I am sharing this is so you can work out for yourself, no matter at which stage in life you are, what your age is, find out how your brain works, how you learn best, this information is crucial if you want to go after your dreams, it will help shorten learning curves by uncovering your potential and lighting things up for you that make the most sense to you.

I do not even know how much of all that I have written makes sense right now Ha-ha, I have been just jumping around trying to connect dots in my head.

Anyhow I have gone on long enough I reckon, I have to get back at chasing my dreams, currently that will be watching a particular video because it explained stuff in detail and at an advanced level that can help me get to that next stage. That said, remember you can get better every day. 1% improvement, marginal gains, compound on good habits and good processes.  I don’t talk about all my endeavours because that’s probably my introverted side, soon perhaps I will share it or maybe I won’t at all, because I want to blog about stuff, other than those endeavours because If I mix up everything then I won’t be able to find a niche that I am looking for in my writing outside of those endeavours, and probably blur the line between two different passions that I lose the spark in one of them. I do not want to eat, sleep and drink on a single passion alone ha-ha. I think that is what I am trying to say here.  This is why I mostly relate it to martial arts because that is what truly helped me understand first principles and power of synthesizing information and knowledge. A period of different growth started then. A journey within….

You must find balance within yourself before you set out to bring balance to the world.

This ☝️being the reason why I am extra wary of mob mentality, groupthink, social conformity, and trend following. Basically, anything that can turn you into a sheep. You do not want to lose your uniqueness and individuality on your path to achieving greatness, rather embrace it, accept it. Proactively building on your strengths and eliminating weaknesses. When I say eliminate, I do not necessarily mean cut out completely because that is impossible because we are humans, fallible and make mistakes continually. There are many methods- minimising, being systematic and setting rules, following a principles-based approach, leveraging- getting help from good people in areas where you are weak, triangulating with believable others.

I was supposed to stop writing lol because I still got to edit this blog. Remember to share this if it helps you, not for my sake but to help others whom you would like to help and benefit. Obviously if you find it helpful yourself ha-ha because I know a lot of people reading this will know a lot of this already.

If my mumbo jumbo made sense in this blog, leave a comment ha-ha. In the coming blog, I might pick few key words and concepts and expand on them. One of the reasons why I am writing all of this is also because these streams of thoughts that come, often help me find clarity in my goals, objectives, and dreams. I really write to help myself 🤣😂🤗 ha-ha but share in hope it helps you too.

Until next time,

Enjoy the weather while it is beautiful and lockdown coming to an end.

I want to learn at least one new tricking move that I do not know this summer. Going to go do that. Looking to learn aerial or 540 tornado kick.

Deep Reflections

It’s the last 10 blessed nights of Ramadan. I want to take this opportunity to reflect upon my life, goals and dreams.

The meandering path that I have tread upon, the struggle against the heavy currents, the deep desire to constantly improve, learn more about myself and increase in knowledge. Through the practise of martial arts the main lesson that I have learnt is that by going to the first principles, we can see how different paths in life are similar. Through reflection I have been able to seek these similarities in many different fields and sciences, the principles hold through time. Principles are universal and those who deny it, they are deluded within the realm of their ego and self-esteem. Humility and open-mindedness are traits to possess when seeking knowledge, it will help develop critical thinking, analytical thinking and a mindset that questions before you start following anything blindly.

I am reading a psychology book which talks about the minds of masses. Throughout history we can delve into this study and see how many events of the past have been shaped because of these factors, perhaps I will write all of this in another blog post. For now, let me stick to discussing my reflections, goals and dreams.

One of my dreams in life is to eradicate poverty and child abuse. I know it’s idealistic to believe that all vices can be eliminated completely. However, I want to do what I can within my capacity and I want to achieve this through education. Hence, one of my main dreams from a younger age has been to establish an educational institution which is self-sustaining and once set-up it can function with minimum injection of additional capital- be that through any public or private means.

What I want that educational institution to be like? I have spent many hours in the past years thinking over it and I can say that the more I think and visualise it, the clearer the image of this institution becomes. It’s just an idea that I have shared on many other platforms before, not yet implemented on my part. However, there are many institutions around that have implemented many aspects similar to my thinking. I have learnt a lot by looking at these different institutions and how they function. One such institution is Zaytuna. If you read my blog, I would suggest you donate to them because for 1) educating and teaching others is an ongoing charity unlike other forms of charity which once given gets a set reward and 2) Zaytuna is one of those institutions that instil the principles in its pupils that help them succeed in whatever field they want to pursue afterwards. How do they do that? Through teaching the first principles, by developing the minds of the pupils enabling them to think for themselves; it grants them the ability to make sound judgement, utilising good morals and values. Through teaching them rhetoric and grammar, through teaching them the skills of effective communication, through eloquence.

I haven’t had the opportunity to study there and hence my words cannot describe their system the best way. However, what I would like to add to this is that, if you’d like to get to know the Islamic teachings through traditional way, not what the Mainstream media portrays what Islam is. E.g. Islam was the first religion to grant women equal rights, the first wife of Prophet pbuh, was a businesswoman, a source of comfort for him, a friend, who shared the responsibility of the household together. By getting to the correct teachings you can perhaps come to change your views about Islam, whether you follow its teachings or you don’t. The best way to remove animosity towards one another is by taking interest in others. Real interest that shows the real morals and values of the community, the people, the nation, the society.

I think prejudice, judging others and forming opinions without properly knowing others is the wrong way to get to know someone. It is an easy way for closed-minded people to stay within their comfort zones and live inside the bubble of their ego. We should especially be bursting these bubbles in these times, we have so much free time. Let’s take this opportunity to learn about ourselves and others. Reflect within and learn to see the goodness in others. If we look at others with faults, that’s all we will ever find. To expand on this, when we look at others with faults, we really are just extending our own subconscious on others. That’s a deep thing to ponder over.

For those of you who know me personally or are at least acquainted with me, I would like to request that you kindly donate what you can towards Zaytuna. If you wish to see more helpful muslims as your neighbours, as your friends, as community leaders who lead as good role models, as loving and caring members of the society then please donate. The institution runs with the help of donors and you can be part of providing good education, which becomes a means of an ongoing reward for yourself and anyone on whose behalf you donate, be they your deceased loved ones or those who are alive and close to you.

In my next few posts, I will perhaps talk a bit more about the educational institution that I want to build. It’s my long-term goal, if and when I have the capacity to follow this path. I will also talk about the mind of the masses and how to understand it. I perhaps being one of those deep thinkers, and who isn’t easily swayed by trends and someone who likes to call themselves a non-conformist (as in my name as the author), you can understand why I would lean towards reading such deep books. Anyhow, to end this blog, I would like to say, don’t fall into the trap of knowing-it-all and don’t fall into the trap that you’re worthless. Rather have a balanced approach, stay humble, stay curious, curiosity towards learning, not being nosy in other people’s matters or curiosity that leads to hate and envy. To create a harmonious society, I firmly believe that we all should strive to better ourselves individually, and then, only then extend that help forward. That said, this tells me that it is time for me to stop writing and look within myself to better myself. Look within, what’s within is what’s reflected outwards. See the funny thing about delusional people is that, they themselves don’t ever realise that they are deluded. The irony! Hmm, I still have the habit of being spontaneous when I write, just typing my mind out loud, perhaps it is my strength. With time, I will start writing articles with better research process. I am fairly new with this blog so I focus on consistency because I love writing. I started loving it more by sharing more and writing more often. You develop a passion by engaging in the arts. The art of writing has now become my passion, I know there is always room for improvement. The grammar, the sentence structure, how I articulate my thoughts, so much more to improve on. With time and years to come, I will seek to improve. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to share this and help raise funds for a good cause.

Until next time,

Keep safe

Ramadan

أعوذ بالله السميع العليم من الشيطان الرجيم. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

ياايهاالذين ءامنو كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون. أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ [البقرة : 183-184]

O ye who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you, as it was prescribed upon those before you. So that, you may learn self-restraint. [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

رمضان كريم وكل عام وانتم بخير. تقبل الله منا ومنكم صالح الأعمال.

اللهم إني أعوذ بك من الرياء و رء وأعوذ بك من شر ما خلق ومن شر النفوس

I said those prayers ☝️because I am not a knowledgeable expert or a scholar and lest I fall into the trap of رء and رياء.

To listen to the experts and people of knowledge and to especially understand the context of the current circumstances and how it relates to Fasting watch this lecture.

These are the verses commanding Siyaam (fasting) for the month of Ramadan. In this month was revealed the Quran. From Loh-e-Mafooz (The Preserved Tablet) to the lowest heaven. Then from the lowest heaven it was revealed part by part through Angel Jibreel عليه السلام (Gabriel) to the heart of Prohet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. May God bless us with hearts that preserve the Quran.

Once more, I do not intend to preach. Rather just wanted to share something good I stumbled upon. Found this biography of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم by Martin Lings. It’s also available on Amazon in hard copy and audiobook form. Sussex university library and Leeds have a copy available too. The reason I am sharing it, is because Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has delivered lectures on this book covering the seerah(life) of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. I ask Allah for sincerity and lasting guidance so that I can study this book with lectures this month.

It’s a blessed month in a blessed time. Although, we cannot gather for Taraweeh, Itikaaf and other community worships this month. The practice continues in the homes of many muslims. The practice continues for the individuals and families. It’s a great time to meditate more, reflect more, ponder more, study more, memorize more, read more, recite more. Listen to this lecture on 17 benefits of tribulations.

With quarantine measures in place, it’s a perfect opportunity to cleanse our hearts. Cleanse yourself from the diseases of the heart; anger, rage, resentment, envy, jealousy, lying, foul language.

One of the reasons we have been ordered to fast is, so that, we can feel the suffering of the poor people. There will be many people struggling all over the world because many people live pay cheque to pay cheque. The labourers, the daily wage workers, and they will not be able to benefit from iftaar (breaking fast) gatherings in the masjids(mosques). How will those people get by and have enough to eat without the generous support that’s provided every Ramadan? These times are full of blessings and trials. Make sure you go out of your way to donate to charities who are on the frontline providing the necessities and food supply to the needy. Feed as many people as you can around you. Check on your neighbours if they have enough. Remember the best of us are those who feed others, and the best of us are those who are most beneficial to others. Keep others safe from your tongue and hands.

It’s a great start to Ramadan as the first day is Friday. A blessed day and a blessed month. We may be missing Friday prayers. However, there are still many acts of worship that we can perform on a Friday. Make the most of them. Recite the story of people of The Cave سورة الكهف Send صلوات وسلام upon the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Remember ساعة استجابة: أي الوقت بعد العصر (time of supplication after Asr). Pray for the whole world and that we may find peace and ease.

Until then,

Receive a light till following Friday.

How to motivate yourself to sustain your productivity!

I am sharing an old post I wrote back in 2015 when I was studying for exams. This is very relevant in current times.

Many of us have so much free time, many of us are bored, binge watching shows. I am not saying that I don’t watch shows at all. I am a big anime fan, psychological and thriller genres being my favourite. My favourite anime is Monster by Naoki Urasawa. An underrated anime definitely. What I mean is, often if this habit is not kept in check, it turns into escapism. Like binge playing video games, binge watching TV shows, movies, binge listening to music. These are all forms of escapism and many of us fall into this trap without ever realising. Escapism although, it can be good at times to keep the mind busy and away from anxiety, stress, depression when you have no other solution. In no way ever, it will solve any of those problems. It will just halt them temporarily much like what other addictions do. Drugs, drinking and what not. Since this is a norm in today’s society and especially the youth. Here is what helped me when I was a student, although I still am, but not sitting any school, college or university exams.

How To Motivate Yourself To Study?

I may not be the best person to answer this query, but let’s just say most of us struggle similarly. Work, life in general, family, commitments, enjoyment and so much more that life has to offer gets in the way of studying. Am I right? (rolling eyes) hmmm i guess so…. On the contrary, sometimes it is simply laziness, poor time management and lack of discipline that gets in the way of studying. I think together the two hold true for the majority. Motivation, is a word so deep that you have to dig out from the depths of your inner self, your consciousness, your conviction, errrr…. thinking deeply, I would say Motivation needs a regular check up. Just like how you get a health check up, how you maintain your diet, how you keep up a work routine; motivation similarly needs to be renewed, pondered over and rejuvenated yet to keep it going strong.

I hope that helps, but let me tell you something, we are capable of a lot more than we can comprehend ourselves. The mind is limitless just like the universe. We are strong and it is said that no soul shall be burdened beyond what it can bear. Getting back to the subject of motivation and linking it with studies, it generally works if you treat studies and exams just like your job or part-time job. Spend 2-3 hours daily, if not then, regularly. Follow a routine, plan ahead, more importantly do some exercise to help relieve stress and keeping a healthy mind and body. Physical and mental fitness is essential, especially in today’s world. We all live a busy life, hard to squeeze new things in our daily routine, sometimes so busy that we don’t pay attention to our closest relations.

I personally being a bit lazy leave everything and do it at the eleventh hour. However, I do pass and score average marks. If I was to work harder, better put like this, if I was to manage my time more efficiently and study properly, I could score better in exams. My point is ‘Motivation’, that’s what I lack too and yet I am writing this article to help you, because sometimes it’s the human nature, people can advise other people better than they can themselves. Does that make sense? hmmm…I guess it does. So by advising you, ultimately I am noting all of this for myself too and work to improve my motivation, and find the trigger to take it one level up every time. Hehe, I think that last line was overly ambitious.

“Find the trigger to keep it in Resonance.” Don’t let it fluctuate too much, just like the Miller Orr Model for cash management. Well, I hope this helps, I want to continue writing but I have to get back on my studies 🙂 Good Luck with your exams 🙂

Well, all exams have been cancelled. You might not be studying at all right now. Think of the consequences when you start again. We are creatures of habit. If you break your good and productive habits during these times, a lot of us will find it a chore to bring those back when we need them. To ensure, that you don’t lose the productive habits, what you ought to do perhaps, is do a little of them. E.g. if you can’t study 6-7 hours like you’d during school/college or exam times. Study 1 hour a day. If you can’t do 1 hour workout in gym, do a 15 minute workout at home. Once more, what I am really doing is, by advising you, I am noting all of this for myself too.

I will share some apps that help me, my 2 favourites are Thenics and Mindfulness. You just need a small space and follow the app for a solid workout. If you can sustain these workouts for 2-3 months, you just might be able to do handstand, pistol-squat and other cool calisthenics moves.

In the mindfulness app, my current favourite meditation practice is Corona resilience. Immunity booster. Although, I always have my own ways to apply and make them work for me. I will perhaps talk about other different meditation techniques I carry out in my next post.

Until then, stay fit and stay productive.

Leap- Progress & Process

Woooo weeee 

Leap year 29th Feb. A must post haha

If I were to post once a month, I get February off for 4 years. 11 posts per year. I can live with that :p

If you proposed your beloved on this day, you won’t have to celebrate for another 4 years. 

If you were born today, you can be cheeky and say you age 1 year every 4 years…

I know, I know I am chatting a lot of BS. But what’s fun, if you can’t ignite a little humour. 

I haven’t posted in a while, I wouldn’t say it’s because of laziness this time. It’s just that, I got to adjust my schedule and routine a little better to bring in consistency.  

If you are finding useful information from this blog and especially what you can implement in your own life, because our lives resonate a lot in general and yet we follow our unique journeys.

That’s some deep statement if you were to ponder over it. 

Anyhow: let’s get it started!

One good habit that I am implementing in my day to day life is journaling and tracking process and progress. In simple terms, you can call it the DRC, Daily Report Card.

What do I track in it? I will give you the list, you can tailor it to suit your life, however, what works for me is this : 

Sleep Time: 

Wake up Time: 

Dawn Prayer:

Meditation:

Work out: 

(Here I literally write what I had for the day.)

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Dinner:

Sugar intake: 

Caffeine intake: 

What did I do well?

What I didn’t do well? 

Monthly goal:

(Obviously, there’s a lot that I am grateful for, but if you can track and write down 3 things everyday, even if they are the same,  you will generate positivity in your life.)

3 things I am grateful for: 

E.g. 1. the in-breath, 2. the out-breath. (Signifying life and it’s blessings) (I breathe therefore, I exist, hence I give gratitude) 3. eyes that see goodness

This is how I end my daily report card. It acts as a habit tracker for me and helps me focus on the journey and process. 

Give it a go and see for yourself. Allow me to share some ideas, perhaps track things like:

Anger outbursts, ideas generated, water intake, lies you told, cigarettes you smoked or whatever that may suit your life and what you do. 

It’s good to track positives and negatives, if you can stare at your negatives and motivate yourself to eliminate them. What a feat would that be? The key however is to build upon strengths.

Another thing to consider carefully: 

Keep It Super Simple: KISS 

It should be fairly easy to fill in the DRC. I don’t complicate things and if I don’t have something to write in particular space, I leave it blank, if I skip a meal, I note that as skipped.

If I did everything very well, I leave the section “what I didn’t do well” blank. You see, I do things pretty well so that space is  often empty. It makes me feel proud of myself. 

Hahaha, on a second thought, I should add the section: Lies I told: the upper paragraph to be inserted there LOL 

Anyhow, you get the idea. the point is bad habits take time to get rid off and new habits time to stick to.

Until next time, 

KISS 

The Science of Martial Arts

The field of martial arts is full of showmanship, commercial popularisation,
taking the craft and presenting it as a commodity for the purpose of profits
and earning money. This results in as someone has said, “amateuristic
martial arts are a source of serious wounds.” (The Book of Five Rings)

In the pre-modern era the science of martial arts was an essential science
for the warriors. I will take lessons from what Miyamoto Musashi has written in his books when writing about the science of Martial Arts.

The science of martial arts has evolved in the modern era. However, the base teachings and values remain the same. The science of martial arts involves great skill and master planning. Martial arts in today’s world is seen more so as entertainment, blood sport, competitions and fighting. The military aspect of martial arts has been replaced by advanced weaponry, but the principles still work.

Having explained that, I want to focus on the science of martial arts and
individuals. Just like how, a master plumber is first an apprentice, learning from a teacher; the master martial artists too, start as an apprentice. The mentor-student relationship can be seen everywhere. A master scholar is once a student, a master carpenter is once a student. One cannot expect to be an expert at something without having been mentored/coached/taught by a master.

Why do I stress this? In today’s DIY world, where courses and videos are readily available online. The concept of learning from a teacher/mentor/master has become far-fetched. Many thinks and believe that they
can become experts without having been taught. I was lucky in terms of martial arts to have been taught by expert masters and mentors. The craft, the basics, principles and values were instilled after diligent practise over many years.
Practise is key. Bruce Lee once said that don’t fear a man who has practised a thousand different kicks. Fear a man who has practised the same kick a thousand times. I can apply these principles in other walks of life.

Writing these surprises my own behaviour in other fields. I am reflecting on
other arts, skills that I am trying to hone and how and where I went wrong. One lesson I learnt from that- confidence is good, however, doing something you haven’t successfully done before is a mistake without seeking mentors, teachers and professionals. Still, I am happy that I started off in the right direction and learnt from the professionals/experts, went out explored on my own, learnt lessons and took the right direction by seeking mentors. Depending on many variables, journey in mastering a craft/skill can take many different paths. However, if I can highlight the importance of one thing, i.e. finding the right mentors/teachers to learn from in whatever field you are pursuing is crucial to success.

When one has developed practical knowledge of all the skills of the craft, eventually one can become a master craftsman.A master martial artist has similarities to a music orchestra in a sense that the conductor runs the orchestra smoothly, effectively and skilfully. They know all different instruments within the piece, the notes, the structure. They can see the small details and monitor the flow of the bigger picture.

Coming back to the subject of marital arts practise and individuals. The
science of martial arts and how I have come to understand it, is through the
lens of emptiness, state of flow, fluidity, diligent practise. The purpose of
martial arts is to be able to overcome your foes, however, once you become an expert, you can do so without fighting. Understanding this is important. Master martial artists achieve serenity, calmness and understand its psychology and philosophy. These values in today’s world, in my view, are relatively pertinent compared to the military aspect.

Mastering a martial art helps the individual understand themselves and understand others. It instils discipline, routine, creativity and practise of deep focus.These tools and skills are transferable to many other aspects of an individual’s life. To conclude this, in my view, these latter reasons mentioned is why the traditional form of martial arts must be practised and the spirit kept alive. Once the individual understands the true philosophy of the arts, he understands many aspects of life on a deeper level. For example, personally for me spirituality, focus, and discipline have a huge overlap with the practise of martial arts.

Each one, Teach one

There’s a famous saying, teach an individual how to fish and they can learn to survive. Food is essential to survive. 

Similarly, dreams are essential to grow. The bigger your dream, the more one has the potential to grow. Why am I writing this? 

I find it essential to differentiate myself but at the same time, be able to lend a helping hand in many of the possible ways. This difference I guess stems from the deep desire for knowledge, learning, growing and improving. If you want to grow and step out of your comfort zone, continue reading…

 In this world where information is easily accessible within seconds, knowing where to look, how to filter, what to learn, from who are all very significant. I believe in sharing knowledge or at least guiding people to the right way so that they can reach their potential.

Yet, the world may not reflect this. We live in a world where greed, inequality, poverty and other vices are part of the norm!

Well, it is a sad reality! A reality that many of us wake up to everyday and few of us do anything to change it. 

Let me ask you this, can you help someone if you can’t help yourself! It’s how you perceive your surroundings! A good act, as small as helping an elderly person cross the road, holding the door open for someone or smiling a happy smile at someone. Why did I say a ‘happy smile’? People can smile out of mockery or just a half-hearted or forced smile. 

Smile from your heart and that’s the smallest of the help you can give to another person. Does this really work? Have I made you think? Do you have to think this one? Please! Hopefully we are on the same page 🙂 

I will touch on consumerism and contentment. What is contentment? A state of being where an individual is living in joy and patience with the little or abundance they have! Being balanced. Not restricting yourself! On the contrary, I mean that you should strive to improve, think and grow rich, yet persevering and still enjoying the pursuit of chasing your dream. Contentment is momentary for many of us- therefore we must centre ourselves to prolong its momentum and let it not be a fleeting moment. The true richness is the richness of the heart. A heart free of effects of consumerism, envy, hate and other negative emotions.

It may sound like I am extremely content and have a lot of patience. I still struggle, I still centre myself each time I feel different or find myself in trouble. 

The reality is, not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. True for the majority by just knowing and understanding how wealth is created, understanding different mindsets. Different ways of thinking! Understanding yourself before you understand others! Yes, I just said that. I really did! One of my favourite poems

Imitating others,  

I failed to find myself. 

I looked inside and discovered 

I only knew my name.  

When I stepped outside 

I found my real Self.   – Rumi

Peer pressure, trend following, social conformity, being able to associate yourself to a tribe or community or a group of people. All of this comes to my mind when I just read it. However, the true meaning of this stanza written by the famous 13th century poet, philosopher, jurist! A man known to walk the path of self-purification and spreading love, is to look deep within your heart and know whether your higher level you and lower level you are aligned as put by Ray Dalio in his famous work Principles. Or as put by Professor Steve, managing the chimp to be in sync with your computer! 

I like to think of this similarly but through the understanding of the sources of thoughts, ego, prefrontal cortex, the amygdala and gut instinct. All aligned with the Superego! I have mentioned this in my blog Secrets of the Self!

I have touched upon a lot of subjects- I want to keep this article as thought provoking and giving my broad perspective on how I look at things. So, what I mean is, consumerism although good for the economy because one man’s spending is another’s income. It can be devastating for those who are trapped in the vicious cycle of social conformity, trend following and going broke just to buy someone a present. More than gifts, although on occasions they are meaningful- I believe wishing good for someone weighs heavier than buying materialistic things to satisfy and be part of the trend following and stuff like that.

If any of this resonates with you leave a comment on where you would like me to navigate this. I am very spontaneous when it comes to blogging and just type my mind out loud pretty much! So always open to suggestions!

Feel free to ask me anything and if I can help you with it. I will! I always tell people that most of us have it in us. A little helping hand or push in the right direction is what many of us need to kickstart our journeys/careers/pursuit of our dreams! I have learnt this through tutoring others and being a student myself.

Balance

The Chaos Within! Conflicts, Ego, Despair, Fear, Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Rage, Resensentment

These are some words that make up our actions, feelings and thoughts when there is chaos within.

I will mention here two ways of dealing with the chaos within. I am sharing from accumulated experiences and learnt knowledge through courses, books and articles.

When faced with curve balls that life throws at you, you gotta get better at swinging the bat. However, unlike baseball you’re not out after 3 strikes. Life will always give you another chance, another path, another opportunity to face its challenges. You can either try get to the root cause of the issues to deal with the chaos within, or you can work towards solutions; purposely neglecting the root causes, however, leveraging what resources you can summon to work out a way. If both done together, it can work wonders. Counselling and therapy can help you get to the root causes. Designing and implementing solutions is in your hands.

An example, I can reflect on the past or present and try dissect the root causes, however, done alone, you will have blind spots that you cannot see; perspectives and errors that miss your way of dealing with issues. Help from others who truly care or a professional can be the right way to move forwards.

An example, one solution to find balance and resolve this chaos is through sports activities such as running, football or martial arts. However, you have to implement the solution. Taking small actions and celebrating small progress. Compounding and building up from a foundation of your design that fits you.

What you can influence is 1) how you react to the situations 2) spheres of life in your control. If you believe in God like myself, it can help to know that the ultimate control is with God.

Before you can set out to bring balance to the world, you must find balance within yourself. Harmony and in tune.

[You must never give in to despair. Allow yourself to slip down that road and you will surrender yourself to your lowest instincts. In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength. You are not alone. Never fall into the trap that you have to face all your problems alone, without anyone’s support. There is nothing wrong with letting people who love you, help you. While it is important to always believe in oneself, a little help from others can be a great blessing.It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from one place, it becomes rigid and stale. Understanding others will help you become whole. There is nothing wrong with a life you want to live, but I suggest, you ask yourself, what is it that you want from life and why? Destiny is often a funny thing, often imposed on us by our environment/surroundings/expectations. Learn to think independently and make choices that reflect hope, wholeness and prosperity. To do this, you have to look inwards and begin asking yourself the big question. The purpose of life, what is it you want from it? What brings you fulfillment?] – Quotes of wisdom from Iroh- Avatar: The last airbender.

One of the things that brought balance in my life is martial arts. I decided to join martial arts while I was going through some of the toughest tests of life. Oh! and it saved me, truly. Prayers alone then, were not enough. Although, they kept me away from falling further into chaos and directed me towards the better choice of joining martial arts. I am truly grateful to have been blessed even in difficult times. I share this, so that you can find paths that lead to better choices too.

In my next post, I will elaborate on the practice of martial arts. The martials arts I have practised over the years are Taekwondo, Kickboxing and some BJJ. Taekwondo being my main arts. It brought discipline and routine in my life. Aside that, it provided me with increased focus and attention which led me to complete my education. Self-studying was daunting but made easy because I studied and practised martial arts. I will mention though, it didn’t just happen overnight, after 2 years of not missing a martial arts class, I was disciplined and focused enough to do it.

I am updating this blog by sharing an article and study done by the professionals in field of psychology. This article is written by Dr. Brett Steenbarger titled “How to overcome major life setbacks“.

Until my next post,

Be good.

p.s. I haven’t forgotten to update the history blog. I am making progress with summaries.

Radically inspired 2020!

This song is all about radical truth and radical transparency! Let your new year start with a bang!

Chorus:

Radically truthful, radically transparent!
Can you handle the test? When I drop this mic, give it my best, the words will carry on, echoing!
Radically creating this space beckoning, 
Radically calling you out for this reckoning!

Verse 1

Too many manz
Want to be dissing others but when shit hits them back, they’re blinded.
Sign of the close minded. I am only talking the truth, listen with your eyes open, be reminded 
You best decide how you want to be with each other and put the past behind it 
Won’t ever stop, cuz am here screaming it out, the truth 
But your ego loves only misery, stressed
Lyrically you’re getting  messed 
Around in circles, smoking the reefa vexed
Stoically, you think you can handle it. Depressed 
Habitually, he backstabs his own circle. Behest
Blatantly, I spell it out, anger & this angst distressed 
Chronically, he will follow this path fatigued 

Chorus: 

Radically truthful, radically transparent!
Can you handle the test? When I drop this mic, give it my best, the words will carry on, echoing!
Radically creating this space beckoning, 
Radically calling you out for this reckoning!

Verse 2 

How can he be radically truthful or radically transparent? He only talks about hate and division, 
He did not see (Nazi) revision! 
The history has lessons to teach but, he skipped school to pursue his vision.
Blinded by his ego, sowing dissent turned into his mission, 
He labels it freedom of speech, radically charged nuclear fission!
Dropping bombs to blow you away, peace & love I wish ’em!
Life is a journey, not a comparison race, a healthy competition envisioned!
Point your finger at me without prejudice & hate, no ego barrier amidst ’em! 

Chorus:
Radically truthful, radically transparent!
Can you handle the test? When I drop this mic, give it my best, the words will carry on, echoing!
Radically creating this space beckoning, 
Radically calling you out for this reckoning!

Verse 3 

Getting the culture and people right, this is an idea meritocracy
Getting rid of all hypocrisy 
We’re still only one ship in the sea
Getting the crew right will determine our very might 
How consistent are you aligned with your values and what you preach? 
He believes in freedom like Edward D Teach
Newgate was the real hero who built the family right, expanding his reach!
Roger was robbed of kingship through natural disease 
The objective of my mission is to have a blast playing the game I love with passion 
Evolving with time and growing in fashion 
Distributing the meals across in right ration 
The real treasure I seek, the art of thoughtful disagreement, not condescending 
Believe in your mission & abilities, 
Stop politicising non-existent hierarchies 
Embrace reality, follow the steps to deal with it effectively 
Hold each other to high standards, survive the best you can, bring out the best you can, 
And if you don’t like what you see, there’s the D O R (door), Repeat with me- “ it’s the Man not the Dan”

Some backstory below:

These lyrics or poem, whatever the right term for it, was written after having spit some bars with a friend over the phone. They were inspired by Principles by Ray Dalio, and obviously have some references to martial arts and One Piece anime/manga by Oda.

For more on Ray’s work, follow the steps. This is how I approached it. It will make it all very easy to understand. He has written it all in an easy to understand terminology and language.

  1. Watch the 30 min youtube video. How the economic machine works?
  2. Read or Listen to his book Principles.
  3. Read his Template for Understanding Debt Crises (available online for free)
  4. Read the series of LinkedIn articles
  5. To expand further, you can read Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, Graham Allison’s Destined for War, Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads and The New Silk Roads.
  6. In my history blog I will be summarising these books chapter by chapter.
  7. I am doing it for 2 reasons, studying it myself in more detail. Share it with everyone.




Meditate this coming year

When you write in many different places, content can start getting lazy and stay in hibernation. The weather is cold and although this time around the year is lively, it is also a time to take a step away from so much noise and consumerism. Did you see what I done? I blamed the content, when it is my own laziness. Words how they come forth, experiences how they are internalised can make a whole lot difference. Word!

In a few minutes or few hours precisely, a new solar year begins as per the Gregorian calendar. A new decade 2020 begins. Will a new sun rise too? Will you take charge of your actions and choices, and rise to the calling?

I hear and listen to the call of an adventure with my eyes wide open! So Many Possibilities, So Many Opportunities!

I am grateful, grateful that I see and find abundance, live it and experience it. Scarcity aside circumstances, is amplified by our choices and mindset. Hence, I write!

I write because words are abundant. They come forth many mediums, experiences, learnings and observations.

I have no new year resolutions. I have goals and targets that I want to achieve, work on and constantly improve. My focus this year is on the process-ingrain them, embrace them and internalise them. I want to make better choices and ask God to guide me. Grant me the wisdom that leads to the best possible path.

Meditate this coming year. One habit that I am going to work on. 5 mins per day.

I spoke about meditations in my last blog. In this I will talk about two different meditation techniques that work very well for me. I am not an expert at this subject, but I can elaborate my experiences well. What I would like you to do is take and work this technique, and tailor it to suit your needs, make it your own.

Technique 1Emptying the mind. Our minds think, observe and process information constantly.

The best time to do this is after an intense work out, lie down, or sit in a relaxed position. Closing the eyes, you focus on the tip of your nose, feel the breath, focus on the inhalation and exhalation. Once you have established the focus on your breath, push out all thoughts and images from your mind. Just breathing in and breathing out. Start from a minute and build up. If you can practise emptying your mind for 5 mins after every work out, your focus and attention compartment in your brain area will also increase. So, as time goes on and this habit ingrained, you can develop better focus and attention to any task at hand.

Technique 2Mindfulness. As a beginner, you might find it hard to meditate. Whether you do or don’t, an easy way to meditate is to follow a guided meditation session. Use the app. I use Mindfulness but there’s also many other free ones like Headspace and Calm. I set it to my desired time, switch the background to waves crashing at the shore.

The rest is just listening and focusing. Breathing is key, as is relaxing and letting go of all negative emotions. Haha, that’s what meditation is supposedly for right? Getting rid of negative emotions! Once a habit though, it will give you more than just that. Zen, ying yang, peace, calmness.

Most valuable of all- focus on the task at hand.

Until my next post,

Be good.

The Secrets of the Self!

I am not trying to write what the famous poets Rumi and Iqbal wrote in their poetry, rather it’s just small glimpse of my understanding into their poetry.

Both poets have elaborated on the subject of ego and its secrets! However, I want to relate the spiritual concept of ego, as how can we apply it in our daily lives on an ongoing basis.

There’s a famous quote attributed to Buddha and Rumi, “Before you speak, let your words pass three gates. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

Speech is very powerful. It has the weight to uplift someone or break them. Another famous verse that just came to my mind, “Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.” Meaning, don’t do good unto someone or help someone just to look down upon them and count your favours upon them. From the characteristics of superego and higher level of spirituality is to do good and forget it. You shouldn’t expect anything in return. Help someone within your capacity as much as you can. Being of service to others, enjoining and promoting good will add to your scale of achieving higher spirituality.

These quotes are related more to spirituality of an individual rather than ego. However, the reason I am writing this is because, I want to present how I view ego, the overlap between superego/higher self and spirituality and love.

I will try write all narratives of my understanding of ego parallel. It will help me to collect this information in one article and consolidate the narratives I know of, and help provide an understanding perhaps, where I am in these narratives and what are my blind spots.

In Arabic, Ego is referred to as Nafs. Freud has also categorised it in 3:

  1. Id or The Commanding Self (Nafs al Ammara)
  2. Ego or The Regretful Self (Nafs al Lawwamah)
  3. Superego or The Satisfied/Content Self (Nafs al Mutmainnah)

In the Islamic tradition, ego is also linked to the state of the heart. Modern science has gathered evidence of heart having its neurons and ability to make decisions. The gut instinct that you often feel is the result of that. However, in my view, before following your gut feeling, you must be aware of the state of your heart. There are 3 types of spiritual hearts:

  1. A Pure/Good Heart- this is when your heart is in sync with the superego (higher self).
  2. A Diseased Heart- this is when your heart fluctuates between the higher self and lower self. Similar to the ego state, when one goes back and forth as I illustrate in this sin curve of ego. I just coined this term thinking about actions, sine function(sin) and ego fluctuation cycle one goes through.
  3. A Dead Heart- this is when your heart is in id state, and your lower level you controls your thoughts and gut feelings. So before following your gut feelings, it is often a good thing to be aware of the state of your own heart as I elaborate below in this sin curve of ego.
The sin wave and how it is similar to the ego cycle fluctuations.

Miyamoto Musashi said,

“In the practice of every way of life and every kind of work, there is a state of mind called that of the deviant. Even if you strive diligently on your chosen path day after day, if your heart is not in accord with it, then even if you think you are on a good path, from the point of view of the straight and true, this is not a genuine path. If you do not pursue a genuine path to its consummation, then a little bit of crookedness will turn into a major warp. Reflect on this.” End quote

In my view of this all and from experience, we develop our personality and traits over time and refine them(nature vs nurture). Hence, in some aspects of life you can access the superego state and stay in it, in other aspects you may struggle to even move beyond the id state. Id state displays animalistic behaviour and fights to override your rational thinking process and makes you follow your primordial instincts, so to improve and evolve you have to grow and climb on to the ego state. Once in ego state, you are in control of some bits of the aspects and to further evolve, you have to climb on to the superego (higher self) which I also view as the rational, logical and morally correct self.

From my experience, learning something new and making it your natural instinct or 2nd nature is what is involved in this process at times. However, for the time being as I am relating it to the spiritual state of the individual, I will relate this to the 4 different levels of love as categorised by Saints and relate them to the different levels of meditations:

  1. Love for yourself- any form of meditation which helps you improve, positivity and focus. Including exercise, nutrition and keeping fit.
  2. Love for the community- No particular meditation technique, rather actions show this.
  3. Love for the world- Compassion meditation. It connects new neural pathways and grants access to the subconscious state. It also increases one in love for others.
  4. Love for the universe- Transcendental meditation- I am not sure how correct this form of meditation is here. Although from my experience- it is a state where one detaches him/her self from all negativity and be able to stay in constant state of flow. Performing at one’s peak. From the spiritual perspective- being grateful and appreciative of everything in the whole universe. Known and unknowns.

Next time, I will delve more into meditation techniques and how we can increase our focus, attention and be able to visualise our goals.

Different Types of Fear

In this article I am going to explore different types of fear. The recent discussions with someone regarding my own fears and inability to overcome them, leads me to explore fear, where do they stem from? The category it falls under, they cause of it and its relation.

My purpose in doing so, is to identify why fears take root in our subconscious and unconscious minds. How to tackle those fears and/or manage or overcome them. Fear is a strong emotion, you can see in the image above how different emotions are ranked on the spectrum. Image was taken from an article I read on neuroscience.

So here’s a clip I found from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s YT channel explaining four different types of fear. Here is what he mentions 1) own inadequacy & malevolence 2) society 3) nature (environment) 4)unknown.

1- Own Inadequacy and malevolence he explains is often felt by soldiers when they find themselves doing things that they have never imagined. An example would be war crime- a soldier raping a civilian.

Personally I have felt this fear in sparring in martial arts and something that made me defensive. To get the aggression out again I had to explore this fear, the only way I was able to explore this fear was to face it, expose myself to it and then overcome it. Did I overcome it? I would not say I overcame it, but this particular fear is what I learnt to manage. I consider this fear a healthy friend, that keeps me calm. Let me give you an example, I get into a confrontation while at a party, entertain me here, do not ask me why I was there in the first place lol, I am just creating a hypothetical situation. A person barges into me, doesn’t apologize and instead gets aggressive, using foul language and tries to intimidate me. Being me or any normal response in this situation will be an adrenaline rush, Fight, Flight or Freeze response will try hijack me. Freezing in this situation will make it worse, fight- I won’t do it because I will have the fear that I might go overboard or use excessive strength because it’s not a sparring situation where I can go light or heavy according to the level of my opponent and rules. This fear, will make me subside the adrenaline rush, let the prefrontal cortex take control of the situation and quickly calculate an appropriate response. These things often happen in milliseconds to perhaps a few minutes. So, quick thinking and confidence to handle the situation becomes key. Ultimately exposure and confidence and situational awareness helps manages this type of fear for me. What really helps here is confidence in ability to diffuse the situation.

2) Society– living in the polarised world, with many different cultures, many different peoples. I think it’s fair to say, that those who don’t conform to the norm are judged by the society. While I won’t go into a lot of details here because then, I will have to explain the characteristics of today’s society. And people will form an opinion as to what views I hold, which side I lean towards.

You see what I done up☝️, that’s some form of fear perhaps of the society judging and forming an opinion on what I write. Withholding my views here can be considered as a result of fear. Oh well, it’s not like I am here to preach my sermon. I am simply trying to elaborate on what different types of fear are like when experienced in real life. Society can be harsh and judgemental as Dr. Peterson says. He also says, courage is what wins over fear. Humans don’t become less fearful, they become more brave. So, courage is what reduces our fears and overcome/manage them. Emotional awareness is a key component, our ability to recognise when these fears are triggered is the first step in overcoming these fears.

3) Nature (Environment) This I suppose is the healthy fear that has been built in us for our survival. Nature can be a relentless force, that can turn things around in an instant, swallow up land. Tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides and storms. It’s natural to fear the wrath of nature. Nature is also loving, the mercy and blessings far extends the wrath.

4) Unknown– Our minds constantly seek certainty. This search for certainty amidst uncertainty causes anxiety and brews up all sorts of other emotions; one of them being fear. Fear of missing out on opportunities. Fear of losing, fear of unknown. However, if can learn to embrace uncertainty, then we can take a step towards overcoming the fear of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be fearful, it can be exciting. Uncertainty can be potential, uncertainty can be possibilities. Uncertainty is sure risky but nothing in life comes free. It either has time cost or costs money. These last few lines of wisdom are shared from other great people I have learnt a lot from haha

What you seek is within you- Rumi

Hope is a powerful emotion to replace fear. Hope for a better future, hope for ease after difficulty, hope for achieving the goals. Hope… beyond the scope of this discussion. There is no fear and sorrow concerning those… in the world beyond.

How to win over hate?

So, last night I was rewatching one of my favourite childhood shows. “Samurai Jack”

Long ago…. in a lol everytime I recall samurai Jack, either the intro or the phrase ‘jump good’ pops up in my head. Do you remember the episode when Aku is surprised seeing Jack flying and says, “You can flyyyyyy….” Jack replies, “No, jump good”

Jack really should have gone back in time to his home in that episode. But they cut it off there. I don’t remember what happens after.

Anyway, I was supposed to talk about this other episode. The episode is titled, ‘Jack vs Mad Jack”.

In this episode Jack faces the hate, frustration, anger and rage within him. It takes his mirror image physically through Aku’s magic and battles him. One could say that it is also his ego. When he battles his ego and the evil Jack… everything around is getting burnt and the forest is catching fire. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think of that proverb, the hate within you destroys everything around you. The hate within you consumes you. Jack is also struggling to beat his evil self. He gets hurt fighting the hate and rage until he finally realises that the only way to beat hate, frustration and anger is to let go!

So, this is what Jack does… He lets it go! He calms himself, straightens his hair, ties it in a knot, looks deep within and destroys the hate inside him by letting go. In doing so, the evil Jack vanishes and the magic loses it power.

In today’s polarised world, where a brother picks up arms against his own brother, where 2 people with different opinions can’t hold a thoughtful debate, where riots and protests have become the answer, inequality is on the rise…. the answer is winning over hate.

Be like Samurai Jack, destroy the hate and anger within you and let it go… because if you don’t, it will destroy everything around you. In the process, it will consume you.

Here’s the clip of the episode Jack vs Jack, a powerful lesson from a children’s animation. https://youtu.be/SUhmVfAvdSs

Picture credit: Samurai Jack Wiki

A quick update and something to think about!

It’s not that I have ran out of ideas and lost my interest in writing and blogging.

Past few weeks, I have been writing a lot as a matter of fact. Probably written well over 15000 words for different reports. I can’t really say more than that about them.

On the bright side, I have about 5 different topics laying about in my drafts on this blog site. It’s just that I haven’t been able to complete them because most of them required a bit more effort and research and some require deeper reflection.

Anyways, this coming Sunday, I should be good to release the drafts laying about. Maybe even 2 at a time. Let’s see how I get on.

My focus recently has a lot been on meditation. In short, I came across 2 of Dr. Joe Dispenza’s books, How to break the habit of being yourself! And Becoming Supernatural. A lot of skeptics who may read those books will simply discard the research. But my question to those literalists and skeptics is this, science is only recently uncovering the quantum physics and neuroscience of human potential. The ancients have possessed this knowledge long before us.

To give some examples, meditation, contemplation and solitude has resulted in select few ordinary people to unlock their hidden potential.

A lot of books are full of miracles and stories we regard as fables and perhaps exaggeration to some. My question then is this, if quantum physics and neuroscience is revealing some of these hidden secrets only now. Imagine how much there is to unravel. Are you still sceptical of miracles? Are you still not a believer? I am not really giving you any solid evidence. I am only laying out where evidence can be found. The two books I mention will give you some idea on neuroscience of mysticism and the access to quantum field. Different dimensions…. then there are other books on real life mystics who have lived before us and some who live among us even now, who have performed miracles.

Anyway, I was only here to give a short update but as always i start talking about things… this time, things I have been reading and researching and meditations I have been practising. Dr. Joe Dispenza is one person who has documented research and books and then there is also, Wim Hof, the iceman who is spreading a powerful and simple breathing technique which enables us to get high. Yeah… that is literally what happens… you get high off your own supply. No drugs, no intoxication haha

Give them a search on YouTube or google and ask yourself this question, do you still deny the miracles of the mystics?