Raising Kids.. who raises whom?

By Vandana Tilak

I truly believe that the singular purpose I was put on the Earth was to be a mom.. my children, now 29 and 26 made me realize the grandiosity and the audacity of believing that I had anything to do with raising them. Here’s a look at how perceptions change as a parent from the birth of a child till they finally move out of the home.

In 1983, we married in Bombay with 800 people as witnesses. Everyone assumed we would one day become parents. Moving to Los Angeles, however, there were no thoughts about the magnitude of raising children in a country and culture so completely alien to the one I was raised in.. changes would have to be made in my thinking and most probably the changes would be imposed on me by what constituted a “good” mom by my own kids.. of course to their advantage.

My daughter born March 30, 1985 was a little old granny the moment she took her first breath. Not only did she first look at me like she was judging me, but also incredibly had a gray hair on her otherwise bald head.

Just to show how independent she was on day one, she refused to nurse putting the household in complete turmoil. At 2 years age, Anjani made plans, gave detailed instructions on how she would like to be fed, dressed, carried around (pacing the apartment holding her till she finally fell asleep), how she wanted to be strollered around in the park and most importantly, leave her toys exactly where she left them.

I don’t remember walking upright across the room, the first 7 years of being a mom.. I was either bending like a rice farmer picking up toys or cleaning out her room and closet while she was asleep. ..and oh, lets not forget that the only syllables she uttered till she was 18 months was “ne-ne”.. how does an 18th month old baby control a 23 year old grownup with ne ne?? She did!! Maybe there should be an app for that for all the employee challenged bosses of the world.

Then in 1988, along came my son, a quiet saintly type of person.. we named him Kedarnath.. another name for the God Shiva who is known for his intense expression of anger and wrath in the dance form of tandava.. Kedar was and still is a sweet, benign, devoted son.. except when he would get angry.. mostly related with being a boy who was hungry immediately after washing his hands after the last meal.. On the other hand he was and still is an expert negotiator.. once in an expensive toy shop my husband wanted to buy him Babar the elephant. Kedar was ecstatic. He loved elephants. Here’s the negotiation ploy! Tears welled up in his eyes.. he asked “Dada, how do you only buy the Daddy elephant, he needs his kids with him and the kids need their Mom” Sold!.. We still have Babar and his entire family.

Our kid’s American pediatricians compared our children’s growth to a growth chart handed down by the American Pediatric association.. which showed that my kids should have been about a dozen pounds heavier, a few inches taller.. I finally told the doctor, “we live in a melting pot right, well melt this chart and see if you get some better numbers.. my kids are of Indian descent.. look at my scrawny 110 lb body and figure it out”.. needless to say I soon changed the pediatrician, much to his relief..

Growing up, we had only two rules in the house, you do not play with doors (no missing digits to farm off the floor) and two – never drive in another persons car.. a rule that served me well with not having to worry about drunken driving..

After high school, they could choose any profession they wanted.. my son was absolutely positive he wanted to be a trash collecting truck driver at 4, a businessman (like his Dad at 6) and somehow wanted to make a lot of money after 10. He now works in the family business as an administrator, project manager, printer repair guy, attorney liaison and in his words, doer of all things at the firm.

Our daughter on the other hand lived up to the Indian standard of aspiring to be either a doctor, lawyer or engineer.. she chose to be a doctor.

To this day, my daughter still calls us dangerous parents, says we gave them too much freedom with their choices….

But look at it from my POV, when I made a choice, they patronized me by following it for a few weeks and after that just got so disinterested, I feared I was losing money and sleep over it, that I was happy to cancel the classes. One lesson I learnt, never commit to package deals – ever! They skipped kumon, drum lessons.. and any and all attempts at making them “better” human beings.

I realize now that there are a lot of parenthesis.. pun intended..parents come with parenthesis..you are always trying to rationalize and compare parenting to something that has no rules or comparisons.

These days our friends very often ask the secret to raising such considerate, kind and hard working kids. Here it is. The secret to succeeding as a parent, be what you want your kids to be.. they will follow, if not, you follow them.. makes for an awesome time.

Rules or no rules: Staying at home with my kids has been the most fun I have had in my life… my kids grew like weeds, I fed them, clothed them, taught them all I knew. Unbeknownst to them, I had their backs for all the trouble they couldn’t handle by themselves while playing the perfect hands off mom .. to this day, i do not know nor will I ever know, who raised whom?

Which brings me to conclude that we raise each other, just as our ancestors did and so will our children’s children.. there is no formula.. it’s the very reason each child is different and therefore does not come with an instruction book. They don’t and neither do we as parents..

May 14th, 2014

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The benefits of ghee

By Dr. John Doulliard.

Ghee is ubiquitous in Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking alike. An aromatic substance that is solid at room temperature and melts into a liquid as it warms, ghee is made by boiling off the milk solids from unsalted butter, leaving only the golden oil behind. In Ayurveda, ghee is used as a carrier for the nutrients in herbs and to lubricate the intestinal tract and all the tissues inside the body. During an Ayurvedic cleanse, it is used as the preferred vehicle for oleation, a process of ingesting increasing amounts of oil over a series of mornings. This actually helps pull fat soluble toxins (the stubborn ones – water-soluble toxins usually flush out with our urine) out of the cells and triggers fat metabolism, a process whereby the body begins to burn its own fat for fuel.

The Active Ingredient – Also Made in Your Gut!  Let’s start with butter, the raw material from which ghee is made. The primary fatty acid in butter is call butyric acid, so named because it was first discovered in butter. Butyric acid, also known as butyrate, is a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) that the intestinal tract thrives on, as it helps to protect the integrity of the gut wall, and then some! Well, the process of making ghee yields an even more concentrated source of butyric acid than butter. But there is another source of butyric acid: the busy beneficial microbes in your gut.

How the Gut Bugs Make Ghee – and What They Do with It Much of the healthy fiber that we eat directly feeds the intricate microbiology in the gut. In turn, the gut bugs convert this ingested fiber to butyric acid, the primary ingredient in ghee – the bugs in the gut are making their own ghee, or at least the major component of ghee! The cells of the colon use butyric acid as their preferred source of energy and their major agent for supporting the health and integrity of the intestinal wall. Studies show that having enough butyric acid in the gut is no laughing matter:

  • Research has shown that patients with unhealthy digestive tracts do not produce butyric acid, and have low levels of fatty acids or related oils in the gut.
  • Studies have also shown that adequate production of butyric acid supports the production of killer T cells in the gut, and thus supports the gut-related immunity, which many experts believe delivers up to 80% of the body’s overall immunity.
  • Interestingly, butyrate enemas (basically ghee enemas) and other related treatments are now being used for many gut-related health issues.

In Ayurveda, taking ghee internally through ingestion and ghee enemas (Ayurvedic oil enemas are referred to as basti) has been done successfully for thousands of years to support intestinal health and function. Here is just another way the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has been proven by modern science. That is not to say that, just because something is ancient, we should all do it. It does, however, encourage us to look deeply into techniques that have lasted thousands of years and find the science behind them. Often times, the research provides fascinating explanation and support!

A Goldmine of Nutrients: While ghee is one of the highest food sources of butyric acid, it is also packed with:

  • A full spectrum of short (SCFA), medium (MCFA) and long chain fatty acids (LCFA), both unsaturated and saturated
  • Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids
  • Vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Ghee made from organic butter of pastured cows is one of the highest natural sources of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
  • 9 phenolic antioxidants
  • Numerous other minerals

SCFA’s, like butyric acid in ghee, are used immediately by the body for energy and do not have to be broken down by bile to be digested and utilized, while MCFA’s require minimal digestion and LCFA’s require much digesting by the liver and gall bladder. This may also be why our gut bugs love butyrate so much that they make their own – because the cells of the colon use it instantly for energy. As good fats go, ghee has it all!

Why Cleanse with Ghee? Normally when we think of a cleanse, we may think of eliminating oils or fats from our diet. Ayurveda takes a different approach, instructing that we take increasing amounts of melted ghee every morning for a series of days and follow with a no-fat diet. The benefits of this protocol may have you rethinking your idea of detoxing, as the benefits extend far beyond flushing toxins, although that is certainly a part of it.

Swap Old Bile for New: During an Ayurvedic cleanse, ghee is taken daily at increasing dosages to force the gallbladder to flush out its existing bile, which is often thick and viscous from multiple uses, and stimulate the liver to make new bile. Bile acts as an intestinal scrub and, in concert with the butyric acid from the ingested ghee, helps to support the health of the gut wall and the microbes who manufacture butyrate all along it.

Soften Hardened Tissues Ghee also has a saturating effect, called oleation, on the body. This is a process whereby, during the cleansing period of taking ghee daily, the oil penetrates the soft tissues, lubricating and softening the hardened tissues of the entire body.

“Pull” Toxins Out of their Hiding Spots: The ghee has a lipophilic effect on other fatty acids and fatty toxins in the body (which are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to other fats like ghee), acting like a chelating agent to pull stored fat soluble toxins out of the body and back into the intestines for removal from the body. Molecules of emotion – which, according to Ayurveda and more recent research at the NIH, are also lipophilic and store in the fat cells – can also be “pulled” out of their hiding places using this method. In one study, fat soluble heavy metals and pesticides like dioxins were pulled out of the body, and continued to be detoxed for 3 months after the cleanse had ended. (4) During a ghee cleanse, the diet is classically one of no fat. Ingesting ghee first thing in the morning forces the body directly into a fat metabolic state. By not having any fat in the diet during the cleanse, the body quite naturally stays in a fat metabolic state. This allows for the burning of fat, a detoxification effect as mentioned above, and an experience of stable energy and mood.

Summary of Benefits: Here’s a list of the benefits of cleansing with ghee, explained in detail below:

  1. Flushes old bile – which can be re-used by the body up to 17 times.
  2. Stimulates the liver to make new bile, so 94% of old toxic bile is not re-absorbed.
  3. Scrubs the intestines of toxins and bad bugs.
  4. Supports the primary source of energy and immunity for the cells of the gut.
  5. Supports the health of the beneficial bacteria in the gut who make butyrate.
  6. Lubricates and softens the hardened tissues of the body.
  7. Pulls stored fat soluble toxins and molecules of emotion out of the body.
  8. Encourages fat metabolism and weight loss.
  9. Supports stable mood and energy levels.Protects against bad bacteria in the gut.
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The Wisdom of Insecurity. A book review by Maria Popova

An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence

by 

Wisdom on overcoming the greatest human frustration from the pioneer of Eastern philosophy in the West.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard wrote in her timeless reflection on presence over productivity — a timely antidote to the central anxiety of our productivity-obsessed age. Indeed, my own New Year’s resolution has been to stop measuring my days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence. But what, exactly, makes that possible?

This concept of presence is rooted in Eastern notions of mindfulness — the ability to go through life with crystalline awareness and fully inhabit our experience — largely popularized in the West by British philosopher and writer Alan Watts (January 6, 1915–November 16, 1973), who also gave us this fantastic meditation on the life of purpose. In the altogether excellent 1951 volume The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (public library), Watts argues that the root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future, which is an abstraction. He writes:

If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.

 

Alan Watts, early 1970s (Image courtesy of Everett Collection)

 

What keeps us from happiness, Watts argues, is our inability to fully inhabit the present:

The “primary consciousness,” the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment. The ingenious brain, however, looks at that part of present experience called memory, and by studying it is able to make predictions. These predictions are, relatively, so accurate and reliable (e.g., “everyone will die”) that the future assumes a high degree of reality — so high that the present loses its value.

But the future is still not here, and cannot become a part of experienced reality until it is present. Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed. To pursue it is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom, and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead. This is why all the affairs of civilization are rushed, why hardly anyone enjoys what he has, and is forever seeking more and more. Happiness, then, will consist, not of solid and substantial realities, but of such abstract and superficial things as promises, hopes, and assurances.

Watts argues that our primary mode of relinquishing presence is by leaving the body and retreating into the mind — that ever-calculating, self-evaluating, seething cauldron of thoughts, predictions, anxieties, judgments, and incessant meta-experiences about experience itself. Writing more than half a century before our age of computers, touch-screens, and the quantified self, Watts admonishes:

The brainy modern loves not matter but measures, no solids but surfaces.

[…]

The working inhabitants of a modern city are people who live inside a machine to be batted around by its wheels. They spend their days in activities which largely boil down to counting and measuring, living in a world of rationalized abstraction which has little relation to or harmony with the great biological rhythms and processes. As a matter of fact, mental activities of this kind can now be done far more efficiently by machines than by men — so much so that in a not too distant future the human brain may be an obsolete mechanism for logical calculation. Already the human computer is widely displaced by mechanical and electrical computers of far greater speed and efficiency. If, then, man’s principal asset and value is his brain and his ability to calculate, he will become an unsaleable commodity in an era when the mechanical operation of reasoning can be done more effectively by machines.

[…]

If we are to continue to live for the future, and to make the chief work of the mind prediction and calculation, man must eventually become a parasitic appendage to a mass of clockwork.

To be sure, Watts doesn’t dismiss the mind as a worthless or fundamentally perilous human faculty. Rather, he insists that it if we let its unconscious wisdom unfold unhampered — like, for instance, what takes place during the“incubation” stage of unconscious processing in the creative process — it is our ally rather than our despot. It is only when we try to control it and turn it against itself that problems arise:

Working rightly, the brain is the highest form of “instinctual wisdom.” Thus it should work like the homing instinct of pigeons and the formation of the fetus in the womb — without verbalizing the process or knowing “how” it does it. The self-conscious brain, like the self-conscious heart, is a disorder, and manifests itself in the acute feeling of separation between “I” and my experience. The brain can only assume its proper behavior when consciousness is doing what it is designed for: not writhing and whirling to get out of present experience, but being effortlessly aware of it.

And yet the brain does writhe and whirl, producing our great human insecurity and existential anxiety amidst a universe of constant flux. (For, as Henry Miller memorably put it, “It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.”) Paradoxically, recognizing that the experience of presence is the only experience is also a reminder that our “I” doesn’t exist beyond this present moment, that there is no permanent, static, and immutable “self” which can grant us any degree of security and certainty for the future — and yet we continue to grasp for precisely that assurance of the future, which remains an abstraction. Our only chance for awakening from this vicious cycle, Watts argues, is bringing full awareness to our present experience — something very different from judging it, evaluating it, or measuring it up against some arbitrary or abstract ideal. He writes:

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.

To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.

He takes especial issue with the very notion of self-improvement — something particularly prominent in the season of New Year’s resolutions — and admonishes against the implication at its root:

I can only think seriously of trying to live up to an ideal, to improve myself, if I am split in two pieces. There must be a good “I” who is going to improve the bad “me.” “I,” who has the best intentions, will go to work on wayward “me,” and the tussle between the two will very much stress the difference between them. Consequently “I” will feel more separate than ever, and so merely increase the lonely and cut-off feelings which make “me” behave so badly.

Happiness, he argues, isn’t a matter of improving our experience, or even merely confronting it, but remaining present with it in the fullest possible sense:

To stand face to face with insecurity is still not to understand it. To understand it, you must not face it but be it. It is like the Persian story of the sage who came to the door of Heaven and knocked. From within the voice of God asked, “Who is there” and the sage answered, “It is I.” “In this House,” replied the voice, “there is no room for thee and me.” So the sage went away, and spent many years pondering over this answer in deep meditation. Returning a second time, the voice asked the same question, and again the sage answered, “It is I.” The door remained closed. After some years he returned for the third time, and, at his knocking, the voice once more demanded, “Who is there?” And the sage cried, “It is thyself!” The door was opened.

We don’t actually realize that there is no security, Watts asserts, until we confront the myth of fixed selfhood and recognize that the solid “I” doesn’t exist — something modern psychology has termed “the self illusion”. And yet that is incredibly hard to do, for in the very act of this realization there is a realizing self. Watts illustrates this paradox beautifully:

While you are watching this present experience, are you aware of someone watching it? Can you find, in addition to the experience itself, an experiencer? Can you, at the same time, read this sentence and think about yourself reading it? You will find that, to think about yourself reading it, you must for a brief second stop reading. The first experience is reading. The second experience is the thought, “I am reading.” Can you find any thinker, who is thinking the thought, I am reading?” In other words, when present experience is the thought, “I am reading,” can you think about yourself thinking this thought?

Once again, you must stop thinking just, “I am reading.” You pass to a third experience, which is the thought, “I am thinking that I am reading.” Do not let the rapidity with which these thoughts can change deceive you into the feeling that you think them all at once.

[…]

In each present experience you were only aware of that experience. You were never aware of being aware. You were never able to separate the thinker from the thought, the knower from the known. All you ever found was a new thought, a new experience.

What makes us unable to live with pure awareness, Watts points out, is the ball and chain of our memory and our warped relationship with time:

The notion of a separate thinker, of an “I” distinct from the experience, comes from memory and from the rapidity with which thought changes. It is like whirling a burning stick to give the illusion of a continuous circle of fire. If you imagine that memory is a direct knowledge of the past rather than a present experience, you get the illusion of knowing the past and the present at the same time. This suggests that there is something in you distinct from both the past and the present experiences. You reason, “I know this present experience, and it is different from that past experience. If I can compare the two, and notice that experience has changed, I must be something constant and apart.”

But, as a matter of fact, you cannot compare this present experience with a past experience. You can only compare it with a memory of the past, which is a part of the present experience. When you see clearly that memory is a form of present experience, it will be obvious that trying to separate yourself from this experience is as impossible as trying to make your teeth bite themselves.

[…]

To understand this is to realize that life is entirely momentary, that there is neither permanence nor security, and that there is no “I” which can be protected.

And therein lies the crux of our human struggle:

The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the “I” out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.

To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening.

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Is there a right way to set a goal?

Thanks to Dori Hellman Locke for this article.

Is there a RIGHT WAY to set a Goal?

Apparently I have a lot to say… and as my husband, and many, many people who have known me for many years might say…get ready because there is a “Dori Story” on the way. But in this case it is not a story, it is just a couple of rules I live my life by.

Since we are still in the first month of the year. I am going to add my input.

In my humble opinion there are thousands of ways to set a proper goal. How many different ways can you deliver the “SMART” system? How many tips and techniques can you be given to teach you how to set a goal? Haven’t you set and set and set thousands of goals in your life? Aren’t you tired of hearing the next best way to set a goal? I am too however, when I looked at the times in my life when really big things were accomplished, I realized I had specific goals and I stuck to them.

Sometimes I think we are too busy getting ready to get ready. I think we are working really hard to develop the perfect plan to get the goal. The one with the right buzz words, and the right techniques being applied to get the PERFECT result. The one that everyone else will think is amazing.

Well guess what…..I have a few of my own special tips and techniques to share with you on goal setting! If you’re interested read on and if you’re not…… just get back on the couch in front of the latest and greatest television show, and I will see you in December trying to figure out why you did not get what you wanted again.

So, first things first……

YEAR IN REVIEW
If you take a look back you can review the things that worked and the things that may not have supported you in getting what you want. Remember we can learn from the lesson the first time or we can continue down that path of insanity… doing it over and over and over again and expecting a different result. Tip #1 is to make a list of the things that worked, and the lessons you learned as you begin to plan those goals for 2014 and beyond.

GRATITUDE ANYONE?
After you take a review of the previous year, I think the very next thing that is necessary to set up a great plan is to get in a state of gratitude about what you have in your life and what you accomplished the previous year. Being in a state of gratitude is the most important step in the foundation for good goal setting. You have to be in a state of gratitude and abundance not scarcity in order to begin the creative process. Remember you will attract more of the things that you focus on…. Tip #2 is to focus on the good not that other stuff.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY-REALLY WANT???
Now that I am getting ready to set my goals for the year, I realize that getting really clear about what I REALLY WANT is a very important part in this equation. I know that in today’s world when you say something like, “It’s all about me”, that doesn’t sit well with most people. Well in this exercise my friend, it is ALL ABOUT YOU!! Isn’t that the most exciting thing you have heard lately? You can make it all about you and get away with it! So get clear and decide what you really want – that is tip #3.

WHAT IS YOUR “WHY”??
If you do not have a really big WHY behind you when you are moving toward a goal…you might as well forget it. Because when you get up against those Vampires in your life you will take the first chicken exit off the path off that goal.

If you’re wondering what a Vampire is, keep reading. A vampire is someone who sucks your dreams from you. They are that person who shows up dressed really well or in the shape of one of your dearest loved ones. They suck the life out of you and plant those seeds of doubt. Not that you need them to plant the doubt because the biggest vampire around is… wait for it….it is YOU! You are usually the culprit for sucking the life out of those goals. I am not smart enough…I am not skinny enough…I am not ______. So tip #4 is to have a big enough “WHY”.

CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY
I know the times in my life when I found someone I trusted to hold me accountable to what I said I wanted, I was more likely to get it. I am not talking about the friend that will support you in taking the low road or that joins you at the local Dairy Queen if your goal is to release weight. This is someone that no matter what your excuse is they will not support you in ANYTHING that is inconsistent with the result you want to obtain. Tip #5 is closing those chicken exits by creating the right accountability partner.

WRITE IT DOWN
Write your goal down in several places. Carry it on your person. Put it on your bathroom mirror. Put it in your car. Put it in the refrigerator. Create a screen saver with the goal. Put it on your phone. Over do it in this area. What I know for sure is that we absolutely get what we think about. The universe must give us what we think about and looking at it 100’s of times a day will ensure that it happens. Tip #6 is to write it down.

And last but certainly not least….

START MOVING YOUR FEET
You must take action. You must get moving and do the things necessary to get your goal. Lay out some action steps that will help you reach your goal and start moving. No matter if you are tired, or you don’t feel like it today, or something more important came up. Your action steps need to be at the top of your list and procrastination is not an option. Tip #7 is to move and move again.

You can accomplish any goal you desire you just have to get in a state of gratitude, be clear about what you want, have a big enough “Why”, create accountability around you, write it down, and start moving! Oh and the most important factor along the way is to HAVE FUN. So here’s to getting our goals and having some fun in the year to come and beyond!

~ Dori Hellman Locke

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I exist..

WHY DO I EXIST?
HOW DO I EXIST?

WHEN DO I EXIST?
WHERE DO I EXIST?

I exist to create an ego, to destroy it
To know more, to forget all
To gather and to let go

To talk more, to listen more
To smell, touch, see, hear, taste and feel
Only to bury the experience that starves the soul

I am because I exist,
I exist because I am…

~ Vandana

 

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