How we play games with ourselves (and how to stop!)

New Pink A4_LRRecently I had to do a medical test. I’m the anxious sorts, especially about health. There’s a history to that, but I’ll leave it for another time.

So there was much drama…I worried about it a month before I actually got it done, I asked a friend to go with me when I got it done. And then I worried about the result. I picked up the test just before I had to see the doctor and did not open it while I was waiting in her office.

That makes about 2 whole months of anxiety. During this time, I prayed a lot, did not enjoy my meals (I almost never do, as I eat tastelessly healthy 😛 ) and wore a serious to grim expression on my face, all the while thinking about the quality of my life!

As it turned out, the test result showed I’m normal and healthy. The doctor confirmed this.

So the point is, I lost 2 whole months of a pleasant mental climate! I normally test as soon as they tell me to, to spare myself the anxiety, but it hadn’t been possible this time.

However, on one day during those two months, I had an epiphany. I was operating from anxiety in EVERY area of my life- health, work and relationships. It suddenly struck me, that all I had to do was just drop it. Or, to be more precise, DECIDE to drop it. It was only as simple as that! Happiness is a decision. That’s all it is.

And that day, I did all the same things I usually do, but the quality of my day was so much better. My mind was a beach! Clear, breezy and calm. I enjoyed this very much. I told my doc about it and she laughed.

By the end of our meeting, I actually volunteered to do other routine tests that I have to do! A few years ago, I would never have imagined asking to DO tests! I was so petrified of all things related, including a needle and how much blood they drew out of me!!!

Over time (and similar experiences) I learnt that there are some simple Anxiety Hacks. Here’s a list.

  • Write down what you’re anxious about.
  • Read it again after a day or two. Chances are it will read so silly, that you’ll laugh it off or forget about it.
  • Talk to family or a friend. People have similar experiences and may offer a simple, practical solution to whatever it is that’s bothering you. (Consider seeing a professional if it’s scope is beyond what you or your loved ones can handle.)
  • Decide to drop it. Every time you sense an anxious thought popping up, remind yourself that you have decided to drop it for the day. Tell yourself that you will not think about it today.
  • Make a joke about it. That way, you won’t blow it up in your imagination and it won’t seem bigger than it actually is. And remember, EVERYTHING is joke worthy.
  • Once you realise that your mind has been a beach all day, go out and celebrate!

Good job done! That was your MokshaShot.

The most fun you can have on the border!

Tried a different approach to the making of the pop artwork this time. The repetition of form is very much in the tradition of pop, but, I thought I’ll play around a little bit with the overlay of the abstract forms and the borders. I’ve never had so much fun with a border! It was good to remind myself that I didn’t have to repeat the same motif all over the place. Too much repetition is tedious – both on the artist and the viewer 🙂 

Recent Work

Recalling the abstract work I used to do a few years ago, I’ve just completed this small format work in acrylics on paper. I enjoyed getting back to an intuitive process, as opposed to a deliberated one. I think this came about because I’m revisiting my meditation practice, finding ways to translate it in my work again.

I also just attended a yoga festival. It was refreshing to get back to thinking about a balanced lifestyle and about making changes in my own perception of my life and trying to look at the bigger picture.

Yes, it would be considered a risk to make changes in my visual language yet again, but then, it has been evolving over time and I haven’t really been able to think of repetition as different from stagnancy. Maybe a more disciplined yoga practice with help me with consistency (reputation) and simultaneous evolution…

Let the Colours flow!

This is an abstract animation I’d made in 2008, at an animation course for fine artists, at SVA, the School of Visual Arts New York, in 2008.

It’s Holi, the festival of colour in India, today. It’s  a celebration of joy and the coming of spring.

Indian culture is so entwined with life! Indian thought is so holistic, that in ancient India, art, design, ritual and spirituality were all a part of everyday life.

6 ways to a slower mind

The world is crazy.

Yes, its true! Most days everything seems to be spinning by, while our mind still seems on its treadmill, huffing and puffing, trying to cope with the pace and getting no further.

But, taking a few minutes to just step back and think is important, because no matter how many times that same anxious thought circles inside your mind, it’s still that same thought and doesn’t let you move on. It stops you from doing justice to the task at hand and also from finding relief from whatever it is that is making you anxious.

Mind you, if you try to seek professional help (as they want you to do, because everyone wants to sell their wares), they will diagnose you with something. Heck, they’ve come up with a name for every state of mind, just so that they can offer to fix it for you! And a few years down the line, ‘research’ will show that that was normal and the everyone is suffering it due to social, political and economic turmoil and then they’ll try and sell you a new diagnosis, with a trendy new solution for it too!

The truth is that you don’t need to be a genius to figure out that just 20 quiet, focussed minutes at the start of your day can fix a lot of things. Writing down what is on your mind and thinking up practical, actionable steps to solve it or move towards a solution is simple enough.

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There are some benefits of consciously slowing down your mind.

  • A relaxed mind is a productive one.
  • A calm mind can generate solutions without interference from stressful thoughts and emotions
  • A slower mind is a fuller experience of your Now, your day and ultimately your life.
  • A slower mind is alert and aware and this ensures making sound decisions.
  • A slower mind is focussed on experience, not anticipation

So how does one slow the mind down?

Yoga and meditation are time tested solutions easily available to everyone. They need a commitment and dedicated practice to experience long term benefits.

However, here are some ideas on simple things you can do, that can immediately change your state of mind.

1. Change your environment

If you’re in an office, step out of the room or building for 10 minutes or so. You will see, hear, feel differently and be calmer when you return.

2. Surprise an old friend or family member with a call or message.

It will make the person happy and it will make you smile!

3. Read jokes, watch a funny video!

Someone out there is always making fun of your oh-so-serious situation, no matter how serious it is!

4. Connect with nature

Go to a park, a beach or just sit under a tree. Connecting with nature once a day is invigorating.

5. Get Inspired

Read a poem, listen to music, go look at some art or read about it. This can put you in a positive frame of mind and give you perspective- help you see the bigger picture!

6. And lastly, check your credit card bill or phone bill. You WILL find a mistake. Call them, yell at them. Some companies make so many overcharges, they’re used to customers yelling at them. And you will get the stress out of your system!

Hope you found your MokshaShot today!

The Self Help Treadmill and more

Yes, I’m a seeker, sometimes an impatient one. And like the rest of us, I’ve been struggling to find Happiness for years. Befuddled by how to handle what life threw at me, I found myself on the spiritual path rather early- at age 26. I trod cautiously, with more anticipation than faith.

And soon enough, I was an avid consumer in the Self Help industry! The more I read, the more I discovered that every star guru said the same thing. And it was all derived from ancient religious scriptures!

So there! I’ve said it! They just gave it their own names and sold it with different titles. To be fair, it was ‘translated’ in simple, palatable terms, making it easily applicable in our everyday lives.

So after maybe a hundred books, Youtube videos, talks and lectures, I have learnt to be discerning. Now I know a spiritual quack when I see one. But I still struggle everyday, though I have discovered my own methods of finding my spot of joy in my day.

And since I’m an artist, humorist and writer, I started the MokshaShots series in 2008. (In eastern philosophy, Moksh means Salvation. A MokshaShot is a taste of the sublime. Each of us can make our own MokshaShot out of anything we find fulfilling).

I’ve decided to share my MokshaShot of the day, here on this blog as often as I can. Hopefully I will be able to help someone out there with theirs or just find an understanding listener. And be a happy listener myself.

 

In my painting, I have explored multiple thought processes whilst making work- the intuitive approach, the analytical approach, the critical and satirical view. Concurrently, I delved into philosophy, psychology and the history of painting.

My approaches changed as events in my life unfolded, changing my worldview.

Ultimately, it boiled down to choosing the state of mind I am most comfortable living with and even enjoying. This is when I had my ‘ah ha’ moment, my MokshaShot for the day!

I decided to just let go. And play. I like how this feels 🙂

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I’m continuing to play with form, fragments of memory and images. It feels good to draw these images spontaneously and uninhibitedly from the subconscious. It’s a (witty) dialogue with my mind…a kind of self-discovery.

Its good to be aware, alert about how the mind processes thoughts and what it is processing. It’s interesting (though sometimes aggravating as well!) to watch the patterns it slips into.

It’s challenging to try to change the unwanted ones. But then that is where awareness and meditation come in.

The Mind is always a work in progress and so it will be, until we get to Moksh!