Friday, 18 September 2020

How to Help Someone who is Depressed?

How to help someone with Depression?

300 million people worldwide are suffering from Depression, according to WHO. So, it is likely that someone we love is silently suffering too. According to psychologists, saying the right words to them can add significant value to their healing. With the hope of creating a support system for those we love. Here's a compilation of uplifting quotes that help in overcoming Depression :

Depression Quotes

Monday, 24 August 2020

Toxic Positivity: It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

It's fine when I feel fine. And, it's okay not to feel okay. 

 There are tons of memes, whatsapp messages and Instagram posts around power of positivity, body positivity and then I am also watching a pushback from people calling this too much of positivity as toxic and wondering who is actually benefiting from it- their mental health or the industry of Instagram influencers, self help gurus and motivational speakers built around the  power of positivity & body positivity? Because a recent Washington Post article quotes psychologists calling out excessive positivity during times of emotional hardships not only unhelpful but downright toxic. This raises four questions: 

1.  What is toxic positivity? 

2. Is our practice of toxic positivity hurting our friends?

3. Are we hurting ourselves and our self development? 

4. How can we address negative feelings without falling into toxic positivity?

That's what you and I are going to discuss today and we will discuss it from the point of view of yoga.

What is Toxic Positivity : 

"But look at bright sight", "Just focus on what you have", "It could be worse", The experts calling this forced positivity toxic. According to them, this trend of ‘good vibes only’ is Not only unhelpful but downright toxic. And no they are not negating the power of positivity, but saying that when our only coping mechanism to every situation is to put a positive spin on it and not to dwell on the negative that's toxic positivity. In yoga the definition is much simpler. Yoga says, anything that's compulsive is toxic and anything that's conscious is beneficial to us. So while yoga agrees with the power of positivity it also adds that we must know the difference being consciously or compulsively positive. Being compulsively positive is  like being too lazy to break free from a junk lifestyle and selling it as body positivity. Just that we are doing it to our minds. Worse, we are hurting our loved ones in the process.

Is our Toxic Positivity hurting our friends?

It takes courage to be vulnerable in front of someone, sharing our fear, failure and even shame and when a friend does that in front of us and our response is… But look at the bright side! Why don't you focus on the positive? But you have so much to be grateful for? Why don't you start a gratitude journal? When we say this to a friend who is struggling with negative emotions, we are invalidating their feelings. When we are saying “It's fine” or  “it will be fine”, we are shutting the possibility of any contemplation on the topic, we are not helping our friend in addressing  the problem, we are preventing our friend from working on their issues?

Are we hurting your mental health with our Toxic Positivity?

Why are we doing this? Because we do it to ourselves also. No, I am not talking about the times when we are genuinely positive and upbeat. I am talking about the times when we force ourselves to pretend that we are in an upbeat and positive mood when it's not there naturally. I am talking about times when there's a problem that legitimately needs to be addressed but doing so will lead to distress so we distract ourselves with positive memes or Instagram posts or listening to a motivational podcast. Instead of taking an action we fake an action. And it's not our fault because some entrepreneurs out there have created a culture which says that positivity is an attractive behavior. Smiling face is a pretty face. So we fake positivity to come across as a well adapted person. This doesn't solve our problem. There's a psychological research that people who compulsively deny, minimize or invalidate their negative feelings end up feeling worse than those who accept their emotional state.

So accept your emotions that's more effective way of coping with them. As Rumi says, “These pains that you feel are messages, listen to them.” 

How to deal with emotional hardships without falling in the trap of Toxic Positivity or Mental distress?

Now this acceptance could be tricky. What if we start wallowing that state and self pity, hello depression, OCD, anxiety…Or what if connecting with our pain or addressing our negative feeling is so stressful we don't want to deal with them? Then what to do? How to walk on the slippery slope of emotional acceptance? Yoga has the answer, it's one word - Samatvam. Cultivating even mindedness in such a way that it promotes an inward tranquility( Reference Gita & Ishvasya Upnishad). Imagine being in a situation which triggers stress or negativity in you, in that situation instead of forcing positivity upon ourself we genuinely operate from a state of even minded Ness and instead of feeling negative or forcing positivity we operate from a place of tranquility? Wouldn't that be wonderful? This will need practice, a practice that we need to do daily so that in the moment of negative emotion, in the moment when you need it, you have it- the tranquility of samatvam.. 

How to practice Samatvam?

How to practice this Samatvam, this even mindedness which promotes an inner tranquility?

If you want to cultivate this even mindedness the best way to that is to daily take some time out to evaluate your feelings? What are my triggers? What makes me feel positive and what makes me feel negative? And then attempt, it won't happen in day one, but keep trying to attempt to have an equal attitude of benevolence, of love, of compassion towards yourself in both the states, when you're feeling positive and when you're not so upbeat? Appreciate yourself for trying to attain Samatvam and end the practice by telling yourself- It's fine when I feel fine and it's okay not to be okay.


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

My therapist asked me stop my antidepressants : What should I do?

 This is a question that I often get: Psychiatrist prescribes antidepressants to their client and over years increase the dosage, when the client sees a counselor,  the counselor asks- But why is your psychiatrist constantly increasing your dosage? You must cut your dependency on medication. This leaves the person all confused and then some well meaning friend or a family member says - Why don't you try yoga? And, that's how I get know this story. Because the person tells me and asks- What should I do?  

This often happens to me. Now, as a certified counselor, I am certified to counsel not to prescribe medicines. I have not studied medicines. Then, how am I qualified to comment on it? So, I draw from my other qualification as a yogi and offer two questions instead:

Why two questions?

I can understand the pushback a client feels when asked to stop medication. It's confusing to have contradictory opinions. One wonders who is benefiting from these - my mental health or their business? And, we must respect other person's opinion especially when that opinion is from a qualified expert. However, respecting doesn't mean following. We can consider everyone, respect every view point and use it form our own point of view and then follow that. Here's my point of view on the subject that has served me well and my clients.


Being positive isn't enough. Being positive shouldn't be unproductive to. We must do something about it. What we do about it must pass following tests :

The Two Questions :

1. Is my choice of method productive: Is my condition actually improving? Is it leading me to a point where I can close this chapter and move on or it is establishing me in a continuum - like a hamster on a wheel - where I am continously working.

 'Battling depression' is an empowering  phrase but is it what we want our lives to be? A battle? If we are constantly in a fight when we will have to sit back, enjoy, rejoice and create something meaningful, something fulfilling  with our lives? Don't we deserve a fulfilled life?

2. Are the results offered my method sustainable : Imagine you have a stomach bug. You take medicine for it and you feel relief. The minute the effects of that medicine wear off, you relapse. So the doctor increases the dose and this goes on and goes on. What will you do? Will you stay in that loop or will you try to break that loop and find another method through which your stomach bug can be gone for good? If we consider our mental state as any other physical illness, then shouldn't it be treated that way?

I hope this helps you in decoding a formula that works best for you. Here's a link to a method that has served my clients well, in case you're interested, you can check out here: 

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Metabolism Boost : Yoga Tips (Asanas and Pranayam)

Metabolism can get a boost in less than 10 minutes. Yes! Just take out 10 minutes daily to practice these 6 yoga tips. For the ease of remembering I call them 3-2-1 Yoga Routine. This will rev up your metabolism with visible results in just 21 days! Better news is that you will start feeling the difference in the first week itself. All you have to do is to follow this simple 3-2-1 method:

3 Asanas

2 Breathing Exercises, and 

1 Tip

According to researchers, our mental and emotional sufferings leave their metabolic mark on our body. Therefore, in this 3-2-1 method  I have incorporated Yoga based tools that not only boost up metabolism but sustains it by revving up our mental and emotional health.

So let's get to it. The three asanas that I have included are ones that anyone can do- Flexible and non- flexible ones. Young and old. I just asked myself that if I am suffering from high fever and intense body ache will I be able to perform these asanas from the coziness of my bed? These 3 asanas have passed this test and are safe to practice even during pregnancy and menstruation. These asanas not only work on our body but culture our mental elements in a way that corrects our habits of stress eating and binge eating .

Remember asanas are not ‘working-out’ but ‘chilling-out’ with the body (Sthir chir sukham - Patanjali Yogsutram). Therefore, to make these asanas effective, it is essential that we practice them as a form self expression which helps our body-mind complex to flow freely.

The Three Asanas 

  1. Shava Udarakarshanasana: Strengthens abdominal muscles & burns extra fat tissue of omentum, keeps our mind peaceful and placid.

How to do it?

  • Lie flat on the back with the legs and feet together. Stretch the arms out to the sides at shoulder level with the palms of the hands facing down.

  • Bend the right leg and place the sole of the foot beside the left kneecap. Place the left hand on top of the right knee. This is the starting position.

  • Gently bring the right knee down to the floor on the left side of the body, keeping the leg bent and the foot in contact with the left knee.

  • Turn the head to the right, looking along the straight arm, and gaze at the middle finger of the right hand. The left hand should be on the right knee and the right arm and shoulder should remain in contact with the floor. In the final position, the head should be turned in the opposite direction to the folded knee and the other leg should be completely straight.

  • Hold the position for as long as is comfortable.

  • Return to the starting position, bringing the head and knee to the centre. Stretch the right arm out to the side and straighten the right leg.

  • Repeat on the opposite side.

  • Practise once to each side, gradually extending the holding time.

  • Breathing: Inhale in the starting position. Exhale while pushing the knee to the floor and turning the head. Breathe deeply and slowly in the final position.

           Inhale while centring the body and exhale while straight- ening the leg.

  • Awareness: On Manipur Chakra (Belly button)

  1. Naukasanchalasana: Massages the abdominal organs and helps in mobilizing extra fat tissue stored around them. Speaking from the vocabulary of Tantra practice, this asana helps to eliminate energy blockage in the abdominal and pelvic region to release the power of Manipur Chakra (source of will power and self assertiveness, which governs not only our metabolism but our eating habits as well).

How to do it?

  • Sit with both legs straight in front of the body.

  • Imagine the action of rowing a boat.

  • Clench the hands as though grasping oars, with the palms facing down.

  • Breathe out and bend forward from the waist as far as is comfortable, straightening the arms.

  • Breathing in, lean back as far as possible, drawing the hands back towards the shoulders.

  • This is one round.

  • The hands should make a complete circular movement in every round, moving up the sides of the legs and trunk. The legs should be kept straight throughout.

  • Practise 5 to 10 rounds.

  • Reverse the direction of the rowing movement as though going in the opposite direction.

             Practise 5 to 10 times.

  • Breathing: Inhale while leaning back. Exhale while bending forward.

  • Awareness: On the breath & movement.

  1. Shashank-Bhujangasana: Helps in strengthening digestive and endocrine system, alleviates stress, anxiety and depression. 

How to do it :

  • Assume Marjariasana, placing yhe palms flat on the floor beneath the shoulders about half-a-metre apart.

  • Move into Shashankasana with the arms outstretched in front of the shoulders.

  • Then, without moving the position of the hands, inhale and slowly move the chest forward, sliding it just above the floor until it is in line with the hands.

  • Move the chest further forward and then upward, as the arms straighten, and lower the pelvis to the floor.

  • Ideally, the nose and chest should just brush the surface of the floor as the body moves forward like the movement of a snake. Do not strain to achieve this.

  • Try to bring the hips as near to the floor as possible.

  • In the final position, the arms should be straight, the back arched and the head raised as in Bhujangasana. The navel does not touch the floor.

  • Hold this position for a few seconds, retaining the breath.

  • Exhale, slowly raise the buttocks and move backwards, keeping the arms straight, returning to Shashankasana.

  • Do not try to reverse the previous movement but keep the arms straight. This is one round.

  • Relax the whole body for a short time before starting another round.

  • Practice 5 to 7 seconds.

  • Note: Hand position should not change throughout the entire practice.

The Two Pranayams

  1. As you sit down to eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Practice Suryabhedhan pranayama for 27 rounds. This pranayama increases the Jathagni- helps in digestion, absorption of food and elimination of food.

How to do it?

Sit with your spine straight. Shoulders rolled back. Awareness of breath. Eyes are closed. Close your left nostril with your middle finger. Inhale from the right nostril. Close the right nostril with your thumb, exhale from the left. Deep inhale, longer exhale. This is round one, do this 27 times.

  1. Since Suryabhedhan increases the fire element in us, it is essential that we balance it with a calming pranayam, so that we sleep well. Chandrabhedan helps in this when practiced 27 rounds at the bedtime.

How to do it?

Sit with your spine straight. Shoulders rolled back. Awareness on breath and eyes closed.

Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale deeply from left. Close your left nostril with your middle finger. Exhale completely from right. This is round one. Do this for 27 rounds.

The one tip 

Eat only three times a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anything other than water that goes in your mouth is a meal. Even infused water. (Water, normal water, please drink as much as you like, as often as you desire).

It is common sense that any work on metabolism will not be completely effective if we don't change the way we eat. The fact that you're seeking the way to improve metabolism is indicating that your current food habits are not serving you well. The most beneficial change that you can make is to follow a three meal plan. No snacking in between. Imagine, if you put a load in the washing machine  for cleaning and before the cycle is complete, you keep throwing more and more clothes in, what will happen? Let's treat our bodies with the same (if not more) respect that we give to a washing machine.

With a pandemic limiting our social life, there couldn't be a more conducive time to bring this change. Isn't it?


Saturday, 8 August 2020

Overcome Toxic Self Criticism ( Be your best friend using this Yogic Process)

- by Kirti Tarang Pande 

An experiment for our mental elements :

Do you criticize yourself? When was the last time you did it? This morning? Yesterday? Or, sometime back? Recollect that moment when you were critical of yourself. Go ahead, live that moment vividly in your mind. What was the cause of that criticism of self? What happened that made you criticize yourself?  Bring back that cause in your mind. Allow that memory to play in your mind with all its details. What were the words that you used to criticize yourself? Play those words again in your head. How are you feeling listening to those words, unpleasant or not unpleasant?

Inhale deeply, exhale and relax, let go of that memory.

Now, visualize your best friend in front of you. Someone you love and care about. Smile to your friend. Now visualize that your friend is in the same situation as you were when you criticised yourself. Recreate that scene, just in your place put your best friend there. Now, what will you say to your best friend? Will you use the same words? Are you criticizing your friend? Or are you listening to your friend in a calm compassionate manner? Are you undermining your friend or are saying that I trust you to fix it because I believe in you. Listen carefully to the words that you're saying to your best friend. Inhale deeply, exhale and relax.

Now, again recreate that memory. This time again it's you who is in the situation not your best friend. This time, instead of criticizing yourself use the same words that you used for your best friend. Words of trust and love . This time approach the situation in the same way as you did with your best friend: listen to yourself calmly and compassionately. How are you feeling in this moment- unpleasant or pleasant? Place your right hand on your heart, how is your heart beat right now? Inhale deeply, exhale and relax  completely.

Can you imagine how your life would be if you always operate from this place? Next time when you look in the mirror, inspecting yourself before an important event or date, if you talk to yourself the way you talk to your best friend, how would it feel like? What will be the after effects of that? Imagine next time you make a big mistake and its all your fault, in  that moment, you pause and say the things to yourself that you would say to your best friend in such a situation? Imagine the value it will add to your physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well being.

Yogic Method of befriending our own self

Gita in Chapter 6, 5th verse says that uplift yourself, do not deprecate yourself because you're your only friend and your only enemy. Gita is an ancient Sanskrit text on tenets of yoga and it also shares the technique of how to uplift oneself to become our own best friend. This technique is something that I practice so that I can always be nice to myself and as a yoga instructor I have shared this technique with a number of my clients. This is a technique that my grandfather (and Yoga Guru), Shri Jagdish Chandra Upadhyaya taught me.

I was first introduced to it when I spilled a pot. My grandmother gave me that look and said, “You're lucky it was curd and not boiling milk, or else you would have burnt yourself". My grandfather, however, smiled at me lovingly and asked, “So what do we learn from this”? “Ummm… To mind our steps” I sheepishly answered. His smile just grew fonder and said, “To be like the pot of curd". Does it make sense to you? I didn't to me either, so he elaborated, allow me to expand that idea now:

This glass of water is sitting happily here & someone unmindful like me comes and knocks it over. What will happen? The water will spill. What if there was acid in it? The acid will spill. Situation, other people are just incidental, what comes out is what is inside of us. My grandfather said that I should become like a pot of curd. 

Curd is so soothing that it can calm down an elephant. Despite their size & strength, elephants are gentle beings, except that time of the year when the male elephant is on heat, it can go really wild and squash everything in sight. In such times, massaging his head with buttermilk really calms him down. 

Imagine if our entire being is full such a calming potion then no matter what they say, no matter what situation is, no matter how majorly we screw up, instead of saying you deserve it, you're stupid, you're worthless, why on earth would anyone love you, we say things to ourselves which are true, yet kind. Instead of deprecating ourselves, we will uplift ourself. Instead of acting like our own enemy we will act like our own best friend.

So what is this calming potion that we need to fill ourselves with? What is curd for our mental elements? If we circle back to Gita, we will find the answer written there, it's called Sattva. Gita doesn't just give us a buzzword # uplift yourself but also tells us how, by filling our being with Sattva.

Now what is this Sattva? Sattva is our innate quality to be blissful. The keyword here is innate. It is already inside of us. The more I look at my baby, the more convinced I get that Yogic Philosophy isn’t something we learn but something that we are born with and forget.

So, right now, yes, now you and I are going to do a small meditative exercise which has benefited me, my clients. We are going to do a small meditative exercise to learn to how connect with our Sattva, our innate tendency to be blissful. The goal is to nurture our inner bliss, allow it grow till it fills our entire being then irrespective of circumstances and other people we will always overflow with bliss. Irrespective of situation our inner voice will always make us feel blissful. So are you ready?

The Meditation :

The Takeaway:

Relax, how do you feel? Whatever you're feeling right now, it won't last, until we are regular with our practice for at least 90 days. Now how to be persistent with the practice? I would suggest 10 -2-1 method. If there's anything you want to takeaway from this session, allow it to be this : 10-2-1. Every morning ask yourself how much time do I have to hangout with myself ? After all, hanging out, sharing meaningful moments are the founding stones of any friendship that adds value to our well being. Then why befriending oneself be any different? Ask yourself how much time can I give to myself 10 minutes, 2 minutes or 1 minute? If you have 10 minutes, then I encourage you to do the meditation that we just did. If you have two minutes then use the Yogic tool called Svadhyaya  for this. We did it in the beginning of the session. We called it introspection, remember? Let's do it one more time. Just to get the hang of it. Come on do it, right now with me. Sit straight, roll your shoulders back. Hands on knees, palms facing upwards. Inhale, relax. Inhale, relax deeply, inhale relax completely.  Recreate the memory of the moment when you hurt yourself.. This time, instead of criticizing yourself use the same words that you would use for your best friend. Words of trust and love. Listen to yourself. Tell yourself, I understand you, I love you, I trust in your potential to fix it. Mentally repeat after me - I love and trust myself, I love and trust myself, I love and trust myself. Bring your attention to your heart, visualize bliss, Sattva here in form of white light, inhaling surrender to this white light, exhaling visualize it filling your whole body. Inhale deeply, exhale and relax  completely. Gently rub your palms, cup your eyes with your palms, blink your eyes. Slowly open your eyes. Bring  your hands down. Inhale and relax.

How about those days when we can't even spare two minutes for ourselves? On such days take out one minute. We always have a minute. Close your eyes and tell yourself - No matter what happens today, I will be my best friend. Everything that I will say to myself will be kind, true and will add meaning to my well being. Let's do it. Close your eyes. Relax. Smile softly. Repeat after me - Today, I will be my best friend. No matter what they say, no matter what they do I will only say kind and truthful words to myself, words that uplift me and add value to my being.

Happy Practicing :)

Monday, 20 July 2020

Helping others and hurting themselves: Why smart people do dumb things?

- by Kirti Tarang Pande 
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Have you ever helped a friend choose a path of patience instead of anger? When a trigger of anger came in your life, what did you do?
If I ask you right now to put a star in a jar for each time you helped a friend gain emotional clarity, you will be floating in the stars. Then what happens when it comes to your own life; your own emotions?

Sense and Sensibility 

You guide your friends in making right diet choices, but how many times you cheat on your diet? You tell a friend to "move on" after the break up, then why despite knowing that relationship was toxic you cry over your break up? When someone hurts your friend you say, "Let it go, don't let it ruin your mood", then why is that when someone hurts you, you let it ruin your day? You  give good advice, then why don't you follow it yourself? Most of the time you know what to do, then why don't you do it?

Sometimes, it's our own mind that acts like an enemy and sometimes our emotions betray us by going rogue. So, what do we do? We try to control our mind. We try to manage our emotions. Don't we do this?We practice anger management. We practice stress management. Don't we? Then, what happens? It starts becoming our identity. Doesn't it? We start defining ourselves as someone who's struggling with anxiety, someone who's battling with depression, someone who's fighting with the thoughts. Is this what we want our life to be? A fight? A struggle? Won't it be wonderful if instead of a battleground our life becomes a field of love, an ocean of joy, in which we float effortlessly, dance happily? What if I tell you that it can happen? All we need to do is stop trying to control our mind, stop trying to manage our emotions. Controlling and managing has not given us the desired results, so it's time we change the process. This is what I want to discuss with you today, Yogic process. A yogic process of culturing our emotions not managing them, because when our emotions are cultured, our mind becomes our best friend.

Know Thyself 

For any Yogic process self reflection is an important  tool. In Yogic terminology we call it svadhyaya, meaning study of self (Sutra 2.1, Patanjali Yoga Sutram). Are you ready to do this with me? Are you ready to do a study- A study your own self?

Let's reflect on your life. Has it ever happened to you:
A friend or a loved one was sad, sulking in a corner, refusing to even eat, refusing to meet people; but you sneaked in. You sneaked in like a ray of sunshine. You managed to pull that friend out of the sulking corner, take the person out for a coffee or drinks or for a walk. And voila! Your friend felt better. There! What did you do? You initiated the process of healing in the friend.

Look around you. Look at the levels of stress, the toxic thoughts, how common are frowns today! In such a world, for one person, for one moment, you were a source of smiles!
It's nothing less than a superpower, you may not be a certified therapist, you may not be a counselor and yet you help your friends. You help your loved ones in healing.

In every situation, we have multiple options for our actions. Our actions are always a choice. The situation, other people, they may play a role but power of choice always lies with us. We always have options to choose from. Do you want to know what those options are?

The Tussle between Three Choices

Yoga follows Samkhya school of philosophy.  It says that in every situation, we always have three options: Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. I don't want to tire you with technicalities, I want this process to be enjoyable for you. So let me share a metaphor with you:

Imagine, there's oil in your palms. Your hands are sticky now. It's an unpleasant experience. Anything that you touch sticks to you, dirt, bacteria. It's an unhygienic experience. You can't eat with these hands. So, you try to clean them. You apply soap. Though soap is a cleansing agent, if you eat with soapy hands your stomach will pay the price. Therefore, you wash that soap with water. There's no longer oil, no longer soap, your hands are clean and pure. In Yogic culture oil, soap and water are metaphors. Oil is Tamas, Soap is Rajas and the Water is Sattva.

These are the three options that we have in every situation. Let's expand on this idea:

Tamas, Rajas and Sattva : What do you choose often?

Option 1 is Tamas means our inherent tendency for darkness. Our inherent tendency of inertia. For example, we are sad and we know just getting up, washing our face and going out for a walk and smelling flowers will create a shift in our mental  state and yet we stay in the bed and sulk. That's a tamasic option. Tamas means our inherent tendency of lethargy, we know that we should exercise and yet we don't because we feel too lazy to get on the mat. That's choosing our Tamasic option. Tamas means compulsion. You know you should sleep on time but you keep scrolling on your phone. That's choosing a Tamasic option. Tamas means stickiness. You are determined that tonight instead of Netflixing I will meditate. Then when the time comes, there's this cozy bed and TV in front of it and that habit of picking the remote and turning it on just sticks with you, so bye-bye meditation. Tamas means repression- someone or something made you angry and instead of expressing your feeling you swallowed it. You would eventually implode, but they would never know. That's Tamas.

Second option that we have is Rajas. Rajas means our inherent tendency for activity. Rajas is when instead of imploding we explode. When someone makes us angry, we choose to give that person a piece of our mind.

Third option is of Sattva. Sattva means our inherent tendency to be  blissful and act from that state. It means that you neither implode or explode. You transcend. When a situation arises, a situation that usually triggers difficult emotions, you neither repress nor act in a self destructive pattern, instead you transcend the situation. Can you visualize yourself doing it? Shall I help you with an example?

One of my clients once shared that she was emotionally lonely so she took my sessions, but her most valuable takeaway was that it has made her a better mother. She said that earlier her children would make her angry. Sometimes, she would even hit them. Then she would feel terrible about it for days. She would hate herself. “Now,” she said, “I don't beat my children. I don't get angry at them. Instead, I feel grateful to them that they are giving me a chance to be a more patient person.” 

Same situation, same kids, same lady, what changed? She realized that she has options. She realized that she and only she has the power to choose. So, she chose Sattva, she chose bliss. Instead connecting from her inherent tendency of Tamas or Rajas, she connected with her inherent tendency of Sattva. She started operating from a place of bliss. How did she do it?

How to make the right choice in every situation?

What you think happens in those situations? Take an example of a glass, the glass is happily perched on a table, minding its own business. A baby comes, and for no reason starts shaking the glass. What will happen then? The contents of the glass will spillover. Whatever was inside will spill out. If there was water, water would spill. If there was milk, milk would  spill and if the milk was hot...

When someone shakes you, when a situation shakes you, whatever is within you comes out. If there's Tamas, Tamas would come. If there's Rajas would come, if there's Sattva, if there's bliss, bliss will come out. Imagine, if there's nothing inside of you but Sattva/ bliss, irrespective of situations, irrespective of people, you will give nothing but bliss because you don't have anything else to offer. Remember Buddha and Angulimal?

You can do it too! Remember we discussed your super power. If you can help your friends gain emotional clarity why not yourself?
You too can start operating from a place of bliss, you will no longer have to bother yourself with the tedious and continuous task of controlling our mind, managing our emotions. Can you imagine that freedom!

Cultivating Sattva in us is the way to that freedom. Cultivating Sattva is the way  to become best friends with our mind. When we culture our emotions as Sattvic, we become best friends with our mind. This  is the only thing we need to do that will cultivate our entire spectrum of emotions ranging from something as innocent as I am bored or I don't feel like working out today to something as intense as depression. All we need is to cultivate Sattva and irrespective of the situation, irrespective of the people, we will always choose the option that adds value to our mental, emotional, physical and Social well-being.

How to culture our emotions and become best friends with our mind?

Do you want to know how to cultivate Sattva?

Would mind exploring a bit of Yogic philosophy for this? Thank you! 

In the Vedic Philosophy of yoga, there's a text called Taittiriya Upanishad. This text presents a 5- sheath model for an individual’s well being. It's called the Panchkosa model. Panch means 5 and kosa means sheath. You and I have 5 sheaths of existence. So, if we need to cultivate Sattva in an efficacious and sustainable way, we must do it on all the 5 levels. 

This is what we are going to do now, I am going to share with you 5 very easy, everyday things that will cultivate Sattva at each level. Remember that no practice is small or insignificant. Even the smallest of effort from your side will create a shift in your emotional culturing. So, each time do something from the list that I am going to share with you, acknowledge that, congratulate yourself, celebrate yourself. It will be a powerful reinforcement for a practice that's adding value to our well being. A reinforcement that you need to transform that practice into a habit.

So, are you ready?

5 Small practices that add significant value in emotional culturing :

  1. The first kosa is Annamayakosa. Sheath of our physical existence i.e. our body. Anna is Sanskrit for matter or food, so Annamayakosa means a sheath that's made of food. So, if we want to make something that's made of food Sattvic, we need to make the food Sattvic. Isn't it? Now, I am not going to tell you what to eat. That choice must rest with your wisdom. I do have an input though on how to eat. I have taken this idea from Gita (17.8). To make the effect of everything that we eat Sattvic/ blissful, each time before you eat or drink anything, pause. Pause for 30 seconds and make that food or drink an agent of goodness, joy and fulfillment in your body. How do you make your food an agent of bliss in your body? Before you eat, pause for 30 seconds and cultivate a Sattvic, cultivate a blissful thought in your heart with feelings and emotions and infuse that thought in the food and water. It could be anything that resonates most with you: You could mentally say, “I have the super power of making right choices, I infuse this food or water with it”. “I infuse this with joy”, “I infuse this with bliss”, “I infuse this with healing”, “I infuse this with peace”. You can choose any blissful thought. In Yogic culture, the thought that's considered most potent for this purpose is: I surrender myself to the higher power. This food or drink is a potion to make the Higher power my charioteer in life like Krishna was to Arjun. What will you infuse your food with? Do let me know.
  2. The second sheath is Pranamaya kosa. The sheath of our life energy. The air that we breathe is the carrier of prana, our life energy. Therefore, in this level, we are working on making our breath Sattvic. According to Manusmritin, another Yogic text, sandhya is a very powerful time for this. Sandhya means union. In a day, there are four points of union - sunrise where night meets day, noon, sunset and midnight. Swami Vivekananda suggests practicing 3 to 11 rounds of anulom vilom pranayam at all these four points. This is the best way to practice. Slightly, difficult at our level though. I bow to Swami Vivekananda for showing us the way, and seek his blessings as I modify this practice into something that's easy to be persistent with- Here's what I suggest, instead of four sandhya,  pick 2 or three: Sunrise, noon and sunset. Set an alarm for these. When the alarm goes off just take three deep breaths that's it. That's less than 30 seconds. For 3 deep breaths, visualize your breath rising from the Navel to the eyebrow centre and then falling from the eyebrow centre back to the  navel.

  1. The next sheath is Manomaya kosa. The sheath of our mind. How to create a Sattvic mind? You can daily go for half an hour or solitary walk in nature. Leave your phone at home. Don't take a friend along. Let nature be your companion, spend half an hour smelling flowers, feeling grass under your feet, listening to the rustle of leaves and chirping of birds. You will experience a shift in your mind. (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.25.25). For days you have commitments or you're practicing social distancing, you can take out 10 minutes in the day for an alternate practice. Yes? Even on days of prior commitments, you can take out 10 minutes? Isn't it?  Sit in a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Sit with a pen and paper. Make two columns. Column 1,  write what makes you feel klisht/unpleasant and column 2 for what makes you feel aklisht/not unpleasant (Patanjali Yoga Sutram 1.5). Now, start observing your mind whatever comes there, start putting it down in a box where it belongs. If a thought comes, how it makes you feel unpleasant or not unpleasant, put it in that column. An image, memory, idea, song whatever comes in the mind goes in its respective column. If nothing comes, check how it makes you feel and then put it in that column. Do this for 5 minutes. Congratulate yourself, you're halfway through. Now for the next 5 minutes meditate on how you can put the thoughts from unpleasant column to pleasant column. Yes? If you need help with it, I have written a blog post- Yogic Antidote for difficult emotions. You can check that out. It will give you the necessary tools for the job. Right now, I want to stay focused on today's session. Is that okay?

  1. The fourth sheath is Vigyanmayakosa. The level of our intellect. If you want to be an entrepreneur, won't you read about people like Elon Musk to get inspired? If you want to be a tech leader won't you read on biography someone like Steve Jobs? If you want to be a thought leader won't you read on someone like Bill Gates or Stephen Hawkins? Then, if you want to be full of bliss, why not read about people who were full of bliss? That's the path Narad Bhakti Sutra (76 sutra) shows us.
    These days most of us have a habit of checking our phone as one of the first things that we do when we wake up. I will not ask you to change that habit. I will request that you use this habit to set the tone for blissful intellect here. We already have a habit of looking at our phone in the morning, let's use it for our benefit. Watch, listen or read something that creates blissful ideas in your head. Now, the internet is a tricky place to be. We can get lost here. So I suggest, downloading what you're going to read, watch or listen to at night itself. Every morning before my breakfast, I read something by Rumi. Rumi belongs to Sufi tradition. Sufism and Yoga are two different labels. In my opinion, that's exactly what they are, labels. In essence, I find Sufism and Rumi resonating with the Yogic philosophy. No matter how scandalous human behavior is, Rumi always finds beauty in it. That's the essence of yoga as well. That's the perspective I want for my day. So, I read Rumi. Rumi- The Book of Love, a translation by Coleman Barks, and that's my source of morning dose of intellectual bliss. I would recommend the same to you.

  1. Now we have come to our last level. The level of pure bliss, anandmaya kosa. We don't have to do anything at this level. This level itself is pure bliss. All we have to do is to make a connection with this level of our existence. How to do this? You know the answer. By creating a habit of everyday meditation. Now, the biggest problem in cultivating this habit is two-fold. Firstly, we don't have time. Secondly, meditation is boring and frustrating for the beginners. Don't worry, we have a solution. On our YouTube channel, Home Yogis’ Home  we have posted some sleep meditations to take care of both these factors. You don't have to make extra time for meditating, just when you go to sleep plug-in those meditations and allow them to lull you away. Since, the meditations shared are based on  yog nidra, a technique of sleep hypnosis, boredom and frustration is taken care of. 

That's it. That's all you have to do. We need to make our mind our best friend. How to make our mind do that? We need to culture the emotions that it projects. How can we culture the emotions? By creating Sattva, the bliss, within. How to create Sattva, by doing one simple Sattvic activity for all the five levels of our existence.

If you have any questions regarding these activities that I shared. Or anything that we talked about, please free to write to me at 
If you want to have more sessions with us you can send ‘YES’ at and we will connect. At Home Yogis’ Home we provide Yogic counseling and Yoga therapy for Mental and emotional well-being online.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share Yogic ideas with you today. Looking forward to our next meeting.

Suggested Reading :
Yogic Antidotes for Difficult Emotions