George Santayana, the Spanish -american philosopher, poet and novelist had rightly said- ‘The earth has its music for those who will listen’.
We are all so caught up in our everyday mundane activities or work schedules that we often fail to notice the the abundant beauty of nature which surrounds us. Rather than popping pills for hypertension, break free from the vicious clutches of house chores for an hour or at least a few minutes everyday and choose a path that leads to peace and joy. All you need to do is take the first step. Be determined and step out and take a walk in a beautiful park or lake side. Listen to the earth’s melodious music and be healed and addicted to the soothing goodness for life. Well, I did just that yesterday and went for a long walk to the beautiful Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh (India). I was rewarded with clean fresh air, a spring in my step and some beautiful sunset pictures. This coming new year if you have to make a resolution, open the door to happiness- by embracing nature.
Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh
These pictures were clicked with an Iphone 7, and they came out so good that no filter has been used.
George Santayana quote picture source: Buzzfeed.com
Hey it’s time for festivities! The festive season has arrived- Halloween just went by and now its time to look forward to Diwali, Gurpurab, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. One just has to strike the right balance in terms of eating, partying and exercising in order to stay healthy. All the hectic preparations can at times be immensely exhausting!
One way to keep a balanced head on your shoulders and keep the health quotient up is walking barefoot on the dewy green grass every morning. It will calm your mind, soothe the nerves and have a cooling effect on your body. It is also believed to have a good effect on the eyesight. Walking barefoot also helps to strengthen the ankles and will help you to achieve beautiful toned legs. Undoubtedly you will be burning some calories too (So important in this festive season!). This technique of walking barefoot on grass or even sand is called ‘Earthing’ or ‘Grounding’.
“It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth’s electrical rhythms and free electrons.
… A previous study demonstrated that connecting the human body to the earth during sleep (earthing) normalizes the daily cortisol rhythm and improves sleep. A variety of other benefits were reported, including reductions in pain and inflammation. Subsequent studies have confirmed these earlier findings and documented virtually immediate physiologic and clinical effects of grounding or earthing the body.”
So ladies and gentlemen, tip toe on the balmy, dewy greens and topple the worldly worries away!
P.S: One word of caution though. Limit this exercise to a few minutes only in very cold weather or you risk a runny nose! Further, it is advisable to stuff some tissues in your pocket to wipe your feet clean after the exercise , before slipping on the shoes again.
Water- the lifeblood of all living beings is a subject of much intrigue to mankind. Ice, water, steam the three forms of H2O are overpowering mighty forces of the universe. Technically, from the ‘Physics’ point of view they are not forces in themselves (water and its forms are all 3 different states of matter) but can exert tremendous forces both good and bad.
Let me focus on the good first. Water is pure and so humble. It has no shape or form of its own. No taste. It takes the form of the container in which put and acquires the taste of the flavourings it is subjected to, completely losing its own identity. This is so difficult, to lose your own identity, but water does it so easily. Mix it with some fruit concentrate it becomes a refreshing drink, add a tea bag, and no one will call it water anymore!
According to the yogic philosophy, water is breath.To quote from renowned dietician and author Rujuta Diwekar’s book , Don’t Lose Out,Work Out, “drinking water is like a pranayama practice, and just like you can’t rush through pranayama, you sit for it with certain protocol, you should accord the same treatment to water”.
Water is healing and soothing. One can live without food but not water as about 60% of our body is made up of water. Daily intake of at least 8 glasses of water per day can help to eradicate and cure several health problems as harmful toxins get flushed out of the system. Externally too, a refreshing shower after a grueling day at work or sweating it out in the kitchen is like a balm for sore nerves. The pitter-patter of the water drops on the skin immediately transports the self into a blissful state banishing all signs of physical or emotional stress.
Care for a bubbly topped with crushed ice? Can you imagine lemon ice tea minus the ice? Well this frozen wonder is an important part of our day to day lives and is also an integral part of medical treatment and industry.
Who hasn’t heard of the steam engine and the steam iron? Steam is powerful – it has the power to push and to smoothen and to burn. In fact steam burns can be even more painful than water at 100 degree centigrade because of the extra latent heat that steam possesses. Steam is also used to run turbines in a nuclear power reactor.
Heaven forbid, water and its forms can cause utmost devastation and damage when uncontrolled and nature decides to unleash its fury on unsuspecting beings. The tsunami in 2004 in Indian ocean and more recently in Japan have left behind many scars. Recent flooding in the Kashmir valley has caused immense destruction. A mighty ship Titanic, sunk due to the impact of a collision with an iceberg. And we have already said that steam has the power to burn. The more one thinks about the impact of H2O in our lives , the more awestruck it makes us feel.
The gift of eyesight is one of the biggest blessings that the creator has bestowed upon most living creatures.Without eyes the whole world is just like one dark and deep void.You may be able to touch and feel an object ,but would not be able to appreciate its beauty. A flower would yes, feel like a flower to touch but it would be just one colour without eyesight – black.
Eyes are a storehouse of myriad expressions: loving eyes, mischievous eyes,smouldering eyes,pensive eyes,piercing eyes, round astonished eyes,crinkling with laughter eyes and pensive eyes with a deep far-away look in them.They add to the beauty of a face and many a poet have used expressions such as almond eyes, doe eyes or getting lost in the depths of deep blue eyes of a lovely damsel.
What about dark circles under the eyes? Nah! But its true, if you don’t take care of your eyes (particularly after long hours of blogging, staring continuously at the computer screen), this is what you get.I was in for a shock recently when I saw my latest picture. Dark circles! So I resolved to take care of my eyes and restored them back to their sparkling beauty.This is the beauty and care routine that I followed:
Go for regular eye checks: Visit the ophthalmologist on a regular basis, or at least whenever you feel an eye strain in reading or watching T.V.
Get adequate sleep: Festivities and guests in the last month had kept me occupied on account of which I probably did not get enough sleep, causing fatigued eyes. Now I have resolved to get my quota of 7 hours of sleep.
Resist looking into your mobile phone every minute there is a notification: I have said that before in my earlier posts and say that again. Don’t be tempted to peep into your mobile every now and then ;it causes tremendous eye strain particularly if you are careless enough to ignore your reading glasses if you require them.
Exercise your eyes: Rotate your eyeballs to the extreme left first and then to the extreme right. Now move the eyeballs to up to the farthest point you can see and then downwards.Do this 5 times.Blink your eyes 5 times. Now rub your palms together and cup your eyes. you will immediately feel relaxed.
Splash cold water: First thing in the morning and at least once more during the day splash eyes with cold water. The water could be slightly lukewarm but never hot. Our eyes are made of protein, which coagulates with hot water ( just like boiled eggs). You don’t want that ,do you?
Beauty Treatments: Age old grandmother’s kitchen secrets always work! Lay down,relax and place used tea bags or potato slices or even cucumber slices on tired eyes. Cotton pads dipped in rose water too are quite refreshing. A good quality eye cream also helps. Discard very old make-up like eyeliners and eye shadows.
Replenish vitamin A: Eat colourful fruits and vegetables which are a rich source of vitamin A and very good for your eyes.
Think Happy Thoughts: Positive and happy thoughts always bring a sparkle to the eyes and make them alive!
Pledge to care for your eyes, treat them with respect and make them sparkle! Lastly if possible, before you die try to pledge your eyes for eye donation. Bring colours in someone’s life. In all honesty I’ve not done that yet but will ,soon.
Chandigarh is home to some beautiful gardens and by far one of the greenest Indian cities. No wonder it is called ‘City Beautiful.’ I love going for my morning walk, and one of my most favourite places is Leisure Valley. Let me take you on a virtual tour through this garden from the perspective of a walking enthusiast!
The moment one steps into the garden, a palpable difference in temperature can be felt, being a few notches below the outside temperature. A whiff of air from the scented trees fills the nostrils and the lilting song of the Koel (Cuckoo bird) welcomes you; immediately lifting the mood and making one feel light and happy.
The leisure valley, sector 10, is a part of an 8 km long stretch around the eroded valley left by a seasonal rivulet (choe) which was retained by the great French architect, Le–Corbusier.The jogging track is flanked by temple plant trees, the ornamental Yellow Oleander trees (peeli kaner) and some young silver oaks. As we walk along we come across an assortment of trees like Amaltas, Bottle brush, Dhak flower trees and Peepal. During April–May, when these trees are flowering, one can see a myriad of colours which is a sight to behold. The Devil’s trees are planted in large numbers.
Walking through the canopy of these trees, a grey hornbill swishes past overhead and settles on a branch above. Several other birds like hoopoe, woodpecker and parrots are often seen. The babbler can be seen hopping on the grasses in small groups creating quite a cacophony.
The topography of the Leisure valley is uneven and that perhaps
adds to the beauty of the place.One can see vast stretches of green from a distance, having a balming effect on the eyes. In the interior of the garden more varieties of trees such as Golden trumpet and Jarul can be spotted. At times I have bumped into a sahtoot tree (mulberry) and got rewarded by its succulent fruit or picked some mogra from the gardenia shrubs for the morning puja! Neatly planted rows of seasonal flowers too dot the garden. My favourite spot in the garden is the Bamboo grove . According to Feng Shui, a wish made under a bamboo shrub is fulfilled. Needless to say, I have my daily quota of wishes to be granted! The picturesque bamboo grove is inspiration for many renowned painters and photographers!
After walking around the garden it is worth while to sit for a few minutes on a favourite bench, breathe deeply and focus on “Pranayam” or sit back and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the place. To quote William Henry Davies from the poem, ‘Leisure’.
“What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass?’
The Leisure valley is a laid back place, quite suitable for people who do not wish to wake up too early in the morning for their walk. It is also not very crowded, so its almost like your own personal farmhouse! I, for one could happily spend the whole day here walking, meditating or simply sitting in a corner reading my favourite book.
It is heartening to note that of late the Chandigarh Municipal corporation is taking pains towards further improvement of the garden. New jogging tracks have been laid and care is being taken to maintain the garden.
All the pictures used in this article are original clicks by Ritu and Anil Nanda
We have all experienced hunger pangs at some point of the day, some day, in our busy lives.A growling tummy does interfere with the proper thinking process,makes one grumpy and is surely bad for general overall health and wellbeing ! Here is my list of 5 anytime and all time favourite foods that help to keep those hunger pangs at bay and at the same time can be quite nourishing too.So here goes–
Sandwich : One of my favourite foods, it has many variants and can be prepared in a jiffy. Just slash a couple of slices of brown/ white / multigrain bread with butter and some tomatoes and cucumber slices and viola, you’re done ! Don’t like butter – use cheese or peanut butter or nutella instead.
Fruits : Packed with nutrientsand the best part is they need no cooking. Pick one on the go and say cheers to your health.
Nuts : Another superfoodthat keeps one satiated and happy. Regular intake of nuts, preferably unsalted,are excellent for your skin hair and bones.
Roti : Eat it anyway you like- the traditional way with a gravy vegetable or rolled up with a delicious filling of chicken, cottage cheese or just some pickles !
Eggs : They come to your rescue when there is nothing else in your fridge! Eat them boiled,scrambled, poached or fried. Eat them with plain toast ,roti or just mix with salad.
Sukhna Lake is a popular landmark of my city Chandigarh. Being a favourite haunt of tourists and a walkers’ paradise, my husband and I are unable to resist its magnetic pull. Though we both enjoy going for a morning jog, due to work commitments of late we had to re-schedule our fitness programme and started going to the lake in the evening instead. A few days back when we reached the lake a little late in the evening we were rewarded by a beautiful site. It was a full moon night and the glistening water looked so inviting. The sky itself although cast with clouds, was resplendent in the moonlight and the moon glowed like a huge diamond rock. In fact it was this setting that was the inspiration for my very short story ‘romancing the moon’, published earlier. I urged my husband to click some pictures. He was a bit sceptical about getting good results in the darkness. Surprisingly, the pictures came out beautiful and what’s even more amazing is that they were clicked with an iphone! (We were not carrying a camera with us). So now let the pictures do the talking.
She went for her usual evening walk by the side of the lake.It was slowly getting dark as twilight gave way to the dark grey skies.She trudged along feeling exhausted and thirsty.It was hot and misty. She paused for a while, and took a sip of water from the small bottle she always carried with her.Then suddenly her eyes shone ,wide open and bright, the reflected light of the full moon shining through.She felt like running after it , mesmerised by its beauty. She quickened the pace of her walk feeling energized by the very presence of the beautiful moon.She kept her gaze fixed on it ,but it played hide and seek and eventually,seemingly got gobbled up by the trees as if a huge ‘Rasgulla’ swallowed by the monster.Disappointed she turned towards the lake and sat down on the embankment overlooking the water.The water was still ,awash with a shimmering jewel glow ,thanks to the moonlit light.It was so still,she was tempted to walk on it. Then, she saw the beautiful ballerina, fairy like,almost angelic, swirling and leaping joyfully, running on the waters in blissful abandon.Her flowing tresses and pristine robes glistening in the moonlight. She looked closely -zoomed in on the pretty dancing figure in her mind’s eye, and saw her own self. It was the personification of her own feelings at that moment.Happy,at peace,one with nature and contented in the moonlight.
There is definitely an information overload in today’s scenario. But losing common sense, is in a way utter nonsense, if I may be allowed to say that.The human race is considered to be a superior race because of inherent intelligence and every person should make conscious efforts to pick ,assimilate and process relevant information and ignore the rest.Having said that,I must admit that since starting this blog I have hardly been able to catch up on reading a book because all my reading time is consumed in reading either newspapers or other people’s blogs on wordpress or linkedin. But no, I’m not really complaining because its my choice.To preserve my sanity from information overload I have stopped all notifications on my email, facebook and whatsapp.I can always check these according to my suitability and free time.You bet, I feel very much in control.
For the first few months of this year , I went about doing all my work and performing my duties, but at the same time , just could not stop cribbing about something or the other. In fact, I was at my most irritable best. Finally, I decided that enough is enough and resolved to do something to come out of my cranky self and de-stress . Well, I couldn’t really keep blaming the weather for feeling so irritable. There just had to be a way out ! So one day I sat down for a while with my eyes closed and chalked out my ‘ De-stress Mantra’ . And phew ! It really does work ! Over the past few months , I’ve been feeling wonderful with absolutely no stress or strain on my mind. So what is this mantra all about ?
Wake up fifteen minutes earlier than your usual time : O.K. suppose you have set your alarm to wake up at 6 am in the morning, and the minute it starts to buzz you shut it off and doze off into a half sleep kind of state. It always feels so good to steal those extra minutes of sleep. But when you finally wake up at 6:45 am, that marks the end to the blissful state of your being ! The panic button has been pushed and so has the stress trigger in your brain! You’re going to be late today and will skip breakfast as a compromise -leading to hunger pangs later in the day and still more stress. Mantra no. 1 is a simple trick . Set the alarm for 5:45 am . Even if you wake up by 6:30 , you still have time to take a few deep breaths, stretch your limbs and make yourself a cup of coffee. These extra fifteen minutes will give a head start to the day.
Prioritize your tasks : With a host of responsibilities it does become difficult at times to strike a balance. Why not actually write down on paper all the work that you need to be done ? Then re-arrange the items on the list in order of importance and urgency of that task. So you are now on the way to a stress free life. Greg McKeown , author of the book ‘Essentialism’ advices to make a priority list of 6 items. Then , cross out the last 5 and spend the first 2 hours of the day on the first item before moving on to the next. Your life will see a positive change.
Stress Busters : Weall have our own stress busters ; something that simply makes us happy and diverts the mind from unpleasant thoughts. Try to look for or think consciously about what you think makes you happy. Is it a walk in the park? or perhaps reading your favourite magazine? Music? For me its fragrance. The moment I walk into my house which smells fresh and clean I feel energised and refreshed. Fresh flowers ,scented candles , essence sticks can do the trick. A great smelling body- mist or perfume always uplifts my mood. Come on, choose your own stress buster mantra!
Good Food and Drink : You must have surely heard that stressed out people tend to binge eat? In the process, they are kind of caught in a viscous circle because all the junk food they eat will ultimately lead to more stress ( pimples, tyres around the waist , etc. etc.). So the mantra to lead a de-stressed life is to eat healthy and wise. No dieting and no starving -just eat healthy. Believe me, healthy food can be tasty and is much faster to cook. If you continue to follow my posts , I promise to share some recipes with you.
Take a Break : Now and then it is good to take a break from your routine. Go for a short weekend holiday if possible or go shopping with your friend. For me, a small tea time break around mid-day works wonders ! I sip my cup of freshly brewed Green tea or Darjeeling tea mindfully, savouring the flavour. It really helps to relax and unwind. There are a host of different tea varieties to choose from. I also love the lemon and ginger tea that my daughter gifted me and my honey chamomile organic tea. Being a tea addict of sorts, I have invented my ‘cheats tea’ ( to avoid too much of caffeine intake ). It is also good for your digestive system. The recipe is shared below-
Riurang Cheats Tea :
Water – 1 and 1/4 cup
Aniseed – 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon – a pinch (powdered)
Green tea – 1/4 tsp
Honey – 1 tsp (optional )
Method- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Put the aniseed and cinnamon and let boil for 1 to 2 minutes on a low flame. Switch off the gas and wait for half a minute. Now add the green tea. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Let the tea steep for 1 minute, or 2 minutes if you want a stronger taste. Strain , mix the honey if you like and enjoy!
Adequate Sleep : According to recent PTI news, a Mexican woman named Leandra Becerra Lumbreras , celebrated her 127th birthday on August 31, 2014. She is believed to be the oldest human to have ever lived. Her family said her secrets to longevity are eating chocolate, sleeping a lot and not getting married. Well, this news does draw our attention to the benefits of sleep (and chocolate of course !)
Sleep undoubtedly is the best tonic for a tired body as well as mind. Researchers have shown that sleep flushes out harmful toxins accumulated in the brain during your waking hours. On the average, an adult needs about 7 to 8 hours of sleep to wake up fresh and rejuvenated. So sleep is a must on my De-Stress Mantra list.
Think Good: There is an old saying that out of all the thoughts that cross our mind or that we consciously focus upon during the day, one of these thoughts can actually become a reality. We generally tend to worry unnecessarily about things , events or our future and stop living in the present. This feeling is particularly intensified when family or loved ones are involved. Howsoever cliched it may sound the best solution to keep stress at bay is by thinking good and having a positive attitude.
‘The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.’ —– William James