Power of Kindness….

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This topic has been on my mind for a while. What triggered it was a parcel that arrived for me a few days ago  – that too, during a delicate conversation going on in my lounge – so it was even more welcome. My friends in Lahore, never forget me when they exchange gifts with each other. My gift arrives in my home promptly too. This time, it was from a long-lost relative turned friend. Such a lovely surprise, a designer shirt arriving in my lap! Yes, a real act of kindness, a beautiful way to surprise and make someone very happy. Continue reading “Power of Kindness….”

Why and How of New Year Resolutions…

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A conversation between Me and Myself here, begins with Me saying….

“Why make new year resolutions?”

“Why not?” Asks Myself.

“One never follows it.” Me, again.

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“Ok don’t. But at least there is a record of what you planned, and what didn’t work out. Otherwise, there isn’t any record of your ‘doings’ and ‘not doings’….!” Explains Myself.

“So, I should do it?” That’s Me.

“Yes!”

Continue reading “Why and How of New Year Resolutions…”

Is Silence Golden?

Having been an extrovert and a chatterbox all my life, losing my voice is quite a dilemma. As long as I know it is for a few days, its fine. The funny part is, the moment someone finds out you can’t talk…… they stop talking! Hey, come on, I’ve done monologue conversations many times, but people find it challenging.

Silence.

What is so golden about it? I guess, because you can actually think straight. That is such a discovery. So many writers (including me) write at night. It is not the night. It’s the silence of the night which helps your flow of thoughts.

If you’ve read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or seen the movie with Julia Roberts, you’ll know how the girl goes to an ashram in India. They make her sweep the floors, and remain silent as part of the detoxing process for the body, mind and emotions – all exercises to gain inner peace and happiness.

By the way, what was Buddha doing sitting under the tree? – Enjoying the silence, of course.

It really works.

No wonder, that Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) would go off to the cave of Hira, to spend a few days there. That was where he got his first ‘Wahi’ – message from Allah. Angel Gabrial came to him when he knew he would get his whole attention. I guess, its in silence that one is closest to one’s own innermost thoughts.

It feels great.

I’ve realized, a lot of the havoc in my life is actually caused by me. Without my voice, and speech, there is so much more peace. – even if I have to say it. All that interaction is what makes your own focus distracted. You are too busy talking to others, or listening to their responses, and forget what you have been planning to do.

My father came to me “Get well soon, the whole house seems strange without your voice!” Yes, I’m the one who is busy shaking things up everywhere. None of that can be done without my voice! However, I’ve got my sign language and writing skill and home-management charts, to point at. I’ve started croaking now, my maids said “we are so happy your voice is back…” while I was admonishing them about their cleaning…!

But the timing was such, that I had to realize it was straight from my God. I know it was the relentless stress of so many good things happening in my life too, (I refuse to think of the bad ones!). But it was from Allah. I mean He could have given me a fever instead. No. He gave me the virtue of …. Silence.

I needed to ponder. He saw, there was no other way to make me be silent. So, He did it. I remember He did it several times in History to His chosen prophets and people. Like Zakaria couldn’t speak for three days, when Allah decided to bless him with a child from his old wife. He said, ‘what will I say to people?”  He was to remain silent. Let the events speak for themselves. Well, no child coming to this old lady right now. But you know what I mean.

There are times in life, when silence is your best remedy. I suppose that is why, when a person is in ‘shock’ they can’t speak. Its to grasp an unpredictable situation. To detach from the immediate surrounding and people, to help one focus. Is that why?

I’ve also realized, sometimes, speaking is just a waste of time and energy. (You might not believe it, when you meet me next…) I cannot imagine not speaking when I can. But sometimes it is right to do so. Let things be. Now, let me think in how many ways is silence good….. Lets see:

  1. When one is angry – (which is the hardest thing to do.)
  2. When one is upset. Wait till you sort out your thoughts, then speak!
  3. When in pain.
  4. With mother-in-law, unless you want to praise her.
  5. When speaking about anyone to anyone else.
  6. Giving time to the other person to think…
  7. Giving time to yourself to improve your mood before speaking.
  8. When in grief.
  9. When in deep happiness…. Just absorb that beautiful feeling.
  10. When praying.
  11. Dr. Wyne Dyer (may God bless him in heaven), said that when you are silent, you are with God. Certainly, in silence, your awareness of presence of Allah increases.
  12. Meditation.
  13. When you are silent, ideas come to you.
  14. In silence you understand what is being said to you. Your understanding, grip and comprehension of the topic at hand is sharper.
  15. It is also important to be silent and keep your mind free of thoughts.
  16. Even more important is that when you are thinking in silence, let them be only positive or happy thoughts.
  17. Tell yourself to ‘stop’ the moment the thoughts take a depressing or negative role. If it doesn’t work, get up and change your situation.
  18. When walking in silence outdoors, avoid putting earphones and music or anything ‘on’. Just absorb the sights and sounds of nature.
  19. I guess, I need to stop feeling guilty of being silent in other people’s presence.
  20. Its ok. Like a couple who has been married many years. They fall into silence, as they ‘know’ how and what the other person is feeling or wanting to say.

Stay blessed my dear reader.  Do, tell me what you think of this silence business? Or you plan to be silent about it? 🙂

 

Uncle Murphey

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Its’ all about what is on your mind!

Honestly, life is really something. There is a lot of ‘The Secret’ in it. If you’ve’ read that book you’ll know what I’m just going to say. What is on your mind, and what you really don’t want to happen – will happen. The Murphey’s Law is that what can happen will happen. But if you get very ultra smart and say, I’m going to take a lot of steps so that this won’t ever happen to me ….. ooooopse You’ve tempted fate. Now it will. Also in such a way, that is just the way you didn’t want.

They call it Murphey’s Law. Lets call him uncle Murphey.  “Anything that can happen will happen.” I would like to say “anything that should not happen, will happen!”  There was this time, when I thought I’ll get my hair permed, as I want it to look good all the time! Oh God, did I tempt fate. The parlor lady messed it up so much. That she ensured that I look bad all the time for the next three months!!!

Recently, I got new tenants. I asked the husband, a pilot, why he had moved from such a nice and exclusive block of flats. He said “I’m a pilot and have to sleep well, there was too much noise from the road.” Well, I thought our place is quite peaceful, so it is ok. Though, I told him, “Our family is quite noisy.” He said. “That’s ok.”

The next day, the plot next to our home which had remained empty for last four years, had people coming and measuring parts of it. Next day, machinery arrived and work began. Yes, hell broke loose! Night and day building is going on now…. I am in full sympathy with the couple that has arrived. Yet, I’m helpless. The builders also put all their materials right next to my boundary wall. Where else can they keep it?

In ‘The Secret’, the writer studied many great personalities of the world of all times. The common factor was that they all gave positive vibes and focused on the positive factors. That fate or nature does not understand ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it just goes for whatever is on your mind. What was on my mind was ‘hair’ in my case, or ‘noise’ in the pilot’s case. And so that is what happened!!!

So, be careful what you think. Just think of the positive. ‘I want this….’ Avoid things like I don’t want this, or I cannot stand this, or ‘will not take this.’ – That this is going to get bungled up!- if you know what I mean.

‘acha socho gay, to acha hoga!’ (if you think of good things, then good things will happen)  is the adage that goes….

Look at Pakistan. Everyone is all the time talking about problems, and bad things going on in Pakistan. Though, at the same time, a lot of good things are also happening. Since the focus is on all the bad stuff, so more of that bad stuff is happening! Tv programs are full of talk shows focusing on all the rotten stuff going on. How many talk shows going on about the good stuff? None!

So, dear reader, please try to focus on the positive. That’s why they say ‘count your blessings,’ because when you count your blessings, you think about them. You realize how much good is happening in your life and you are thankful. When you are thankful to Allah, He blesses you even more.

Stay blessed my dear reader.

How to forgive?

 

Now comes the hard part of life. Learning to forgive those who have harmed you or tried to!

Autumn leavesAll my life, I’ve tried to be a forgiving person. But sometimes, some people really do some very unforgivable things to you, and that too, deliberately, with the desire to inflict pain and hurt. Due to this hurtful stuff, it is TOO hard to forgive!

“How can I forgive them?” I asked my friend Fairy.

“Do it, to please Allah. You know, He likes those persons who forgive others. He is Himself forgiving, so just do it for Him.” That really sounded and felt good.  Why look at the faults of the defaulter? Why not look at the benevolence of the Maker? Why follow the traits of vindictiveness of the cruel persons on earth? Why not follow the greatest Forgiver of all?

I keep thinking of all the atrocities that people of Makkah had done to our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his friends, relatives and followers. Yet, when he went as a conqueror into Makkah, he started his tenure by forgiving everyone. All of them had been dead scared knowing all the cruel things they had done, yet, they were forgiven.

Ok, so I’m not a prophet, nor one of his disciples. I’m an ordinary human being. There is  my favorite Urdu verse  by the renowned poet and last Mughal emperor Bahadar Shah Zafar,  which would help me too:

Pari jab nazar apnay aibon par,

nazar mein koi, bura naa raha!

Its meaning in English goes like this :

 When I look upon my own faults,

In my eyes, no one is bad!

Who could know better than I, how many follies I’ve committed? So, forgive all. And hope on the day of Judgment, my Creator will forgive me too! He keeps saying in Quran: He is the ‘oft’-forgiving. Knowing, the minute He forgives us for one thing, we end up doing it again! – What is He to do????

Since it has been troubling my mind for some time now, I spoke to Abbas Husain about it and he said “Forgiving doesn’t mean that you are ready to forget it all, it means that you are ready to get on with your life and move forward!”

Well. It happened once that I had forgiven someone, and still Allah really gave a bad time to that person. So, I spoke to my spiritual guide, Mahjabeen, “I had forgiven, with all my heart. Then why?” She said, “when a person forgives a person who has committed great cruelty on another person, then Allah punishes that person even more. He says look what you did, and still that person has forgiven you – now I won’t spare you!!!” I am often told, that those who have been cruel to you will rot in hell, or that they will get punishment in front of your eyes.

No. That wouldn’t ever give me any pleasure.

I’m not made like that. I never wish ill on anyone, no matter how cruel they have been to me. I never find pleasure in pain being inflicted on anyone. Even on my enemies. All I want is that they should stop harassing me.

So, when we forgive a person, I guess, it is important to also clarify this point to our Maker, that I still do not wish Him to inflict any pain on that person. Preferably, a realization about how cruel they were, and at what a time, would make me feel better! That is all. The rest I leave to Allah.

My heart needs to be clean and clear, so I can proceed with my life, now onwards….

Then I think of another point. No one is cruel all the time. Entangled in all this are the good parts too! After all, if we were in a relationship with another human being for a while then that person had some very good points too. So, what I want to mention here is the importance, of remembering the good parts that were in any relationship also. To mention the good parts of those personalities, as you mention the bad parts. This exercise, will make forgiving easier to do, too.

There is the example of Japan which had two of its cities destroyed by  the atom bomb, thrown by USA. Afterwards, they decided to forgive and get on with life.  This decision made them one of the best economies of the world. It was heard that they said “Perhaps, we would have done the same in their place!” They made one decision, never to invest in defense warfare and weapons again, and concentrated in building their industry in other fields, excelling in most.

This is what forgiving does to a person, or a nation. So, it really is best to forgive, and get on with one’s life.

Don’t you think so?

Thanks for reading! – Sure means a lot to me. Stay smiling and stay blessed.

 

Fight your way out of Depression

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(This article was published in Woman’s Own Magazine from Karachi, Pakistan, in June 2011.)

I’ve just updated this article while posting it for you.

Recently, I met a lovely young girl who mentioned that she was depressed for three years. This inspired me to re-write this article and put it on my blog, just for her. It is something that I wrote in 2011, not realizing that hell will break lose in November of same year, for me! I can truly say, that thanks to this article I did not get into any depression though life really got very tough after that. 

 Life, sometimes has a knack of getting you down. And I mean REALLY down. And boy, does this world know how to treat you when you’re weak! Like a cheap shot to the stomach; the kind that takes the air out of your lungs and double over in pain, to make sure you stay down! Do I sound horribly pessimistic? Yes, and I should be. After all, I am talking about depression. And let me tell you, it is not a very nice experience.

Take it from someone who’s been there (who hasn’t?). Being depressed is more than just being ‘down in the dumps’.  It is a perpetual state of pure angst and misery combined with a complete loss of self-worth. And I have some news for you – on the road of depression, you are completely on your own. You will find that many of your so-called ‘friends’ either abandon you or take you down lanes where you get further entrenched in this awful situation.

What is one supposed to do? For one thing, if you wish to take yourself out of this situation, then make an effort yourself. Otherwise, it can get worse especially if you keep depending on others to do something. It’s perfectly okay to ask for help, but one has to make sure its sought from the right person. People who love you and truly care about you are the only ones who can help you get out of your depressive state.

Another key factor during depression is that you become reactive, rather than proactive. You also have a tendency to feel like not doing anything at all. That is lethal. You are alive therefore be alive. Once you have decided to turn your life around, it then becomes important to keep track of improvements on a day to day or week to week basis in order to stay on the path to recovery.

Steps to Recovery

Step 1: Document your progress every few weeks by asking yourself:

Are things improving for me”?

Am I on the right track?

Am I feeling all right?

Step 2: It is quite common for you to go to your doctor in the case of psychosomatic symptoms developing during this phase such as claustrophobia, or panic attacks, persistent headaches, palpitation or even stomach problems like diarrhea or ulcers. Your doctor may eventually send you to a mental health specialist who might then put you on medication.

The benefits of anti-depressants notwithstanding, one has to take into account the possible side-effects caused by such medications, especially if the dosage is meant to last for more than just a couple of days. One of the attributes of anti-depressants is to numb the pain brought about by depression, which is absolutely fine by any standard. The problem arises when not only are you numb to the pain but are also incapable of experiencing typical human feelings related to joy and happiness.

Welcome to the ‘zombie’ state!

I recently conducted an interview with leading psychiatrist of Pakistan,  Dr. Muwadat Rana, on the possible side effects caused by medication tailored to counter depression. I asked him the reason he prescribed certain medicines when he knows that each medication possesses side effects that could potentially harm someone. To that, he replied, ‘Why do you step out on the road, knowing you can have an accident at any time?” There are many things that don’t evidently look like they’re good for us but in reality are the best options  we have. A situation such as this can somewhat be equated to a bitter-tasting medicine one has to take as it is the only way to recover from an illness. There are a total of six factors that affect a given situation which also have the potential to improve it. Medication is just one factor. As that is the only one in our hands, hence we try our best to prescribe it to our patients in the hopes of helping them recover.

Medication is indeed one of the factors that can help you get out of depression. However, certain medications are addictive as they instill a feeling of contentment and a sort of reprieve from the pain of depression only upon taking them. There are, however, other ways through which one can escape the blues and get back on track.

For starters, take your life into your own hands. By the way, only you know what the other five factors are; they could most probably be your family members, colleagues at office, and certain habit patterns of your spouse, in-law problems, wanting something that you cannot have or health factors. The point is you can’t deal with anything, until you are your normal self.

Paying attention to the following aspects of your well-being will help enormously:

Physical: Eat well. It is important to have a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and yogurt. Look up the Food Pyramid on the Internet and follow it religiously. Have plenty of water – at least eight glasses daily. It will help remove toxins from your body. Exercises for half-an-hour daily, and for one hour if you are over-weight. The key is to just get up and DO IT. Doing so will really make you feel and look better. Include vitamins in your diet to make up for any lack of nutriition. And take at least one glass of milk daily. Eat foods which have serotonin (the happy chemical) ,  in them like dates, bananas, and other foods. Eat walnuts and almonds every morning along with a teaspoon of honey and seven grains of ‘kalonji’.

Intellectual: Make sure your mind is occupied for most of the time. Healthy activities like reading a nice book or meeting lively people who generate positive energy and make you feel great about yourself are sure to banish the blues for good. The solution to anyone who makes you feel ‘down in the dumps’ is to just dump him or her! Watch movies and dramas you never had time for and simply enjoy them. Listen to good music and inspiring lyrics. All this is bound to lift your spirits. The moment a depressing thought comes, say “stop!” to yourself, get up and don’t let yourself get into that self-pitying and miserable state from the beginning.

Spiritual: Pray five times a day. Recite the Quran daily, read translation too. While reading, be sure to note down any ayats or verses that click or really inspire you.  You will gain special strength from reading the struggles and sacrifices of prophets through the ages. Also, benefit from the many ’duas’ or ‘prayers’ found in different parts. Do this as often as possible and see your life transform. Do meditation by reciting the word “Allah’ for at least five to twenty minutes daily, preferably after every prayer. Abida Peer, a spiritual guide who used to reside in Islamabad, (now she has gone back to South Africa,) advises this practice and claims it to be highly effective in making one’s life better. Align yourself to Allah, as opposed to being focused on only humans and all your troubles will automatically fade away.

Emotional and Social: Do things that make you feel happy, whether it’s eating ice cream, making tasty dishes, inviting friends over or watching movies. Every morning, write, five to ten things that make you feel good about your life. Keep that list in your purse or pocket and read it whenever you feel low. Every night write five things you did well and five things that didn’t go as well as you ‘d hoped. Then note ways to correct them, next day.

Financial: Even experts agree that if your finances are not in order, you just cannot feel happy. So, read up some good books by Suze Orman to help get you on the right track and get on the road to financial independence. Take charge of your finances and of your life from this day onwards. I cannot emphasize this point and its importance enough!

Special solution cards. Take a few chits measuring three inches by two inches. On one side, write down your greatest fear or problem. On the other side, write what you should do to get out of that fearful situation. Do this with all your fears and problems. Now you’ve got it all on paper. You can pick one of these or more and deal with them as you start feeling up to it. Meanwhile, do not take any challenging projects until you are up to it, but keep raising the bar as you start to feel better.

At the end of the day, nothing is worth spoiling your mood so keep smiling!

 

 

The fragrance of life.

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I think we all react. We are made like that. I have laughed so much during last two weekends, going to Abbottabad with friends, and then to Lahore, with college friends it was so much fun. Then, came home to sort out some ‘baggage’ that I’ve been carrying for last few years …. I already started with my blog ‘How we survived….” The rest is almost done now, it will appear very soon in my blog.

Some things are important. But not so important that you lose your own equilibrium. You see, I’m carrying two types of baggage the kilos that I’ve added to my weight, due to not walking enough. And the stuff that life doled out to me.

Both needed my attention lately, because I think I’ve carried them for long enough now.

Yet, I’m excited as I’m starting a new phase in my life. I’m now ‘on call’ in my present job, and not working full time, as before. While the organization is able to cope due to ample staff, I’ve got the time to do stuff that only I can handle in my life.

I think now, that any ‘baggage’ that you carry, should be of your own choice. Not of others…. If you know what I mean.

I’ve already chosen the baggage – I’ll call it-  ‘luggage’  for my life onwards. It is so exciting.  Once it is done, I’ll share it with you all. Hope it will be useful stuff. It is stuff that makes the stuff of life and living on this planet. – The stuff that strengthens you and gives you a reason to live on. The stuff that legacies are made of!

The fragrance of life.

Now you see, there is the rose, and there is the fragrance. There is life (rose), and there is a reason for life (fragrance.)  What would a rose be without its fragrance? For that matter, any flower. I love the narcissus, and they are in full bloom these days. Let me get some just now.

So round up time:

  • Check out baggage. Decide what to do with it. take necessary pleasant and unpleasant steps. Then throw it in the water nearby or if it could be of use to others, then ….  blog it!

Decide luggage for future use now. Start packing!

And thank you so much for reading, in spite of your own busy schedule.  Take care of yourself. You are one of the most important persons in my life – my reader.