Just breathe it out

#89/100

‚ÄúLife is short. We can live it lost in thought or we can choose to be present as life unfolds around us.”

-Headspace

Meditation! I must have ignored this important and extremely powerful habit for a happy mind all my life. I just couldn’t bring myself to stay still at one place and concentrate on my breathing. It made absolutely no sense to me. The biggest misconception that I had in my mind was that meditation was supposed to immediately calm me down and clear my anxious thoughts. That’s not how it works. About 4 years back I encountered a difficult situation at work. I had made a huge error and was petrified of the consequences. I was constantly anxious and my mind didn’t leave any stone upturned to churn out one negative thought after another. There was no respite even at home as my mind continued the negative thought pattern. That’s when I decided to give meditation a shot at calming down my mind. I could see a positive result from barely few days of consistent practice. While the thoughts continued to disrupt my mind, I was slowly learning to acknowledge them and let it go. I didn’t even realize when I did it. My anxiousness subsided eventually when everything got sorted out at work and not one of my negative thoughts manifested into reality.

I stopped practicing meditation the moment situations got better in my life and I technically didn’t ‘need’ it anymore. That’s where I went terribly wrong. Meditation helps in improving our overall physical and emotional well being if practiced daily. I have tried making it a habit few times in the past and failed terribly. In the past, I scheduled my meditation session at a time during the day which made it easier for me to delay it indefinitely. I made a small change in my daily routine to incorporate my meditation session, first thing in the morning. I start my day with a 20 min meditation session every morning and carry on with my daily activities after that. This schedule has worked pretty well for me in the last 12 days and I feel great. I’ve noticed a decrease in my junk food cravings as I am able to not dwell on those thoughts for long. I’m pretty excited to experience the long term benefits of this powerful new habit in my life.

There are various ways to meditate, I personally use a guided mediation application called ‘Headspace’. The techniques shared in the application are easy to follow and the video animations are catchy enough to sustain my attention. In the initial days I had to force myself to sit at once place quietly and meditate. It sure has gotten easier over time and scheduling it first thing in the morning has been extremely beneficial in being consistent at it.

Apart from reducing anxiety, stress and calming the mind, the long term benefits of meditation include better emotional health, an increased sense of self awareness, improved attention span, helps in fighting addictions as well as improved sleep. This habit seems like a long term investment with no immediate rewards but I surely want to continue long enough to reap it’s benefits in the future. Making it a daily habit surely helps in being consistent.

Patience is virtue

#64/100

Do you remember the feeling of complete disbelief you have when you come across any gigantic challenge in life? I’m talking about the tasks that require us to work hard for a very long time before we start seeing any results on it. We are a generation which is used to “instant gratification”. We are absolutely not ready to wait for a long time for our reward. For us hard work and rewards go hand in hand. Technology and the current corporations have utilized this phenomena to their best capacity to bring us applications that cater to the needs of the current generation. Everything is digitalized and available to us at the push of a button. We have the attention span of a goldfish, we need to see visible results for us to continue working on it.

The experience that I am about to share now relates to my struggle to continue working hard while battling the ill effects of this phenomena. The first month of my weight loss journey was extremely hard. I had never seen results with any weight loss method (casual ones) I had applied before. I had zero hope of being successful at this attempt (honest one) as I was trying it out for the very first time. Every single workout session was a challenge. There were so many instances when I questioned my decision of subjecting myself to the pain of exercise. For a person who has never been into any form of physical activity before, working out consistently without seeing any results whatsoever was a battle between the ease of giving up and my resolve to lose weight. It wasn’t just this, I had refrained from eating unhealthy food. That means I had to sacrifice on all the food that excited my taste buds but were unhealthy for my body.

However, I wanted to share this experience because it has been one of the biggest life altering lessons of my life. Though there were times I wanted to give up, I was able to motivate myself to continue working hard. I kept telling myself that the pain won’t last forever, I just have to do this for 3 months (that’s the deadline I had set for myself) and I can give up if I don’t see any results after that. This experience taught me to live in the present. For some reason, I felt that I needed to lose weight in a specific time frame, anything beyond that would be a waste of time. I really don’t understand why I kept chasing time earlier. Working on myself is a life long process, one can’t put a timeline on it. No one will judge us for not doing it before or after a certain time. The best time to start any activity is “NOW” and the best way to be consistent at it is to work on it “one day at a time“. We tend to compare our daily results to the end goal and get disappointed for not being successful at it.

I broke down my goal into monthly targets and celebrated each milestone. My initial goal was to lose over 12 kgs in 3 months. For the first few days I kept checking my weight after every difficult workout session and wanted to give up on not seeing any results (classic mistake!). Then I decided to mark one day each month (milestone) to check my weight and maintain a log of my daily food and exercise schedules. This helped me immensely as I could see gradual progress in my food and workout habits daily and that kept me motivated till my milestone days. On each milestone day, I could see a considerable progress in my weight, body and fitness levels and that just boosted my confidence to next level.

Although my initial reason for my weight loss was for completely aesthetic, healthy eating and workouts have become an integral part of my life. I have become stronger, physically and mentally after consistently working on myself and achieving this goal. This experience has taught me to stay patient and to keep going when things get tough. As they say, “The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart

The next time you have a huge task and keep questioning your abilities to complete it, just remember to be consistent at it, one day at a time.

When I earned my first and only scholarship

#5/100

I’m a chartered accountant by profession. I had cleared my exams way back in 2012. I almost gave up reading for good after studying for these exams. Forget further studies, I was mentally exhausted to even pick up a novel to read.

Cut to 7 years later, I finally wanted to study further, get another professional certificate/degree. I’ve always been an avid reader, I’m curious about the ways in which the world operates. Let me put it out straight, I ain’t a studious person but I do enjoy gaining information. Studying just for the sake of giving exams is probably one of my nightmares!

After researching through various short term courses and certifications, I finally zeroed down on CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). I was fairly sure that I wanted to do this course. However, there was one big glitch. This course was extremely expensive. There are 3 levels to this course, the entry fees to the first level and examination costs was a whopping USD 1,150 (INR 86,000). I am anyways a known procrastinator, the exorbitant fee to this course made me second guess my decision of enrolling for it.

While I was in two minds about opting for this course, my friend told me about a “Women’s scholarship” offered by the CFA institute. Although she told me to not keep my hopes high, there was no harm in trying for it. I just had to answer few questions about why I deserved the scholarship and how the CFA degree would help me in my professional goals. I gave my best to answer the questions, applied for the scholarship and ‘tried’ to forget all about it. I refrained from registering for the exam till I heard about the institute’s decision. I knew I had very slim chances of being awarded the scholarship but somehow I couldn’t let my hope die a silent death.

Every morning I refreshed my mailbox to look for the institute’s reply. This went on for over a month. One such morning, I woke up hazily to a routine weekday. I refreshed my mailbox out of habit and there it was, the institute’s reply!

I got the scholarship! My joy knew no bounds! This was probably the sign I was waiting for. The scholarship waived off the fees to USD 350. I enrolled for the course right away. After experiencing few setbacks, I sometimes had pessimistic reaction to certain situations in life. This scholarship somehow restored my faith in the Universe. It was that positive beam of light that I was struggling to find since a long time.