Saturday, August 25, 2018

My experiments with meditation: Breath

(part 7)
For last 3 years, I am sticking with breath-meditation. I focus my attention on breath. While breathing in, I focus on the sensation of air rushing past my nostrils, filling my lungs, my stomach bulging out a bit. Then I exhale through my mouth and I focus on the pressure of out-breath on my lips. I try not to think about anything else, but I do get distracted most of the days. When I realize that my attention has wandered, I bring the focus back to breath.
I use the website for tracking-time and daily-habit-streak ONLY. I do not listen to voice-guided-meditation/music/chanting any more.
I did get into turbulent times in last 3 years but that did not disturb my meditation streak. It is difficult to conclude whether meditation helped me or was the turbulence not turbulent enough. All my skepticism about meditation-effectiveness still remain. Inspite of the skepticism, I am still continuing with meditation due to following 4 reasons:
  1. Streak addict: My account shows an unbroken streak of 650+ days. I am addicted to this big number and loathe to bring it down to 0.
  2. Feels like game: I miserably fail to hold my attention to breath without a break. Till date I never had a single session without mind taking a stroll of its own. It makes me more determined to log my first day of zero-wandering-meditation.
  3. Pulse-rate-monitor: I am using a fitness band for last 6-7 months. Meditation invariably brings my pulse-rate down to 57-60 range. This is a solid proof as opposed to questionable mental/spiritual benefits. A drop in pulse-rate helps my body.
  4. Blogs/articles: Credible articles and blogs keep popping up regularly detailing benefits of meditation.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Inequality, Paul Graham and Me

Rich getting richer is fine if poor gets richer as well. If rich gets 100x richer and poor gets 5x richer, inequality increases but that is a desirable outcome.
Unfortunately, many of us (especially Bengalis) have an unhealthy anti-rich-pro-poor tendency at heart. We have vilified the rich. We assume that riches are always acquired by unfair-means instead of hard-work and intelligence. This is tragic since enterprising-rich has been the fountainhead of all civilization-advances.
We Bengalis have paid (and still paying) the cost of this hypocrisy with our collective degrading poverty.
Paul Graham has written two beautiful essays (gap and inequality) related to inequality and wealth-creation.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Machines are coming!

I like to believe that AI and robots will create so much food/clothes/homes/gadgets, that cost of living will go down to zero. All of humanity will be able to get every material-need satisfied, freely and effortlessly.

However, humans need something more beyond materialistic-stuffs. We need entertainment, sense-of-purpose, joy-of-overcoming-hurdles. Many a times I curse my daily struggle for the stress it creates. Ironically, the same struggle gives me a sense-of-purpose. It is the same struggle that gives me joy-of-overcoming-hurdles. It is the same struggle that tires me out and primes me up for entertainment and relaxation.

I guess that challenge will be to get these extra-materialistic needs fulfilled when machines are providing us with all our material-needs.

I like to believe that our psychologists and philosophers will find a way out.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My experiments with meditation: Guided voice at

(part 6)
I persisted a while with passage meditation. Then came extremely stressful situation in life. Meditation seemed inconsequential in face of such storm in life. When the stress went away, I felt like resuming meditation once more.
I was very tired and passage meditation seemed more tiresome. Hence I wanted an easy meditation technique. I came across CALM. There was a soothing guided-meditation option on the website. I took to it. It felt good to start meditation again. There was/is a huge scepticism in my mind. Meditation had failed me during my time of stress. I resumed again, due to an innate belief that some time in future, it may still help.

The ease/novelty/feel-good of guided meditation at wore off soon. The same soothing voice, after repetition, started jarring. Some words/expressions seemed vague and meaningless. I continued liking other features of the website like timer and daily-statistic-collection (how many days streak, total time spent in meditation etc). Soon I transitioned to my next meditation technique.

(To be continued)

Monday, December 29, 2014

PK, Aamir-Khan and freedom-of-expression

The Hindus calling for a ban on filming PK are wrong. The people calling for ban are misguided. Freedom of expression has a long way to go in my country. I have written about similar topics earlier here,  here,  here here,  here  and hereI am getting repetitive but so are the troublemakers. The same 'sin' of curtailing freedom is happening in India repeatedly.

Last time I liked watching Aamir was in Dil-Chahta-Hai. Post that, Aamir the actor has became too preachy for my liking. Satayam-Ev-Jayate is brilliant in parts but Aamir's presentation always sucks. His tears look yuck, his shocked-expressions look yuck.
I am disturbed by the hypocrisy of Indian media in depicting religious insanity. Everybody shoots by keeping the gun on Hindus' shoulders. It is always Hindus who are superstitious. It is always Hindu god-men who are lecherous. Bengali media is more guilty of such one sided depictions. As a Bengali-Hindu I feel extremely angry about it. Such hypocrisy arises primarily out of fear. Many muslims react violently if their faith is criticized and hence the media takes an easy cowardly way out.
I feel happy that many Hindus take the jibes against their faith constructively. Hinduism is a work in progress like any human endeavor and I feel good about it. I feel irritated when some Hindus take the violent way out. I have not watched PK because of my distaste of Aamir Khan. I also feel irritated on seeing a one-sided-bias against Hindus. HOWEVER, I will never burn PK posters or ask for a ban on the movie. I will request the folks gunning for PK ban to see the light of reason and stand back. Do not watch PK if you do not want to but please do not stop those who want to.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Black money, Real estate AND Us

I believe that black money (significant part if not most of it) is present within Indian boundary and is not languishing at foreign coasts. This article at sums it up nicely.
Many Indians have shown their willingness to curb corruption over past 2-3 years. In the same spirit, I recommend minimizing real estate transactions, in our own life, till a cleanup happens in real-estate sector. This will involve minimal individual pain. If many of us do this, we can effectively curb a big chunk of black-economy.
How to minimize real-estate-transactions in one's life?
Buy only one house in which you want to live. Do not buy house for investment purpose. There are sound financial rationale against real-estate-investments anyway. Rooting out corruption/black-money is an added kicker against real-estate-as-investment philosophy.
If you are facing black-money (read compulsary cash transaction) menace while buying first house itself, do the following:

  1. If you are buying a house from builder, there is minimal to zero black money involved in the transaction. If the builder insists on cash, find another builder.
  2. If you are buying second/third hand from an individual, refuse to pay cash. Move to another seller or a builder.
  3. If neither method works, stay put in rented accommodation. If you are really consumed by the fire to root out corruption, is it too much of a pain to stay rented? Is it too much of a sacrifice?

What if you are a seller and buyer insists on cash?
If you have bought only one house for your own consumption there is no question of selling it. Unless, you are forced to move out of the city permanently. If your move-out is temporary, say for job compulsions, then you must have an intention to return to your city in future. In that case, rent out your own house and remain a tenant in the new city.
If the house you want to sell is your second/third/fourth(read investment) house, then buyer indeed holds power on you. That is why I recommend not to use real-estate as investment.

I believe if many of us minimize personal-real-estate-investment, the industry and government departments will correct its ways. The proverbial-black money will then be forced to find out other avenues. Is it not a worthwhile crusade?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

My experiments with meditation: Eknath easwaran and passage-meditation

(part 5)
One of my seniors from engineering college introduced me to writings of Eknath Easwaran. I first read 'Take your time' by Easwaran. I was immensely impressed. Easwaran detailed a technique called passage-meditation. Easwaran used a beautiful writing style along with compelling similes. I will spoil your experience if I try to paraphrase Easwaran in my words.
In summary, the meditation technique consists of memorizing a 'holy' passage and reciting it during the meditation session in your mind. If you reach the end of the passage, you start from the beginning. In case the thoughts wander away from the passage, it needs to be brought back to the start of the passage.
I took a liking to passage meditation as it came from an authority figure. I felt the security of numbers while picking up this technique. I also took the opportunity to memorize shlok from Bhagvad-Gita and brush up my Sanskrit (which I had studied for 4-5 years in high school). It was fun.

(To be continued)