Book Review: Open – Eyed Meditations (#bookreview)

Book Cover: Open - Eyed Meditations by Shubha Vilas

Book Cover: Open – Eyed Meditations by Shubha Vilas

Book Details:

Name: Open – Eyed Meditations

Author: Shubha Vilas

Genre: Self-Help/Lifestyle/Motivational

Publisher: FingerPrint Belief Publishing

Publication Year: 2016

Number of pages: 280

Price: 250 INR

My rating: 4/5

The Storyline

“Open – Eyed Meditations is a beautiful compilation of thoughts wherein each meditation takes you on a journey to the past, bringing a secret herb to heal a problem of the present.”

A true distillation of ancient wisdom tips for modern lives, this unique self-help book uses the wisdom of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to solve our everyday problems.
Beyond the storyline, something deeper is waiting to be discovered from these ancient texts. This book is an attempt to uncover the hidden layer of wealth that is cleverly packaged within the commonly known storylines.

What worked for Me (Woohoo!):

“Analysis leads to action, over-analysis leads to paralysis.” – One of my favourite lines from the book.

The first thing that got my attention when I received the autographed book, was the title of the book, “Open – Eyed Meditations”. All our lives, our minds have been conditioned into thinking that meditations must be done with our eyes closed, so that we can achieve the clarity in our thought processes and the peace that is so precious a commodity in the chaotic lives of ours. So when my eyes landed on the “open-eyed”-ness of meditations and then went on to read the rationale presented by the author, it literally did make my eyes open! The argument provided by the author is that, meditations need not be necessarily close-eyed, but rather open-eyed, so that we can observe and analyse the events going around us and embrace the lessons provided by the various teachers in our lives. Interesting, ain’t it?

Consisting of 64 chapters dealing with almost all questions of our lives, it gives a detailed examination of the queries that we all have at some point of our life, have tried to address but may not have found the correct outlet. This book tries to answer that all, with an interesting but delectable twist. Replete with suitable instances from Ramayana and Mahabharata, it provides so much of new information hitherto personally unknown along-with the philosophy, that it automatically sets this book apart from all other self-help books.

What did not work (Ouch!):

Despite the fact that this book is definitely one kind of a gem, there is one particular dissatisfactory element that I’d like to follow up with this review. I realise that in an attempt to make every chapter contain in its entirety both the philosophy and the examples from Ramayana & Mahabharata suitably aligned with it, the chapters naturally get loaded with heavy meanings. But that in itself, sometimes acted as a turn-off for reading the book. Personally, I couldn’t sit with the book for more than 1-2 hours of a day, as anything more than that was proving to be quite straining for the mind. I’ll be returning to this book time and again, sure, but I’d like to beware the readers who are looking for a quick read of the book, that this book won’t be easy.

Drum-roll: Overall Verdict

For readers who are looking to have a go at living yet again, this time maybe with a renewed philosophy full of quiet vigour, then this is the book for them. For readers who are looking for an easy quick read, this is not the book for you.

Personally, I don’t shy away from reading or being seen reading self-help books, but because some people do, for them, I’d like to suggest them to pick up this book as a philosophy book and not see it just as a self-help book. This book is as much philosophy as much motivation for a new lifestyle.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program  for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

 

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Coffee Talkies 2.0 #3 – Mumbo…Jumbo…Limbo!

Happy New Year!
Erm, too late to wish, is it? Yeah, I know it is the end of the first month of this year already but hey, that’s the way of going on with your first post of the new year, okay? *sticks her chin out, grinning*

So, the new year started with a lot of resolutions from this end, 17 to be precise (yes, you read that correct!) and hence naturally there was a lot of pressure to adhere to it mentally, given the fact that I like sticking to whatever has been decided, particularly resolutions. Some of them I’ve been doing religiously and I wanna talk about them a bit, first. But before that, did you know I’ve changed my entire look for this new year? Ah huh! I’ve went short hairstyle this year and I tell you, the way my whole demeanor has changed alongwith the attitude! It’s almost as if I’d been waiting for this Me all along. More so, because you know, short hair is really a lifestyle. A lifestyle, I believe, would be staying this whole year.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Okay, so the first thing I’ve started doing rigorously (or at least tried to) is going for running everyday. How many kilometers I’m clocking ain’t or will not be mattering much to me in this initial stage, given that I do the walking as well. So it’s basically 2K run and 2K walking. Given that I’m an amateur at this and yeah okay, I’m a bit fat too (everyone around me would disagree, sure but hey, I consider myself way too fat than I should technically be) and thus, all of this & that adds up to my inability to push more than 2K everyday. Lately, I have been skipping running and been hogging way too much food than I should be (that too fat-rich ones, I tell you) and I know for sure, there’s a special place in hell for people like Me who whine about being fat and not losing calories and then eating the food of probably twice her size! But there’s a reason why I’ve been hogging food like anything in January and partly to blame for this, is my University. Surprise!

Me! Me! Me!

Me! Me! Me!

For my university, the well-reputed Presidency University held its 200 year celebrations this January and we had been provided with excellent food for at least three days! But then, I would have eventually come to this point of talking about celebrations because well, there are some times when you feel really proud of where you belong to and this was just that. Getting to hear in person so many acknowledged, reputed people like Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak (she was totally fire on stage!), Nobel Prize winners like Amartya Sen, Muhammad Yunus, Jean Tirole and many, many more literally had me in goosebumps! Visit by the President Pranab Mukherjee and former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had only been the icing on the cake.

This had been immediately followed by the Kolkata Literary Meet and holy cow, the line-up this time! Got to meet again so many personalities this time around, some of them being Ruskin Bond, Paul Beatty, P. Chidambaram, Sunil Gavaskar, Shashi Tharoor & Kanishk Tharoor, Rishi Kapoor, Javed Akhtar, William Dalrymple, Ashwin Sanghi, Ashley Judd, Abhinav Bindra and so many more! (Actually, these are the ones I could remember right at this moment, the ones I didn’t mention have slipped up from my mind, sorry!) So you see, it has been some great few weeks spent!

At the Meet and Draw. Photo Courtesy: Anumita Ghosh

At the Meet and Draw.
Photo Courtesy: Anumita Ghosh

Coming back to hobbies again, I have checked another item off the resolutions list, by cultivating a new hobby of comic doodling and ending up attending the first Meet and Draw held here in Kolkata, which saw a handful of extremely good artists turn up. I’ve seldom been this inspired than watching their work come to life so casually and yet lively. Unfortunately, I simply haven’t been getting much time to go back to that, due to stressful academic schedule. I can only hope to go back to that as soon as I can.

The good thing(s) of this month has been that, so far I’ve been able to balance both reading books and watching movies. Till the year that has gone by, I had been extremely irregular with watching movies, being more interested in books as usual. However, this new year, I’ve been doing both, though initially I did have to face difficulties like when I started to find movies far more worthwhile of time than investing time in reading an entire book of around 200-300 pages, something which had never happened before with me, this mentality. But then, given that my Goodreads reading challenge of this year is 40 books, and I’ve already finished 10 books in the very first month of the year (all standalone books, mind you and not series, where I can pass off saying I’ve read 5 books, when all I’ve read is just one series. Hah!), so that must be saying something about my reading streak, anyway. I can only hope to continue in this manner.

The only problems that I’ve faced and will be plaguing me for the next 4 months, at least is two-fold. Firstly, trying to maintain the balance between running, storybook-reading, academic-studying and movie-watching. It’s like, I cannot stay up late watching movies because then I won’t be able to wake up early for running (largely the reason why I’ve been missing a couple of days’ running, damn it!). I cannot read story books if I only watch movies. And academia has been giving me a whole different lot of stress. I’ve been stuck in a limbo with my dissertation being mentored by the most brilliant but difficult to the nth degree professor. He has so far rejected 3/4 drafts of my dissertation and he’ll be leaving for the entire month of February and I have my graduate seminar in the second week of March. Hence, for the first time in my 5 years of the university, my academic life lies in absolute tatters.

And thus, as you can very well see, I’ve been trying to hold up just barely there and that’s actually because I’m trying to do too many things at the same time. Or to be precise, I’m trying way too hard to get real busy being a perfectionist. Sigh.
Won’t ask apologies for the long post, because by now, you already know I write ’em this long!

P.S Did you see there was no reference or mention of emotions or feelings in this entire post? How was that even possible!? Was that even Me?! Maybe, new year did bring in a change, after all! *winks*

See you next month? Happy living!

2016 – The Year That Was

Picture Source: Pinterest

Picture Source: Pinterest

I love writing these year-roundabout posts. They make me look back at all that has happened this one year, rehash all the lessons learnt and be prepared for the year that’s coming. I remember reading last year’s roundabout post and all I could exclaim was, oh such a sweet summer child was I! Because that girl and this girl is just so much different, courtesy this past one year. 2016 has been one hell of a year, being officially the worst year of my Life till date. Everything I had ever loved and believed in, changed. People I’ve loved and lived for, left, betrayed and you can go ahead to fill in all the worst adjectives you can find, even then you wouldn’t be able to gauge the enormity of the damage that has been caused inside of Me. And yet, here I am, having survived it all.

2016 had begun with promises, with a constant worry in my head that the happy bubble would however soon burst. And burst it did, oh-so-badly. In fact, the worst nightmare of mine came true, when He left Me, this city for another city. The person who had come to define my life, had left me groping to come to terms to living alone, that too so suddenly and too early. It took me almost a year to get over him, and even now, I cannot say with 100% conviction that my heart doesn’t miss Him. But He sure taught me how to save and survive by myself against all odds, when I’d thought I wouldn’t be able to. Most importantly, this time, the Savior was none but Me myself. That would be one of the most important lessons he taught Me, when He left. Yet, I’d probably hold this grudge against him all my life, that he’d butchered the innocent girl that was Me, giving rise to a woman who no longer feared losing anything. That again however, was just a start to the tunnel that only spiralled downwards to losing so-called friends that had been the only gang of mine. Then had begun the web of trust, betrayal, disappointments and oh my, the amounts in which they were raining! I tell you, when people you thought to be your closest, reveal their ugly faces behind those social masks they wear, leaving aside the fact that they are not just horrific, but they even make you cringe thinking that you had actually wasted a huge chunk of your time behind them! That you had once given ’em a piece of your heart, only to have it stomped over, by them. But in hindsight, they were some great lessons learnt and now I can safely say, that there’s nothing that I haven’t been tried on. No one and absolutely nothing, no matter how bewildering the events might be, can surprise Me now. Been there, know that, Sir! Besides, given the peaceful person I’ve turned into, I’ve left it upon Karma to deal with them. Let Karma make its hands bloody, while I rest in peace!

This had however led to the first trips of mine, of this year. First one with the family, the second one for the family. The beach family outing had been amazing, full of fun and given my fondness for the seas and waves, they had given me constructive mental support to face head on, the problems that were going on in my life then. It had, in fact, steeled me for Varanasi. The Varanasi, with its conditions of keeping anonymity from the world, of being alone fighting it out for yourself and your family, and most importantly, making you realize the importance of Time, had changed me inside out. I no longer cared for anyone except myself. In fact, it had made me realize the value of family and that I’d say would be the most important good thing that came out of moving away from the gang of my friends. After the debacle, I have become so close to my family *touchwood* that there’s little that they don’t know about my Life and that actually makes me feel so contented. Varanasi taught me that and that, there must be space for nothing in my life except thinking of how to make my life more substantive.

So began the last year of my Masters as well and that thankfully didn’t give me scope to think about anything else than studies, which were so stressful and occupying every single moment of my life. Then came THE trip of my life, the first solo trip of mine which had been very bumpy at first, but went ahead to check off one item of the bucket list. From losing my purse along-with my college ID (totally caps my officially worst year, thank you 2016) to staying over at my bestie’s amazing place, from my appetite going worryingly down to watching the whole town stay quietly lit up at night during Christmas. From video calls of family to watching the galaxy of stars at 4 am, from surviving on only Chowmein for a week to travelling through a cloud storm, it made me grow my attitude back and went on to teach me yet another trip-lesson of my Life. If Beach had taught Me to think of ways to make Life more constructive than waste time over trivial matters or people, Hills taught Me to be selfish. To not give a damn about anything or anyone, than thinking about only myself. And that was just what I needed before the end of this year.

I’m not keeping any expectations out of 2017, that it’ll finally bring in everything that I need the most in my Life. In fact, I’ll keep doing what I’ve learnt this year: Keep surviving it. Prepared or not, 2017 can definitely expect some tough resistance outta Me against all kinds of obstacles and challenges, for I’m not going to give an inch without fighting. You must have already noticed that unlike the previous year, I didn’t mention the good things that happened this year. Lets just say that, they were bare minimum and the little I got, I don’t wanna jinx it up too. Also, unlike 2016, I’m going to draw up a resolutions list for 2017, because I’ve realized, I like being busy. I’m not gonna waste my time after any future scumbags or trivial matters, because my mission now is grooming the one I see in the mirror, into one of the best person out there, so that I can one day look up to myself and be really proud of myself. Now, it’s not about being worth of anyone, it’s about being really worth of the standards that I’ve set for myself. That’s the mantra now, because really YOLO.

2016 has been officially the worst year, sure. But it shall remain the year I’ll never forget. For breaking and remaking Me.

Happy New Year, everyone. May The Forces be with Us, this new year. May We ourselves, become The Force.

Coffee Talkies 2.0 #2 – Epiphany(s)

Picture Source: Pinterest

Picture Source: Pinterest

Sometimes, it’s been such a long time since you wrote anything about yourself or your life that, when you do set about having a go at it, it feels strange. Yeah, it feels strange that here I am, sipping coffee and actually getting to think about how everything is getting around in my life and not having my mind clogged with the studies’ plague. For once, it feels liberating. For once, it feels like home.

Now enough with the introduction and let’s straight headlong into what I’m here for. In fact, that’s exactly how I am now: Straight to the point, no beating around the bush. And today I’m here to talk about the major headlines, no, lessons that happened in my life these last 11 months of the year 2016. Two things to be cleared first: 1.  I think it’s gonna be a bit long post. So bear with me, please? 2.  I’m not gonna say “gosh, it’s 11 months already!” Because I’m glad it’s gonna be over. 2016 has been officially one of the worst years I ever had. Period. Now with that cleared, here goes my lessons. I have learnt that:

–  Dreams aren’t true. Sure, they occur and we consider ourselves lucky to have achieved, that whole dreams-coming-true thingy but they are dreams only because we gave them that position. I’ve decided to call them benchmarks from now. One bench crossed; walk, run, stumble, fall whatever is required, to your next bench. Dreams are cliché. Because they’re unreal and…. it hurts like hell when you see them breaking.
–  There’s nothing called settled life. It itself is a contradiction because absolutely nothing in life is permanent. Not your closed ones, not your friends. They constantly change with times, even if you don’t and it doesn’t matter if you don’t change and don’t want others to change, because life is just that. You just cannot let things run according to your own course. Accept it and move on.
–  Take the challenges like a proud pilot when the winds flow wild. Like literally. No matter how heart-breaking, disbelievingly shocking the events might be, face it and you’ll know forever that you’d been courageous. That goes a long way, really.
–  Sometimes it’s okay to have setbacks. In fact, I’d say it’s necessary to have ’em coming because that makes you learn the lessons the hard way. And if the setbacks are personal and yet you’re surviving it like a professional, pilot salute little wolf!
–  It’s always okay to love and not get loved back in return the way you wanted it. In fact, even in cases when your love is not appreciated or recognized and you’re hugely disappointed. Know that you had loved and it takes a lot to love. You’re far more greater than the other person. You’re way more courageous than the other person. And most importantly, you might love someone, sure, but at the very first list is You. If you love yourself, you literally need no one’s love.
–  That it’s okay to still have the box called feelings, get opened sometimes. That it’s totally fine to have ‘crushes’ and get psyched about talking with them. That’s being human!!
– That it doesn’t matter if you don’t have many, like, 30-40 friends to boast or roam about. I mean, really who cares!? If you got the back of your family and that 1-2 friends whom you can call up and rant, vent your heart out, that’s really enough. I’m happy for myself when I say, that this year I came close to my family, thanks to losing out on some of my friends and I really, actually don’t regret any single bit of it. In fact, I’m glad life called out on some of them. Saved me a whole lotta time getting over them in the future!!
–  At last, but definitely not the least, it’s okay to be imperfect. To have flaws and have the courage to accept it. To be human and most importantly, be myself no matter how crazy that might be! I am Me and I do not regret one single bit.

I could have harped on more, but my coffee has ran out and I refuse to write anything without coffee! *cheeky smile* Okay, no the post is already long enough and I need to save some for the December roundabout post. But before I leave…. Always remember the best is yet to come. Always.

Have hope in the darkest of times. Because you’re all that you have and you better make the best deal of it!

LEAVING YOU – #1

Picture Source: Pinterest

Picture Source: Pinterest

She thought of ways.
There must be some to sort out the mess.
The distance and the time didn’t matter,
She firmly believed.

She loved Him always,
And Time really wasn’t anything.
It was only His silence and lack of effort on his part,
That made Her realise,

No ways of the world can make someone feel.

Not at least what She still felt,
And He too had felt,

Once upon a time.

MISSING YOU – 4

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

She missed writing.
She missed writing poems,
To bleed her heart out into them.

She missed writing stories,
To create perfect lives unlike Hers.
She saw no point writing them anymore, you see.

Everything was an illusion, after all.
Emotions were nothing,
But only keepsakes, meant to be locked.

Lives can be anything but perfect.
No story can have any happy ending.
Only surviving and breathing.

MISSING YOU – 3

Picture Source: Internet

Picture Source: Internet

I miss Him when I walk,
On the streets we had treaded on.

I miss Him when I eat,
At the restaurants we ate at.

I miss Him when I hear a song,
Songs which appealed to him and which did not.

I miss Him when I’m happy,
His sadness used to dilute my happiness once.

I miss Him when I’m sad,
His absence making its presence felt.

For He is a part of Me,
I miss him as I miss Me.