LISTENING – PIVOTAL FOR MENTAL HEALTH


Few days back I got a call from my friend. She sounded very sad and broken. Her tone was that of melancholy. When I enquired her “what’s the matter?” She broke as she discussed about her friends being mean to her and there’s lot more that I surely can’t reveal here. She confided to me as she trusted me as a strong shoulder to lean on when she felt feeble. For me (personally) the matters that she discussed seemed to be something that don’t need so much of her introspection or something that couldn’t or shouldn’t affect a person to the extent of breaking them down. But again I want to reiterate that this is my opinion and we are two different individuals. Hence, a matter which is of no to little importance to me is an issue that is demanding and holding her attention strongly.

This is just one excerpt from my life. Different individuals, different perceptions, different view points and different everything.  And this “difference” plays a crucial role in determining “Mental Health” of a person.

What is Mental Health? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others.”

Mental Health is a very complex issue and very vaguely discussed or altogether omitted from discussion. Apparently the association of word “Mental” with “Health” got huge misconceptions (sadly 😔).  And hence it is something not spoken about often. If a calm, stable, content mind represents a good state of mental health then an impulsive, gloomy, often moody, pessimistic state of mind is a sign that it needs treatment. But again not much attention is heeded towards the warning bells, often brushed under the carpet with words like “Everything will be fine in a while“, ” it’s his/her habit, leave alone“, “ I am busy enough, don’t bother me“. And this paves way to chronic issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, acute stress, different addictions and so on.

What’s the problem and the solution? Ironically the problem and the solution is same in this context of mental health issues. It is Listening. Let me clarify with a petty imaginary, futuristic and hypothetical example – My daughter comes to me and starts narrating about her day at school. She tells me about a student who hits her, teases her everyday. But as I am busy with my daily chores show no particular interest in her words and laugh it off calling it play and this upsets my daughter. And over a period of time as she continuously takes a notice of disinterest from my end stops opening up herself to me. And the tension of suppressed emotions pile up in her that could possibly deteriorate her mental health and drive towards depression as she have no one to confide to. So all the way I was only “Hearing” but not “Listening”. The issue which seemed to be inconsequential or immaterial to me holds priority in her life. So without being judgemental as every individual got a different emotional quotient and perspective I should have listened to her. And only when I listen to her with all the intent, I can guide her better. So the problem which arises out of “not listening” finds a solution when one finds a “listening ear with all the heart in place“. In fact, listening is a counsellor’s first step in his or her algorithm of treatment, isn’t it? Just as a doctor needs to listen to the symptoms before prescribing a medicine, an engineer needs to listen to the needs of the client before designing something, a counsellor listens to the turmoil a person with mental disturbances undergoes before suggesting a way out. And in turn the person in question also needs to listen. It’s a two way traffic.

“Mental illness is not a personal failure. In fact, if there is failure, it is to be found in the way we have responded to people with mental and brain disorders,” said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, on releasing the World Health Report.  

When we teach “sharing is caring”  to our kids we should mean it. It’s not just about the material or tangible things. It exceeds that. We should strive constantly to set up a two way communication process (charity begins at home) where in we don’t shy away from bearing our hearts to our near and dear ones (at least one person) as well let others reach us out . Our emotions need an outlet – be it apprehensions, our views, likes – dislikes, experiences – everything.  Sharing via speaking up and listening is what galvanises many things at one go – a person, relationships, a home and society.  When I know there’s someone to listen without judging me I won’t let the frustration pent up inside me. That could go a long way in sanitising me against mental illnesses, period!

Remember:  you want to share something,  I am listening to you 😊.

DD Era Was The Most Peaceful One


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How I wish I could have finished writing this piece way before than the elections entering the last phase.  But better late than never you see 😊.  Well to begin with one of the highlighted line doing rounds these days in my homeland “Tanav bahut hai kyunki desh mein chunav hai“.  It means “There’s lot of tension because we have elections in the country”.  And this is not just a random sarcastic line but a mirror to the current atmosphere of the country.  The biggest festival of the biggest democratic country is about to end in just two days – Elections are about to come to an end on 19/05/2019 and results will be out on 23/05/2019 sealing fates of many, in fact everyone – the representatives, the voters & the nation.  And I know how badly I missed my opportunity to cast a vote 😔. 

I can say by far the most polarised elections we are experiencing are these.  With two major national political parties pitted (is it the right word?) against each other and regional parties playing the sidekicks the situation is you can be in either of the court. Having a moderate view is a rare sight in this particular election season of 2019.  Every citizen is trying to present the candidate they favour in a good light while exposing the true face of the opposition (based on facts, figures that they believe in) and defending the case of their favourite leaders is a self employment that they have taken up.  A full-fledged war of memes, trolls, abuses, lengthy arguments has blown out.  And I confess unapologetically that me too is a part of those discussions for I have my own reservations (I religiously follow courtesy of language though😁).  More I watch, more I read, more skewed my inclinations are becoming and more I am participating in arguments which is highly unlike me.

As I was wondering how can I be so involved in political discussions:

Since the introduction of social media people are having more avenues to information to aid the build up of their views and hence paving a way to decision-making. And there’s a plethora of channels, pages, sites feeding the demand ( in fact creating the same) of having information. And the sad part is that most (not all) of them are biased serving varied interests of their investors and misguiding the voter being one such interest.  And ironically the “Original” Media which is referred as the Fourth Pillar Of Democracy is too involved in the game of taking sides to create news (read sensation) for their respective agendas of TRPs and readership, create divide, suppressing the truth which means either misquoting/ misrepresentation of the situation or a complete omission altogether.  Yes, it is the truth of the hour.  Morality and integrity of journalism has taken a nose dive.  The picture that is being painted of the country at this moment is that it is burning, everyone is everyone’s enemy, nothing is right, nothing is bright, we are being robbed and are heading towards a dead-end, period! 

I understand that like every country our country has its own set of problems. For a nation as big as ours with its social fabric interwoven with rich ethnicities, varied languages, different religions, altercations among citizens here and there is pretty common and many a times unavoidable.  Many communal riots on our soil speak for themselves.  But the beauty is that we were always back with more strength. We are not called Secular without a reason.

Unfortunately the type of journalism that is happening today is giving an impression to the rest of the world that India is all about communal tensions. Omission of facts from past, repetition of recitals of selected few unfortunate incidents, branding of victims and culprits as per convenience or complete silence on matters that don’t fetch business is particularly what the media is into.  Here only the numbers and competition matters.  To cut it short – Media today is biased. The 24×7 nature of news channels is only doing harm by prompting to generate news instead of reporting the same.

I have to sadly admit to the fact that our politicians (most of them) irrespective of the party they belong to are scrupulous.  Dividing people based on caste and religious lines and doing politics of appeasement is something we are witnessing since a long time. But now they have media too joining the party in its own way leading to the same destination.

I was just pondering over one thought.  What if I was growing up in this age of social media and N number of television  channels fighting for the cake of TRP?  Wouldn’t I have succumbed to what I was shown day in and day out  mentally? Would I have enjoyed the beautiful amalgamation of cultures in my growing up years as I did as a person who was born during the DD (Doordarshan – the national television channel supported by government) Era. It was all straight forward news with no drama and hype. People were informed back then as well even in the absence of heated debates where no one listens to no one and reaching on no conclusion staged only to fill in a slot.  So many elections passed but never saw people fighting  to defend the candidates they support (to be precise abusing others). I wonder how secular I would have been if I was not a DD era person 😁😁.  It was the most peaceful era I guess 😂😂. 

Disclaimer:  To all my friends and family members with whom I had a discussion or disagreement on candidates and politics, I want to politely remind that I am the same old person as they always knew me.  These elections shouldn’t and won’t change our equation and relations. For elections are five yearly but bonds are forever ❤❤.

 

 

DOWN YET NOT OUT


Candles Online

Struck by the Storm and a log in my eye,

I am blinded and oblivious to the world around.

My eyes are shut closely with darkness surrounding by leaps and bounds.

I am confined to a corner petrified by fear,

I fear movement lest I would stumble down.

But the Storm did die leaving behind a dreadful silence.

Screaming at me a voice from within “Till how long?”,

“Till how long you will hide from life when you don’t know when the death would arrive?”

I was stubborn enough to not to answer,

But soon sun rays did knock my eyelids urging me to listen and care enough to answer and I had to.

I was struggling to open my eyes to let the light drive away the darkness of ignorance.

Log was gone but pain still reckoning, tears still rolling down leaving behind a burning trail.

But the struggle…

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NEVER BEEN IN THIS MUCH LOVE WITH ANYONE


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Important Disclaimer: This is original work (not a copy, Geet I am sorry but we have some common interests 😉)

There are two places in my home where you will generally find me – Kitchen and Bedroom, depending on what day of the week and time of the day it is.  From Tuesday to Sunday I am predominantly in or around the kitchen.  Chores in the kitchen are of the visicious circle in nature especially when kids and hubby are around. I think I need not go into details of how and why. Ladies will get that easily and for gentlemen, ladies please do me a favour and explain this to your counterparts 😁. My relationship with my kitchen is ambiguous for I love to be there when a new dish or desserts are on my mind and I want the resulting dish to be savoured and relished with utmost…

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RESPECT HUNGER


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This is one of my favourite dialogue from an old Telugu movie “I respect hunger very much“.  That was touching.  Just as sunlight shines upon everyone, water quenches the thirst of every soul, air is life to everyone, hunger knows no distinguish.  It is the same for rich, for the poor; for human beings and for animals.   And hunger is one of the driving force that could make people choose extremes. A highly qualified graduate takes up the job of an ordinary salesperson wandering from door to door in the scorching heat because he has mouths to feed at home and he simply can’t afford to let them go hungry.  A woman (not referring to well-educated ones who want to lead a life of luxury) forays into flesh trade because hunger is hounding her and her kin.  A farmer commits suicide because he found death to be an easy…

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OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR INDULGENCES


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One day while loitering down the aisle of the super market and picking up requisite things for school picnic I brought a pack of biscuits for myself for tea time. I went home and opened the pack to taste few and was bowled over by the taste and rest is history! I can’t restrain myself from packing up my tummy with more and more of them, just as meals and in fact before, after and in between the meals.  My tongue took control of my heart and in turn, my hand that used to open the shelves every half an hour (a little exaggeration 😉). A pack of 40+ biscuits lasted barely for three days. And one more pack was already ordered for next week and it lasted nothing longer than the previous one.  The pace with which wrappers were going to the dust bin sent alarm bells for me. …

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BEAR WITH ME, MY DEAR PAN


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“Lunch is cooked, I can relax now. When kids arrive I will feed them this” and I am lost in my thoughts and get busy with other stuff (preferably and most often I doze off in such situations, 🤫 it’s a secret).  When kids arrive the drama starts to unfold. My son who just started communicating in petty words puts across a demand.  With a potato in his hand, he starts pointing out at the flour and says “Puri, Puri” (Indian bread deep-fried) as potato curry makes a great combination with this bread and he being a foodie knows his combinations very well. I tried to dodge him, tried to appease him with other options available but he wouldn’t budge.  And that puts me off big time. I have to oblige anyway because I can’t let him go hungry.  And here starts a tussle between my laziness and…

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Dimensions Of Freedom


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What’s Freedom? Probably not setting up the alarm in the night and not worrying about the clock ticking in the morning; stuffing up your favourite dishes without giving a damn to calories or pounds; spending without having to think twice about the bank balance and so on. But these things are too trivial, in fact insignificant to define a deep and profound concept of “Freedom”.

Freedom is a subjective concept with varied dimensions – physical, emotional, spiritual.

We are all born free and moving in this world freely. That’s the physical dimension of freedom we are talking about.  The era of slavery is gone so physical bondage is done away with.  This is superficial in every possible sense we can think of because that’s not absolute. At every step we are bound by many restrictions by the rules and laws framed by family, society, authorities. And since human is a social animal he is invariably bound by these boundaries.  And when those rules are surpassed there is a possibility that you even lose your Physical Freedom, we call that “Prison“.

Talking about the second dimension – Emotional. When we talk about this facet of Freedom the radius sizes down from society to family (talking on micro level).  Let me give you an example from our own lives (includes me as well):  a mother is emotionally bound by her children, her decisions are never “free” of care/fear for them; a husband always puts the future of his family first to take decisions, seldom  he would put his “free” will, albeit he would endanger their secured future; a wife gives her family’s (read in-laws 😂) wishes the first preference. The list goes on. One important question here: Are Emotions A Bondage? Definitely they are.  Our emotional connect drives us to take decisions we make, an out-and-out direct correlation.  A petty example from our history (a piece from Ramayana), sage Valmiki, who wrote the epic Ramayana was once a dacoit before he had his enlightenment, looting people of their valuables and reason driving his actions was his love and responsibility towards his family and he could only think of this way to feed them.  The moment we break from the shackles of emotions we breathe free, putting ourselves in our own focus – plain but hard truth.

 Note: irresponsible people / rebels are also emotionally free ironically.

Coming to the top of the pyramid of freedom, Spiritual Freedom. This is a heavyweight word, let me replace that with “Real” freedom.  This is that state of mind when happiness or sorrow have equal to negligent to no effect on us, the ability to see things without being judgemental because judgements evoke emotions and emotions do bound us.  We can safely say that the journey towards real freedom commences if one is able to break free, cut loose from emotional attachments.  It’s a prerequisite put simply.  As I mentioned that once our emotional quotient for others take a back seat, “I, ME, MY, MYSELF ”  are in driver’s seat.  There’s always an impending danger that we are self-absorbed and deviate from the path leading to the freedom.  Meditation, regular self introspection, prayers (if one is not atheist), righteous (not just good) company helps a person clamp back on the right path leading to salvation, where mind if free from Fear of any sort.

What Fears I am talking about:  When we are emotionally engaged with someone or something we are bogged down by various emotional facets like love, anger, sadness, greed, jealousy, ego. We are entrapped in a constant fear of “Losing” – losing friends,  losing family, losing property, losing wealth, losing position and finally the fear of losing life ensues.  This fear of losing is so powerful that we are not noticing that we are actually on a losing spree.  Our virtues – the ability to speak out the truth, the benevolence to give, the courage to accept, the integrity,  the purity of conscience – we have been losing them for so long that they are almost extinct now.  

March towards freedom isn’t easy. It demands great perseverance and determination.  For people like us who are greatly driven by our emotions and materialism its difficult to get a foothold on this path. But nevertheless we can start with baby steps like:

  • Stay away from gossip mongers and gossiping.  Gossip serves no one except for maligning the atmosphere.
  • Listen and read to a great extent about what is righteous and spiritual.  Nothing to do with the religion.
  • Meditate more (you can meditate in own your way), speak less yet sensitive.
  • Learn to appreciate what you have.
  • Learn to forgive ( most difficult and important).

 

Let’s embark on this journey and embrace the Real Freedom.

PS: Meditate Your Way

Types People On Youtube


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I don’t watch serials, those heavy make ups, constant conspiracies and over the top acting is not my cup of tea. I don’t watch reality shows either because nothing is real about them to be true and the jarring suspense music to reveal the eliminations or winners is a big let down. But anyways who cares about people like me 😁. To put it simple and straight, apart from few good movies to catch up and my favourite Mahabharata (Indian mythological drama) idiot box in my home doesn’t serve much.

So where do I get my daily dose of entertainment from, but obvious YouTube. I binge on YouTube. I don’t stick to a particular genre, taste changes according to my mood, mood in the family and mood of the country 😂.  But the interesting part is that more than the videos I have kind of fetish to read the comments ensuing the video.  The kind of comments I find there tells a lot about the different mentalities of people. I am listing a few according to my observation:

  • Grammar Nazis:  This category people are my personal favourites as I get to learn so much about the language  leaving aside the topic in question 😂.  One misspelled word, one misplaced word/ punctuation and we have them in action.  It could be their command over the language or love for it that they can’t tolerate the mistakes in language, difference of opinions can be countered later.
  • Forever Romantics:  No matter what is the situation, how seriously people are involved in presenting their viewpoint I always came across a set of hopelessly (or shall we say too many Hope’s pinned 😉) romantic people who never ceases to try their luck in the comment section expecting a favourable response.  “Hi Ma’am you are very beautiful, please call me at xxxxxxxxx”, “Hi can we be friends”, “I love you” – few examples how Romeos search for their Juliet on YouTube (or any social media platform for that matter).
  • Family People:  Stop! Before you jump to conclusions let me clarify literal translation won’t work here.  These are the people who use cuss words using “relations” (you know what I mean, don’t want to elaborate further) in every sentence they state.  It’s the way they express themselves, oppose opinions of others, they swear.  It’s basically part of their grammar unfortunately.
  • No words, only emojis:  I think I don’t need further words to explain this 😁😁😁😁.  Sometimes I get confused whom they are supporting amidst the threads of comments going on.
  • Repeat mode on:  Off late I have come across a new genre of people commenting on YouTube and they are the “Repeaters” .  To emphasise their point of view or to get noticed or simply they have too much time (may be lack of it) they repeat their comment everywhere (in every reply, in every related video).  They are not just repeaters but the most irritating group on YouTube.
  • Promotion guys:  Just like the forlorn/ forever romantics there’s a group which don’t cease to take up every opportunity to promote its agenda on videos that are least or not at all related to their business (literal and otherwise). There are people who promote their own channels,  their business ideas, businesses and what not.  I am still confused if I can call them intelligent or opportunists or desperate 🤔.
  • The comparison brigade:  Well, we find them in every sphere, in every walk of life – Never Happy.  Always comparing things, people, situations.  They are the epitome of pessimism to put it simple.  For instance there’s a song playing and everything about that is simply amazing and everyone in the comment thread is praising it but the forever sworn unhappy people do mark their presence with their comments like “nah! It would have been better if it was sung by so and so”, “actor X would have been/is better than this actor Y”, ” things were better in our times”, ” song would have been better if recorded on Mars” and it continues 😂😂😂.

So these are few observations that I have made off late.  You also might have few observations, suggestions or corrections for that matter to add.  Feel free to drop them in “Comment” section 😁.  I am waiting 😉.