Saturday, December 7, 2013

Want Permanent Peace, Happiness and Contentment?

Of course, we all do!  So why does it allude most of us?
Because we have to work at it in order to achieve it. It’s the same principle about having a healthy body. We have to eat well, rest properly and exercise in order to reach our physical potential. If we don't, our muscles get weak. We can't walk far. We can't lift much. We're exhausted. We all know this. Or ever have a cast on your leg or arm?  Once it’s removed you can see the deterioration. Now you have to get therapy to build the muscles back.

“I exercise my mind all the time”, you might argue. Oh sure, we accumulate and analyze data. We're always searching for information on the Net. We might even join a group to discuss the facts, but we're still missing a piece of our life’s puzzle. We could be doing all of the above, and still be yearning for peace, happiness and contentment. Why?

We need to exercise not only our bodies and mind; but also our spirituality. We've either just never exercised our spirituality to keep it healthy, or symbolically we had a cast on restricting its use. This leaves our soul hungry for something it can’t quite put its finger on. We know what we want. We just don't know how to get there. Everyone in the world wants peace. It’s in our soul, and we need it badly.

Imagine if we were as diligent with our spirituality as we were with our careers, our health and our goals. Unfortunately, we don’t apply the same discipline and dedication to our spirituality as we do to our body…....Until now!

I’m going to tell you how to exercise your spirituality. You’ll need commitment, discipline, and endurance. It’ll take a lot of focus, but I know you can do it. This spiritual exercise is Meditation. It’s only a ten letter word, but it really does pack a punch!  It’ll revive your soul and awaken your consciousness.

I have a simple meditation for you to try below.

However, if you’ve never tried meditation before, I want you to know your mind and thoughts may go in other directions. This is normal. Remember you haven’t exercised in a long time!  Be gentle with yourself, refocus your thoughts. Be patient with yourself.

Your mind is used to expressing itself with words and actions. You’re now training your mind to do something totally different. You’re going to hold that thought and direct it inward. Channelling inwardly will act like a key that’s going to open the Door to your Spirituality. We are all spiritual. Remember, some of us just haven’t exercised our spirituality in a very long time. It might even take some time to find that key!  But you will, with practice and patience, just like any other exercise program. Keep building your spiritual stamina. If your mind wonders, just bring it back to what you are contemplating gently. It’s okay. You're in training.

Meditation, in the form of a focused silence, acts like a spiritual laser, dissolving the acquired germs and emerging the original healing energies of the self, such as peace and self-respect. {1}

Perhaps this is a good time to ask what exactly is Peace?

Peace has the meaning of harmony, balance, order and freedom. When we are free of waste and negative thoughts, then we can exist fully serene, fully at peace with everything.

 Definitions include:

·        Serenity which is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction and a feeling of completeness.

·        Calm is where the mind is like a pool of water with no ripples in it, everything is still.

·        Tranquility is when everything in nature including us is in complete harmony and balance.

·        Quiet and Stillness is when there are no movement of thoughts. I’m sure at some time we've heard someone ask for ‘peace and quiet’ from those around them, requesting silence.

Effective meditation means to gather the positive resources of the inner self and then use them in the outer world. {2}

So let’s give this one a try.

I remain absorbed in one thought, and in the stillness of silence,
 I am at rest, with a feeling of complete detachment from everything.
Peace is my original energy and treasure
 With concentrated thought I step inside and experience it.

Meditation is the mental exercise to link ourselves to that Unconditional Source.  As we make that link, purification takes place, liberating the mind from the limits of “I”, “my”, the past, resentments, and pettiness. {3}

So like anything new we add to our life, in order to make it a habit we must be consistent with our routine. When we physically exercise we need to give our muscles a rest. Fortunately, when exercising our spirituality, more is beneficial!   We never need to take a break from achieving peace and contentment. To begin a daily meditation routine, begin with 15 minutes in the morning, followed by 15 minutes at the end of your day. Be patient just as if you’re at the gym. You might feel you’re not making progress, but you are. As you become more comfortable meditating, increase your minutes to fit into your life schedule.

May you experience true peace, happiness and contentment in your life!

Ganga Daryanani, RSW

{1} Slaying The Three Dragons, Overcoming Doubt, Worry and Fear, By Anthony Strano, page 32
{2} Slaying The Three Dragons, Overcoming Doubt, Worry and Fear, By Anthony Strano, page 33
{3} Slaying The Three Dragons, Overcoming Doubt, Worry and Fear, By Anthony Strano, page 73

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Feel like quitting?  Possibly, but with the economy the way it is, you tell yourself to just put up with it.  After all, we've all heard how tough it is to get another job.   So one mind-numbing agitated day at work rolls into the next.  Is there a way out of this?  

Let me tell you a story about “John[1]” (not his real name).  After being unemployed for 2 years, he was forced to take a job at a middle management level with a 30% wage cut.   What choice did he have?  Bills had to be paid.   Then to add insult to injury, he was criticized on his performance.  He was too introverted, not sociable, not aggressive enough, not responding to emails fast enough etc.  He couldn't believe it.  What was a guy to do?

Needing the job, he kept his frustrations to himself.    He withdrew into his apartment and became best friends with alcohol.   Happiness eluded my friend.   He knew this vicious cycle had to be broken.    He took positive action and contacted me. 

First, we worked on the emotional and physical aspects of his well being.  He needed to have the right nutrition and exercise to deal with all the stressors at work.    Then he needed to learn the proper tools to approach the boss in a more assertive and communicative way. 

To succeed at this, we looked at his family background.   How did he become the person he was today?  To understand today you need to understand the past.  We needed to identify the negative cycle that he had gotten stuck in.   He knew he could trust me. 

With regular counselling and therapy he knew he was in a safe environment.  He opened up and just let his pent-up pain freely off-load.   It made such a huge impact on overcoming his low self-esteem.    He felt invigorated!  He recovered his self-esteem and was now more confident in dealing with his bosses and people in general.

[1] A compilation of various people over several years

Thursday, August 15, 2013


 “While the journey must be taken alone, it need not be lonely”

Loving and Leaving is just part of Living; and it hurts deeply

Whether we expect it, or it sneaks up from behind and rips the ‘rug out from under us’; no one is really emotionally prepared for the loss of someone we love.   Our world will never be the same.  We feel dazed, numb, angry, or scared, and a million other emotions are flooding our body.  Feeling overwhelmed is an understatement.  People are chattering around us, but nothing is sinking in.    We’d give anything just to wake up from this nightmare, and have our life just like it was.   Unfortunately, that isn’t our reality. 

The hard, cold fact is that now….

Things are different…drastically different

And we deeply need to heal and be comforted

How can we heal when we feel so guilty?   So many things we should have said, but didn’t.   And now it’s too late.  Our mind torments us with a never ending list of regrets:  If only ….’ followed by the guilt ridden ‘I should have….’    You dare not say it, but yes, you are so angry: angry with yourself, even worse - angry with them for dying.    You feel so gut wrenching alone.

In this emotionally fragile state, it becomes obvious how much we depended on our loved one.    Life will be so different without them.  How do we cope? Heal? Where do we begin? 


 Grief works its way through four normal stages (denial, anger, depression, and acceptance).   We all experience these feelings; and yes, they hurt.    So how do we heal from this? 

You’re already experiencing the initial steps of healing by working through the grieving process at your own pace.    There is a positive side to grieving, although difficult to believe.

This is going to be a time of transformation and deep personal growth for you.     For example:   We are forced to think about our own life expectancy.  Knowing first-hand how difficult grief can be, wouldn’t the loving thing for us to do is prepare for our own passing? We plan for our future so why not our legacy?  Are your affairs in order?    Some procrastinate and find themselves near the end of their life without the strength or focus to complete their estate plans.    So once your Planning is done, file it away.   Enjoy the time you have creating wonderful, happy memories with others.     Your friends and family will reflect on these times of how blessed they were to have known you.  

Nature is the greatest proponent of change. The changing seasons reflect that there is no such thing as permanent death of anything.  There is a change of form and then a new life comes forward every spring.

Change can be empowering and inspiring. It can be a bridge allowing you to cross over to another place that you would not necessarily have chosen.   We cannot shield ourselves from the natural cycle of life and death.   Embrace it.  Otherwise your life shrinks into endless repetition and shallowness.  

In our Western culture we just don’t discuss death.  It’s taboo.  Whereas in Buddhism, they remind themselves constantly about life and death believing that’s the only way to live a happy, healthy, wholesome life.

We’ve come a long way in our technological society but we’re still looking for inner peace and happiness.  We have more anxiety and inner suffering than a person from a primitive yet spiritually advanced village in Asia or Africa.  Why is that?

The Buddhist answer is awareness of impermanence and death.  Through this awareness we lose attachments to meaningless endeavours and gain a deeper sense of our humanity, enabling us to see the humanity of others.

What if you or a loved one gets a negative medical prognosis?  The stages of grief are basically the same.    You’re going to go through these stages along with your family and friends.  You’re going to want to see or do the things you have been putting off doing.

As in all grieving stages, allow everyone to express their emotions. This will allow the family to go through a phase of preparatory grief, just like the dying person.  The more this grief can be expressed before death, the less unbearable it becomes afterwards.   

The most difficult time is the final phase, when the patient is slowly detaching himself from his world.    It’s most important to recognize that the patient is not rejecting you, but needs to detach, to let go, to be ready to die.

Children need to mourn as well.  If parents reprimand kids for showing grief, they will hold their grief inside, setting the stage later for emotional and physical ill health.  Allow them to vent and you listen; be prepared for the guilt, anger and sadness.   Share your feelings too, and work through them.



Monday, May 6, 2013

Couples Therapy

Ever tell your partner to"'grow up!"? Just can't get a sentence finished before they rudely interrupt? You can feel your blood pressure rising. Your heart's racing. You tell yourself,"enough is enough- I've had it " You are just trying to explain yourself and your partner appears to be going "crazy"! The
proverbial gloves come off and a shouting match begins. As usual there are no winners. You can cut the tension in the room with a knife, it's so bad. Whose turn will it be on the couch tonight? All this stress just from trying to have a conversation! It's become unbearable.

Well, you both were certainly communicating. The problem is, it was negative. It became destructive. From experience you know it will just keep repeating itself unless something seriously changes - what is a person supposed to do?

Step back and let me bring you both to a time when being together was all you ever wanted to do.  I know right at this moment that's hard to believe, perhaps you are not even sure that's what you want.

You've come this far, let me help you. My position is neutral. My environment is safe and secure and I respect both of your opinions. Let's work together and I'll help you recapture the love and intimacy you once shared  You will learn how to communicate positively, respectfully and constructively, only now it will be deeper because you'll both use the tools I'll teach you. You'll learn the art of listening, to be heard and to understand your partner.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


by: Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., Sue George Hallowell, LICSW, with Melissa Orlov

In our fretful, speed-up world, we can’t turn back the clock to the days of Royal typewriters,un-answered telephone calls (no voice-mail), or time spent alone without “electronic devices.”  But we do need to learn how to manage the chaos and opportunities that surround us.

Without knowing it or meaning to, we are training ourselves to be constantly on the alert for interruptions, to seek out messages incessantly, to process data rather than discover, think or feel and in general to lose the capacity to ponder, pause, imagine, or give full focus to anyone or anything for more than a few moments.

Indeed, impatience and worry may be our national mood.  Who can wait?  Waiting is so yesterday.  Today is hurry and rush.  There is so much to do, so much to worry about.  We have reprogrammed our nervous system; now we demand speed. Milan Kundera: “Speed is the form of ecstasy that technology has bestowed on modern man.”  Speed makes focusing difficult.  If you are not careful, you end up paying partial attention to everyone and everything.

When this new physics enters a marriage, you may start to feel lonely and resentful.  You might wonder where the man or woman you married has disappeared to.  You might also wonder where your own life went.
Speed, overload and anxiety have created an elephant in the room. This elephant is the force of distraction.  It can dominate all our lives.  How many times have you said to your mate or heard him or her say to you words similar to these:

“You say you don’t have time to talk now; but do you ever have the time to talk?
“I am sorry, I am completely spaced out on that; what were you saying?”

“We are busy all the time; but are we happy?”
“I am trying to be patient, but I really need some kind of emotional closeness or I am going to lose something important that I don’t want to lose.”

“I love you, I really do, but I hardly see you.”
“Sex, what’s that?”

“You laugh at people going to see a marriage counsellor, but I think they are brave.  We may benefit from seeing a therapist, but where would we find the time?”
 A new pressure has built up in couples. It’s the pressure to make time for each other. The more attention shatters, the more relationships suffer. Couples can start to feel distant and annoyed without understanding why, then they do what we all do: we blame one another.  But the root cause is the new world of distraction that’s grown up around us.
Modern life has turned people ruder than ever, with less sympathy, more self-centeredness, less emotionally available, and less able to relax and in general more difficult to connect with comfortably.

The impact on couples can be catastrophic, but it does not need to be. If you want to preserve love, you must:
-Insist on time with the person you love and make extended time for each other.

- Learn to say no to temptations.
-Have a clear vision of the life you want, what matters to you the most and make time for  that, with iron-fisted determination.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to overcome: Insecurity and Low Self-esteem

If we say we are what we do (architect, painter, etc…) then the moment someone criticises our work, we feel anger and fear towards that person.  Why?  Because we perceive the criticism to be a personal attack.  As a result we build a defensive wall around ourselves and our behaviour becomes defensive and protective.  This is how many people live their life.  It is called: perpetual insecurity and it drains our self-esteem.
Similarly, we may identify with our job position e.g. position as managing director.  When we return home in the evening, unless we consciously release the role of managing director, we may find ourselves trying to be a managing director in the family, when they obviously need a father or mother, husband or wife.

 The same thing happens when we base our identity on our country of birth.  We become nationalistic and generate fear and animosity towards the people of other nations, even in subtle ways. (Discrimination)

 The two major sources of conflict in the world are between people who identify with their belief systems (religion) or the colour of their skin (race).  In all these examples we are simply identifying with a label.  We are not a label.  Neither are we a set of beliefs. We can change our beliefs by our own will.  They can be as impermanent as the clothes we wear if we so decide. If we were to explore human conflict, we might feel that all anger and fear and all the interpersonal and international wars to which they lead, have their roots in the amnesia of the soul.  It is simply our forgotten sense of our true self-identity, or mistakenly identifying with what we are not.
"Be relaxed,
Be present ... Be powerful,
Be inspired ... Be your true self"