Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Balancing time in the rush hour

Tourists say that Bhutanese are relaxed people. And I think it is true. Our people walk in a slow, relaxed pace while people in developed countries rush to work everyday.

I am a person who has to get strict eight hours of sleep. When I don’t get enough sleep, I get headache and I cannot think well. I still remember this incident from my first year: The next day was my mathematics exam and I had not studied much. In the last minute, I was desperate to get a pass mark. I could already feel the shame that would come on me if I failed. So I sacrificed my sleep and studied late that night. But the next day, I went to the examination hall with swollen eyes and hazy head. Hundreds of formulae danced in my head and I couldn’t sort them out. I managed to get exactly the pass mark but I had the most terrible time in my entire lifetime as a student; I was anxious and edgy.

Managing time is the most important aspect of life management. No matter whether we are students or office goers, we have to plan our work and divide our time accordingly for the tasks. Last minute rush panics us and has many side effects: visibly, the tension, loss of sleep, loss of appetite etc. which can have long term negative effects on our health. We should have adequate hours of sleep and we shouldn’t overwork.

Working long at the office may bring you faster promotion, appreciation from your boss, and make you more skilled but working longer hours than adequate is bad for our wellbeing. It is like saying, excess of everything is bad.

The best way for us to be in life is to have time, enough for everything: from socializing with friends and family; playing games and sports; visiting religious places; doing prayers and meditation and so on.

A proper time management would mean “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Time use and Balance is one of the indicators/domains in GNH

Monday, November 29, 2010

Living right in the midst of chaos

Life in general is tit for tat. You will see that in every aspect of life. If someone came to see you when you were sick, you have to return that gesture in the same way. However if someone has done you something bad or wrong, you don’t return that with revenge. That is what I have seen in many Bhutanese. Even if, in your heart, you feel so hateful that someone wronged you, you forgive him, because you believe that, exacting a wrong by a wrong will only bear bad karma for you.

My uncle died from surgical complications. He was fine before the surgery. I or any of my relatives could have sought explanations from the doctors for this, but simply because the dead cannot be brought back to life and it will only destroy the sentiments of the living, we didn’t do that.

I was taken aback to see my brother’s helper kill a tiny cockroach walking up the wall in their living room. Before I could ask her not to, her hands were quicker. But I felt pain in my heart. I knew, to that cockroach, life was just as precious as mine. I fear death and I am sure all animals do. I don’t kill insects—I think I cannot think otherwise than that killing them will only accumulate sin.

We don’t necessarily have to think of karma in doing things the right way. We know it in our heart when we do something that is wrong. Don’t do anything that will give you guilt later and you are saved from sowing any bad seed. I would rather not have done much and have a peaceful heart than do so much and be a guilt laden sick soul.

We don’t have to think of life in complicated ways. Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.

Taking account of karma in daily life is one of the indicators in the psychological wellbeing domain in GNH.

Different Cravings During Pregnancy

A certain chilip friend didn’t know that I was pregnant. I had no idea that he didn’t know. For some comment he made, I said, ‘except that I’m pregnant.’ This threw him into disbelief that he wanted to touch my tummy, time and again, till it got intolerable. My only consolation was that he was drunk. He asked me if I wake up in the middle of the night craving for chocolates. I said I didn’t have such cravings and I honestly don’t.

This chilip friend is single. He is in his mid fifties now. I asked him once why he never married and he said he once had a steady Australian girlfriend. They were so much in love but somehow the relationship didn’t work out and since then, he could not get into any serious relationship. And now, he has remained single. But that night, talking to him during dinner, I came to understand that he had not chosen to remain single because he was happier being unmarried. I could see how much he wanted to have a family. He so much wants to have a wife and bear him a child. For that had not happened to him, I felt very sad for him.

Now coming to the point, my only craving is for more love and more attention from my husband. There is no waking up in the middle of the night desperately wanting to eat chocolate or tamarind. I just want to lie down next to my husband and know that I am not alone; that we are together preparing to walk on the path of parenthood. And there is nothing more that I want, when he is next to me. I never knew a person’s mere presence and warmth can fill up your heart to the brim and you would feel content even if you had nothing.
I was away from him for only two days. Only two days. Actually, he dropped me to Paro and stayed with me the first night, so I was alone for only one night. And that one night was a torture. I remember lying down in my bed and typing him the message such as, “Honey, talking to you isn’t making me feel better. It’s only making me miss you more. I don’t understand how it came to be so hard to be away from you.  I miss you honey. I feel so alone. I wish you were here wrapping your arms around me. I feel so tired from the long day meeting and I’m lying down and closing my eyes – I’m trying to rest. But then, I see you and I want you here. It makes me want to cry. Honey, as you left this morning, I stood at the parking, till your car disappeared out of my sight and I couldn’t control my tears. I cried honey. I couldn’t believe I still feel so in love and it is so difficult to part from you. It is time I learned that it is natural for us to have to part sometime. But honey, it is as if my life is nothing without you; it is as if I don’t know how to live without you.”

And this strong pang of loneliness and missing – I’m attributing to being the symptom of craving that a woman feels during pregnancy. I don’t deny that I do feel the same even otherwise. But I feel, this time, it is stronger.

There was no other complication or sickness. Luzee tells me, ‘chhegi pregnancy di problem ga ni ya me ba zo si mo?’ Other than occasional diarrhea, there wasn’t any sickness. And when she said that, I really thought, I am very lucky to have had no morning sickness or whatever. Some say, because I have had no morning sickness, my baby must be a son. I don’t know. But I’m glad I had no other cravings, no other sickness, except the need for my husband to be next to me.

Last evening, taking the long one hour walk, coherently sharing views on the different topics – as we usually do – I felt the warm and happy feeling of being home. It was like an innocent cub snuggling close to its mother.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pray before you start your day

As I circumambulate the chorten, I see everyone in deep prayer and devotion. And as you watch people milling around in perfect harmony, you feel peace dawning on you like clear cloudless morning. On each one’s face there is no hidden worry and anxiety; everyone is calm and peaceful, reciting prayer as they walk around the chorten. 

I started praying from as long as I remember. I prayed mainly to protect myself from ghosts and evil spirits. Brought up under strict Buddhist rules, I understood life only by the two defining rules of sin and virtue and I felt myself protected whenever I prayed. As I walked home from school on weekend through the thick jungles, I would pray loudly to ward off anything that would harm me. 

Even though, I have lived my life reciting prayer every morning, evening and every now and then, I must admit that I don’t know its meaning any better now than when I was 10 years old. But I pray simply because I am more at peace with myself when I pray than when I don’t. When I haven’t prayed, I feel like something is amiss and I feel myself haunted by this feeling the whole day. And this is reason enough for me to pray. 

I cannot prove but I am sure that an anxious, restless young boy or girl will feel peaceful if he or she prays. If he or she can just give himself or herself a start, not really because he or she believes that prayer can right away help him or her from whatever he or she is suffering from but as an experiment, he or she won’t regret. You need not necessarily believe of the miracles and magical powers of prayers; you just have to find time to sit in peace and talk to yourself. 

When I sit in front of the chorten and pray, I don’t see God there. I don’t see any mystical powerful being, but peace dawns on me and I go home a happy person. In the examination hall, I feel more prepared and confident after I have recited a short prayer invoking ‘Manjushree’. Prayer gives me confidence and prayer gives me hope. And thus prayer always keeps me most prepared. 

Frequency of Prayer Recitation is one of the indicators of Psychological wellbeing

Thursday, November 25, 2010

GNH ways to find the missing

Even when I’m as far as only 70 KM, I miss my mother so much.  

I dream of my mother every night and I wake up in the middle of the night with pain in my heart. And so, as soon as I see the mountains above Paro valley, getting closer to home, I feel my heart free from worry. I have this feeling of finally being where I belong, of something like, “Oh, I’m finally home.” 

I’m sure it is like that even to those who have come to think that home isn’t a happy place to be. What you grew up with gets culturally rooted deep within you—whether you realize it or not. And you will find joy in embracing and accepting them as part of you. 

 When you have a sense of belonging to the community you grew up in, you have a feeling of security and trust that keeps you in peace.  Back in my village, as long as I remember, we never had the habit of locking our door. We would just latch our door and go away to work in the fields. We never had the fear that someone would come and break into our house. But this is totally different in urban areas. When I first came to Thimphu in 1999, I can remember how surprised I was to find that everyone stayed inside the closed door and didn’t speak to people they met on the way. I have become a part of this same community where we don’t even know the next door neighbor but I certainly don’t enjoy it. So I make a point to at least smile at the neighbors when I meet them in the corridor. 

I’m now stuck in this so called urban area. I had not been to my village for three years. I was dying to meet my relatives and see that lone standing house where I grew up—waking up to my mother calling me for breakfast every morning. The thought that this house probably was crumbling into ruins was killing me. And then one day, I got an assignment that would take me right there. I never found the journey too long. I wished I didn’t have to hold a night in Bumthang. And as I met my sister and her children playing outside the house, I couldn’t hold my tears. One night wasn’t enough. I promised my childhood friends and my sister that when I came back again, I would come to stay for a long time. 

 (Trust in Neighbors (Sense of belonging) is one of the indicators in Community Vitality Domain)

This is Bhutan

I moved to Adelaide, South Australia 10 months ago. This decision was driven by my belief that family has to be together and pursuing your c...