Monday, December 18, 2017

Mindfulness Meditation - discover, experiment and own it

Often people ask me how important is posture or space in meditation? Should we practice in a group setting or practice alone? Is it essential to light a candle while meditating? Should I keep me eyes open or shut? Is there a specific time of day to practice? These questions are relevant not only for mindfulness meditation but other forms of meditation too such as Chakra meditation,or guided visualization.

Here is a primer on mindfulness meditation but before we begin, it is worth reminding ourselves, how mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, "Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."

Posture: While there is a benefit in sitting upright, perhaps cross legged or on a chair, with your eyes gently closed, a particular posture is not mandatory in many meditation practices. Often people prefer to lie down or some choose to meditate while walking, running or even swimming where they feel they become one with their surroundings.

Space:  Where we chose to practice can seem very important to us. For some people a certain kind of space is critical to meditate, perhaps a room where there is a lot of natural light or a room with no natural lighting. Some may find that meditating in a natural surrounding, be it at a lake front or the mountains, may help them zone in. The rhythmic sound of water can be especially calming to some or the gentle wind ruffling the hair and caressing the skin can be relaxing to others. And yet, there are those who meditate while they ride the bus to work every morning.


Time of the day: Mornings work very well for many people as the mind is usually clear and rested. Indeed, sages, gurus and meditators over thousands of years have preached the importance of starting the day with meditation. However, thousands prefer meditating just before going to bed while others prefer short one minute sessions through the day. Read my article on Traffic control (controlling your mental clutter) for more.

Group setting: Meditating in a group helps many meditators because it instills a sense of routine and discipline. They find a group practice invigorating and the collective energy very beneficial. And yet, few prefer to practice alone stating that their meditation is their own individual journey.

Accessories: Candles, light music, a meditation cushion, flowers or a statue of Buddha or even apps and meditation gadgets are accessories that many feel are essential to the practice of mindfulness meditation. More about commercialization of mindfulness in a later post.

In reality, you do not need any special equipment, commodities or space to meditate. Yes, space, accessories etc may seem important for beginners but with experience and practice, you might find them (or not) to be trappings and you might just find yourself dropping these accoutrements at some point in time. You also do not need to meditate at a particular time of day. Recent studies conducted by Harvard Medical School indicate that meditation is beneficial at any time of the day. Consistency is key. More important than the angle of your spine, or the music (or lack thereof) in the background, is what is happening in your mind, or even what you are doing in your mind? Are you enjoying being in the moment?

Likewise, while formal meditation sits are extremely important and help us to get into the zone, ultimately, the ability of transferring this feeling of calmness, acceptance and stability to our everyday routine and into our personality is what mindfulness meditation is all about. And if you feel anxiety or worry creep in, consciously pausing your thoughts, anchoring yourself into your breath or a visual imagery may transport you back into the zone. It is more important to be mindful where ever you are, and in whatever you are doing. Space, posture, setting, length of practice or the time of the day is not as important as your intention to practice. May your meditation or mindfulness be your own, however you may choose to define it. May you discover it in a mindful way that embodies your truth and your dignity.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

8 Keys to Healthy Relationships, According to Mental Health Professionals

How do we maintain healthy relationships with those that mean the most (not just with our significant other, but friends and family too)? Here are 8 keys to healthy relationships by mental health professionals - published on Thriveworks. Don't miss point No. 8 :-)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Feeling thankful

iReikiNow is grateful to all it's patrons and well-wishers. Thank you for all your support during 2017. Let's keep spreading good ness around. Look forward to your continued support in future so we can shape the collective destiny of the universe.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Poor Grades - Are parents responding or reacting?

This is that time of the year when mid-term grades get announced. Education or academic performance has been known to be a  great source of angst between kids & parents. In a report published by the American Psychological Association, Stress in America - Are Teens Adopting Adults' Stress Habits , "teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 vs. 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens vs. 5.1 for adults)." Stress can come from various sources including parents. But can parents forcefully create interest in their child for learning? Can parents increase the capacity within their child to understand, and absorb a subject? Sure, they can force their child to study by disciplining them, shouting at them, threatening them by taking away their privileges etc. But will that help? On the contrary, by instilling worry and fear, the inherent capacity within a child actually reduces. Daniel Pink states in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us that "Science shows that the secret to high performance isn't our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive - our deep seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to love a life of purpose."

So, what can you do if your child brings back a C on his assessment? 
CARE! ... And caring means it’s not about your feelings on this, but your child's and its impact on their self esteem. Try following this 4 step plan for achieving a response and communication that actually works:

Cool down:
Take a deep breath, or make it 10 deep breaths, count to 20, or just step out of the room. Remember that your child is noticing every facial expression and even if his back is turned towards you, he feels your vibes nice and strong. It might be worthwhile to take a pause, a moment of silence, so that you get time to organize your thoughts. Take this time to consciously remove any negative thoughts you might have. This will help you respond to the situation rather than react.

Be mindful of the capacity of your child. Some children are naturally gifted in some subjects and some are not. It's worth considering that the potential or capacity of a child may not be to be a straight A student.  Sure enough, motivate your child. Encouragement is essential but with unconditional love. This may drive a child to move from B to a B+, and may eventually move even higher. Have expectations and ask your child to set goals but leave space for mistakes and failures. 

Respect your child:
Acknowledge and take stock of all the qualities and interests of your child. This is important because we tend to take for granted what our children already have. If academically our child may be a straight B student but is excelling at swimming and piano, is it important to excel in every subject at school? If it comes to that, it might be a good idea to write down his qualities and achievements and put this sheet up on the refrigerator. You might just see a smile on your child’s face. Parents of teenagers, note that your child might actually find this “so not cool”, but deep down, he is grinning.

Parents cannot forcefully increase the intelligence and capacity of their child. But parents can increase the self-esteem of their child by having faith in him, by praising his qualities and achievements, nurturing his most compelling interests, and providing him with support, guidance, unconditional love, and a whole lot of positive vibes. This will empower your child. This will also increase the soul power of your child. As Shawn Anchor stated in The Happiness Advantage, "Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work (or school) and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance."

As parents, we have the opportunity today to plant within our children seeds of trust, growth, confidence and self worth. Go ahead! Plant those seeds. CARE!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guided Meditation by a child

The proudest moment for a teacher/ parent is to see their student/ child become the teacher.

This video was never intended to be published (the poor quality of the video attests to that). However, the purity and the sincerity of this meditation compelled me to publish this (with permission from this child and parent). I will let this video do the "talking and guiding" for this blog post...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Teaching children Reiki and Meditation

I recently concluded a Reiki Level I and Meditation Summer Camp for children and teenagers. The curriculum included teaching children Reiki Level I, meditation, breathing exercises and brain exercises.

Some of the benefits of Reiki and Meditation are:
  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Helps the body to release tension and stress
  • Promotes creativity
  • Aids better sleep
  • Creates deep relaxation
  • Helps relieve pain

Each child received a Reiki manual on the first day of camp. The class included supervised hands-on practice of all the healing modalities including Reiki, and meditation. At the end of the camp, each child received a Reiki Level I certification from iReikiNow. Those who attended the camp will be able to practice Reiki on themselves and also give Reiki sessions to others including pets and plants. 

Yay! Reiki Level I certified!

Giving Reiki to a tree

Below is feedback from children/teenagers who attended the camp:

Reiki Attunement Experiences

Aishwarya – I felt vibrations and warmth in my body. It was a very calming experience.

Anvita – My body felt tingly. I felt warmth in my hands and then I felt calm and refreshed.

Jahnvi – I felt a warmth come over my body. I also felt warmth in my palms. I felt calm and relaxed. I felt energy passing through me.

Roshan - I was happy to get attuned a second time because I find Reiki very beneficial.  I often give Reiki to myself before an exam or a tournament. It helps to calm me and increases my focus and confidence.

Sanjit - It was so cool. I felt I had the power flowing in my body.

Shibani - I felt vibrations and warmth inside and outside my body. I also felt very calm and peaceful.

Shreya - It was a really nice feeling. I felt warmth inside and around me. I felt a lot of energy coming from your hands. 

Shourya - I felt so relaxed. It was special.

Siya – When you put your hands on my head, I felt my mind clear and my head felt very light and relaxed. When you put your hands on my shoulders and down my arms, I had a tingly feeling and felt calm and peaceful.

Taran - I am thankful I have the ability to give myself and others Reiki. It gets me into a deep state of relaxation, increases my level of patience and willpower but at the same time it keeps me levelheaded.
Class in progress
Certificates awarded on conclusion of camp

Camp highlights – what appealed most to you in this camp

Aishwarya – I liked the brain exercises a lot because they cleared my mind. It was so calming that all the negative thoughts were gone. I am sure I will do the brain exercises that I learned before tests or in any situation when I am not feeling confident. I look forward to next year's Reiki and Meditation Summer Camp.

Anvita – I liked learning about the chakras. It was interesting to know about them because it was the first time I learnt about them and the knowledge that there is energy within my body. It is fascinating to learn that each chakra affects my thoughts, emotions and body parts.

Jahnvi – The thought cycle because it clarified to me why I had certain habits or acted in a certain way in some situations. Now that I understand the thought cycle, I know that I can create and control my thought and therefore my future. I will use this knowledge before my stage performances. All my friends are jealous (in a cool way) that I got to attend this camp :-)

Roshan - The lesson on chakras and meridians was very informative. I liked learning about the seven main chakras in detail. I will use that knowledge to give myself Reiki and to balance my chakras.

Sanjit - I liked the stretching and the brain exercises a lot. I also enjoyed receiving the Reiki Level I attunement as I feel very powerful now. May the force be with me always :-)

Shibani - The thought cycle and types of thoughts was a very interesting lesson because it helped me understand that I can choose my thoughts and my destiny. I hope you will teach us Reiki Level 2 next summer. 

Shreya - I liked the different forms of meditation. I also enjoyed the mindfulness and the brain exercises. I want to come back next year.

Shourya - I liked the breathing exercises and I also enjoyed the snack break :-)

Siya – I liked learning about the meditation 3 step process. It was cool because I learned that I can change negative thoughts into positive thoughts and feel better about myself. I hope I get to learn Reiki Level 2 next summer. 

Taran - The guided meditations were very relaxing. I almost always fell off to sleep. I also enjoyed learning about the discovery, history and miracles of Reiki. Looking forward to the camp next year. 

My experience as a "Reiki and Meditation for kids teacher" - 

Children are pure. They almost always live in the moment, are less inhibited, accepting of energy and benefit tremendously from Reiki and meditation. When explained the importance and advantages of self-care and healing techniques, they are quick to imbibe it. Yes, they might forget it occasionally, but once the seed is sowed, it stays with them, and with love, guidance and support, they will ultimately use these life skills to their great benefit. I am proud to see my students use these skills before a test, a game, a musical performance or even before they venture on new and unfamiliar experiences (be it a ride on a roller coaster or learning how to drive a car). The results are usually better grades, fewer medications, calmer and more confident personalities, and absolute happiness.

It was an honor and privilege to help equip these youngsters with coping mechanisms, healing techniques and to teach them Reiki. I feel truly blessed to be a part of their life journey and to be able to contribute to building their character. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Root Chakra - The First Chakra

The Root Chakra, also called the "Muladhara", is the first chakra. It is associated with our basic animal instincts of survival, and self-preservation namely, food, health, security, and shelter. It is the very foundation of our being.

Click below to read the article on the Root Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sacral Chakra - The Second Chakra

The Sacral chakra, also called the "Svadhisthana", is the second chakra. It is the central point of our emotions, sexuality, and sensuality. It governs our sense of self-worth, our relationships, and the confidence we have in our own creativity.

Click below to read the article on the Sacral Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Solar Plexus Chakra - The Third Chakra

The Solar Plexus Chakra, also called the "Manipura", is the third chakra. It is associated with identity and self-esteem. Known as the "power center", this is the area of assertiveness, confidence and inner drive.

Click below to read the article on the Solar Plexus Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Heart Chakra - The Fourth Chakra

The Heart Chakra, also called the "Anahata", is the fourth chakra. The essence of the Heart Chakra is love, compassion, and purity.

Click below to read the article on the Heart Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Throat Chakra - The Fifth Chakra

The Throat chakra or the "Vissudha" is the fifth chakra across the "Susushumna" or energy channel. It is the voice of the body and the keeper of our authenticity.

Click below to read the article on the Thorat Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Third Eye Chakra - The Sixth Chakra

The The Third Eye Chakra or the Brow Chakra, also called "Ajna" is the Sixth Chakra. It is associated with sight and seeing, both, intuitively and physically.

Click below to read the article on the Third Eye Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Crown Chakra - The Seventh Chakra

"The crown chakra is our highest energy center and is associated with the state of enlightenment and pure bliss."

Click below to read the article on Crown Chakra authored by Nidhi Idnani. It was originally published on Quantum Health Products, an E-Commerce, health and wellness platform. Nidhi Idnani is featured as an expert author on Quantum Health Products.

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Vipassana retreat - what 10 days of silent meditation taught me

Vipassana means “as is”. It means to see things as they really are. It is a meditation technique taught by Gautama Buddha 2500 years ago in India. The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at 10 day residential courses across the world, during which participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results. The day starts at 4 AM and includes 10 hours 45 minutes of meditation and 1hour and 15 minutes of discourse every day.

When I registered for Vipassana, I felt it will not be tough for me. I embrace silence, love to meditate, I am always eager to experience a different form of meditation and for the most part, I am stress free and calm. Very soon, I would discover that Vipassana was the easiest and perhaps the toughest form of meditation I had undertaken. On Day 0, the rules were clearly laid out. No talking, no eye contact, no reading/ writing, no gadgets, no killing (glad we got that documented), no stealing, no food from outside or OTC medications, simple vegetarian meals cooked by them and no dinner (OUCH!), no sexual activity, no physical contact, and no fragrant products. Essentially, the idea is to master the 6 senses – the five senses and the mind. 

The first day was the toughest. While I have been meditating almost daily for several years, I had never meditated 10+ hours in a day. Further, I follow a different meditation practice so each time I would start meditating, I would naturally gravitate to the meditation that I was used to. The idea of practicing “anapana” or mindful breathing for such a long period of time was super challenging. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol (both are famous Indian actors) traversed the landscape of my mind singing "Gerua" for the most part of the day. By the afternoon, I had created a game in my head. I challenged myself to take 100 breaths without getting distracted. Hitting a century was the goal. But there were moments that I could not even hit a boundary (cricket lovers will appreciate how inadequate that feels) i.e. could not even get beyond 4 or 6 breaths without getting distracted. Clearly, I struggled on day 1 but I took solace in the fact that I had proved that you can take an Indian out of India, but you can't take Bollywood and cricket out of an Indian. This was a super comforting thought. Anyway, I promised myself to get back on the crease a.k.a. my mat and sit with determination without changing my posture (called “adhitthana” in Pali, the original language of Gautama Buddha). The perseverance paid off. By the afternoon of Day 2, I had scored a century. While I had lost count after 25 breaths, I had a fabulous meditation session. Yay! I spent the next sit trying to figure out if I was Dhoni or Tendulkar (For those who are not tuned into cricket, these 2 are crickets legends).

Over the course of the next few days, I experienced all kinds of emotions. I smiled, I cried, I choked and I was overcome with elation. Each sit (meditation session) had it’s own high or low point, some sits were better than the others, but the days got progressively better and left me emotionally lighter and mentally rejuvenated. It is difficult to explain what I truly felt, but I have attempted to explain below what I benefitted from this retreat. However, I must add that my experience is indescribable, because words work only for things that have limits. 

Eating habits - The biggest challenge for me was the regimented food routine. Breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 11 AM and Tea with fruits at 5 PM. They do not serve dinner. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love my food (including the late night snacks) and especially my multiple cups of "chai" every day. Day 1 and 2 were tough when it came to food. I spent hours trying to understand my relationship with food. Those who know my family, know that my parents feed me, overfeed me and then some. This pattern of demonstrating love continues to this date :-) So, by the morning of Day 3, I had decided that I must have starved in a previous lifetime and attributed my desire to keep eating to that period and left it at that :-)  I felt at ease eating smaller meals and by Day 6, I was enjoying every bite I took, appreciated the “no added sugar” diet, and did not miss dinner at all. I came back home a few pounds lighter (let's hope it stays that way) and more mindful of every morsel I ate.

Let go & Let be – Having practiced different meditation techniques for several years and not seeing any incremental benefits by Day 3, I questioned my decision to sign up for this course. But thankfully, I had the wisdom to surrender to new beginnings and that each successive day would only deepen the level of self-awareness and acceptance. And it did. It slowed my mental clutter, it challenged me to “just be”, sit still and focus on my breath. Thoughts kept arriving especially on February 7th (Day 6 of the retreat) , when New England Patriots were playing in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady was front and center in my thoughts. I sent him good vibes and returned to my stillness. I was on a journey of self-purification by introspection. As Carl Rogers said, "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change."

I am the master – The idea of sitting with determination without moving for one hour is daunting.   But when I experienced it multiple times a day for 10 days, I come to the realization that the need to scratch my back, and clear my throat was “anicca” (transient in Pali). Sensations come and go. How I react to it is in my control.

Equanimity – Emotional uneasiness including fear, sorrow and guilt, made it’s grand entry in my mind. And so did those beautiful memories that evoked feelings of love, affection, and happiness. But all of these emotions are also impermanent. Vipassana empowered me with that understanding, which resulted in stability and equanimity.

Bye Bye sensory overload - I realized how much noise I drown myself in. And as if the noise of my inner thoughts and the noise of my family was not enough, I choose to create more noise by embracing social media, news, and TV. The retreat left me with the insight that reducing the frequency and the decibel level of external noise helped me to go within.

Nature therapy works – Almost every day I walked for some time after lunch. Never before had I paid so much attention to the chirping of the birds, the various hues of green and brown, and the expanse of the sky. I started noticing the changing shape of clouds and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. And as a result, I felt a higher level of wellbeing. Nature's ability to heal is profound. 

The “Aha” moments –  I was cautioned by a well meaning friend that I will be bored out of my mind. On the contrary, 12 hours of meditation every day left my mind razor sharp. Day 4, 6, 8, and 9 were exceptionally fruitful. My imagination and creativity soared. Ideas sprouted in my brain in a short time. Among other things, I had a plan of convincing my husband to take a longer vacation on the destination of my choice. And just for the record, we are implementing that plan. Vipassana works :-) !!!! 

Sheer bliss – There were moments I felt so light, I felt I was levitating. There were moments when I felt my body had disintegrated and turned into unlimited energy. 120 hours of meditation/ discourse over 10 days gave me a natural high. When I experienced those moments, I wanted to grab them and cling to them, but that’s when I remembered the law of impermanence, “This too shall pass”. And just like that, while I know and have been practicing most of these life lessons, my insight deepened to a whole new level and I learned to experience the world with the lens of objectivity, equanimity and detachment. I continue to be a "work-in-progress" but Vipassana helped me to move forward. 

For more on Vipassana, visit

Friday, January 27, 2017

Declutter your mind - practical and soulful tips

We all suffer from mental chatter, the rush of words, the supersonic speed of thoughts, which lead to hastened reactions. This is precisely the time when we need to put our thought breaks on. Give yourself permission to stop for a moment,  and create some mental space by following these tips below. Just BREATHE…

  1. Be present: Breathe deeply and be present in the moment. Do whatever it takes to clear your head and calm yourself – whether it is breathing exercises, meditation or staying in silence.
  2. Rest: Sleep is imperative. It will sharpen your attention, improve your memory, improve your health, reduce stress and help your overall well being.
  3. Exercise: Whether it’s a walk in the park, yoga or a sport you enjoy, get up and move your body. Let those endorphins release in your body, boost your immune system, take control of your health, and enjoy the positivity it brings along.
  4. Attention on one thing – Stop multi-tasking. Embrace single-tasking. Adopt actionable goals. It will help you focus better, and it will boost your time management skills. Completing one task at a time builds your confidence, which will only help you to achieve success and will raise your happiness quotient.
  5. Thankful – Remember the good times and and count your blessings. Maintain a gratitude journal. Very soon you will realize that you have much to be thankful for.
  6. Have a to do list: Use an app/ tool to save your list. Save your appointments (and the reminders) on your calendar. Fewer ideas will slip away and you will tend to get a lot done. Finally, organizing and recording your tasks helps you to prioritize what is most important to you.
  7. Eliminate the non-essentials: This can be a blog post in itself J but let’s list the most important - 
    • The materialistic: Often we clutter our closets with unnecessary purchases or with products we don’t need anymore. Donate items you don’t need and organize your house.
    • The thought: Waste thoughts and negative thoughts creep up in our minds and take up a lot of space. Let go of the worries, anxieties, fears and all that does not serve you. The past is over and fretting about the future does not help. Take ownership of your thoughts. You have the power to choose positive thoughts.
    • Social media/ TV/ Phone: While there are many benefits to social media/ TV and the phone, we have become a culture where countless hours are spent on the same. External noise is inversely related to inner peace. So go ahead and put your phone away for a certain period everyday.  Find joy in the quiet.

What are you waiting for? It's time to detox your mind.