You know those awful family conflicts when two people you love, usually your parents, are having a big fight in front of you and you just have to sit there cringing and watch them humiliate themselves as they hurl insults at each other?

Well, I was the “innocent bystander” of a fight like this last week. I watched a fight break out in a chat group I belong to where things got a bit heated when a few of my friends started arguing about a touchy subject.

It’s sad to say this but I felt like an “innocent bystander who got shot by a stray bullet” to be precise because the words thrown around in that heated argument hurt me a lot. The most hurtful comment that one friend made to another was this:

“What makes you think that you are qualified enough to teach others about XYZ?” 

That comment pierced me like a bullet. I’m still trying to understand why I was so hurt by it. I think I took this comment personally even though it was directed to someone else. It felt like as if someone was confronting me, asking me what makes me think I am qualified to do anything that I do.

The comment triggered an inferiority complex in me that had been dormant for a little while. The irony is that my inferiority complex is completely unfounded and is just another device I created to sabotage myself.

People, especially women, do this all the time. We sabotage our friendships by disrespecting our friends, we sabotage our relationships by not being willing to compromise, we sabotage our careers by playing small and we sabotage our lives by not stepping up and rising to the challenge. A comment like “What makes you think you are qualified enough…?” is the surest way to trigger an inferiority complex and shrink a person down to a level far below her true being, discredit her capacity and rob her from her potential.

Stop giving yourself an inferiority complex

How do you then deal with a comment like this? Well, let’s just try to answer the question straight up, but before we do that, I would argue that we don’t have to qualify ourselves to others. We have to qualify ourselves to us.

What makes me think I’m qualified enough to teach XYZ? Well, I think that I’m qualified enough, and therefore I teach.

Responsibility vs Arrogance

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not just making a wild claim when I say that I am qualified to teach anything I randomly wish to teach, but I am qualified to teach certain things that I have the qualified myself to teach.

Again, this may sound arrogant. You might be asking, “OK Ritu, What do you mean by qualify yourself to teach? Who gave you the right to do this?”

Qualifying oneself to teach something, to do certain work, to take on certain roles and duties is a big responsibility that one takes upon oneself.

I’ll repeat that. Standing up and teaching something to others is a big responsibility and having the necessary education, training, and qualifications to do it right is a responsibility that the teacher has taken upon her shoulders.

And it is not easy.

In fact, it is really scary and you are constantly asking yourself, “Who am I to be doing this work? Who am I to be teaching this?” That was the biggest challenge that I had to overcome when I became an Atma Kriya Yoga teacher and it even had me crying in the bathroom in the middle of my teacher training. I kept saying to myself “But I’m not good enough! How can I possibly represent the teachings of such great Masters? Why me?”

Slowly, I had a revelation. I realized that my Guru Paramahamsa Vishwananda had personally approved my application and even though I didn’t trust myself to spread his teachings, HE did. He trusted me. He had faith in me that I would be a good Atma Kriya Yoga teacher even though my own mind was trying to convince me of something different.

So, what makes me think that I am qualified to teach XYZ? I do, because I have earned the qualification through training, testing myself, my own desire to learn and also to teach. Most importantly, I am qualified through the grace of my Guru because without his Grace, none of this would be possible.

Now that I have the “qualification” or self-approval and now that I have assumed the responsibility and consequences of doing my job as a teacher, I can answer that piercing question.

Everyone has one. Do you know what your personal mantra is?

Unfortunately for many of us women, our personal mantra is, “I’ll be happy when I am thin/earn more money/have that handbag/have a boyfriend” and the list goes on and on.

And I’m sad to say that is inevitable.

The mind is constantly chanting a mantra because that’s just what the mind does. It is always active and always focused on one predominant thought. That one thought that keeps coming back over and over again is more often negative than it is positive.

Affirmations are Just Mantras

The wonderful secret is that we can use this natural tendency of the mind to constantly chant a mantra and turn it into a positive thing – just by changing the mantra.

Just change the negative thought into a positive thought or better yet, an affirmation. Louise Hay is the queen of affirmations and I personally love her. I had the chance to meet her once and she was like a little child; innocent and so in love with life!

I have to be completely honest. Even though I love Louise Hay, I never enjoyed affirmations. They just didn’t work for me. I am more of a traditonalist when it comes to mantras because well, I like my mantras in Sanskrit!

The real meaning of Mantra

First of all, the word mantra is a Sanskrit word. When you break it down, man (pronounced munn) mean mind and tra means protection, and that’s exactly what a mantra does. It protects your mind from negativity and it also protects you from your mind.

Chanting a mantra or doing Japa as the practice of chanting is called in yoga speak is extremely powerful as a spiritual tool and even modern day Western teachers such as Wayne Dyer has taught this practice. Japa and chanting is also the one practice that my Guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda stresses the most as it has the power to take you furthest, quickest.

My personal experience with Mantras

As I mentioned before, affirmations never worked on me but mantras did from the very first time I tried them out. The first time I heard the most powerful mantra I’ve ever heard was in an Atma Kriya Yoga class and it was OM Namo Narayanaya.

But before I share that story with you, let me tell you about Project Mantra.

Project Mantra is a part of BM Sadhana and it has rocked my world!

I first started Project Mantra back in 2013 with the Gayatri Mantra. I happened to be on vacation in Turkey and decided that I would chant for 15 minutes while floating in the sea with my ears just below the surface of the water. It was probably too much in hindsight because suddenly I could perceive the bottom of the sea and the earth beyond that, and in a way the immensity of the earth, and it scared me a lot! I still finished chanting that day but didn’t continue chanting the Gayatri Mantra after that.

OM Namo Narayanaya on the other hand felt completely safe and so familiar from the very moment I heard it. When I first took my Atma Kriya Yoga course, the moment my teacher shared the mantra, I felt comfortable and I knew in my soul that I was home. All my apprehension about being that Atma Kriya Yoga evaporated and I let my guard down completely, probably for the first time in years.

This time around, I started the New Year by starting a new Project Mantra with a group of friends. It’s a 40 day project that involves chanting your chosen mantra (either OM Namo Narayanaya or the Gayatri Mantra) for 15 minutes for the first 10 days, 30 minutes for the next 10 days, 45 minutes for the next 10 days and finally 1 hour for the final 10 days. The catch is that if you miss one day, then you have to start all over again from the beginning.

It’s not as easy as it sounds so if you’re up for the challenge, I highly recommend starting the project and seeing if you can complete it! I’m still in the process after having to restart once already.

You will fall in love with Japa and chanting meditations just like me, if you give it a chance. It is so much easier to combine it with music and so I’m giving a workshop alongside a friend of mine to introduce you to singing mantras and to Project Mantra. I hope you will join me.

What: Learn to Sing Mantras Workshop in Toronto
When: February 24th, 2017
Time: 9pm – 10pm
Where: OCTCM, 283 Spadina Rd., Third Floor
Cost: $10 $5 online – PREPAY

It’s been a white since my last video so I made this quickly to share a few quick updates with you, also to talk to you about identity crisis. If you want aaaalll the details, sign up for my newsletter at TheLifester.com/newsletter because I share a lot more openly there.

And like and comment if you want me to share more videos! I like comments. I really really REALLY like comments.

Much love!

Ritu

Ps. If you want to know more about my spiritual path, check out my about page: http://thelifester.com/about
Pps. My Guru is Paramahamsa Vishwananda and his channel is: https://www.youtube.com/user/bhaktimarga108

My spiritual teacher and Guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda has said, “Love is the form of the Lord, Love is His true nature, Love is His color, Love is all what He is. So, awake this Love in your heart and long for Him.” 

For me this is a useful and simple explanation of how to experience God.

Well, it is simply by experiencing Love.

I had talked about the simple way to experience Love in an earlier post, and my Guru is telling us in this quote that it is through the experience of Love that you can experience God.

Why?

Because God is Love and Love is God. Paramahamsa Vishwananda says, “Love is all what He is.” 

So, if you want to experience God, the Divine, the Highest Self, the Soul of your soul, then Just Love.

Simple.

Oh and also, a little forgiveness along the way doesn’t hurt either.

Love,

Ritu

Have you ever thought about being more aware of what you eat? If you’ve ever tried a diet or fasted, then you for sure have.

If you get sugar highs and lows, then you know how easy it is to measure the effect of food on your body after you consume it.

If you knew something more about your food and the subtle impact it has on you because of the vibration it carries, would you care?

I’m a vegetarian, and it is very important in my spiritual path to be vegetarian. My Guru Paramahamsa Vishwananda actively promotes vegetarianism.

Despite that, I never ever thought that I’d care about such things like what my food had been through before I was ingesting it into my body.

And then… I watched Earthlings (<– Disclaimer: this might be disturbing to a lot of people, so don’t click if you don’t want to watch it).

The Vegan-Maker, sort of

Yes, it’s called the “vegan-maker”, but I’ll be honest, that movie wasn’t what made me want to give up dairy. If you’ve watched it, then please don’t think I’m heartless for that!

Then on a rainy Sunday at home in Toronto, I was having a Netflix and chill kinda day, browsing through the documentaries on Netflix and stumbled upon Cowspiracy. It’s an environmental movie, and I didn’t expect it to have a lot of vegetarian type of messaging in it. I was surprised as I watched it because the documentary presents some straight up facts and figures around the impact industrial farming has on the environment.

So now I’m making a better effort to be dairy-free. Trying out this vegan cheese is a step towards that.

Daiya Vegan Cheese Review

Back in 2012, before I started my spiritual journey, I was at the Mind, Body, Spirit festival in London, with my friend Jenny. As we were browsing around the tradeshow floor, we walked by a stall that was selling vegan cheese. I remember thinking that it was the weirdest thing ever. Who would have thought that four years later, I would be freaking out about it in excitement? Oh, life, and its irony.

Giving up dairy is easy because soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk make it easy to stop drinking milk in your cereal and coffee. But what about dairy products like butter, cheese, and yogurt?

After a few weeks going dairy free, trust me, you start to really miss cheese. That’s why when I was at a health food store and saw vegan cheese that actually melts so that I could have a grilled cheese again, (hallelujah!) I couldn’t resist buying it.

daiya-vegan-cheese1

Daiya cheddar style cheese smells a lot like real cheddar when you open the package. It even tastes a lot like real cheese when you eat it right out of the package. There is an aftertaste similar to what you get after eating Cheetos. The real question was, however, will it really melt like real cheddar?

daiya-vegan-cheese-grilled-cheese

And, success! The vegan cheese melts! You won’t believe how happy I was when I discovered the cheese melts. The little joys.

But, there was still another question. How would it taste?

daiya-vegan-cheese-grilled-cheese3

Another success! It tastes good! There’s still that Cheetos aftertaste but I was never opposed to Cheetos, so that was a non-issue.

The real reason why I love vegan cheese

OK, let me tell you the real reason why I’m so excited about such a little things as vegan cheese that melts.

To be honest, it is encouraging and heartening to hear that there are brands out there that are also conscious about the environmental impact of industrial farming. It is heartening to see that there are other people out there, who run entire companies, that are trying to make a difference in the way that animals are treated and to help the environment. It is a symbol of solidarity more so than, “Yay, I get to eat grilled cheese again.”

There are a few things that vegan cheese taught me about spirituality.

  1. I am willing to practice self-restraint when it comes to avoiding dairy but I still will allow myself to indulge in a greasy cheesy treat now and again.
  2. I shouldn’t judge someone based on their diet and eating habits because, in four years time, I could be in their exact shoes.
  3. It is so important to seek out and join up with others (people, organizations, and brands) that stand for the same beliefs as you because otherwise, it’s just too lonely.

So, thank you Daiya, and thank you vegan grilled cheese sandwich. You help to make my journey and my learning that much more delicious.

Love,

Ananga Manjari Dasi