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“Mystical Mandalas” – by Jyoti Agarwal

To my friends I may be an entrepreneur, teacher and artist but to my cafe members I am the ‘Mandala Queen’, a tag I have come to love and adore. As we begin our new journey of posts and blogs I would like to share my insight into this art form that has captivated my heart and soul, my entire being, over the past year.

A mandala, which is Sanskrit for circle, is a geometric design that holds a great deal of symbolism in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Mandalas are believed to represent different aspects of the universe and are used as instruments of meditation and symbols of prayer most notably in China, Japan and Tibet. Loosely based on the folk arts of India, Mandala is an ancient art that is seen in Mughal architecture as well. More recently, mandalas have also been found in dream catchers, a popular item in the West, as a means to protect the individual sleeping.

Mandala as an art form has many dimensions and benefits. Creating a Mandala transports you to a different world. The immersive experience of making a mandala has immense benefits. Besides helping younger kids in building concentration or re-focusing adult concentration, it has an incredibly calming effect and is a great stress buster. In addition, it unleashes people’s hidden creativity and in the end, the outcome is a beautiful piece of art to adorn one’s walls.

Working on a mandala from making the template to adding colours to it or filling it with patterns is a time-intensive but satisfying process. It is in fact the time and effort involved that is almost meditation-like resulting in the calming effect that it produces.

Types of Mandalas

There are various types of mandalas found in different cultures and used for a multitude of purposes, both artistically and spiritually.

1. Teaching Mandalas

Teaching mandalas are symbolic, and each shape, line, or colour represents a different aspect of a philosophical or religious system. The student creates his or her own mandala based on principles of design and construction, projecting a visual symbolization of everything they have learned. Teaching mandalas serve as colourful, mental maps for their creators.

2. Healing Mandalas

Healing mandalas are more intuitive in design, and they are made for the purpose of meditation. Healing mandalas are intended to deliver wisdom, evoke feelings of calm, and channel focus and concentration.

Symbolism in Mandalas

The center is a dot, which is a symbol that is free of dimensions. It is interpreted as the starting point, the beginning of contemplation, and devotion to the divine. From there, the dot is surrounded by lines and geometrical patterns that symbolize the universe, encompassed by the outer circle which represents the cyclical nature of life. 

How Mandalas Are Used:

Mandalas are used for a variety of religious traditions, meditation, and modern contexts. The traditional mandala, takes weeks to complete and is full of positivity and brings inner peace.

It is my desire to see many take up this art form and achieve inner peace and calm and a philosophical approach to life. By creating mandalas, I have found balance in my life and it has given me strength during the pandemic. Some do yoga, some meditate while others resort to many different methods of self-relaxation. For me it is the mandala and I hope that it will bring you, my dear reader, the same resilience, peace and tranquillity. 

Jyoti Agarwal, Bangalore

Artist, Teacher & ofcourse Mandala Queen!!

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जहाँ सपनो को मिली नयी उड़ान ❤️ – सरोज अगरवाल

बचपन के उस मासूम लम्हे में ,
कुछ सपने संजोए थे मैंने।
तब कहां समझ पाए थे कि,
जिम्मेदारी की बेड़ियां पड़ेगी पैरों में।
कुछ अरमान रह गए दिल में,
कुछ मुक्कमल हो गए।
कुछ की तो धुंधली सी सी छाया अभी भी बाकी है दिल में।
समय की परतों को हटा कर वह ख्वाब कभी कभी झांकते हैं,
इस बढ़ती हुई दहलीज पर चुप चुप कर पंख फैलाते हैं।
फिर से जीने को मन्न करता है उन बचपन के हसीन ख्वाब को,
अपनी जिम्मेदारियों को पाते रख, कागज़ कलम उठाने को।
एक बार फिर जी लें अपने फिर वही सपने,
सोए अरमान को जगा कर फिर जी लें वही लम्ह हैं।
Dear Kavita and “CAFE “
❣️

-Saroj Agarwal.
इन्हीं सपनों को बदलने का मौका देता है ÇAFÉ.
ÇAFÉ हर हाउसवाइफ को सपने देखने की उड़ान देता है, सपने पूरे करने में मदद करता है और जीवन में सपनों को जीने का नया ढंग सिखाया है।

Saroj Agarwal,

Psychological Counsellor, WICCI WB Homepreneur Vice President.

Mann Ki Baat Co Founder

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Balance the Unbalanced!- Cafe Editor- Priya Jalan

Who coined this term? This word should have sounded like “onomatopoeia”. Difficult to pronounce! Only to highlight the sheer unreachability of this idealistic concept, which we all try to achieve but end up at being on varying levels of it. The contemporary mentors and advisors of aspiring women has advised to achieve a fine balance between house and occupation. How else do women have it all?

Any work, be it your business or just a hobby, requires single pointed focus and perseverance. Today’s society is definitely more advanced in its preaching and understanding of how men should stand and shoulder responsibility, if not in equal proportion, let’s say at least so much so as to facilitate the women achieve all her aspirations.

But does this beautiful thought see the light of the day?

Isn’t in practical life, we have strong demarcations of what is a woman’s duty. How in every celebration, a woman needs to achingly part with work and make the event a festival, guarding the sanctity of joyous celebrations? Why can’t a husband go in the kitchen and make halwa for the same occasion. Why is it yet a taboo? Why do men need excruciating situations to help out in small affairs of the household?

Not to snatch their credibility, men have traversed a long path. They genuinely talk about participating and try to contribute in the household affairs, if it’s not too much of a trouble and sometimes even surpass our expectations which itself is so ecstatic for women that they forget about their slogging and juggling rest of the times. And in those fleeting, gratifying moments, the unfairness of it all simply vanishes in thin air. Such is the sheer brilliance of feminity that it absolves all and that too with unconditional love and adoration.

Having said that, there are indeed some men who are so rational, kind and secure in sharing work life balance with their better halves that hope continues to shine bright in the sky of achievements that would have to broaden it’s boundaries to contain all that women has to offer.

The path of evolution will take its course and the future surely has in store those days when men and women jobs’ would no longer be differentiated. It would require men to be kinder and more giving to be able to do that and women to be more pragmatic.

Fingers crossed and anticipating that we women are raising our sons to be the flag bearers to reach the glorious end of this obvious path we all are traversing. I have the good fortune of interacting with many women. I salute the power of those who are doing so many & so much, incredibly with flying colors. I also salute those women who constantly think about pursuing their dreams but give majority of their precious time raising their family. Can’t these women be a little indifferent and commence what they relish? But, how a woman gives and can help herself no better than continuing to give, in the hope that once she has fulfilled some standing responsibilities, she would have more room in her life to accommodate her desires and aspirations.

It would give me immense gratification to live enough to see those days when the society actually helps her do both and still loves and nurtures her, the way she has been doing it for aeons. I have seen good days for my generation, better than what my mother got. I have also seen the adverse effects of our time on women, being caught up in this frenzy wherein the society is neither whole-heartedly ready nor in denial, where there is no full support but full expectations.

Men of today look for a bride who can run the house, keep it spick and span and still earn enough to take a foreign vacation while maintaining herself to look sexy and ofcourse raise children, all the while men helping in tid-bits. Really? These are some major goals which I dare men to take up!

I hope to see a day when we live in a truly liberated society in action and true to their newly acquired understanding of women, their roles and aspirations.

Priya Jalan

Founder Priya Jalan English Academy, IELTS Coach, Cafe Editor

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Lets see the world without our blinkers! – Sarika Shah

We put blinkers and see,

It’s all about I and me…..

There’s more than what meets the eye,

Our perceptions differ, its not a lie.

The truth is that everything is relative,

Things are not same but subjective.

Our paths are different though they cross,

We fail to understand this and incur a loss.

Loss of magnanimity in cognition,

Unconditional expansion and a broad vision.

Being human and having humility,

Aren’t they different? Let’s face reality.

We put blinkers and see,

It’s all about I and me.

Sarika Shah

Sarika is a psychological counsellor and runs her own services under the brand name Oorja.

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Lets redefine Failure – session takeaways by Poorvi

Don’t we all remember our 10th grade result. Everyone at school cuddles together to get the glimpse of black board in which pieces of A4 size paper had saga of all the student’s past and future. What an adrenaline rush!. What is this emotion that gives us butterflies in stomach? Have we ever tried to address it?

Emotion is fear of failure and if addressed systematically can become a powerful tool for creating better future ventures. Vandana Mohture, a mindset coach from Sydney Australia  guided us splendidly through a very empowering session at CAFÉ . She has spent 10 long years in corporate sector before switching over to her niche.  She too had her fears and beliefs, which she did overcome and also shared with us virtues that helped her.

According to her, it is most important to first get the concrete definition of success and failure. SUCCESS for her is surviving with values without holding back and FAILURE is non-allignment with values. If still encountered with failure, then we should handle with seven lenses which will lead to clarity.

F:      feedback

Rethink on all your action

A:       adaption

Adapt to alternate situation of any action is found not valid

I:       investigate

Get curious about what more can be done.

L:    learn as it is a continuous process

U:     utilize all the external and internal resources. Internal resources includes exploring our own inner potential.

R:      rise above all your failures , keep moving and act to deliver

E:      empower others because you learn so much when you teach.

She also motivated members to apply their internal factors faithfully, if at all none of the external factors work in our favour.  Our own CAFÉ members also shared their views and experience to add more practical approach.

Altogether, this was truly inspiring, motivating and empowering session.

Poorvi Jasani

Poorvi is a bangalore based baker and content creator.

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4 ways to nurture the Growth Mindset in our children – Charulata

Insight into a Child's Mind | PowerBrain RX

I came across an interesting TED talk by Carol Dweck and was introduced to this beautiful concept called ‘The Growth Mindset’. The Growth Mindset is the most valuable gift we can give ourselves at any point in our lives. What is a Growth Mindset? It means that our brain is everchanging throughout our lives and it keeps getting stronger as we keep learning. To develop this in children from a very young age would be a life-changer for them – something that would transform their ability to persevere towards their goals and their ability to take challenges headon.  

Here are four ways we can develop and nurture the growth mindset in our children: 

#1Always praise the process and the effort and NOT the result. We should be specific in our praise. 

Instead of saying “What a Beautiful Painting”, we can say “It is amazing how you were so focussed on your coloring!” Or “You have put in so much thought into the colors! That is amazing!” 

When we praise the outcome or the ability, it conveys a fixed mindset. It makes them scared of losing the “good/great” tag and of making mistakes. By praising the effort, our children understand that they can control and improve on it. By paying attention to their process and not only the outcome, we encourage them to be patient and keep trying even if the result isn’t fantastic.

#2 Encourage our children to add “yet” to their donts and cants. 

“I can’t ride a bike YET”, “I don’t know how gravity works YET”, “I don’t understand Algebra YET” 

YET transforms the meaning of the sentence and makes the child a lifelong learner. YET means with time and effort, I can understand and learn, it doesn’t mean I am dumb or “not meant for math”. 

#3 When our children are stuck, guide them to ask themselves questions like ‘What can I do differently?’ Or ‘Is there something I missed?’.  Let us not stop with the ‘work hard and put in the effort’ speech. That way, failing will no longer be about a personal deficiency but about finding another way to do the same thing.

#4 Most importantly, we need to talk to our children about the growth mindset. Explain to them how the brain forms new connections and that is why things become easier with practice. Tell them about how the brain grows stronger as we make mistakes, as we keep learning new skills and as we keep finding new ways of doing things.

As I read about the growth mindset and looked at my interactions with my daughters, I started becoming aware of what I was telling them. I caught myself several times praising their intelligence instead of their effort. But I am certain that slowly, these behavioral changes will become a part of our nature and it will become a part of our child’s nature as well. Then we will have a child who doesn’t mind making mistakes, who embraces challenges, perseveres and finds different ways to make things work and never feels ‘stupid’ when they fail. 

By Charulatha

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Heart to Heart with my Boys- Akanksha Srivastava

I am a mother of two boys and when my boys were around eight and five years old, I came across a WhatsApp message that discussed how the writer had told her son about “maintenance periods”. She had told him that like everything needs maintenance, her body needed maintenance too. She had also informed him that her “maintenance period” happened every month and during this time she needed a lot of rest and pampering. This had made her son very considerate and it had helped her open up more dialogues with him.

 I liked it so much that I spoke about “maintenance period” with my boys too. Both of them love cars and they could easily understand maintenance. But they were not sure why Papa didn’t  get his maintenance too? I had to tell them that since babies are made inside mummy’s uterus so it needs to be especially clean and hence mommy’s get maintenance period every month. My 8-year-old had a few questions like does it hurt really bad and how much rest would I need? This was enough information for my boys at that time. They did not ask any more questions and went on to play with their cars. Now whenever I am resting or am tired, they do ask if its your maintenance period and then they don’t disturb me. They have come to accept the fact that grown up girls and women have maintenance periods every month and then they might need rest and pampering. My boys are quite considerate during that time of the month and once they even told my father that mama is having her maintenance period so she is resting. Well, now besides my mother, I have my boys sharing this information with my father (growing up I never discussed periods with my father, though he is a doctor and my mother used to consult him whenever I had lot of pain due to periods).

When my children wanted to know how bad the cramps are, I showed them this YouTube video by De Lune and we had some laughs but they did understand that period cramp is painful. I suggest that you show this to your partner too to make them understand how cramps feel. If you are a male and reading this, first of all kudos to you. We need more men like you and yes please do have a look at the video.

My elder one sometimes says that girls do have it hard with periods and child birth and I am pretty sure my younger one has become more empathetic too. I hope we all can open up with the men, especially the little men in our lives and make them understand what it is to be a woman! I also hope that with me discussing my problems and challenges openly, my boys would also open up to me about their own set of problems and we will collaborate better.

Akanksha Srivastava

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IT’S BEEN THE SAME SINCE AGES- Payal Goenka

My eyes were wet but I was not crying. My mind and heart both were speaking different languages. Indecisiveness confused me that whether it was anger or sorrow which made my eyes wet.

Nothing very big happened today but a series of events forced me to give a deep thought in today’s episode. It was a normal quarrel between me and my daughter as we all face when our kids enter their teens. Today she came and asked “Mummy can I go to my friends house for a night party “  I straightforwardly rejected the idea, and as we know today’s kids, they don’t want to listen “NO” and as expected, she burst with anger. Her words were “You always want to control my life! You don’t have faith on me. You don’t love me etc.”  All of a sudden, she uttered a sentence saying that I have done nothing for her and why did I even give birth to her if I had no love for her. After hearing this, I was traumatized and the whole world paused for me for few minutes. But she went away without realising anything, as if nothing had happened. The whole episode brought in front of me a flashback of 14 years from the day she was born till the current day. I went inside my room and settled myself on bed giving a deep thought to her words for some time. I was trying to control the pain, gasping for air, drowning in this pool of despair but had to control myself as I had to behave like an understanding and matured mom. Then all of a sudden, I called my mom and randomly asked her,

“Have I ever been rude to you?

Have I ever told you sorry about my wrong behaviour?

Have I ever hurt you so much that you felt that why have you given birth to me?”

My mom was quiet for few seconds, but from her silence, I could make out that she was smiling sarcastically.

As we know grey hairs are respected for their experiences and by her experience, she could make out that I was feeling very low. She slightly changed the topic and tried to calm me. But my mind and heart were not too disturbed to judge any situation properly, so I hung up the phone. Keeping my eyes closed, I lied down on the bed half asleep and half restless.

After some time, I felt someone was lying beside me and hugging me tight. It was my daughter and I could feel her warmth. She was remorseful and it was her way of apologizing. Though not a word was uttered by her, but my heart could feel that she was truly sorry for her deed.  I later realised why my mother could also be smiling sarcastically, maybe I have done all the same in my teens with her. Later by evening, I called her back and the first word said by me was “MOM I AM SORRY” for everything. This time she smiled though not sarcastically, and said “Beta, you are now becoming a mother and realising true meaning of motherhood”.

My eyes lit up again and my mind and heart came together and made me realise that it’s been the same since ages, only the methods have changed because “A Mother and A Daughter Duo is always eternal”.

Payal Goenka

Payal is a budding writer and a mom of 2 daughters.

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Corona related Myths – an insight by Meenu Agarwal, Food n Wellness

1)MYTH: I have been always eating healthy food, I can’t be infected by COVID-19.

• FACT: You cannot prevent the Covid-19 infection through diet. However, always following

healthy eating habits will help you to recover soon & maintain your immune system to fight against the virus.

2) MYTH: Eating chicken can spread coronavirus.

• FACT: Eating hygienically prepared and well-cooked chicken does not spread any coronavirus.

3) MYTH: Keep on sipping warm water every 15-30 minutes to avoid coronavirus

• FACT: There is no proven evidence that warm water prevents Coronavirus. However, WHO recommends to keep yourself hydrated, by drinking 2-3L of room temperature water.

4)MYTH: Drinking all kinds of herbal kadhas, bitter gourd juice twice a day will protect me against coronavirus infection.

• FACT: False. No amount herbal kadha or bitter gourd juice can protect you against coronavirus.

5) MYTH: Eating garlic will help to prevent the corona virus infection.

• FACT: Garlic has anti- microbial properties and is indeed healthy. But there is no evidence that eating garlic will keep you away from coronavirus infection.

6) MYTH: Gargling with warm water mixed with salt helps in treating corona virus infection.

• FACT: False. Coronavirus cannot be treated by gargling warm water mixed with salt.

7) MYTH: Adding hot pepper and lemon juice to your meals or soups will prevent from coronavirus infection.

• FACT: No amount of hot pepper and lemon juice addition will protect you from corona virus infection. WHO recommends to eat 2-3 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables as a part of healthy diet.

8) MYTH: Including spices like turmeric, Cinnamon and black jeera seeds in all your meals will protect you from coronavirus infection.

 • FACT: The antimicrobial properties of these spices does strengthen your immune system but there is no scientific evidence that it prevents Coronavirus infection.

9) MYTH: Post corona infection recovery, one should avoid exercising.

• FACT: Fatigue, breathlessness or muscle and joint pain may prevail post corona recovery, but it is ideal to be physically active to get your lymphatic system back on track. Lymphatic drainage is a part of our immune system which gets severely affected by the coronavirus. You can start with low intensity exercises like walking or slow jogging for 15-20 minutes daily. And, stretching out will ease your muscle & joint pains and increases the flexibility to move around.

Meenu Agarwal

Food N Wellness.

Meenu is a renowned nutritionist based in Singapore and practising across the globe. She is the Vice President at CAFE Head Board.

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A beautiful ode to parents – Renu Bhuwania

मेरा नाम रेनू भुवानिया है,
मैं एक हाउस वाइफ हूं।
यह कविता सिर्फ मेरी नहीं, उन हर लड़कियों की है जो शादी के सालों बाद भी अपने बचपन को नहीं भूल पाती।

आज भी याद है
शादी के पहले माता-पिता के साथ बिताए हर पल,
आज भी याद है !
बचपन जो उनके साथ बीता,
आज भी याद है!
काश, वह दिन वापस आ जाए,मम्मी का पीछे-पीछे घूमना, वह खाना,
आज भी याद है!
बाहर से आते ही सब कुछ पूछना ,खाना खाया कि नहीं,
आज भी याद है!
बाहर जाते वक्त ,जल्दी आना, ध्यान से जाना,
आज भी याद है!
थकने पर पांव दबाना ,सर पर हाथ रखना, गोद में सुलाना,
आज भी याद है!
पापा का सब कुछ समझाना, यह कह कह कर कि लड़कियां चांद पर चली गई, सब काम करवाना,
आज भी याद है!
वह डांटना और कहना चुप क्यों हो,सही हो तो तर्क करो ,चुप हो यानी गलत हो,
आज भी याद है!
जीवन भर जो उन्होंने किए वह इतने उपकार,
आज भी याद है!
आज भी याद है!!

Renu is a homemaker, creative person, and lifelong learner.