August 2018: Mars Receding, Venus Distant

Durga MAtA by Photo by Soumik Dey on Unsplash 180807

ॐ श्री मात्रे नमः (Photo by Soumik Dey on Unsplash)

The heat waves and the wild fires that seem to have gripped many areas in the last few weeks may begin to recede, as Mars begins to move out of the Rahu-Ketu field August 7the. Time to step back and assess the impact of Mars transit through the Rahu-Ketu field, acting out in different areas of your lives in June and July. Take some time by yourself to scan your physical and emotional health and that of your loved ones. We have a breather here – to calm down and heal. Those of you who have continually been connected with MA DurgA would have sensed the protection and blessings and a sense of calm, even as the fires raged, emotional and physical, in various shapes and forms, all around us.

In August 2018, Venus will be most distant from Earth. It will be seen in the sky to be transiting the zodiac of Virgo. A milder form of confusion (unlike the raging storms of Mars) is likely between August 8th and 17th, with peaks around August 10th to 13th. We may see this manifested in the social and political arenas and in turn inducing volatility in financial markets. Fashion and luxury goods sectors may be particularly impacted. The inclination, for many of us, may be towards being more analytical and less emotional – and thus out of balance in situations which require emotions to play.

Usual caveat applies: the experience may be in different areas of life for each ascendant sign and intensity depends on particular ascendant degrees. Those who continually connect with the Devi are blessed with strength and calm to better navigate through the squalls and storms of life.

July 2018: Venus may provide respite, from turbulent Mars, for some.

Venus in Leo - Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash - 180704

Venus in Leo in July Balances the Turbulence of Mars for some of us (Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash)

By Jayant Kalawar

Venus will be energized as it transits through the cluster of nakshatrAs (constellations) that make up SimhA lagnA (Leo ascendant) from the evening of July 4th to the early morning hours of August 1st. This will provide a welcome cushion for those with lagnA (ascendant) birth signs of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Libra and Scorpio. The rest of us (those with Leo, Virgo, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) may have to manage by keeping a low profile and very patient.

Mars, as of this writing on July 4th, is beginning to close in and will fully immerse into the turbulent field of Rahu-Ketu between July 12th and 29th. Expect more of the events such as freak storms, volcanic eruptions, as well as strong emotional expressions of frustration and anger, within us and amongst us, that we saw during the previous Mars immersion in the first two weeks of June. This transit of Mars will be experienced by most of us with varying degrees of intensity, depending on how much we practice focused awareness, enabling us to channel and sublimate out (not suppressing for future eruptions!) the turbulent energies, which trigger memories of past angers and frustrations, leading us to actions which we later regret.

Practicing focused awareness makes us observe the churn of emotional energies arising with the waxing and waning of planetary energies. When we are accomplished in this practice, we can watch them trigger our own particular memories, which become thoughts that we take to be all too real. We then act upon this reality of our mind. It takes a long time, many births perhaps, for this practice of focused awareness to be rooted, become one of our limbs in the subtle space. There are many techniques one can use, and many paths one can take, to climb this mountain. It helps to have a seasoned coach, at least to get ready and started on this climb, at the base camp of this mountain!

(c) Jayant Kalawar and 21BanyanTree.com

I use Systems Approach to Vedic Astrology as propounded by Professor V.K. Choudhry in my use of Jyotisha as one of the range of modalities in my coaching practice.

Contemplating on the Fallacy of Work-Life Balance

By Jayant  Kalawar

I often hear people talk about the stress of balancing work and life. So I decided to do some research on how that sense of separating work from rest of our life came about.

Work-life balance appears to have become a term mentioned with increasing frequency in popular media in the last quarter of the twentieth-century, according to a contested entry in the Wikipedia.  This particular quote from a popular book captures the sentiment that appears to inform the work-life balance problem eloquently:

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

Then there are solutions offered to balance work and life. Mayo Clinic tries to help in this regard by providing practical tips to a better work-life balance like time management, learning to say no and nurturing one’s self.  What does “nurturing” yourself mean? According to one generally accepted definition it includes: “Eat a healthy diet, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or reading. Better yet, discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends — such as hiking, dancing or taking cooking classes.”

If we are honest, all this only adds “more things to do” on the already overflowing plate of our lives, resulting in juggling more activities and stresses.

There is inherently something not quite right in the whole Work-Life balance movement:  How can one see “Work” separate from “Life,” as is implied in this framework? Do we not spend more time and energy at work, in our whole life time, than in any other activity? Do we put “Life” on hold when we are in the “Work” mode? It just does not make sense, does it?

Let’s look at balancing our life from a different perspective by approaching our work, relationships and money as the three key theaters in our life and that we play different roles on each stage in each of these theaters.   At work, we play roles as colleagues, subordinates or the boss.  In relationships, we are spouses, siblings, partners, parents, children and friends. With money, we are earners, savers, creditors, debtors and investors.  Much of the time, we play these roles without giving enough thought except, perhaps, at work where our performance is measured frequently and rewarded (or not) accordingly. Along the way, we inadvertently may play out parts of scripts of one role appropriate to one theater on to a different stage in another theater of our life.  For instance, what we learn about our roles at work may help us function with excellence on that stage, but if we bring that role into our personal relationships, without being aware of what we are doing repeatedly over long periods, we risk becoming substandard role players on the stage of personal relationships.   So being a great boss at work does not necessarily translate into being a great parent or spouse.  When such slips happen they are mundane instances of actions without awareness.

Only when we start distancing ourselves from the roles we play without identifying with those roles will we begin to excel in playing them over a cycle of days, weeks, months, years. To excel in all our roles in all our theaters of life of work, relationships and money, we need to learn how to act in awareness.

Awareness is a subtle potential that we all have. We can strengthen and deepen our awareness potential through specific contemplative, breathing and meditative practices.  With a deepened awareness potential we develop the ability to observe what we do and how we act out our roles , learn how to gracefully refine what makes sense and to let go of all that does not to achieve what we want for a balanced life.

For each one of us this set of roles, and the deft balancing acts that are required, is different at different times in our life.

Jayant Kalawar is the author of The Advaita Life Practice, available at Amazon.

Socializing, Intimacy and Privacy in the Digital Age: Socializing – Part 1

Is Your Socializing Fragrant 180701

Bring the fragrance of jasmine to your social group! (Photo by Socialpictures CH on Unsplash)

You may have noticed that when there are times we want to be alone and we give it a positive value. At other times, we may feel lonely even when we are amongst family, friends, colleagues and so on. The physical situation may be the same, but the time and place that the situation of being lonely is happening is something we do not want. Then we give it a negative value. What makes for being alone and what makes for being lonely?  I hope to write about this in a series of posts in a contemplative exploration of what being alone means, in the context of socializing, intimacy and privacy that each of us may relate to and practice in different ways.

Many people inhabiting the 21st century digital world feel that being alone provides the opportunity for rejuvenation within the boundaries of privacy. They want only a certain amount of socializing. And with certain individuals of their choice, they would like the intimacy. There is a balance between intimacy and socializing, which seems to be managed by signaling privacy boundaries.  When that balance is right, we may get to the alone time we value. When that balance is skewed, we may either end up with too little of the alone time or too much of the alone time, which at some point becomes lonely time.

This may happen both over time in different phases of our life cycle, and across the spaces we inhabit. When young, we may sense the need for more socializing and less alone time. When older we may feel the need for more alone time. It may also differ from person to person the same age group, due to a myriad of reasons. Join me in this contemplative, intuitive exploration.

In this Part I post I will explore socializing and what it means in the digital age. Future posts will cover socializing in the context of different degrees of intimacy and privacy factors, how we create boundaries and manage them and how it comes together in giving us positive alone time sometimes, and leaves us feeling lonely and hungry for company at other times.

Socializing

The framework I use for this contemplative exploration is from the Advaita Vedanta perspective (and this is just touching one point of the shore of the surface of the breadth and depth of the Vedanta framework on being human): the human is considered to have 4 capabilities – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. In these contemplations I articulate that perspective using 21st century memes.

We socialize physically, by being present in a team meeting or on the playing field or at the coffee shop.  We cannot have the physical presence in our digital social interactions (yet – sometime in the future that may change given augmented reality and holograms and so on, they may be able to produce the sense of smell and touch, which is part of the core of our physical socializing).

During these social physical together times we interact emotionally, often times with the full range of emotions: from affectionately positively friendly to angrily upsettingly negative. Being in the same physical space and in a group, makes for moderating influence. We are more circumspect on both sides.  On the other hand, when we have emotional social interactions digitally, we may end up not being so circumspect. Losing some of our composure and expending physical energy in the process.

We socialize intellectually too: we have conversations about politics, education, health care, welfare. We have opinions based on our observations, we propose them using models we have in our minds. We defend and argue about our models. And learn and sometimes change our models (often surreptitiously, without admitting it) in the process, so we can argue better next time. Those are the steps of an intellectual process. Scientists and academics do that more formally. This type of intellectual socialization may work in a digital space, especially if we leave our emotional interactions at the door. That happens more in a physical setting, and not as much in digital settings, as we notice in the flame wars on social media sites.

As I have grown older, I find I value socializing less and intimacy (which I expect to explore in a future post) and alone time more. I manage it through setting privacy boundaries (which also I will explore in a future post in this series). I see a similar pattern both in those close to my age around me, as well as my children, as they get closer to 30. My work based socialization has become very focused individual or group based problem solving interactions, strategic and wide ranging as they may be. My socialization outside of work projects, coaching and satsanghs is down to a few select friends. My alone time is filled with long walks, meditation, chanting, reading, writing, doodling, sketching (and lately sporadically knitting a scarf).

I have reached over the 800 word limit already on this post, which apparently is the expected attention span of a digital interaction. I will continue in my next post.

Meanwhile, on a scale to 100, I would say I value socializing at 30, intimacy at 30 and alone time at 40 at this stage of my life. How about you?

Two Birds on the Tree of Life

Two Birds on the Tree of Life - allan godfrey 180429

Two Birds on the Tree of Life (Photo by Alan Godfrey on Unsplash)

By Jayant Kalawar

Many of you may know about the metaphor used in the Upanishads. Of the two birds on the tree of life.

It is a way of deconstructing ourselves, to become aware of how we function in this world.

We are the two birds. The tree of life is the cosmos we perch on.

One of the birds is the eater bird. The other is the observer bird.

The eater bird has desires and it has fears to match its desires. It desires to eat the fruits it sees on the cosmic tree. It starts by eating what is nearest to it. Then its appetite increases and it hops to other branches. Higher branches, with apparently big juicy fruit. We start by only wanting to eat, be just about warm and to sleep. Then we want to have fun. Then we want to have social status: more food, more house, more car, more degrees, more fashion statements, more show-off. Many of us want to have children. We want them to maintain and increase our social status. We do this every day and night. We are either nibbling or grasping off the cosmic tree or we are plotting and planning how to eat more and more.

The eater bird starts triggering its fears as soon as it starts desiring. What if I do not get to the fruit. What if some other eater bird grabs the fruit before I can eat it all. What if there is no more fruit on the branch I am on. What if I cannot jump to the higher branches. What if other eater birds knock me off this branch. What if they do not let me get on to another branch. What if. What if.

Those are the fears we carry with us all the time. Free floating anxieties. Many times those fears come true. It is an uncertain world out there. We, as eater birds, have very little control. We may deceive ourselves to believe that we are in control of some part of some fruit. We know we are not in control. And it reinforces our anxieties.

Many of us hear inner voices sagely telling us to stick to what we know. In our comfort zones. Those voices are our fears talking to us. They are telling us how to manage our fears down and make the most of the fruits in hand. We give it fancy names. Managing risks down. Maximizing returns. We feel good that we are sophisticated and modern. We are eater birds on the cosmic tree. Eating fruit we do not own. On which we have very little control on.

And then hopping along with the eater bird part is the observer bird. Always there, besides us. If only we were to look. It is that part of us which has an understanding of the nature of the cosmos and our part in it. When we connect and immerse ourselves in the observer bird part of us, we may be able to calm down our desires. As our desires become minimal, so do our fears. When our fears become minimal, we can sleep better. We are more energized with less.

There are primal desires that never go away. We manifest in this physical body. It comes with the desire to survive. And the other desire most of us come with is the one to procreate. So while we may be able to minimize material and social desires at a personal level, these primal desires of the eater bird need a culture that helps manage these primal desires to a minimal level, without being violent with each other. That is where the personal become social.

The cultural fabric seems to be collapsing in slow motion around us, as science and technology of the material becomes our master, ruling how we live and connect with each other under the guise of Reason. We seem to be slowly but surely becoming even more disconnected from the observer bird part of us.

The challenge is not just at a personal level. It is even more so at a social level. And it is global. Start with a contemplation: what will the world be like to really act out that we desire minimally and flourish as observers of the cosmos. Step back, from time to time, from being an eater bird, and be the part that is naturally you: the quiet observer.

Have a great week.

© 21BanyanTree.com and Jayant Kalawar

The 2018 Piscean Month – March 14th to April 13th – is a mixed bag

Pisces by Jeremy Thomas Unsplash 180317

Do you see Pisces in the sky? (Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash)

I am late posting my ruminations for the Piscean month of March 14th to April 13th when the Sun is seen to transit in zodiac of Pisces on the sky map. I was busy with coaching and writing. Also, this is mixed bag of planetary transits, so I cannot take short cuts, have to speak to each sign and talk to the positives and challenges. So that took some time.

Before I dive in, did you read about the solar magnetic storm that was to pass by Earth from September 14th to 18th? Most of you know that there are regular space weather bulletins issued by the US National Weather Service.

Overall, in the Piscean month this year, Gemini, Cancer, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius are relatively more positive. Aries, Taurus, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces may have somewhat more challenges, in varying degrees.

The mixed bag comes from three events we notice in the sky:

First is Mercury’s transit in Pisces through this month, giving us more emotional and less analytical / logical vibrations. At the same time Venus is transiting Pisces until March 25th. Venus adds positively to the emotional energies. So the next week or so is great time to bond with your mother, for example. And, only coincidentally, many of us are celebrating Chaitra Navratri during this time, connecting with the Mother, LalitAmbA, through puja, chanting and meditation. It is a meditative time (see my meditative-contemplative suggestion at the end of the post).

Second is that Mercury, Venus and Sun energies reach us through the disturbed nodal axis zone created by the last solar and lunar eclipses in February 2018. That disturbed zone is still quite potent and will dissipate only after the first week of April. This causes confusions, which add to the already emotionally charged month. This will be experienced more by some signs than others and I point that out below.

Third, is the transit of Mars close to Saturn, reaching the same exact longitude on April 2nd-3rd 2018. The effect of this Mars-Saturn conjunction will begin experienced from March 23rd to April 10th, with peak on April 2nd-3rd. This is a complex experience, and each of us will observe it from different angles in our lives. I give broad directional flavor below by signs, but that is really hand waving – it requires you to get a sense of your birth chart and the role that Saturn and Mars play there, to better appreciate this conjunction.

Ok, here we go.

Aries: You may experience some temporary losses and separations in different areas of your life. On the positive side, you may get some gains in your passive income e.g. investment income, pensions, rents.

Taurus: This may turn out to be stressful month on the professional front, as well as health, work and home areas. Step back, conserve energy, focus on what is required and do it well. Sometimes stress makes you come out a champion, when managed well.

Gemini: Overall a positive month, when fortune shines and blessings flow. Some temporary stress is seen in home, children and creative areas. Be careful with your communication and how you present yourself.

Cancer: A very mixed month. Many positive uplifting things happening in home, creativity and general sense of well-being, punctuated by some passing sudden confusions. Between March 23rd and April 9th, you may see some obstructions to your career goals. Slow down, step back and then actively work towards overcoming the obstacles by collaborating with your partner(s) and seeking help from people you trust.

Leo: Fortune is likely to shine on work you do this month with your personal and business partners. On the other hand, expect and manage obstructions in career matters, communication issues and health.

Virgo: On the positive side, a general sense of well-being is pervasive. You may get to be quite emotional in your communication – slow-down in your speech and writing and try to veer to being thoughtful and silent. Hard work and showing the excellence of your work will be more beneficial than talking about it. Your physical and emotional health may be under stress especially between March 23rd and April 9th. Be careful about operating mechanical machinery, including cars, as you may be prone to injury during this time.

Libra: On the positive side, you may work closely with your partner(s) in the areas of creative projects, romance and children. Health and work place matters are likely to be stressed. The usual slow down rule applies.

Scorpio: There is potential for positive results this month, when you connect creativity, children and romance in your career area, with thoughtful communication. There may be some sudden confusions which you may have to be on the watch for. There may be some passing disputes and disturbances in home matters.

Sagittarius: A generally positive month, with some passing disturbances in passive income, career matters and luck. Connecting creativity, children and romance to new initiatives may lead to success in this period.

Capricorn: Career matters likely to move in a positive direction, with some hiccups since fortune may not favor at this time. You may experience some passing obstructions in your communications and in interactions with younger siblings, friends and colleagues. You may continue to experience a sense of loss this month (this feeling may pervade until early 2020), exacerbated due to loss in home related matters.

Aquarius: An otherwise positive month may be marred by some recurring confusions arising out of communications and also your interactions with personal and business partners. Be thoughtful. Taking a leadership position with younger friends and colleagues to drive entrepreneurial initiatives likely to lead to success now.

Pisces: The continuing challenges in the career area are likely to show up as a general free floating sense of malaise this month. This is an emotionally challenging month, which may be reflected in physical health too. Communications and overall relationship with partner(s) are likely to be under strain.

Let’s turn this month of mixed possibilities into one of abundance of the Devi’s blessings this Chaitra Navratri through meditative-dance!

21B Case Study: Taurus Rising

Your ascendant is Taurus. You have the potential to undertake courageous initiatives in collaboration with select individuals with nurturing capabilities.

case-study-chart-for-taurus-rising-170208

Moon, Sun, Mercury and Saturn channel benefic energies through you. Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Rahu and Ketu channel energies which may impact you negatively at certain times. There are traditional practices to strengthen your benefic energies and sublimate energies that may impact you negatively. These are discussed and arrived at in individual coaching sessions.

Summary

Your strongest energy is the Moon energy. Moon energy is nourishing and nurturing. Strong Moon energy signifies an individual with affectionate nurturing qualities which flow into all their behaviors. Strength of the Moon energy gives indication of supportive mother (or maternal figures), social behavior, emotional peace, financial solvency, happy married life, inheritance from the mother’s side, as well as love and care in general.  In your case, the Moon also additionally gives you energy to pursue a career by taking up and bringing to fruition initiatives that channel nourishing and nurturing energies. The Moon energy channels very strongly through you. Consider it your best guide and supporter for your career.

Your Saturn energy is also very strong. Saturn drives the direction of your career. This Saturn energy is also likely to guide to finding your long term partner, who may very well be from your career area. This long term partner is likely to hail from a location distant from your birth place. Saturn will expect and motivate you to practice your career with perfection, spirituality, detachment, reliability with discipline, honesty, sincerity, stability, longevity. It gives consistency and enables detailed work over long periods of time.

Thus, the combination of the Moon energy and Saturn energy will be your most reliable guides in your life and career.

Mercury and Jupiter channel relatively weak energies through you. They are required for your career success. Mercury energy provides you with creative and analytical intelligence in your daily career activities. Jupiter energy gives insight into the mysterious and the occult, which you need for the career area you are most likely to choose (something concerning nourishing and nurturing).  You should, therefore, incorporate daily practices and have coaching sessions to strengthen Mercury energy and propitiate Jupiter energy.

Your Sun energy, signifying your father, is well meaning but weakly channeled through you. It is unable to be of support to you. This results in weakness in your ability to acquire and hold home and assets, as well as support from influential people and gains from investments. There are ways of strengthening the Sun energy through practices and coaching, which you should explore.

Your Mars energy is weak and negatively impacts your relationship with your Sun energy. This may cause you to have disturbed sleep and allergies causing inflammation in your body. You should explore ways to propitiate Mars energy.

Your Venus energy acts very negatively for you. It not only weakens your Sun and Mercury energy and is reflected in your sense that you need to substantially increase your ability to channel creative and affectionate energies as well as nourishing and nurturing energies towards children.