Mindful eating is great, but what about mindless exercising?

Eating a raisin slowly is all the rage, and while it is proven that eating mindfully helps you be aware of your portions and digest better, we do forget another health activity where mindfulness may be required: during exercise.

Exercise often puts us in a space of physical discomfort, and people naturally turn to escaping via music or thinking, and are not really present in the room where they are exercising. However, there are a few problems in this approach.

Breathing

Firstly, breathing is important to most exercise, be it cardiovascular work, strength training or any of the newer workout combinations. However, when working out mindlessly, we often do not breathe properly, often holding the breath or not breathing deeply. This affects not only how much the exercise would benefit us, but also muscle restoration post workout.

Posture

Secondly, posture is super important for most workouts. However, when mindlessly working out, it may slip our mind as to which muscle group is supposed to be working in a particular exercise and which actually is getting used up. Apart from the exercise not achieving what it should, mindlessness for posture could also lead to injuries.

Exercising out of self-hate

The bigger, or meta thing here is that, most people get mindless during exercise because they are often forced into exercising because of body-shaming. And if you’re doing anything out of hate, obviously its a noxious environment to be mentally present in.

However, just like we need our loved ones in tough times the most, your body needs you the most when working out. It needs you to be kind, loving and to pay attention.

Studies show that mindful exercising not only has physical and cognitive benefits, but also, people are most likely to be less harsh on themselves when they are unable to workout or achieve their targets.

This is because mindful exercising helps you to see the slow but steady growth you’re making in strength and stamina, and also you get to see the effects of being positive and kind to you body, which helps you stay motivated.

So, these are some questions for you to think about next time you’re working out:

1. Why do I exercise? Is it a self-development and self-loving goal or more of a hateful place?

2. For today’s workout specifically, what are my goals – building strength, focusing on a specific muscle group, building stamina, etc?

3. What are the benefits I’m going to feel after the workout today?

4. How can I be present during the workout today? Why is that good for me?

5. How can I be loving towards myself while I work out?

Unraveling these patterns is slow, but worth it. Exercise should be fun, not a torture.

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A Letter To The Unborn Children: We Have No Love to Give You

Hello,

This is a letter to the unborn children.
We decided not to give birth to you because we have had too much tough love and do not want to pass it on.
Our parents never complemented us, no matter what we achieved.
Criticism, however, could always be found, like the fast food restaurants around the corner.
Is that cruel of us? Selfish?
We decided that we are too damaged to ever be good parents.
Our low-self esteem and self-destructive tendencies are too deeply entrenched.
It will go two ways. Either, we will spoil you silly, because we are too afraid to repeat what will happen to us. Or, we will just repeat what was done to us. We will rip you apart with negativity, and make you wish you were not born.
We will make you feel so shitty that you will choose the worst friends and relationships that will feel the negative cycle of bad self worth. You will feel that it is indeed true – you are bad and you deserve nothing.
And all this, because “we don’t praise our children due to the fear that we may spoil you”.

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Well, we have spoiled life for you anyway. By ensuring that you never think well of yourself and keep self sabotaging.
Life will be an endless cycle of pain, in the name of love. Tough love.
And even if some of did experiment, out of our own selfish need to prove ourselves or to have a legacy, then, what kind of a world will you live in anyway? The madness of fascism and the emptiness of capitalism are your only choices.
Not to mention, there’d be very few trees. You would never know Nature, like we did.
No, the spoilt game has gone on for too long. For too long, we have made emotional mistakes, in our homes and on our lands, and then we expect that some child from a future generation will come and fix this. We use this to quell our anxiety of making a big mistake. And we use this line way too often to take the choice of abortion away. Never mind the fact that we have an active child porn and child labour industry which is eating up at children’s lives anyway.

We had a choice once we were capable of thinking. We had compassion and competition both and we decided to fuel competition and envy for a few short gains. And spent centuries justifying it.
Our hypocrisy has gone on for too long. It must stop. Maybe we are wrong and you would indeed have been the generation that saves us and fixes our faults. But why should you have to?
People who cannot pass on love, should not be allowed to pass on mistakes to be fixed.

‘Beat the pussy up’ – the way we talk about sex with women

This blog contains a discussion of violent language to discuss sex, sexual violence and porn. It also contains the titles to real porn films that a lot of people may find disturbing. Please take care of yourself whilst reading this and seek support after reading if you need to. 

As a massive old skool (and sometimes new skool) RnB, Rap and Hip Hop fan, I often find myself experiencing some pretty serious cognitive dissonance to try to enjoy my music without yelling at the radio or crying into my crisps.

As a younger feminist, I used to tell myself that it was okay that women were called bitches and hoes because that’s the way that artist chose to express themselves (I know, I know, so progressive).

As I got older, I started to resent the use of the word ‘bitch’ in my once-favourite songs. I stopped listening to some artists…

View original post 2,630 more words

Muslim men should improve this one thing about themselves this Ramzan

Its the night of the 15th of Shabaan and Muslims all over the world are preparing for an eventful and pious Ramzan. Ramzan is not just a time to abstain from food but also a time to focus on what we have that others don’t and to make it available for them.

I would like to focus today on what Muslim men have that they do not use correctly or share: Agency.

Muslim men, being in a patriarchal world, have privilege and power to help their female counterparts. Yet, so many of them are either blind to what women go through, call it their “natural” role/destiny and do nothing about it, or actively make things worse for women. Does this come as a shock to you? Here is how you may be contributing:

Asking women to cover up in order to avoid rape and being looked at:

This is a particularly messy one because of our culture of Hijab, Niqab and other coverings for women. However, data has shown time and again that men who target women by making them uncomfortable or sexually violating them, do this regardless of what the woman was wearing. If you don’t believe me, check out this video of a man trying to grope an Egyptian woman who is fully covered in a burkha, including a headscarf.

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Keeping your eyes off a woman and asking other men to do so is not just good manners but actually following the footsteps of the prophet.

“Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu): “Al-Fadl bin Abbas rode behind Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) as his companion rider on the back portion of his she-camel on the day of Nahr (slaughtering of sacrifice, 10th Dhul-Hijja) and Al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) stopped to give the people verdicts (regarding their matters). In the meantime, a beautiful woman from the tribe of Khatham came, asking the verdict of Allah’s Messenger. Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) looked behind while Al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of Al-Fadl and turned his face (to the other side) in order that he should not gaze at her. She said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! The obligation of performing Hajj enjoined by Allah on his worshippers has become due (compulsory) on my father who is an old man and who cannot sit firmly on the riding animal. Will it be sufficient that I perform Hajj on his behalf?’ He said, ‘Yes.'” [Sahih Bukhari]

This hadith gives several important rulings. One is that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) acted himself, and made other men act, on Allah’s orders to lower their gazes. [Quran 24: 27-29] We see in this hadith, that the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) listened to the woman’s question and answered it while not looking at her. He also turned the face of his cousin to the side who had been staring at the woman’s beautiful face. He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) did not ask the woman to cover her face. “

If you find a man staring at a woman, muslim or otherwise, stare HIM down and ask him to behave, rather than moral policing the woman.

Not being active in domestic duties or child care:

Yet another thing the prophet was known for, was cooking his own meals, sewing clothes, taking care of the domestic animals and being generally active in the household. However, Muslim men of today sit on the sofa barking orders to the women in the house. Not only is this not following the prophet’s tradition, but going against his active dislike of people who mistreated others and abused power. Housework is not shameful and women are not lesser beings. Step up your game.

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Not letting women have a voice or opinion:

Women are relegated to the kitchen and changing the babies diapers. However, it was the Prophet’s tradition to regularly consult his wives in the matter of household, finances, and even the trajectory of Islam and how to take it forward. He married a businesswoman who had her own identity independent of wife and mother. His last wife took his work forward after his death, so he clearly did not think less of women and neither should you.

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Not letting women be financially independent, educated or aware:

My father and family believe in not letting me travel because I am single. I know how much I had to struggle to get my education and be a working woman. Muslim families still do not allow women to be intellectually and financially independent. They stop them at each step – be it traveling, choosing one’s husband or leaving a bad marriage. They are discouraged from growing their education and understanding, and having a say in matters, especially finance. This goes against not only how the prophet behaved with his wives but also Islam’s tradition of lifelong learning.

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This Ramzan, vow to be a better man, a better human, and stop adding to systematic inequalities. For tips on parenting to raise muslim boys so that they become good muslim men who respect women and treat them well, click here.

P.S: I know that there are some problematic discourses within Islam but this post was purposely centered on using proofs from within Islam because these are some proofs/verses that everyone agrees with and so it helps to start getting believers to act more responsibly at home and around women. 

Deep in thought 

Deep in thought 

Because 

I can’t be deep in action 

I was bred too highly

To get my hands dirty 

So I relegate this task 

To people who have no other jobs and then 

I act like I’m doing them a favour 

By paying their wages 

And treating them slightly better than 

Animals

I criticise their food choices

And the way they eat it

Calling their lifestyle violent 

While ignoring the silent violence 

I inflict on them daily

I am India’s upper caste, intellectual elite.

My head is in the clouds

 And I don’t know one grassroots from another 

All of it is just, 

Foliage to me.

Coming in the way of ‘development’. 

The Therepuetic World of Harry Potter I entered at age 13.

It’s 20 years since the first book and nostalgia is all over the internet. The geeky kids of then are reminiscent adults of today. Till about 12 or 13, I was hardly a reader, forget an avid one. I tried cultivating the habit because they said at school that it was a “smart people thing”. Because of being an introvert and some other personality traits and often terms like “slow” and “God forgot to give you brains” used by loved ones, I thought of myself as lacking in intellect. And I tried really hard to prove that otherwise.

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My elder brother was the reader of the house and he introduced me to the Harry Potter books. He bought them second hand and got them bound and the colours were really dull – a dirty blue with dull red borders. I was quite honestly put off. The first day I opened the book, I was stuck at the “Boy who lived” – the first page for three hours. At some point, I dozed off and then decided – books, or at least this one, wasn’t for me.

Days passed. I was cleaning the house and I came across the book again. And this time, it was a deep dive. I went from the Dursleys, to Hogwarts, to two-faced Quirrell in a matter of days. And that was really fast by my standards. And then I was done with all six books in the next few months (despite exams). I was then eagerly awaiting the seventh one like the rest of the fans.

The book was therapeutic because it helped me believe that you don’t need to grow up in privilege to turn out good. That you could be bright and be a girl. That you could be awesome at sports and not be a douche. That friendship matters and stands the test of time. That “bad people” aren’t always bad but just misguide their energies because of some bad treatment they received before. That love makes us do great things. That old people don’t have to be boring or uncool. Just at the age when I would have formed perceptions and stereotypes, the books helped me challenge them.

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But more than just this, Harry Potter introduced me to the world of reading. At a time when patriarchy overpowered me and limited my access outside home, books were a good world to lose myself into.  It was safe and it was dreamy. Books were my gateway to many important, impressive people, specifically, women and feminism and social justice and a bunch of important ideologies that define me today.

I think sometimes, where would I be without the second chance that I gave to the Dursleys.

Changing your family is the most necessary and the most difficult life task

It was the year 2008, and I had just finished my 10th std. To my shock, my father did not want me to study further. I knew my family was conservative, but not this much. He said that I could only study if I wore the burkha. At that point, I was not entirely convinced of the burkha. My mom wore it, but out of choice. I knew women who wore and did not, and I do not think the cloth per se made them more or less pious. We somehow got him to agree that I would do it post my 12th.

Two years later, I was still not convinced. I researched a lot, and the evidence was sketchy at best, about it’s requirements. Besides, the burkha as it is came because of Khomeini’s campaign in Iran during the 70s. Back then, I was still unsure of my arguing powers so we settled on the midway of a headscarf. I stopped wearing it after a while. I didn’t think it was necessary to wear a piece of cloth to prove my worth to anyone.

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Now, my stance on that was very clear. I guess somewhere my father had realised that. I would be ready with all Quranic evidence and hadith always. Another fact was that I would bring up what men were “supposed” to do as well, according to Islam. That would shut them up.

But what mattered along with that was that my academic record was impeccable, I would go out of my way to help out at home and get a lot of tasks done. And yes, there were never any late nights and for the longest time, most of my family did not think I have male friends. In an ideal world, I should not have to be a typical “good girl” to get basic rights like education and freedom. But this is not an ideal world.

While I was working up to my education, I agreed to certain things and challenged certain things. My dad said I could do my masters only if I agreed to seeing potential grooms after the first year. I agreed. But I’m still not married at 24. Most of these things don’t even happen. It was just a way for him to show him who is in control. While I agreed here, I started challenging that women should eat yesterday’s rotis if they were left. I said, divide the leftovers equally. I helped mom to start questioning things. I helped her stop being a slave for my brothers and bring them down from the pedestal.

The point is, change is slow. And, change is difficult when you have to change the people you love. Because repulsion for their beliefs and love for them as people – both have to exist together and that makes it hard for you.

But it’s possible. Its all about the negotiation. Agree to certain things, and push them for other things. Shifts in reality are always slow.

Recently, a cousin of mine was almost forced into an engagement. She wanted to talk to the guy a little more before deciding, but her parents did not let her, because their society did not allow that. They valued society’s opinion more over their daughter’s happiness.

When my dad came to know this, he said “How can they do something which will surely make their child unhappy?”

Would my dad of 2008 have said this? If this is not change, what is?