Your Lunch Break

I am sat in my hospital library having just finished a wonderfully refreshing book by Laura Archer called ‘Gone For Lunch – 52 Things to do in your lunch break’.

I have not started working yet but I know that when I do, I will do my level best to ensure I invest at least a good 10 to 15 minutes for lunch – (based on what my friends, who now work as doctors are saying, getting a 5 minute lunch break is a blessing; so let’s see what work life has in store for me!).

Reading this book made me really think about how important taking some time out to invest in ourselves is, especially during a long working day.

How many of us truly give ourselves a well-earned lunch break? We try to multi-task by doing admin jobs whilst eating, we scroll through our phones whilst we eat, or we do not give ourselves an opportunity to eat at all. We get so focused on having to finish work on time that we think working through our lunch break will enable us to do that.

The impact of not giving ourselves a lunch break can be negative on the quality of work and the quality of our health.

We are all entitled to a lunch break. I do not think there is any professional work-place that expects us to work for 8 to 12 hours constantly. So why do we expect that for ourselves?

For us to work productively, we need to have a break. Giving ourselves a fun activity to do during that break will make us look forward to the break and ensure we take it (even if it is for 15 minutes). It also means we return to work after our lunch break, with so much more energy and our productivity will increase. This in turn will make us enjoy work that much more, because we are not tired and we are not hungry.

Remember, we are humans. Not robots. We are entitled to a lunch break so why deprive ourselves of it?

Work. Break. Work – a cycle of full enjoyment!

What is prayer?

Many of us invest a lot of time into prayer, and many of us do not. That is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong about the need to have to pray. However, a statement in a book I read recently made me think a lot deeper about what prayer actually is:

‘Prayer is about [focusing] less on ourselves and more on others’.

I found this statement very interesting indeed and made me realise the difference between meditation and prayer – both of which I do practice.

Meditation enables me to focus on myself. It is all about me and bringing my energies back to neutral. When I pray, I pray to focus on the world around me and makes me aware of those closest to me.

So does prayer have to be considered a religious practice? Absolutely not. Praying has always been associated with religion and there is nothing wrong with that at all. I do nonetheless believe prayer does not always have to be a religious practice. Our thoughts of well-being for others is a form of prayer isn’t it not?

Prayer I think is a practice for humanity to focus, love and grow.

I pray for love across the world!

Late Night Musings

It is 00:19. I have not been blogging in a while, so when I did get into the swing of things today I could not stop myself.

I do think a lot. My thoughts can be my biggest strength and my greatest weakness. However, blogging is a way in which I have started to become more aware of my thoughts.

The struggles and challenges are not a reflection of me. However, the way I deal with them is a true reflection of me.

I constantly face physical, mental, emotional and spiritual difficulties in life. I could be an individual who looks at these challenges as my own failing in life. However I am so proud of myself. Each of these challenges is an indicator that I do not like playing it safe. It is a sign that I am trying! I like doing things that push me and take me out of my comfort zone.

Every day, week, month and year I make sure to strive higher than the previous. Others may not see any growth or difference, but I see it constantly.

With every patient I talk to, every book I read, every blog I write, every dance cover I do, every competition I take part in, every performance I do, every day I survive, I am growing into a better person. This is all taking me one step closer to being the best version of myself.

My hair care routine

I get a lot of enquiries about my hair care when people meet me in person, or via social media. I honestly do not do much, but whatever I do is tailored towards long lasting healthy hair, especially because I have never always had amazing hair. Even now, I have areas of thin/bald patches which have slowly been getting better over time.

A lot of the habits I have acquired are from my mother. She has amazing hair, *touchwood*. I have grown up practicing the following natural rituals which have actually helped my hair grow healthily and long. These have worked wonders for me, but everyone’s hair type is different so I cannot guarantee it will work for you, but nothing beats staying natural!

1. I wash my hair no more than twice a week. Washing my hair too much makes it very dry and increases the chances of me developing dandruff which then increases hair fall. So I usually wash my hair once or twice a week max.

2. Before I wash my hair, I make sure to massage coconut hair oil into the roots of my hair and my hairline. Ideally I would do this the night before I wash my hair, but sometimes due to busy schedules this may not be the case. Even if I do this one or two hours before washing my hair, I see the benefits. The oil has helped me fight off a dry scalp. Putting oil is one thing but actually massaging it into my scalp is what I believe has stimulated hair growth.

3. I use as natural of a shampoo as possible. I’ve started realising that the shampoos with loads of chemicals or are nicely scented actually dry my scalp a lot more. I’ve been using a coconut-based shampoo recently which my mother got me. It is slightly pricey but it has been brilliant for my hair.

4. I do not blow-dry my hair. I’m scared of blow-drying my hair! The moment I have washed my hair I soak up excess water with a towel and then let it dry naturally. I really don’t think that deeply about having to go out with wet hair. It is not the end of world!

5. I do not straighten, curl or dye my hair. I’ve been against using heat products on my hair. I have seen so many girls around me who started off with voluminous hair and then lost the volume over the years due to heat and dying products. I’m quite comfortable with my hair as it is. Sometimes it is a mess, but whatever. I’m comfortable and that’s all I care about.

6. I do trim my hair from time to time. I was so bad at this, I will put my hands up to it. I love my long hair and I would go months/years without cutting it. My mum would look at my hair and tell me off in tamil because according to her my hair would go through periods where it would look like a ‘rat’s tail’! (No offence to a rat’s tail of course). She nagged me a lot and once I did cut my hair, I realised how healthy my hair looked then looked.

7. I aim to drink plenty of water and have plenty of fruits, veg and protein. Many individuals forget that the health of our skin and hair is a direct reflection of the food and drinks we consume.

My mother is a woman who is 50+ years yet her hair is still so voluminous, full of colour and health. I have been religiously following her advice about hair care because I have never had the best of hair. When I am her age or more, I want to have healthy hair so the process to get there starts now.

Hope you found this useful! 🙏🏾

How I deal with my mistakes and failures

I took part at The Bhangra Showdown 2018 on Saturday 3rd February 2018, which took place at the Genting Arena, NEC, in Birmingham. This explains why I have been so quiet on all social media platforms; having to balance studies and full time Bhangra training is extremely tough.

Now those who follow me closely, will be probably remember that Kings of Gaana 2017 was meant to be my last official university dance competition. This is partly right. I was very much done with the university dance competitions. However, over the Christmas holidays, I got a phone call from my ex-jodi/captain who explained to me how they have had one female dancer dropout and would love to have me join the team from mid-January onwards. Something made me say yes straightaway. I have always known how strenuous Bhangra training is, yet I do love it so I said yes.

I had around 2 weeks to learn the routine, formations and get my stamina up to a performance level. Challenge accepted.

Some may be thinking, why would I go into the Bhangra competition scene again after having such a successful year in 2017 at The Bhangra Showdown. Well, my success should not be measured by my achievements. Instead my success should be measured by my journey and experiences, which ultimately contribute to my growth. I did not want my ego to take over. Every year I do Bhangra, I learn something new technically or culturally. Why would I want to stop that process of learning merely because of two trophies myself and the team received last year?

Looking back at the past 2 weeks, they have been the most stimulating, challenging and demanding two weeks, physically and mentally. However, I could not have asked for a better opportunity to grow, learn about myself and meet genuine life-long friends.

Our university has had an extremely successful year for the past 6/7 years – either placing 1st or 2nd. This year was definitely not one of them. We did not win, but most upsetting was that we did not even place. Our team not placing did not hurt me as much to be honest, because I always tell myself everything happens for a reason. However, what was bugging me for some time was whether I was responsible for it. The captain, co-captain and I were responsible for setting up markers on stage for the performance. Long story short, we messed up. The stage dimensions we had set up were a lot bigger than those that we had practiced on. This meant that throughout the performance we were travelling a lot further across stage which ultimately had a knock on effect on our energy levels.

The old me would have cried and sulked about this and I would have held myself responsible for the rest of my life. Such a way of dealing with mistakes and failure is not the right way at all.

I am now wiser. Therefore, my approach to this situation was a whole lot different. I told myself the following:

• These things happen on stage and it is unavoidable. I tried my best there and then to rectify the situation to the best of my ability.

• I am a performer, the number of competitions and performances I have done; the number of mistakes I have made – none of this stopped me from recognising my potential as a dancer, so why should this isolated situation do that?

• We practiced stage set-up numerous times and nothing of the sort happened before, so it happening on the night of our performance was just a bit of a shock to the system but it made me realise that this is what performing is all about.

• The reality of performing really hit me. Therefore, next time I do perform I will make sure to fight back stronger and trust me any mistakes I have made will never happen again. This is a promise I make to myself.

• The mistake, our failure as a team, does not make me or my team bad dancers at all. In fact, looking back at how much this team has gone through, I do not think the UK has seen an emotionally or physically stronger team before, and trust me on that because it is my 7th university dance competition team I have been part of.

What have a learnt about myself?

1. I have grown mentally and physically. My perspective of my mistakes and failures is more positive. I see the opportunity and potential for growth in each of these events. This is an ultimate reflection of my spiritual growth. I love it, and I feel so much more awakened.

2. People may be judging me – ‘Praveena is a perfectionist and performer, so how could she make such mistakes?’ Well, believe it or not folks, I am human which means I am allowed to make mistakes as any other human is. I have no need to judge myself based on others’ judgments. I used to be a perfectionist, but I realised that perfectionism is not good for my well-being and it restricted me from opening my mind to the realities of life.

3. My mistakes do not define me. How I deal with and grow from my mistakes is what defines me. I promise myself that I will not make, or let anyone make such a mistake like this ever again.

4. I have the mental and physical strength to learnt strenuous routines in such a short space of time. I never thought I could get on stage with very little training time, but I realised that I actually could – this achievement is more precious to me than any win, trophy or accolade.

I am a strong human being. The competition is done now, so I can fully focus on dedicating my passion for dance to myself, all of you and most importantly to God.