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Stop before you Start!

18 Aug

Stop before you Start! 

~ the amber light for all spiritual aspirants, to pause before they start the journey

So you’re bitten by the proverbial spiritual bug. As soon as you’ve listened to a mesmerising Master eloquently explaining what enlightenment is, on YouTube, and soothingly assuring it’s a possibility for everyone – that includes, ahem, you! Or when you’ve seen your BFF lose weight miraculously, a mere month after s/he started a new yOgA practice, which s/he learned in your workplace itself. Or when you simply couldn’t put down the book on the methods for self-realisation that you picked up at the airport (at double the cost of Amazon, no less) during one of those pointless business trips. Or when your fav celebrity – one of the many, obviously, since there are one too many now – gushed about how her recent initiation into mindfulness has transformed her as a person overnight (though there is no proof of any such transformation, other than her own assurance to famished fans like you)!

Anyway, one or all of the above happened to you within the last fortnight and you’re all fired up to start the journey to know. Umm, you don’t know yet what you really want to know, but who cares about such nuances anyway. If your fav celebrity got transformed, you, her die-hard fan, too will most certainly get the transformation. And how could the bestselling book be wrong, you ask yourself. And the weight-loss too is a dangling carrot that’s hard to ignore. And, if in doubt, you can always check with the YouTube Guru, who seems to know about everything under the sun! So you can hardly wait and are all set to press the ignition button.

Wait… wait… wait… Hold on for one moment please. Consider this the amber light that may actually prevent you from wrecking not only your #MakeInIndia superbike by jumping the Red, but also potentially wrecking those around you – on the road or at home or even at work, for that matter. Please Stop, just for a moment, before you Start that journey, which might be inevitable, who knows.

The long journey to self-realisation is a lonely pursuit. And a very selfish one!

What the h#!!?,” you may baulk. “Aren’t there millions of seekers, like me, who are on the path, being part of so many spiritual organisations!,” you might marvel. Yes, but…

IMG_20170712_093824There may be many fellow seekers along the path, or on a different path, to the same destination. They may even be part of the same spiritual organisation that you chose to be a part of and may do all the same programs that you do and do all the daily practices that you are supposed to do.

But, rest assured, each journey is different and every seeker has to pursue the journey alone, even if s/he is part of a group of seekers. And because you are aligned with a group of seekers who are all guided by the same Guru doesn’t mean you are all going to work together for everyone’s enlightenment. Tsk.. tsk.. Self-realisation is such a self-explanatory term that one should never get lost in any imagination about it’s self-centered nature. There is no getting around the hard-to-swallow fact that it’s about you and you alone.

sp1.jpgIf I become a better person, as a result of my spiritual practices, won’t the people connected with me be thrilled?,” you may wonder. Indeed, they will be. And the weight loss would certainly earn a few more admirers as well. But…

There will be many spectators along the path – loving family, caring friends, acerbic critics, unqualified self-proclaimed masters, et al. All of them are but mere spectators, who haven’t started (or concluded – especially the half-baked masters) their own journey yet. In fact, many of them won’t even have a clue about the existence of such a journey. They are so entangled in survival that they may not even be interesting in knowing about it, let alone support you in pursuing it. So, don’t be surprised if the beloved ones end up being the befuddled ones, not being able to comprehend what’s going on with you, i.e. the person they thought they knew all along!

I’ve got a fantastic Guru guiding me man… someone so popular that everyone from politicians to celebrities to industrialists line up to be at his events that happen all over the nation!,” you may protest. Well…

Guru_Swamy3

If you’re blessed, you may actually have a Guru (Spiritual Master, not the head of some religious establishment), with boundless compassion to guide seekers like you, shining the light along the path. But even s/he isn’t going to literally hold hands, till you reach the destination.

Not only that, the Guru will strip you clean of all the pretensions of your very existence, including the facade of personality that you’re hiding behind, in order to eke out a living in this man-eat-dog mad mad world that’s hell-bent on self-destructing the only planet it has got to live, so far, in this vast, still expanding, universe. Be assured, it won’t be a pretty sight, when you’ve no other choice but to look at yourself, in all your true-self g(l)ory… eeew! And that’s exactly what a real Guru does to you, because Guru is the light that annihilates the darkness of your hilarious ignorance, which you presumed to be intelligence, until the tables are turned, upside down.

adiyogi41s.jpgAll right, now that your iMax sized imaginary world of spirituality is shaken a bit with shattering Dolby Atmos sound, you better pause for a moment at this Amber sign (umm, Amber is the warning sign, in case you routinely fail to notice or jump at the sight of it on the roads), before speeding away into the unknown, but not uncharted, long winding path of spirituality.

Oh hey, you’re totally free to proceed on the well-known path of religion, which is the always available alternative, which most humans find very comfortable to tread, during any part of their existence. But that’s not going to take you to where you may actually want to go, since, most unfortunately, all the savvy preachers, heavy tomes and slick videos and impressive social media posts won’t bother differentiating one from the other, i.e. religion from spirituality. They are distinct and almost diametrically opposite.

The journey to realise the Truth isn’t a fun tourist trip that anyone curious can undertake. It’s a challenging yAtrA (pilgrimage) that not many get to complete, within a lifetime.

Yet, it’s been diligently undertaken by many, willingly, from time immemorial. And most of them did (and still do) have a Guru to guide them along.

Of course, anyone can start it. Even you, who loves whistle-worthy silly dialogues like “ரிஸ்க்ன்னா எனக்கு ரஸ்க் சாப்பிடற மாதிரி!” (“Taking risk is just like eating rusk for me!”) can. No one’s going to stop you from starting. And no one’s going to be there to ensure you sustain it. Or even complete it. You’ll be on your own. All the way, from start to finish. Hard to swallow but hey, that’s how Truth is.

Fun fact: The spiritual journey neither has a fixed schedule nor predetermined levels of difficulty.

RealizationBoth the length and difficulty of the journey is determined by you, not anyone else. So, if at all you don’t make it all the way, or you take a very long time to make it – may be a few lifetimes, the only being you can blame is yourself. And the “I told you so!” spectators will still be around to rub some salt on your wounded ego.

Along the path, there will be…

  • a number of tempting side attractions that will distract you from continuing the journey.
  • many a roadblock that will test your resolve to continue the journey.
  • a multitude of moments when you will be so exasperated that you just want to drop everything and run all the way back to where you started.

Naturally, there will be a number of fellow seekers too, who will pat you on the back, saying “Well, we’re on the same boat sis (or bro)!” hoping to cheer you up.

With plethora of content and myriad media to consume it, there are any number of aids available to a seeker, who should know how to utilise them, to progress further, along the path. The YouTube video that ignited the fire in you is one of them. That overpriced book full of practical methods is another. And it’s quite possible to be so enamoured by such aides that you may be stuck right where you are, without even realising it. After all, more videos and books are getting published every day. From everyone who thinks s/he has figured it all out!

CDD9-3And, if and when you make it to the destination, in this birth or another, you may be utterly baffled to realise that the journey is indeed the destination and you didn’t even have to undertake the gruelling journey in the first place, to realise what has always been there, right within you. Bummer!

Yet, upon the conclusion of the journey, you will end up immersed in the state of eternal bliss, overflowing with compassion, just like those who have attained self-realisation, before you. From time immemorial. And here’s the best part. There’s absolutely no obligation whatsoever for you to even share the experience with anyone, let alone shine the light of your hard-earned gnAnA (wisdom).

For every Agasthya Muni or Adi ShankarA or RamaNa Maharishi or Sadhguru, there have been thousands of other realised beings who simply chose to remain in the state of bliss, finding no compelling need to share it with anyone else. It’s certainly possible for you to be like one of them. Seems like a very tempting bargain, eh!

GuruPurnima1All said and done, there is a reason why there have been and are only a handful of realised beings and Masters, even as the human population kept on growing relentlessly. They are the only ones who walked the path all alone, all the way, consciously avoiding the distractions, and reached the ultimate destination, with or without the guidance of a Guru. They are the ones who have seen the glorious light of Truth, shining forever, within themselves. They are the truly blessed ones who had the glorious darshan of the Ananda ThANdavA (dance of bliss or ecstacy), with their eyes closed. And only a few of them, in an outpouring of compassion, chose to guide others along the path, as Guru.

So, before you choose to get on the path of spirituality, which btw – just to reiterate, because it’s extremely important to know – has nothing to do with religion, simply because someone known to you has done so or some social media post has fired you up, do take a moment to assess yourself. And be honest with yourself in accepting the fact that you may not be ready yet.

20120625_143222The humility to accept your lack of readiness to even begin the spiritual journey in pursuit of Truth, is indeed the starting point of the enchanting journey to everlasting realisation of the Self! Your humble acknowledgement of “I don’t know,” will eventually become such an unbearable thirst that it can be quenched only by the one(s) who has been there and seen that. Who knows, s/he may happen to you in this lifetime itself (don’t ever try going around shopping for a Guru – it just doesn’t work that way), to nudge you along the path.

Well, the Green light is on. It’s up to you now to Pause your Start or Continue unwaveringly. Happy journey fellow seeker!

May Grace be with you for a purposeful Life overflowing with Joy.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

SG1

Swamy aka @PrakashSwamy is a seeker (full-time may sound funny, but that’s a fact) whose seeking was on-and-off from his teens (when a maternal uncle took him to a Transcendental Meditation program) and switched gears upward in 2009, when his Master Sadhguru (Mystic, Yogi and visionary founder of Isha Foundation, awarded the Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government in 2017 for the remarkable social endevours of his spiritual organisation) initiated him into the ancient Kriya of Shambhavi Maha Mudra. A few more advanced Isha Yoga programs followed, culminating in Samyama, the 7-day Silence program, in 2013. With Shivanga, the yatra to Velliangiri Mountains, aka Kailash of the south and the yatra to Kailash itself (in Tibet) happening in the same year (2013), Life, as he knew it until then, took a decisive turn. Swamy eventually bid farewell to his lucrative, and reasonably successful, corporate career in 2015, which he assures is a planned retirement, to pursue the VAnaprastha phase and experience Life, the way it is, with a definitive purpose – of attaining self-realisation.

UpaGuru1Swamy considers himself twice-blessed, since, apart from being guide by the boundless Grace of his Master, from within, his ongoing journey is also being actively guided now by his Upa Guru Shri Sohamanandaji (the other bearded one, in the above pics), who is kind enough to not only to dispel his ignorant assumptions about spirituality from time to time, but also to take him along on the life-altering yatras to spiritually charged spaces such as Pancha Bhuta Sthalas (sacred spaces of Lord Shiva, associated with the five elements) & Sabarimala (both in South India) and Char Dham, comprising of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedharnath and Bhadrinath (on the mighty Himalayas). These days, in his own words, Swamy’s existence – one day at a time -is focused only on “Read, Write, Meditate!,” not necessarily in that order.

Oh, in case you are curious, Swamy hasn’t attained self-realisation, yet.. ha.. ha.!

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou may enjoy knowing more about Swamy‘s spiritual journey and experience of Life the way it is in his poetry (Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns – 218 and counting…), blogs, quotes and social media posts (links to all given below).

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Swamystery in 2014!

31 Dec Realization

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Swamystery blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

19 Life Lessons From An Enduring Companionship!

21 Jul

Swamily14Mr. & Mrs. Swamy recently celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary. While Life together wasn’t necessarily a hard test for them, it wasn’t a fun ride all along either. But hey, they strived and thrived together for nearly two decades. And what better way to celebrate that than to share 19 life lessons from their enduring companionship, that they hope will be useful and valuable for any life partner to lead a meaningful, purposeful & joyful Life, together!

Disclaimer: Don’t drool over the possibility of getting to know some spicy incidents or juicy events from the Swamys’ Life. It’s the outcome that’s important, so no personal revelations to shake the world here. :O Just Life lessons! 😉

Swamily_NorthShores# 19 Absorb.

Life is full of things that keep happening all the time. The general human tendency is to react to anything that happens around us. Think opposite. Instead of reacting to anything and everything, just absorb things like the sponge that you use to clean dishes. What if that sponge starts reacting to the chemical in the cleaning liquids and the dirt on the vessels? Scary, isn’t it! Be like a sponge and just absorb!

2014 - 5# 18 Be nice.

Your life partner and you live your life together, for long. At least, that’s the idea of marriage or living together. So, be nice to your companion. What if you choose not to be nice? Your life (& your partner’s, needless to say) will probably be full of misery. Do you want to live life miserably together or merrily? Make the choice and Be nice!

2013 - 2# 17 Catch the moment.

Catch the moments that you want to be remembered forever. Not the ones that could make you forget each other for good. You like something he or she says or does, catch the moment to appreciate, applaud or thank him / her then and there. Such moments are your periodic investments for a rich Life dividend. So, watch out & catch the moment!

Swamily10# 16 Dare not to counter.

Each of you will have ideas. But your idea need not always be better than his / her’s. In fact, both your ideas can compliment each other, in most cases. Care to listen to ideas, however dumb or whacky they may sound. Dare not to counter!

# 15 Everything need not be done together.

Pedal Power - 1Each of you do things differently and different things need to be done differently. Let the person with the right ability for the right action do it his / her way. Don’t try to correct, when they do it their way and don’t expect them to do it your way either. Living together doesn’t mean doing together!

# 14 Failing is like falling.

Swamily_GardenWhen you fall, you get up, irrespective of whether you’re a child or adult. Failing too is like that. Whenever one of you fail, get back right up. Help the other to get back, if required. Think about what went wrong and determine how it can be done better. Allow room for failure, as there’s plenty of time in Life, together, to get things right. Failing isn’t dying, but just falling!

20131201_074215# 13 Go that extra mile.

Life is one long walk, together. It doesn’t hurt to go that extra mile, to make that walk pleasant, for both. If he or she doesn’t know something, guide them and show them how to do it. Give a pat on the back or a peck on the cheek, when they do it right. Don’t blow the lid, but do go that extra mile!

2014 - 1# 12 Treat as equal.

He or she is a human being too, just like you. And each and every human being – including your significant other – is unique. Neither of you are better alone, but both of you can be better together. So, treat him / her as equal.

# 11 Getting even doesn’t get you anywhere.

Swamily_Classic500Getting even is for sworn rivals and arch enemies, who are hell bent on bringing the other down. Not for people who are living together. Getting even divides, doesn’t unite. You’re united, to get somewhere in this Life. Getting even doesn’t get you anywhere.

# 10 Just listen.

20140322_120838Whatever nonsense the other one has to share (there are obviously tons of sweet nothings, daily), you have nothing to lose by just listening. You don’t have to react with your own ideas (mostly stupid, according to the other and vice versa) for everything the other says or shares. What’s your problem in just listening, when you don’t have to spend any energy talking. Just listen!

AK_Kash_Snow# 9 Leap, don’t look.

Marriage or living together itself is a huge leap of faith. There’ll be many deep valleys and gaping chasms that you’ll face during the challenging trek called Life. Many a times, there won’t be sufficient time to look before you leap. Have trust, just leap and don’t look (read # 14 again, if you’re doubtful)!

# 8 When life multiplies, divide the responsibilities.

One_Little_Happy_Family1Raising a family is as much a burden, as it is a bliss. But when divided, you’ve to handle only half the additional load of parenthood. Individually, it’ll unfairly double the load. When family multiplies, dividing responsibilities is the only way to balance life and move forward.

# 7 Stop prosecuting.

Gurupooja_Dakshin3Family isn’t a court, your companion isn’t an accused and you are usually neither a good lawyer nor an objective judge. And society – extended family included – are just passive observers, who gleefully watch and spill opinions. Whenever the other says or does something that’s not in your limited list of acceptable things, instead of countering their pov and arguing for yours, try to enrich your pointless list by including their views. But stop prosecuting!

# 6 Independence = Interdependence.

Cheetah_Mahamudra2Before getting together, you were both independent. After getting together, you’re interdependent as family, but still remain independent as individuals. And every individual likes to do things their own way, which could be diametrically opposite to how the other one does the same. Stop competing to be the first among equals as there’s no trophy for winning against your significant other. Live Life together as equals, by learning the winning formula ‘Independence = Interdependence!’

Dakshin_Ayutha_Puja27# 5 To live is to learn.

While doing things wrong (oh, there’ll be plenty of opportunities), instead of accusing each other for screwing things, look at opportunities to not repeat the mistake the next time (be assured they will happen again). Who said the fancy tools and techniques for problem solving you’ve learnt at work doesn’t apply outside it? Learn from every mistake, each of you make. Know the root cause and understand how not to repeat it. Keep doing it. To live is to learn.

Swamily11# 4 Stay tuned.

Life TV has only 2 channels – you and your partner. Curved 4K with Dolby sound notwithstanding. And there’s no fancy remote to skip the other channel, even if the content is repetitive (you live Life one day at a time, after all, doing many things over and over) and boring (according to you, certainly not the other). But the variety of entertainment offered by those two channels could be mind boggling and thoroughly entertaining, if you stay tuned.

# 3 Give & give.

MrsSwamy2Companionship is not about give and take. It’s about giving what one has, to the other, and then some. Not just material things, all the time. A hug, smile, pat or word, at the precise moment, can do unimaginable wonders, to nurture the relationship. When you keep giving, without expecting anything in return, you’ll be amazed at how much you receive. Just give & give.

# 2 KISS.

Swamily_YogaNo, not that obvious one, that you’ll anyway do as Life partners. This one’s the popular acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. (or Silly, if you happen to be the gentler kind). Life today is already complicated. Living together amidst that chaos is even more so. It’s utterly pointless for either of you to strive to complicate it even more. Companionship can be absolutely blissful, if you learn how to KISS!

# 1 “1 + 1 <> 1” but 2.

Swamyly15It’s a simple math, really. You’re two distinct individuals, living together, because you chose to. If home were a jungle, the lioness hunts to feed the cubs and the Lion sits around lazing and doesn’t do much. Unless, the situation gets desperate. If family were the cosmos, the Sun nourishes all kinds of beings with its light and the moon just reflects it. If living together were lunch, Chapathi and Sabji together make it delicious. Don’t try too hard and fail together, by complicating the simple math. Respect each other for what they bring to the table and live independently, together in total harmony!

And dear reader, since you’ve endured so far, here’s a bonus lesson. 🙂

Swamily_2013s# 0 Never give up. Ever.

By getting into a Life partnership, both of you chose to live it up, together, not give it up. Come what may (be assured many will keep coming at you), no matter what anyone might say (trust us, a million – mostly unsavory or uncharitable – things will be said), keep chugging forward, together. Trust the other to watch out for you. Believe in the other to stand up for you. Nurture the other to care for you. Give up yours to nourish what the other cherishes. In sport, it’s the players that play and win or lose. Not the referees, commentators or spectators. The Game of Life is yours to play after all. And you need to play it together. Forget the result (& the comments) and focus on the P.L.A.Y instead. And while playing, remember to “Never give up on each other. Ever!”

And here’s the lord of all Life lessons, just in case you’re the type that reads the last chapter of a book first! :O

# ∞ Comparison is for commodities, not companions.

You can compare the price and features of grocery, fruits, vegetables, cell phone, automobile, a/v equipment, clothing, jewelry, medicine, flight tickets, insurance, etc. There are many tools available to expedite such comparison. That’s perfectly fine for saving while buying a product or service. Your Life companion isn’t a product and you aren’t supposed to buy him / her for any specific feature or associated benefits. By getting into a companionship, you’re gluing the two lives together with Love and binding them tighter with Trust, in order to sail or swim (being a compulsive optimist, Swamy can’t even imagine sinking, that too together) the Life ocean. And that can’t happen when you start comparing the quality of your boat or sail or radio equipment or life raft while in the middle of the – possibly shark infested – vast ocean, amidst a raging thunderstorm and the shore nowhere in sight. Comparison is for commodities, not companions!

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Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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It’s the Vowel, stpd!

15 Aug

Image“Ayyo!” (அய்யோ) is the natural expression, when something didn’t happen / go the way we expected it to. It’s the aural form of surprise, disappointment, failure, aim gone awry. It’s the abridged version of ‘Ah man, how did I not think about that’. It’s that rare acknowledgement of being oblivious to the obvious!

The “Ay.. Ay.. Ay…” by the bumbling lead actor that made us laugh our heart out in ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’ (the hero of the movie has got the most enchanting, completely disarming smile and doesn’t utter a word, btw) is a western variation of this (see, they’re not that very different from us)! Oh, if you haven’t seen this movie series yet, it’s a must watch – even in pirated form!  So, rush to your nearest video store or library.

ImageAEIOU is the collection of vowels, which are considered completely unnecessary for communicating by the Millennials. “Wht th hck dd tht gy jst sy” is a perfectly understood and responded to by the Digital Natives (that includes my son, youngest brother, most of my crew, some of my pals and very few of my colleagues ;-). Pronounce the vowels together and you’ll hear the now familiar (please scroll back 2 paras to straighten those arched eyebrows) “Ayyo”!

Hmmm… this doesn’t sound so simple that Holmes can just brush it aside as trivial and mock ‘Elementary, my dear Watson!‘ There must be something deep in this. A Gen X (or Y or Z… gee, there are no more alphabets left)! Time to wear that pointy thinking hat (cap, hood, crown or whatever) then. Sorry Mr.De Bono, we’re in such a tearing hurry to think, we don’t have any time to pick the right color B<@

ImageArrogance – The more one knows about anything, the quieter one must be. Not that one shouldn’t talk about what one knows (those who listen intently do so quietly, in case you’ve failed to notice). But if “I know” starts sounding like “You don’t know”, then that’s no more showcasing knowledge, but showboating about that. And we aren’t Usain Bolt to showboat. Though he has actually earned the right to be arrogant, he usually isn’t. Avoid abrasive Arrogance to shine!

ImageEmotion – We’re emotional beings by design, but have also been endowed with the ability to think, analyze and control our emotions. Emotion is an effective tool, if used appropriately, in the right measure, at the right situations. Athletes use it effectively to compete against the best and win. Politicians use it effectively to fan the fire in their followers (which incidentally can destroy many). Wives use it effectively to get what they want. Emotion is the Garam Masala that has to be used sparingly as excessive use will spoil the dish. Learn to leash the Emotion beast to unleash success.

ImageIgnorance – No, Ignorance isn’t bliss. Whoever told that has successfully managed to fool millions over many decades. Ignorance just shows that you aren’t interested. Or not listening, willing, sharp, clued-in. It can portray you as arrogant, which is the first vowel you got to abolish anyway. It’ll weigh you down so much that you’ll be unable to swim to the surface to catch a breath, even when you’ve to for survival. Irradiate the Ignorance cancer for a healthy growth.

ImageOverconfidence – This can happen to anyone, who knows one’s subject or domain too well. Years of experience can feed this demon to grow into monstrous proportions that it eventually results in absolute arrogance. It will lead to wrong judgments and poor choices. Confidence helps in decision making, but Overconfidence lets one make the wrong choices, smugly, hastening the fall from grace. Bury it deep within, be calm and confident to progress further.

ImageUncouth – Gentleman or Lady, one must mind the manners. Wishing ‘Happy Morning’ to all, saying ‘Hello’ while picking a phone call, closing that running tap in rest rooms, throwing trash only in the bin (have you noticed there are separate ones for Paper and Plastic), switching off the lights and devices while leaving a meeting room, keeping the elevator door open for that person rushing in, not raising one’s voice even when feeling so within, switching on the indicator while turning your vehicle, not honking at any human powered vehicle… if any of these sound alien or funny to you, you’re Uncouth. That won’t get you anywhere ahead or above. Shed that ugly skin to slither up the ladder.

ImageSee, your English teacher was right when she told you in the beginning of time itself to be cautious about Vowels (it’s not her problem – or mine – if you’d misunderstood that as Vowals (வௌவ்வால்), due to your extreme affinity for ‘Bat’man). Just like your Maths teacher (but we’ll solve that problem in another post, shall we ;-)). All along you’ve been searching for that root cause that has been preventing your growth despite being so talented (according to you, that is). Tkng cr f th AEIOU nw, wl hlp 1 avd syng Ayyo oftn. So, there it is… the cure to all your career growth ailments… It’s the Vowel, stpd!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

@PrakashSwamy ACC

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