On meditation

At a very abstract level, two factors determine your success in life: 1) how well you perform when you perform at your peak, and 2) how often do you perform at your peak. Meditation helps with #2. Or to be more specific, it helps you perform at your peak even in situations that are stressful. Thus it is a relevant topic for any blog (such as ours) devoted to understanding the patterns that lead to extraordinary success.

Unfortunately, understanding and practicing meditation is hard because of all the junk information available out there. But we have filtered out two resources that are much better than others. They are:

Waking Up, by Sam Harris

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and a big proponent of rational thinking. His organization, Project Reason, is devoted to promoting scientific knowledge in society. Thus it was refreshing to read a book on meditation written by him. I think the quickest way of summarizing his main message is this:

Imagine the transition from being asleep in the night to waking up in the morning. When you are asleep, you are not aware that you are asleep. You have all these dreams and you think of them as representing reality. Once you wake up, you become aware of the fact that you were an entity that was dreaming those dreams.

Now when we are awake, we are thinking these thoughts and we think of them as representing reality. We are hardly ever aware that we are an entity that is thinking these thoughts. According to the book, meditation helps us reach a mental state where we are constantly aware of being an entity thinking these thoughts. Thus it helps us achieve a second level of waking up (hence the title of the book, I think).

How does this help one perform at peak in stressful situations? A situation is stressful only because of the thoughts it induces. If you could somehow prevent yourself from having stressful thoughts, no situation would be stressful. Meditation helps you realize that you are not your thoughts, that you are a separate entity that is merely thinking these thoughts.

Anyway, here is a link to the book in case you want to buy it.


This was all theory. What do you once you are convinced that meditation is cool and want to give it a try? The best way to do it is to find a proper teacher you can interact with one-on-one, but short of that, the next best thing is this app called Headspace. It has some very nice instructional videos and 10 guided meditation sessions for free.

Friday, May 22nd, 2015. Written by admin. No comments.

Don’t Leave Temperament Control Issues Unattended

The single reason that contributes most in failure to qualify for IIT for good students is poor temperament management. Some of the situations described here may look familiar to you. You make too many unintentional errors. You are suggested to be careful. You prepare hard but forget important points at crucial moments. You know things well but are too slow in applying them; perhaps you are not sure whether you are applying right or not. You get hold on the issue and suddenly lose concentration. Mind becomes either blank or starts wandering.

Sometimes you feel confident—JEE is well within your reach. Sometimes you feel just the opposite. Everyone else seems to have prepared better than you. You keep changing your strategy with every suggestion you receive from different sources.

The number of brilliant students sitting for IIT entrance is several times more than the number of students who qualify. What do you think is the differentiating factor? A person who ranks 2,000 might have a similar understanding of the subject matter as a person who ranks 10,000. One of the main differentiating factors is temperament management.

Mostly, temperament related issues go unnoticed and you keep suffering due to that. Hence there is a need to put conscious effort in identifying these issues. The good thing is that there are simple solutions to handle these issues. We all know them. We just need to practice.

It is very important that you own your preparation and be in control. For that you must have your own plan. You may take help where ever needed. But it is very difficult to manage temperament and feel comfortable if somebody else is on the controlling seat of your preparation.

You also need to feel happy as a unit to be able to perform as per your potential. There are activities that help, for example, practicing meditation, yoga, outdoor physical activities, good eating and sleeping habits, prayer and listening to music. Even doing some social service and helping others can be helpful in making you happier and thus improving chances of success at IIT entrance in an enjoyable way. Preparing for IIT doesn’t mean you have to study all the time. There is no point in spending so much of time studying if you are not able to reap the benefit of it anyway.

If you study right, your potential to score in a concept-based exam improves. But, to score as per your potential you need to manage your temperament right. A large number of students do the first part right but ignore the temperament front. Don’t leave these issues unattended.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012. Written by admin. No comments.

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