Welcome, constant reader, to another edition of The Awakening Times Magazine! July saw the auspicious day of Guru Purnima or the Guru’s Full Moon.
It’s a day in which everything aligns in such a way so as to facilitate and encourage our growth in consciousness, into a higher state of being; kinder, calmer, more aware, more free, a day of enlightenment and liberation.
On this day we honor the Guru because he, or she, serves as a beacon that illuminates our path towards self-discovery, and prescribes the precise medicine needed to help cure us of the ignorance of our own possibilities.
In the Guru, we honor our potential and the best parts of our humanity.
We are proud to present all the stories in this month’s edition, but we are especially grateful to be able to bring you stories of the Guru and the divinity which is ultimately represented by the him, or her.
Wishing you all health, happiness and great enlightenment!
The Early Birds Club – Kids, Balkan contingent continues to make strides in the direction of a happy and healthy society; making early rising a fun and interesting prospect for children and initiating the day with activities which encourage introspection, concentration and positive purpose.
Some thoughts on the economics and psychology behind animal husbandry and how difficult it is, even for farmers who feel for the plight of the animals they raise, to extricate themselves from the self perpetuating cycle.
Every situation we find ourselves in is a fresh, new moment and with it comes the opportunity to explore a different attitude towards life and a different aspect of ourselves, in accord and in harmony with the given situation. Siddha Vaasi practitioner Stephen Grissom shares a case where getting stuck in one situational attitude causes us to miss the others, to the detriment of our well-being.
The Himalayan School of Traditional Dance shares the story of Akka Mahadevi, expressed in poetry and dance, whose extraordinary devotion to and intoxication with divinity, is as stirring today as it ever was, even a thousand years after her time.
A personal understanding of unity beyond seeming duality and the role of a guru in the life of a seeker.
Homespun advice on how to spot the inherent talents and inclinations in your children, how to give them room to explore those talents, and how top support them in their journey of self exploration and self expression.
A deeply moving story of lifelong grief transformed into powerful purpose. Follow Dirk on his journey from the depths of despair, abandonment and alcoholism to the heights of joy in service as he is called across continents by Sathya Sai Baba, to be rescued miraculously from his own terrible, self-destructive sadness and empowered, in turn, to rescue young innocents from the unspeakable cruelty of brothels of India.
It’s far too seldom that we get a glimpse of the state of being enjoyed by an enlightened Master; a truly boundary less existence wherein distance means nothing, no horizon is beyond reach, no realm inaccessible, the life and lives of the universe are laid bare, and communion and merger are the standard forms communication. This is the story of such a glimpse, granted through the grace of the Guru and generously shared by an earnest seeker, for the benefit of all who care to look a little deeper.
It may take many years to find our niche, but there is always a way in which our inherent can be put to good use, for our own fulfilment and the health and happiness of the people around us.
A mother’s tender love is a treasure, as are the quiet moments we take to remember that love and savour its lingering fragrance within ourselves.
In the 3rd of seven articles on suggestions for addressing deficiencies and excesses in the main energy centres in our bodies, Stasa gives a yogic approach to healing and balancing the Manipura chakra, the centre associated with self-confidence, power and sense of identity.
We often confuse the characteristics which make us unique, which may cause us to stand out or to function in unusual ways as weaknesses, but if we are aware of them, accept and express them, we understand them for the strengths they are.
2,460 tons of food per minute is thrown away world wide, which is 1/3 of the food we produce for consumption. Alarming, isn’t it?
The Awakening Times team visited exhibition about food waste, organized by the Catalan food bank in Spain, and was left speachless with the presented data.
Written by Matteo Mombelli
A while ago, I found myself talking with a young farmer about her finances and the way she raises her animals. Along with her parents and sister, she breeds cows, pigs, and chickens in a small Swiss valley where around 100 people live. She proudly explained that her cows do not get the horns burnt away (a common and painful practice used in cattle farming to protect cows from hurting themselves in the tiny stalls they are kept in). She lets the animals go outside their stalls during winter. The calves spend a few weeks of their lives with their mother, before getting killed for meat (instead of separating them at birth as is standard in intensive farming). She even proudly uses only homoeopathic medicine (though I’m not sure if it is for the taste of the meat or for the animals’ well-being), and she gives a name to all of her animals.
To give you a better idea, imagine an advertisement for a milk company which portrays cows happily frolicking in the Swiss Alps with Heidi. Depending on your perception, this would sound like the perfect and most humane way to raise animals for slaughter and milking. However, let’s consider this: even though she treats the animals almost as if they were part of her family, she still impregnates the cow against her will, kills the newborn child for meat and takes the cow’s milk for profit. My questions to her were: “Would you do that to a human member of your family? Would you do that to your future child or to yourself? Would you do it to a cat or a dog?” She replied that she would not.
Now I ask the reader: Would you do it? If your answer is, “No”, then why would you do it to only some animals and not to others? Why are you paying somebody to do it for you? She does it so that she can earn some money. It is her way of living. She earns money because you buy her product, and for this reason, she continues this painful cycle. She will never become rich enough to change her way of life. She will always wake up at 4am, clean cow dung and sleep late at night after cleansing herself of the blood of her cow’s genitalia. Additionally, she will always need a tremendous amount of government subsidies and in debt herself to banks to keep her operation going. The competition and costs to run her business are incredibly high; consumers demand low prices and machinery is costly. She is indebted and dependent on the government. Would you define her as a free person?
Legally speaking, in 1981, the last remaining country allowing slavery banned it. For hundreds of years, humans in many countries and continents used to own other humans as property because they believed they were superior, more civilized, advanced, or intelligent than their slaves. It was common practice, and few humans questioned it until it came to the abolition movement, thanks to revolutionaries that propelled an evolution in human consciousness, leading to the creation of laws and institutions to ban such practices. Slaves, other humans, had no rights; they were treated as property, sold, bought, mutilated, exploited, killed, just as humans in present times treat other species. Animals of all species that are not considered human, have been going through the same terrible treatment for millennia.
Although human slavery is now illegal, billions of animals are still suffering the same cruelty. Why do we still treat animals as if they are property? Eating animals is unnecessary for humans to thrive. Red meat is proven to give you cancer. We don’t need any animal products to live a healthy life. Animal farming is one of the leading causes of deforestation, ocean dead zones, and methane and CO2 emissions. It is one of the major contributors to climate change. Consuming animal products damages your health, and the planet’s health, and leads to the slaughter of billions of innocent animals every year. Why do we still eat animal products?
Written by Ritu Garg
Our limitations don’t make us less, they make us more.
Sounds oxymoronic! Paradoxical! Well, come with me, let’s unravel the knot together.
‘Our limitations don’t make us less
Wisdom tells that they make us more
But only if we let go and don’t stress
and live life focussing on our core.’
A limitation is a limitation only as long as we feel guilty and apologetic about it, as long as we feel the need to explain it, as long as we are embarrassed by it, as long as we feel the need to justify it, as long as we feel as though we are ‘not enough’ due to an incapacity that we think we have.
If looked at from a life-affirming perspective, it can be considered a strength to say, ‘No’ to the pursuit of a skill, trait, capability, or resource which the world finds important or normal to pursue, and absence of which might invite a ‘meh’ response from people, for which we are judged incapable, complacent, indolent , insensitive, selfish even.
The echo-chambers of friends, well-wishers, dear ones in our family, and the virtual universe of social media can inflate our ego and play on our emotions. The indiscriminate voices of our tribe will say, ‘Go for it, we have your back.’ We love this energy. We thrive on it and we keep going back to this pool to draw from it appreciation, encouragement, attention, advice, confirmation. It’s a space where we never face rebuttal, we are never challenged.
But in this overwhelming crescendo of “Go for it,” our little voice, the most genuine voice in our head, is quietened. The importance of our own experience, our own conviction, our understanding of self, and of the workings of our physiological framework, get diminished. I don’t mean that one should not challenge oneself, that one should not upscale or learn new things, but the idea is to be ‘woke’ about it, to be aware of your own wish and also to reflect on where the urge to do something is coming from. Is it our soul calling for it or are we chasing a goal that has been projected onto us? Are we doing it as a participant in the ‘rat race’ or possibly as a response to FOMO (fear of missing out)?
There is joy in missing out—if there is FOMO, there is also JOMO (joy of missing out). I think there is a mojo in JOMO, because it means that you are prioritising yourself, choosing to recharge yourself, and being courageous enough to step out of the race, which is not easy to do. When we do it, our self-confidence and our faith in our capacity is reinforced. This is a magical space. There is collateral beauty in letting go. THE COLLATERAL BEAUTY OF IT ALL.
Sometimes, our definition of empowerment is flawed and misplaced. It is very important to realise that empowerment is not always about adding things to your to-do list, it also means subtracting. It means saying ‘no’ to a few things, and there begins self-care, self-love, self-preservation and conservation of energy. When we do intelligent subtracting, we truly become smart workers and achieve efficiency and effectiveness. Sifting and winnowing and retaining the goals and skills that we are passionate about, that speak to our soul and connect to our unique constitution, makes us want to rise each day with the energy to go forward and hit the sack every night with an enviably excited yet rested mind.
I also feel that being a capable individual doesn’t mean being a super-human. It’s the heart that matters. It’s humanity and empathy that empower us to be valuable to society. We can add value to society, to our neighbourhood, and to the world just by being who we are, provided we value ourselves in our entirety. The world runs on interdependence, economies run on interdependence, so it’s ok to depend, it’s ok to seek help, it’s ok to not know, it’s ok to say, “No”. It’s not rude, it’s not prudish, it’s just self-love!
Here is a little story of my journey of turning a weakness of mine into a strength. I had always wanted to learn to drive a car. It was 27 years ago, when I was a university student, that I gave it my first shot, I was hopeful, even certain. But after that 20 minute driving lesson, my head hurt badly, I was feeling frazzled and disconnected with myself. I thought it must be fatigue or perhaps the pressure of input and joy of taking the first step.
I attended my lessons thrice weekly, and slowly, instead of looking forward to them, I began to resist them.
But there was an indefatigable desire to learn how to drive, because knowing how to drive a car is a certification of ‘coolness’, confidence, daring, up-to-date-ness, focus, concentration, cosmopolitanism, independent womanhood, dependability and so on; it’s among the housekeeping skills of today’s world.
At the same time, I also began to realise that, deep down, driving a car tired me and inflicted me with an excruciating migraine. My mind would feel trapped in a box where my free flow of thoughts and energies felt suffocated. I had this strong urge to leave the lesson and go back into the freedom of unleashed thoughts.
But I thought that stopping the lessons would be giving up – being a loser. I continued to strive and exert, without realising that my physiology was not attuned to driving.
My husband’s acute sense of observation, and his frankness did not go down well with me. He said, “I don’t think you are made with the attitude needed to learn how to drive, and that’s totally fine.” In the meanwhile, three of my friends had learnt how to drive and I was still at scratch. Finally, my son went to college, and as an empty-nester I thought, yet again, that time had come to empower myself.
By that time I was 46, getting clarity – and then suddenly a moment of understanding came to me – I can survive without knowing how to drive, just as a fish can survive without a bicycle – and it doesn’t make me incapable of helping others. I can still help people in my own unique way.
Perhaps, I didn’t really want to drive, so why was I so hung up about it? Why did I want to learn?
If it’s for the sake of survival, then it’s fine if I cannot drive, because I can call for help; there will always be a neighbour, or uber, or a taxi, or the option to walk, or an ambulance… If it’s for ego – to be cool – then I am chasing the wrong goal.
That I cannot drive does not diminish me. I still don’t drive. I would rather spend that time, energy and thought on doing things that make me joyous, that make me a value-creating individual in society.
It has made me realise that there are personality differences.
I have learnt the value of “No.”
“No, I don’t drive.”
“No, I cannot come to a late-night party, but I will come and give you a hug and leave.”
“No, I cannot wear a saree (dress traditionally worn by women in India), because my stomach hurts.”
“No, I cannot have you over at this moment, because I have scheduled my day, but I would love to do it some other day.”
No to one, yes to many
No to many, yes to self
Saying yes is “being good”,
Saying no is “rude”—
When you give someone a “NO”
I want to let you know
That you are saying a big “YES”
To your own inner highness
Be polite and turn down the offer –
No, I don’t drive
But my heart is my chauffeur.
Written by Boris Perišić
After attending a fascinating, eye-opening exhibition about food waste, organised by the Catalan food bank, I would say that waste leaves nothing but a bitter taste.
288 kg of food is wasted every minute in this region of Spain alone. Food that was produced, transported, and sometimes even cooked is simply thrown away. In Spain 3 out of 4 households throw food away on a regular basis. COVID-19 increased the waste of food by 17,5 %.
Do you know what the numbers are for your country? Do you know what can be done to change this situation? Perhaps we can ask ourselves a question: what happens to the food that isn’t eaten? The decisions we make daily when shopping are crucial for reducing and preventing waste and its environmental impact.
We throw away an alarming 2,460 tons of food a minute worldwide, 1/3 of what we produce for consumption. That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, schools, or homes. It might well be enough to feed every undernourished person in the world.
All food that we don’t eat is waste and there are many possible reasons for it. It can be due to overproduction, bad packaging, storage problems, excessive buying, confusing best-before dates, etc. Wasted food isn’t just a social or humanitarian concern—it’s an environmental problem. When we waste food, we also waste all the energy, water, and labour it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. When food goes to a landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas, which according to some sources, is 25 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. About 7% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced if we stopped wasting food.
35% of food waste is accounted for by supermarkets, shops, and private households, simply throwing it away. Much of it is still perfectly fit for consumption. 800 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment. All these people could be fed by less than a 1/4 of the food lost or wasted in the US and Europe.
Access to food is a human right. The improvement in access to food that has happened in developed countries has brought an important change: Instead of food shortages like those of past centuries, we live in abundance, and we have made the transition from eating for survival to eating for pleasure. But the food system has already started to show signs that soon, the way we feed ourselves now will not be the same in the future.
So let us start doing something about it right now.
Starting with not throwing that little piece of old bread and following a few rules.
Here are a few simple steps that we can do as a consumer to make a difference and cut down our emissions :
1) buy ONLY what you need
2) educate others about food waste
3) use the food you already have ( fry your leftovers & blend your ripe veggies & fruit)
4) use your freezer instead of letting food go bad in your fridge.
Bonne appétit 🙂
Written by Pelka Evdenic Kuzelka
There was a story. I was going to write about how I became a volunteer… but then I went back to my mother’s house… without my mother… and this month’s story changed on its own.
She left at the end of October last year, after 1056 lunar cycles lived and died. Born under the influence of the full moon, she was gifted with her boundless energy and zest for life, which so characterised her and gave her the strength to meet all challenges. In fact, for her, no idea was too far-fetched or beyond her limits; she believed deeply in God’s will and his unconditional support, so she was able to complete everything she set out to do with this unwavering strength of faith.
Her presence still permeates every inch of the space, especially in her bedroom-atelier. I pulled an armchair next to her bed and settled there, breathing in her scent and letting myself flow with and be enveloped by these memories. Waves of emotion, sounds and images flowed through my being, intermingled outside of any obvious chronological order, grouped rather by sensations…. A sense of peace, a sense of gratitude, a sense of curiosity for all the feelings she had that we did not share.
I was wondering what her last thought was before she left this earthly body? Had she realised all of her wishes? Will she be born again soon? Was she born again already? Her words came to me in waves, spoken in agony, days before her death, addressed to her brother, who had already preceded her 19 years earlier: “Johan, open the door for me… show me what I have to do”…Once she suddenly turned to me, as if we were in mid-discussion, although we were silent: “Pelka, I don’t want to put my head through the wall!” Why should you put your head through the wall?” I asked her softly… “I don’t know Pelka, what should I do?” and she was submerged again into her world between dreams and parallel dimensions.
I felt deep peace, caressing that silky sheet with floral print, which she had sewn herself. Images followed, their parade through my mind and the sensation of tender warmth wrapped me in it, serenaded me… I flowed calmly, gratefully and full of love. And so I spent the whole afternoon, well into the night, wrapped in this inner presence. That night I slept very peacefully.
Yes, it was idyllic and if I were to leave it here, it would look like a movie. But the next day came the part where all this flow crashed dramatically into the rock of ‘taking things for granted’; taking anything for granted leads inexorably to disappointment. Having expectations is an obstacle that blocks our flow, and that day it was my turn to understand this. I sat back in the armchair next to her bed, trying to understand why, and understood: thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I understood that I depended on my mother’s recognition even if she was no longer in this dimension. I truly understood the meaning of a theory that goes, to paraphrase, that if we disregard all moral and ethical laws, as well as the natural instinct of protection, what remains as the only necessity for a spirit to get a physical body and be able to live this three-dimensional experience on Earth, is the mother, no matter what species, to bring the child into the world. EVERYTHING else is a gift that the child receives from its mother.
My lived experiences, seen from this perspective, take on brightness and I realise that all the love, care and affection I received from my mother, in her peculiar and unique way, and I can only be grateful for everything she gave and did, as well as for what she didn’t give and didn’t do. It is all good, because she always did it with the best of intentions, to help everyone do well. I realise her capacity to love everyone and everything equally. I sink more comfortably into the armchair, with my eyes closed, listening to her voice saying: “Beware, children, of all the evils of soul and body. Take care of yourselves, take care of your health while you have it, it is difficult to take care of, it is lost very quickly. Thank you very much. Don’t worry about anything, I am well. I Love you all.”
Written by Isidora Bugarski
And every day more birds are joining our flock
We are happy to announce that in July we launched the official Early Birds Club Balkan website, where we offer events, news, reasons to wake up early, volunteer opportunities and more.
This month, it was interesting to hear what members of the club have to say on the topic of how waking early has affected their lives.
“Early morning is a precious time,” says Jelena Ilić, who has been a member for more than two years.
In her opinion, the most important thing is adjusting to nature. Waking up with nature prepares her for success, by helping her be full of energy, and ready for the day ahead. In this way there is no room for panic or stress. One of the major things that drive her to stay persistent is the realisation that she is developing more love for herself and her surroundings through this positive habit, which she says is her motive for keeping it. She also mentioned how autophagy helps her – which is greatly assisted by, fasting from around 6pm onwards and only eating the next morning.
”When we eat late at night, we have more inertia in the morning. We are lazy in getting up, because the food has not digested yet, and all the toxins go to our wrists. Mind is also not strong enough to recognize this, so we fall into inertia, laziness. In this way, our digestion doesn’t function well. The happiness hormone – serotonin – is also closely connected to our digestion.”
According to Jelena, autophagy is directly connected to physiological processes impact our mood..
Another member, Sanja Polovina, claims that when we wake up early, our day is richer. She reveals her experiences with our unique morning routine. It makes her feel brighter, lighter, and joyful and, as she shares, it shows on her face. This lifestyle helps her accomplish much more during the day. It increases her mental clarity and productivity.
EBC Balkan Kids conducted the MINI SUMMER CHALLENGE that lasted for nine days.
From the 9th to the 17th of July, the challenge was conducted every morning. It started at 8 AM with yoga for kids and after that, the children listened to positive affirmations of gratitude and self-confidence, which are part of the regular morning routine in our club. Then the kids listened to a short story with a moral and were given a related daily task to complete.
One of the tasks included decorating a jar with an intention to become a treasury of gentle, nice feelings, with positive messages to themselves. The next day they were directed to paint something that is their heart’s desire, then make a poster and put it in a place in their room where they can see it every day and remind themselves of what is important to them, and what motivates them no matter what others say, etc.
Every morning ended with the Freedom Meditation, a powerful guided meditation, primarily for children, created by Mohanji.
The aim of the challenge was to motivate children to maintain their practices, to adopt and develop healthy morning habits.
Here are some of the parent’s impressions of the event:
“Beautiful activity and an inspiring event. This mini-challenge inspired Luna to wake up early during the summer holiday, to feel the benefits of yoga asanas (postures), to tell us stories she heard, which became the subjects of family discussion, to feel better because she adopted the routine as a discipline and widened her self-esteem through determination and meditation in which she went deeper every day. Thanks to the whole team!” – Marija (Luna’s mother)
“Having a daily activity where my children felt safe and loved made a world of difference in my 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. They have reached a higher level of peace and calmness. Each day they looked forward to the daily activity, which got them out of their normal routines and gave them ideas of what to do. The daily affirmations left them smiling, and the Freedom Meditation left them feeling bright and cleansed from the inside.
By the fifth day, I could see a difference in calmness and bravery in my son’s behavior, and by the last day, a huge diminishing of anger that he’d been trying to cope with during the last school year. We go for weekly psychotherapy sessions, and even his therapist noticed how happy he was, which she had not seen at all during the past three months that we have been going to her!
Both children loved the feeling of being safe and accepted, as Staša, Ana and Vesna truly wear their hearts on their sleeve, and, as my daughter says, “The love in their voices hugs children’s hearts.”
We can’t wait for the next program to be available to bask in the love for EBC Kids.” 💖💖💖
Anđelija (Milan and Marina’s mother)On the occasion of Novi Sad’s Kid’s Summer at the beginning of July, a Creative Children’s Camp was organized. It was held in two locations on different dates, each of them lasting for five days. Staša Mišić, representative of EBC Kids Balkan and Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga, led the yoga classes. 200 children, aged 5 to 12, participated through all 10 days of both camps. In the sessions they were led with interesting stories and went through asanas, like the frog, cat, dog, warrior, tree, etc., and the breathing technique of ‘humming bees’.