The session flagged off on time at The Red Couch stage with an introductory address by Khurshed Batliwala, popularly known as BAWA – one of the two authors of ‘Happiness Express’ who particularly based his focus on the topmost things that make us happy.
On the onset, he drove home the fact that sleep or the act of resting, which is one of the most underrated things of today, is, in fact, the secret to looking younger, smarter and physically appealing. The lack of sleep makes individuals older, uglier, and dumber. The vehicle succeeding sleep that leads to a happy life is meditation. Unlike staying awake and aware with no access to rest or rest which lacks awareness, and dream which is bereft of both, meditation is as natural as both awakeness as well as awareness. BAWA even shot a rhetorical question casually, regarding babies being born with an ability to meditate in a few generations. Sounds fun? Who knows! The speaker believes that meditation increases our luck potion and concludes on meditation by calling luck, ‘the hallmark of a meditator’s life’. The next stop that the ‘Happiness Express’ halted at was exercise and how it triggers good humour in us. He believes that all the cognition occurred to human beings while they were moving and he touched upon the health disorders like obesity or high blood pressure which is a result of sitting for long hours at a stretch. Further, he went on to speak how the ‘hippocampus neuron’ works in humans and how the brain works on the ‘use it or lose it’ principle. He cited examples from technology acting as a hindrance to our beautifully engineered brains, for instance, Google Maps as an app has posed serious threats to our natural means of finding our way out of a place. Imagine all the hunters from history never finding their way back home because they do not have access to Google Maps!
Dinesh Ghodke, BAWA’s co-author in the ‘Happiness Express’ took over to speak on how paying adequate attention to food makes a huge difference. He went ahead to shed considerable light on the fact that no generic diet exists and we can be our own diet-detectives instead. Food should be grounded in its quality of being able to refresh and not make one lethargic. It is only the response of our body after an hour of food intake that we can declare what it has done to our body. He provides that today, the biggest markets are for pain relief. It is the endorphins that are charged when we exercise and exercise in turn helps in handling pain better. Meditation is one-stop-shop and it facilitates other bodily functions such as assimilation and digestion. It also has accelerated effects such as sound sleep and better learning abilities.
In the penultimate round of their talk, BAWA touched upon the other details of their book which runs the readers through anecdotes, stories of life and how the two IIT-graduates got into exercise.
The 30-minutes session was concluded by opening the floor to address the audience’s questions. To one of the questions regarding the ill-effects of lying down right after eating, BAWA highlighted that one definitely should abstain from lying down immediately after a meal and that the nap should not be for more than 45 minutes. Other concluding highlights were making organic farming and consumption of organic food a priority by bringing in the mention of Bengaluru’s Sri Sri Ashram which has trained 20 million farmers in organic farming and also alongside that, offers home garden courses. BAWA’s humour created great ripples of laughter amongst the audience as he answered another question from the audience in which he addressed the issue of Indians’ obsession with grades than with learning. It’s all about who vomits better in the exams whatever they mug! As a piece of concluding advice, he said that there is no cure for plain vanilla mentality and recommended the Netflix show – The Game Changers for better understanding of the importance of maintaining a healthy diet.
About the Author: Upasana Mahanta is an MA in English with Communication Studies student from CHRIST (Deemed To Be University) – Bengaluru, who firmly believes that there is nothing more exhilarating and liberating as poetry. She finds solace in writing poems and travel blogs and has amongst her laurels a 1st Prize in the English category of the All India Poetess Conference, Meghalaya Chapter’s Seventh Poetry Competition cum North East Poetry Festival. She currently writes for TheSeer.