Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
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Can this provide the motivation to my children on smart personal finance?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I want to thank Get Rich Slowly for his excellent post, “What motivates you to pursue smart personal finance?”  It provided me the inspiration for this letter to my elder girls. 

along-and-azah-gambar.jpg

Dear Along and Azah, 

The time is drawing near for the both of you to graduate, seek jobs and find your own financial footings. Your mother and I have tried our best to bring up the both of you and your other 3 siblings, in a responsible manner. All your lives, we have always had food on the table and a solid roof over our heads. Almost all your requests have been met. You have almost never been left with any of your wants unmet.  

You have never ever seen debt collectors come to our house and bang on our doors.

You never had to pick up the phone and lie to the other person that your father is not in, so as to avoid a bill collector. 

You have never seen unpaid bills lying around the house. 

And you have no idea what it is to be poor or to seriously want for money. 

Having brought up the both of you like this, I wonder if I have done enough to instill in you  the motivation to pursue smart personal finance. 

I envy parents who have taken steps when the children are so much younger. There are many examples, some of which are listed below. 

- Money advice to my teenage son,

- Teach your teen the basics of money management,

- College money matters,

- Following our own path.

For the vast majority of people, motivation to pursue smart personal finance comes from two sources:- 

a)  Guidance and examples set by parents or other role models and 

b)  Pain, loss, suffering or set backs caused by lack of money or money mistakes. 

Well, I may not have done enough of (a) and certainly you have not gone through (b). So what do we do now to instill in the both of you the needed motivation? 

You have been writing down your goals for some time now. We have talked about seeking financial independence as one of your major goals in finance.  

Now I seek you both to think hard and write down the reasons why you want financial independence. It could be:- 

a)    Never having to work for a lousy or “kerepot” boss, just because you needed the paycheck. 

b)    Being able to do things that you choose to do and not because someone else wants you to do. Like travel, working with the underprivileged children in Rembau etc. 

c)     Never having to go through the financial pain your Auntie Faridah and your cousins Sophia and Mima went through when she went through the messy breakup with your Uncle. Your mother rented a house for them and they lived with us for almost a year. 

d)    Being able to spend comfortably on your real wants knowing that you have a strong financial base. 

e)    Never having to be a debt slave.  

f)      Doing the greatest charity, which is not being poor yourself.  

g)    Having a sense of purpose in your life. 

Spend some time on this and think about this carefully. These reasons should be strong enough to provide you with a continuous stream of the motivation you’ll need to pursue smart personal finance. Reading again your “WHYs” should keep feeding you the required motivation.  

And believe me, strong and continuous motivation, you’ll need. 

- To protect you from succumbing to the relentless advertising of all kinds of products and services that you’ll see day in and day out. 

- To protect you from so called “well meaning friends” who’ll nudge you into spending just a little above your budget, today, tomorrow and everyday. 

- To protect you from the clever and well oiled banking machinery that seeks to offer you loans to buy things that you don’t really need, so that the banks can live off you. Slaving away to pay them interest. 

There are still many other things for you to learn about smart personal finance. I am still learning myself. However, once you have your motivation embedded strongly and deeply enough in you, you’ll start seeking out this knowledge and it will come. I have no doubt about that. 

My dear princesses,  

You’ll never fully appreciate how difficult it is for parents to see their children go through difficulties of any kind, until you are parents yourself.    

I can only pray that your mother and I have brought up the both of you responsibly enough to recognize good advice and to listen and be prepared rather than to go out unprepared, make the unnecessary mistakes and then learn.  

We have talked about the story of the mother mouse and her baby. The baby mouse did not listen to its mother’s advice and got caught in the mouse trap.  

The last thing, your mother and I want to see is you getting caught in the trap of bad personal finance. 

When you have finished your studies, let us spend more time on going deeper into planning your personal finance moves. After all, getting a good job is also part of smart personal finance.  

For now focus on your studies and do well in your exams.  

Your mother, brother and your two younger sisters convey their best regards and wishes to the both of you. 

Love 

Papa

    

A good example why just preaching to my children on pf won’t help

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I have been thinking a lot about my post of a couple of days ago. Perhaps the thoughts have been tinged with a sense of regret. Regret that I was not always around during the very formative years as my elder two girls were growing up. Regret that some of the life and pf lessons that I am trying to shove down their throats now, could have been taught and practiced much earlier in their lives. And at a much more relaxed pace.

I spent some time going through my computer files where I had saved emails to my daughters. And I found something.

A pledge that the girls signed, way back on the 26th May 2005 and promised to hang in their hostel rooms as they left home for their University. I reproduce it below.

PLEDGE FOR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

I, ——————————–, hereby solemnly pledge that I will seek and attain Financial Independence diligently and conscientiously. This, I shall achieve by :- 

a)         Consistently and diligently paying myself first with 10% of everything I earn,  whether it is an allowance from my family or income from any part time job or full time employment. I shall increase this percentage as my earnings rise.  

b)         Daily  I shall keep track of all my expenses so that I can cancel all the unwanted impulse money wasters. 

c)         Over and above paying myself this 10%, I shall save separately for a reserve fund for “rainy days.” 

d)         I will invest this 10% in long term compounding financial instruments that will continue to work hard for me. 

e)         I will read widely on personal financial management and practice the recommended ideas diligently. I will also seek and obtain advice on personal financial matters from people who are financially independent. This will help me in making the money that I have paid myself work harder to earn me more. 

f)          I will never lend any money to anybody. Rather I will donate and contribute to charity as required under the rules of my religion, Islam. 

g)         As soon as possible, I shall seek and obtain sales training. 

h)         I shall learn about insurance and obtain the required level of insurance as soon as possible. I shall also learn about trusts and wills and provide for my loved ones as soon as possible. 

i)          I shall pass on these rules to my younger siblings as soon as they are old enough to understand. I shall also be a good example for them.  

I pray to Allah SWT to give me the strength, wisdom and discipline to consistently and diligently implement the above rules. Irrespective of the many friends who will tell me to do otherwise.  Ameen 

Signed by:                                                                   Witnessed by: 

Along                                                                          

                                                                                   Mama                                    

                                                                                    Papa

Date:

Reading this brought back memories of how the two girls promised to read and to follow this pledge.

I have not asked my girls specifically if they have followed anything of the pledge they signed with my wife and me as witnesses. Maybe I should.

One thing for sure, I strongly believe my daughters would not be among those of whom, Money, Smart Life is so incredulous about.

Maybe the pledge had something to do with it.

Giving my elder girls a firmer life foundation

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Recently Madison at the Dollar Plan and some of her blogging friends got together and came out with an excellent series of articles chronicling the financial strategies that should be put into place as we fall into various age bands.

This has made me review my own plans for helping my children lay a better foundation in their own personal finances and lives.

The two eldest girls are now in their final year of undergraduate studies, both of them on Pa & Ma scholarships. Sadly I was seldom around when they were growing up as I was working overseas. Thankfully some foundations have been laid by my wife and I want to see how it can be taken to the next level. Right now, the girls are on course for forming / mixing around with a peer group that takes pf seriously.

I have read and digested Mrs. Micah’s College Money Matters, Cash Money Life’s  Money Tips for the Twenty Something Crowd and Remodeling this Life’s Financial Advice for Your Twenties.

Having these resources have been a great advantage, thanks guys!

What should I focus on now?

a) Further studies

Along wants to do her Masters in Educational or Child Psychology, whilst Azah wants to do her CFP in Islamic Finance.

Should they do these part-time, or should they seek study loans, scholarships or employer paid tuition to pursue these?I have to give some thought to this.

b) Career Plan

This is an area where I have personally failed badly. So I have no intention of not guiding my children. I have to discuss with them and explore their preferred careers, identifying the companies or organisations where they want to work, preparing their killer resume, going the extra mile to secure the interview, preparing for it and then doing well at the interview are all matters that have to be addressed.Then there would be the matter of discussing how to manage their colleagues and bosses.

c) Finance

The first would be budgeting with the paying yourself first element firmly entrenched.  This may be based on the envelope system to start with. I would also like to suggest the “James Plan” of savings with a virtual employer.Then a major discussion on the power of compounding and how it can be made to work for us or if we are not careful, against us.   They also have to be introduced to checking accounts and how to balance their books. 

Then on creating the emergency fund, basic investing knowledge like mutual funds, index funds and ETF’s.  Some background on insurance, mortgages and loans should round it up.

Emily made a telling statement.

To quote her, 

This is the best age to be frugal because living frugally early on is the foundation for the rest of your life and will give you the opportunity to live well while also living below your means.

Unquote

And Trent over at the Simple Dollar reminds us that the age between late childhood to settling down with a family is the best age for entrepreneurship.

This is in line with what my wife and I would prefer. Still it’s the girls’ lives, so they would have to make the final calls. So far they have not indicated any signs of the Donald in them yet.

I have to now think carefully about crafting a series of lessons or posts (as my daughters and their friends read my blog) on how best to achieve this. Lessons that they find acceptable.

After all, the most memorable quote on advising children I have read is (I am sorry, I can’t remember the source now, but it must be from a blog), that the best way to advice children is “To find out what they want to do, then advice them to do it.”

The costly PF mistakes and blunders I have made, and why you should not repeat my mistakes – Part 4

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The five mistakes we have talked about so far are:- 

-         Not paying myself first  

-         Not forming or joining a correct peer group

-         Not having a written budget  

-         Not managing my career properly and

-         Not getting the best deals on my mortgages 

There is more.

The next one is “foolishly selling my long term investments without proper evaluation and soul searching”. 

Ever since I realized that I should start savings for retirement and for our children’s education, I have made monthly contributions to a unit trust or mutual fund as some people call them. My wife and I chose the UT reasonably carefully. We did not delve into diversification and asset allocations and such. 

In Malaysia, we have something called the Employee Provident Fund, where all employees and employers are required by law to contribute 11% and 12% respectively of gross salaries. This EPF is administered by a body set up under the Ministry of Finance and the Fund pays yearly dividends. 

You are allowed to withdraw a part of your EPF savings and invest them in approved UT’s. I also withdrew from my EPF account and invested in UT’s. (When we sell these UT’s then the money has to be reinvested back with the EPF). 

So over the years we had built up a reasonable nest egg.  

The mistake I made 

We had what can only be called a mind blowing bull-run in equities in 1992/1993 which as per text book rules ended in a spectacular collapse. The market then drifted slowly upwards and downwards.  

In 1997/1998 there was another equally mind blowing collapse due to internal political uncertainties followed by the famous Asian currency crisis. 

Against this backdrop, you may have guessed that my UT did not perform particularly well. There were years when no returns were paid and there were also years of losses. 

In 2003, I did something that I still regret. I sold off the bulk of the UT’s. 

The balance UT’s that I still held have performed as follows:-

As at:-

31 December 04 -       Taken as base 

31 December 05  -       Increased by 21%

31 December 06  -       Increased by 40%

31 December 07  -       Increased by 54%

The above returns include my monthly contributions (which I continued, thankfully). I am still astonished at the returns after even accounting for my contributions. Even though the last few years have been spectacularly good years for equities, the returns are nothing to be ashamed of.

What I should have done

Equities have their cycles of ups and downs. I was well aware of this, having been through a number of them. I also knew that these cycles could take years but just like clockwork, sooner or later the markets would move up again. And the time to turn around was not too far off.

UT’s offered a great way to diversify amongst a number of stocks.

In addition the UT company managing the fund we had selected was one of the better operated ones.

Since we were using the “dollar averaging method”, we had been bulking up on cheaper units as the markets languished.

I should have weighed all these factors and made an unemotional decision on whether to stay invested or to sell out.

Instead, I got influenced by the fact that there were no returns, without objectively analyzing the reasons why. I also never revisited the reasons why I had invested in UT’s in the first place.

Don’t repeat my mistake, please

Long term investments are just that….long term. They should not be influenced by the market fluctuations that happen daily, monthly or even the bigger swings (like what we are going through now) every once in a while. 

Investments in UT’s have the advantage of professional management and diversification amongst a wide array of stocks. Dollar cost averaging does give us an advantage in down markets, as we end up buying more units.  

Had we maintained our investments, my wife and I would be very, very much further ahead in our quest for retirement savings.  

Though I am not losing any sleep over it now, this selling off decision is something that I have regretted and will regret for a long time.  

And it is something I’ll keep repeating to my children never to make! 

How can we nurture and reap the fullest dividends from our greatest asset

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Patrick at Cash Money Life wrote that our greatest asset is an intangible, i.e. our ability to generate income. I am in complete agreement with this view. 

In fact, almost all the methods of valuation of businesses are tied, in one way or another, to the ability of the business to generate income.  Even if we do have an asset that generates income by the busloads, it was “our ability to generate income” that resulted in us owning the asset in the first place. 

Pinyo over at Moolanomy has also given his views on how to protect this “greatest asset” of ours. 

How then should we nurture this asset so as to reap its fullest dividends?

Our ability to generate income is largely dependent on :- 

Our educational levels 

This is pretty much self explanatory. Having said that, we have to take proactive steps to ensure that our education is in tune with current day market requirements. This does not just apply to those of us in careers, but also to our ability to generate income from investments, trading, arbitraging etc. The informal part refers to knowledge gathered from books, blogs, trade shows etc. 

And of course, our continuing education. Many Internet entrepreneurs are products of this.

Our Past Experiences 

Our past experiences will have a direct impact on our ability to generate income. Almost all higher level jobs require “experience”.  And we all value the advice of experienced experts in the fields of investing, money management, real estate etc., over the inexperienced ones.  

Mistakes made and the lessons earned hone our skills and ability to generate income. 

Our network of Friends and Family 

Our ability to generate income would be almost directly proportionate to the strength, depth and coverage of our network. A person who has a network of close and trustworthy friends in the banking, real estate, stock broking and investment banking fields would most probably have a far better success rate in investing than one who starts out alone.  

Our travels 

Travel broadens the mind. Even though globalization has made the world a smaller place, not all parts of the world are the same. For example, certain parts of Asia may be comparable to that of the UK, say, 25 years ago. So if someone from the UK visits that particular part of Asia, he / she may think about how the UK has progressed and bring those changes to Asia.  

Let us think MacDonalds in Kuala Lumpur, Starbucks in Jakarta, etc. 

To nurture our greatest asset, we have to nurture these four areas continuously.

Where should we focus our reviews 

When we draw up this list for our personal individual situation and seek to identify a unique opportunity, we should remember the following.   Business opportunities are created when we have a service or product that :- 

a)    makes people money, 

b)    saves people money, 

c)     makes people feel more secure, physically or emotionally,  

d)    makes people feel better, physically or emotionally,  

e)    saves people time.

I am sure, there are others, but these broad areas should be good enough. When you put these two together, we should be able to see that a job or a career need not be our only option.  

Whether we take a job and work on the other options part time is not the issue. The fact is that the door is now open wider, and we should be in a better position to, at least see, how we can generate more income.

For me, this exercise has given me ideas on two book projects.

5 stages of a child’s life and how it relates to financial and life education

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

This post is inspired by an article I read many years ago. I think it was in Readers Digest, but I am not sure. I am trying to remember as much of it as I can. 

This is not a psychological thesis, so please do not treat it as such. Children go through 5 phases as they grow up to become adults. Let’s begin. 

“My mommy knows everything” stage  

I am sure all parents will remember this stage with some nostalgia. The children who fall into this stage are those from the time they are born to about 6/7 years of age. 

What ever Mommy says is followed and accepted without question. Brush your teeth, go to sleep at 8.30 pm, do not play in the rain, etc. There may be some resistance, but it is negligible and usually, Mommy gets what she wants. In the event of any trouble, the kids can always be easily bribed.  

Mommy could also be depended upon to resolve any issue. How to heal a sick cat and or even to take on the 6’ 7”, 300 pounds ex-boxer father of Harry, who had said or done something nasty etc. 

All arguments between kids would have the mandatory, “My Mommy said so!”.  

“My Mommy knows most things” stage 

The kids are a little older now. Maybe between 8 to about 12/13 years. Other influences have now come into their lives. The older, “cooler” kids in school, their internet chat companions, etc. Mommy’s influence is still formidable, but now there are avenues to seek “second opinions”.

This is the time when the kids shy away a bit from being kissed by their mommies in school. 

Being called Mommy’s boy or girl in school would be an unmitigated disaster. 

“My Mommy does not have a clue” stage 

This is the stage most dreaded and feared by parents….the teens to late teens stage. The children are now aged maybe between 12/13 to about 20 years or so.  

They have their own minds, their own sources of information like the internet and their peer groups in school are now entrenched. Not quite adults and not quite children, they are sandwiched. There is a feeling of wanting to rebel and try out adult things, but are somewhat restrained by ties such as monetary support, place to stay, etc. 

Boys go through the girls stage and girls go through the boys stage.  

Money is expected from parents and not much thought is given to the hardships the parents may have to go through to earn it. Conversations with Mommy would be monosyllabic whilst phone bills on their conversations with friends would be astronomical.  

This stage is very crucial and may define some make or break situations like running away from home, eloping with their “loved ones”, etc.

Generally a stressful period for Mommy as well as the children.  

“Maybe I should ask my Mommy” stage

Here some stability is setting in. Also some acceptance of the real facts of life. Facts like we need money to survive, and that we have to work to get money and getting money by some “easier” means may result in punishment from Authorities etc. 

This would be the stage straddling college, graduation, first jobs and maybe serious relationships with the opposite sex and marriage. The children would now be in the early to perhaps mid /late 20’s. 

There may still be some anger over some perceived “ill or grossly unfair treatment” during the earlier stage of their lives, i.e. the “Mommy had no clue stage”.

Slowly they see two sides of the situation and some understanding of their Mommy’s way of thinking dawns. 

“I wish my Mommy was here, she’ll know what to do” stage 

Most probably our children now have children of their own. The antics of their kids make them nostalgic of their own past and there is a lot more appreciation for Mommy.

The child has now completed the circle and become an adult.  

How does this help us in giving our kids financial education?  

It appears to me that the best time to start teaching our children on pf or life would be during the 1st two stages, i.e. “Mommy knows best and Mommy knows most things” stages.  

During these stages, the kid’s minds will be most receptive. The lessons learnt, even if discarded during the next “Mommy not having a clue” stage, will remain in their minds. Ready to be awakened during the “maybe I should ask my Mommy” stage. 

Unfortunately these 1st two stages coincide with the time when the parents are inexperienced, may have to work extra hours to cope with the extra expenses of the kids and “quality” time with the kids are not as much as it should be.  

This is perhaps, where we, as parents lose out. 

We then try to catch up during the “Mommy does not have a clue” phase, and the stage is set for countless arguments, slamming of doors and sulks. 

And all Mommy can do is to wonder, what have I done. 

Naturally, they’ll be exceptions to the rules above. From hyperactive children to those who read “War and Peace” when they are only 4 years old.

This post is just meant to show a different slant to the issue of parenting and the teaching of good family and life values to our children.  

And I do think it makes sense.

My daughter is attending a property investment course

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

As many other aspiring billionaires, I have read and been fascinated by the many books that espouse theories on making money on properties. 

However my wife and I have never really tried “property investing”.  

A good family friend, Kalai, has tried and made money. He has been a “fixer upper” and made decent money on 2 properties. He has bought and sold properties. He has been a property agent and sold a number of properties. He has also a dud on his hands now. His stories have always fascinated me.  

I accept that property is a major asset class and learning about investing in them can only be a plus in our journey to financial freedom. 

So when a local financial and property “guru”, Milan Doshi, announced his upcoming class, I was interested got up my daughter and nephew to sign up. 

The course promises a number of things, related to improving our financial IQ and learning about RE investment. 

Of course, neither my wife nor I expect our daughter (the second, the first is studying in Wales) to return from the course with Donald Trump’s skills.

What then do we expect? 

a)    My nephew and daughter will get to understand at least some of the nitty gritty and be given an introduction to the world of RE investing and the related matters, like tenant issues, types of property, pitfalls to look out for, financing, calculating returns etc. 

b)    My nephew and daughter will get to meet other course participants who should have the same interests and maybe, form a peer group with some of them. (See this great article on the advantages of peer groups). 

Besides, my daughters forming a peer group is one of my goals for 2008.  

c)     My daughter is close to my nephew and there is no reason why they should not form a 2 member peer group to start off with. 

d)    My nephew is a very sensible young man and I am sure his presence at the course and as my daughter’s peer group member will be of great help to her. 

e)    My daughter is not out of University yet, but my nephew has been working for a few years now. He works with our country’s Central Bank, and thus has his fair share of friends in the banking industry. This should be a plus for them.

f)      I have read Milan’s books and I think he gives a fair representation of the industry. It is not “just buy property and become rich”. It is also about gain knowledge, study your property carefully and buy. And that making mistakes in RE investment can be a long painful affair to unravel.

I believe that my nephew and daughter will get a balanced view of the positives and negatives of RE investing. 

Ultimately, we hope that my nephew and daughter will learn from this course and be more enlightened about the specifics of RE investment.

We hope that they will look up and study a lot more on RE. And we hope they’ll consider RE investment as one of their vehicles in their journey for financial independence. 

Kalai has also talked to my daughter about his experiences, relating both his good and bad ones. He dwelled upon the need to carefully study the property and suggested that she should start with something “small and manageable.” 

I am bristling with so called ideas on what my nephew and daughter should do. I have to and must restrain myself. This is their journey.  

Maybe I should just ask for their idea of a 5 year plan on their RE investments.  

What advise can I give my college going children on forming a peer group for personal finance management?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

The power of peer groups to exert influence, both good and bad, on its members has been well documented.  

In one of my earlier posts, I have rated the two most important personal finance lessons I have learnt being:- 

a)    Paying myself first, or Living within my means and 

b)    Forming a peer group with personal finance as an agenda item. 

I have also posted that (b) would be the most important PF lesson I could give my 2 elder girls now.  But, exactly how do they go about forming a peer group?  None of their friends in college are interested in this “oh! so boring” subject.  

Man! I lost almost 15 years of compounding benefits, bumming around and burning off almost all my earnings. Only after my family and financial responsibilities got heavier, did I consciously start thinking about sorting my finances out.  

And as a responsible parent, I have to try my best to make sure that my children do not make the same mistakes I did.  So I have to find a way. A way, which will get my children start thinking and working on bettering their financial position from day one. A way, my children will be comfortable with.  

I believe that advise from the parent may not work. It has to come from people with whom my children are comfortable with and who have the same likes, dislikes and problems, real or perceived.  

I have tried asking them to form their own peer group. This has not worked. 

I have now given them a list of 5 personal finance and personal development blogs, and have asked them to read and start commenting on these blogs.  

I have proposed a fee for every comment of theirs which is accepted by the blogger. My children have to email me the URLs so that I can keep abreast of their comments. 

I have been an avid follower of PF blogs for about 3 months now. The impact on me has been powerful. I have made many changes and adjustments to my financial and personal life, some small, others major.

In fact, I almost feel that I participate in direct discussions with some of these bloggers and have actually formed mental images of some of these people. 

If the blogs have this effect on me, they just might have the same effect on my children.  If they try out this method, they may actually get to like it and start participating, not because they can earn some money from me, but rather because they can and want to learn something. 

Then, by golly, they would have their peer group! 

And if they don’t like the pf blogs, then back to the drawing board shall we go.  

Cool skills to learn for personal development – Yogic Sleep

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Power Nap?Power Namp???Yoga is already quite well known as an ancient Indian physical science that can help us in so many areas of our life, if practiced diligently.  

Here I want to talk about one particular aspect which I have experienced with great positive effect. We call it Yogic Sleep. 

We must also have heard about the power nap. 

Men’s Journal calls the power nap, an investment with the greatest return in the least amount of time. A kind of super efficient sleep that fits in nicely in a high pressure schedule, say between business meetings or in the minutes before a game.  

But just how do we fall sleep at will? Can we just “turn off a switch and go to sleep” or do we need another hour or so to “toss and turn” first. 

To all the “power nap challenged people”, I say, have no fear, a  solution is near.  

Ms. Bijoylaxmi Hota in her book “Yoga for Busy People” provides a great solution.  The book has a section on Yogic Sleep, in which she explains how deep relaxation and sound sleep which are essential for regeneration of body tissues can be achieved by yoganidra. This is a practice developed from an ancient tantric practice by her guru, Paramahamsa Swamy Satyananda Saraswati.  

I am listing the steps suggested by Ms. Hota. However, just reading these steps may not do justice to Ms. Hota. (I hope I am not infringing any copyright issues here.) 

Ms. Hota’s teachings are for us to :- 

a)                Lie down in the pose of Shavasana  

         i)                  Lie down on your back in a straight line

         ii)                Move legs one and a half feet apart

         iii)             Place hands on the floor,(palms facing up), away from the body,

         iv)              Close eyes,

          v)                Breathe naturally,

          vi)              Count twelve breaths backwards 

b)                Countdown 12 deep breaths while mentally saying, 

          i)      I am inhaling – twelve,

         ii)     I am exhaling – twelve,

         iii)             I am inhaling – eleven

         iv)              Etc until we reach - one 

c)                 Now breathe normally and repeat mentally “relax” after each exhalation, 

d)                Practice for 3 – 4 minutes, 

e)                Visualize each part of the body in the following sequence. Mentally repeat its name and imagine it relaxing. Do not move the said body part. “Right hand thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger, palm, wrist, elbow, shoulder, armpit, hip, thigh, knee, calf, ankle, heel, sole, the big toe, second, third, fourth and the fifth. 

f)                  Repeat with the left side, 

g)                Back – back of the head, top of the head, forehead, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, right eye, left eye, middle of the eyebrows, right cheek, left cheek, right nostril, left nostril, upper lip, lower lip, chin, neck, chest, stomach and abdomen.  

She has also some further suggestions that we should make a short positive resolution such as “I will attain and maintain perfect health, or I am perfectly healthy in body and mind.” And imagining ourselves to be near a pleasant and relaxing environment such as a waterfall, a calm lake or a sea beach etc. 

I have always fallen asleep somewhere between (f) and (g). 

I bought this book a few years ago in an airport in India. Yogic Sleep is the only section that I have tried and it works.

Even if you feel that you are not going to fall asleep for the next 3 or 4 hours, practicing the simple steps listed by Ms. Hota just “switches you off” and instantly sends you to slumberland. Try it and see for yourself. 

PS:   Incidentally, sleep deprivation has been identified as one of the trends facing us today. Would keeping these people  awake be the next business opportunity or would it be helping them take naps at will, every chance they get?   

The picture above was taken from a really cool story on a dream written by Ms. NN in the Digital Journal. You have to read it yourself. The powerful impact of dreams and when do dreams happen…..when we sleep, of course…..

Sweet Dreams! 

Cool Skills to learn / Habits to form for personal development

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Thinking back about all the years I spent in school and university, supposedly getting myself an education to help me in life, I wonder. 

I have always wondered why educators stuff so much technical thingies into us, stuff they themselves must know that is never ever used, other than for teaching others. 

I am not knocking the education I received. I am grateful for it, but I wish it was a lot more skewed towards practical use. I am not alone. In fact, I wrote about this after I read a passionate article in Brian Kim’s Invest in Yourself and Make it Happen.  

In that post, I wrote about 5 skills that, (as also stated by Brian), should be taught in schools. Skills that would have made a very positive impact in our adult lives.  

Even after school, we should pick up some skills to make our lives more productive, useful and / or pleasant. 

I am happy to report that some people do seem to agree with me.  

See this very interesting thread of comments, to “I can’t do one quarter of the things my Father can” featured in October 07’s Popular Mechanics.  

Then there is Anarchangel, who has had, and is having a rich and extremely varied life. He seems to have skills that Rambo or McGyver  would drool over. 

RateItAll, an online community and social network built upon a diverse range of online databases, has posted a list by one of its members on useful skills to have. He invites readers to rate these skills “on their usefulness in this crazy world.”  

We shall over the next few days and weeks, post our stand and views on some of these skills that we should learn. 

What is your take on these additional useful life skills that we should try to learn, or habits that we should form.  See Melissa’s list of 10 classes to, (as she says hopefully), fix her life.

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