Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Meditation Among The Mortars

I often tell people that I learned more about pranayama (yogic breathing) through suffering from asthma and allergies for years than from anything else. A story I tell less often is how I learned to find peace and serenity in meditation while under mortar and rocket barrages in Baghdad a few years ago.

In a past life while working a short stint at the US Embassy in Baghdad (long story…), I used to be awakened in the morning by an alarm telling us that rockets and mortars were inbound to our little collection of trailer homes behind the embassy along the Euphrates. This usually meant rolling out of bed and onto the floor to get under my armored vest…basically into balasana (child’s pose) with my arms tucked under the vest - to wait and wonder if some shell would come crashing through the tin roof of my trailer and ruin my day.

Sometimes these alarms would go off while I was in the shower or sitting on the toilet. So, my roommate and I made a deal that if either of us was hit while on the can, we’d pull the other off so we wouldn’t go out like Elvis…but I digress.

It was during those mornings (and often late afternoons) while hearing rockets whizzing overhead and hearing the crash of mortars landing nearby that I learned how to find inner peace. Powerless to do anything but crouch and wait (perhaps even to die), I learned to let go and try not to be attached to the outcome of the situation but rather to tuck inside and be one with my own breath. At first it was a way to overcome the fear of hearing the crashes getting closer and closer to me (before they stopped) but later it became a way to access a much deeper level of meditation and get a better glimpse of my true self.

Why is it that it takes such drastic situations to make us truly focus inward and strip away the things which block us from connecting to our true selves? Why did my mind wander so in quiet rooms back home but find such focus in a war zone of all places?

Ever since those experiences in Baghdad, I’ve been able to check out and meditate anywhere. In the middle of a busy airport? No problem! Sitting next to a crying baby? Piece of cake! In a beautiful mountain meadow? Now you’re talking!

Sure, we’d all like to have that serene place to meditate or practice yoga but in an ever-louder, ever-crowded world such places are far harder to come by. Of course, that place within ourselves is always available, provided we remember to look for it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

C'mon Barcelona!

Today at home in the Nou Camp - got to get 'er done against Arsenal!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Impending UEFA Crackdown on Big Spenders

The Times of London sounded the alarm back in November with this article and now it appears imminent that UEFA will restrict the big spending habits of some of Europe's richest clubs.

In a 60-page plan being worked up at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, clubs would only be able to spend only what they earn and not be allowed to take on large debts (and operating at a loss) to fund player acquisitions.

The entire effort is an attempt by UEFA president, Michel Platini (pictured above), to end what he calls "financial doping" – in which wealthy owners underwrite huge losses, and transition to a system where clubs can only spend what they earn.

These proposals, which UEFA intends to bring online 2012, will permit owners to fund losses for a transitional period but under close scrutiny by the governing body. Initially losses of up to €45 million would be acceptable in the three years up to 2015. After that, the number will drop to €30 million over the next three years, with UEFA finally reaching a point where clubs are breaking even.

It seems these proposals are intended to fulfill two objectives. First, the ensure the solvency of Europe's biggest clubs to ensure their financial survival in tough economic times and secondly, to level the financial playing field in the European game; bolstering competition and making the leagues more attractive to fans who are tiring of seeing the same handful of clubs win all the trophies.

While much of the attention in the English language press has focused on the Premiership clubs, the need for these new rules is most starkly displayed in the Spanish Primera, where club revenues average €72 million but average net debt is €860 million - the kind of ratios we're used to seeing in failing Wall Street banks, not big football clubs.

Will these new rules have the desired effect or will clever owners find a way to circumvent them, by (for example) funding player bonuses through advertising schemes, etc? Or, will the big clubs. with broad brand recognition, continue to outpace the smaller clubs in revenues and stay on top? Only time will tell but its obvious that you won't see much change on this until the 2018-2020 timeframe when the policy (if it survives) is fully in effect and operating through two full transfer cycles.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Punjabi Jingle Bells

Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday season!