Great StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 13, Issue 4 – 21 March 2017
How To Tell A Great Story |
Clickbank Link
Columnists’ Books|
Aneeta Sundararaj|
Ladoo Dog|
Website Makeover|
My Cholesterol Journey in Malaysia|
Eric Okeke|
Corruption, Stop it!|

Rohi Shetty|
200 Humorous Tweetable Quotations |
Vaidya C.D. Siby | Knowledge of Life: Tales of an Ayurvedic Practitioner in Malaysia |

I have something better than photos from the launch of ‘Knowledge of Life: Tales of an Ayurveda Practitioner’. I have a video of an interview I gave which was then televised locally in Malaysia. Here’s the video:

I hope you can view the video and enjoyed watching it.

Anyway in this edition, Rohi explains the benefits of silence during Vipassana meditation and I tell the story of what happened when I had to practice it. I also share a very funny story about Yamuna, the Brahmin.

I trust you’ll enjoy these offerings and please share your stories with us.

Happy storytelling.
Aneeta Sundararaj

A to Z Challenge: Y for Yamuna, the Brahmin

“Look at her now. Nobody wants to be her friend,” said sixty-year-old Suresh.

Having inherited her father’s strong will, Avanti wasn’t going to back down in this all-day argument father and daughter had been having.

“Nonsense! Everyone wants to be Yamuna’s friend,” Avanti replied. “I just don’t think they are suitable enough to be close to my daughter. They’re half-castes, at best. Yamuna is pure Brahmin. I will not allow a full Brahmin to fraternise with all these …” Avanti made a face to show her disgust.  She then glanced at the wrist watch her husband had presented to her as anniversary gift three months ago. It was 5.35 and she was already an hour late in serving Yamuna’s evening meal. This wouldn’t do.

“How can you say that?” Suresh stared at Avanti, ignoring his wife, Shoba. She had been trying unsuccessfully to get a word in.

“Why not? Until she becomes a full adult, I will choose who she’s friends with. Isn’t that good parenting?” Avanti looked at her father.

Suresh looked at Shoba and said, “See what your daughter is saying. I don’t understand why she’s keeping her daughter, Yamuna, from making friends. Yamuna is our granddaughter and we don’t mind her making friends. Why? Why would you do that?”

“I’m protecting her,” Avanti said in a matter-of-fact manner.

“Protecting her? From what?” Suresh stared at his daughter.

“She could get diseases from all these … these untouchables.”

“You’re becoming just like your friends. You complain that they stifle their children’s growth. Now you’re doing exactly the same. And yours is a little worse.”

Shoba put her hand up, as though she were asking for permission to speak. Her voice was feeble when she said, “But …”

Avanti turned at stared at her mother, too angry to be respectful. “Don’t interrupt, Mummy.” To her father, she said, “I’m protecting Yamuna.”

Suresh scratched his head. Taking a deep breath, he pulled out his smartphone from his trouser pocket and said to his daughter, “You’re fooling yourself. Come. Let me show you this video I took of how Yamuna behaved when her friend came to visit.”

To read more, please click here.

STILLNESS AND FLOW: How Silence Benefits You in a Vipassana Meditation Course? by Dr. Rohi Shetty

“Silence is not merely an absence of noise. Real silence begins when a reasonable being withdraws from the noise in order to find peace and order in his inner sanctuary.” ~Peter Minard

Meditation courses have become increasingly popular throughout the world. Among them are the ten-day residential Vipassana meditation retreats that originated in Myanmar (Burma).

One of the unique features of this course is the rule to observe “noble silence” for the first nine days of the course. Noble silence means that we do not communicate with fellow meditators for the first nine days of the course, neither verbally nor by gestures.

The format of the Vipassana course is designed to deliver maximum benefits in exchange for our investment of ten days. As with all the other course-rules, the rule of noble silence is flexible. Though we cannot communicate with our fellow students, we are free to communicate with the course organizers about any material difficulty. We can also meet the meditation teacher and clarify any difficulties we may face in their meditation practice.

Still, many of us find this requirement of total silence daunting. Though we want to “sit” a Goenka Vipassana retreat, we hesitate because we are not sure if we can zip their lips for ten days.

However, much to their surprise, most participants find it surprisingly easy to follow this rule once they screw up the courage to join the course. There are several reasons for this.

  1. Support of the other course participants

Since all the other course participants practice silence, it seems “natural” to be silent not only in the meditation hall but in the entire meditation campus. One experience that many cherish is the silence during meals. Also, by remaining mindfully silent, we are supporting the meditation practice of fellow meditators.

In addition, every Vipassana course usually has “old students”, who have attended one or more courses earlier. These participants act as role models and set a good example for those who are attending a course for the first time.

To read more please click here.

STORY ASIA: The Nobility of Silence by Aneeta Sundararaj

In today’s papers, in an article called Listen. Think. Eat, Addie Broyles writes about mindful eating. Broyles refers to Michelle May (a family-physician-turned-wellness-coach) who says that there are three types of eaters: restrictive eaters, overeaters and instinctive eaters. Most of us oscillate between the first two. What we should aim for is instinctive eating. May is also quoted as saying this: “Mindful eating means you eat with intention and attention.”

I had reason to experience this ‘mindful eating’ recently during our Art of Joyfulness-Mindful Living Excellence Retreat Jan 3-5, 2014. Throughout the retreat, we were often reminded to observe ‘Noble Silence’. Indeed, in the manual, it’s clearly stated as follows:

  • Refrain from talking, using sign language and making noise. If you really need to communicate, do so quickly and only urgent matters.
  • As much as possible, we try to allow others their space, and let go of the need to smile or communicate. … Remember that this is a rare time for you to let yourself take off your social mask, which takes so much energy to maintain.

This included mealtimes and even when we were in the bedroom. Two incidents, in particular, stayed with me.

The first was a lesson called ‘Experiencing Mindfulness with the Raisin-Conscious Observation’. We were all given a banana (there were no raisins that day at the resort) and asked to observe it closely. We had to touch and hold this banana. For the first time in my life, I held a banana and counted the number of black spots on the fruit – there were 6.

To read more, please click here.


Half the Sky by Valentine Perera

Description: The little island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) gave the world its first democratically elected female Prime Minister. Told in the voices of a largely female ensemble cast, Half the Sky is a fictionalised version of what followed that remarkable achievement. The novel shows, in a light-hearted, yet complex way, how women are just as clever and as capable as men but are still unfairly discriminated in all walks of life. The female narrators describe explicitly how their approach and attitude to sex is quite different too.


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