Shuba’s Weblog

Journeys of the soul…

Beginnings…

The Dance of Elephants
The Dance of Rain
The first snow of the season
The first colors change

The first taste of Ice cream
Cookies and jam
The first scent of lavender
Mistletoe and Jasmine

The first step you take
The first mittens you wear
The first cry of disappointment
And first consolation you get

Your first best friend
Your first Love
Your first vacation
Your first Moonlight

So much to look forward to
A lifetime of Joy
A tender heart full
Of Love and Delight!

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Love…

I have written many times about self love. It is probably the most important and on-going practice of my life, practice because it is so hard.

But today, I want to write about the love of the other. The love of another being that touches us, moves us, nourishes us and fills us with happiness. The tender unconditional spontaneous love we experience through relationship with another. And just how much it can fill our hearts with loving-kindness and gratitude.

A grueling couple of days due to unbearable heat, lack of sleep and exhaustion. My mind spinning in circles. and then, like a thirsty traveler in the desert coming across an oasis of water, receiving love from another being, so timely and generous and unconditional. Touched and filling my being.

In a beautiful book I read and reread recently called ‘the elegance of the hedgehog’, one of the protagonists talks about this love:’This pause in time, within time…the peace of mind one experiences on one’s own, one’s certainty of self in the serenity of solitude, are nothing in comparison to the release and openness and fluency one shares with another, in close companionship…When did I first feel so blissfully relaxed in the presence of a man? Today is the first time.’

This connection with another being, this dance that unfolds in easy unburdened intimacy…doesn’t happen always. Sometimes, we struggle to find the right beat, the right moves, falling this way and that. and every now and then, we find the perfect rhythm and we move in unison. and magic happens…

and when that magic happens, soak it all in…

with Love, S.

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Generosity of heart…

One of the five precepts of Buddhism, presented in a beautiful way by Amita Schmidt, reads as ‘Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine, I vow to practice generosity’. Preparing for a meditation sit tonight, my eyes and thoughts rested on these words. How beautiful. Generosity has always called me deeply. It has been one of the easiest ways for me to feel happy – when I give or receive kindness.

Generosity is a big word. It is expansive, all-encompassing, abundant. The practice of generosity opens our hearts to how much we have to give. And how much we receive each day from others that has the potential to move us and touch our hearts. And the more we pay attention to generosity, the more it appears in our lives.

Today, I was at a flower shop buying a plant for a colleague who just moved into a new space. After shopping, I asked the owner if I could get a sip of water – I was thirsty, and hadn’t anticipated the heat. I anticipated a small glass of water in a cup. The kind man went inside, brought me a chilled bottle of water, and gave it to me free of charge. He didn’t have to. The taste of cool water to a thirsty mouth- I knew I was receiving generosity. Someone giving me something I needed, at just the right moment, out of sheer goodness of heart.

Giving the plant to my colleague – seeing his face light up and come alive. Such a treat, as always when someone receives your gift with delight. With generosity, I always wonder, who is giving and who is receiving. The lines are blurred in the presence of the expansive wide openness of the heart at such a moment.

Have you noticed how it feels, when a friend or loved one gives you their undivided attention? When they listen to what you are saying, truly listen, with no other agenda in mind? Doesn’t it feel special, like basking in glorious sunshine? I love those moments of grace and beauty that loving attention gives us. That too is generosity. The best gift we can give ourselves and others. and certainly the best one we can ever receive.

When I feel particularly scarce in my heart, or needy, I reflect on something good someone has done for me. or that I have done for someone. Some special deed that has brought a spark into the day. and I revel in that goodness, soak it up and let it fill my body and mind slowly like the taste of delicious honey. It never fails to lift me. Try it sometime!

So much of generosity comes from reflection and appreciation. Of ourselves and others. When we feel abundant, we have more to give. And this has nothing to do with our external situations. Even a penniless person can give – the divine grace – through their attention and love. You know how a flowering plant comes alive in the sunshine, how it blooms and flowers ? That is how a person comes alive in the presence of that loving attention.

Feel the breeze touching your skin. The space supporting you. Your body holding you. The coolness under the shade of the trees. The sip of water when you are thirsty. The taste of a cookie. Allow yourself to bask in this generosity that is present in every moment. Receive this grace of love and attention that you long for. Rumi says, (translated by Coleman Barks, The soul of Rumi), in ‘some kiss we want’:

There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body.

That touch of undivided attention and unconditional love – can you give that to yourself ?

With Love,
S.

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Relating with compassion…

So much of life is out of our control. We would LOVE for things to go our way, it would be so much easier! but it doesn’t always happen. One minute we are enjoying the clear blue sky and the trees, the next moment, we have hit a rock and are lying flat on our faces. The sheer unpredictability of life can be daunting, if we think about it. Of course, conveniently, we don’t. we pretend everything is stationary in time. and then when things change, we are disappointed.

It always surprises me, the resistance that comes up when things are going a certain way and then they change. I got to witness it (yet again! ) last week. My husband and I were on vacation, and I would have these blissful moments of peace. And then, suddenly without warning, it would change. (new realization – pregnancy hormones really do make your moods volatile!! ) And I would be sitting there in shock wondering where did that moment of peace go ?

We try so hard and do so much, but really we don’t have the tiniest bit of control. Take the body. whether you pay attention or not, the breath is happening. are you doing anything ? You may think, by becoming aware of your breath, that you are making it happen. But that’s not really true. So much activity in our body is happening without our knowledge. digestion, blood circulation, elimination. baby-growing (in my case). the sheer range of happenings in each moment is amazing, and this is just inside us! so is there anything we have a choice in?

The only choice we have, is in how to respond to what comes up in this moment. Not whether we have joys or sorrows, but how we relate to them when they arise. Do we want to relate to them with judgment and self-recrimination, or do we want to relate to them with softness and compassion ?

It has been quite beautiful seeing this new way of being played out in action. In the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to practice with Sharon Salzberg’s guided meditations and cards on loving-kindness in the CD (‘Unplug’). And what amazes me is the space and softness this practice of relating opens up.

To relate with compassion and softness, we have to cultivate the habit to do so. When you get up in the morning, don’t curse yourself for sleeping late (it doesn’t change a thing, believe me! ). When you feel fear, don’t make it worse by adding judgment. When you eat ice-cream don’t berate yourself after the fact.

Relating to ourselves is a journey of each moment, of meeting what arises with lightness, readiness and forgiveness. Of caring for ourselves enough to wish ourselves well. Of patting ourselves at the back for generosity and kindness, and forgiving ourselves for trespasses and hurts. So much beauty in this journey. and freedom.

May we relate to this moment with kindness,
With Love, S.

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The waves of magic that wake us up…

Being on a spiritual path is a difficult journey. Seeking truth and freedom is not always easy, especially since most of us have to balance our wishes for a meaningful, fulfilling life with the real-world demands of having a job, making money, paying the bills, getting the chores done. Sometimes time isn’t enough. Sometimes, inspiration just is lacking. We are in a spiritual rut and we know we need to get out. We need inspiration. What does one do ?

This is where, I think, symbols come in handy. Symbols are something of a reminder. They have the potential to wake us up from our stupor and reach the place of wonder that our heart knows, again. These symbols are cultivated over time by paying attention. They could be, and are, generally simple things which are meaningful to us. Like the photo of a loved one from a memorable moment. A favorite book of poems. Seeing the squirrel dig out the nuts. Finding the tulips bloom one morning. Fresh snow on the ground. The ocean’s tides that so unfailingly reaching the shore. Letters that loved ones wrote to us. A phone message from a friend just in time.

Trees are one of my symbols. The pines standing so tall, so beautiful. The word that comes to mind is ‘stalwart’. They are such stalwarts of strength and protection. And yet so flexible that they dance with the slightest breeze. Just the rhythm of their swaying reminds me of the magic. Of the journey to freedom. Every once in a while I would stop and watch on the trees dance. and my heart would smile.

What represents freedom to you? See if you can pay attention to what wakes you up. What lightens your heart at the end of a long dark day. Is it the Full Moon so splendid in its glory, due in just a couple of days ? Is it a clear night of stars that you happen to witness ? Is it the sound of rain outside the windows ? Is it the smile that lights up the eyes of your friend ? Or the tune that the birdie outside plays in the morning ? Or maybe it is just a bowl of steaming oatmeal on a cold spring morning or the smell of fresh pot of coffee.

What is it that wakes you up ?

With Love, S.

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A Girl’s got to eat…

I have always had a very loving – bordering on obsessive, relationship with food. It is the default topic for my thoughts. There have been more than one sit on more than one meditation retreat, to put it mildly, where I have fantasized about food, either what I just ate or what I would like to eat. Or what menu I would have for an imaginary party or what kind of food I would have in an imaginary restaurant owned by me. It is all quite interesting, the minute details my mind can get into when left alone with thoughts of food.

So Imagine my consternation now that this is getting out of hand! I am about 10 weeks pregnant. and most of the day all I can think of is my next meal and how to get there. Everyday, I get up and first thing in the morning, I have a Good Day biscuit. It turns out, as I am finding out, what works best for my system are eatables I grew up with. what a surprise! Like Maggi noodles. I made Maggi the other day for an evening snack and it seemed a miracle that not only could I eat it, but I actually loved it. Go figure. I ate Maggi every evening after school when I was growing up. That was our ritual. As with curd rice and sambar/pickle. Man, this stuff tastes heaven!! I really don’t think I need anything else for dinner. The other day I slurped on curd rice and ate so quickly that it went on the wrong side. My husband actually told me to slow down. Who would have guessed! Obviously the baby is going to have very sophisticated tastes.

I really never thought I would get desperate about food. I mean, I have seen the signs. Still, I couldn’t think it was possible to think more about food than I already did in my saner days. So, it feels a bit crazy when after that Good Day biscuit, milk, breakfast and so on, right around 11.00am, I get fidgety. I start wondering when is the appropriate time that sane people have lunch. I wait, staring into space, looking like I’m thinking deep proofs of science in my office till about 11.30. That’s all I can take. Then I dive into my lunch box or Cafetaria depending on which can be mouthed successfully. And there is euphoria for about an hour after wards. And that’s when I wish I had Badam halwa.

You know, the most amazing thing in all of this is that I am actually learning to cook decent south-indian meals. I never thought that would happen. Being married to a Punjabi and liking north-indian food a lot myself, it comes as a pleasant surprise. So I am learning to cook, out of necessity. I made a mean Sambar and Paruppusali the other night. It was actually the real stuff!! Thanks to a most wonderful blog by two Mamis: The Yum Blog
Thank god for Blogs!

So if you are a food addict, you are not alone. You are not crazy. You just really really appreciate food. And/or you are pregnant. And you could have been a cook in your previous life-time.

Keep eating, and if its the Good stuff, think of me.

With tolerant acceptance of mine and others’ idiosyncrasies, thank God for them!
With Love, S.

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sunrise sunrise…

Often times, when I step outside in the fresh air to take a break, I experience this profound sense of well-being. Something about the trees and the open skies, especially when it is a clear day is such balm to the soul. Its this knowledge that we are such a tiny part of this universe and how amazing it is that we can experience the universe through our own tiny experiences. The horizons, the cool air, the breeze, the possibilities, it holds such magic for me.

Some mornings these days, I manage to catch the sunrise. The sun rises just opposite our window in the guest bedroom, so I wake up, get a cup of milk and sit there watching the sun with a book. Every time I look up and see the change coursing across the skies, I’m awash with gratitude at the sheer beauty of it. Then the day takes its usual course and I sort of forget the magic, till I’m outside again and I remember the morning, how special it was. It makes me smile all over again.

How precious these few moments that bring us alive. What would life be without these small moments ? May we have many countless more of them…

with Love, S.

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living the truth…

Sometimes I want to record all these amazing things that happen in my life. conversations I have with my dearest friends. moments of love and beauty. I think thats why I write. some record of my life, so that if ever I lose my memory, I can look at something that tells me what my life has been like. and yet … no words could ever reveal the truth of our experiences.

there is so much that happens in life. every day, every moment. and it is always about us! every experience is what we bring into this universe. we project our ideas and thoughts on to others but in reality it is always our mind and our experience. and that is where the truth lies. the truth is different in every moment for every person. there is no absolute truth. and that is why the truth can only be known by direct experience. this is why Buddha told us never to believe anyone, but to learn through our own experience.

what is the truth really ? so many layers to it. imagine I react to a situation with judgement. by being present, I realize that I am in fact judging. and that what I am experiencing is because of this judgement. this is the truth then. but then I can go underneath and find out why I judge. what past actions have resulted in this pattern. I see the reason why (another truth) and I have compassion (another truth). now where in all this is the actual event taking place ? and who is to say that the experience should have been different ? everything happens just as it does. and the truth lies when we are willing to show up for it. so many layers to this.

and the more present we are, the more opportunities for learning, joy, intimacy, wisdom our experience contains. it unfolds. nothing in the outside has changed, but we start living the truth.

and sometimes, on days like this, I want to record every moment of it. what if… ? that day too will come. but words can never describe what each of us experience in a day in a lifetime. look at the stars above in the perfect constellations of Orion. have you seen anything this beautiful ? or mid-afternoon cloudy skies with just the glint of sunlight through, shining among the roofs and the birch trees. the chill on your body when you step outside, waking you up to fresh air. the ground under your feet and this body that connects you to heaven.

how can we ever record all of this ? but that doesn’t mean I can’t try 🙂 I am a human being after all, naive enough to try. simply because it makes my heart feel good – sharing my life and my experience. putting it out there. a voice among many voices. one experience among many. one river in this stream of consciousness.

with profound amazement at this experience of being human,
with Love, S.

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a cool breeze…

I remember reading in an article by Sylvia Boorstein about a saying she came across: ‘life is so hard, how can you be anything but kind…’

Life is hard. balancing all the things we do in a day, work, relationships, play, and managing to be safe and get through it and feel good is so difficult. for every one of us. and yet, what I can’t understand is, why we make it harder by being so hard on ourselves!

We are so good at turning something good about ourselves into something horrible. Words I heard from a friend who calls herself needy because her favorite moments of the day are when she is physically close to her children. Dah! that is part of being a mother and a human being. I love physical touch. the warmth of snuggling my toes on my dear one’s lap.

words from another loved one: ‘ I can’t afford to be tired! I need to get this done’.
words from me about a gift I got a loved one: ‘its nothing, …’ even though I had put in thoughtfulness and effort into it. just so many echoes of the same thing. aversion for our physical body and wanting to look a certain way. putting down ourselves. never receiving compliments because we don’t think we deserve them. self-judging, that becomes self-loathing.

it is the feeling and the touch, the sensing through our physical senses that makes us a human being and not a machine or robot. how we are needy. we need people. we need each other. we need affection and touch. all of us do. we are vulnerable. and we need unconditional love.

have you noticed when you are tired or in pain, how comforting a kind word is ? a smile, attention. how good that feels. that is how self-love can be. a cool breeze on a hot hot day. makes all the difference.

and people who don’t love themselves don’t make others feel good either. and when someone is not kind to us, we do have a choice : of compassion and deciding not to carry their emotions forward in us. we have a choice of love over hate.

this is every day life. we are good people. we deserve to feel good and be happy and kind. and that makes all the difference. when we are no longer judging, all that energy is freed up for other things. good things. try it out! it is a great journey and one that feels good!

with joy and possibilities, S.

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orienting our attention towards our experience…

Life is a meditation. a journey of choice.
We can choose to pay attention to others, to what is happening outside, to the society and how we are supposed to be, and get our cues from there for doing the right thing. If you are a sensitive type like me, you have always been hyper aware of what people around you are feeling, and wanting Oh to do and say the the absolute right thing and to not hurt anyone. and that starts getting stressful after a while, so you start setting aside time to be with yourself away from the world, a place where you can truly be yourself.

there is another choice, another way to be, as I am starting to discover. To reorient our attention, to pay attention to the inside, to our own personal experience of how life is unfolding. focusing that sensitivity from the outside to the inside so that we can instead be mindful of our body and our experience. that also has the ability to wake us up and lead us to wise action, provided that the attention is inclined towards understanding, rather than judging.

when this shift happens, life starts to open up. there is no rejecting, since everything, every person, every relationship is a mirror for understanding. the truth is reflected everywhere. we no longer have to search. peace is right here in what is happening right now. not in some place else we go chasing after. we can wake up and be. it is in fact effortless. what helps is to reorient our attention, It is like you are a circle. all this while, you were keenly aware of the world unfolding outside the circle, so you could conform to the shape that felt comfortable. that usually means shrinking. Instead now, you pay attention to the inside of the circle. and as you start doing it, the circle starts expanding…to make space. and you start becoming larger and more spacious.

with this kind of mindfulness and receiving our inner experience, we learn to surrender to our inner experience, and to trust. to be rather than do. to live rather than run. to soften rather than judge. to be passionate and die a million deaths rather than hide for fear of hurting. and this naturally leads to a joy because we discover our own capability for wisdom, love and understanding.

living life in the true sense needs us to persevere, be courageous and grateful. what do we have to lose ? what is it that we can’t bear ? and how can that open our hearts to what we truly are ?

may we have the ability to be present and surrender to our life’s experiences.
with profound gratitude and metta, S.

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