Shuba’s Weblog

Journeys of the soul…

Simple pleasures…and happy-ness!

You know how sometimes you need that break to reset the clock, and remind you to slow down? It was wonderful to get away during spring break. We returned on Thursday and I spent the next two days frantically cleaning our home – reorganizing furniture, getting rid of clutter. With the nice weather, my soul now feels more at peace with my home and surroundings. Feeling the wind ruffle my hair, the air cool on my skin as I went for a short walk during Anji’s music lesson. Riding our bikes around the condo after we returned from school…Just hanging out on the table after dinner, coloring in my book, listening to Anjali play music while Abhi filled her bath upstairs… Simple pleasures make the day. Somehow they always have, for me.

 

We had a fantastic time in Orlando – it has been a while since the three of us traveled together as a family, especially involving plane travel. Looking up from the book I was reading on the plane, I saw Abhi engrossed in his reading and Anji engrossed in hers. We are all so alike – our love for books, for independence and for time and space to just be. It’s one of the reasons I love my family and I feel grateful that we are similar in that way. We are also each different and unique and that’s fun too – to navigate during a vacation and figure out things that each of us likes. Probably, Abhi gets the rough end of the bargain – since he usually goes along with what Anji and I want. But every now and then, he gets what he likes best too – watching a movie or playing a solid game of chess. Simple pleasures make the day.

 

Even though, we did the Disney trip and even saw a rocket launch from the space center, want to know my favorite part? Lounging by the pool, feeling the heat on my skin, watching Anji do the water slide, and dipping into my book. Adventures are fun! But for me, it is always the down time that makes me appreciate everything else and brings me a sense of gratitude and wholeness. That’s all we did, the last day – lounge, swim, shower, get a massage, eat delicious food and yummy key lime pie. Somehow, it was the best day of all…

 

What is it that makes your day? What makes you happy? Did you see clear blue skies today or twinkling stars in the night? Or the smile on the face of an eager child? Or feel the rush of something new? Or the comfort of something old? (like your favorite snuggly pajamas!). Here is an invitation – pay attention when you get happy like that, shining from the inside. It will light up the space inside of you. As Rumi says, “No one knows what makes the soul wake up so happy! Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil from the face of God.”

 

With love, S.

4 Comments »

Rediscovering our being…

It has honestly been such a long time since I wrote my blog last, that I am dismayed. How can it be that somebody who used to write atleast a couple of posts a week, now writes about couple of times a year? Once I let go of judgment, I see that this too perhaps was necessary. Necessary so I can start
afresh,from a place I have never been at before.

So, here I am. Namaste!

Are you conditioned to behave or react in certain habitual ways? According to Buddhist philosophy, we all have some conditioning that we come into, in our lives, either through childhood, traumas, or perhaps even past life times, if you believe in them. If that is indeed the case, where is our freedom? Aha! through discovering our own conditioning by paying attention. And through the process of mindful investigation, we can then be free, by learning to make skillful choices and relearning new habits. Alas, letting go of this conditioning does not happen without realizing them first. And that takes attention. The pause. The noticing. And with noticing, often comes judgment and dismay – is this indeed us, this person who we thought was just fine, on cruise control until now? And it doesn’t happen overnight either. 

Hence, the need for tremendous amount of kindness and compassion, for judging is so easy. Understanding and being compassionate is so much harder.

One of my conditioning is that I need to be perfect somehow – perhaps to win love and affection and / or to prove my self worth. And another is to feel responsible for a lot more than I possibly can be responsible for, as a human being. It probably comes with being sensitive to other’s moods and feelings – it’s hard when you know something is wrong, and there is not always something you can do about it. 

So how do I find freedom? For I do believe, peace and freedom is always possible.

I find that it always starts with understanding. And my daughter is my greatest teacher in this dharma. With her, I can be patient, kind, loving, present, joyful, happy, and open to wonder. She brings out these qualities in me, because of her joy of being and her large heart and her incredible capacity to pay attention. And if I can be that for her, surely I can be that towards myself. And I also find, no matter how I mess up, in her eyes, there is always forgiveness. To her, I am amazing and wonderful. So maybe I could be redeemed in my own eyes, just a tiny bit. And it helps me find that compassion towards myself. 

I am so humbled by this process. Always a beginner, always learning something about myself in the process. I am not perfect. I am reminded of it every single day. If that is true for every one of us, then how much compassion do we need to bring into this world? Compassion so that we can live with ourselves, accept ourselves and more than that, love ourselves just as we are. 

So soften if you will, the next time you tense up in self judgment. Find the inner being, who adores and loves you just as you are. Everything will be okay. 

Peace and metta to you, S.

Leave a comment »

I am myself!!

I feel the urge to type and type and put into words, the experiences of the last few weeks. It feels like I have traveled eons in this month of May. Coming face to face with my anger, my emotions and finding a way to move through. Coming face to face with my own lack of control and practicing patient acceptance.

And finding a way of saying Yes. Yes to this moment is as it is. Finding a way to abide in metta during my struggles and lean into the support of my own practice and the support of my friendships and relationships. Having slammed doors, yelled, cried, and even broken plates in the privacy of my porch on an afternoon when all else failed, I have let go of everything. And one afternoon, when I saw the crying face of my baby girl, everything dissipated. Just like that. None of the stories mattered anymore. It turns out – there isn’t anything more important to do than this right now. and no one else to be but me. Kindness is possible, no matter what. When we can’t summon kindness, even in that situation, kindness is possible through non-judging.

Beloved Rumi says it best:

‘Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.”

Perhaps it is the way through hardships that we discover the soft heart. The compassionate wise heart. And this is the doorway to joy. I’m finding that joy arises spontaneously when I say, yes to this moment. When I say yes to singing the same lullaby for the 20th time during bedtime for my daughter, I find joy. When I say yes to reading ‘Annie and the wild animals’ for the umpteenth time, I find joy. When I say yes to my feeling low about my back hurting, I find joy. Joy it turns out is present. All the time. It requires me to be in this moment, to participate, to connect and to make choices. And then, it feels like the effort of striving, of trying too hard, of being someone else, falls away.

‘I am myself!’, says Pezzetino, joyfully in this fable when he discovers that he too like all the others is made of little pieces. “I am myself”!! I want to shout out in joy, like Pezzetino.

Perhaps when we discover our own brokenness, our own struggles, and how fragile the identities that we hold so close, we can let them all go. And we can be ourselves, truly and joyfully.

So here is your invitation – to say yes to this moment. And to be yourself. Then you become me, the other and everybody else in this universe!!

With Peace, S.

2 Comments »

Changing desires…

It is a beautiful spring day. Yes, spring is here! finally! The leaves are coming out of the ground and the first flowers have appeared in our compound. The breeze is blowing and there is promise of warmer weather and long summer days yet to come. Ahhhhh. I love this feeling, of change and new life and moving ahead.

I have also been amazed at the shifting of my desires. About a month ago, I was sure I needed to find a job that was more than my very part-time teaching math at community college, and that needed to be now. it turns out what I needed was a change – and when a weekend materialized in the form of time away from home, it served the purpose! Just one night away with family in beautiful Burlington, VT – we all felt restored and my mind felt quieter than it had been for a while. Its a good lesson to learn: sometimes we need a change – but it doesn’t have to be a life-altering one like getting a new job! Before we make the life-changing ones, can we try the smaller ones?

This is also the first school break that I have asked for help in the form of child-care and it has felt simply wonderful to allow myself a break. Life feels so much more spacious when you have had a hot chocolate on your own in a cafe without having your toddler around! I’m also learning an important shift in my own perspective – that much as I love being a Mom and its who I am most of my day, it isn’t personal. It has its amazing rewards as well as challenges and learning, and at the end of the day, it is still what I bring to it. And I bring attention and care to it when I take care of myself. What a good lesson! One that I keep relearning and discovering and every time feels like the first time!

Whats interesting to me is that when we pause, when we take a step back, we can actually witness the moving of our desires – how they keep changing, morphing into new shapes and sizes. We are tempted to respond to each one, but we don’t always have to. if we simply watch, they will shape-shift. and it gives us such insight into our own minds, our patterns and where we react and when. What our triggers are. I know what some of mine are, which make me reactive and my mind go nuts. exhaustion, doing too much, too many expectations (that are unrealistic), bank balances, and not knowing. And I’m coming to see their cycles, and learning to see them pass by and learning not to react and learning what kindness is and connecting to my deepest heart’s desires.

I would love to hear yours. send me a message or post a comment on this post.

with Love, S.

Leave a comment »

preoccupations and reminders…

This morning I saw a flock of 16 geese flying through the sky in a beautiful V-formation. What a joyful sight! Perhaps spring is here. The weather is warmer, the snow is melting away and the energy is lighter.

I have been preoccupied. This New Year has brought for me an opportunity to pursue one of my many loves – astrology. Through leading new moon workshops at the Writer’s center in WRJ, made possible by the generous and amazing Joni Cole, I am somehow on the path to following one of my passions – combining astrology with meditation and journaling. The energy in the groups has been so amazing and healing for me as I too learn to live my truth and helps other live theirs. I am learning about groups and balance, structure and flow, yin and yang. And this has, as an added benefit, lead me to doing more readings for people – something I also enjoy immensely. Astrology balances intuition and science and allows for so much creativity and relationships that it continues to amaze me and leave me in awe of the incredible potential each of us hold, and how much we evolve with time.

So I have been preoccupied sometimes; ideas, words and prompts floating through my mind unbidden at moments. And that moment when I realize where I have been, holds a key – to coming back to now and seeing now with new eyes. Not tomorrow, not later, but now. In some ways, I’m even grateful for my preoccupations…

Yesterday, at the library with my daughter, I resisted the urge to check email on my iphone. My thoughts kept returning to this urge but I was staunch. No email. And in doing so, I found the beauty and simplicity of playing with gudiya. I found the awe and inspiration in how she put the straws and the connectors together to build a structure together. And as I was fully present – not pushing her, not withdrawing either, but just there – I was given an unexpected gift. At some point near the end of the play-time she gave me a smile of blissful contentment, leaned over, kissed me and gave me a hug, a simple gesture of her happiness. I was there to receive it.

Somehow these simple moments leave us transformed. These add up so that in the hard moments, we are able to better sustain our mindfulness and stop ourselves from reacting. These moments make our ordinary lives ‘more beautiful’, as gudiya quotes from her book, and they remind us that joy is always a possibility here now. In these geese and in this kiss.

So here is wishing you a spring full of possibility, joy and peace.
With Love, S.

4 Comments »

A sucker for beauty…

I am a sucker for beauty. Whether it is a sunny day, or the shine of my daughter’s brown-black hair or her silhouette against the window in the morning sky as she stands at the sill or the pink sunset on a winter day or the sight of my husband Abhi curled up on the couch, I love every moment of beauty and I have a hard time when it changes.

I look at each fulfilling day and it has so many small moments of inexpressible beauty that I can only marvel at, that come unbidden in my life simply because I have made the space to show up. Each day has moments of exhaustion, needs unmet and things undone that I wish I could have gotten to. Some times they bring tears that wash away the grief of being human, of being limited sometimes in perspective, energy, compassion and wisdom.

Words want to flow through me like a river, but something is stopping them – this need for them to be amazing and lead me somewhere of some true understanding and insight whereas the only place I want to be is here right now. In a sleeping house, with the candle lit, and incense burning of sandalwood and the quiet sounds of my daughter napping and the distant thought of my husband getting a break and watching a movie. The more distant thoughts of my sister arriving in India, and going through immigration and my parents delight at seeing her. And the even more distant thoughts of Anji waking up and going outside to get some more of this wonderful sunshine. And thoughts of knitting this beautiful purple sweater, and all the while when I knit the wondering of the next project I will work on, as I slowly make my way back to this stitch, this knit, this soft yarn that will envelope my daughter in warmth. Thoughts of friendships and brunches and teas that may or may not happen but still keep me warm company on a holiday Friday.

All the thoughts of what I’m supposed to accomplish or write or teach or find a job vanish in this space. All the thoughts of dinner to make, laundry to fold, bed to make disappear. The lingering sensations from the warm shower on my body and my slightly damp hair remind me of quiet moments where silence is sweet. Moments of meditation where there is stillness amidst all the thoughts remind me that there is space. Slowly as I write this, I feel the urge to hold my daughter’s tiny warm hands again. I hold her hands when she goes down the stairs even though she is perfectly capable of going down herself, because there is just nothing like holding her hands, feeling her protect me from all the things I am not, and feeling her bless me into all the things I want to be. When she sleeps, she looks just like the baby she was over two years ago, the same peace, and the same feeling of the unknown dreams and sensations that keep her company.

Distant sounds of trucks and planes come and fade away. Sounds of my typing arise and fall as my own thoughts compose themselves without my volition. Abundance holds itself in this room where everything is just as it should be.

I’m a sucker for beauty and I want to hold on just one more moment…

With Love, S.

1 Comment »

peace like a river…

At this story time we go to, on Tuesday mornings that my wonderful friend Nelleke introduced us to, the teacher sings this song, ‘peace like a river’. It’s a beautiful song, and Anji loves it, especially the words ‘peace like a river’ and ‘love like the ocean’.

I’m thinking as I write this, what an apt metaphor river is, for peace. Peace really is like a river, meandering, swaying, taking its own course, but drenching us with love when it passes by. We can’t make peace happen, though we can set the intention. We can’t hold on to peace, for it ebbs and flows its own way. But when we pay attention, we start to realize that peace doesn’t have as much to do with circumstances as much as our state of mind.

Sometimes, I’m struck by the fact that I can be in the most embarrassing of situations and still find a way to be at peace, mostly when I don’t make it into a full blown drama about me. There are times when I think I’m at peace with something, but it comes back again and in a different light and I’m forced to be honest with how I really feel (rather than hoping I feel a certain way!). And sometimes, I don’t feel peaceful at all, but somehow being with the not-peace makes me find my way back again.

I have had moments of drama, plenty in fact, in the past few weeks, but somehow that feels okay. I know for sure, more of it will be upcoming too, since I love things a certain way so I very often struggle when they don’t go that certain way, but that too feels okay. Underlying all of this, I’m trying to hold on lightly to this simple thought: I’m doing my day’s work. And I do it to the best of my attention and knowledge as I can. And when I fail, I start again.

Somehow this thought is comforting. Perhaps this is the secret to peace: one moment, one day at a time. And this too, is part of holding on: maybe if I remember this secret, I will always have peace. But I won’t. And that too is okay.

So here is a thought today, right now. Check in. Is there peace? And if there isn’t, can there be a small space, an inclining towards it? And what can help nourish it? And if you are so inclined, please share your thoughts with me here in this space…

With Love, S.

Leave a comment »

Mindful Mamma? Yes, No, Maybe so…

Being mindful as a parent is hard. Most days, my attention is so focused outward that I don’t often pause to take that breath and be in my body and take in what is happening. Most days, I’m sandwiched between meal times, making meals, play dates, nap times, potty times, story times, reading, play dough, painting, music, most of which I love most of the time. In between all of this, I don’t pause enough. Its only when exhaustion, or hunger or a cranky mood hits that I stop to take note and do what is necessary: breathe!

My daughter now knows ‘breathe’ through peaceful piggy meditation book. She does ‘breathe’ like piggy when she gets upset, but only when I tell her to and then too, its more like a sound than a deep breath. It’s like that with me. Its only when I really need it that I remember. Sometimes that feels like I’m failing in my practice.

But then pauses happen naturally in my life in between all the activity.Like when I look at Anji’s face, her eyes lighting up with her dark hair framing her face as she says, ‘read it again!’ I feel a rush of love. I never want to take my eyes off. Or when she is sleeping curled up on her bed on her side, breathing deeply just the way she did as a baby, I feel this incredible sense of peace and wellbeing. Or when she dances and we hold hands and jump together to ‘the more we are together, the happier we’ll be’, I feel the music in my body. When we draw together with pastel crayons on a big blank sheet of paper, rapidly filling with her lines and mine coming together to make something beautiful, I feel joyful.

All these moments I forget when I am tired and don’t want to clean up or do the laundry one more time. Not the dishes again. Not making dinner again. Not get out of my bed again so early. But I always remember. When I pick her up and smell that amazing incredible scent that somehow children have – of pureness and love, everything comes back. I’m a Mama and that is my practice, to be present with all of it, the hardship and the amazing glorious moments. And when my mind spins in circles at the end of the day, buzzing with activity, I stop and remind myself – this is tiredness. I recount the moments that sparkled like the sun and the rain, and I relax again.

When I lose it, my patience or my perseverance, my daughter is my barometer. She brings me back again. My moods reflect on her as she climbs up the stairs after a difficult moment and sits on top waiting for me. Always, when I go up the steps, I remember. The incredible Love that seeps through my life touching everything, that is somehow marvelous and comforting.

Being mindful as a Mom is hard. I’m not mindful when I eat – I’m usually too hungry to wait, or while eating with Anji much more focused on her painstakingly slow nibbles than mine. Before I know it, the warm milk or my peanut butter toast is gone – and it is only at the last bite that I remember that I’m eating or drinking something!

But then there are few precious moments when we sit together on the table for lunch and I eat my noodles and Anji eats hers. The leaves fall outside in the breeze and Anji says, ‘leaves falling. Because it is Autumn’. I smile. Everything is all right.

With Love, S.

6 Comments »

Transitions…

This is the time of transition. Fall is beginning, and in the course of the last couple of weeks we have officially said good-bye to summer in this part of the world. The mornings are foggy and cold and it is hard to get out of bed. The afternoons are pleasant with warmth in the crispness of the air that is especially welcoming after the mornings. And the evenings are so cool, it makes you want to stay out and feel all of it and see the stars, which are starting to come early in the clear skies.

Our own family is going through transitions – both difficult and welcoming. We have begun a new routine with Anjali’s new program where she goes to the preschool three mornings a week for a little more than couple of hours. Following her second birthday over a week ago, we have started potty-training and while sometimes it can be tiring, mostly it is incredibly satisfying to spend time in the bathroom one-on-one reading, singing, playing and creating a positive atmosphere for her around the potty. We have started having dinners on the table, now about once a week, together all three of us – Abhi, Anjali and I. The first time was hurried and Anjali who hardly ever sits still, wanted to get out after just a few minutes with ‘all done!’ Yesterday, perhaps our third or fourth time, she sat and ate with us, with high praise for the food –rice, ghee, peas, carrots, cheese – “yummy yummy!”, she said. Abhi and I ate our meals in peace looking across the table at each other in amazement and gratitude and pride.

There are also difficulties with transitions – and we haven’t missed that either. Anji is more reluctant to let me go anywhere – with the attachment to my primary role of taking her to the potty in time. She has been waking up at night, perhaps because the diapers aren’t as comfortable anymore, and she demands then that I sleep next to her. I haven’t been able to go for my early morning walks – it is too cold for me to venture out the way I used to.

But none of these difficulties have taken the place of peace.

This peace is a surprise. I’m spending so much more time with my daughter now since she is no longer going to day care part-time – and I was terrified of losing my freedom. But it turns out the fear was mostly just a thought. My freedom is intact – the choices in any moment are still mine. And I keep learning what a compassionate response can be when a 2 year old wakes up crying or doesn’t want to share or gets impatient with her own inability to control things. I keep learning my own limits and what helps me get back to that space where I can give without resentment. And there has been an acceptance finally of my role as the primary care giver- which I have been all along but was too scared to admit having been a career woman most of my life before becoming a Mom.

The metamorphosis of life, of changing bodies and changing leaves brings with it a new possibility – of dancing with something new. When we embrace, we no longer suffer. Sure, struggles are still there, but not the added ouch that our thoughts and fears bring. And when we start to pay attention, we realize that the truth in front of us is actually different from our ideas. It is beautiful, freeing and graceful. My daughter is growing into a new level of independence – and as she gingerly steps into it, slowing embracing it as a new way of being, I too am doing the same. And this process seems to me to epitomize the beauty of change. We reach a new place and there is no going back.

With Love, S.

4 Comments »

A moment in time…

The Buddha on the windowsill looks at me with his eyes open, as if puzzled: what are you doing? He asks. The candlelight flickers sending shadows on his stony face, like he is grinning, or maybe laughing, or both. I feel very loved, like a benevolent child under the loving eye of her benefactor. The crickets go about their song – continuous but still with gaps. I think of the word intermittent. And my thoughts too flow intermittently. The breeze is gentle on this quiet summer night.

Tonight is a blessing. The lawn mowers have stopped, done with their work on the grass, work that seems to always happen at odd hours in my neighborhood, and not so welcome at times. Certainly not when it is noon and Anjali has just gone to bed, or at 8.00 in the night when I want to finally just be quiet. There are no planes overhead either – maybe the Lebanon airport has Tuesday nights off. Anjali is sleeping – today she didn’t do her usual half hour of singing and talking to herself about her day. Today she was too tired, and her voice dropped after 5 minutes leaving complete silence. And when Anji is sleeping, Abhi tends to be very quiet downstairs, looking at his iphone and possibly making his moves in scrabble, or playing his chess games.

Really the only sounds seem to be the crickets and my typing which feels rhythmic and even. The words are flowing from somewhere, and I watch the screen fill up. I’m amazed that this even makes sense: a moment in my day when I let my guard down – there isn’t my child to feed, to make sure she takes in something even though her urge is to not eat much when she is sick. It’s hard to let go of that habit – it is perhaps the most difficult and draining task sometimes. Today I danced my way through it without my usual strong hold of attachment. Some pieces of bananas, some rice with ghee, a piece of tofu and some dahi. None forced – my daughter, going to be two years old in a couple of weeks, has now learned to say politely, ‘no thank you’ and I stop trying immediately because it is so darn cute.

I actually savored my dinner tonight – a delicious omelette made with mushrooms, chilis and cheese made by Abhi, on delicious sourdough bread. I could feel the gooeyness of the cheese along with the heartiness of the bread and the earthiness of the mushrooms. When was the last time I savored so much of a meal? I don’t remember when.

The words seem to be slowly ebbing as I too gear up for the night. Thought I don’t want to leave yet – I want to sit on this chair forever and let the words flow, as I wait. Perhaps the waiting is for that moment when I will feel the urge to move. And then I will get up, shut this computer and move on. My thoughts will restart into the planning mode and I will let them be as I make my way to bed. There will perhaps be one stray thought that manages to tilt the boat – but maybe tonight I will catch it in time and sleep in peace. This writing here today, on one window of wall somewhere in the Internet world captures one moment of my life when everything is just right and I know it.

In that silence of knowing, I can rest for these few moments.

With Love, S.

2 Comments »