Shuba’s Weblog

Journeys of the soul…

March reflections and April anticipations…

March has flown by! It was a busy month but in a good way. Here were some of the highlights of March for us:

  • Going to Boston to celebrate my niece’s second birthday! It was wonderful to visit and celebrate together and eat amazing food cooked by my sister. Now my niece routinely yells out ‘periyammmaa’ on Facetime, a wonderful feeling!
  • Going to Kripalu as a chaperone with a group of high school students. This was my first trip overnight as a chaperone – we were gone for 4 days – and it was an incredible experience. I got to know the students and the other teachers whom I traveled with better and make new connections. It was during the snow storm mid March and it was so beautiful to watch all the snow from inside. It was truly a retreat, with a lot of yoga, relaxation and mindfulness activities.
  • Anji performed in her first skating show! To raise money for the local children’s hospital, over 50 skaters performed in the show. That last weekend in March was packed with rehearsals and volunteering to get the kids on the ice for their part of the show. It was amazing to watch Anji and just how much fun she had on the ice! It made all the time freezing in the ice rink while she had her lessons so worth it! I felt proud of my diva and her strong will and determination – ice skating was entirely her idea and she worked so hard. I’m proud of you my baba!
  • Watching movies (Beauty and the Beast) and shows (most notably, ‘Humsafar’, a Pakistani show that was emotional moving, tender, a powerhouse of acting talent and the bonus: the music was incredible!) and reading books (Now on the seventh Harry Potter book – so addicted to this series! ) got us through most of the month and the snow.
  • Instant Pot! After hearing my sister rave about it, Daalu purchased it and has taken to cooking on it everyday. And being on the receiving side of it, I can tell you, it is amazing! The food tastes better, there is less hassle and every day, I have lunch packed for me by Daalu from left overs – there is such abundance of food in our home now thanks to Instant Pot!

I feel ready to welcome April. We just finished the third quarter of the year this week at school so grading is at a peak. The bright side of it is getting to listen to the feedback from the students on how things are going for them in my classes. Especially fun are my math one-on-ones – 10 min conversations with my calculus students on calculus, their successes, hobbies and interests. It’s so fun to connect with these students outside of class and it makes me realize even more how much I love my job.

Another week of school before we have spring break and head to Orlando for Disney time! Hoping to make it to Hogwarts and Kennedy Space center, and watching Anji on roller coasters, and most of all, hoping for spring and some warm weather (and no more snow storms! ). Wish you a wonderful, fun, fulfilling, amazing April and Easter!

With love,

S.

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Making memories…

It is hot hot hot in chennai. We are all complaining, all of us except Anjali, my nineteen month old daughter on her second visit to India. She is totally taking it in her stride with good cheer. And she has her instincts right – be outside in the morning when the breeze from the beach blows, go for drives in the ac car, and avoid crowded marriage halls under all costs.

Our time in chennai has so far been wonderful, relaxed for me, with my mom and dad revolving around Anji in a way that I can’t find words for. Its like magic, seeing their attention given so freely and watching them anticipate her every need and make sure she eats, she sleeps and she plays. On phone calls, I overhear each of them relating proud moments of how quickly she picks up things, how smart she is, and how even tempered (and how good with the iPad!). It is sweet and it makes me realize how special the bond between grandparents and kids are. It makes me glad I made this trip.

In the same room that I once studied for exams, read Jeffrey archer in bed and dreamed of potential boyfriends as a teenager, my darling daughter now lies, curled up on her belly with her face buried in the bed, dreaming her own dreams. It feels incredible that life comes a full circle, that it is my turn to give my parents: joy the kind only grandparents know and presence, of being and listening to their lives and their routines, now lonely without their two daughters, the apples of their eyes.

In this past week, Anjali has met new people, had new experiences and adventures, and our routines have been forgotten as we have played the way one plays during the summer vacation. I am a sucker for routines. Back home, If you told me I would let my child go to bed late or skip nap time to go to the beach, I would have scoffed. And here I am doing it.

I realize I’m learning the art of letting go, not just for myself, but also as an act of generosity, of giving the people I love something they will cherish – new memories. I learn too of the struggles my own parents went through when we were children, the struggles they never talked about, but they can now, with a sense of camaraderie. I too am a parent. This unspoken acknowledgment speaks volumes…

Mostly I feel peace, in this room that I grew up and that my daughter will know, and I hope, will come to make her own sweet memories, of hot summers and water melons and getting muddy on the beach, of power cuts and movie theaters and bhel puri and of crowded restaurants, loving relatives and pampering by her grandpa and grandma,

Tomorrow we head to a different city, Mumbai and Anjali will meet a different set of grandparents and I will get to see my beloved hubby.

So here is to sweet reunions, new experiences and to Childhood lived again, through generations…

With love,
S.

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sweet slumber…

What is the time of the day when your defenses are down? when you can be utterly vulnerable and open, and let go of all that you hold on to? when you trust in some body or something to hold you when you do let go? For me, that time of the day is bed time. sweet slumber. Its the time when I can drop my worries and rest in peace.

I wasn’t a worrier, but somehow I have become one. Motherhood, wifehood, job changes and so on. Familiar story. Now I worry a lot – about my daughter Anjali and her eating, my husband and how tired he looks sometimes, myself and my changing identity (s). I worry about others I love, how they are doing and how I am letting them down by not being as available as I used to. I judge my worrying too which makes it worse. At various times of the day, my practice makes me notice my leaning forward trying hard to control things that I can’t possibly. My noticing helps me relax – when I am non-juding. I practice compassion and softening. But then I’m not a bodhisatva. I fail a lot.

It is at night, that I truly let go. Just before climbing into bed with my sweet hubby, I pause by Anjali’s door. Somehow there is magic at that threshold. I smell the whiff of her scent in her bedroom – that scent of diapers and diaper cream and baby lotion and another scent that is uniquely hers – a milky sweetness. I hear her breathing in peace, occasionally shuffling around in her bed. she always lies face down, and I can imagine her sweet face burrowed into the soft comforter underneath her. As I stand there silently, my entire body reaches a peace. everything is okay. everything is alright. It is time for bed. Tomorrow is a new day, who knows what it will bring!

with Love, S.

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Unconditional Peace…

Sometimes I have this distinct sense of experiencing ‘conditional happiness’. A sense of joy that I know is dependent on the conditions being a certain way. Last week, this was something along these lines: baby is doing good, Dad is doing good, I’m feeling well, day is beautiful, etc etc. We all have days like this, when things are going well. The boat is sailing smoothly. We are grateful, of course. But mostly, we start taking things for granted.

And then the boat starts rocking… 🙂

Suffering, the old trusted friend, comes along. Grasping, wanting, aversion, attachment. They all come at more or less the same time, don’t they? And I see my mind and heart struggle to recover balance. This struggle is always always hard.

And I’ve found that it is on these days that I can no longer take peace for granted. It is on these days that I really practice. I do what is necessary to feel peaceful again. I learn to be present – what other choice is there? And invariably, at the end of these days, my heart is softer and more connected. And I learn once again – letting go is possible. peace is possible.

It makes me realize that when conditions are great, the accompanying happiness is good. But it is when conditions are difficult, that truly presents the opportunity for unconditional peace.

May our hearts become as large as the bottomless ocean, on this journey,
With Love, S.

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Seven Months Old…

Anjali turned seven months old today. It feels like yesterday when she was born, and I held her in my arms for the very first time. It was like magic. I still feel like that when she dozes off in my arms at the end of the day. So precious, and so beautiful.

This morning when I woke up, I was irritated and resentful, because I had a cold and Anjali had a cold and our routines were upset. And instead of working, I would be home taking care of her. My mind said, ‘I hope to God this is the last cold of the season!’. I was tired at having to deal with sicknesses yet again. and the worry and anxiety it often brings along, for me.

And somehow during the course of the day, that resentment turned into gratitude. Having the chance to witness Anjali, see her endless curiosity (inspite of a cold!) and her playfulness cheered me. She grabbed at my pen when I was writing. She spent 20 minutes playing with the yellow food packet of pureed apple and banana she had just finished up, studiously studying the writing on it. At the car appointment, while waiting, she watched each person passing her by, as if they were her long lost friend. She smiled at the Doctor as if he was her best friend, and at the Nurse like she was throwing a party. She patiently hung out next to me as I did yoga. She lasted till shivasana, and then she was done! 🙂 Sure she fussed, and her nose ran like a fountain. But she was also happy.

So instead of being at work, I was home! what a blessing! Sometimes, changes are blessings in disguise. We resent them, we resist them. and finally when we relax into them, they turn out okay :).

May we find our ways to peace, whatever effort that takes…
with Love,
Shuba.

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ordinary magic…

This morning, the sun shines gloriously. After several gloomy cold days, the warmth of the sun feels like a blessing. and my spirit lifts.

One of the things I’m learning from Anjali is how to hang out. Just hang out. without agenda or purpose. Just snooze in bed, roll around a little bit, get the bowels going. If your eye happens to catch the toys hanging over your head, pay them some attention. study them for about 10 minutes. when you are ready, call for Mama. Nothing special. just an ordinary day.

Going for a walk with her this morning, this is the sense I got: how to just be. forget the grocery shopping list or the emails you have to send. forget the phone calls you have to make or the shower you want to take. just enjoy this morning, this moment. So hard to come by! As I walked out with her on the sling, she looked around, studying the scenery as we walked. every now and then she would burrow back into my chest and yawn. and when she felt like it, she would look out again. she finally settled into a doze.

Her contentment was contagious. After a long time, I felt relaxed, a rush of gratitude and peace. I just wanted to keep walking. So much to learn from this little one…

with Love, S.

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Saturday…

Over and over again, it is in the possibility of freedom that I believe in. Going for a walk on sunny Saturday afternoon on a gorgeous fall day, this freedom was tangible. A quiet and peaceful afternoon. People napping in their homes. cars standing in the doorways. A lazy black cat checking me out on the side of the road. A squirrel bouncing over. Birds doing their birdy things. Orange fall leaves swaying, some letting go and falling to the ground. The road I was walking on has a steep incline going down, so that from the top of the road, one can see the entire valley. Beautiful. and here I was. walking. There was utter peace, nowhere else to be, nothing else to do.

These moments are priceless. Not many of them come by in life, so it is wise to soak up every ounce of it. Especially since they don’t last. In my case the quiet lasted for about half hour before all hell broke loose with Anjali *grin*. I discovered that the walk had given me a certain elasticity of heart. Baby crying, no problemo!

Did I just say, no problemo!? Shhh…I don’t want her to hear this!

With Love, S.

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Death and birth…

It is incredible to me how much death and birth go hand-in-hand. Expecting a baby, a birth into this universe of another soul, another being, is brought into my consciousness every time my baby kicks. and she is an active one.

And on the other side of the same coin, is the death everyday. Of beings we know and love. Sometimes painful and yet inevitable. and also of complete surrender, of notions and ideas of what things should be like.

You know that space into which the exhalation of the breath drops into ? That last prolonged letting go of the air and the space before you catch your next breath. That too is the place of surrender, of the unknown, of death. Sometimes, I notice how hard it is to drop into that place. How unsettled and panicky I feel when I try to force myself into it. and how when I let myself off and play around the edges, that place of surrender becomes more accessible. If I go gently, I can die in peace. If I force it, it goes nowhere.

That place of letting go – and being reborn with the new breath – brings a deep sense of peace. Knowing that we are reborn in every moment – what could be more full of possibilities ? And knowing we die in every moment – what could be a more profound reminder of letting go ?

With Love, S.

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Bird wings…

Why is it that by simply sitting and watching the breath rise and fall, we learn so much about ourselves ? It never fails to amaze me.

I’m one of those types who generally goes after what I like, with a rigid determination of wanting. especially if what I want makes me feel good. (I’m going to call this the ‘wanting complex’). there are different types of folks: some who try and turn away from what they don’t like (aversion complex). some who give up what they really like (marytr complex) and those who seek what doesn’t make them feel good! (double aversion complex ? ). Its generally one or more of these that drives the car. we just usually don’t know which one.

wanting is one of my things. This time I noticed with startling clarity that whenever I come back from a retreat, I try my best to hang on to the experience. if its a yoga retreat, I’ll do yoga everyday for the next couple of months. If its a good meal, I’ll try and replicate the meal on my next given chance. Its just how I am. something I don’t always see. not that wanting is a bad thing. Endearing even, when we look at the ways we and loved ones act from wanting.

Isn’t this the human condition ? colored by our emotions and our past, we act in ways we don’t really know. and by the simple practice of watching the breath rise and fall, we learn mindfulness. mindfulness allows a pause in between. we start seeing. and when we start seeing, we need a tremendous amount of compassion to be able to stay with what is.

One of the Rumi poems I love called ‘Bird Wings’ says:
‘Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.’

Wisdom. Perhaps this opening and closing of the heart is natural. and can we see this as it unfolds ?

Being who I am (the wanting complex, remember! ), I sit diligently in meditation. I practice. I try hard to be present. and every once in a while, I get a glimpse – of effortlessness. things just happen and I can just be. relax. there is no need to try anymore. Just like the breath. there is no need to try. breath happens. we just show up!

‘Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.’ (Rumi, ‘bird wings’ )

may we enjoy the beauty of the heart!
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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