Shuba’s Weblog

Journeys of the soul…

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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A quiet moment…

It is the kind of day, where you just want to sit by the window, have a cup of tea and watch the rain fall. Nothing fanciful, nothing dramatic, and Oh! so full of peace. I happen to be among the fortunate few, who is doing exactly this: sitting by the window and watching the rain fall. The sound of rain seems to say everything. I can’t think of anything to add.

May the hope of spring rain that begins so many things on this Earth, bring peace into our hearts.

With Love, Shuba.

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Musings on Love…

On Valentines’ day, it is only appropriate to muse on Love. Love, the giddy drug that melts our hearts and creates a softness in it. When there is love, we know it. It is unmistakable. Everything feels good, no matter how difficult things are. We are connected to the flow of life.

What about when there isn’t love? Isn’t there merit in knowing what that feels like? how painful disconnection from ourselves and others is? How lonely that feels.

In life, there is always both. We encounter moments of profound love. and we also ache in disconnection. and by allowing space for both, we realize that underneath is this spacious awareness that knows and feels everything. That spacious awareness, that tenderness that makes room to breathe, that we can count on. That is also the knowledge that we are alive! we are meant to experience it all. and keep showing up and opening, closing, opening, closing. As Rumi says: ‘Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.’

With Love, Shuba

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Hanuman’s magic…

I was about 12 years old, when I overheard my Grandma and one of my cousins talking about Hanuman. They were saying how chanting Hanuman Chalisa, in praise of Hanuman the monkey God, made one brave and courageous like him. At the time, I was quite shy and afraid of many things. So I took it to heart and decided to learn the chant. Everyday, I would chant Hanuman Chalisa while bicyling to school. I believed in the prayer. and I did become more brave – my faith in Hanuman was complete. I chanted the shloka every day through college. When I came to the US, I stopped, not by any particular choice, it just happened that way. And then when I got pregnant, I thought of Hanuman again. I needed to get through this new phase with love, and not fear. and Hanuman could help me do that. The Hanuman of my heart always did.

Stories of Hanuman abound – he is the mighty, courageous, brave son of the Wind God. And also generous, wise and humble devotee of Lord Ram. His devotion to Lord Rama was utter and pure. He climbed mountains and crossed Oceans for Ram. There are many pictures of Hanuman as worshipped in mythology – of him carrying the Sanjeevani mountain – the entire mountain of herbs to cure Lakshman, Ram’s brother. Of him by the feet of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman. The one I have, which is one of my favorites, is of him hugging Ram. The embrace says it all – the friendship, love and devotion that is possible on the path. The merging of the devotee with the God. A faith that is beyond doubt.

This morning, looking at the picture, my heart filled with that love and joy again. Anjali was in my lap, studying all the pictures in the altar studiously. And then as I explained the magic of Hanuman to her, she smiled at me – like she understood completely. She got it!

May we bring the Hanuman of our hearts alive…
with Love, Shuba.

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The stones of my heart…

The lines from a Mary Oliver poem called ‘lingering in happiness’ are what I remembered this morning seeing the tender sun shine after a night of storm:

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees

The cleansing of the heart. the soft dampness afterward.

The tenderness of the heart, the willingness to be with things as they are – without force or willfulness but a gentle dropping into our experience comes with great difficulty. When things are hard we like to find ways to distract ourselves. One tried and tested way that the mind loves to return to is the blame game. We like to blame someone or something. There have been dozens of nights these past couple of months when I have listened to my mind do this. Because simply accepting that the situation is difficult and the conditions are hard and there is really no one to blame goes to the essence of Buddha’s first noble truth.

Life is hard. for all of us. Whatever way we choose to distract ourselves, acceptance of this truth in a gentle soft manner is what opens the heart. It is what allows us to be present with what arises. It is what teaches us compassion. and most importantly, it is not a failure or judgment of any kind.

The fact that life is hard does not take away from the fact that life is amazing. and it is possible for both to exist simultaneously. It is like night and day. There is no duality in this – it is just the way things are. We make it a problem by attaching to one and rejecting the other. and of course we do. It is painful to be with things when they change, when they are hard, when they challenge us to extend our selves and our kindnesses. But as we start to acknowledge this truth, as we begin to be honest with ourselves, there is a sense of freedom that starts to open up, a sense of space. all that energy spent in rejecting is now free to be!

This cleansing of the heart I’m starting to find, takes its own time and space, and all we can do is continually show up. over and over again. What is heartening is to remember that soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years, will feel themselves being touched. (Mary Oliver)

May we be gentle with our souls in this journey of life.
with Love, S.

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Fall-ing

How can I find the words to express the aching beauty of this morning? A beauty that is haunting in how fleeting it is. That makes you want to stop everything you are doing and take in every moment of it. The golden hues of the trees, a resplendent garb that will come off in just a few days leaving behind nakedness. In the soft sunlight this morning, everything glowed with gentleness.

This morning, Anjali, our baby girl who is 6 weeks old, looks particularly fragile. Her utter trust in me is so complete that sometimes it catches at my heart. Today, I thought I would give her a warm bath. But she wasn’t ready. As I let her feet touch the water, she let out a piercing cry – and as I tried to lower her into the water, she caught on to my hands like there was no tomorrow. Her tiny being imploring me with every muscle in her body – NO! How could I let her down? So no bath today. After the excitement was the realization that she was hungry and ready for food. The way she gave her whole being, her entire attention, with single minded focus, to nursing – like this was the only thing in the world that mattered in that moment…How does one do that? I wish I could give anything that much attention.

Later, as I walked out with her into the sunlight, she put her tiny delicate hands on my chest, her eyes half closed, dozing in and out of sleep. As I looked at her, I thought of how much she mirrored the fall. An innocence and trust and unexplainable tender beauty that will not last. She will grow, become a being, a personality, and learn the ways of the world. and forget this moment of utter complete trust.

I don’t want to forget though. That’s probably why I write. Just as I picked two red leaves from the ground to save, to remember this gentle beautiful Fall.

With Love, S.

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holding on and letting go…

This past month has been a blast into the past. For one, my Mom is here and under new circumstances – to greet her grandchild. and adding to that, touching base with several people from high school. Waking up at 3.00 am for Anjali, my tired mind has been revisiting my own past.

I’m not one who thinks of the past very much. I wish I could say, I’m someone who lives very much in the present, but that is really not true. I live in the present and a lot in the future. And then, there have been these moments that catch me by surprise and make me realize that my mind tries to avoid the past simply because it is painful. Like when I was on a 10 day silent retreat and around the 5th or 6th day, I suddenly had this vivid bittersweet memory of buying jasmine flowers in the market and wearing them in my hair. It was so vivid and so far away, tears sprung into my eyes. And I wondered how much of my past I was suppressing out of sheer concentration.

Visiting the past holds a bittersweet pain. There is the quintessential pain of change – that moments have passed that will not return. and sometimes there is the pain we carry without realizing – the pain of our wounds. This is difficult pain, for wounds hold our vulnerability. and we don’t like to be vulnerable. and yet, as we start opening to these moments, we realize what gentleness is. And as I realized how much I was holding on to, I could be gentle with myself. I could ask myself: what is freedom?

Freedom is choosing to let go. Freedom is understanding. It is refusing to be tied to the apparent solidity of our wounds. It is the releasing of our tight grasp. and to whatever extent that may happen, there is profound peace and freedom in that.

“Love tells me I’m everything. wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two, my life flows” (Nisargadatta Maharaj). Our wounds arise from love. and letting go is wisdom. and dancing between the two, we discover who we are. what a journey this is!

with Love, S.

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Wonder…

Baby Anjali is here. A few weeks of life-changing transitions, of becoming a Mother, caring for another. Not always easy, lots of moments for practice. And in the middle of this, there is wonder…

————————————–
what dreams beneath those sleeping eyes
that make you smile so
what secrets you carry in your fist
that closes and opens so

a puckering, a whimpering, a cry
then the most amazing smile
within moments, you show them all
a rainbow of life and joy

fluttering fingers like feathers
trembling feet soft as petals
the scent of milky white skin –
want to give you a thousand kisses

seeing you, this heart opens
a new being awakens
falling in love, a gentle rain
at long last this wait ends.

with Love, S.

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A gentle witness to the mind…

what am I trying to write about today ?

Loopyness of the mind. My mind has officially become loopy. and there is no way around it, I have to admit it. Most often I start writing, and I have no idea what I’m writing about. 10 minutes later, I have forgotten what my original intention was in getting on my blog. I think the biggest practice my pregnancy is teaching me is to let go of the need to be a certain way, to identify with what I thought was my ‘self’. A self, if there was one, I no longer remember. And I have to start over again and again. What could be a better practice for me? Someone who loves accomplishment.

I sit diligently on my cushion everyday, and after my meditation practice, I have no idea what I just did, and I have to start over as soon as I step outside the room. You might ask, why I take the trouble then, to sit. That is where my faith in my knowing has deepened. Some core part of me appreciates the deep peace and well-being I feel after sitting. But it cannot use any words to describe them, nor can it hold on to them. In some way, every day, I feel like a beginner, because I don’t remember what my previous sit was like.

I know, I could easily get distraught about this fact – of losing my identity. But I don’t, because I recognize that getting distraught doesn’t help. Gentleness and compassion on the other hand, does. Surrounding myself with people who understand and are supportive helps. So that is what I practice. A much needed lesson in letting go, starting over and new found appreciation for things that I may have missed before.

Having a loopy mind, it turns out, has benefits 🙂 Of course, they say, after child birth, all the hormones come crashing down, and I will probably return to my neurotic, obsessive and controlling self. But for now, lets just say, this actually may be the best thing that ever happened to me.

With honesty, S.

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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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