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.

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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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Freedom to be…

Writing in this space after about a week…feels good this morning. So much has happened in the last month – Anjali being sick, Abhi being away, worrying about job prospects, spilling milk on my computer so it stopped working (that was three weeks ago), losing my data and then being able to recover it…It has been such a month of sheer unpredictability that last week felt like a marvelous blessing. Abhi took the week off and was home and Anjali is recovering well. And I set the intention to give myself a vacation, a break from all the mental chatter that stems from worry and leads to nothing. I had wished we could have gone somewhere for the Christmas break, but it turns out that being home has been the best break I could ever have wished for. Ah, the beauty of normalcy!

Buddha is known to have said, ‘I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering’. I used to always think to myself – but that is two things! Until I realized what he meant. When you know suffering, you also know the end of suffering and vice versa. By being with the pain that life throws at us inevitably, through circumstance or through our mind, we also learn to be with the other side – the joy, the space of the absence of suffering. We learn to be with the love and connection without turning away. We learn to soak in our own goodness and that of others without adding ‘Buts’ to it. We learn to simply flow. When things are hard, it is difficult. But then when things are good, it is great! We can be with both. We can enjoy the spaciousness of right conditions and the absence of sickness or mental turmoil. We can appreciate the peace it brings and the lack of worry, without getting attached to it.

There was a moment last week when I was on my new ipad and during a not-so-random browsing, I saw a job opening. My mind immediately jumped into action, urging me – Now! Do it Now! But because of my intention to be on vacation, I stopped. There is a song on Anjali’s CD from our music class, that goes ‘I stopped, I looked, I listened. Buzzzzzz….It was only the bee buzzing’. My mind was doing its buzzing. I didn’t react to it. Everything could wait a couple more days.

I’m proud of that moment. This small string of moments marks our practice. It is a constant practice but it paves way for living the way we choose to. We have a choice. That to me is freedom.

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grateful surrender…

A day-long mini-vacation by the Lake Nubanussit not very far from where we live, with dear family and friends. Something about being by the water, the stillness, the trees, the birds, the hum of the boat, the sounds of the loons, the crickets at night – enchantment. And like a thirsty traveler, I took all that enchantment in.

A last chance to get away before our baby makes her way into this beautiful world. What I felt was, to quote Mary Oliver in Straight talk from Fox, ‘responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not give my life for a thousand of yours’.

It did take time to let go. Letting go is easiest by the water, I do believe that. Yet part of me wanted to dissolve completely, wanted to be utterly alone to take it all in. while still so grateful for loving companionship of dear friends. And finally the moment of peace when I realized what I had was just perfect as it was – the company of love among the vastness of nature.

It always seems, in any struggle, there is that moment of surrender – if we stay long enough. When we have the chance to actually let go of what we hold on to. And suddenly all the struggles melt away. And we know what peace means in that moment. That moment is what reaffirms our commitment over and over again to be present with the struggles.

Here is to our struggles…and our peace.

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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grateful…

Thanksgiving weekend. without planning to, I found myself face to face with gratitude.

We spent the thanksgiving holiday in Boston, a city vacation. not my favorite kind, but a last minute deal and not wanting to face the vagaries of travel, this was a perfect getaway, a bus ride away. mostly it rained, and we walked. Thinking that I could lose all the calories from the desserts by walking everywhere, I told my hubby that Boston was a ‘walking city’. and he acquiesced. so we walked everywhere in the rain! not the best thing to do, an adventure nonetheless. we mused on indian food and its myriad plays with the digestive system 🙂 we toured the John F. Kennedy Presidential museum, inspired by his speeches and the time. We went shopping on Newbury street and ate Thai food. We laughed at a crazy hindi movie called dhe dhana dhan and stopped ourselves from wondering why we were watching the movie in the first place. we ate kulfi made by my sister. a wonderful massage at the spa nearby was just what I needed.

In all the fun, gratitude didn’t play a major part. I knew we were having a good time, and I was grateful, don’t get me wrong. but it was a forced kind of gratitude. the sort you tell yourself you feel, but mostly you take for granted. On the final day, we were shopping for a winter coat for me. and we found a beautiful royal blue one. really gorgeous. and bought it. after paying a hefty amount, and back outside, I wondered how I could spend this insane amount of money on a coat when so many had none. so many people had no food, and here I was nonchalantly buying a coat. did I really need it ? more than that, I found myself asking, did I deserve it ? what gave me the right to own this and not those thousands out there who are poor ? It didn’t feel good. I was walking along musing when suddenly it hit me. gratitude. I looked at my shoes, waterproof that they were. coat in my hand. scarf on my neck. warm. and I said a silent thank you. thank you. at this moment, I’m grateful. to be warm and dry. and know I have my next meal. thank you.

with gratitude, S.

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divine intervention…

I’m just returning after a beautiful vacation in the Caribbean. Standing on the sandy beach, listening to the ocean, the blue waves crashing into nothingness, the blue skies, the breeze on my skin, I could not help but think that this was divine intervention.

This vacation was nothing like anything we had done before. For one, it had happened spontaneously. just deciding we needed time together and doing it – without the usual rationalization and analysis and picking the right deal. Taking the window of time that suddenly seemed to be available, and going for it. The first day I was there, my mind tried to find various reasons for why I need a vacation. and suddenly, as I caught my mind doing its act, all of these reasons fell away.

There didn’t have to be a reason to go on vacation. It was okay to have a good time. It was okay to take time out. and most importantly, it was fine to just be. without worrying about it.

what a relief! This allowed life to happen. I had the most amazing time in the Paradisus Resort in Punta Cana. The most friendly people I have met. the warm weather. the feel of the cool water. in the company of the man I loved.

And as I step back into normal life, I can see why they call vacations, a recharging of the batteries. you don’t even realize that your batteries need recharging till it happens. and when they do get charged, how different it feels.

My gratitude to the divine intervention. may it happen more often 😉

with love to all the people in my life, S.

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