A Prayer from my heart to yours

A prayer

Find the true you

May you always wake up knowing that you matter

& be aware of the impact you have by simply Being

May you always see the truth

& choose to keep your eyes and ears open

May you always be surrounded by beauty and love

& spread the goodness you receive

May you always use your voice to uplift others

& let not fear or pain crush it

May you always live courageously

& act in accordance with the highest good of all those around you

May you never have to make a choice that pollutes your innocence

& find forgiveness in your heart if you do

May you be open to experiencing pain

& not have suffering cloud your sense of purpose

May you always be blessed with all that you need

& find gratitude in that which was not given to you

May you find moments of bliss where the ‘I’ no longer exists

& develop a reverence for silence when you do

May you feel compelled to create something larger than you

& lose sleep to fulfill this desire bestowed upon you

Beyond all else, know, that your biggest challenge & reward is to find & be the true you!

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7 simple rules to practice self-love

Since we are still in the ‘Love’ month of February I wanted to share these 7 simple rules to show some love to our ‘Self’. After all, we can only share what we have.

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Practicing Self Love

  1. Wear an outfit that makes you smile and or wear make-up that makes you smile J
  2. Eat well- Recognize the foods/drinks which make you go off balance.
  3. Make time for what makes you happy.
    • This could be prayer/meditation/ time with nature/me time. Me time could also be time for painting, journaling, dancing etc.
  4. Get your body some exercise – experiment with dancercise, rock climbing, hiking, biking and find out which form of exercise you actually look forward to.
  5. Allow yourself time to not ‘do’ anything and just be. This can be for 5 minutes or 15 minutes depending on how long you can give yourself. If not doing anything drives you nuts then simply curl up in your bed and take a nap or get a nice bubble bath.
  6. Pay attention to how many hours of sleep is ideal for you. You would know this by the fact that you don’t need an alarm to jolt you up in the morning.
  7. Set boundaries with people at work, with relatives, with friends etc. Start saying NO to those situations/people who drain you out. Respect your life enough to leave work on time most days where you feel like you have a life beyond work.

 

There is a newness in the air

There is a newness in the air

Unfamiliar, unaware

It’s exciting and scary

I feel it everywhere.

They say it’s the seasons

Bringing in the winds of change

The one law of nature

I can’t seem to change.

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Changing seasons

 

 

Everything inside my body thrives on it

My soul needs no lesson in it

And yet I resist this law, for,

I don’t want to be beaten down by IT.

Who is this ‘I’ that acts against me?

The ‘I’ who wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for change

Yet another battle I believe I am engaging in,

Why do I, Oh! Why do I?

 

Let’s drop this ‘I’ for a moment

Watch it. Live with it. Move with it.

& now repeat with me-

There is a newness in the air

Unfamiliar, unaware

It’s exciting and scary

I feel it everywhere.

 

P.S: It’s Fall in the northern hemisphere and this poem happened to me while I was feeling and listening to the breeze on a cloudy day. The picture in here was taken on a summer day though:)

Spiritual & Worldly..The Dichotomy.

My tryst with spiritual contemplation and exploration began with the questions: Why do I exist? Why am I here?

Most of us have struggled with these existential questions at some point of time in our lives. Some of us chose to ignore it and agreed to bury it deep down inside forever.  One way or another, it’s not an easy path to tread.  I was born, brought up in India and lived there for the first 26 years of my life and then moved to US. India is a land which is synonymous with almost everything spiritual/religious/mystic and US is the epitome of materialism. In this blog, I would like to share some parts of my life journey with you dealing with the spiritual/worldly dichotomy.

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Sunset on a Biking trail

I was born in a Hindu family but was fortunate to not be forced to do things a certain way. I explored my way through the questions of ‘why’ chant certain mantras, follow certain rituals and visit temples. I never bought into ‘this is how it is’ type of responses. I read a lot of books on different religions and alternate modalities, dived into different prayer rituals, the concept of idols (I don’t think I ever was an ‘idol worshipper’), contemplated on why I was born in a certain city to a certain family etc. You get the idea. I was bursting with questions and searching everywhere. Through most of my searches in India I did realize that most ‘spiritually’ inclined people didn’t pay much attention to everyday life which was filled with the challenge of facing ‘desire’ in many forms. Renouncing your family duties and not wanting to associate yourself with any material wealth was what most people aspired to do. I internalized that allergy to material wealth and never focused on trying to make more money and living a comfortable life. I could never relate to my friends who talked about their 5 year plan of getting married, buying a house, car etc. This was all gibberish to me. I could respect but not relate to their goals. It was easy for me to not place money and material goals on my priority list when I was 25 and living with my father in a good two bedroom apartment in Mumbai.  Having completed my MBA, I found a decent job with a company and made good money just for myself. My worldview completely turned topsy-turvy when I came to US as a student and had to do odd jobs, study , pay my rent, buy a car with working heat to survive in Chicago’s winters. I am not a quick learner though or should I say I am strong-willed and I couldn’t grasp the fact that I needed to align myself with the realities of the world where you ought to have a certain amount of money to feel safe, have a car to commute etc. I took my time but I learned my lesson.

My understanding  with respect to this dichotomy of spiritual vs material is that one is asked to be like a ‘lotus’ where one is in the dirt( you are free to question whether this world this needs to be referred to as dirt in the first place) but not of it. In my opinion, it’s easy to simply renounce everything and not have to perform any duties. It’s like being an addict whose life revolves around his drug of choice. The drug of choice here being the illusion of self-realization and nirvana. During my search I also came across a Buddhist thought which said something to the effect that: Before you are enlightened, you chop wood and carry water, after you are enlightened (which isn’t an end), you continue chop wood and carry water. This thought made perfect sense because it isn’t all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be ‘either – or’, it is meant to be an ‘and’. It’s about striking a balance. A few weeks ago, I was reading The Quran and was impressed by the clarity with which it portrays the need for this balance between spirituality and materialism.

The truth is that understanding these spiritual concepts is one part of the struggle and like any other subject, you need to be able to apply it in your everyday life. It is this application which isn’t easy and makes people want to find an escape and run away. I meditate everyday and there are times when I don’t want to come out of it because it’s a state of pure joy whenever you manage to tap into it. Despite feeling this joy during meditation I cannot say that I always emanate joy from my being in all my dealings on this earth. This is where one needs to laugh at oneself (am a huge work in progress on this one). It is easier to sit in the Himalayas and say that one needs to love thy neighbor as himself because all is one and a totally different thing to apply that thought when your neighbor’s dog shat on and ruined your first go at having a herb garden( On second thoughts, isn’t that manure for crops).

Be true to yourself on your journey as hard as it may be. Strike a balance with an ‘AND’ not ‘OR’.

I held back..

I held back, not wanting to feel. I held back, protecting my innocence and my purity.

I held back, fearing the wrath of emotion. I held back, forging a defense.

I held back when I was happy and I held back when I was sad.

I held back until you touched me and scattered my being into pieces.

Shredding all the pain, all the grief, I stood beside my broken light.

I hold back no more and have begun to flow uncontrollably.

I hold back no more and allow my heart to feel it all. The pain, the hurt, the joy and the love.

Encircled in your light I stand in all my might.

Thank you and the you that has found its place in me.

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Nature heals

Dead wild goose

My typical drive to work wasn’t as typical today. I left home knowing that I was running late ( well..coz I woke up late). I was driving on my normal route which had regular traffic as you would expect in a busy Chicago suburb. While passing through one of the intersections and singing along with the radio, I couldn’t help but notice a goose fluttering its wings by the side of the road. It was a busy intersection with an exit to an interstate. I couldn’t stop right away and drove a couple of miles while my mind was trying to reason whether or not to turn around since I was already late. My conscience won the battle since I knew I wouldn’t have been at peace knowing that I could have perhaps done something to help the innocent creature lying on the street. I turned around and prayed that I get some help if I need any. Right when I turned by the spot, another man did too. We knew why were there. Our hearts couldn’t simply pass it by. I asked him if he thought we could help the bird. He looked and said it’s probably dead and checked to confirm the same. I asked if we could just move the body to a place where it wouldn’t be hit again although it was dead. He said, he would if there was something to lift it with. I searched my car and found some papers I didn’t need. The gentleman then moved the bird and we parted ways.

If it was me alone over there, I would have simply acted out of emotion and tried to move the body with my own hands without bothering to protect myself. I wouldn’t know how to check whether or not the bird was actually dead.

What I learned here was that while we try to do a good deed, we also need to think about our safety which is easily forgotten or frowned upon several times. Also, letting your conscience take the final call is a good idea. It only hints to the notion that one is capable of compassion despite the busy mechanical lives we lead. I also knew in that moment that I perhaps did what I could and worrying about how the body will be dealt with by some landscapers working there wasn’t going to help. I prayed over it while I was with the body.

As I am getting ready to post this blog, an image of a white swan pops up on my reader. Wonder what’s that about:)

Sending my best to you,

Pooja

The Power of Suggestion – how it influences our daily living.

This morning I was reading an article where the author was discussing whether Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to undergo mastectomy was medically hexed? Reading this article by Lissa Rankin I felt inspired to write my own blogpostJ

Sitting in front the television watching commercials, all I see is the commercialization of emotions. When you make a decision to buy insurance, you are sold to the emotion of fear. When you watch a commercial of the latest anti-depressant and how it promises a better quality of life, in your mind you feel hopeful. Commercials by food giants, sell you a perceived sense of happiness when you take a bite of a certain McWrap. One of my friends who is in the field of Marketing had done research on how advertising is all about emotions. Some of her findings helped me understand why we go and buy a product after we have watched a commercial regardless of whether there is a need or not.

Having worked in a restaurant for a couple of years I have watched the owner of the restaurant ‘sell’ an entrée or two even when the guest had begun with wanting to just eat light. All he used was a suggestion that his guest may enjoy a certain combination better than the other. Now, of course there is a whole field of study called Neuro-Linguistic Programming which uses the power of suggestion to increase sales.

When a mother tells her child that she is ‘stupid’, it is a suggestion that gets implanted in the child’s mind. Alternatively, when someone is told you are told that you can do anything you ever want to..we know how that works.

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power of suggestion

On an individual and professional level I often recommend the use of affirmations and healing light visualizations to my friends and clients. Hypnosis as a branch of healing is very well known to utilize the power of suggestion. One of my friends who was getting frustrated with the medical system of diagnosing one piece of the puzzle at a time tried affirmations in combination with healing light visualization and is beginning to experience improvement with multiple health conditions that she is dealing with.

Hundreds of suggestions are offered to you everyday by family, friends, co-workers, media, governments, religious texts etc. Be careful what you give power to!