Walking the path ahead

There is a path ahead of me
Long…I think!

Stones and pebbles
Under the feet…
Puddles and pools
To jump over…
Lined with trees
Feeling the gentle breeze…
Rain and storms
That lash out…
Soft grass and wet Earth
To be grounded…
Random strangers
On the way…

I am constantly
Juggling
Them all
To stay on a path
Which, I think
Is good for me!

One step at a time
I tell myself…
Just walk ahead!
I call it the meditative walk…
Inhale
Left…right…left
Exhale
Right…left…right!

The nesting munias

The only decent click of the Munia!

The Munia birds came back this year too! This is the second time they are building a nest in our balcony, just behind the AC outdoor unit.
I had recently put up this net as the pigeons were dirtying the balcony every day.
With the net in place, I never thought of any bird to come inside and build a nest.
But these munias are just the right size to squeeze themselves through the holes in the net. It was such a joy to know that they were back to nesting at our balcony. Even before they started building the nest, the two munias would come and sit on the pipe of the AC unit. They used to sit for some time, then venture out and then come back again.
The building of the nest started at end of July. Very smartly they got in the grass through the net to build the nest.
Then the nest was ready and then there was minimalistic movement. That’s the time of laying eggs and hatching them. I waited to hear the baby birds.
One fine morning, I heard them and I thought myself to be a blessed soul to listen to that!
Then the activity around the nest increased gradually. Bringing in the food and supporting the growing little ones with more space by bringing in more grass and making the nest bigger; there was constant movement!
I always stand by my kitchen balcony to gaze at the munia birds and their little ones as they learn to fly. The moment I move to get my phone, all of them will fly away. So I just let it be! I enjoyed watching them.
Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to shoot this video of the birds.

Now is a beautiful time in my life. I am witness to a life being created and I feel so blessed!

Movement

I have always felt the need to move as an important coping mechanism.

When I feel exhausted, a small rest and simple movements works wonders. When I have a headache, I drink some tea and keep moving from one simple task to another.

Moving my arms to fold clothes has always been therapeutic for me!

And when my thoughts are moving at the speed of light, I move my pen from point A to point B and draw. I move the paint brush from one end of paper to another, to bring in colors on a white paper.

And sometimes, watching the natural movement of my breath helps me to stay calm.

In all these movements, there is one underlying quality which made a difference. And that is awareness.

Being aware of the movement is a beautiful way to focus on my breath, body and what is happening with it!

Hope

We peep
Look beyond
Keep staring
Look up to the sky
Seek the sunshine
As we hope…

For a better life
A new bud
Leaf
Better sunlight
Vitamin D
Good health
Strong body
Anything
That is the need of the day!

Hope is the wave
That will carry us
Into the realms
Of the unknown
Overcoming the hurdles
To see the silver lining
Of our life!

Serendipity

The Universe is a reflection of my thoughts!

YouTube is my serendipitous partner, for the past few months!
When I started my meditation journey, I first tried to sit quietly by myself, as I was initiated into the Heartfulness meditation by my teacher. There were days when I was there, present with my heart, and then there were days when the whole thing was a fiasco. I just wanted some guidance.
That was the time I looked into YouTube. Every morning I used to open this video app and used to type “meditation” in the search box. After a week, this app just knew what I liked and preferred!
I used to choose meditation videos from different people, exploring their style of meditation, or choose some video based on the topic! I tried chanting as a meditative tool, did visualization techniques, learned how to be mindful of my breath, and many other videos.
But what I loved about this whole process was the options that opened up on YouTube for me. They were a reflection of my thoughts and requirements for the day. The first video which showed on my wall was a serendipitous calling to my state of mind and body!
One day, I woke up with a bad throat and it was irritating and as I brushed my teeth, I wondered how will I be able to teach that day! As always, I sat for meditation, opened YouTube and the first video that came was the recipe for a concoction to soften the throat irritation. My God! This was like the Universe was answering me; serendipity is thy name huh! I made and drank the concoction and felt a lot better!
Another day, I was led to this amazing video on energy healing, which helped me so much! The same day, I got a message about someone doing a live energy healing session and I joined in. It was so profound. Serendipity, again!
When I was struggling to deal with a particular emotion inside me, I came across a video link which was on forgiveness. That was an amazing moment in my life when I learned the actual meaning of forgiveness, which helped me to resolve that emotion in me! Again, it was serendipity!
I felt guided to exactly what I needed at particular moments of my life. The serendipity of things – zoom meeting invites, meeting new people, sudden travels, were all happening so smoothly in sync with my thoughts! It felt like that I just had to think of something and after some time, I receive an answer through a person, or a text, or a video that amazes me every time! It happens in a very profound way; I just have to keep my mind and heart open and go along with the flow of life!

Explore

Explore…

Walkthrough unknown terrains
Or drive through them
To explore
The people, their produce
How they live and what they eat!

Exploration can be done
At mind level
When we question
Reason
Inquire on subjects…
A beautiful learning process!

I went on Facebook
On a mission to explore
New friendships…
Met a lot of amazing people!
Online friendships
Turned into real ones…
Resulting in a happy me!

So, it is a good thing to explore
New paths of life
While traveling
Discussing
Learning
And when making new friendships!

Intention

I begin my day with prayer.
There have been days when I didn’t have the energy to move myself to the puja room; I told my prayers lying on the bed.
Many days I have sat in my puja room, cried myself dry, as I tried to tell my prayers.
There have been days when I was jubilant with joy when I told my prayers.
These were some intentions which I used while praying – that this is not alright / that person is not right / this has to change / that has to change / please give me this / make me happy!
One day it struck me – the patterns behind the way I was reacting emotionally during praying. I understood that my emotional state was directly related to the intentions of the prayer.
In recent times, I started meditating. There has been a lot of acceptance within me to what I think and what I do. There have been times when I have dealt with all those thoughts which I had hidden in the depths of my memory. It was a difficult process but done with great effort. This has led to a sense of appreciation for myself and the people around me. Everyone, like me, is doing their best and trying hard to be their best!
So, now I have a simple intention for my prayer – just deep gratitude – a simple thank you, for the day, for that particular moment, for the current breath, for good people around me, for the blessings in my life! This intention inspires me to wake up every morning earlier than others. It gives me the inspiration to light the lamp, offer flowers to my Guru, and to the Higher force that I believe in. This intention inspires me to move on with life! It inspires me to be myself, to be able to express the love I have inside me without fear of rejection, to be the best version of myself.
There are days when things are not aligned inside me and there may be feelings other than happiness. On such days, my guiding force is my intention of gratitude for that space on which I stand, feeling my prana in my body!

Quiet

The tree stands quiet and tall even when surrounded by cloud chatter!

I am in self-love mode. The situations and challenges of the past three years have enabled the self-love process. And I am so happy about it. Instead of being the “critical me” towards my actions and thoughts, I have become loving towards myself.
Getting into the practice of self-love was a huge task for me, initially. The moment I do some work, I switch to a self-criticism mode. I constantly look for faults and there is constant inner-chatter – “this is a wrong way of doing things” – “you need to do it at a faster pace” – “you used to do it better before” – “you are not doing with enough sincerity” – like this and many more!
For many years, I had succumbed to this chatter of self-criticism. The mind won’t rest and I was constantly stressed out, anxious about results – perfection was my goal, and this level of perfection was becoming unreachable!
When I consciously decided to accept myself for who I am and whatever I do, in whatever level of perfection, there was this deep sense of acceptance within me! But I took a lot of time to quieten the chatter in my mind.
My go-to methods to quieten the mind chatter and to strengthen my acceptance of myself were chanting and music. I joined a chanting class. Even though I am not continuing the class, the chanting continues – it is a part of my day where I work on quietening the chatter of the mind.
Listening to music reduced the mind chatter a lot. Choosing a playlist of songs that I enjoyed during my childhood days provided the much-needed quietude inside me!
Coloring, drawing mandalas also made me feel calm and relaxed and I always felt quieter, as I let the strokes cut through my mind chatter!

#hopewriterlife

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Lockdown learning – My kitchen rules

Today I posed a question for my pranayama class students – “What is that part of you that you dislike or not comfortable with?” Each one identified their own and we worked on forgiving our uncomfortable parts and sending love to those parts inside us! I truly believe that we are a work in progress and we also need to work at ourselves regularly, to maintain some sort of calmness inside us.

Coming to that question…
When I posed that question to myself, a few months back, I was surprised at what came out as a dominant character! You will be surprised too, as you read this!

As a little girl, all I was allowed to do in the kitchen was just observe. I observed everything – what ingredients went into which kuzhambu, how everything gets fried golden, how coarse or how fine you grind the sambar masala, how to make different types of chutney using vegetable peels, how to grind the idly maavu, how to pickle, how not to spoil a pickle and many more…phew! This list seems endless…

Amma is an amazing cook, a perfectionist, and such a cleanliness freak! I am not surprised that I imbibed all those from amma – maybe not genetically but by observing her too keenly 😀

After I got married, I started observing my mother-in-law! Another amazing personality, with the keenness of a child to learn and try new things, a cook par excellence, great with her smile and hospitality and most of all, she loved to feed people!

All these observations – from my amma and mother-in-law – helped me when I started to cook in my own kitchen after my marriage. These two amazing mothers in my life had subconsciously instilled another quality in me, which I didn’t realize at first.

I divided the vessels I had into two sets. Set one was used for cooking, the plates were used for closing the vessels, the spoons and ladles were used only for cooking and serving.
Set two was for eating. Plates, spoons, forks are separately kept for eating.

And the strict rule was there will be no interaction or mix-up between these two sets of vessels! Really! Yeah…That was me!

Then the egg came into the kitchen. I grew up in a household where eggs were banned from entry into our home. But when I started cooking eggs, I bought separate pans, spatulas, plates…

All these were noticeable decisions which I did.

I also had this habit of using specific vessels for specific purposes. I kept my milk boiling vessels separate and nothing else was cooked in it, especially the ones with salt. I had separate ladles for milk, curd, sambar and never mixed them! The Kadai for frying papad, for making the vegetables were all marked and used according to my rule! My kitchen – my rules…haha 😀 I did manage with these rules, without realizing how strictly I enforced it on me and my house-help, for all these years.

Lockdown happened and things changed. Without the help of a house-help, who listened and abided by my rules, I asked my daughters to help me. They did all the help very willingly.
All along, my daughters were never really aware of those rules which I followed in the kitchen concerning the cookware. Or maybe they were aware but never thought seriously of them. I started noticing that they were using some vessels for cooking which was not earmarked for them, by me – he he…the superior me 😀

I went huff and puff over all the wrong usage of cookware! And I couldn’t hold it on for long periods. Without the help of my daughters, I was not able to manage the cleaning, cooking, and all the other work in the house. I was already stressed out with lack of house help and now the mixing up of the cookware…Oh God! I was so stressed out. I couldn’t even appreciate their help as I was constantly picking on them for using the wrong cookware.

Sigh! I didn’t like this obsession I had towards the cookware and how it should be used.

So, slowly and grudgingly I started to relax – let them use whatever cookware they wanted; it will be washed well after use. This simple shift inside me helped me to come out of my stressful feelings and I started enjoying and appreciating their help more!

Such precious lockdown learning of 2020!

From there, I have moved on with a better thought process – the cookware is transient; they can be thrown away or new ones can be bought. My daughters and the love with which they do things at home are more precious than these transient things.

Have you wondered at this question – “What is that part of you that you dislike or not comfortable with?” Please do share your replies!

Mandala and me

I am the sky with the white clouds
I am the mountains and valleys
With rivers and trees
I am the green pastures
With wild flowers and grass
I am the ocean
Constantly in motion
And deep inside me
Is my heart filled with love!

I am the mandala
And the inter-connecting patterns
That make it!
I am the colors
Which fills up the patterns
In VIBGYOR mode…
For life isn’t just black and white
But all the colors in a spectrum of light!