I am the first grandchild on both my amma and appa’s sides. More precious was the status of the first granddaughter! Being cherished and celebrated by both the thatha and patti is such a blessing and something that I will hold dear to my heart always! Patti and Thatha (paternal) doted on me and I always found their presence at home as a constant comfort – to whose lap I can go and lie with my face down and without a word, my hair will be stroked and suddenly I felt enveloped by bliss! Patti’s hands were so soft and even now I think of her hand stroking my hair to fall asleep! I still remember the amazing stories she used to spin on the spot for us! Patti never believed me when I told her my age and she used to say “you are still my kuzhandai”! She was beaming with pride when I delivered my first child – “kuzhandaikku kuzhandai”! My maternal grandparents were stricter than the paternal ones. There were certain rules that we needed to follow as part of living with them but thatha was impartial; the rules applied to everyone at home. But I always felt loved and taken care of by patti and thatha. There used to be only 2 meals a day. After a lot of playing and running around, I used to feel hungry and there was always a second round of curd rice. On some days, patti used to make some nice tiffin and feed me during evenings after playtime. I cherish this act of love on her part! Slowly and gently, this circle of comfort started to fade! One by one, the grandparents were making their way out of this earthly existence and last weekend, it was the turn of my patti (maternal)! Suddenly I feel alone – there is no one around who will address me as “kuzhandai” (a baby/child) – there is no lap that can give that comfort – those soft hands are nowhere here to stroke my hair…sigh! But I hold them in my memories, I feel them while cooking a particular dish, I hear them when I listen to songs or slokas! I remember them when I feel strongly about certain values I live by! I look out for them in the sky, on a star-lit night! I cover myself with a quilt imagining it to be the hands of my patti, soft and comforting and sometimes, stroking my hair and I sleep like a “kuzhandai”!
The past few years, I have avoided going out in the sun. I used to do this self-talk “If I go out in the bright sun, I will get a headache”! I avoided the sun as much as possible, especially after 10 am when it becomes hot too! The lockdown situations aided my thinking as I comfortably stayed put at home. I was happy to be exercising and never gave a second thought to my requirements from natural sunlight. When my blood tests showed a lesser Vitamin D in the body than the normal levels, I knew I had taken the sunlight requirement very casually. Now, I need to be out in the sun for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Some days I go early for a walk in the sun. On certain days, I become held up with some work in the kitchen. When I go for a walk after 9 am, the sun is out in full warmth. The first day I was hesitant based on my earlier self-talk – “headache when the sun is bright and hot”! I just had to change my self-talk to “This sunlight is good for me. It gives me energy, warmth, and Vitamin D”! As I kept repeating this new self-talk, I found newfound energy during my walks. I have started to enjoy my walk in the sunlight; the time doesn’t matter now!
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 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!
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!
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!
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!