Watch

No guessing there…I choose the verb!

Just thought of listing a few watchful things that have made a huge impact on how I move through my day, and my challenges.

I watch my breath. Whenever I can. And also allocate some 20 to 30 minutes every day (I try to do this without fail but there are exceptions) when I practice my breathwork. Even during that time, I try my best to be with the breath – watching the inhales and exhales – than to be led by my thoughts! Some days are too good and I just don’t have any idea of what is happening around me. There are also days when all this is too much effort.

I watch my thoughts when I am in my shower. They are my sparks. They give me solutions. They give me ideas to write. They help me connect deeply within myself. Every stroke of the soap on my body strengthens the connection and I feel that I am getting a download of the document which I wanted to write. It is an amazing space to look for yourself.

I watch my posture when I am in the kitchen. When I am standing and watching that milk to see if it will come to a boiling state, I check if my weight is equally distributed between my legs. When I chop vegetables, I watch my back – I watch if my legs are open so that I stand firmly with weight in the center – I watch if I am bending too much – I also watch to see that I am changing posture every few minutes. This watching has helped me to be relieved from knee pain, hip pain, and lower back pain.

I watch my skin with its white patches in certain places and understand the residue of the trauma that I experienced in 2006. I hug myself for accepting that trauma, for speaking about it to people around me, for writing about it, for learning to process it, for seeking help, for moving towards art, and for making beautiful connections!

I watch how I cook every day. Do I think of it as a chore dumped on me or do I feel the love inside me for my family that I cook something they relish? I have been through both stages and felt the extremes in both. Now I watch if I am kind to myself in this process. Menopause has taught me the biggest lesson of being kind to myself in all sorts of situations. So, when I feel irritated to do any cooking, I watch it happen – ask for help from others to take up the cooking or simply order. When I feel the love overflowing from inside that needs to be expressed in my cooking, I take it in stride and cook with joy. Even though I am writing all this in one paragraph, it took me nearly 3 years to reach this stage. And I struggle some days. I hug myself. I become kind to the person inside me.

I watch. I heal. I struggle. I watch. I think. I draw. I cook. I watch. I love!

Kinder by 1%

I try to begin my day with an intention like this – let me be 1% kinder than yesterday! Easier said than done – this is a lot of effort but worth every moment of it!

This happened recently – I came across an artificial jewelry seller on Instagram, as I love these big chunky pieces of jewelry esp the jhumkas. I contacted her and ordered first. And I was very happy with the service that I have been buying regularly from her. Recently, I ordered a necklace to send as a gift to this person L. I received it neatly packed and without even opening it to check (my trust in the seller being the reason), sent the gift across to L. It was received well and then I came to know the link chain with the hook was missing from the necklace. I contacted the seller – before she replied to my text, I was drowning in my own thoughts – is it wrong to trust that seller? – why didn’t I check it completely before sending it across? – This has never happened before…why now?

Then I stopped thinking about this and went to do some yoga. I distracted myself from it and did chanting as I did yogasana.

I got a reply from the seller stating that she had sent the link chain separately and she asked me to check the cover. I hid my face under the table. Thinking that clutter-free is the norm, I had thrown away that cover without checking the contents on the same day itself.

I sat and thought about the whole thing. I can either be critical of my actions or keep sulking all day long. I can direct all this to the seller and tell her to take the blame for this incident. But both options will not solve the need – to deliver the link chain to the person who needs it.

I decided to be 1% kinder to myself than yesterday. This was an important moment – the changeover happened at that moment.

So I sent a message to L, accepting that there has been a mistake and I will send the link chain soon. She was quite OK with it. I suddenly realized how simple this turned out to be than breaking my head over the fact that I needed to be the perfect human being doing everything perfectly, according to my standards.

And like this and in many small ways, the practice of kindness is slowly and gently becoming a part of my life.

There is this sense of kindness to my body – listening to it groan, rumble, creak and tries to tell me something. This was my first step. The second part that I committed to do was to be kind with my breath, to watch it and allow it be and then slowly bringing in the nudge to do better. This kindness towards myself is something that keeps me going day after day with a sense of joy and appreciation.

To all the people who come across my path and whose path is not clear to me, let me be 1% kinder than yesterday.

To my husband who carries all the stress and anxiety into the home from his workplace, let me be 1% kinder to him than yesterday.

To my daughters who are caught up in their web of careers and friends, let me be 1% kinder to them than yesterday.

To those people who are dear to me and who have their own life to live and sometimes miss texting or calling back, let me be 1% kinder than yesterday.

It also instills inside me a deep sense to draw boundaries so that I can be kind to myself first. And then, from within those boundaries, I am trying my best to practice this “1% kinder than yesterday”!

The beginning of the journey – 4

The bloom

This journey of mine in the path of yoga was no easy task for me. Every new concept or idea I studied nudged me to get out of my shell – the kind of perfectionist fort that I had built around me. It started to show in my writing too. My very old posts were trying to convey something that happened to me but through the eyes of a story. The acceptance of the situation did not happen then. There were writings that dealt with everything in the third person.

Now I write from my heart – thankful to a lightweaver’s amazing writing workshop. It helped me to write the stories as they happened to me. I was able to articulate this is how I changed or this is how I healed. And I feel the sigh of relief when the words escape me and get latched on to the document.

I was a proper “to-do list” person. I generally have a plan for the day, for the week, the month, and the year too. And when things happen differently from my plan I was not very accepting towards it. I used to resist it. I didn’t want things to happen differently than what I had envisioned. It was difficult for me. And when I was forced to do those things, I did them but internally I sulked. I carried it in my heart. I was constantly on the complaint mode – talking about someone or something that didn’t go my way!

Now that I think of it, I see those moments were the triggers that I could have grasped with open hands and enabled the change to happen inside me. But then, it is ok. I learned this very important lesson in my life at the right time, for me.

And the lesson that I learned and keep embracing even now is – “Go with the flow”

I had made some progress with changes in the to-do list and started accepting the fact that certain things are not in my control. That was a huge one to take in, digest, and live with on a day-to-day basis. But I survived that part.

I want to share this story in this context. One night, as I was about to sleep, I saw an Instagram story of a dear friend. Looking at her story on some iconic picture of Chennai, I messaged her and asked if she was in the city. She said yes. And then came another message from her – “Can you travel to Auroville with me?” That message came as a big surprise – this was the first one. I read aloud the message to my husband. He was like “Do what you want” – this was the second one. This was a huge thing considering the fact that I have to cancel my classes suddenly to make a trip. I have never traveled with friends before. Before I got married, I had traveled with friends for attending a wedding. It was a big group. After getting married, it was always with the family. This kind of opportunity never happened (or maybe I didn’t see such opportunities). It was not that I was looking for some approval from the husband. But once he said those words, it hit me – Was I the one seeking approval all the time?

I just closed my eyes, placed one hand over my heart, repeated that question from my friend, and asked myself “What do I feel right now?”

I felt little butterflies in my stomach. I felt the excitement inside me. I felt the urge to go along with my friend. And I said yes to myself and to my friend.

That trip changed so many things inside me. I had moments all by myself – to be my childish self in the pool, to be my enlightened self as I introspected, to be my curious self as I went along unknown paths! I was thrilled to bits and at the same time felt a deep connection to my own self.

That beautiful bond of friendship strengthened further.

All these amazing self-realizations were made possible only when I went with the flow of the Universe! I learned that when something is placed in the path of my life, it is placed for a reason – for some change, for some understanding, for something better – here is a nudge to something! And when I looked at it with child-like curiosity I was able to feel the nudge changing me subtly so that I learn to enjoy this moment, as it comes, as it presents itself.

Changing the self-talk

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!

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!

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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Sunshine people

They are this unique set of people. When they arrive into a room, they bring in cheer. Eveyone wants to be with them. No, it is not the money or attaching oneself to some predefined image. It is simply for the warmth with which they hug everyone. It is in the simple way they smile warmly at people. It is their genuine nature that shines through. It is the way they make others also to glow. I have named them the sunshine people.

They are true and very much alive even in this world and they make everyone, in their vicinity, to shine! They are experts with the smiling mehanisms and can quietly transfer it to you.

They bring a sort of calmness to the troubled mind and help us to rise above it. There might be a hundred and one things on their mind but these special set of people seem to be beyond all their worries when it comes to making others happy.

I personally know a few of them. And I assure you my life is blessed and smooth going because of them. They guide me, cheer me, listen to me talk and then just hug me, transferring such positive energy that I feel not to let go of that hug!

May their tribe grow!

Here’s to the sunshine people!

A story from the roadside

She sells guavas near the bus terminus. I was pulled towards her cart of guavas for the way she cared about them. She sorted them into two heaps. The ones with the reddish inside variety was kept on the right and the other normal variety to the left. She still sorted them as hard ones, somewhat crisp to eat and the ripened ones. One look at the cart, you will know what to buy and where to look for it in that cart.

She had a big smile, a beaming one. Her beautiful hair bun always had an encircling flowers around it. The big red kumkum circle on her forehead was attractive enough to pull me towards her. There was something about her. I have been buying from her for the past one year and her genuine smile always touched me.

Once she handed me extra change without realizing it. And I also didn’t check it till I reached home. So, the next time I saw her I returned her change and apologized. She was very confident that I will return it. And we hardly had spoken with each other. I wondered what made her think that I will return the money! She was very genuine in her warmth and thoughts.

For the past 2 weeks she was missing. More than the guavas, I missed her, her smile. Yesterday I met her again.

The story went like this.

Her father had boarded a bus to visit her, from Dindivanam. He had taken a wrong bus. So the conductor dropped him off in some place, instructing him to take another bus. In a similar fashion, he was taken into wrong buses and somehow reached Tiruvannamalai, the abode of Shiva for all those who are lost (in a spiritual way too).  And he had no phone with him.

She and her three sisters along with their sons and daughter-in-laws went from one place to another, switched buses to possible places and finally found their father. Without a phone to trace, I found it a humongous task. But not for them, where the hearts were filled with love and an yearning to find him. She was so proud of her accomplishment.

My fondness for the guava lady has grown in multitudes now!