Category Archives: 2013

Family (of Redwoods)

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Nandan and I have been enjoying our Christmas break in San Francisco the past few days. Today was our last day before we head to round 2 of vipassana. We spent the day at Muir Woods right outside the city. I learned something really neat during our hike this morning that I wanted to share with you all.

First: most trees in an established forest do not grow from single trees. They actually grow from sprouts from healthy trees. These “parent” trees essentially grow burls at the bottom of the trunk near the roots and then these burls turn into saplings, and eventually individual trees.
Second: these saplings will essentially form in a circle around the parent tree, forming what is known as a family (of redwoods).

I just thought that this concept was so cool. The idea of family constructs isn’t limited to the human world. You can see this idea of a family literally all throughout the natural world, even in plant life! This seriously blew my mind.

I’ve always believed that there is a lot to learn from nature, but today I learned a huge lesson. I learned that just like the sapling is dependent on the family for its growth and nutrition, we must be willing to be open to the constant stream of nourishment that is coming our way from everyone that surrounds us. But, more than that, we must be so filled with compassion love, and nourishment, that it should be constantly flowing out of us and into the hearts and souls of the people around us. We are just as responsible for the giving of nourishment as we are for the taking of it.

This was huge. This idea of growth is so obvious in the physical form in nature, but never have I seen it this way. This experience could not have come at a better time as I start my second round of vipassana, and as we finish Christmas and 2013, and start a new year. Maybe my resolution will be to be full of love and compassion for everyone that crosses my path. Can’t wait to see what the new year has in store, and what incredible new experiences I’ll stumble upon next,

Can’t wait to share my experiences with you all about my second vipassana! See you in 10 days!

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equanimity-love and compassion

I’ve encountered this idea of “equanimity” “being equanimous” etc. recently a lot. The idea is pretty simple at first thought. Treat everyone equally, and then you won’t create any extra “baggage” with them or their soul, which is ultimately a good thing.

Upon further thinking on this idea, I realized how much harder it actually is in real life. To not react with like or dislike. To not react with your ego attached to your emotions. To not be attached to your reaction, the individual, the end result. This is really hard when you start thinking about it. And personally, something I’m going through right now.

And then I started thinking, if I should be treating everyone equally (equanimously), then in theory I should be treating my family the same way I treat classmates, peers, even strangers. For some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to treat my parents, husband, family, the same way I treat the cashier at Target. Did I just create a hierarchy? Yeah, pretty much. I realized that I just created a system in my head where I placed my family on a higher rank of “people” then the people that cross my path once or twice. And here I am touting about how everyone deserve to be treated equally. Hello hypocrite!

What does that mean to treat someone with equanimity? In one of my classes yesterday, some students were saying things that I didn’t agree with. The first thing that popped in my head was rebuttals to their arguments. The second thing that popped into my head was that I should just let it go. It is what it is. They feel the way they do, and I can’t change it. I’m treating them with equanimity right? Wrong, because for a split second I thought that non-reaction is better than reaction. I talked to Nandan about this, and essentially the conversation lead to the conclusion that it’s not about inaction or not reacting. It’s about not having that attachment, which eventually leads to a pure love and compassion for everyone.

That’s the whole point of being equanimous (at least in our thought process). To treat everyone, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, strangers, peers, whoever with love and compassion. And that love and compassion should be the same for everyone. There is no hierarchy when it comes to who gets more compassion from you.

One of our classmates had invited the Drepung Monks to her house for a blessing, which was just so beautiful. But, after one of the monks lead a question and answer for a little while. He started talking about duality, and how everything has an opposite. The opposite of love is hate. The opposite of compassion is ill-will. The part that really stood out to me, was when he said that you can’t have both feelings in your mind at the same time. If your mind and heart are filled with hate, there is no room for love. If your mind is filled with ill-will, there’s no room for compassion. Which, then leads to un-equanimity! But, if your mind and heart is filled with love and compassion, there’s no room for hate or ill-will, and then you can act and talk from a true place of equanimity.

That was just so profound to me. We are so caught up in all these feelings of revenge and annoyance and frustration, that we literally have taken over our minds with negative emotions, that there’s no room for the positive and beautiful ones! Instead of focusing on why that person annoys you or irritates you or makes you so angry, why don’t we start thinking about how that person is just another person that deserves our love and respect? Because we let our ego get in the way, for one. But, in general it’s just too hard to love the other person, right? We’re a society of easy-way-out. However, I don’t think this method will work in the long-run.

Having love and compassion for even one person is hard, let alone the rest of the world! There are always going to be things that your friends and family do that just annoy you or put you over the edge. If we start thinking outside of our own self, and the idea that they are effecting me, my ego, we can start acting in different situations in equanimous ways, which will then leak into other realms of our life. Even the cashier at Target will feel your love and compassion!

Love and compassion are the way to go people! And what better time of year than right now to start practicing?

Nelson Mandela

A really great being left this planet a few days ago. Nelson Mandela, in my opinion, is a mahatma. I a great soul who walked on the same ranks as Gandhiji, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King. Although I do not know much about his history except for all the great work he did in South Africa, I do know that he left an unforgettable mark on this world.

I found this article from USA Today on 15 of the greatest Nelson Mandela Quotes. Of course there are probably a million quotes by Nelson Mandela that stand out to every person. This particular quote stood out to me as I was reading this article:

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela

The head and the heart are two of the most important governing factors in every decision we make. They are also the two factors that, if strong enough and in accordance with each other, can allow you to accomplish anything you desire. I

He was a great soul. And so are we; we just have to choose to be.

photo by patrice murciano

photo by patrice murciano

’tis the season

My favorite season is finally upon us! Looking back at the past week, and all of the Thanksgiving celebrations and festivities, I am just seriously humbled and overjoyed with all of the opportunities that have come my way in this life. We spent time with friends old and new, we spent time with nature and just being in God’s creations, and we even watched the square in Santa Fe get lit up with their Christmas lights. Seriously, I have so much to be grateful for. Everyone does, we just get so caught up in life and everything that is coming our way, that we just forget to pay attention to all the things that we do have. I am completely guilty of this myself.

I went Christmas decoration shopping yesterday, and got a little carried away. I wanted everything to be so perfect from the outside, that I lapsed and forgot what this season is all about, and why it’s my favorite time of year. Sure me being the perfectionist I am, I want everything to look perfect. But the Holiday season isn’t just about the outside. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a perfect Christmas tree that looks like it came out of Home and Garden or Southern Living magazine. But, did that become my focal point? And for a split second, maybe it did. It’s my first Christmas with my husband, of course it’s a big deal to me. Somehow, I got lucky with a great life partner who calls it as it is, and made me remember why I love Christmas so much.

Sure, Christmas has turned into a huge commercial holiday, but it doesn’t have to be just that. What is true Christmas spirit? I love this season because it’s all about giving and spending time with your family and surrounding yourself with people who love you. It’s about something greater than yourself and realizing that there is so much more beyond our little bubble. It’s understanding that everyone on this planet is connected in some way or other. And of course it’s about Santa coming and visiting all the children in the world and spreading true Christmas cheer.

Nandan and I decided that we are going to truly make this a season of giving. How can we spread true Christmas cheer to the people around us?

By not being a Grinch. By being loving and caring. By being kind and supportive. By being giving. By providing to the best of our capability the things our family and friends really, truly need. By having a smile on our face no matter what life brings us. By giving back to our community. By helping out at a food shelter. By being open. By being grateful.

The hardest part of this challenge? Taking these and going beyond just the holiday season. By implementing this into our lives past December 25, and into the new year. We’re not perfect. But, we can sure as heck try our best.

We went to dinner last night with our uncle. After we were finished, we were surprised to find out that the family sitting next to us had bought us dessert. Complete strangers, just spreading some holiday love. It’s as simple as that.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. And merry, loving, caring, grateful, and giving.

How will you spread holiday cheer this year?

yama and niyama project

So in one of my classes here at the Ayurvedic Institute, we had to pick a Yama and Niyama to implement into our lives and work on. Yama and Niyama are 2 of the limbs of Patanjali‘s 8-limb path of Yoga.

Essentially, Yamas are the restraints and Niyamas are the things that you should do.
Yamas: Non-lying, non-stealing, non-violence, non-coveting, and continence.
Niyamas: cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrendering to God

I thought it was pretty neat that our teacher made it seem like a very tangible project. That it’s not hard to just implement some of these into your life if you just try. The ones that I picked are “non-stealing” and “self-discipline”. Folks, before you get all tizzied up. No, I do not steal, but there was a sense of contentment and satisfaction that went along with this one. A sense of not wanting more and more past what you have already. Anyways, it definitely appealed to me.

I think it’s just neat to try this little experiment out. Sure a lot of it you need a ton of faith in yourself, discipline, and plenty of effort on your end, but the harder you try, somehow it becomes a lot easier to practice. The more you try the easier the universe will make it for you to achieve your goal. It’s incredible how much latent strength you have hidden somewhere in you, that is just waiting to come out and be displayed.

You don’t even have to pick a yama or niyama. If you have really just wanted to start a practice or habit, all you have to do is just put in the effort, and then everything will fall into place with just a little bit of faith. The universe is inherently looking out for you. It is inherently taking care of you and wanting to take care of you. Sure, at times it may feel like it’s every man for himself, but there are unseen forces who are constantly on your side as your little cheerleaders, hoping and helping you achieve anything you put your heart to.

When I was little, I was told that I can achieve anything I want if I put my heart into it and have faith in something greater than myself. And it’s so true. Naturally, I didn’t realize this until I got older. But, this little project has taught me just that. Am I perfect now? Heck no. The first 3 weeks we were assigned this, I just kept forgetting. But, at least now I am thinking about it. Step one, right?

Just ask for strength and the universe will give it you. It’s a pretty great relationship if you ask me!

Just keep telling yourself that you are incredible, and that you really can achieve anything you want to. It’s all possible. Trust me.

Happy weekend folks! Go out and be amazed at what this world has to offer you!

individual dharma

Hey all! I wanted to share something we did in class as an exercise with you guys, because I think it is pretty powerful!

So, we’ve been talking a lot about dharma and individual dharma these past couple weeks. Rightfully so, since dharma is a huge part of Vedic culture/tradition/theory/whatever. Growing up, I’ve heard a lot of different translations of dharma, “religion”, “duty”, “purpose”. But, one of my teachers put it so eloquently, that I had to share with y’all. She said that dharma is (talking about individual dharma, your personal dharma) is the path to knowing who you truly are. And of course, with that comes all of those other things like purpose and religion and duty and stuff. But, I just really loved this. The path to knowing who you truly are. Being in accordance with your true nature, whatever that may be. Then she continued to say that your career and profession doesn’t have to be your individual dharma. What a thought! It’s all about alignment with your true nature, your true self. I just love that. Because to me, that is what life is all about. Finding out who you really are, and when you do, letting that idea, thought, whatever take hold of every aspect of your life and seep in to every facet of your being. This is so awesome!

I think that once we figure this out, even to some extent, we can stop compartmentalizing different areas of our life. I no longer have to separate Nishita the student from Nishita the daughter, to wife, to sister, to whatever. I don’t have to draw lines between my relationships, family, spiritual practice, study, etc. Every facet and everything that makes you, you is governed by this idea of your individual dharma.

So, our teacher made us do this assignment where we figure out why we think we were put on this planet. What purpose do we serve during this lifetime? When she handed the sheet out, I had no idea what to put. Sure, many times before this I’ve said my purpose is this or that, but I never really put much thought or effort into what my purpose really truly is–what my individual dharma is. Once we figure that out, we have to create life goals that surround our individual dharma for different areas of our life: career/profession, spiritual practice, relationships/community, recreation/play, rest, finances, and study. How does my individual dharma relate to that?

I sat down yesterday and filled it out, and it was amazing that once I started thinking about my individual dharma, the rest just poured out of my heart and somehow filled in the categories. It’s incredible to see something that is such a vague and abstract idea become concrete on a piece of paper. Seeing it written creates some kind of new will power that you want to achieve this no matter what it takes.

But more importantly, I think it was so cool to see how one idea, one life goal, purpose, whatever can be intertwined amongst everything you want to achieve in different “categories”, and you realize that those categories aren’t even necessary, because every part of your life is revolving around one idea, one purpose, one path, one dharma!

WOAH. okay. this is a lot of realization for one post. But, in all seriousness, take some time out to think about why you were put on this planet, and see how that one idea can be the driving force for all those other boxes in your life.

something about octobers

Thinking back, I can’t believe that one year ago today, I was sitting at my grandparents’ house in India studying Sanskrit and Yoga. It’s crazy thinking that it’s already been one year since I decided to start this journey in life, and tried my best to be open to what the world and universe sent my way.

Well, here I am one year later, starting a new journey with new relationships, and a somewhat new perspective and outlook on life. My husband and I (that still sounds funny) got married about a week and a half ago, and made the trek from Memphis to Albuquerque to study all those things that I started in India, but on a much deeper level. We are at the Ayurvedic Institute, and I find myself just as excited, if not more, to be back in the groove of studying Sanskrit and Yoga and Ayurveda.

Our classes officially started yesterday, and it was awesome to have all of my old memories and things that I remembered from India flood back to me. But, I think the coolest part of it all was that I now have my best friend to share this exciting time and new journey with, as well as 38 other fellow classmates. Everything is just a whole lot better when you have incredible people to share it with.

I know I’ve said this again and again and again, but it’s really crazy how life works out, and it’s crazier what happens when you let the universe give you what you need at that point in time. But, you have to be open to it, and really truly let your heart talk to you.

In class yesterday, we were talking about dharma, and what the true meaning of dharma is. It’s a really hard word to translate into English, but I like the definition that was given to us; and it was along the lines of being aligned with your true nature, true self, and when your soul and your heart is doing what it’s meant to be doing in life. As I was meditating yesterday, I was trying to just clear my mind, and when I was able to do that, even for that brief period of time, there was a sense of peace. I know that this path isn’t easy, but it brings me a sense of joy and peace, because I know that I’m doing something that I love, and not what someone else wants for me.

Once we let our insecurities go to the side a little, and realize that we have the capability to be open and loving, we can let the universe talk to us. It’s scary as crap, but totally worth it in the end.

I can’t wait to share this new journey with all of you, and tell you all about the different things I am learning! I guess Octobers are a good month for me…

because y’all know I love gratitude

I know I’ve mentioned something about gratitude in several of my posts. I’ve posted a few daily encouragements that mention gratefulness. One of my favorite quotes by the most influential person in my life is “To be grateful is to be human.”

I want to pass on this video to you all about gratitude. Got 7 minutes? Go ahead, watch it now.

Did you watch it? I think it’s pretty amazing how something so simple (and free for that matter!) is the key to our happiness. This just further proves that all of this stuff we surround ourselves with doesn’t create a solution to our happiness. And, this is something that is even hard for me to fully act on most of the time. Doing all of the stuff that we love, hiking, shopping, reading, painting, whatever just makes life more fun. But does it really truly make us happy? Short term, maybe. But, we can’t keep living for short-term results, because then in the long-term, it can maybe cause unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It’s kind of like this. Why do we take vitamins and work out and even brush our teeth? Because we know that it’s good for us, and can prevent disease and  rotten teeth in the future. If we can take care of our physical self so that we can be healthy later on in life, why can’t we take care of our spiritual and mental self?

Something so simple, but so hard to do. Yeah, it means putting aside our ego for a little bit to let another individual, or thing, or whatever that you’re grateful for what they did for you; that because of them you succeeded in xyz. But, in the end, a little humility and gratitude does keep ourselves in check. And that’s not a bad thing, right?

So, go ahead. Tell someone thank you. And really truly mean it. Don’t say it out of an obligatory way like when someone holds the door open for you and you grudgingly thank them for that little task. Be grateful and be awesome!

Want to read the actual study? I haven’t gotten around to it, but definitely on my reading list. Here it is!

focus and concentration

I was sent this article a couple of weeks ago, and found it very interesting. It’s all about how to better focus and concentrate from the viewpoint of a lion tamer. Pretty interesting. I think all of us are stuck in a world that is in hyper drive, constantly. Our focus is literally in 40 different places. Take it from the multi-tasking queen. I can be on my computer, talking on the phone, listening to my parents tell me something from downstairs, and be doing 2 other tasks at the same time. Is this useful at times? Most, if you ask me. But, I do realize that the distractions from 20 different places can hinder me in every thing I am trying to accomplish.

The main point this article tries to drive is just committing to one thing, and working at it. It gives several examples that are so easy and relatable for that matter. Want to be healthier? Eat real food. Want to be an athlete? Awesome, start playing a sport. Every problem that we encounter has a super easy solution. But, unfortunately, we just like to make things 20x more difficult. I do at least. And to be honest, if you think back to why you never started going to the gym, it was just excuse after excuse after excuse. Putting it off, that’s an excuse. Saving it for later, that’s an excuse.

One of the things my mom always used to tell me, and still does, is if it’s important to you, then you’ll make time for it, regardless of how busy you may actually be. So true. If achieving different goals, accomplishing tasks, succeeding in life is that important to you, then just do it. This is to me as well. It’s all about making the first move.

My favorite line in the article is in the author’s closing, “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.” He couldn’t have said it better. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. We’re playing the part right now, right here. If we keep waiting around, or “practicing”, when are we ever going to get around to actually performing?

The saying “life is short” is something I’m sure 99.9% of us have heard at some point in our lives. And it’s true. Life is short. But it’s one thing to keep repeating that in your head, over and over again. Just go and do something! At the end of the day, whether you succeed or not, at least you went and acted. If anything, I’m sure you’ll get a good story out of it.

If you want to read the article, here it is:
A Simple Guide to Better Focus and Concentration: Lessons From a Lion Tamer

just laugh

I just got to Philadelphia yesterday to spend time with my family in the North East, and help my aunt with my older cousin’s wedding. It hasn’t quite reached the period of crazy franticness and chaos, since it’s still just a few people here, but we are enjoying our time during the calm before the storm.

I am the second oldest cousin on my mom’s side, and I was spending time with 2 of my younger cousins yesterday. Just catching up and goofing off as 3 girls would do when left alone. Cousin #4 out of 5 is about to start her freshman year of college. While we were taking care of random things that needed to get done for my aunt, she wouldn’t stop giggling. Every single moment this girl is giggling and laughing her way through every task. Out of her entire 18 year life, I can’t recall more than 2 times where I’ve actually seen her upset or angry or mad at anyone. Thinking back, I realized that she has just always been like this.

While I was seriously thinking about this weird behavior of hers, the psychology major in me immediately jumped to, “Oh, it’s just a defense mechanism. Oh, she’s just deflecting. Oh, it’s just this or that.” But, later that night I realized that she is just an incredibly happy individual. And I realized that even though she’s my younger cousin, this one little thing is something so much to learn from. She is always freaking happy!

When I talk about living a positive life and constantly having an optimistic outlook, she is literally the embodiment of just that. If someone says something can’t be done, she thinks otherwise. When someone isn’t up for a certain task, she is there, jumping right in and finishing the job. At the age of 18, she’s mastered a skill set and created a personality that most people don’t even achieve by the time they are 80. It really is incredible.

How can one girl just be this incredibly happy? It’s because she chooses to. She is the best example of being aware, and choosing to be the positive one. This is something really hard to do, and I myself struggle to see outside of myself and outside of the smaller picture. But, it comes to show that surrounding yourself with the right people make a huge difference in your life. Every minute I spend with her is just another minute that I feel better, more relaxed. It’s all about the energy you exude.

We have to be constantly aware of what kind of energy we are sending people? Our aura can indirectly and directly affect those around us. Whether she is aware of how great of an energy she gives people, I don’t know. But I know that it is something that I strive to be more mindful of.

Confused as to how to go about doing this? One thing that I do sometimes, is when I am eating breakfast, or doing something part of my daily morning routine, I set my intentions and think about a few people that I want to send positive energy to. I don’t “pray for them”, but I think about our relationship and all the great attributes that specific individual has, and just think to myself that I hope he/she has a good day. Literally just sending some positive and loving energy to them. Whether or not it reaches them, I don’t know. But I do know that for me, there are some days that are just better than others, and I know that someone, somewhere in this crazy world, is thinking about me, and hoping that I have a good day, that I am conquering my fears, that I am achieving my goals. And knowing that is really a great feeling.

Sending all of you positive energy and lots of love on this beautiful Wednesday morning!