Tag Archives: God

’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!

daily encouragement: creativity

And to go along with my last blog post, here’s a daily encouragement on creativity

“It is important that we have the inner richness to be able to look up at the stars or the moon and compose a poem once in a while. When we open wide our minds and fix our gaze on the universe, we fix our gaze on our own life.” -Daisaku Ikeda

I am superwoman

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I find it really funny how things come into your life when they do. Every day, there is some sort of subtle reminder of why you are here, or one that helps you stay focused on the path that you’re walking.

Yesterday and the day before I had a breakdown, and literally thought the entire world was against me. I felt as though nothing was going the way I’ve been anticipating, and all in all I was just really upset and frustrated. I even had to step out of work for a second to regain myself. It was just one of those days.

I had attitude of “I can’t do this. I’m no superwoman. I am just one person trying to get by. There’s no way that I can handle everything that is on my plate right now.” Basically, it was bad. I let it affect a majority of my morning, which unknowingly could have affected the people around me. I decided to succumb to what I needed to, and with a pouty face, I agreed to an option that I didn’t want to agree with. Whatever. I’ll make things work.

I got home feeling a little better. My students this week at summer conference are so great, and they helped turn my day around. I went about my evening doing my normal routine. But, when I was on my dad’s iPhone, I saw that he has an app that has a bunch of Swami Vivekananda quotes. I opened it and began flipping through all of the quotes, and I stumbled upon this one:

“The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.”

My, my, my, what a kick in the rear end. “And the greatest error is to say that you are weak, that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.” I realized that at that exact moment, God was giving me a boost of confidence. I am capable of handling everything that is on my plate right now. There is no “I can’t”. If anything, I am superwoman. I know it may sound a little snobby, but we are all capable of being superhero-like. We all have that power. We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have some sort of can-do attitude (as cheesy as that sounds). I’m serious. I think back to everything that I have accomplished in my 22 years of life, and I realize that if I didn’t think I was a superwoman, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did. I wouldn’t be as proud of myself or the life that I am living if I didn’t think myself a superwoman.

I am successful and awesome. We all are successful and awesome individuals. We are not down-trodden. But, we can be our greatest enemies if we begin to believe that we’re anything but superman or superwoman. I am beginning to realize that our attitude and perspective on life is one of the biggest factors as to how we get by day to day. Are you going to live a life of optimism? Or pessimism? Because at the end of the day, even a glass half full of water, is still have full of air.

Happy Thursday!

frustration

It’s been so long since my last blog post, and to be honest with you, I don’t have a lot to say. Life is busy and hard right now. I’m at a point where there are a million things that I need to get done, and that to-do list isn’t getting any shorter and time soon. I had it coming though. Everything was too easy to last as long as it did. But, that’s the beauty of life. There really aren’t any shortcuts and it’s not smooth-sailing 100% of the time.

Lately, I’ve been praying for strength to face life. Ironically, I just ran into this quote, “When I Asked God for Strength, He Gave Me Difficult Situations to Face.” I can’t say that the situations I’m facing are difficult, but they are definitely challenging. They are frustrating. They are annoying and never-ending. Yeah, I guess you can say that they are difficult.

This little quote was such a huge reminder to me, that I am given everything I asked for. Anyone that crosses my path, anything that comes my way are all things that I need at that point in my life. I am creating every moment in my own life. There’s no reason to deflect my frustration or anger or annoyance on anyone else or any other thing.

It’s true, I have been really frustrated and annoyed here and there lately. And, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see nothing wrong. Sometimes, it takes someone else to show me that I’m straying from my true self. Maybe I don’t want to admit it. But, if you’re lucky, you have really awesome friends who will look at you and say, dude, you’re wrong. The only reason I am frustrated is because I allow myself to be frustrated.

This is all a very reflective blog post. These feelings are being unfolded as I type this. It’s amazing what a little introspection can do for you. We have to have awareness of ourselves, and be mindful of what we are exuding to the people and things that surround us every day.

Are you sending positive or negative vibes? You have that power in your own hands. You have the ability to be a source of good energy. I have the power to be a source of good energy for anyone that crosses my path. All humans are inherently good, and all of us can be a fountain of positivity if we aren’t afraid to.

Here’s to hopefully a less frustrated week, and more understanding of the feelings of my own creation.

Book Review: Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources (part 1)

I just read a phenomenal book that I wanted to share with you all.discovering-your-hidden-spiritual-resources I finished reading Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources written by Eknath Easwaran just a day or two ago. I’ve mentioned a few quotes from the book here and there, but I wanted to do a complete review. There are some things from the book that I want to do entirely separate posts for, but that’s a different conversation for another day. This book covers a lot of material, so I’m just going to talk about the highlights. It’s a great book, so I recommend buying it and reading it for yourself!

So, what is this book all about? Throughout the entire book, Easwaran takes the eight Beatitudes and talks about how we can implement those qualities into our own life, and how meditation makes the process easier. He calls each of these qualities a “spiritual law” which will help us to peel off the layers upon layers we’ve created in our lives, so that we can seriously uncover the “uncreated light” within us.

What are these qualities he speaks of?
Purity: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Humility: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Simplicity: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
PatienceBlessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
LoveBlessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
MercyBlessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
PeacemakingBlessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
DesireBlessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Easwaran starts the book off by talking about original goodness, and uses this idea as the basis for the rest of the book. What is original goodness? Original goodness is this idea that our core, as humans, is good. That we are inherently good, not bad. Because of this, we don’t have to figure out how to make ourselves good, because we are. All we have to do is get rid of the layers we’ve piled on ourselves that is covering that inner, pure layer of goodness. He says, “…before original sin was original innocence. That is our real nature.” He goes on to say that that we all have the capacity to reach God. But, it takes a lot of effort to meet that end. We are all seeds of God. However, we need to put that goal in our life. Having that goal makes us work hard to attain it. We have to realize that God is our home, and that is where we ultimately belong. Home is where the heart is, and the heart is the seat of love. He quotes Mechtild of Magdeburg, “The soul is made of love, just as the body is made of flesh–and must ever strive to return to love. Therefore, it can never find rest nor happiness in other things. It must love itself in love. By its very nature it must seek God, who is love.” I thought that this was just really beautiful.

How do we know when someone has reached this state? When he/she has “an unbroken awareness of the presence of God in all creatures.” They exemplify the qualities of “unfailing compassion, fearlessness, equanimity, and the unshakable knowledge, based on direct, personal experience, that all the treasures and pleasures of this world together are worth nothing if one has not found the uncreated light at the center of the soul.” I don’t know about you guys, but that state, the state in which you can seriously see God in every single soul and every single living thing on this planet, is really hard to get to. I mean, unfailing compassion. I still have mean thoughts going through my head when someone says something bad to me. But to still love that individual and see the God in them, despite that person being mean to you…that is such a Godly state if you ask me. I’d like to think that I know nothing I own and want and “need” has no worth, but honestly at this point in my life, I would have a hard time parting with my nail polish collection. I need some serious progress folks. But, in the end, this task isn’t easy. It’s daunting, scary, unpredictable. But, I don’t think God would have made it easy in the first place. We have to be aggressive on our spiritual path to find the Ultimate Truth, or else we’ll just do everything at slow, unfinished pace, and that’s not development to me.

Meditation: Easwaran talks about how meditation is a great and powerful tool we can use to start that introspection process, and really begin to see our true selves. (Y’all, I’m beginning to see a pattern here in my life. Meditation is the key to everything. Seriously. I’m hearing it everywhere).

Ok, what I’m going to do now, is write a synopsis of each of the Beatitudes in another post. There are a few that I want to go into in-depth detail in subsequent posts, because there was just a lot of good material in them. For now, however, I’ll try and talk about the crux of each spiritual law.

renewal and hope

Happy Easter to all of my friends! What a beautiful day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No, I’m not a Christian. But, I believe in paying our respects to anyone who has worked their whole life to help humanity lead a path of spirituality and devotion to something greater than ourselves.

I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter timeline, and I saw so much love and hope. I saw so much devotion. When my parents and I were driving to and from our Sunday place of worship, I saw the churches packed to the brim, everyone walking out in their best Easter attire. And it made me happy. It made me happy to think that even though it was rainy and gloomy outside, there was so much love, love for a savior who has given hope.

The idea of hope is the most beautiful and amazing thing about any religion. In today’s world, we are consistently downtrodden. We have a lack of faith in ourselves, the people we are surrounded by, our communities. When you look around, so many people are focusing on the negative. He’s bad at that. She’s terrible because she did this. This city sucks because fill in the blank. During elections, big sporting events, major world events, crises, whatever, we’re always rooting for the other person to lose. I mean, just check Facebook and Twitter. Day to day, we forget about the concept of love and humanity.

But not on days like today, because we’re reminded of the prospects of hope and renewal. We’re reminded that we do have a second chance. We remember that we’re not fighting this life battle alone. We are surrounded by millions of other people who are going through exactly what we are going through.

Hope. Something so easy to lose. But, aren’t we so blessed that all we have to do is open a book, the Bible or the Geeta or the Quran, and there is God telling us “Don’t fear. I am always by your side.” How can we not be filled with peace when we read Godly words like that? We are never alone in any action. What a relief it is to hear that, to know that even during my weakest time or my lowest moment, I don’t have to face that alone. Because I have that reassurance, that hope, that He is always with me.

I think these reminders are so important, because it really is so easy to forget. But, that’s just the way society works. And it sucks. But, days like to day, days that aren’t so sucky, we’re reminded of the beauty that is love and hope and devotion. There is something so much bigger, greater, vaster than just ourself and the bubble that we live in.

We are loved by the Supreme and that in itself is the biggest reassurance I can think of. Today is such a perfect day for that reminder. That we are loved and always will be, knowing this creates a beacon of hope that is never ending. I need a reminder more often than not, but it’s always there.

I hope the spirit of today lasts forever in our hearts. What am I taking from this day besides remembering the constant hope I know I have? To learn to love selflessly, and not just God, but myself, my family, my friends. Sure, it’s a little far-fetched, but I’m not alone!

Happy Easter everyone. I hope your day was filled with love, devotion, and lots and lots of hope.

final thoughts on Vipassana experience

By the end of the week, I was able to sit longer periods without hating the pain in my knees and back. The more I observed my physical discomfort, the quicker it went away, even if during that one moment of observation.

I can’t say that I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish coming into the 10 days, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. But, I did learn some things that I’m deeming as important in my life journey, and will definitely play an important role in seeking the Truth.

1. I know I’m an emotional person. I react to every situation that comes at me. I now realize the extent to which this happens. How can I live a balanced life when I don’t even have a balanced mind?
2. I left Vipassana with a greater awareness of myself. I can definitely feel the sensations on my body, and I realize that they are there now. Do I still go in for that scratch on my nose. Yeah, a lot of the times, especially when I really can’t stand it. But, at least it’s not an unconscious act. I know that I am reacting. It’s not just another motion of life. Awareness-it’s a pretty amazing thing.
3. I left a huge grief in Kaufman, Texas. One that I wasn’t aware still hung tight to me. I realize that I let past situations determine my future sometimes, when it’s my current actions that determine my future. I’m learning to let go.
4. I have an attachment issue. To my friends, families, ideas, schools of thoughts. They’re in my comfort zone, and I’m scared to venture out. As much as I’d like to think that I’m open-minded, and as much as I am, I am actually very limited to what I am open-minded about. When it comes to spirituality, I like what I’m doing. Like I said, if I went to this pre-India, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. My world is being filled with so many new and exciting things, and it makes me so excited for my future, and the path I’ve decided to walk on. To become closer to the Divine, to have a real and fulfilling relationship with the Supreme involves so much more than I ever imagined, and I am realizing this a lot now. If I keep focusing on the one or two things that I don’t like about an idea, a person, a school of thought, I could be missing out on so much more that means a lot more. What is wrong with me!? At least this realization is coming now. Better late than never.
5. I want to live my life with so much love and compassion for all beings and creations that walk or sit this world.

At the end of the day, can I say that Vipassana Meditation is the technique I want to practice here on out? No, I can’t. It’s something I’m still learning about, and figuring out if it’s for me or not. But I can say that it has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about what kind of life I should be living, and want to live. A balanced life. A neutral life. A positive and hard-working lifeA life filled with love.

I am so in love with life right now, and I am so in love with the path that God is sending me on. My friend describes it as scary, but I like to describe it as fun and exciting.

May all beings be happy.

daily encouragement

“Faith manifests itself as wisdom. The purpose of our faith is to become wise, so that we can live wisely. The desire to save others becomes merely an abstract goal if those who practice faith cannot communicate with their own children nor build strong and happy families.”
-Daisaku Ikeda

back for a day

So, we got back from our mini trip really late Friday night. All I can say, is what an excellent time I had. I don’t really know where to start to describe everything, or even if what I say in words on this post will 1. make sense, or 2. give my trip justice.

Like I said, we went to Somnath to visit a few temples in the area that are important in the Hindu religion. It was actually pretty neat. For those of you who don’t know, in Hinduism, we believe that God takes human form when society is in need of being put back on a path of good. When he takes a human “birth”, it’s called an avatar. There have been many avatars to come, but one of them, Krishna, is one most people have heard of. Anyways, 2 of the temples we visited were locations where Krishna spent his last few moments in His human body. It was pretty neat to see where He took his last steps.

We also went to Diu, a city that’s very island-like (actually, I think it is an island. If not, it’s definitely a beach). It was founded by the Portuguese, and is seriously one of the prettiest places I’ve seen in this area (granted, it was like an 8 hour drive, but whatever). There, we hung out on the beach for a few, and went to another temple, and just chilled. There’s an old Portuguese fort that we checked out as well.

On the way back, we stopped by another palace in Gondal (all these names sound very Lord of the Rings-esque. haha). Finally today, me, my parents, and my aunt and uncle took a day trip to this huge step-well (essentially, a well, but you can take steps down to the bottom) and a Surya Mandir (Sun Temple) about 2 hours away from Ahmedebad. Again, both places were so immaculate and beautiful (see pictures below).

All I have to say is from the past several days, is wow. If there was one thing I saw this past weekend, it was a whole lot of happiness. We stayed with a family who had 18 people living in their house. Their livelihood consisted of fishing. They lived a very simple life, but if there was one thing I saw, it was how freaking happy they were. They just felt as though they were so blessed by God, that not having things that I feel like I need (my iPhone, laptop, my 50+ pairs of shoes, etc) wasn’t even important to them. Talk about living a simple and humble life. Something that I’m over here trying to do, but am no where close to.

There is just so much history and culture in this world that I am so incredibly unaware of. I really feel as though life is too short to just sit in your house all day and not experience what’s out there. A lot of people know I am an avid traveler, and will take any opportunity that is presented to me to visit new places. I love long distance travelling. But, what I learned from this past weekend, is that you don’t have to travel far to literally experience a slice of history. The Surya Mandir is 1,000 years old, and it was just a short trip away. No one ever said that travelling consists of going to places every single person in the world has heard of. There are so many treasures in not-so-well-known places, like, Veraval (the small fishing community where we stayed this past weekend).

The new year is starting soon, and the first thing I’m doing when I get back to Memphis is planning out the next few months of places I can go and visit, even if it is just visiting a few friends somewhere, or going to some retreat. I’ve always found that my money spent on experiences rather than things gives me a better understanding of who I am, and I leave with a ton of awesome memories that I can put down in my life book. So save up a few bucks here and there, and go, get out and see something new!

Tomorrow, we leave for Udaipur and Shreenathji for a 2-day trip. I can’t wait, despite the early 5am leaving time. Another city to conquer and learn about, another opportunity to find out something about myself I didn’t know.

all the fishing boats at the harbor at the end of the day

all the fishing boats at the harbor at the end of the day

all the boats in Veraval

all the boats in Veraval

beach at Diu

beach at Diu

such a beautiful beach

such a beautiful beach

palace at Gondal

palace at Gondal

Adalaj Step Well

Adalaj Step Well

a small view looking up

a small view looking up

oh! hey mom and dad!

oh! hey mom and dad!

Surya Mandir

Surya Mandir

really intricate carving throughout the entire mandir

really intricate carvings throughout the entire mandir

just chillin at Surya Mandir

just chillin at Surya Mandir

If you’re not sure where to start your traveling journeys, check out NatGeo’s Best Trips 2013, including MEMPHIS. But, seriously. Great list of places!