Tag Archives: nature

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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it’s the first day of spring y’all

Happy official first day of Spring! This is my absolute favorite season, hands down. Things are getting warmer, brighter, and just all around happier! (Not to mention, it’s the season of my birthday…just to make things even more awesome). I think it stands true that the weather change definitely brings about a change in the atmosphere, and in the environment that surrounds you.

So, this week I noticed a couple things that literally hit me. I didn’t realize or really pay attention to the details. First, I was sitting in our kitchen, and the blinds were open. It was a pretty clear day outside. I was having one of those moments where I was staring off into space, but all of a sudden I noticed that one of our growing trees in the background was sprouting green buds. This was not there the day before. It’s like it literally happened overnight. Then, yesterday, I was driving to work, did my normal work thing, and as I was coming home, I realized that the trees that line the entrance of our neighborhood were in complete full bloom. Okay, that for sure wasn’t there that morning.

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the trees that line the entrance of our neighborhood; so gorgeous in the spring time!

It was so amazing to see the beauty of spring literally appear before my eyes. And I couldn’t help but smile and marvel at the amazingness of nature.

I think there’s an important lesson we can learn from this season. When I think of spring, I think of rejuvenation and revival. After being cooped up inside all winter long, covered from head to toe in sweatshirts and fleece pants and wool socks (or is that just me?), it’s nice to be able to breathe again. It’s nice to be able to literally take in fresh air. There is definitely a rejuvenation and a revival in me the minute that the sun starts shining a little bit more and the days become a bit more longer. It’s that feeling of “I’m going to conquer and take on whatever feat and whatever challenge comes my way.”

As the flowers are blooming, and developing into something beautiful, I am reminded of our own constant development. We are never the same person we were just two minutes ago. And as cliche and ridiculous as this sounds, we are constantly blooming into something more and more beautiful each day. And that is the beauty of spring–shedding off the layers upon layers of things and just stuff that is holding us back…the layers that are hindering us from achieving our goals. With the rejuvenation that comes with spring, we’re able to shed those layers and really take on the task at hand.

Who says resolutions can only be made on January 1? I think the spring time is one of the prime times to set goals for yourself and really get to work with them. You always have the chance to start again. So why not take a lesson from the nature that surrounds you? Everything around us is coming to life again. It’s time for us to come to life too. Refresh, revive, rejuvenate.  Happy Spring!

*The image at the top of the post is one of the trees that line our neighborhood. The perfect capture of spring in a photograph. 

 

it’s in our nature.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet today, because I have a lot of posts coming up this week since it’s the start of Diwali. But, I really wanted to talk about this. About a week and a half ago was Sharad Poornima. It’s the day of the full moon. Tradition is that you make dhood paak. Dhood paak is sweetened milk with dried rice flakes put in it. What you do, is you make it and then put it out at night, and the coolness of the moon cools the dhood paak.

One of my favorite things about the Indian culture is the close relationship with nature that it encourages. There is so much that we can learn about ourselves and how to live our life from the characteristics and qualities of the trees, sun, moon, etc. Yes, I know this sounds very Pocahontas-esque, can you paint with all the colors of the wind and all that. But there is a lot of truth behind it.

In our scriptures, there is a branch named Ishavasyam which tells about how God exists in every atom in this universe, and there is a whole part on what we, as humans, have to learn through various aspects of nature. Our relationship with nature is one of the most important ones. If we can have true reverence towards our environment (and I mean our true environment, the one that nourishes us, protects us, etc.) than our spiritual relationship with the divine can really increase exponentially.

We call the Earth, “Pruthvi Maata” or Mother Earth. We call the Sun, “Suraj Dada” which means Grandfather, and we call the Moon, “Chanda Mama” or Uncle. There is a reason we have such personal names for them, and we don’t just call them Sun or Moon. We come from the Earth, so She is our Mother.

Suraj Dada teaches us to be radiant and brilliant, tejasvita. Chanda Mama teaches us to be calm and to bring serenity into our lives. Pruthvi Maata teaches us to be firm and stable. There is so much we can learn from our relationships, if we choose to. God has given us all these great things for a reason, not just to utilize, but to truly learn from. How else can we truly instill Godly qualities, than to learn from God’s creations themselves. And it starts with having true respect.

One of my favorite verses I was taught from a young age is said when you wake up and before you step out of the bed. The meaning is you’re showing your respects to Mother Earth and asking for forgiveness as you walk on Her throughout the rest of the day. It’s really a beautiful concept.

The world around us is glowing, and they’re just waiting for us to go to them. We are given the opportunity every day, so take an hour break from technology, facebook, emails, and seriously be in peace with this universe we’ve been blessed with. The beauty of being Human is we are given the capability to be appreciative and show our gratefulness. I think we all owe it Mother Earth to sit with her for a bit, and maybe learn a thing or two from her.

This week: embrace your inner Pocahontas.

Mosquito Bite Count: 4 | Serious Craving: Queso

just the moon. pretty amazing. literally lit the entire night.

yum! dhood paak (in the bowl)

it was crazy how bright the moon was that day

 

 

mind over matter

so what seems like the inevitable finally happened. i got sick. but, luckily not the stomach kind of sick that you would expect most foreigners to get (speaking of foreigner, i have an interesting post on this coming soon), but the fever and cold kinda sick. and let me tell you, it has not been fun. getting the chills and a cold straight from alaska is not the most pleasant feeling in this tropical feeling. so, i want to tell you guys how i got over this ailment.

it all started with what i thought were allergies. i’m highly allergic to what seems like every particle that’s in the air, so basically air. well, if you’re unaware, there is a lot of dust in india. i mean a lot. every where you walk, you’re inhaling a good amount of dust and pollution. so, it started off really mild, as in just a few sniffles and sneezed every now and then. typical allergy systems. nbd. my mom was coming in a few weeks and she was gonna bring my zyrtec for me.

well, she came, and i took that zyrtec everyday, but nothing happened. ok, still, it’s only been like 2 days, it’ll take some time to kick in. well, it’s safe to say something kicked in, but it wasn’t the zyrtec. i got sick. sick like with chills and runny nose, and i don’t want to do anything but lay in the bed sick because my body was so achy. bleh.

it didn’t help that i hate taking medicine. i really don’t want to put in anymore chemicals in my body than i do already, so naturally i got yelled at by aunt, grandmother, and mom for not going to the drug store to help shake this. i was gonna fight this and let it run it’s own natural course.

but here’s how i actually got over my sickness: i kept telling myself that i’m okay, and that i wasn’t sick. and i know it sounds silly, but self-pity isn’t going to help you feel better. i don’t know the exact psychology behind it, but it has a lot to do with attitude and perspective, and this is something i learned very early during college. if i’m going to have a negative attitude going in, then how can i expect to have a positive attitude during? positivity breeds positivity. it’s as easy as that.

our brain is the most powerful organ, and if we choose to actually use our brain for the better, then we can make a lot of situations into favorable ones. we have the capability to manipulate any situation. but are we going to manipulate it for the positive or negative?

here’s a daily encouragement that is perfect for this situation:

It is only natural that sometimes we fall sick. But we must see that sickness as a sickness that originally exists in life, based on the principle of the Mystic Law. In other words, there is no reason to allow yourself to be controlled by illness, for it to fill your life with suffering and distress. From the standpoint of eternal life through the three existences, your fundamentally happy self is incontrovertibly established.  Daisaku Ikeda

Mosquito Bite Count: I squashed a mosquito 5 minutes ago | Serious Craving: Olive Garden Bread Sticks

peace and love all.

one month report

woah hey folks. it’s been a week since my last post! what’s up with that?! sorry, I’m losing track of time here like it’s my job. My mom got in yesterday, which officially marks one month of being here. I have a lot of posts I’m going to be publishing/posting in the next few days, so hope you guys are still enjoying reading about my experiences of my life in India. But, in the meantime, I wanted to do an update post on how I am faring as far as my goals go. (In case you missed my first post about why I’m here and what I want to accomplish, check it here!)

So, goal numero uno: to become a yoga fean. man, let me tell you guys, I am having so much fun learning about yoga and the different asanas and everything. I can definitely see growth here. I used to make fun of my my mom when she would sit in the house and do pranayama, but now here I am, spending 20ish minutes each morning practicing it. I am beginning to appreciate my body more and more. I’m realizing that I do need to take care of it, physically, emotionally, and mentally. There is a whole new meaning for me that “your body is a temple”. There is so much truth to that, and I need to start literally treating it like a temple. By taking care of it, not putting toxins in my body, etc. I’m really learning this from my daily yoga practice. And, it’s awesome!

Goal numero dos: an understanding of sanskrit. My classes have become a mix of philosophy and Sanskrit and it’s amazing. I’m learning so much about the complexities of life and what our ancestors and how they wanted us to live our lives. I think everyone should take the time to study their roots. It’s filling a void in my life, and you begin to appreciate who you are a lot more.

Three: traveling. Though, I haven’t traveled outside of Ahmedebad yet, I’ve been doing a lot of sight seeing within the city, and am learning a lot about the history and culture of this city. I can’t wait until we travel outside of the city.

So overall, things are going great, and I’m proud of myself for having the guts to decide to come here and really work on my personal growth. I can’t wait to see what the next 2 months bring. 🙂

Mosquito Bite Count: 1 I think | Serious Craving: Apparently it’s Free Taco day at Taco Bell on Tuesday.

 

Here’s a heads up on my upcoming posts: my trip to Gandhi Ashram (Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram in Ahmedebad), Sharad Purnima and our relation with nature, and much more!

it’s like a web

It’s been a few days since my last post. nothing extremely exciting has happened. I think I’ve finally gotten settled in and have a routine to follow everyday. The days are still going by pretty quick. I mean, I’ll be home in 70 days (and for all you Christmas extravagants like myself, that’s 70 more days until Christmas). There haven’t been any monkeys since my encounter on Friday with them. Thank the freaking goodness. But, I did see a peacock! My aunt’s friend has a weekend house about 25ish minutes away from the city (long way away, remember?), so I went with them yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of peacocks in the area. I didn’t get any pictures, but peacocks are everywhere in India, so I’m sure I’ll get one soon enough. Fun fact: the peacock is the national bird of India. Not sure what the U.S.’s is. I think Tennessee is the mockingbird. Not really sure though.

Anyways, I guess the other cool place I went to yesterday was the Kakaria Lake (wiki link). It’s this huge lake in the middle of Ahmedabad. Definitely check out the link. Lots of cool things go on in lake area–they have a zoo, aquarium, a train at night, light shows, food vendors, etc. My aunt and uncle took me at what seemed the crack of dawn for a morning walk. I kid you not, when I say this place was JAM PACKED. I didn’t realize there were so many morning walker enthusiasts on a Sunday morning here. Fortunately, it was somewhat cool outside.

Where I’m getting at with this, is going to the lake reminded me of a verse I learned in Sanskrit class the day before:

Shashina cha nisha nishayaa cha shashi

Shashina nishaya cha vibhati nabaha I

Payasaa kamalam kamalena payaha

Payasaa kamalena vibhati saraha II

Here’s the rough translation: The moon shines because of the night and the night shines because of the moon. So, the sky shines because of both the moon and the night. In the same way, the lotus looks beautiful because of the water, and the water looks beautiful because of the lotus. So, the lake looks beautiful by both the lotus and the water.

Essentially, what this shloka, or verse, is getting at is this ideaa of “paraspara”. What it means, is that we are who we are because of the relationships we have in our life. A husband is because of his wife, and a wife is because of her husband. A shopkeeper is not a shopkeeper without customers. A brother is not a brother without a sister, etc. You guys get the drift. But, this idea of interdependence is pretty cool if you think about it. We’ve created a huge tangled web with the rest of the world and the people who live in it. Pretty neat huh? It really hits on the quote “no man is an island”.

I went to Texas this summer, and remember having a conversation with a friend a long the same lines. When I wake up and have a cup of coffee, it’s not just me that poured the cup. But, you have to think back to the origin of the coffee plant. Someone had to plant it, harvest it, bag it, ship it, package it, ship it again, shelf it, etc. Our actions are never really solely done by us and us alone. There is someone else always involved in the process.

I think this is especially important for anyone on any kind of spiritual path. The relationships we create in our life all play a huge role in our ultimate relationship with the Divine. We are all a little piece of the Supreme, so by the friends we pick and the relationships we nurture, we are surrounding ourselves with small pieces of the Ultimate. So, don’t ever feel like you’re alone in any situation. There is always a presence of someone else, an invisible hand if you will, that has helped you get where you are. Having this attitude can bring humbleness into our lives, and humility is a virtue all religions endorse.

Mosquito Bite Count: It’s never ending; 5 | Serious Craving: Caramel Lattee

entrance gate to the lake

how pretty is the sunrise?

if you look closely, you can see different color rings around the sun, getting brighter and brighter.

an island in the middle.