Tag Archives: United States

my photo blog

So, I have a huge love for photography. When I graduated college, my parents got me a super awesome camera, that I tote with me when I travel. I decided to start a photo blog to post my pictures I take when I’m on the move. I’ll be posting pictures from my travels as they come.

Check out my first post on New York City!
www.nishitabphotoblog.wordpress.com

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at 4.57.48 PM

Vipassana experience: part 2

I’ll have to say, that the first couple of days were actually extremely boring for me. I found no mental stimulation, and focusing on my respiration and the reality of my breath was tedious and anything but exciting. Plus to top it off, it was raining the first few days, and I had holes in my shoes, which equals wet feet. Great.

Day 4 finally came, and we were actually going to learn vipassana meditation (up to this point it was just ana pana…focusing on the breath and concentrating your mind). Maybe I won’t be so bored anymore. This is where the real stuff was kicking in. It was an adjusted schedule this day. We had a sit from 3-5pm where we weren’t allowed to leave the room so that we can fully understand Goenke’s directions. So, we’re sitting, eyes closed, focusing on our respiration, focusing on the area underneath our nose and right above our upper lip, observing any sensations we may or may not be feeling there. Then, all of a sudden, he tells us to bring our attention to the top of our head, and slowly make our way down the body to the feet. We must make sure to feel every sensation, whether it be hot, cold, tingly, itchy, prickly, sweaty, whatever, in every nook and cranny of our body. And let me just tell you, woah. Like, freaking woah. I literally felt a movement of tingly-ness run through my body again and again. It was probably the craziest and surprisingly cool things I’ve ever witnessed. It was hard not to create an excitement towards this feeling that overcame me. To just observe and be neutral was a much harder task than I originally anticipated it to be.

Over the next several days, my meditations were just a bunch of ups and downs. My mind just would not stop on some days. I couldn’t stop thinking, and the music would not stop playing. There were days where I just could not concentrate and focus. At all. In the discourses every night, he would mention the importance of working hard. But not just working hard, but working diligently, patiently, persistently. I would walk back to bed some days thinking maybe I’m just not working hard enough, despite my serious effort to concentrate my mind. What was going on? I just wanted to concentrate. I just wanted to feel those sensations like that first time of doing vipassana.

Gji-sittingBW

Hey Goenkeji!

And there it was. I was creating craving and aversion before my very eyes. The one thing that Goenke said not to do. Well played Goenke, well played. Everything began to click towards the end of the middle. The root of misery, craving and aversion, I was creating for myself. I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I decided to work even harder than I was. I wanted to work diligently, patiently, and persistently, without wanting the good sensations and without wanting the bad ones to go away. I can’t say that my concentration and focus got exponentially better and that I could sit hours upon ends focusing on the sensations without being bombarded by my thoughts. Honestly, that happened a grand total of 2 times. Just two. All the other times it was a struggle. But, I worked. I worked hard. I know that this practice is going to come with time, and that’s okay.

humanism-daily encouragement

“The twentieth century was a century of war and peace, a century of politics and economics. The dawning twenty-first century holds the promise, however, to be a century of humanity and culture, a century of science and religion. I hope all of you will advance on this wonderful new path of humanism with pride and confidence, as gallant philosophers of action.”

Daisaku Ikeda, SGI President

 

What a wish for the 21st century! It’s time for humanity, and I love it!

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.

tick tick tick and tock.

Yesterday, I was at my cousin’s place just hanging out. All the kids here take essentially what I call extra tutoring classes for everything. And I don’t mean just the ones struggling, everyone. For every subject. It’s a little ridiculous and I wouldn’t have survived in school or college here. They call it “tuition” (pronounced tyoo-shun) and they literally go to these things for hours upon end. She was getting ready to go to her tuition for accounting. She’s taking the last step for the equivalent of our CPA in May. Anyways, I asked her how far it was from her house. And she goes, “Yeah, it’s pretty far. Like 15 minutes away.” I thought in my head, are you joking? 15 minutes in America is nothing. Even in big cities where you have crazy awesome public transit, 15 minutes is nothing. It takes me 20 minutes just to get to Wal-Mart from my house. I was really shocked at the perceptions of time here. Even when I landed at the airport, I asked my aunt and uncle how far home was, and they said it’s about 15 kilometers (which I quickly figured out in my head, based off of a 5k being 3.1 miles, is about 9ish miles away). To me, that was nothing. 9 miles is an easy 20 minute car ride. But here, 20 minutes seems like the equivalence of 3 hours. I thought back to the countless number of times I drove from college in Birmingham, AL all the way back home to Memphis. That was a long 4 hours. But 15-20 minutes…?

I started to think about the importance of time, and the utilization of it. We’re always complaining how we don’t have enough hours in the day. I wish I could count how many times I’ve said myself, or I’ve heard others say, 24 hours just isn’t enough. But, when you look at it from a bigger perspective, it really is. I’m 22 years old, that’s the equivalent to 192,720 hours. Now, tell me that’s not a lot of hours. So the question becomes, how can I stretch every minute I have as far as possible? How can I really utilize each hour that I’m awake so at the end of the day I’m not complaining that I didn’t have enough time to get X,Y,Z done.

The past few months, I’ve been living at home with my parents and just working on applications for grad school and stuff. But other than that, not doing a whole lot more. I have a routine, but I definitely have plenty of free time during the day when my parents are at work. A really good friend of mine semi-got onto me for not making the most of all this time I have. And, he’s right. Instead of watching 5 episodes of HIMYM, I could cut back to 2 and spend that extra 1.5 hours to read or perfect a skill, or learn something new. But, it’s just so much nicer to be passive than active, right? Well, we all know that quote, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” or some variation of it. So back to my original question, how can I stretch one minute to make it last “forever”?

Every morning, I wake up and meditate. Not for super long, but I try to for at least 30 minutes. I really recommend everyone just sitting by themselves for even as little as 5-10 minutes and just clear your mind and try to just focus on being in that moment. Anyways, this morning I was you know, meditating, and without thinking, my hand moved to my face to scratch an itch I had. Now usually, when you just quickly scratch your head or arm, that sensation goes away fast. Go ahead, try it right now. Experiment time: how long after do you feel that scratch? Ok, so I went and scratched my face. And I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but I kid you not, that sensation lasted for at least 5ish minutes, and more than that, I felt it deeper than just my outer most layer of skin, seriously permeating through however many layers of skin there is, down to muscle and bone.

I think this is the answer to my question. We need to figure out a way to make these sensations and eventual perceptions that we feel last longer than a few seconds. One way to do that is the ability to control our senses. This is one of the messages found in the Bhagvad Geeta. As humans, it is easy for our senses to control our mind. We like something, we’re attracted to that, we want to taste that, all of this then controls our actions. But, really, it should be the other way around. Our mind should be strong enough to control our senses. I don’t know the science or philosophy behind this, but if we can control our senses, than I think we can control what we feel, and make that feeling last longer than it really does. In turn, we might be able to make our time last longer, because we would be able to feel the after effects for much longer. Any experts out there please feel free to comment!

I woke up from my nap today (napping is somewhat mandatory here. Ha. Everyone takes a good hour, two hour nap if you’re home in the afternoon), and found a bird trapped inside the house. There are 3 windows we have, and the middle one was open, but it was trying to escape from the window that was closed. But, the funny thing was, the solution to his problem was literally right next to him. He just couldn’t see. This is so applicable in our lives, if not for you, than definitely for me. The answer to so many of our life questions is right in front of us, but the hard part is realizing that it’s there. My life has become now, more than ever, a spiritual endeavor to seek truth. And the solution to this thing we call life is here. It’s written by our ancestors and sages and saints and thousands of people who have come before us. But, if I don’t stop watching TV all day and try to uncover what’s out there, how am I going to be able to travel down this road? It’s as easy as stretching the minutes of my life as far as they’ll go.

Mosquito Bite Count: 2 | Serious Craving: back to Taco Bell. Yum.

the little bugger trying to get out.

he’s out. and free.

last one. he’s so cute.

open door policy

Kind of going along with my last post about India being a very personal state, everyone here always leaves their front door wide open throughout the day. As soon as you wake up, you go and unlock the door, and just leave the screen kind of closed, but basically wide open. People come and go as they please. The only time a doorbell is really needed, is at night when you’ve closed up shop to go and get ready for bed. I wonder what creates this strong feeling of trust amongst communities. It’s not as if there is zero crime in India, because there definitely is. Is that feeling of trust an inherent quality or an acquired one, and what is stopping us in America from trusting one another? There is an obvious element of fear in play here. As people we’re afraid of so many things: snakes, bugs, heights, etc. But isn’t a bit silly to be afraid of members of our own species? Lions aren’t afraid of other lions. To top it off, we are supposed to be rational animals, and that rationality should tell us to not be afraid of members of our own group, population, community. Rather, we should live in harmony with them.

In my yoga session today, we were working on flexibility motions. One movement involved reaching your arms wide open and raising them above your head and slowly bringing your hands into prayer hands. But the concept behind it is that we’re inviting all the positive energy of the elements and our environment into our being and into our soul. This is a pretty neat idea huh? We’re so quick to close ourselves off from the rest of the world, weary of what others can do to us, but why aren’t we open to others bringing positivity in our lives? This is something I am learning more and more every day. There is so much out there that I haven’t been exposed to. But why am I so reluctant to open myself to the vast amount of knowledge, culture, people, or whatever else that is out there? And again, I am brought to the fact that I’m afraid of change, and not only change, but afraid of where all these things can take me in life, and maybe just maybe I might like it. This is scary.

I think we can learn a lot about this from water. My aunt and uncle took me to the river front of the Sabarmati River here in Ahmadabad (there are pictures below). But the nature of water (haha, no pun intended hahaha), is such that it takes in anything that comes its way. It will eventually flush out whatever is not good for it, and retain things that are good (i.e. heat from the sun…positive energy…see where I’m going with this?). If you look at great rivers or oceans, they go on forever. It’s hard for us to see the end. The vastness is just one big wave (ha, I’m really on a roll today) inviting whoever and whatever is willing to take that first step in. But are you going to just wade in the pools by shore, or are you going to swim as far as you can go?

We should do the same with our lives, inviting in as many good things as we can into our lives. We need to create a reservoir of good energy that we can reach into whenever something negative comes our way, because in the end, good always outweighs bad.

Today, read a good quote, poem, do a good deed, tell your best friends something positive about them, tell yourself something positive about you.

Mosquito Bite Count: 3 | Serious Craving: a good American sandwich with provolone and Swiss cheese.

Boat ride on the Sabarmati River

Sabarmati River

Sabarmati River

it gets personal.

I finally have internet. This was seriously a pain and a half to get this thing set up. Anyways, I made it! That was a feat in itself, and I am pretty freaking proud of myself. I can now cross “travel internationally alone” off my bucket list (not that that’s really on my list, but figure of speech? idk). I’ve been in India for about 3ish days, and I am surviving. Ha. But, the heat is ruthless and the struggle is real y’all. I want to shower again as soon as I step out of the shower, it’s that bad. I’m just trying to ignore this aspect. But everything else is going awesome! I’ve started both my Sanskrit and yoga classes and I could not be more pleased with how they are each turning out. My teachers are so incredibly intelligent, and I really feel as though I’m going to get a lot out of these next couple months here! Time is going by so quick here already. Even when I’m not doing anything in the house, the clock is just ticking away. I don’t even realize that it’s afternoon time. I had some serious jetlag though when I got here. I just wanted to sleep all day. I still randomly get really tired, and I am still waking up around 4 in the am, and can’t fall asleep for an hour, and then I’m up around 6:15 since my yoga instructor comes around 7. My grandparents have this decent-sized balcony, and in the morning it’s actually cool enough for us to sit outside and take the class there. It’s pretty great.

I had forgotten how personal of a country India is, seriously. At the airport when I was waiting for my bags, I had my buggy and I was standing in front of it so I could grab my huge bags, and there were people hanging all over my buggy and my backpack and my neck pillow! Of course I didn’t say anything, because it didn’t really bother me, but whatever. People are just so close to one another here and it’s cool. Even when you go to a store or anywhere, everything is so informal. Everyone talks to each as if they’ve known each other since birth. What I’m getting out of that is, if we treat those we meet like family, I think that initial awkwardness can almost be eliminated. But, on top of that, it can make it easier for us to see the positive in others as opposed to the negative. I’m guilty of this as well, but we’re so quick to judge others, that we forget that we have flaws that make us imperfect as well. But, if we can just treat the other individual with a little bit of love, and a lot of respect, we’d get along with so many more people than we already do. This has been a recurrent theme of a lot of my conversations with different groups of my friends over the past few months. How can I see the positive light in others and why is it so hard to see the positive first? Over and over I kept saying just don’t focus on the flaws, accept them as they are. But, it’s even simpler than that—it’s something we’ve been taught since kindergarten—treat others the way we want to be treated. This is a practice that I definitely need to put more effort in.

My Sanskrit teacher put it in a really awesome way. He was teaching me the meaning/significance behind the word Ohm. It is a symbol of Brahma (God). But, it’s such a powerful syllable, that we have to pair it with something else. Brahma means vast, not just big, but so freaking huge that we can’t grasp how vast we’re talking. But, in that vastness is love for every single creature that walks this planet. I mean every single one. Our love for others and everything should be that vast, because God does not make mistakes when he’s creating. So, who are we to say that someone else or something is “bad”? If this supreme being/energy/ball of fire (whatever you call it/wanna call it) has made that other person or that other animal or whatever, do we really have the place to question the beauty of it? He went into more detail, but I just wanted to capture it real quick. My spiritual journey in life is getting a turbo boost here. My faith in my culture and my religion is becoming stronger, but the goal isn’t just religion. It goes beyond that. Religion is a path you can walk on, but spirituality is something so much greater than that. Everything I’m learning here is creating a stronger relationship between me and the Greater Force and Creator that encompasses this universe we live in.

Today, really appreciate the beauty of something, whether it be your family, someone you meet, nature, or even yourself.

Mosquito Bite Count: 6 | Serious Craving: Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

outside the gparents/circa 630am

outside the gparents/circa 630am