On Mothers and Perspectives

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How can I write about a Mother’s perspective when I am not one according to the world’s definition? One way to attempt it is to write from my viewpoint as a child of a mother. Another way to write about it is through listening, watching and observing the Mothers around me. Yet another way is to consider the varied qualities and roles that ‘Mothers’ play in the world. Let me dive in and try a blend of all of the above.

The biological mother is the physical reason for our being, the conveyor of our existence. All of us have a connection to her through blood, tissue, genetics, and in most cases, nurture and nutrition. From a woman’s perspective, becoming a mother (or wanting to be one) requires a complex investment of physical, emotional, mental and financial energy. My own mother told me the stories of her challenges of getting married at nineteen, and then almost dying while giving birth to my older brother within a year. I often wonder – how would have her life been different if she hadn’t been handed the Mother role at that age? Yes, her three children were her great pride and joy, and yet the way she talked about her dreams, I sometimes wonder – what more could she have accomplished in life if she had had more ‘freedom’ in her role? Do you ever wonder the same about your biological mother?

There are many whose lives have had little influence of their biological mothers. For them, grandparents, fathers, foster parents and even teachers, may have taken over the traditional ‘mother’ role of nurturing, caring and loving. What is the perspective of those children and their ‘mothers’? I happened to stumble upon this perspective through my neighbor’s writing this week. It is titled “The Strength of Surrender” – I invite you to read her powerful story where she says that ‘Courage is a Mother’s first name’. Yes, the perspective of courage can often be overlooked by those who have lived through an ‘ideal’ upbringing – if there is even such a thing as ‘ideal’.

Yet another perspective on Mothers and children is that if the “Universal Mother”. I often refer to “Mother Earth” or “Gaia” as the one that provides unlimited and unconditional love and caring to humans, animals and plants alike. Mother Earth’s various energies manifest in diverse ways, recognizing and filling the needs of growth, development and healing for all her beings. The Universal Mother evokes a perspective of deep gratitude within me – what m’a your perspective on her?

The fourth perspective I would like to present for your consideration is that of the Divine Mother. For me, She represents the ultimate ‘safe harbor’, the ever available giver of warmth, understanding and forgiveness, the fountainhead showering constant love, and the firmament of grace and protection for her beloved children. Every instance of remembrance of such a Divine Mother has the tendency to fill me with light, lightness and joy. How about you? Do you have a similar perspective about her existence, her presence in your life?

I realize that I may not have covered all the perspectives of Mothers today. In fact, it isn’t possible to do so. There are those for whom the Mother perspective is that of pain, suffering, estrangement and more. There are those who have lost a Mother, and Mothers who may have lost children recently. There are those…

My hope and prayer is that whatever your perspective on Mothers may be, may it in some way eventually help you walk towards more love, more light, more healing and more living.

Namaste,

Kumud

P.S. Join us in our weekly chat, Sunday May 9 at 9am ET / 630pm India with the #SpiritChat family on Twitter. I will bring some of my Mom’s favorite chai and snacks – @AjmaniK

The Spirit of Goodness

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It is the first of May. Over the last ten days of April, my mind has been all over the place with all that has been happening in India. If my social media feeds are any gauge, a lot of my friends and family are in the same situation. We are all witnessing the pain, the grief, the suffering – some are in the midst of it and others, who are at a distance, are doing whatever they can to offer help and support.

The anger and rage, despair and despondency, seemed to grow exponentially, as the situation deteriorated at a rapid rate. It seemed that almost everyone that I talked to knew someone who was affected in a big or small way by the virus’ spread in India. A lot of folks, including me, were asking – how could this (be allowed to) happen?

It isn’t unusual for us to ask this question when unprecedented pain, suffering, and death is brought upon humanity – how can a loving God (or higher power) allow so many to be subject to all this? How can this be a just outcome? Where is the goodness in all this?

I believe that these are all good questions to ask. I also believe that darkness and dark times can awaken us, remind our hearts of our empathetic nature, and inspire us to yet again focus on creating goodness and healing through our actions.

My belief in goodness is being re-affirmed every day by the same social media streams that are carrying pleas for help. For every individual plea, there seem to be dozens of people stepping up with ideas, resources, messages of hope and prayers. Non-government organizations, faith groups, corporations, and countries are taking action to provide all kinds of resources.

In the midst of the tragedy, when I refocused my mind, my heart began to see an awakening that led to an outpouring of goodness and goodwill towards India and her people. The questioning and blame setting and analysis of ‘what went wrong’ will continue for a while, and yet there is affirmation that goodness of human hearts is alive and well.

Hundreds of pop-up food kitchens. Folks lining up to donate plasma. NGOs creating makeshift hospitals. Doctors creating zoom networks to provide free consultation around the clock across the country. Teenagers creating “GoFundMe” campaigns to raise money for UNICEF India. Healthcare and frontline workers working untold hours at grave personal risk. The list of goodness and good people goes on and on…

What have I learnt? Darkness is an opportunity to create more goodness, or awaken the reservoir that already exists in our heart. We belong to goodness, because we have breathed it through the live of our parents, our caregivers, our well wishers, our friends and family, our spiritual guides and lights, and even the kindness of strangers.

If there is a winning or losing, then Goodness wins. Let us remember, and stay focused on helping the helpers who embody the hearts and hands of the divine.

Namaste,

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly conversation, Sunday May 2 at 9amET / 630pm India. India and I are grateful for your love and grace, and look forward to sharing tea and cookies with you again. – @AjmaniK

Sunrise on a morning walk. April 2021.

On Life and Dignity

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What is dignity, and why is it important to us as human beings and our human experience? Rather than try to define dignity in physical terms, I feel it easier for me to define its experience. One such experience was the soft spoken-ness of my grandmother, which was inherited by her children, and perhaps by me to some extent. By lowering their voices and weighing their words, particularly in times of great stress, all my elders showed me that dignity can flow from speaking softly, kindly and with deliberation.

Why may we need dignity in speech? Perhaps because it isn’t even possible to have dignity in our actions if our speech is corrupted by indignities of the mind.

How may one develop dignity of thought? One way is to purify the heart, whence the mind’s layers of dirt get flushed with silence, beauty and awareness of the truth that we are.

Yes. We are back to the work of the heart’s purity. One way to purity is to work with an attitude of loving service, as we remind ourselves, and those we may be privileged to serve, of our shared human dignity. Every verdict that “bends the long arc of the moral universe a bit more toward justice”, every invitation by someone to break bread with them, every softly spoken word whispered to us in the hour of our awareness, seeds dignity within us.

It is with these new seeds of dignity that we find the courage to rise yet again, and continue our walk towards that permanent love and grace which is available to all. Our walk need not be complete or complex. In fact the simpler the better, the more dignified it usually is.

This reminds me. It’s time for a cup of tea. One join me. Namaste,

Kumud

P.S. Join in our weekly chat on Twitter, Sunday April 25 at 9amET / 630pm India as we share some tea, fruit, flowers and cookies. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The simplicity, purity and dignity of Spring

Love and Forgiveness by @AwakeningTrue

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Love and Forgiveness 

True forgiveness is like a rainbow – a rare and beautiful gift, precious and elusive.  As a child, I was often told that it was important to “forgive and forget.” No one explained that the step of forgetting – of letting go of our hurt and pain – may be even more important than the act of forgiving.  I understand that now that it is. 

I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness and when I consider the importance of forgiveness in all of the relationships in my life, and in everyone’s life, many questions come to mind… 

… Is it actually possible to “let go” of hurt?

… Do the people who have forgiven me “hold on” to the pain or sadness I caused them?

… Have I truly forgiven someone if I re-live, from time to time, the pain or sadness I experienced?

… How do I know, beyond a doubt, that I have been forgiven?  How does anyone ever know? 

The answers to these questions, and the mechanism for letting go of pain, seem unknowable to me until I add the most essential element in my life: LOVE. 

When we love unconditionally, and when this love guides our thoughts about others and our actions towards them, I know it is possible to “forgive and forget.”  When we love someone unconditionally, the way we hope they love us, we recognize that in our shared humanity we all make mistakes.  We apologize when we sometimes say or do things that hurt others, things we deeply regret.  Others apologize when they hurt us.  And if we are wise, we choose to love and to let go because if we do not, we continue to feel the pain we experienced or caused, and it remains a heavy burden to carry.  Only love can enable us to fully forgive, to let it all go, to drop the burden and move on.  Only unconditional love can help us wipe the slate completely clean.

We are all wonderfully imperfect, and in loving and forgiving ourselves and each other, we experience the same sense of awe we feel when suddenly a rainbow appears after a storm.  The miracle of a rainbow.  The miracle of true forgiveness. The miracle of unconditional love. 

Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino — @SharonDAgostino, @AwakeningTrue and @SayItForwardNow 

Author’s bio: I believe in the power of love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and gratitude. And I believe that each of us has an important role in shaping a kinder, gentler, more compassionate world for all. 

Kumud’s note: I am delighted that Sharon will be hosting #SpiritChat for all of us on Sunday, April 18 at 9amET / 1pmUTC / 630pm India on twitter. I am so looking forward to “Love and Forgiveness”, and all the grace that emerges from her leading the conversation on this topic. Thank you, Sharon!

Rainbow of Forgiveness – Photo by Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino

 

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On Raising Intuition

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It is the kind of spring morning where the Sun shining on your back warms you just enough to be comfortable in a t-shirt as you watch the blackbirds flit back and forth across the lake between the rows of cattails that line either side of the water channel leading away from you. There is an ineffable feeling of peace as you feel the breeze waving its silken scarf across the lake’s surface to send the slightest of ripples adrift among the floating patches of green algae.

The two boys on the other side of the lake are blissfully swinging away without a care in the world as they launch their legs upwards towards the stars to go a bit higher with every swing. Your gaze scans the bank of trees on your right and you notice that they are much greener and fuller near the sky than they are at their roots. A blackbird has discovered that it’s safe to sit on the fence and pick on the block of suet hanging off of the fence post, even as the puppy walks the fence line right below her.

And so it goes. The mind occasionally wonders about the reasons for being, about the causes and the effects, while the heart says – hush, observe, feel, absorb – tune into your intuition to discover depths of capacity that you could or would never fathom if your mind were in charge. Feeling without clinging or grasping allows intuition to shine through our translucent heart. Intuition sets our heart free to feel so deeply that we raise our level of feeling. And so goes the cycle of life.

As my daughter reminded me on her birthday this week, and I quote: “Life is not linear. It is actually more non-linear than we want to accept or admit”. The mind has trouble with non-linearities, but the intuitive heart rarely does. The heart probably uses every experience of non-linearity, every unexpected happening, every serendipity, to slowly raise its level of intuition. Try this, experience that, adjust this, try again.

And then, one day, you wake up to an awareness that you have raised your intuition, step by step, to progress from belief to trust to faith. How may we have such faith? We sense a permanence of light and lightness within, a deeper intensity, an expansiveness, a sense of wholesomeness and wholeness in our heart. 

What may be the effect of such faith? It propels, even compels us, to spread goodness through empathy in action. It inspires others to be more empathetic, connected and trusting. In loving and living through intuition, we can forever change the orientation of our hearts, and connect more deeply to the seekers around us.

Namaste, intuitive seekers. May we all find joy in the raising.

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat and gathering with the #SpiritChat community on Sunday, April 11 at 9am ET / 630pm India. Bring some intuitive experiences to share – I will bring some tea and cookies, and yes, questions. – @AjmaniK

A Lily - After the Rain

The Heart’s Fullness

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For most of the years that the weekly #SpiritChat has been around, we take a break from our Sunday morning Twitter gathering on Easter Sunday. It has become a bit of a tradition, if you will.

This Easter Sunday, we are going to ‘break with tradition’ because my heart has invited me to do so. Let me elaborate.

I usually wait until after my Saturday morning meditation hour to choose a topic for our Sunday chat. Clarity usually comes to the heart after meditation. As I sat for today’s hour, I didn’t even ‘ask for a topic’ because I wasn’t planning to do the chat anyway.

And yet, the universe had different plans. As my thoughts receded and the noise was replaced by a fullness of warmth and light that first came as a trickle, then a flood, and then a stillness that just sat there, my heart’s master said — “hold space for them like I am holding space for you.”

Who are these them, I asked? They are those who want someone to celebrate with, but can’t. Or they are those who want to simply share with someone about their week. Or they just want to see a friendly face, like your friend, the veteran who stands under a tree outside the local post office holding a “be kind” cardboard sign – the one you stop and chat with every single time you see him, inquire about his health issues, share some prepackaged food or a mask, and more. Yes him, who often reminds you of the fullness and richness of your life, as he says “God loves you” at the end of every one of your street conversations.

Yes. Hold space for them, because them includes you. Be the vessel that can be filled with potential. That was this morning’s invitation, and I accepted.

What is fullness or emptiness? It’s relative, isn’t it? To paraphrase Lao Tse, “we focus on the beauty of the vessel, but its usefulness, its potential is in its emptiness”. When the heart’s vessel is full, we feel led to empty it, to share what is held within, whether it be joy or sorrow. When the heart feels empty, we want to fill it up again.

Back and forth, the pendulum swings, and a time comes when our heart’s fullness is permanent. We are home again to love. We can all celebrate that, can’t we?

Kumud

P. S. Join us for our weekly chat, Sunday April 4 at 9amET / 630pm India in #SpiritChat. Bring some goodies to share, and we will celebrate fullness. Namaste – @AjmaniK

Flowers fill the heart… Happy Easter!

On Life’s Diverse Colors

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As I walk outside on to the deck just after sunrise, I am greeted by a symphony of sounds and colors that are unmistakably spring. The blue hues of the lake shimmering reflections of the sky remind me of the much more expansive palette of the skies and waters of the Caribbean at sunrise on any given morning.

The greens of new buds on plants and the tiniest of leaves on trees in the forest encourage the grasses that are meandering their way back to life. There aren’t many reds or oranges or yellows or such yet, but I am sure that that palette will appear later during the sunset hour. I muse over my cup of tea…

What would our lives look like without the existence of color, or our ability to discern the beauty that the myriad colors of people’s experiences add to our lives? If our true wealth is the sum total of our shared experiences, then would we not be paupers without having experienced a multitude of hues of faiths, beliefs, cultures and such? Why is it then that…

There are so many who continue to insist that it is their color, their truth, their experience, their waters, their way of life, their spiritual practices, their books, their philosophy, their mythology, their culture and such that is superior and deserving of domination — and that all else must go.

It is like me trying to color the world around me with “my favorite color”. Or, perhaps it is like a color-blind person (yes, that’s me in real life) saying that a particular color doesn’t exist or cannot possibly exist or has no value because I literally cannot see it. Imagine if the extent of our universe was limited to our senses and their perception – would we not be living in denial of a large part of our human experience? I perhaps digress…

On this full moon of March, a weekend that marks the “festival of colors” or Holi in India, my heart asks more questions. What is the color of the falling rain or the dew drop or the tear in a mother’s eye? What is the color of the breeze that awakens the buds in spring? What is the color of the heat that warms the earth and causes the roots to stir to life? What is the color of love or fear or hate or joy or awakening? I don’t really know…

I do know that it is perhaps in embracing all our transitions through the experiences of all the myriad colors of our life, that we can prepare ourselves for the experiences which are colorless, formless, infinite and permanent. It is a form of Yoga. If we were to deny or negate the diversity of color in our world, how would we ever arrive at unity, let alone experience Oneness in our heart?

So, bring on Holi, I say, with all of its vigor of color, joy and celebration of all of humanity. Let there be color everywhere through light, so that its source can infuse love for all in our hearts.

Kumud

P. S. Join us to celebrate and share the colors of your life in our weekly chat – Sunday, March 28 at 9amET in #SpiritChat on Twitter. Namaste – @AjmaniK

What colors can your eye see in Spring?

Messengers of Equity

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The onset of spring often means that I get an opportunity to align my annual “work break” with my daughters “spring break” at school. This rhythm was fortunately restored this week, after the disruption last year due to the pandemic.

The rhythm’s restoration was accompanied by the opportunity to spend a whole week filled with twelve-hour long days and nights as the equinox approached and allowed for day-dreaming and natural observation. What emerged from simple observation without agenda? It was how nature tends to do such a wonderful job of being a messenger of equity in so many of her daily rhythms.

One such messenger that I got closely acquainted with this week was the sun rise over deep blue Caribbean waters every morning. The acts of waking up early to complete my morning meditation, followed by watching the sunrises became my new natural rhythm. I could literally set my watch to the song of the bird that would start singing while the dawn was still dark. Her faith in the new light that was imminent, was as unwavering as it was uplifting.

The sunrises were far from perfect, though. On most mornings, clouds of various width, depth and height would hug the sea, obscuring a direct view of the sun. And yet, every sunrise viewing was spectacular because every one of them started out unpredictably different. However, the conclusion and the Sun’s message was always the same.

Just before 7am, silvery linings would form on the edges of the clouds. Shortly after, the sun’s orb would ascend high enough in the sky to subsume the clouds with its golden brilliance. It seemed as if the Sun, in its rising, was messaging equity to all beings, regardless of their size, status or situation in the natural order of life.

How was this daily message received by the world? One example was seen in the appearance of the pelicans, who had a predictable rhythm along the shoreline while the sunrise’s drama was unfolding. Their timing seemed to based on a synergy between the sun’s emergence and the state of the tide. They often seemed to arrive peacefully, in groups ranging from three to maybe a dozen. With grace and peace, they fearlessly and repeatedly plunged headfirst into the waters for their morning catch. Their morning ballet was a pleasant, soothing contrast to that of the raucous crows and blackbirds!

The response to the Sun’s message of peace, harmony, abundance and yes, equity, is often received and acted upon differently by many of us, isn’t it? Why is this so? Does the messaging need to be improved? Is nature using the wrong messenger?

I don’t have the answers. All I can do is relay to you the message of equity that was delivered loudly and clearly to me on this vernal equinox. Our future depends on our investment into working towards equity for all. Will we choose to listen to the messenger and act accordingly, or will we close our eyes to the light?

I hope we choose well in this new season of healing and wellness for all.

Kumud

P. S. Join us in our weekly chat, Sunday March 21 at 9am EDT / 730pm India as we celebrate the Sun’s passage through equity. I look forward to seeing you after my ‘break’. Namaste – @AjmaniK

Sunrise on the Caribbean
Sunrise on the Caribbean…
March 20 2021, Vernal Equinox

P.P.S. My ‘break’ this year was made possible by being fully vaccinated relatively early (the 2nd dose was completed on Feb 6… ), and the invitation to a remote location #gratitude

Seasons of Renewal

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Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed the slant of the sun’s light and the arc that sweeps across the sky in my northern latitude, has changed. My morning and evening walks have made me acutely aware of this change. As the sun rises more eastwards and sets more westwards a bit everyday, the March of increasing sunlight is difficult to ignore. Winter is still holding on, and yet, bit by bit, spring is loosening its grips on the earths and the waters where the Sun cannot yet reach directly. 

The increased range and angle of the Sun creates increased warmth in the earth during the day, which lets the soil do more its work of awakening the roots during the night. Or at least that’s what I imagine. The birds have already awakened to the season and the cries of fledglings demanding food in the nests outside our living room windows are ample proof of this. In addition, there is the music of the shrills of blackbirds on cattails harmonizing with the squawking of the arrivals and departures of new flocks of Canadian geese in the lake every morning and evening.

The not-so-hidden message in the midst of all this new activity seems to be a call to renewal. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the timing of this message coincides with the renewal of hope in our heart. We feel renewal because we can see the beginning of the end of the pandemic that brought a lot of components of our lives to a standstill over the past year. We may sense renewal because nature is reminding us of the consistency of natural life-cycles that have persisted through millennia, despite our ignorance of, or interference with them. 

It is often said (in metaphysics) that outer Nature is simply a projection of our own inner nature. The state in which we see the world without reflects the state of our world within. If this is true, then every season, every transition, every change in the amount and intensity of light and warmth within our heart is reflected in the external world of Nature. If this is true, then every moment that we invest in healing, reflecting upon, and meditating on the source of light within our heart becomes and opportunity for renewal of both our inner and outer world. 

I posit that This is the true invitation of the season of renewal. I further posit that we can evoke and invoke the season of renewal in whenever we so choose to renew the awareness of our heart’s light. It is when we awaken to the light of our truth that we can stream, and yes, even binge-watch, all the seasons of renewal within our heart.

And now, it’s time to walk the dog, or rather, let him walk me outside. It’s a beautiful spring day outside. Namaste.

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and chat with the #SpiritChat community, Sunday March 7 2021 at 9amET / 730pm Inda. Tell us about your favorite season of renewal! Thank you. – @AjmaniK

Sunlight falls on Autumn’s leaves in Spring – March 6 2021

Sunrise in Spring

The Heart’s Serendipity

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To try and define serendipity is to perhaps attempt to fly without wings. Let that not stop me from trying, though, because the mere notion of the word makes me smile. Saying it out loud makes me smile even more. Try it. Slowly. Se-ren-dip-ity. There. Are you smiling yet? Now, let’s get back to the definition.

Let’s begin with the dictionary definition and origin of Serendipity:

…the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way…

Origin: coined by Horace Walpole in 1754, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.

What’s you’re definition of Serendipity? Does it involve any fairy tales? Here are a few of my offerings. 

Serendipity is an unplanned, unheralded, unexpected event, accompanied with a welcome surprise, which transports us to a different level of consciousness from the level of awareness that we initially stepped into the event with.

Serendipity is a suspension of attachment accompanied by a surrender to the possibility that infinite outcomes may exist for any given action.

How about a bit of word play? Serendipity happens when we allow our awareness to be ‘dip’ped much deeper into the gap in consciousness that seren-ity creates for us. Who needs wings, eh?!

Enough of definitions. Let me share some personal serendipities with you, in no particular order of time and space. Perhaps it will inspire you to think of some of your own.

Serendipity is a bit like when your teenager downloads yet another painting app for her phone, and you wonder – how many painting apps does she really need? A few days later, she shares with you one of her most creative ‘finger’ paintings yet. Yes, that.

Serendipity is a bit like when you, finally, after years of ‘rolling your own’ with your ‘practice’ of meditation, humble yourself enough to say ‘yes’ to the invitation of ‘meditation with pranahuti’ (Heartfulness), and the universe smiles back at you with deep love as it holds your hand on your new walk. 

Serendipity is a bit like when on a vacation trip to Mexico for spring break, you wake up early one day to take a walk with a Shaman who teaches you about how to ask permission of the universe – the earth, the skies, the waters, the winds – and then, a day later, your fear of water disappears as you learn to float in a crystal clear cenote. Yes. That.

Serendipity is a bit like when you go to the Friday evening happy hour after work on the insistence of a friend because you love all their deep-fried appetizers and you end up with a ‘chance meeting’ with a savant who ends up becoming your friend, then your wife and the one who has taught you every day over the past twenty six years about the meaning of higher love with her actions.
Yes. That.

Serendipity is the result of the universe’s gifts to us when we untether our mind from our heart and surrender a sliver of time and space to creativity, intuition, and openness. The result is that the infinite does its thing and adds sparks of joy to our heart.

The heart’s serendipity. Yes. That’s That. 

Kumud

P.S What does serendipity mean to you? Can you think of instances of ‘discoveries of sagacity’ that have created sparks of you for you? Join us and share some of your moments with us in our weekly community gathering in #SpiritChat on twitter, Sunday February 28 at 9amET. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The Heart’s Serendipity – Artwork by AA

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