On Truth and Reconciliation

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It’s a mid-winter Saturday morning as I wait for the sun to rise and break the logjam of cloud cover that has been hanging in the sky like a spider hanging on for dear life, precariously at the end of its thread. I am reflecting on today’s morning meditation and the sunlit energy state that it created for my heart — a state that I hope to remember to carry with me through the rest of the day, and evoke when the cloud cover returns within or without.

The events of the week, particularly of Inauguration Day last Wednesday, have flung open the door to a state where speaking the truth is not the exception any more. The calls to ‘end the uncivil war’ and to ‘be brave enough to see the light’ are like balm to the wounds of millions of hearts who are looking for relief from the weight of pain, even grief, that they have been carrying like muse on an uphill mountain trail.

I have told the story before, and yet, in the context of truth and reconciliation bears repeating. It took me the better part of twenty years to tell my mother the truth of how much it hurt that I, the middle child, didn’t grow up with the rest of the family. It took a moment of inspired courage, standing on the balcony of a small apartment watching the sun set, holding our cups of tea, that I opened the door to speak my truth. And, to my pleasant surprise, she spoke hers. It I didn’t take me long to realize that her decision to ask her sister to raise me as a seven year old was the toughest thing she had done at her young age of twenty nine. The two of us speaking our truths to each other that evening, led to many more truthful conversations during the rest of her visit to the USA. By the time she left, I was well on the path to forgiveness and reconciliation.

That conversation was almost thirty years ago. It wasn’t that we didn’t have strong disagreements or great challenges in our relationship in the years since, but we never forgot that speaking and living our own truths, and walking in each other’s shoes with compassion, was our way back to respect, reconciliation and healing. By the time she suddenly passed away a few years back, she had become one of my best friends, confidants and advisors. Even though I continued to question some of her truths, and we had many long phone conversations about them, I never questioned her capacity to love.

What did I learn from my experience? I learnt that we are all capable of truth and reconciliation, and that our heart’s light stands ready to show us the way if we can muster enough courage to heal our wounds and let go of our pain. Is it ever too late to discard shame and blame in favor of civility, candid conversation and co-creation?

The spider doesn’t need to hang by its thread any more. The clouds have parted, the sun has risen, and it’s time to resume weaving the web of love with threads of truth, reconciliation and healing.

Bring your light. We need your courage to heal.

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly conversation, Sunday Jan 24 at 9amET / 730pm India as we discuss some truths. The sun will be rising, I will be pouring tea, and we will walk the light. Namaste – @AjmaniK

Sunrise on the lake
Sunrise on the lake – Wednesday, January 20 2021

On Living the Dream

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I rarely ever dream any more at night. Or at least, I can’t remember the last time that I dreamt while sleeping, let alone what I may have dreamt about. Some would wonder — how is that possible? Why did you stop dreaming? 

Let me answer that question by engaging in some wordplay. What is a DREAM? Or rather, what is the invitation of a D.R.E.A.M?

A Dream is one that which gives us a Desire, a Directive, a Determination to Delve Deep within ourselves and connect with the Divine. 

A dReam is one that reminds us to Reflect, Renew, Re-heart and Re-establish our Resolve to create a purpose which is much bigger than ourselves.

A drEam is one that Excites, Energizes, Enervates and Elevates us to heights that manifest the potential of the divinity within us.

A dreAm is one that Activates us to take Action for the betterment of All — and reminds us that All encompasses All things, regardless of their current state of Awareness.

A dreaM is one that is a fountain of inner Motivation and inspiration, an invitation to Magic and Mystery, a connection to our perpetual Motion Machine fueled by Meditation, and serves as the Mother of all dreams.

In retrospect, perhaps I don’t dream while I am sleeping any more, because I am immersed in living a new D.R.E.A.M while I am awake. My dreaming has expanded to ask questions of myself every single day. Am I connected to the Divine? What do I Remember? What is the best use of my Energy? Do I Act for the betterment of All, including myself? What is the Motion of my life and living?

My invitation to you is to stop talking about dreams and dreaming, and start living them new. If we are to truly live, let us engage a new dream that is so wide and deep and high, that we will need the help of our family and friends, our neighbors, our communities and the Divine Universe, to make our D.R.E.A.M be birthed from darkness into the reality of light. 

What may this new dream look like to you? Here is what it looks like to me. #IHaveADream that my daughter and all in her generation inherit a world that celebrates them for who they truly are, for their infinite divine potential to be loving, kind, compassionate and peaceful.

Will you help me live my dream and make it a reality? Will you perchance dream again, and choose to live It?

Kumud

P.S. On this day, as I begin another revolution around the Sun and I smell spring in the bouquet of flowers as I write, I invite you. Join me and share your dream as I host the #SpiritChat community on twitter for our weekly conversation, Sunday January 17 at 9am ET / 730pm India. Yes, there will be chai and treats, and who knows, maybe even some cake 😉 Namaste – @AjmaniK

 

I share with you, a bouquet of dreams – what’s your favorite?

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The Power of Introspection

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And I’m back. After two days of missing my morning meditation, it’s good to be back. It took a concerted effort to get back, and now I know why I missed the light, the lightness, the peace of the condition of the heart that is often established, and more. There is no reason to feel shame, or even guilt for being derailed, as long as I learnt from the experience, recover, re-heart and reset.

I had to ask for all the masters for help, and then wait. I didn’t have to wait long, for the help did come, and it came quickly. The bonus was that there was additional help from my beloveds who have passed, and the loved ones who are present.

The shame receded, I worked through the guilt, I decided to abjure blame, which inspired accountability. It was only after transitioning through the shame, blame, guilt and accountability, that I felt ready to acknowledge what derailed me, and then make a renewed commitment to my practice, with a revised plan of action.

After all of that groundwork, came the invitation to healing, and moving on towards growth. I paused to introspect and ask. What if I had bypassed all the intermediate work and jumped straight from shame and to try and effect healing, even growth?

I believe it would have been a lost opportunity for engaging in deep introspection. I would have buried the guilt, taken no accountability, and forgotten that I had ignored the warning flags being waved by the station masters of the stations that my freight train of the mind filled with anger had passed through on my way to derailment.

The unprocessed anger would have led to more guilt, perhaps even rage and bitterness, and I would have left myself vulnerable to being even more easily derailed the next time around. In the words of the great Ramakrishna Parmahansa,

“The three things that we have to get rid of in spiritual life are shame, hatred and fear.”

How do we begin to get rid of them? Introspection is part of the process. According to step five Patanjali’s eightfold path of Yoga, pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses helps quieten the mind, which then opens the door to dharana (concentration) and then comes dhyana (meditation). Very often, we want to bypass the first six steps, and go straight to meditation. We run into all kinds of obstacles, we get derailed, we tell ourselves we failed, we start believing we are failures, and plant seeds of self-blame, guilt, and even shame.

We then get well-intentioned advice like, “if you don’t succeed at first, try again” or “get over it and move on.” I say that if you’ve tried enough times and are stuck in a whirlpool of shame, hatred and fear – then consider pausing your freight train at the next station and refueling for some Introspection. Ask some questions.

Who am I? Why am I here? What do I stand for? What won’t I stand for? What do I want my inner life to be like? What are the strengths and weaknesses of my plans and actions? What resources do I have to accomplish my purpose? Do I need help? If I ask for help, and I am offered it, will I receive it with good attitudes? Add your own questions.

As answers emerge, Introspection helps us polish the mirror within. We may even see some dark, ugly truths that we don’t like. Acknowledgement of those long buried truths is the invitation to excoriate shame, fear, and hatred.

Or we can simply keep driving our freight train, ignore all the warning signs, and get derailed again. To introspect or not, is our choice. There is great power in our choices. The consequences are often greater. Your move.

Kumud

P. S. Join us for our weekly chat on Twitter with the #SpiritChat community. We will introspect through some questions as we pause for some tea and cookies. All are welcome. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The eightfold flower of Yoga. Introspection is a vital petal

Renewing the Heart

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On the face of it, January 1 2021 didn’t look much different than December 31 2020. New Year’s day was ushered in with the same cold, cloudy, grayness and wetness that has characterized our Northeast Ohio winter for most of December. If anything, the amount and intensity of rain that fell on January 1 reminded me of a summer monsoon in Mumbai.

And yet, that was all on the outside. The intensity on the inside had been changing since New Year’s Eve with the three-day ‘Reset, Refresh, Re-Heart’ initiative that I had been fortunate to be engaged with. Amid the thundering rain that was falling outside on New Year’s Day, Sister BKS Shivani was setting forth the challenge before me during the second day’s meeting titled ‘Refresh’:

“Let us take responsibility to raise the #healing vibration of the planet, by raising our own inner vibration” – BKS Shivani

I am not one for making many, if any New Year resolutions, but this was a challenge that spoke to me. The intensity and urgency with which she said these words seemed to silence the sound of the rain pelting the windows. Her words made me ask – what if? What if I were to refresh my heart’s commitment to raising my own inner vibration? What if I were to take responsibility for the multitude of conflicting reactions that my mind creates in response to the words and actions of others — some of which aren’t even directed towards me?

What if I could train my mind to violate Newton’s law of ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’? Is it possible to violate physics? Tall order for an engineer, I thought. Newton’s law as stated above applies to the physical world. Vedanta says that the mind is also a physical entity – a fine physical entity – and hence subject to the laws of action. What do our reactions do to our mind They set off vibrations within us, which reach our heart, and the heart then creates impressions or samskaras. These impressions are the ones which we carry with us throughout our lives and beyond. If we train our mind to interrupt the reaction at the point of action, then, we we could rise above Newton’s law by dissolution of the “mind stuff”. 

This dissolution is what the sage Patanjali refers to in his seminal treatise of the Yoga Sutras. Life happens because or our living, and we are all vibrational beings. If we choose a path that helps us raise our inner vibration, and keep it in that raised state, we will find ourselves on an elevator which has no down button. This doesn’t mean that we won’t feel the cold, dark, gray, wet winter days of our lives. By raising our own inner vibration, our heart will evolve to such an elevated state that no amount or intensity of external action can cause us to react in a way which brings us back to our previously lower state. 

The question thus becomes – will we accept the challenge to raise our own inner vibration? If we do so, and if enough people also do so, then this New Year will indeed be one of renewal of the planet’s heart. I invite you. Join me. Let’s raise the vibration. 

Kumud

P.S. Join in with the #SpiritChat community on Sunday, Jan 3 2021 at 9am ET / 730pm India as we gather on twitter and raise the vibration. I will bring some questions, some of which may even challenge you. Invite a friend or two. We have a lot of work to do together. Namaste – @AjmaniK

Reference: The entire “Reset, Refresh, Re-heart” series is available on YouTube. Three days. Three hours. Happy New Year! 

Heartwork by my daughter, A. Ajmani

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Life’s Silver Linings

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As early as last week, I started hearing and reading references to how much 2020 “sucked”, and that folks couldn’t wait for the year to be over — so that we could all march into 2021 and forget about this year. It made me ask two questions —

  • was there anything good that we could take from 2020 as we welcome 2021?
  • how was 2021 going to become ‘magically’ different for us at the stroke of midnight on December 31?

I guess I wasn’t alone in noticing the emerging negative tone towards 2020. On Monday, my long-time twitter friend, @VegyPower messaged me to say that she had an “idea for the #SpiritChat conversation on Dec 27”. We talked over the phone, and sure enough, she was thinking about the “silver linings” amid all the storms that we experienced in 2020. Hence, this week’s topic was seeded. 

After my phone conversation with her, and as the week progressed, I did not have to think too much or too deeply about my own silver linings from 2020. For that matter, perhaps you won’t have to look too far to find them either. To begin, it may be helpful to ask some questions that invite us to reframe, refocus and revisit our perspective of 2020. For example, if you could take three positive ‘things’ forward from this year, what would they be? My suggestion would be to pick one ‘thing’ or ‘set of things’ each — for mind, body and spirit. Write the ‘things’ down on three sheets of paper. Add some bits of poetry, some doodles, or some photos, and maybe even create a “2020 Silver Linings” board. If you feel like it, now share your board with friends and family — who knows, it may inspire them to do the same. 

It is easy for the human mind to forget, to want to forget pain, and painful times. I often hear and read that most of us are attracted much more to pleasure than to pain. Hence, we tend to want to fill our lives with experiences that bring smiles, laughter and Joy. And yet, it is pain, suffering and death on an unprecedented scale that brought the best minds of Science together in 2020 to design, test, manufacture and distribute, not just one, but multiple vaccines, in record time, to fight the pandemic. In my mind, this  ‘coming together for a common goal’ is surely one silver lining from 2020. I am sure you can think of many more. 

Now, about the second question —  how will we use the silver linings, and even the dark clouds that we experienced in 2020 to continue to create better versions of ourselves in 2021? I haven’t seen my Aunt, with whom I have spent many a Diwali, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past, at all this year. I picked up the phone and called her in the evening on Christmas Day. The phone rang a few times, and I was composing my voice mail in my head, when she answered. She had just returned from Christmas dinner from her son’s home and some wonderful family time with her three grand-daughters. We talked about the year, and about the year to come, and she was all excited about the second vaccine dose that is she is to receive in mid-January. But that wasn’t all. 

As we talked about 2020 and 2021, she said that she had spent a lot of time doing ‘spring cleaning’ in November and December. She had found a “folder” full of something, which had items that went back to 1967 – fifty three years ago. She asked me to guess what may have been in that folder? The best I could come up with was — “maybe they’re some kind of letters.” Close enough, she said. For the next hour or so, she then proceeded to tell me the story of the ‘long-distance romance through letters’ that happened  between her husband-to-be and her while she was in India and he was in Canada. It was quite a story, which I had heard for the first time — and I’ve known her for 34 years. 

Why do I tell you the story of this conversation? After I hung up the phone with her, it made me think of silver linings and the remarkable story that I had just heard. It also made me ask – what are the stories that 2020 has uncovered for us, from which we can learn and remember, so that 2021 can benefit from them. Will we remember stories of pain, of love, of joy, of suffering, of hope, of giving, of receiving, of tears, of laughter, and treat them all alike? Or will we choose to forget them, only to re-discover them in our heart’s folder many years, if not decades hence? 

The lesson of 2020, for me to remember, is that every moment of a fully lived life is a silver lining unto itself. What will you remember?

Kumud

P.S. Join us for a special conversation with the #SpiritChat community on 9amET / 730pm India, Sunday, Dec 27 2020 on twitter. My gratitude to @VegyPower for the inspiration for the topic (and some questions!). If you cannot join us in the hour, I wish you the best for the New Year. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK

 

If we look closely enough, there are silver linings everywhere…

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On Revisiting Joy

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As late as last Tuesday, it appeared that we were drifting towards “skipping Christmas” this year. For whatever reason, and I can probably rattle off a lot of them, the family, including me, just didn’t seem to have caught the spirit of the season. We all seemed to be in silent agreement about the skipping and sleep-walking towards 2021. Some things are not meant to be, I thought.

And then came the snow on Wednesday evening. It wasn’t the violent snowstorm that had come a couple of weeks ago and dumped more than a foot of snow on us in the span of twenty four hours. No. This was the gentle, quiet, languid snow where every flake takes its own sewer time drifting towards the earth. There is a haze that sets up at sunset and it’s almost as if the overcast sky holds the last light of the day in its arms such that the radiance makes the night as bright as the day. The lights around the neighborhood come to life and their reflection against the water and the falling and fallen snow creates a sort of magic that extends the silent invitation.

Come play, it says. Come revisit. Come and remember. Find a single reason for Joy. You look at the new puppy sitting by the patio door with wide eyed pleading, waiting for you to open the door to the deck so she can go out and roll around in the fluffy white, even feast on it. Silently, the tide turns and my daughter announces that mid-Thursday that she is done with all her finals. My wife decides that enough is enough. She goes to the basement, and while I am on a work telecon, single-handledly digs out the eight-foot high tree that has been wondering if it will get to see the lights this year.

I am still wondering about reason, but the snow falling and the water swirling around me has other ideas. My daughter has decided that she is going to play with the gingerbread cookie kit sitting in the box. With that, the tide has fully turned. Cookies, my friends!

I am transported to a time where the heart feels like it is bobbing for waves in the ocean, where you have waded in just far enough and deep enough that your feet can still feel the earth. As you hold ground with the tips of your toes, every so often, a wave comes and lifts you clean off of the ocean floor into moments of joy and exhilaration. Every time you think you’ve had enough of the waves and try and return to the shore, the slightest of undercurrents invites you to stay a bit longer.

Revisiting Joy doesn’t happen like a flash of lightning during the middle of a late summer thunderstorm. It happens with the slow drift and soft lullaby of the peacefulness of every snow flake that is grateful that their falling has been cradled by grace and give brilliance to a single heart on some of the darkest nights of the year.

My hope is that you get to revisit too. We can only resist the invitation of nature for so long. We can resist our intrinsic nature even less, and our intrinsic nature is Joy. That is what we were built for. To remember, experience and share it.

Joy to our world. Let us revisit and soar again.

Kumud

P.S. The house keeps filling up. Lettered stockings have now appeared on the fireplace. Santa is getting his delivery ‘truck’ ready… Come join us and share your story of Joy. I hope you can find a reason. Namaste – @AjmaniK

Learning to fly by revisiting Joy

Harbingers of Hope

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It was one of my Grandmother’s favorite quotes. When I would ask her about the minuscule impact that her giving of yesterday’s flatbread to the the sadhu (monk) who would come and clang the wrought iron gate every morning to announce his presence, she would say — “doobte ko tinke ka saharaa’ — “to the one who is drowning (in a whirlpool) in the middle of the river, even a blade of grass floating by seems like a lifeline”.

As you can tell, I never forgot her interpretation of giving. She wasn’t merely giving yesterday’s flatbread – she was giving Hope. She was giving light for another day, or maybe even for a few hours, to a single human being, who would arrive daily in the hope that his hunger would find some relief. She was helping to sustain someone who had chosen the life of detachment — not beggary, mind you —  but a conscious, aware choice of total, unconditional surrender to divine sustenance. 

There are very few among us who can practice that  level of complete faith. Our faith is often an incomplete one, where we think of our spiritual practices as tools in our tool belt. Today, I feel emotionally down, so let me meditate a bit more. Today, I feel really good, so maybe I’ll give my meditation tool a rest in my too-belt. One of my Vedanta teachers describes it as a “faith of convenience”. We employ faith as a tool of bartering with the divine and the universe. 

And then we are left wondering why our faith does not work as and when, and in the way, we expect it to. Imagine that we were to only breathe when we found it to be convenient for us to breathe. We wouldn’t last very long, would we? Then why do we expect our intermittent faith to sustain us? I posit that this is where Hope enters our practice. Hope fills the voids and cracks that our incomplete and intermittent faith and half-hearted actions create. 

This is not to say that Hope isn’t necessary for the world at large. It is. In Rabindranath Tagore’s famous verse, he says — oh, wait. As I google the quote, I see that many have used ‘hope’ and ‘faith’ interchangeably… “Faith (Hope) is the bird who feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark”. And then there is Emily Dickinson’s poem which begins with… 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

The practicality of life necessitates that we may need both, faith and hope. When one flounders, the other shores us up. When we lose faith and start drowning in life’s storms, hope steps in and becomes the blade of grass that keeps us afloat. We can then find strength to sing our song while the dawn is still dark. With both hope and faith, we can discover Joy in the gaps between the breaths of our life, and make every season a season of giving.

In the pure spirit of Joy that emerges from a complete faith, we can choose to become harbingers of Hope. Our giving is then complete. That’s a season worth celebrating. What say you?

Kumud

 

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering of a community of faith, hope, joy and giving in #SpiritChat – Sunday, Dec 13 at 9amET / 730pm India. I will bring some tea and fresh flatbread (with a drizzle of caramelized brown sugar) to share. Namaste – @AjmaniK

 

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Our Spiritual Companions

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On most mornings, she doesn’t sleep much past six o’clock in the morning. It means that I am up with her too, so that Mom gets to sleep in for an extra hour or so. It also means that if I didn’t wake up before six o’clock, my morning meditation opportunity is pretty much gone. Why? Because it’s tough to sit and meditate with an eight month old puppy who is solely focused on play when she first wakes up in the morning!

So, one morning, instead of forcing her to settle down so that I could focus, I decided I would play with her first and then sit for my morning meditation. A funny thing happened after the first few days. One morning, she decided to come and nap next to me while I was meditating. A few days later, she decided she was going to curl up in the space in front of me as I sat in lotus. Some days, she would actually come sit in my lap as I was sitting – yes, it was tough to focus on those days. 

It has been a few months of this new morning routine now. You could say that I have found a new spiritual companion who “sleeps” while I meditate. I play with her when she wakes up, and she naps while I meditate. It’s a good harmony. She has taught me that it is sometimes better to bend to the new flow of life and create new accommodations, than to create unnecessary stress by persisting with old routines.

In relieving external stress, I have also found new companions within. Some mornings, the non-stop spiritual music that plays in my home-office during the day, becomes my inner companion. The sound of music is sometimes accompanied by the moonlight that is still in the sky as the sun rises slowly. Some days, the companions are the sparkling brilliant colorations of the sunset from the previous day, as it reflects golden orange off of the clouds, and glistens bright blues off of the thin sheets of ice that are floating on the lake waters.

Some mornings, sound and light transition the heart into nothingness. When you return, you know that you have been with that companion which defies description through words. You come slowly awake, and are grateful that the physical world is mostly as you left it, as evidenced by the puppy who is still fast asleep at your feet. And yet, once you experience the company of sound, light and nothingness, there is a renewed awareness of truth, permanence and joy within you.

Celebrate. You have taken another step on the path with your spiritual companions. 

Kumud

P.S. Join us Sunday, December 6 at 9amET for a chat with our #SpiritChat community on twitter. I will bring some questions, we will play some music and gather for satsang with friends, old and new, and walk a few more steps on our path.IMG 6092 Namaste – @AjmaniK

 

 

 

The Heart’s Transitions

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I hadn’t seen them on the pond lately, which seemed to coincide with the fact that it had been heavy, overcast and a bit gloomy over the past few days. The cloud cover had been so thick that it was difficult to discern the sunrises and sunsets. However, last night, as I was woken up by the almost-full moon shining outside the window among scattered clouds, I anticipated that today was going to be different.

Sure enough. They came by the hundreds, in groups of two dozen or so, as they landed ever so immaculately in the water and made their way on to the frost covered ground that was being quickly warmed up by the languidly rising sun. The ones who had already claimed their temporary abode on the shore, raised quite a cacophony to welcome the next batch. The first transition that had started at sunrise, was fully underway. 

The second transition would happen around noon. All of those who had gradually made their way into the warming waters, would now reverse course and park on the grass for their afternoon nap. I did not see them make the third transition today, but I imagine that it was sometime before sunset. They had all taken off, onward in their migration south, by the time I went outside at dusk. 

Nature teaches us a lot about transitions, and how to possibly simplify our lives by paying greater attention to them in our daily actions. The rising of energy into the heart at dawn, the peaking at ‘solar noon’, and then the waning at dusk — all these transitions give us guidance, if we so choose to pay attention. On a slightly longer time-scale, there are the transitions marked by the lunar cycle — one which is most noticeable to the heart at the advent of the full moon. Further more, there are the seasonal transitions. The farther away we live from the equator, the greater is the variation in the length of daylight with the seasons.

The seasons makes for a more subtle energetic transition for the heart . We often become aware of this transition hrough our emotional response, particularly when the days trend towards becoming really short between fall equinox and winter solstice. And so, here we are. The short days of late autumn and the full moon is upon us again. A lot of nature’s daily, monthly, seasons, and annual transitions are temporary. And yet, the heart does not need to necessarily follow suit.

What if we were to prepare our heart for some permanent transitions. What if we were to permanently transition our hearts from indifference to compassion? From doubt to faith? From weariness to resilience? From indifference to empathy? From callousness to kindness? From arrogance to humility? From sadness to joy? From condemnation to respect? From prejudice to inclusion? From debasement to dignity? What would our inner world look like if we were to effect one or more of these permanent transitions?

When, where and how do we begin the heart’s transition? More importantly, why would we want to do so? Even more importantly, what would we be willing to give and accept, for such a transformation of the heart? 

Kumud

P.S. The migrating geese, another few flocks of them, will be back tomorrow. It’s supposed to be another day of sunshine. Join us for their  morning song and conversation with the #SpiritChat community on twitter, Sunday November 29 at 9amET. I will bring some tea, cookies, and yes questions. We will work on our heart’s transitions. Namaste – @AjmaniK

When transitions become transformations…

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On Giving Through Conversation

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Sometimes, it isn’t easy to find what we are looking for, particularly when it’s right in front of our nose. This challenge seems to get even  greater as we grow older in years. We walk into a room looking for something with intent and then stand there like icicles frozen in a stiff winter wind, wondering — what did I come in here for? We rush out of the house because we are running late, and halfway to the car, we realize we’ve forgotten our phone. We rush back to the front door, and realize that we can’t turn the door handle because one hand is holding the keys and the other hand is actually holding the phone! 

Do you remember how you felt on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2020? In a decade that started with great hope and aspirations for millions, it is perhaps difficult for many of us to find reasons to give thanks as we approach the end of November. And yet, here we are in the USA, staring at the annual holiday of ThanksGiving. The “third wave” of Covid-19 cases has brought stay-at-home orders, curfews, overflowing hospitals, case and death numbers that are difficult for our minds to comprehend. As if that weren’t enough, we are squarely in the middle of a constitutional crisis and a threat to our very democracy from within. 

At the individual level, life as we know it, is in some ways, unrecognizable from what it was at this time last year. We may have lost a loved one, lost our jobs or endured business losses, suffered a physical or mental health setback, and more. We may have become way too familiar with the workings of Zoom or Google Meet or other video conferencing platforms. For those with kids of all ages or older adults at home, we may be feeling overwhelmed in our new roles as full-time care-givers, educators, and more. 

I am sure that I am just scratching the surface of the ‘litany of woes’ that this year has brought our way. And yet, you well know that I wouldn’t be writing all this if I weren’t going to eventually ask you to pause and take a deep breath. Let’s do it together. Let’s pause, close our eyes for a minute, and take a deep breath and feel the inhaled air travel deep into our lungs, purifying the blood, returning it to the heart, and then bringing the impurities out of our body with a deep exhalation. Go ahead and do it a few times. I will wait. 

If you did what I suggested, you should have felt a bit lighter. Breath awareness creates an environment which shuts off the wanderings of our mind and activates the light of our heart. In moments of pure breathing and its awareness, we give our mind permission to breathe too, and allow it to let go of our micro and macro challenges. As the mind exhales the chatter of challenges and preoccupying it, it creates space for giving and gratitude to enter the conversation. Once gratitude enters the heart-mind, we can then give it forward to others, can’t we?

One Sanskrit word for expressing gratitude or ‘giving thanks’ is dhanya-vaad. The first part of the word is dhanya – its root is the word dhan – which literally means ‘wealth’. However, as is often the case in Sanskrit, the word dhanya has many meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. According to the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English dictionary, dhanya refers to one who is fortunate, who is blessed with wealth, happiness, goodness, virtue and joy. The second part of the word is vaad – which means ‘having a dialog or conversation’. Hence, dhanyavaad can be said to be the sharing and giving of our wealth through speech, dialog and conversation. 

Awareness of our wealth has to precede its giving. If we are unaware of the wealth within our heart’s treasury, we will feel that we have nothing to give or share.  Millions of families will attempt to celebrate ‘Thanksgiving at a distance’ this year. As we gather, we can perhaps share a few seeds of kindness, shine some rays of the heart’s light, and nourish each other with some sweet waters of gratitude. If we can do any or all of that, it will be a celebration full of healing and remembrance of the power of giving. 

Let me say dhanyavaad to all of you for being you. May peace, health, wealth, and yes, breath, be always with you and yours, and may you share of your moments of abundance with joy. 

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat with the #SpiritChat community on Sunday, November 22 at 9amET / 730pm India. We will share some moments of giving (and receiving) through conversation. Namaste – @AjmaniK

 

When the heart is engaged in giving, sky is indeed the limit… Breathe the sky…. 

The Sky is the limit....