If ever a reminder was needed to fully enjoy and be present every moment, the pandemic that hit early this year and all of the chaos that has followed must’ve had that impact. No longer able to travel, visit loved ones, attend gatherings, see live entertainment, and so much that still hasn’t made its way into the “new normal”, all being replaced with uncertainty, worry, and stress for so many.
While we learn to be grateful for each moment of happiness, clarity, love and beauty, we also learn to be grateful for the opposite, as all of these moments are the seeds and the fertilizer of our spiritual growth.
There are days that are easier to be present, such as today, as I sit at a deserted beach on Cape Cod, watching the tide come in fiercely as the sun sets behind me. I sit by the waters edge and listen to the waves, hearing nothing else, I close my eyes and smell the ocean air, taking in each moment that I have here, where tranquility flows naturally.
Other days, when life is hectic or uncertain, it is not as easy to be present, or it is preferable to instead long for yesterday or wish for tomorrow. But I have realized that on these less than perfect days, the moments that force us to be present are those that shape us for the rest of our lives. These are the experiences that make us who we are. We find ourselves while we are weathering storms.
I have always considered myself “lucky” to have been born on the first day of autumn, the idea of a harvest inspires me. As we gather what nature has provided for us physically, we should also gather what it has provided for us internally.
The changing of the seasons is a good prompt to reassess accordingly, and during the fall, a spiritual harvest of each and every moment shows us how much we have grown, and to be grateful for it.
Kumud’s note: Meredith has been part of the #SpiritChat family for many, many years. I am delighted that she will be stepping up to host the weekly chat on Sunday, September 20th at 9amET for the community. Let us join her and support her hosting journey as best as we can. In the moment. Thank you, Meredith!
When he pushed his two suitcases through the sliding glass doors after the security guard had lazily glanced at his passport and matched the name on it with his Lufthansa paper ticket, he had no idea what kind of welcome, if any, awaited him on the other side of the Atlantic. He had just said goodbye – a very long goodbye as goodbyes in India on airports where a family member is headed into unknown and uncharted tend to be – to about two dozen friends and family. Some of them managed to smile, while others made valiant but unsuccessful attempts to hold back tears.
They stood outside the glass wall which encased the terminal, cheeks pressed against the window, hands raised in goodbye and blessings for as long as they could see him as he finally passed out of sight through the Customs check-point (yes, there is a Customs check on departure in India). He had no idea how long it would be before he would see any of them again, so he waited till the final call for departing passengers to leave their sight. There was no way for him to know how long it was going to be between departure and the homecoming, because when you leave the safety of the shore and surrender to the flow, life happens.
He landed in New York city’s JFK on a crisp autumn morning, took a bus to switch airports to catch a Piedmont flight to Roanoke, where he was received by some volunteers of the Indian Students’ Association. What a wonderful act of kindness that was, which brought much relief to a weary traveler after thirty six hours of traveling. It felt like a bit of a homecoming, to be surrounded by people who spoke your language. During orientation, half of which he had missed because he was late getting to the USA because of a visa delay, he ran into a very good friend who he had known since third grade! Another mini homecoming. And then, another friend from Delhi, who spoke his grandmother’s native tongue. An even bigger homecoming.
In his excellent TED talk titled “Where is Home”, Pico Iyer says that “Home is where you Stand”. By that measure, I have had a lot of homes across the world. From the easternmost parts of Assam to some of the northernmost parts of Kashmir, I have stood and felt a connection to people who have extended great love with a welcoming heart. Criss-crossing the Northern states of India several times on multi-day train trips, I made an attempt to get off the train at every single station. Now that I think about it, it was as if I was trying to feel at home at every single pause of the journey as I felt my feet touch the platform. It was as if I was feeling the flow of the earth under my feet at every opportunity I would get.
So, what does all this story-telling have to do with homecoming and spirituality? I had never heard of the word until I first came across it in the context of alumni returning ‘home’ to Virginia Tech during football Saturdays in the fall. Such a beautiful word. Homecoming. It creates a vision of those who have graduated from a station in life and traveled on to explore new frontiers returning home. A bit like the splashdown of the two American astronauts a few weeks ago after they had spent a few weeks on the Space Station. Or a bit like those who spend weeks preparing for, and then climbing some of the highest mountain peaks, returning home weary and falling into the arms of their beloveds and getting some well-deserved rest. Homecoming is thus a time for renewal, of sharing stories about our travels, and then setting out again on another new journey.
In a spiritual context, homecoming can be viewed as a return to source. It isn’t connected to a particular age or a particular physical place. It is connected to a return to the source that resides in our heart – not just the physical heart, by the spiritual heart that is our consciousness beyond the mind-matter complex. In fact, one could posit that in the spiritual context, there is actually no Homecoming, because we never really left. We may spend our entire life being unaware of who we are, and yet, the consciousness, the spiritual heart is always with us. At any given moment, when our awareness shifts to It, we are aware that we are home.
Home is where we stand in awareness.
It was twenty seven months before he returned. In the interim, there were short phone calls (they had to be short at almost two dollars a minute), long hand-written letters, bouts of home-sickness, regular instances of culture shock, many new friendships formed with Virginia natives, and an awareness that it was beginning to feel a little bit like a new home. He was beginning to enjoy the New River, the new flow, the new awareness of floating and letting be.
What is your story of homecoming? What does the word mean to you, remind you of? What emotions or memories or awareness does it invite? Do reflect, and then share if you are so led to do so.
P.S. Join us in our weekly gathering with the #SpiritChat community on twitter to share some thoughts on Homecoming. We will meet Sunday September 6 at 9amET (almost to the day when I first landed in JFK all those years back). I will bring some questions that will act as place holders for the real conversation that will happen in the many tributaries of the main flow. Namaste – @AjmaniK
One of my favorite bridges — I instantly feel welcomed, at home, a sense of Homecoming every time I stand on it…
Walking in nature has grown to be one of my favorite outdoor activities over the past four or five years. This invitation to walk the local reservation came about suddenly one day as I was driving to work. That was then, and this is now. Hundreds of miles and thousands of photographs later, there are still new paths that remain to be walked and new experiences to be had on the frequently traveled ones.
Nature has taught me much about life and shown me some glimpses of its inner workings during my walks. The variations of the seasons and how one season’s end is a preparation for the next. The contrast between the stillness of the water in the lagoons and the rush of flow in the river after the snow melts. The trees that grow taller every year so that they can carpet the ground with leaves every autumn to provide fuel for the forthcoming spring. This, and much more, has unfolded on the many paths for me.
Such is the nature of the physical paths that have unfolded for me over time. It is hard to imagine that one could really walk in deep harmony with nature without experiencing a parallel spiritual journey within. Nature does not promote any path to the walker. It provides a new canvas every day and invites the sojourners to bring their imagination to paint a new path with every step. Some of my most satisfying walks have been where I simply wandered and let the sounds of the river and the play of sunlight among the trees be my guides. May every day bring a new way — that seems to have become my mantra.
According to Osho, ‘The Way’ is a good description of the philosophy of Tao. There is no goal — there is only the way or the path.
Each moment, wherever you are, you are at the goal if you are on the path. In Tao, there is no talk about moksha, nirvana or enlightenment. The spiritual work is that you have to find the path, the Way.
So, what does the Way look like? How do we find it? How do we know that we are on it? The challenge of this approach, if we choose it, is that we have to find our own path before we can start walking it. It cannot be given to us by anyone, or walked for us by anyone. There are no footsteps to follow, or leave for others. This may be disconcerting to many who have had a ‘religious’ upbringing, and yet it is an opportunity for great freedom of exploration. The variables are courage, risk, and adventure. An adventure of self-discovery, and of the path itself.
There is a blue heron that I have often stumbled upon during my walks. She shows up at different locations in the reservation depending on the season and the hour of the day. She invariably sees me before I see her, and starts to leave before I can take a picture of her. So, I stopped trying to photograph her. Then, one day, without preamble, there she was. Standing still on a log in the lagoon, for what seemed like an eternity. It was as if she knew that I had stopped trying to ‘capture’ her, so she stopped trying to escape from my presence. That was a really good moment on the journey, for I felt that I was one with the goal and the path.
And so, we keep walking, keep discovering, keep on letting the curves and bends of our path unfold before us. We draw from nature as we learn more about ourselves and our heart’s capacity through direct experience every day. It’s a great way to feel alive, isn’t it?
Join me and the #SpiritChat community, Sunday August 16 at 9amET as we continue our journey and cross paths on twitter yet again. Namaste – @AjmaniK
One of the sights on one of the many paths in the Valley Reservation
The longer I wait to write this post on Saturday morning, the shorter the shadows get in the back of the house which faces west. The Sun, slowly ascending towards its peaking of the day, on this day when daylight reach its ascendancy over darkness in the northern hemisphere, I contemplate union and unity.
A tiny baby dragonfly in resplendent blue with translucent wings lands in the center of the rainbow colored hula hoop encrusted with silvery highlights lying on the floor of the deck. An orange winged blackbird lands on the wrought iron post holding the bird feeder, squawks loudly as it departs without partaking, as if to say that I need to fill it again. The two boys on their swings across the lake have been going back and forth for the past half hour, unassisted, as they have surely mastered their art of Joy. The lake glistens and ripples as it often does in the harmony of the slight breeze and the low angle of the Sun’s light from the East. My cup of tea is empty but I am too enamored by it all to move off of the deck, lest I miss something vital.
Where was I? Ah, yes. Union and Unity. In the 5th century BC, the Indian sage Patanjali, compiled a treatise called The Yoga Sutras. It is said to be the collation of the knowledge and practices of the lives of the practitioners of Yoga of the time. Patanjali wrote about Yoga as a thread of aphorisms explaining the relationship between the natural world, the inner spirit of humans, and the unity between them.
The practice of Yoga can be simply described as any practice which leads to union between the external and the internal. Yoga is the manifestation of the unity that we often intrinsically seek in the paradox of living in the transient external world while seeking the permanent within.
Swami Vivekananda describes this striving for union in the form of four paths of Yoga, all emerging from One as we move outward on them, and then converging into One as we return home. These four paths are the path of work and action, the path of knowledge, the path of devotion and the royal path of meditation. Why do we need four paths? Why not just one?
Perhaps because all humans, like the colors of the rainbow, have different propensities and inclinations that they bring into their physical existence. So, the offering of four distinct and yet non-exclusive and equal paths of Yoga, invites the practitioners of love to practice love in the way that they may be most attracted towards in their current state of life. Very often, a human may practice all four paths simultaneously, with different levels of intensity at different times of the day and night.
The Yoga of action may dominate during the day, knowledge path may prevail during reading or observing nature, devotion may take over during prayer, meditation may subsume one at dawn or dusk or other times. Yes, we are all practitioners of multiple paths, whether we are aware or conscious of the particular path, or even the goal, for that matter.
And the goal? One goal is to manifest the unity of the four paths into the realization that our true state is where the states of permanence, knowledge, and bliss, unite us in our union with the One.
A sense of unity often precedes Union. However, we know that unity cannot be decreed by a constitution or any number of bills of rights or legislatures or courts or executives and their orders. It is just like a rainbow cannot be decreed to appear or be perceived — the sun and the rain drops and a number of other conditions have to come together to create it with harmony. The rainbow appears when human nature recognizes that the union of colors, while maintaining their independence and their right to individually exist as equals, can only enhance the beauty of the world for all who set their eyes upon such a union.
How does union and unity manifest? We can observe union in father-children relationships, in a bride and groom’s joyfulness on their wedding day, in a decision to be aware of and celebrate all the physical light steaming upon us during summer solstice. Perhaps the greatest manifestation of unity and union is in an individual’s decision to work towards their union with the divine through the path of Yoga of their choice.
To be friendly towards those friendly towards us, to be joyous for them in their joy, to be empathetic towards those suffering, and to be indifferent without attitude towards those with evil intent – these four practices of maitri, mudita, karuna and upeksha – are considered to central to Patanjali’s definition of Yoga.
As I finish writing this, a baby sparrow has arrived on the deck and is loudly tweeting in a sliver of shade by the bird feeder. It is as if she’s asking me to get off the couch stat and do my Dad Yoga of re-filling the feeder. Such is the life of a householder- to stay unified in the heart while performing the actions related to the feeding of the world around me.
Now where did I put away that 50 pound bag of bird seed anyway?
P.S. Join me and the #SpiritChat community in our weekly twitter gathering on Sunday, June 21 at 9amET/ 630pm India. We will integrate Fathers Day (US), International Day of Yoga, Summer Solstice and the kickoff of four days of online and offline events for my niece’s wedding in India… Namaste – @AjmaniK
The tears came suddenly and as large droplets from my firmly shut and already moist eyes at the end of the morning meditation session; about midway through I had ceded any semblance of trying to get my mind’s thought pattern to calm down as the thoughts had somehow drifted to thinking about privilege by birth, and how much of it I enjoyed growing up in a middle class family in India.
The tears came as I thought of the one who probably saved my life when I was ten, as I lay bleeding and unconscious on a concrete floor, having fallen from about 20 feet high onto my left side from the first floor window. I had broken the raised bone in my left arm where it meets the wrist and bridge of my plastic glasses had embedded into my nose on impact, which was miraculously not broken, but was bleeding like the river Yamuna. She was the only adult in the house with all of us kids — the very dark-skinned South-Indian lady named Chalma who would wash dishes twice a day for three families of at least eight to ten people each who lives in a three-story home in a wealthy New Delhi neighborhood.
Her tools were used lemon rinds, and wood ashes that she brought from the remnants of the cooking fires from her home, and the husks of used coconuts that she used as a cleaning ‘sponge’. The family sized pots and pans of cast iron and copper were heavy; plates, spoons, glasses, knives were all stainless steel. One eight foot section of the granite kitchen counter top would be filled with the washed dishes after she was done. She wasn’t allowed to stand and wash in the marble sink next to the counter because the ashes would cause damage to the fine surface.
So, on the floor she sat cross legged on a small flat stool, with her frail frame bent over her kingdom of dirty dishes, coconut fiber in one hand, dipping it ever so often in the ashes sitting in an earthen bowl by her. In the morning, she did the dishes from last nights dinner. In the afternoon, she did the dishes from breakfast and lunch. Once or twice every day, she was chided by the lady of the home, not to let the tap of fresh water run so freely. Her job was particularly difficult in the summer when running water only came for an hour, twice a day — during the early hours of the morning and the late afternoon. If she missed that running water window because she was ‘late to work’, she would have to use water that we would have filled in heavy aluminum buckets the night before, and lined her workspace with in a quarter circle — water that she would treat like molten gold as she used it sparingly, and wash out thoroughly for the next day, after she had washed all the dishes…
And then there was the lady who would come and sweep all the finely crafted and smoothed concrete floors of our family’s 1500 sq ft home on the middle floor of the three story home. The ‘dry sweeping’ with the traditional broom was the relatively easy part. What was much tougher was the mopping that followed. It was done with a heavy cotton-roped cloth about two feet square, sitting on her haunches as she dipped the cloth with her bare hands in the water doused with phenylaline as a disinfectant, moving slowly, a few square feet at a time.
Her task was to remove the dust that is endemic in the oppressive summer heat of Delhi when the hot breeze called loo from neighboring Rajasthan brings hot sand with it and coats everything in its path — whether it be a shining, three story home in a wealthy neighborhood or the ramshackle tenement of the dish-washing lady who tries to feed her family every night with just enough money earned by washing dishes all day so that she can buy just enough wheat or rice filled with stones and dirt from the ration shop every week or so.
I have to admit that while all this was happening around me in middle-school, high-school and under-grad, I didn’t think about it much because it was considered “normal” for most middle-class families to employ multiple, task-specific maids. The maids and their families needed to work to live, and we were supposedly providing work, wages, an occasional cup of tea when they were done working — even a saree or some clothes for the kids on major holidays. It was a sort of unwritten societal labor contract — it was also a social network of ladies of the homes and the maids who worked through multiple homes every day.
For some reason, lately, I’ve been made aware of the privilege enjoyed by me in that contract, in painstaking detail. For me, the way out of that contract happened to be in coming to the USA for graduate studies. For them, the only way out of that contract, was perhaps death. For death does finally destroy all privilege accorded by birth, or does it?
I do remember talking to a teenage son of one particular lady who used to do the daily trash pickup and clean the bathrooms — the dish washing lady, the floor cleaning lady, laundry washing and clothes ironing lady, and bathroom washing lady were all separate — if he had ever considered going to school. I don’t know that he ever answered me directly except by saying with his brilliant smile and impish grin with slightly downcast eyes — bhaiya (brother), this is my life, and I am happy doing the work given me.
So, that is why all the tears came. His statement, which I never forgot, was such a simple reminder that “it isn’t the task that makes the person high or low — it is the manner in which it is done, that makes the person so.” The tears also served as a reminder of what I have read so often in two of my favorite essays delivered in London in 1896 — “Vedanta and Privilege”, and “Privilege” — both by Swami Vivekananda.
A quick recap may be useful. The Advaita (Oneness) philosophy of Vedanta says that for Oneness to be our truth, one needs to believe in Universal equality, in the fact that we are all manifestation of the One divine. Without that central belief and practice, our inner world is fragmented and we dwell in anger, hate, jealousy and all that which divides us. If we hold that central belief that we all have the same One light of higher embodiment, our inner world is united through an ever-flowing current of higher love.
So, what is it that destroys Oneness, ethics and equality?
“Everyone is the embodiment of Knowledge, of eternal Bliss, and eternal Existence.
The ethical effect is just the same, with regard to equality.
And yet, there is privilege – the bane of human existence. The privilege of the strong over the weak, of the wealthy over the poor, the subtle privilege of those who claim higher intellect, and the worst of all, because it is the most tyrannical, is the privilege of (birth and) spirituality – those who think of themselves as more (due to birth), or those who think they know more of spirituality (than others).” – Vivekananda
And so arise the questions in my heart-mind complex. What privilege(s) do I assert? Which privilege(s) have I inherited? What privilege(s) am I passing on in my legacy? How does privilege manifest in my actions and practices, my goals, my dreams and my aspirations? And perhaps most importantly, how do I break down the bondage of all these privileges that entangle me in the web woven by all my desires?
I don’t know. Perhaps I can begin by washing my own dishes, keeping my personal (office) space clean, and maybe doing (or at least folding) my own laundry. Or all of the above…
P.S. Join our weekly chat, Sunday June 14 at 9amET/ 630pm India in #SpiritChat on Twitter. All are welcome. No privilege necessary to attend, to share some love with all. I will bring some questions, some tea and cookies to share, for that is the small loving privilege granted me by the community for that hour. Namaste – @AjmaniK
From the very beginning on Saturday morning, I sat with colorless tears in my eyes that sealed my eyelids shut at the edges — perhaps not wanting to see any more darkness, perhaps mourning the state of a country ravaged by disease, death, destruction, despair, discrimination and disintegration.
And yet, after relaxation and prayer, there was the ever-present invitation to focus on the light within the heart…
After a few minutes, lightness came as a reminder of what many of us may need to do to cross the street safely – blinded as we may be right now by anger and despair and helplessness or even rage. What we may need to do is to hold on to the person in front of us… just like I would see the kids do at the school for the blind which was virtually across the street from my high school in New Delhi, India. In a show of great trust, they would each put a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. In a show of great hope that the person leading the line could actually see where they were going, they would safely cross the road towards light.
Enlightened, emboldened, encouraged and empowered, I closed my eyes even tighter. Another thought came to lighter the heart. Perhaps all we need to do to walk the lighted path, to lighten the heart, is to be like toddlers holding on to the hem of the divine mother’s garment as we navigate these new worlds around us. By having child-like faith that the divine knows what’s best for us, and is lighting the heart path that is best for us, we can take another light step.
We take a step forward in a faith that has stood us well through previous trials and dark times. We take a step towards light and lightness, even though that path may occasionally lead us through some seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We take another step forward, even though the path may be filled with the thorns of divisiveness. And yet, we need not despair, for we know from previous direct experience, that within all of us is planted the reservoir of love and light.
And if the reservoir of love, light, lightness is within us, then it is within them too. They may be unaware of the reservoir, but it is there — for its absence in them would violate the natural law of existence, of fairness, of divine justice. There is the existence of love within, so that we may learn to lead with it. There is the light within, so that we can turn inward towards it in those dark nights when there are no stars or moons to guide us as the storm rages around us and within us…
Light and lightness within the heart grow trust and faith. They are good defenses against the heaviness of cruelty and injustice. When we add the personal practices of mercy, empathy and kindness, we become the blooming flowers that give light and soil and water to the next generation of leaders. With our example of an enlightened heart, we encourage a new generation of youth to lead with a sense of fairness, empathy and justice. We construct a brand new world with a brand new generation of heart-centered leadership.
As a gardener, I know that it is often with the dregs of past growth, often called ‘organic matter’, that a brand new lawn or garden can be created. We spread soil mixed with organic matter over a barren land. We use good, enlightened seeds infused with great heart potential, fertilize them with hope, water them with trust and let them be warmed by the sunshine of divine grace. Then we step back and watch a new, kinder and gentler individual, family, community, society, and nation emerge.
It all begins with one heart full of light. An EnLightened heart. One heart that upholds truth, fairness, and yes, even justice — particularly justice. A heart that understands, respects, even reveres natural laws. How can I be so sure that a new lawn of leaders can be seeded? It has been said that “The divine is no respecter of persons”. My interpretation of this is that if it has been done by person, one set of people in space and time before, then it can surely be done by another person and another set of people again.
With that sense of faith and hope, let us heed the call to EnLighten our own heart. Our lighted heart full of warmth is needed to create a new landscape where flowers of truth and justice can bloom again. The woods may be dark now, but we need to keep waking and walking. “We have promises to keep” to those of the next generation holding on to us, as we lead them cross the street to light, just like we held on to the generation of light-bearers before us.
Raise the banner of love. Arise, awake, and stop not until the goal is achieved! – Swami Vivekananda
Saturday, May 30 2020. 640am.
P.S. I invite you to join our weekly conversation in #SpiritChat on twitter, held together by the glue of love and light. This week, we will gather at our usual hour of 9am ET / 1pm UTC / 630pm India. Come and share some practices, some stories, that help you EnLighten your heart. Namaste – Kumud.
After the rainstorm – light and lightness of raindrops on flowers
My search for a topic for the weekly chat usually begins around the middle of every week. During most weeks, the topic that I have picked out on Wednesday or Thursday is rarely the final topic that I pick on Friday evening or Saturday. The process of picking the topic isn’t exactly cerebral — it is an amorphous, heart-energy driven act of deep listening. This week was no different. By Friday evening, the topic had gone from ‘welcoming traditions’ on Wednesday to ‘remembrance’ on Thursday to something related to Memorial Day’ on Friday evening.
Saturday morning’s meditation happened to be filled with the ‘Memorial Day’ thought-parade. This mental chatter is actually predictable every week, particularly If I don’t write the weekly cover post by Friday night before bed. Today’s thought-stream was filled with suggestions and questions about how to frame the Sunday conversation. As I emerged from the ‘meditation’ that really wasn’t that still or silent, I noted down the questions that had flowed to me. And then, as I sat outside with my tea, I was prompted to try something different in lieu of the usual weekly blog post.
I decided to share the questions about ‘Living Memorials’ that came to me during the morning meditation. I don’t believe I have ever shared potential chat questions in the weekly blog post on the Saturday before the live chat on Sundays. And yet, I thought — why not? Maybe it would inspire folks to reflect a bit more deeply about this special Sunday in the USA. Maybe it would inspire them to write and share a blog post of their own, or privately journal about the idea of a “Living Memorial” over the weekend. Maybe it would take the pressure off of those who valiantly try to keep track of, and try to answer every question during the live chat!
So, without further do, here goes. On Living Memorials. Some questions for you. They are in no particular order other than ’stream of awareness’. I invite you to sit with them.
What is the best memorial we can build to our spiritual inheritance? Our spiritual teachers?
How can we truly live in memoriam of those who have nurtured us in life so far?
Is it possible to build a living memorial to honor the forgotten? Why or why not?
Memorials which hold great importance to us often create a great sense of attachment. What is the psychological, emotional, spiritual impact of memorials?
￼Public and private memorials. What are the similarities and differences in the creating, the living of each one.
If and when they look upon how we lived — what would their memorial to us say about our legacy….
Physical memorials have been built by mankind for centuries. Why may this be so?
Some memorials are expressions of gratitude for those who sacrificed. Others are remembrances of those who perished… How can we best honor both in our daily actions?
The greatest acts of remembrance are done by those who ______ for those who _____
What kind of memorial, if any, could be ‘constructed’ about humanity’s response to the current pandemic? Should there even be one? Why?
I hope you will take one or more questions and do a deep dive into the answer. Maybe the answer will change color with every sunrise and sunset over the next few days. I invite you to share some of your answers — either in the live chat Sunday at 9amET in #SpiritChat or through any other medium you choose to share in. If you have questions to share about the subject, I welcome them too.
Namaste, and Stay Safe!
Nature is a living memorial to life and all that sustains it…
While there may be some perfect children, there are no perfect mothers. Wait. That didn’t sound right.
Let me try this again.
While there may some perfect mothers, there are no perfect children. Hmm. That doesn’t sound right either.
One last time.
Just like there are no perfect children, there are no perfect mothers. Yes. I think that’s how the adage goes.
If we can accept this premise of two-way imperfection, then we open the door to a lot of possibilities for Mother’s day. We open the door to accepting that both mothers and children are often doing the best they can as they muddle their way through their lives. The occasionally collaborative muddling is clouded with doubt and constant questioning, perhaps more on the part of mothers than their children.
For the most part, mothers are tough on themselves. To a large extent, I saw this with my own mothers.Yes. That’s a plural. Both my birth-mother and her sister who raised me for fourteen years, were tough on themselves. My aunt was tough on the kids too, but in a this-is-for-your-own-good kind of way. I also see this tough-on-self, but in her case, soft-on-the-kid approach in my wife, as she works on her role as a mother. Our daughter gets a (really) wide berth from her, and yet, my daughter also knows when she’e reaching the end of rope. It’s a very interesting dynamic for me to watch.
The burden of perfection wears heavy on women as they learn their way into their roles as mothers. Society expectations of women in this role is extremely high. Women are expected to be primary caregivers, providers, nourishers, teachers and much more. It is a miracle that they can stay in sound mental health under all this pressure. During Mother’s day week, I often think about the pressures that my Mom must have felt, having her first child, my brother. at the age of nineteen, ten months after she got married. Barely out of childhood, and here she was, taking care of a child of her own.
I wonder what her life would have been like if she hadn’t been handed the early-in-life of Mother. She was twenty one when I was born. What kind of dreams of her own did she have, that got put on the shelf — some of them to stay there permanently. She was very happily married to Dad, and they had lots of travels and adventures together, with us. There were a lot of moments of joy and family times full of tea, music, food and playing cards. And yet, I could feel that there was a sense of searching (for something) within her.
In her case, the search led her to her meditation practice late in life. She was always a devoted to her faith and religious person. However, her meditation practice gave her persona a lightness of heart and joy which had been missing in her life. It was as if she had received a re-birth of her faith through personal experience of divine energy in her life. There was nary a weekly phone conversation where she wouldn’t bring up her practice and her experiences with it. To say that this new child-like joy of hers had an influence on me, is an understatement. And so, a new journey began for me, as I decided to follow her method, a mere few months before she merged with light.
This is the story of two people, mother and child, who began their journey together by muddling through the early years, and then spent most of their physical lives at long distances from each other after the child turned seven. And yet, the connection on the emotional level was rarely frayed — even during, and particularly so when we strongly disagreed with each other. Her final bequest to me was the sharing of her late in life spiritual practice, for which I am eternal grateful, for it shall keep me connected to her in stillness, silence and light.
That’s part of the story of me, one of my mothers, and our imperfections. What’s your story? Are you among the few whose mother thought that you were the perfect child? Do you (or did you) believe that your Mom could do no wrong, and that she ‘walked on water’? What were some defining moments of your ‘travels’ with your Mother or the one(s) who raised you? Were there any influences, weak or strong, that your Mama had on you, or that you had on her?
I have learnt over the years of hosting #SpiritChat that Mother’s Day is a day of widely varying emotions for many of us. It isn’t necessarily a day of celebration for some, particularly those who may have had negative experiences with their mothers. In addition, this day is very tough on those mothers who may be grieving the recent loss of a child, or children grieving their recently lost mother. And then there are those who want to be mothers, but for various reasons, can’t. The mothers of the disappeared. The mothers of those in refugee camps. The mothers of those in ICE detention centers. The mothers of those caught in human trafficking. The single mothers coping with the pandemic. The mothers trapped in heightened domestic abuse during the pandemic. The mothers across the world who struggle every day to provide drinking water, food, maybe even soap, for their children. And many more.
And yet, I have also learnt, that there are those who do embrace this day to honor, celebrate and express gratitude for their journey together – mothers and children alike. What message can we send to all of them on Mother’s Day? Maybe we can make a small donation to women’s shelters and organizations like MitzvahCircle or UNICEF or UNHCR. We can send them a message of Hope with our giving, because it would mean the world to them.
In a spiritual sense, no matter where we may fall on the spectrum of joy or grief on this day, one thing is for certain. We can warm our heart in the knowing that the energy of the Divine Mother is constantly watching over us with deep love, suffusing her healing light into our heart, and is ever-present with her grace in our life. When we experience that divine energy, we can all find cause for remembrance and celebrate Her on this Mothers’ Day.
P.S. Join us as we gather for our weekly conversation on twitter with the #SpiritChat community. Sunday, May 10 at 9amET / 630pm India. We will talk a little about “A Mother’s Energy”, and share some stories about how we muddled through childhood together. Namaste – AjmaniK
A blue (or is it purple or magenta?) iris blooms – my Mother’s favorite colors…
The final question that was asked by Sharon (@AwakeningTrue) at the end of Friday’s Zoom meeting was: what are some things that you really love doing or would like to do? A lot of answers came forth and every answer gave a glimpse into the folks giving the answers.
The answers ranged from “I’m going to to take an improv class” to “I love laughing and infusing laughter into life” to “I love giving hugs” to “I love creating special hand-made gifts for people” to “I love drinking tea and reading” to “I love eating dark chocolate squares” and more. The question made me reflect on my own amateur activities outside of my professional work as an engineer.
I am a rank amateur at walking in nature in every season. I walk for the love of walking, and I bring back photos as visual memories of my walks. On last check, my phone tells me that I have 9486 photos tagged “Fall” from the past seven years – 4022 from “Rocky River Reservation” alone. Yikes. That’s a lot of photos and a lot of standing around, isn’t it?! I am also a lover of simply sitting and watching and wondering, weeding and planting, walking the dog, making and drinking tea, dabbling in poetry on twitter, and writing my weekly blog posts.
Over the past three years, I have become a lover of waking up early and starting my day with meditation. This practice has slowly taught me that inward focus on the heart creates the counter current to all the violence, vitriol, anger, acrimony, divisiveness, despair, disrespect and hate that seems to be endemic in the world. How does the heart do this?
Our heart-focus helps us to put a spotlight on the beauty, the goodness, the lightness and the positive traits of the ones that we are often the quickest to criticize, condemn and complain about. The heart helps us remember that our beloveds are so because of their good qualities and because they often do much more good in the world than otherwise.
It is when the heart reminds us of that sweet fragrance of theirs, we can release anger and open the door to forgiveness. We awaken to the realization that we are not spiritual amateurs any longer. We realize that being an amateur actually serves us well — for the root of that word is amore — a lover of life.
What are some things that you are an amateur at?
P.S. Join us amateurs for our weekly twitter chat on Sunday, November 3rd at 9amET in #SpiritChat ~ share your love of… Namaste – @AjmaniK
Spiritual Integrationfor #SpiritChatby Christy Johnson
Dictionary.comdefinesintegration asanact or instance of combining into an integral whole.In Latin the word integer means untouched, meaning an undivided and whole number.
Each of us comes into life as a whole being, yet wemay forget our inherent wholeness as we traverse our imperfect way through life interacting with otherflawed,yetparadoxicallywhole, humans. Spiritual integration balances our human imperfectionwithour divine perfection.
To heal the internal split and integrate, wemustlearn to acceptof all parts of ourselves, including anyaspectswe’d prefer to keep secret, especiallyanyaspectthat is violentor unforgivingin thought, word, or deed. This requiresself-awareness, courage, and persistence.
The turbulenceand violence in the worldcalls for integration ofboth our collective and personal shadows.As Carl JungwroteinModern Man in Search of a Soul, “How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.”
Unintegratedshadows may manifest as judgment orcanextendfurtherto discriminatoryor even violent acts.To integrate our own shadows, we need to acknowledge all humans have the potentialfor darknessrather than deny that aspect of humanityin general andourselvesin particular. Beingawareof oursharedhuman frailties whileconsciously choosing not tobedrivenby themreflects ourspiritualintegration.
How do we make peace with ourownshadow? How do we shine light onhumanity’scollective shadowto support integration?
Please join us as we explorehow we might helpourselves and the rest ofhumanity heal the collective trauma ofunintegratedshadows.Let’s shine acompassionate light on darkness andbrainstorm abouthow to createa healthier,less shadow-driven,more integrated future for mankind.
Dr. Christy Johnson quit her decades-long engineering career in 2010 to open her integrative energy healing practice. Shehelps clientsgrow, evolve, andgetempoweredvia soul level informationand energy healing. You can connect with her via her websitewww.intuitiveheal.comor on Twitter@IntuitiveHeal.
P. S. Join our special guest host Dr Christy Johnson as she steps up to host our weekly twitter chat (Sunday Aug 25 at 9amET in #spiritchat) on this wonderful topic. Thank you – Kumud