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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The Heart’s Release

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We often talk about the idea and need of “letting go” in our weekly #SpiritChat conversations. One of my favorite analogies in this context is given by Osho:

To light a fire, we need a spark. A matchstick struck on the side of a matchbox can provide that spark. And yet, once the fire is lit, we don’t keep the used matchstick around. Its work is done. The fire’s work begins. – Osho 

Over time, our heart tends to become the repository of many such “used” matchsticks. We tend to hold on to them, refuse to release them, “just in case”. The result? Instead of sharing the light, the energy and the warmth that the fire has lit within us, we hold on to worry – what if the fire goes out and I don’t have any more matchsticks left? Maybe I’ll be able to use the burnt one after all.

What else may we hold on to in the heart, as we refuse to release?

We hold on to waiting and waffling, letting our mind convince us that we aren’t ready, aren’t good enough to share our light yet.

We while our time away watching and marveling at the fire, all the sparks emanating from it, hoping for it to change for the better, before we decide to share it. We hold on to procrastination. 

We make deep dives into the mind’s spaces, wondering about the ‘why me’, ‘what now’, ‘what if’, ‘what about’ and ‘is it really my purpose to share’ questions. We hold on to the never-ending wondering. 

We keep looking at the wishing well in wistfulness and get swamped by uncertainty about the purpose and possible impact of our sharing. We hold on to a lifetime of inactive wishes while we let the heart accumulate ever-new desires, as the fire dwindles.

All this worrying, waiting, waffling, whiling, why me-ing, what now-ing, what iff-ing, what about-ing, wishing and more. All the while, the fire has now gone out, the embers have gotten cold, and we are still holding on to the burnt matchstick in our hands. 

And yet, there is a bright path, which can be walked by us, if we allow the heart to release the matchstick of our dogmas, our vanities, our hubris, our anger, our hate, and that is burning us out from within. It is akin to letting go of the weight of the hundreds of thousands of parts, systems, and engines that have served their purpose, and brought us this far on our journey. We are grateful for all them, including the sky-crane which has finally set our wheels down ever so gently on a new planet.

And yet, the sky-crane needs to be released too, or will be forever frozen in time and space, unable to move, to explore, to search for life. It’s time to release the final matchstick. 

In releasing with gratitude, all that has brought us here, we create space for our heart’s new mission — whatever we may choose it to be. In the heart’s release, we become free to leverage our spirit, opportunity and curiosity. Freedom allows us to appreciate and acknowledge our journey, and engage our wheels to begin our work.

A new world beckons. Let’s release our light. 

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly conversation with the #SpiritChat community on twitter – Sunday, February 21 at 9am ET / 730pm India. Bring your wheels, ready to explore! – @AjmaniK

In a final act of release, a skycrane lowers @NASA’s Rover, Perseverance, on to the Martian Surface on February 18 2021. 

SkyCrane Lowers Perseverance on to Mars

The Heart’s Purpose

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Sometimes, you can live a lot of life in a mere five minutes. Sometimes, it may take you five hours, five days, or even five years to life a lot of life. Sometimes, even fifty years may not seem to be enough to live the life that we feel we ought to have lived or hope to live.

Before we go further, let me ask a question. What is the most significant ‘thing’ that you can remember about the last five years of your life? Some will ask in return – well, what do you mean by significant? One way to answer the ‘what is significant’ question is to ask – how well did it align with my purpose? To go further down the rabbit hole, we then ask, what is my (heart’s) purpose?

Purpose can be a very wide-ranging thing. Some of us (ahem) tend to spend a lot of time – a bit more than five minutes – wondering about purpose. Does my purpose need to be something I love (to do)? Does purpose need to align with what the world needs? Does purpose have to focus on what I can make money with? Or can purpose be drawn from my natural talents and what I am good at? 

The four questions related to refining and defining of purpose, so that we can arrive at significance, and what the Japanese have called  Ikigai – a reason for being. 

Ikigai entails actions of devoting oneself to pursuits one enjoys and is associated with feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment – Michigo Kumano

I was pointed to this perspective on purpose by my very good friend, Gopi Maliwal, following a discussion four weeks ago after he had cryptically (and uncharacteristically :)) tweeted… “this is one of the happiest days of my life”. We talked more via DM, and the reason for his “happiest day” became abundantly clear to me. He shared that he felt a sense of fulfillment because he had taken a step “to make his life truly useful”.

The brief conversation made me ask the question – what would give my heart and its actions a sense of accomplishment, of fulfillment, of significance, of having fulfilled its purpose? I further asked – five minutes, five days or five years hence, how much of my living will contribute to bringing me closer to my heart’s purpose?

I invite you to ask some of these questions. If it helps, sit with a loved one in your heartspace and reflect on the four quadrants – what are  you really good at, what is your current work, what does the world need, and, what do you love? What is it that lies at the intersection of the four quadrants? What emerges from the intersection?

Kumud

P.S. Heartmonth continues in our weekly conversation on twitter – Sunday, Feb 14 at 9amET / 730pm India. Join us as we explore our heart’s purpose and share the love. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The heart’s purpose is often revealed by Nature…

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The Heart of Bliss

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There is a certain clarity about those winter mornings where the sun finally breaks through the grey gloom which has been seemingly hanging around for weeks. You look out at the sprinkling of snow that has turned into a film of scattered ice on the driveway, crystals shining in the sunlight cresting over the homes across the street. You want to take a walk, but you know that it is better to wait because the brilliance is deceptive. The temperature is still in the single digits and there won’t be enough layers to keep you warm. 

Such is the majesty of a winter morning where the sun is now fully streaming onto your face as you have pulled back the last bit of curtain from the front window where the puppy has claimed the one warm spot on the bench along the split windows. You sit cross legged on the divan, just as you had sat on the floor a bit earlier for morning meditation where the waves of light from your connection to the earth and sky had filled you with the same warmth that you had felt when you last walked the beach at sunset on a Caribbean island.

Your heart is quieting as you keep writing, taking an occasional sip from the coffee mug which has “baby it’s cold outside” inscribed in a half circle around a snowflake. You can taste that special taste of fresh ground beans from a freshly opened bag of coffee seeping through your tongue, combining with your next breath, as it sends a unique sense of aliveness into the deeper layers of your awareness. More sunshine, more stillness comes your way as the puppy is now transitioned into an early morning snooze while she waits with me for the rest of the household to come awake.

Oy. Stop already. When are you going to talk about the heart of bliss? Ahem. What do you imagine I’ve been doing in the last three paragraphs? I’ve been trying to put my stream of thoughts into words. You can’t really plan this stuff, can you? You can practice to move your heart and its awareness towards silence, stillness, and warmth. You can practice to quieten the noise and filter out more of the daily perturbations. You can practice to be open to the remembrance that you have been through the glooms and storms  before.

What does the practice yield? You wake up to days like this when the Universe and its energy transports you from the walk along the shore to a deep dive into the ocean and whispers to you…

You are truth. You are awareness. And above all. You are the heart of Bliss. You belong. 

Remember That. 

Kumud

P.S. February is “heart” month. We will celebrate the heart every Sunday this month. Please join our kickoff celebration by joining our weekly chat with the #SpiritChat community on twitter, Sunday Feb 7 at 9am ET / 730pm India. Bring some #MomentsOfBliss to share. Namaste. ~ @AjmaniK

The heart of a rose, no matter its name is defined by bliss…

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On Creating Simplicity

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Thirtieth January. It was on this day in 1948 that the simple life of Mahatma Gandhi was snuffed by an act of violence, as he walked to an outdoor prayer meeting in New Delhi. His final words as he breathed his last were, “hey ram” — a remembrance of the God Rama. Gandhi, the man who was instantly recognizable by his simplicity – a pair of glasses, a walking stick and a white cloth made of homespun cotton draped around his body, as he travelled all across India inspiring a nation to rise up in non-violence to shake off the chains of British rule.

It was Gandhi’s simplicity that made him relatable to India’s ordinary people who felt that they too could join him in his fight for freedom and justice. His mission was simple too — complete independence for India. Inspired by the Bhagavad Gita and the likes of Paine and Thoreau, he inspired many lovers of non-violence and freedom in his wake, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

We all have had experiences with simplicity, or at least the occasional and intermittent desire for it in our lives. We often marvel and reminisce about the joy and lightness that we felt in those stages of our lives when ‘life was so simple’. One reason that our heart may even ache for a rerun to simplicity, to create it again in our lives, is that it is our natural state.

The ease of flow that we experience in simplicity is what attracts us to create it again. Simplicity, and the allowance that it creates in our lives – the idea of living a simple life of observation instead of a life of a desire to control people’s behavior and the tendency to jump to conclusions and judgement. Simplicity engenders a life of peace, tranquility, lightness and creativity rather than a life living the death spiral of the ‘outrage of the hour’ brought to us by our hyper engagement with (social) media.

How do we begin to create simplicity (again)? One area we can examine is our daily habits and practices. What habits can we simplify, or even eliminate, without much effort? What (spiritual) practices are portable and sustainable? In what ways are we introducing more complex thoughts into our daily life? Some questions I often ask at the end of the day. For how long did I sit still today? What did I consume and how did it affect me? Did I engage with nature today? What was my greatest moment of Joy today?

As we ask these simple questions and watch the answers emerge, our awareness will create more simplicity in our lives. The more that simplicity grows within, the more we will be attracted to it because of its rewards and its ability to return us to our natural, holistic state. Simplicity creates sustainability and warmth for the heart, like the rising of the Sun. A sunrise is simple, and yet, is there any single act more effective and essential for the health of the planet?

Kumud

Join us for our weekly Twitter chat, Sunday Jan 31 at 9amET in #SpiritChat – we will ask some simple questions and create some simplicity. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The simplicity encouraged by Nature…

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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