On Bridges and Spirituality

Tags

, , , ,

I decided that I was going to walk farther than ever before along my recently discovered walking trails around the lake. I figured that I would go as far around the circle that I was allowed, and then have to double-back on my path. It would be a good opportunity to view the morning interplay of light, water, sky, birds and trees from both directions — going clockwise and counter-clockwise.

What I hadn’t accounted for was that I would be presented with an invitation at the three-quarter mark around the circle. It was lying hidden among the tall grasses, in a shallow formed by the meeting of two down-slopes on either side of a moist stream bed. Perhaps the smallest of bridges I have ever encountered — one that a tall person like me would even leap over.

The invitation of the bridge created a decision point, an opportunity. Do I abandon my original plan to double-back and experience the trail from both directions, or do I accept, cross over, complete the circle and engage a different experience in that space and time?

We often encounter such ‘bridge experiences’ in our lives. Bridges tend to hold a fascination for most humans engaged in exploration and discovery, because they represent new possibilities. A bridge need not necessarily be a physical entity – far from it. People and practices, and their ability to facilitate new connections can serve as bridges too.

In many ways, music, art, dance, painting, sewing, hiking, reading, meditating, day-dreaming, sky-watching, cloud-spotting, gardening — name your favorite — can become a bridges. When we accept the invitation of any experience that transports us into a realm that creates sustainable silence, stillness, peace, we become a ‘bridge person’, don’t we?

And yet, we often refuse the invitation of bridges. Fear and uncertainty make us reluctant to build them, to cross over them, or invite others to cross with us. We often choose to double-back and keep reworking our well-trodden paths, rather than engage the ‘new bridge’ experiences, no matter how small the leap or crossing may be. What can help us accept the invitation?

Remembrance that faith, courage and grace are our friends can help us be bridges for others. When we experience our ability to help people in small ways, we gain spiritual strength. When we accept the help of those who have crossed before us, we open our heart to the light. In making small bridge choices, we plant the seeds of bigger crossings.

We are almost home. It’s time to take the leap, to cross over. Are you ready? Let’s walk.

The smallest of bridges, can set us free…

A Spirit of Acceptance

Tags

, , , , , ,

ery time I tried to come out of it, I kept falling back into the light – that’s what happened multiple times as I tried to emerge from the morning meditation session. It was a bit like the oceans current pulling you back as you try to come ashore after a swim. I did not resist the pull of the light. Every time I was pulled back, I emerged a bit lighter as a result. 

It was a good thing that this happened on a Saturday morning and I could engage this dance without any time constraints of a work day or a school day. Any other day, and I would have resisted being pulled back or falling back, because I had ‘other things’ to do. Such is the nature of the balance between acceptance and resistance. 

How much time and energy are we willing to give to the clearing of our mind and the opening of our heart? When the messengers of pain and suffering come our way, are we going to be accepting of their messages and sit with them, or are we going to rush them away like unexpected guests at our doorsteps? 

Acceptance has another dimension. Our acceptance of our own beauty, our talents, our abilities and our frailties often meets with internal resistance. At some point in our lives, we all have perhaps had a nagging sense that we are not enough, that we don’t belong, and that we are somehow even deserving of our undue share of pain. Our emotional and mental health suffers as a result. 

One pathway to acceptance of our selves is knowing who we are. This self-knowing is different from the knowledge (about who we are) given to us by others, no matter how well (or ill) intentioned they may be. It is useful to ask the question, and ask it often – who am I in this moment? What is my truth? What am I feeling and where did this feeling come from? And so on.

Eventually, when we have had enough immersions in the answers, we may not need to question any more. We come to realize that we are the ocean, and that our separateness from it is a form of forgetfulness of that knowing. 

Through remembrance, comes the knowing of “I am That”. From knowing, come acceptance. With knowing, we can then stay in the ocean or emerge from it. It does not matter either way, because we are then in constant remembrance that we belong to each other. True healing and helping can then begin.

Kumud

P. S. Join us for our weekly gathering with the #spiritchat community on Twitter, Sunday May 16 at 9am ET / 630pm India. We will talk about acceptance over tea, fruit, flowers and cookies. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The sun crests over the trees on a spring morning…

On Mothers and Perspectives

Tags

, , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste,

Kumud

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

The Spirit of Goodness

Tags

, , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste,

Kumud

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

Sunrise on a morning walk. April 2021.

On Life and Dignity

Tags

, , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumud

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

The simplicity, purity and dignity of Spring

Love and Forgiveness by @AwakeningTrue

Tags

, , ,

Love and Forgiveness 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainbow of Forgiveness – Photo by Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino

 

IMG 0700 rainbow sharon 

On Raising Intuition

Tags

, , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumud

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

A Lily - After the Rain

The Heart’s Fullness

Tags

, , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumud

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

Flowers fill the heart… Happy Easter!

On Life’s Diverse Colors

Tags

, , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumud

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

What colors can your eye see in Spring?

Messengers of Equity

Tags

, , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumud

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

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

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