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My Thoughts My Words

What prompts me to write this blog…

As we walk on this path called “Life”, each one of us has our own set of experiences. Though we might all be a collection of the same five elements, spiritually we are all so different. Even two people, passing through similar experiences , might take home diametrically opposite learning. That is what makes life and it’s journey so rich and varied. That is probably what gives each of us our own unique flavour, colour and fragrance….. just like the flowers in nature.. Can you imagine how monotonous it would be, meandering through this path called LIFE , seeing the same scenery around us!!! However high a belief we might carry of ourselves, do you believe one would be able to travel with people similar to us, throughout our stay in this world!!!!

Each one of us has been endowed with different perceptions and those, when exchanged, gives a different understanding on the same topic….does that make sense!!!
This is what really helps us grow in life. If I am going to “SEE” the events in my life through my same old yellow lenses, my reactions and responses will always be similar. If I have had a difficult time with relationships, and I continue with the same perceptions, how can I ever expect a different outcome!!!

Through this blog, I just want to help, maybe clean our lens or change them to see better and clearer. Having a deep awakening or realisation that “I” myself can change “My” life, is empowering…..that would be the endeavour here. Sharing with you my experiences and my leanings, and hoping that these would help you look at your life differently and therefore help you become happier., is my desire….

Shalini K Munjal

Mirror mirror on the wall..

Mirror mirror on the wall , can I also be happy like them all !!

Can I not be ,as pretty as her, as eloquent as him…..as successful as her, ..as remarkable as him…

Can I not have their gait of confidence, ….

why am I lacking in these..why..why…why..

Smiled the Mirror back at me ,” Why don’t you see, you have it all, ….they CRAVE to BE like you….who has it all and …doesn’t see….

Mirror mirror on the wall…

My Choice…Wounded Or Wise!!!… Inspired by Sadguru

On a lazy Sunday afternoon I was browsing through YOU TUBE. Mindlessly watching one video after another, digging my teeth into freshly boiled corn. A good de-stress activity for sure. I came upon a short clip by Sadguru. I have always found value in his explanations. This one was specially intriguing.

Here he spoke of HURT, and the options one has at that time. Beautifully explained. He said, “When one is hurt, there are two options. You become wounded or you become wise. This is the choice. The more things hurt you earlier on in your life the wiser you should have become, isn’t is? But unfortunately most people become wounded. This is simply because they just need an excuse to turn their own intelligence against themselves”. And then what he said , caught my attention. “Especially when the whole world around you has turned against you, is it not very very important that your intelligence stands up for you?”….

Wow, I thought that was so very profound. So powerful!!

To think of it, when there are a bunch of people speaking against you, saying things to demotivate, what is the first thought that enters the mind? Hurt? Or, ‘anger? ‘Hatred’? Or is it ‘self doubt’??? One is definitely ‘wounded’. It is natural, isn’t it??

The mind, on which at most times control is difficult, takes the reins once again, as if duty bound, to take us on a roller coaster ride. The highest and the scariest one in the world, and land in the depths of grief. Where feelings of hurt, offence, outrage, anxiety, amongst many more, live ‘happily’ together (if they can ,sic!). I sometimes feel, it doesn’t like peace and calm, as it might have a fear or , insecurity of losing control. Going out of business. Having to become quite. That’s not its nature though. It is a monkey after all; it enjoys acrobatics…..!!

For a moment, let’s try ‘changing the emotion of hurt‘. Replace it. Replace it with ‘wisdom’. Replace it with ‘calmness’. Replace it with ‘introspection’. Maybe even ‘confidence’!? Confidence in the self. Also look at it the way you would, were you comforting another in a similar situation….A view from the ‘outside’, instead of one from the ‘inside’.

As I change my perspective, what do I see? A person who needs ‘compassion’! Maybe even ‘love’? And a ‘patient ear’! Yes!!! I think so! And, definitely not to be ‘judged’, at this point ……and absolutely not by himself…

As Sadguru said, it really depends on us as to what we choose in such a situation. Hurt, a feeling of being wounded? Or,….looking at it with wisdom? With weakness and defeat, or experience and empowerment? One, enriches you with ‘wisdom and knowledge’, and the other, clutters with ‘hatred, self pity and blame.

As I look back at my life I can clearly ‘see’ the times where my choice was the first one…..and when it was the second. Where there was an overload of misery and fear , and where I was fortunate to “make it a positive learning experience’. But I also realised, to my dismay, how many more times it the first one I chose. How many more times the ‘monkeywon. So many ‘missed opportunities’…..

Life, if one were to look at it simply, is like a school. Like school, here too we are taught lessons and given tests to check our understanding. There is one difference though, here we are tested first, and then the lesson is learnt, whereas in school, the teacher is kind enough to teach us first. In school we are aware of our syllabus at every point and can make a noise if a question is ‘out of portion’. There are certain rules here. In life there is no text. No ‘noise’ can be made as there ‘is no syllabus’. The learnings from one helps fairing better in the next. The wisdom, ‘earned’ is what make the difference every time…..

So what should my decision be? Have my intelligence work for me….or against…

Do I choose my thoughts to be sublime , or subjugated?

What is your thought? Have the ‘wisdom’ on your side, or …..

Wounded ? Or Wise?

And, Before Breath Turns To Air….

Beep….Beep…Beep…..the sound of the echo cardio gram machine on top of his head. The monitor proved him still alive. Every breath recorded. Every tone sounded reassuring to her. The rhythm was comforting. His eyes had been closed for a week now; his body motionless. Multiple tubes ran in and out of him. All playing a small but vital role in keeping that machine ‘in melody’. Still singing it’s song.

Sitting there by his side she recalled his life, his words, his dreams. Had he lived the way he had hoped? The way he had desired? She wondered. All the various things he had wanted to do, to accomplish, were they all off his bucket list? Or were even a few ticked? Even one?!!

She recalled reading the book, ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon. That had stayed with her. His story. His journey after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Now in front of her lay this young man. What had his ‘travels’ been like? What had his aspirations been; what were his aspirations even now? Though unconscious, could he still be hoping to return? To fulfill them, even now? Could he be nurturing a deep desire to live life on his terms, if given a second chance? Had his life too been spent as a response to the stimuli from those around?!? She wondered. Probably reminiscing her own.

She turned her gaze to another patient in the bed next to him. An elderly gentleman maybe in his eighties, on a heart and lung machine. There seemed to be more wires than flesh on him. In coma for a month. Not to resuscitate, said the file attached to the foot of his cot. How had his life been? Did he lie there with a sense of accomplishment or regret? A sense of contentment or remorse? Would there be repentance or approval in his eyes looking back at the path he had just tread upon?

What about the others there, in similar situations? If given a second chance would they change their course, their ‘vehicle’, their ‘route’, their ‘road map’….. Would she herself too, do it?

She thought of her journey thus far. Chose science in high school because of parental pressure. Then medical school as girls in those days were either doctors or engineers. Arts subjects were looked down upon. Her dreams for being a fashion designer bombed in infancy itself. ‘You have to marry a doctor only’, her family pressure. And then one after another her life was run as a response’ to people and situations around.

So many come into that Intensive Care Unit. Some go back and some move on. Lying there, some might have awakened to their true cause, their life’s purpose, and might actually have been able to go back and make changes. They are the lucky ones, she thought. What were the thoughts of the ones who did not make it back? With what reprieve did they lie there and with what grief and dreams did they leave, when their breath….finally turned to air..

Suddenly she heard long beeps. Beeeep…beeeeeeeeeeep! She looked at the monitor to find a straight line. All the efforts of the nursing team and doctors could not stop that last breath from escaping and all the air around, not being able to turn into ‘ another new breath’, for him ever again…..

Tears rolled down her cheeks. How many more such experiences would she need to go through before learning the true meaning….the true meaning of life, the true meaning of living….

Why do tragedies or a brush with them, only teach us the most important lessons on life. Why is it that only the tussle between the ‘breath and the air’, helps us to understand the importance of relationships, our dreams, our passion, our desires…. And the wisdom to recognise that we may be giving more importance to our frivolous choices over the ones that matter; that our journeys are different and so might be our paths…..

I wonder, will she be able to make that shift…..will I be able to make that change……will you be able to find your road,,,,,,remove the chaff from the seed…..before the breath turns to air…….

Oh! I Will Never Forgive You….For What You Did…

Ajay sat in a cafe on the very busy arterial street in Banff, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. He watched hordes of tourists moving about, in and out of shops. Some couples hugging each other, giggling and laughing; some holding hands. People waking around, window shopping or just enjoying an ice cream. Joy and happiness was the general feel in the air. Vacations are always fun, and what could be more scenic than Canada, he thought. The snow, the mountains, the peace….away from the maddening crowd back home. He revelled in the feeling of being a nobody here. No one knew him, and no one really cared; neither did he.

As he turned to call someone to take his order, his attention was caught by a group of young men sitting by the window. They were probably in their early twenties, maybe just out of university. What actually captured his curiosity was an animated statement made by one of them. “I will never forgive her………!” Those words simply pierced through his entire being. He didn’t really care to listen to the rest of the statement. He was thrown off …..off into his past….into his thoughts, into his wounds which he thought had healed.

It had happened so many years ago, yet the memories always managed to raise a tidal wave of emotions within. He was still in university when his mother left them, him, his brother and father. She had moved on. He was devastated. Could not understand why she would do something like this. He had always looked up to her. She had been his ‘go to person’. She always seemed to have the answers to all his issues. She was his ‘world’, and like it is , the person who is the closest has the key to our hearts. He also by default becomes the one who can hurt us the most. That is exactly what happened when his ‘worldleft. In his mind she became responsible for all that went wrong in his life. For him she was reason behind his father’s ‘untimely death’, even though it happened quite a few years later. The last rites were over before he could reach back home from London, where he was in the midst of his thesis. It was a family decision, though he felt it could have been stalled till he reached home. He was unable to get a closure even here. All this pain surrounding these old memories just bubbled up to the surface hearing the anguish in the young man’s voice. The hurt Ajay had thought had healed, the grief, the bitterness, the heartache, the anxiety……was all still there….

That is probably why he would run away every now and then. Want to become invisible at times; melt away into the woodwork.

Why was he still hurting? After all these years? Still holding his mother and brother, amongst others, responsible for his grief? His wounds still seemed fresh. What was not allowing him to heal? What was it ?

Why is it that we are told to forgive the other? Forgive the person or persons who have caused us injury. Mental trauma. Why? Is it fair? Does that mean that I condone his behaviour? I let him go unscathed, unpunished?? Is it okay for him to hurt me?

No. The answer to all the above is NO… He or they caused hurt that one time, but every time it is relived, it hurts. It do so……again; and again and……yet again. The wound gets deeper and deeper each time it is recalled. It is like that scab on the wound you got when you scraped your knee on falling off the bike, as a child; and then one afternoon in complete boredom, you pealed it off. And then you ‘enjoyed’ repeating the act again, when a fresh one was formed. The skin underneath was not allowed to dry up. Not permitted to heal. And, it would bleed each time. What is the difference here? Is it not the same?

Every recall brings with it pain and anguish and even more sadness. And the blame goes on. The feeling of ‘victim lingers on. And on. The adjectives keep piling up.

No it is not easy to forgive, ….and then forget. Much easier said than done, for sure.

But here it is not about ‘them’. By pardoning them, I am not absolving them of what they have done , but in fact, taking a decision that I want to free myself of the guilt and tears. The decision that I no longer want to carry the unnecessary burden; the cross on my back. That I let go. That I now empower myself. That I make place in my heart for more good to enter. That I make place in my life to attract positive people and events. That I take away the right that I had given them to cause me continuous pain every time I remembered the event, even years later. That I have done a favour to ‘myself’….

I allow myself to heal

I allow myself to forgive for…I love myself

I allow myself…..I give myself permission…..permission to live as I desire…

To empower yourself, to be happy, to be free, to allow abundance….do not say “ Oh! I will never forgive you……”; ever again…

Karma…What Does It Mean ? Trying to understand it…

‘Karma’. How many times have you heard this word? Used so casually. ‘Oh it’s karma”! Ever given it a serious thought? What is it, really ?

In the ‘BHAGAVADGITA’, Karma is described as the action or deed done by an individual. It is a doing word. The Karma on its own does not decide whether it is positive or negative. Krishna says, it is the ‘intention’ behind it which is important.

The deed on its own is not what it is about. The thought and feeling with which it is performed is the driving force. A mother shouts at her child with a view to correct him, versus two or more persons shouting with the idea of disrespect or causing hurt or insult. One out of love and concern and the other out of just the opposite emotion….

The word intention has so much depth. So much to understand here. The intention behind the action is only known to the actor; the doer or creator of the karma, is it not? No one else can ever know it. No other person can ever know the true feelings or intent. That karma therefore carries the hue of the intention….good or bad; positive or negative; malicious or concern…..

When I ponder over this, I am shown that it is how we think, that holds a lot more importance. The true feeling, the actual driver behind. What goes on behind the ‘action’, carries more weight then? The verb itself might not be where it all ends?!?

When I turn and look at myself, I realise how much responsibility I have from the inception of the deed to the completion! Thought, wordand then the.deed….the intention runs through it all.

As I delve deeper into myself I start watching my thoughts, as a spectator does, the opera. ‘I’, lurking around my ‘My’ thoughts…eavesdropping on them. Paying attention, not to reprimand ….just to caution. What was my intention here? Where is my mind taking me? Can I correct it here itself??? Yes maybe I can! Maybe I just need to be more aware? More in the moment? Would that be able to help me create better karma; take more mindful decisions?!! Create a better future…..

EMPOWERING!!!! I don’t then, need to justify my actions to anyone; if I know my true intention, do I? YES… but first I have to be clear about my thoughts behind my actions; my behaviour…… Where they are coming from, as that will determine, where I go….

And could this then stop the blame game I so often play?!

I revisit my my actions and the chatter behind each of them. The behind the scenes drama…

What is my thought when I correct someone at work, or at home? Was the compliment I paid my colleague on his presentation genuine or out of jealousy? Also the one I paid the lady at dinner the other night on her attire! And the one to the mother of the young man who received the award! And the so many I have in the past !?!? And what about all the charity work I have done?? What was the thought behind those?

When I check on another, is the concern genuine? Is there a thought that I want to say something to sincerely make this person happy, or is it just for…..effect….to sound good….or for a favour in return at a later point?

Is there anger rising in me while I am speaking to one, or irritation lacing my comment, to another!?!

As I delve deeper and watch my deeds, I ‘see my feelings that accompany them’……I stumble upon the lackadaisical comments made by my mind….the lose remarks…the insensitive commentary behind…. Where is this whole thing leading to? Where am I heading …..

Will I drown or can I be aware when I see it raising it ugly head… will I be able to recognise it or will it engulf me….

‘Empowering or daunting “….

What is karma, for I am still trying to understand, how it works…

Interstellar…..The Communication…..

Reading various books and articles I realise I do come upon very interesting meanings and interpretations to my thoughts and dilemmas. Have you realised that when you are looking for answers, they find you? Somewhere I think the entire universe ‘conspires’ to helps us find the correct message. Just the one YOU need. I have noticed that if one is conscious or attentive enough, one can feel the universe speak.

Recently I was writing out a message to send across. I added a sentence towards the end and went back to read it before sending it. It was not there! Ok, I thought, maybe I didn’t type it fully. Maybe I was mistaken. So I did it again. And this time too ,when I went back to read the message, that line was missing!! I thought of writing it out again. I was losing my patience. Then something told me to hold on. Not to do it. ‘Twice’ cannot be a mistake. ‘Twice’ could not be my imagination! But ‘Twice’, could be a ‘message’….. To me to not write that…To not send it with that sentence…To avoid it…..

And then, just to check, I gave it another try; and it happened again!!! I thought there was something wrong with my mobile, but my son assured me all was well ! I am glad I let go of my irritation. Paused and reflected. Could it be some greater power out there saying something??? Maybe it was the universe trying to communicate ….and I listened and acted thereby in accordance….

Later I realised that statement really was not needed. The message made better sense without it…but how many times do we listen to or understand these cues?

Pause and reflect….how many different ways the Supreme Energy is constantly communicating with us. Our inner voice of course, but in ways more than just that. Even through books…Maybe through another’s words, a song, an article in a magazine……and more…

When things don’t work out the way we think they should have, it sure is disappointing; but then we can only know what we can see….Not the full picture…..The bigger canvas might have different colours. The greater plan could be something far superior, beyond our powers of comprehension…..

In this whole machinery called universe, each one of us is just a cog . Yes, but an important one. The working is affected by our choices, but somehow all gets interconnected. Meshed together, I would say. It could be explained as five blind people feeling five different parts of an elephant, to describe it. Each one’s description would vary, but not entirely wrong. So each one’s reactions to ‘an elephant’, would be so different. The one feeling the tail might not be scared of the size, pooh poohing the fear of the other who has felt the belly or it’s leg…

The FULL picture is what we don’t know, yet we think our decision is always right….yet that ego kicks in…yet we feel upset….yet we are ready to fight to make our point…yet..yet…and yet…again…..

So many times I have noticed that the call drops when I am starting to share something….a feeling, or an experience. Sometimes relevant. Sometimes not . And often times I might have decided earlier that I don’t really need to share this just yet; and then, start doing just the opposite…and the phone gets disconnected, or the person has to go. How would you justify this…protection, universe conspiring, Higher Energy stepping in….What? This is like a reminder or, if one is aware, this could be a message to you not to go ahead with what you were thinking…or about to do…Leave it at that time. Let some time pass. Process it. Mull over it. You might find a new angle, a new meaning, a different aspect, and therefore a better response. A better job. A better project. A more lucrative business deal. Or safety from someone, or something not meant for you !!!

I have realised the more attentive one starts becoming, the better the communication. The more one listens the louder the message. The more one responds to IT, the more accurate it becomes….

Isn’t it like opening a new dimension to life, beyond the sixth sense!

Listen to the universe….it is speaking with you……

And Then She Spoke……

Hemant had had a tough week at work. His boss had been pressurising him on deadlines and deliveries, collections and payments. He thought of catching up with an old friend of his for a simple lunch at a restaurant nestled away on a hillside, a couple of hours away from home. He had always enjoyed long drives and this seemed to be an apt destination; meandering through the tall coniferous on a less traveled road. Over narrow bridges across streams, and along water gushing forth from waterfalls. What a beautiful drive and a perfect way to de-stress! Listening to his favourite playlist that he had connected to the car’s music system.

As he drove into the long narrow driveway leading up to an old colonial bungalow with high arches and vines running along, he spotted his friend. She looked ravishing in a lovely long purple colour coat over her dress , and high boots. A casual scarf adorned her delicate neckline.

A table was set for them just as he had wanted; outside, among the trees and wild flowers, with the sun peeping through the branches, offering its warmth.

They had so much to share, after all twelve years is not a short time. Old school buddies suddenly meeting on Facebook. Friends who had lost touch after university. Today she was a counsellor and he, at a senior post in a multinational company.

Appetising finger food. Red Wine with roasted meat. Hot soup with cold weather. And lots of chatter and laughter. Some moments of regret and tear and then lots of stories, as they walked done memory lane.

Soon the beautiful afternoon came to an end. As each collected their belongings and silently walked towards the parking, the slanting rays of the sun casted long shadows behind them. Shadows which contained in its belly so many secrets they had shared. Some, maybe the first time even with themselves …..

With a promise to stay connected, they drove off, down the same winding road, but each towards different destinations.

Once in the car, on his own, his mind drifted off. Waves of emotions flooded his head as he recalled their conversation. So many topics; from formal in the beginning to sharing information about their lives. From casual to intimate. From indifference to intrigue. And then, each accompanied with varied sentiments and feelings. He was trying to search within, for the dominant one..

He did recall thinking of her at various points in life but could never put a finger as to which emotion accompanied it. But what did their conversation today throw light on? What was it that kept peeping in and out? Was it a deeper feeling? He wondered. Was it something he missed back in his university, when they were all together, friends and more?

Did he spot the same in her today? Is that what he picked up each time she turned her gaze? Times when she would float away, mid conversation? Had she come today to say she was still waiting?

As he drove along, the breeze from the rolled down window gently cooled his face. His hair gleefully danced. As he squinted to prevent the wind from blowing into his eyes , he wondered why people miss the cues. Had he? Had he missed recognising his own deep down desire? Had he missed acknowledging it….to himself? Had he missed reading her too? All these years? All this while?

Suddenly a cow appeared out of nowhere, and his immediate reflexes brought him back to reality. Still shaking from the incident he parked his car on the side. Grey clouds were approaching on the western sky, as if nature too was mirroring his sentiments.

He decided to drive on before the light pitter patter gave way to a heavy shower. The raindrops entering through the open window covered his face; but then how come he could taste salt?? His emotions seemed to be now mixed with the rain, both flowing away…..

As he drove on still trying to figure why his eyes were hazy; was it water or ….., he wondered why one sometimes fail to recognise reality. Are we so blinded that emotions evade us? Is it ever too late to make amends, to apologise, to start again? To accept and be accepted. To find oneself and therefore find the other? To ask for another chance ….

Why is it that courage deserts us when we need it the most? Why do words fail us when needed to share feelings? Why is it that by the time we recognise the void, so much water has flown under the bridge.. Why is it that neither party are able to recognise what is happening to the other or, the hurt they might be causing…

Why are relationships so complicated? And then again, are they all?

As he turned into his paved driveway, his cellphone lit up…it started dancing to it’s own tune. “Seema calling “, it flashed gleefully!! He stared at it as if that would initiate the conversation.

And then she spoke…….

A Big Fat Indian Wedding…

A beautiful day to welcome the wedding guests, it was. I wore a simple but elegant cotton dress for the lunch. The venue was tastefully decorated with white flowers; carnations and roses interspersed with baby’s breath. A few here and then a few there. The parents of the bride were understandably on top of the world, as they greeted their guests with affection and humility.

As I sat with a few friends sipping sangria and listening to foot tapping music of my younger days, I watched the guests walking in. I am sure there were a mix of relatives and friends. One meets and builds relationships with so many on the journey through life, some close and some still acquaintances. But then I guess A big fat Indian wedding, warrants an invite to all !!!

I had been looking forward to the celebrations specially as it was after the long cold pandemic period. Everyone had been through their share of turmoil; some who had knocked the doors of death and managed to escape while some others who had lost a loved one to it. A few who’s job profiles changed forever, while a few fortunate ones who actually found deep meaning in their journey.

Over the next two days I observed many people who were maybe meeting after decades, all ready to party and make fresh connections. There was liquor and food, flowers and jewellery; designer clothes one more beautiful than the other, all showcased for the other’s perusal… Money seemed to have suddenly lost its density. It seemed to just flow like liquid

There was much fun and dance. The bride’s family, so close knit I thought. I definitely consider it a boon in today’s world. And also because I am such a sucker for human bond. Really, I wonder, is there anything more important! But then that is me. I had such a warm feeling in my heart with my smile touching my eyes, just watching them.

Me and my favourite sangria did get to spend some time by ourselves across the days of festivities. And slowly I saw, or rather perceived a tear in the fabric of the close knit family. An occasional incident here and there threw up to the surface what all was camouflaged behind the smiles and laughter.

I completely understand that everyone does not have great relationships. People are different, I agree. But it is saddening to see the disturbance within one generation, being allowed to seep through…….

Today as I sit after my morning walk sipping my coffee, watching a flock of sparrows playing amongst themselves, my mind meandered back to the beautiful wedding I had attended a few months ago. I recalled the smiling bride and blessed her silently. Remembering the magnitude of the celebrations, I shuddered to think of all the effort that would have gone into it, behind the scenes……..

Yes behind the scene, a lot goes on . A lot stays hidden. In so many families…..

As I sat today I thought of my own children and then the youth in general. Are these the adults of tomorrow whom we will be handing over our world to !! Is the youth even matured enough to take care of it?

As a parent myself, I wonder if I have raised my progeny as an asset or a liability. They are the children of the world. Am I leaving my old incorrect thought process with them or have I empowered them with the knowledge to decide for themselves what is right and what might not be ? Am I leaving a heavy baggage of my actions, reactions and my tainted glasses or have I been able to keep them light so they can fly, taking the world with them? Today do they have their sight intact or is their vision impaired?

Have I been able to remove a veil off their eyes or have I cast a spell of hatred, doubt, mistrust and ego …..for life, and banished them…??

And as I go back into my thoughts, dear reader, I would like to leave you with a question, whose responsibility is it anyway………

And I Thought I Was The Full Chain…

As I sat in the balcony of my room at the ashram, a fleet of thoughts over took me. Were they ‘realisations’ or ‘theories’, I know not. Or were they just various haphazard conversations with the self ? Various incomplete divulgence, or disorganised answers? I was still trying to decipher whether I would find some meaning in these, when my gaze shifted to the river flowing a few metres below, in the valley.

At places it flowed unabated, and then there were points where white foam formed as it encountered rocks of different sizes. Obstructions or not, boulders or non, it continued unfazed. My vision, still trying to capture it’s journey, was politely hazed over by a veil of dust which gently rose up between ‘us’, caused by the construction below.

My thoughts returned to the book of Om Swami I had finished reading the night before. ‘The book of kindness’. It felt as if He gave wings to a lot of my thoughts. The weave He had created had caused a calm to descend on my own confused incomplete dilemma.

The opposite of ‘kindnesses’ is not ‘unkindness’, but ‘No Kindness’, hmmm, never looked at it that way…..

And then to ponder on charity. I have always been grateful that a little happens through me. I too have often told myself that I am only an instrument, a medium through which it happens. Am not the doer, as Swamiji mentions.

Then as my thoughts meandered along with the river, it struck me how many times one feels a little pride creep up when one loosens the purse strings. A little twinge of it, at least. But the river here was showing me it’s charity, the mountains theirs, and the bees; the trees laden with fruit silently stood offering their gifts. I was humbled by the magnanimity of nature, by it’s generosity; and the silence in which it is done…..

Then again why does modesty give way to the ‘ego’? The ‘Giver’, is someone else. The ‘Receiver’, yet another. I am just the conduit in-between. Am I not!!! Then why does the ‘Container’, in the middle, succumb to ‘Ownership’?….. I ponder…..

As the veil between the river and I dissipated, so did the one over my eyes and mind.

Where I might have thought I was the full chain, I am… but a link….

And Then The Story From The Other side…..

As I sat in my lounge on my favourite grey colour L-shaped sofa, my legs stretched out in front of me, I recalled a response that I received to my post the previous week. The article was on how sometimes in being a perfectionist, one cages oneself, so much so that the enjoyment and spontaneity is lost; we could get lost and get caught in a spiral.

I read her message again. I could feel her pain and anxiety. She was the other aspect, the other side, from the ‘perfectionist’. She was the victim!!!

Suddenly the perfectionist, the one who was caged by his way of thinking, was the one who was the perpetrator, the one who had caged the other…..

As I re-read her message I shut my eyes and looked for my answer within. Had I missed something here? In thinking of myself, the ‘perfectionist’, had I forgotten about the people around? In thinking that I was the ‘victim’, had I overlooked the other side? Caused someone else to be the ‘victim’, of my idiosyncrasies’???

Maybe……yes…..

A scene of me straightening a picture on the wall to the minutest detail, floated in front of my eyes. Then another, adjusting the angle of the cushion. Going crazy looking for a particular shade of green; trying to replicate the taste of a dish I had at a restaurant….and many more. On the outset, I would appreciate this quality, admire the person who could have things,’just right, just perfect’.

But here I was shown what the other person feels. What the person around this so called ‘idealist’, feels.

As I looked for synonyms for, ‘a perfectionist’, I came upon words like, ‘nit picker’, ‘fusspot’, ‘quiver’, ‘stickler for perfection’ and even more. Each one less complimentary than the other.

And I thought, apart from the way another might perceived me, what am I putting him through! I might want things a certain way, but am I causing agony to another?!? Am I expecting those around me to tow my line? Am I ‘causing them mental stress’!! Am I raising my voice, getting exasperated, causing confusion? Am I silently demanding the other to change as per my requirement? For….what might seem imperfect to me, might be the epitome of beauty to another….

Suddenly as I see myself on the other side , I realise how true the message I read, was. I too would be scared around someone like this. I too would find my individuality being crushed, trapped for not being able to do as my heart desires. Suffocated. Doubt my own ability. Become nervous.……from here, too, I see myself a ‘victim’ !!

Oh! And as I open my eyes I realise, there is not one victim here…. There are two….. One, to his nature, and one, to…another’s..

And then I recall another message, ‘The thing that is really hard and amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself ‘, and, as I see now, allowing another to be his or her own person.

I sit back. Once again closing my eyes. But this time with a deep awakening and realisation. An awakening to the hurt , anguish and stress I might have caused while been ‘trapped’. Trapped in my thoughts trying to ‘correct the world around me’. A realisation that as I free myself, I can help another fly……

The Bird In The Cage….

After a long day and tired knees, I sat relaxing in my living room. Dinner was done, kitchen closed and the hot lemon tea felt soothing. The cushions around my back were comforting. Contemplating on the day’s work of guiding the renovations in our house, I wondered if all the effort which goes behind the scenes, ever reflects on the finished product. All the “perfection” one gets into, is it even worth it. I have always prided myself on having a keen eye for detail. Now, however I wonder if it really is a compliment.

The table linen has to be colour coordinated. The crockery has to be matching. Mismatched cutlery cannot set foot on my dining table, even when it is just the family having a casual meal together. So much thought, so much training of the staff, so much stress, and at times, the irritation in the voice. And then the chatter in the mind….

Tonight at dinner the cover on the serving bowl belonged to another set. The ladle and spoons did not match. One glass stood out as a misfit, but I kept silent. No I didn’t even get up and correct it myself. No, I wasn’t irritated either. Neither was there a chatter within……

While I sat sipping me tea, my son joined me on FaceTime. As we chit chatted my meandering gaze was attested by something which appeared to me as free hand sketching on the wall behind him. There was a cage, some branches and a couple of birds flying. He casually replied on being asked about it,”Oh, it’s just a wall paper”.

Was it ‘just’ a wall paper? Was it ‘just’ a cage? ‘Just’ a few birds flying around? Or was it a reflection of my life. Was it a message just for me….

What did the cage signify? Was there a bird inside which had been successful in breaking free? As it now flew around with its comrades gleefully, why had it attracted my attention? Was it telling me something through this story on the wall?

I sat thinking after the call, about the message that painting had for me. It definitely had to have as I had never noticed it during our previous calls.

Was the graffiti on the wall a message to me that ‘I’ was the bird in the cage? That I was caged? Shackled? Chained? If the caged bird symbolised me, then what did the cage hint at? What unspoken meaning did it carry? What was it’s inference?

I pondered. And as I delved deeper I had a realisation. What if the reference of the cage was towards my thought process? Was it too rigid? Was it too demanding? Demanding in the sense of ‘expectations’! Demanding in the sense of flawlessness, impeccability, ……a paragon!!

Could this be the reason that I find myself alone, at times? That only I might notice a flaw when all others might be enjoying it? Would this really be the catalyst to becoming a critique?

But then again, don’t we need critics in the world, I ask?? Do we not need to make a perfect picture? Am I supposed to shut my eyes to alignment, to correctness? What is the middle path? What is the right way?

As I seek, I think. I understand the writing on the wall. I too must let go and enjoy. For beauty is not in rigidity but in malleability. It is in the little dimple on cheek as the lips break into a smile. In the crinkling of the eyes accompanying a lopsided smile. In the toothless smile of a baby, as much as in the gummy creased laughter of an old tribal.

It will be in my open mindedness as against my firmness. In my gentleness which will accompany my smile and not my arrogance , I figured.

And as I sat there remembering the message of the bids and the cage, I gently encouraged myself to open the bondage within which I sit; my heart , my mind, my being…. To fly freely just like the captured bird once did……

For no one will remember my perfect home; but what might leave an indelible mark could be my love; my acceptance……my ability to let go….

And so my endeavour to fly…..free like a bird…

A Story I Read….

Have you ever realised that when you are seeking or pondering over a thought, the universe conspires to give you an answer? And of course, you might or might not recognise it at that time, but when you do, it’s truly an ‘Eureka moment’ !!

Well, I remember sitting in my meditation room wanting to get started on it. I closed my eyes and turned to focus on my breath. As if taking cue from this, my mind turned into a playground for all the skeletons to come tumbling out and start playing ‘baseball’ with me. I felt like I was being thrown about in a tumble wash machine. In the midst of all this I struggled to find the rhythm of my breath, leave alone focusing on it. I wonder why we have to go out to watch a play or a movie to be entertained, when so much drama can get triggered off just by closing your eyes.

Finally, so petrified I was of my mind and it’s games that I decided to abort mission meditation. The next best thing to do was to browse through the internet, which did not hold my interest for long, and I finally settled on OM Swamiji’s book. That is where I chanced upon this story, and my answer…

One day Buddha’s discipline asked him how to control his mind while meditating. It was a hot afternoon and they were walking through a jungle . As they stopped to rest a bit under the shade of a huge tree, Buddha asked his disciple to get him some water from a river flowing close by. Just as he was about to lower the bowl into the water, a herd of buffalos came across to quench their thirst. All the movement left the water murky. The disciple came back and told his guru that the water was not fit for drinking . After sometime he was sent back again, and then again. It was only on his fourth trip that he was able to get ‘clear’ water for his lord.

The Buddha said,” You see the best way to clear the water was to let it be. Had you made any attempts to clear it, it would have just become worse. As you waited it out, the mud settled and the water became clear again. Therefore patience was the only effort”. He explained to him that our mind was also like the water in the river. Whenever distributed, one had to just let it be. It would settle down in due course. Time and patience was all that was needed.

Hmmm, so true , I thought. The more you try to quieten it, the more ruckus it creates. I sat there thinking of all the various occasions it had quarrelled with me and succeeded in making me feel absolutely horrible. And then the times where it had dragged me into make belief arguments for hours. And as hard as I would try, I was not allowed to leave or quit. It had the capacity to make me feel like a puppet in its hands! A mere toy! To do as it pleases! Am I a yo-yo? Happy and sad at it’s mercy?

Sitting back now, I recognise it’s character clearly. It is such a yarn spinner. Creator of illusions! Can you believe it can make me feel like a king one minute, and dash my confidence in the next ! How and why does it have this power over me? Who gave it ?

And…if truth be told….the answer is something I am not very happy about of course. Not the least bit. But then I say, at least I now know the culprit, the perpetrator! Would you like to know? After shouting from rooftops about me being the victim, I now understand that it was I all along who had given it the key to my controls…..

How many times do we succumb to our mind ? On so many occasions we don’t even realise how this smooth operator has turned us against a friend or accompanied by “the ego”, it’s partner in crime, to put a wedge in relationships! And yet we can’t see through it’s games…..

I recall seeing many a fellow human being go through such trying times due to the web it manages to engulf the person in.

Sitting there on my beautiful silk carpet in my meditation room, I make a promise to myself to do just as The Buddha guided. “To let the silt in the river settle before filling the water……to drink”….

Wait for the chatter to die before taking action…..

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