Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Mindfulness.

quote-a-good-life-happens-when-you-stop-and-are-grateful-for-the-ordinary-moments-that-so-brene-brown-78-77-53

 

This is perhaps my first new years eve where I don’t have big lofty goals for the year ahead. No drastic (intentional) changes that I am planning to make, no bold achievements that I want to commit myself to. I sat with this feeling for over a month trying to explore why this was the case and what is my heart truly desiring for in the new year. What do I hope to create for myself and how do I want to show up in the world?

 

What I most truly want for myself is peace and love. I hope to spend most of my days with awareness and not feel like I am running around to get through my day. While I have made significant progress with this over the last few years, I want this to be my intention for the year – to notice the ordinary moments, to refuel and inspire myself through the day and to bring more energy and joy in the ordinary every day moments that make my life so beautiful. Making time for a full time job, school and family doesn’t leave large chunks of downtime yet I know I have minutes throughout my day to pause and pay attention, to notice the sky, the warm sensations of soup on my tongue, the simple “I love you” texts to my husband for no reason, to share a meal with a neighbor and play in the park with my son at 6 pm on a weekday. I won’t be able to exercise for an hour every day but I can find a few minutes a few times a day to connect with and nourish my body. I hope to look more inward, connect better with myself, listen to my own mind and see what she has in store for me.   I have been craving for quiet time with paints and canvas and I know I can take out a few minutes a week with a toddler running around in the background. It’s about the intentions, the small actions, the moments of paying attention, the connection with my own mind and body that translate into peace for me in this new year.

 

The other strong feeling that is showing up in my life is to give and practice kindness in support of the millions of those who don’t have access to life’s basic amenities. I struggle significantly trying to process poverty, rape, hunger, lack of education rights and can often get overwhelmed understanding why I have organic food on my table most nights and the luxury to sleep on a cozy bed with a down comforter and a 5 year old child cannot get a bowl of rice and beans and a simple sweater on a cold winter night. I also feel sad that I am not a part of the solution and that most of my work supports economic opportunity for a different demographic and that I as a privileged human being am doing almost nothing to empower the individuals who need the most. I want to change this for myself as this pain has been getting bigger and bigger as my own bucket seems to be getting more & fuller. I have been dreaming up a fundraiser to support children at an orphanage and will be sharing details with all of you in the coming weeks. Even though this will be an incredibly small drop in the ocean, I want to start somewhere in a way that is more impactful than I have in the past.

 

My life feels abundant and rich in the chaos of an ordinary modern life. I hope I continue to pay attention to these beautiful moments of joy, the unpleasant and difficult sensations of pain and confusion, the days when life feels incredibly overwhelming and I am exhausted and have no answers to the myriad of questions in my head. I hope to practice even more gratitude and find meaning in the ordinary & simple ways of moving through each day.

 

What does your heart truly desire for in the New Year? Where do you most need to nurture and nourish yourself? How do you hope to show up in this new year?

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings, Everyday Lessons, Vulnerability, Writing.

IMG_0498

 

 

This is my first poem on this blog. As a young child I wrote a lot of poetry, a lot! And yes, somewhere along the way I got lost and taught myself to not write poetry until I learnt to listen to my creative voice. I had written this a few years back and this stayed in my folder on a word doc until a few minutes back while I was cleaning my folders.

 

I feel that some of the buds inside me have blossomed and the journey has been beautiful with its joys, tears, struggles and anxieties. Here’s my love for you and hope each of you blossom at the time and place that is right for you. .

 

Desire to Blossom

 

Somewhere deep inside

There is a flower bud, trying hard to blossom

To express itself and share its fragrance,

To inspire and heal

To reach its fullness and vigor

 

Yet there is struggle, anxiety & uncertainty

The bud isn’t sure if the time is right

Whether it should blossom today or wait for the next spring

To keep growing slowly and be full grown by spring

Or simply blossom at its full pace today

Find another garden or make peace with the one it has

 

That’s when the bud needs love, acceptance & trust

And that it can find its own way. Until then…

Feed it, water it, and give it the sunshine it needs

Allow it to explore and reflect until it finds it right home

Nurture it, nourish it and love it for its uncertainty

One day it will blossom, One day it sure will blossom.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Happiness, Imperfections, Mindfulness, Parenting.

IMG_5423

 

I turned 32 yesterday. I received the wonderful gift to celebrate it in ways that matter with people who matter – I started my day with lots of giggles, cuddles with my little monkey. I realize I can never have enough and that as much parenting a toddler exhausts me it also fills me up like nothing else. There was time for exercise, quiet time with my husband where we made a little progress on our 36 questions project, a wonderful yoga nidra session, a nap and an evening with home cooked food and loved ones. And yes, phone calls, messages, gifts and thoughts from near and dear ones and a few celebrations a few days in advance and a few yet to happen! My heart is full and gratitude is my word of the day.

I love birthdays and I love cutting cakes and blowing candles! It brings out the child in me. I look forward to my own, my son’s and husband’s months in advance and always take the day off from work. I love celebrating loved one’s birthdays and I hope this never changes.

Birthdays are also a time for solitude and silent reflection. As I have this lovely canvas to paint on, here’s what’s showing up for me at this time in my life.

  • 32 is recognizing that my time with my son and husband is my most precious gift and that I enjoy it and find peace in ways I could have never imagined before I was a mom. Clichéd but I had to say it.
  • It is loving my husband way more than I did when I first fell in love. I hope I say this every year on my birthday
  • It is gratitude for healthy, accepting and incredibly loving parents and the rich relationship I share with them
  • It is love for my siblings, more love than when I was 15, 20 or 25
  • It is love for my cousins, my extended family and my in laws. More love than I thought I had in me.
  • It is recognizing that yes, I love my French fries and I can indulge every once in a while but my green smoothies are a much more loyal friend
  • It is feeling really content and secure in my friendships and knowing that I don’t have one “best friend” that I always dreamt of since I was a young girl but that I have several really close friends with whom I can truly be myself. Friends I can be vulnerable with and know that I am loved for being human – with my flaws, fears and imperfections
  • It is acknowledging that my strong sense of curiosity for living in the bay area got me here but noticing this beautiful voice that is inviting me to explore some place else and call it home – Maybe Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Seattle, Portland. I hope I listen more closely to that voice and what it has to say
  • It is recognizing that an 8 hour uninterrupted night of sleep is a luxury and one that will be scarce for the years to come but despite this I can find peace and contentment and more practically function in ways I didn’t know I could
  • My fear of cancer still continues to be there in the background and I have learnt to not resist and push it but remind myself that if its meant to happen, I’ll sail through. This fear has been there through my teens…
  • With this fear comes the deep pain for those I see suffer and die through cancer. It leaves questions I don’t have answers for and I still haven’t figured out why a 2 year old child loses his mother to cancer
  • Add to this my anger and pain for rape. Words can’t do justice to this so I am not even going to try. I cry, my cheeks are wet and my helplessness makes me cry even more
  • I recognize it took me 8 years to find a little more clarity on what I’ll do when I grow up. Its also recognizing that this will morph, change and that I may get lost again and it is okay
  • It is trying to truly accept and love myself for being the extremely sensitive person that I am. It’s a work in progress but I no longer beat myself up when my tears trickle down so easily
  • It is finding tremendous satisfaction, joy and peace in writing, in expressing myself, my ideas and what I have learnt through my words. When it makes a difference in someone else’s life, even better but I hope I write even when no one is reading
  • It is knowing (for now) that I will have a portfolio career and that it is okay, rather it is beautiful
  • It is experiencing the joy of reading, of books at my bedside, in my car, on my couch and in my backpack. I rarely leave home without a book. I am still amazed that somehow time comes into my life with everything else in my life
  • It is learning a little more about my own ego, my fears and how I can come in my own way to lead a life that matters
  • It is recognizing that doing work that is meaningful is incredibly important to me and when its not, I struggle tremendously. Yet work is not everything in my life and it takes a lot of effort to find ways for all the pieces to fit in together.
  • It is noticing that my love for travel is not at the forefront as it did a few years back. I am realizing that there are a lot of other experiences that give me just as much joy at least at this stage in my life. Perhaps, once I am done with plane rides with a stroller, I may change my mind…
  • My biggest struggle right now is knowing that I am not contributing as much as I’d like to in solving the myriad problems in the world and my life is a little too focused on me

Deep gratitude to Lindsey Mead for her post This is 38 and Dina Relles for her post This is 35 for inspiring me to write this.

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Imperfections, Mindfulness, Vulnerability.

tumblr_m7h9flRRS21rtsz0do1_500

We live in a world where tears are often synonymous with weakness. It is often called out as a feminine trait often in a derogatory way. When men shed tears, they have it even worse. Tears in the workplace are called unprofessional and can be labeled emotional and unproductive. Sure, there are times when tears and crying in certain settings can cause more harm them good but …

 

… let’s pause for a moment… What if this wasn’t true all the time? What if our tears existed to tell us something even deeper?

 

I’d like to offer a different perspective that our tears aren’t a sign of weakness but rather a means to express our capacity to empathize with our own or some one else’s suffering. They can be a channel to express what it means to be a human. They can point us to what it is that we truly care about, our deep truths, fears and dreams. Take that in one more time – Our tears can direct us to what truly matters …

 

And crying in public can also be a sign of courage, rather deep courage that comes with being vulnerable and authentic and giving our inner truths to manifest fully. It can also bring people together and inspire others to connect with their truth.

 

My personal most powerful encounter with tears was in my business school Effective Management, Communication & Action classroom. We always start this class with each student engaging in an intentional check in. Our class in Dec’12 was a little different; it was soon after the tragic incident in Newtown, CT. My male professor stepped into the circle and said that he needed to grieve, he was in pain for all the children who were dead and that he really wanted to hug his children since he hadn’t seen them since the accident. He then broke into tears, lots of them – powerful, kind, intense and raw.

 

There was silence in the room and soon after there were more tears in the room, we all joined one another in mourning for this loss and praying for the families who were gone. Yes, we were all adults in business school and we were crying, tears falling down our cheeks…

 

And then the professor shared his voice after holding a space for us to feel our pain for a few minutes – “ We have grieved and shed our tears. Now let’s wipe them and do our part to try and make a positive difference in the world. We have to move on…“

 

My heart was heavy but I was inspired by the power of the tears in the room and what our professor had just modeled for us. He gave us permission to be human in a business school setting and to bring a systemic view of looking at the world. We had a productive class albeit with some sadness but we reached our goals for the day.He showed us that being human and being productive were not mutually exclusive, rather ways in which we can truly embody and expand our own capacity to be our whole selves.

 

What’s your point of view? Have your tears been a source of strength, connection, impact or community?  Come join the conversation…

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Kindness.

oscar-wilde-smallest-act-of-kindness

July 4th is a good friend’s wedding anniversary and this past year she had a 6-month-old little cutie! As most new parents can perhaps relate to, she had no plans of doing anything special, as her babysitter was busy. I instantly offered to watch her baby and was incredibly touched by her trust and more importantly overjoyed myself to see the joy in her text messages that she is likely going to take me up on my offer. As I reached her house at 8:30 pm, I was excited to see her all dressed up, the nice silk shirt, the simple and graceful make up and that red lipstick!

 

Luckily she lives a block away, but unfortunately, my little one didn’t want to sleep early so I took him with me as we both weren’t ready to sleep without each other:-)  Vivaan was incredibly excited to explore and check out a new bathroom, a new fridge, new books that were significantly more interesting and almonds that tasted different that what he eats at home!! Ah toddlers and their unpredictable brains:-)

 

The little baby didn’t wake up but kept turning and tossing every few minutes but my little one refused to sleep until dad came to pick him up. He thought he was going on a field trip and happily said bye and gave me a flying kiss! My friend came back and once again a part of my heart felt full and content to see both of them happy. She thanked me whole-heartedly; I left with a big smile.

 

I came home and a part of me felt incredibly nourished and soft. I sat with my thoughts and eventually had to pen them down. Giving, connecting, receiving, sharing and above all loving wholeheartedly feels good. It’s a gift to have people in my life whose kids I can watch, for their trust in me. It’s a blessing to have a husband who values and encourages kindness even if it means our own schedules may be slightly rearranged. It’s a treat to live in a community where I know my neighbors and I can share my real, raw and vulnerable self. I am grateful to have the luxury of time to build meaningful relationships and receive love.

 

As I aspire to build my career, acquire new skills and think about my 401k accounts, I hope I continue to remember what truly matters and make time for love. I hope our world transforms that we celebrate love and community more than the sizes of our houses and the titles on our resume. I hope I continue to have friends whose kids I can watch, whose cribs I can rock and whose diapers I can change. I hope to be able to have the capacity and courage to love, give and share!

 

This coming Friday, a dear cousin has offered to watch Vivaan and her girls are overjoyed to have a “baby” to play with. My heart swells with gratitude, love, abundance and the power of kindness is right here.

 

Take a moment and pause and reflect on when someone did something meaningful for you. Then also think about the last time you did something thoughtful for someone. What emotions does this bring up for you? If this desires and emotions are meaningful to you, how can you create more of these in your life?

Posted by & filed under Callings, Parenting, Writing.

I had always wanted to write. I had started writing my first book at 13. It was a memoir of a teenage girl (aka me) about my adventures at boarding school. It was raw, vulnerable, honest and funny until it was not. I somehow convinced myself that I shouldn’t pursue this love of mine. After all, I was good at math and science and that is what I “should” do and writing will somehow happen in my free time. I wrote journals, edited my college magazine and dreamt of having my own blog but then again my inner critic took over and I reminded myself that my grammar wasn’t perfect, that I didn’t have enough time or my ideas weren’t original enough and the blog wasn’t born…… Until my baby was born and I was up through the night nursing and trying to make sense of my world and my love of writing, service, community, yoga, mindfulness, coaching would totally keep knocking at my door. Even in this incredibly sleep deprived state, in the middle of the night, I’d scribble in my journal or type down a few words on my phone. I didn’t have a perfect vision or a roadmap or a checklist but I knew I had to listen to this voice of mine that would just not stop. I had to give birth to something that would let me express myself and build a platform that would connect people and build community and my blog was born.

As any new mom will attest, the first year is intense and I work full time and am also going to grad school so I never thought I’d actually be able to feed this love of mine but after 21 posts on my blog and 4 more as a guest blogger, I couldn’t be more grateful to have started my writing practice. While time is a scarce resource, taking out a few hours a month for my writing has given me a soulful container to share my experiences, more importantly an ability to share what I have learnt from those around me and pay it forward. I have learnt that when we take baby steps in the manifestation of our purpose, when we spend time in practicing kindness, our own heart finds more love, more joy and more contentment and this process fuels giving.

Much gratitude to all the wonderful moms in the world who model that we can pursue meaningful paths as a parent even with all the drool on our shirts, the unfolded laundry, the bedtime struggles and the round belly. My writing is a peek into my mind for my growing son. This work is even more important to me as a parent as I am trying to live what I hope to teach him – to take risks, to learn new skills, to give in the world and build meaningful connections. It is a legacy I hope to leave behind for him – my words, the reason behind my words and the impact I hope to create to serve others.

What is that childhood dream of yours that wants to manifest in the world but your inner critic is suppressing it? How can you spend 30 minutes next week to create something that matters to you?

 

Posted by & filed under Interviews, Kindness, Mindfulness, Vulnerability.

Kaveri - The Voice

 

Kaveri sits at the crossroads of contemplation, creativity, and compassion.  She tries to parent, write, and facilitate healing for others and herself from this place.  Her poetry books include An Invitation (2011), Under the Waves (2012), and The Voice (2014).  Her meditation cd The Feminine Faces of Compassion was released in 2013 and her journal Be the Space: Reflections on the Journey was released earlier this year.  She resides in northern California where she practices Family Medicine and teaches a meditation and writing class.   She can be contacted at www.wisdominwaves.com

 

I discovered Dr. Kaveri at the Mindfulness4Mothers blog when my little one was a few months old and I was struck by a difficult phase of postpartum anxiety. Her words were incredibly comforting and I was inspired by her courage in being vulnerable and also how gracefully she is embodying a portfolio career.  I have enjoyed reading her words around the web and am so glad kind people like her abound in our medical community. Here’s more of Dr. Kaveri for you:-) The poem at the end is an absolute heart warming, thought provoking gift!

  • How does living mindfully manifest in your life?

Buddhist teacher, author, and director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, Diana Winston has a definition of mindfulness I resonate with.  According to her, mindfulness is paying attention to your present moment experience with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is.”

 

For me, living mindfully means that I need to be present, open, and care about what is actually happening in any given moment.  The joyful moments are much easier to be with, to open my heart and feel connected to everyone and everything around me.  The difficult moments aren’t so easy I’m not willing to be with what is if I’m not aware of my thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.  This can be tricky when I’m surrounded by others, which is why I need periods of silent space throughout my day to connect with my mind body and heart in ways that are deeply truthful and healing.  Only then can I open again and actually sense what is needed by others.

 

The neutral moments are interesting to watch.  Sometimes I zone out and get busy cleaning, organizing, or checking email to fill the space with something to do.  The beauty of mindfulness is that I can always return to the present moment without judging where I’ve been.  If I am self-critical, the practices of self-compassion and forgiveness are like soothing balms to any wound.

 

Living mindfully is perhaps most challenging in the context of relationships.  Wise speech, paying attention to word choice, tone of voice, and my intentions behind the words, is often helpful in order to facilitate harmonious relationships.  It is also a useful reminder when words have already been used as weapons and I’m trying to minimize further damage caused by them.  Asking myself the question, who am I or what am I believing in a challenging interaction with someone is also quite informative.  I can see all the ways I defend myself as a ‘good’ person and all the ways I blame myself as a ‘bad’ person.  Neither version of me is accurate.  The same question can be asked of others. Who are they?  What am I believing about them?

 

  • What comes in the way of your making intentional, conscious choices and what brings you back on track?

Fear and guilt get in the way.  I was raised in a culture that values the well being of the larger family unit over the yearnings of an individual.  I also live in an area that values productivity over vulnerability.  When I contemplate a career move, the creation of a new project, or crave alone time, fear and guilt arise.  I fear separation from my family/colleagues and the loss of love, respect, and understanding that might follow.  I also fear that there is only a finite amount of time to do all that I want to do.  I feel guilty in prioritizing my callings over the needs of others.

 

Meditation, yoga, writing, spending time in nature and with souls who value authenticity and vulnerability, all help bring me back on track.  Through these practices, I experience unconditional, compassionate presence.  Her presence is gentle and reassuring.  Her voice is kind and clear.  She senses the bowling ball in my stomach and palpitations of fear in my chest.  She knows the tension of guilt in my jaws and forearms.  She understands, and is willing to stay with me till I can feel her love from the inside out, till I am confident that my mind, body, and spirit are strong enough to hold whatever is moving through me with tenderness and trust.

 

  • What got you inspired to deepen your work in teaching mindfulness and leading retreats in addition to your work as a family physician?

 

Nine years ago when I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety, I knew I needed something beyond traditional therapies to heal a deep hurt.  As I began the practices of mindfulness and compassion, attending retreats and working with skillful teachers, I touched something larger than my small, painful self.  She is the unconditional, compassionate presence I mentioned above.

 

When I see others struggling in a similar way, carrying the heavy burden of a painful, unworthy self on their shoulders on an endless journey of self-judgements, I want them to know there is another version of their story.  I enjoy the marriage of mindfulness to compassion, with meditation and writing as witnesses to express a new story, a celebration of our divine and wondrous light.  It isn’t an ego based celebration, but awareness of a universal Spirit moving through us all.  When I see that spark of recognition in a patient or participant’s eyes, I feel deeply fulfilled.

  • How do you integrate your mindfulness practice and creative pursuits in your traditional medical practice?

 

With short office visits, it can sometimes be challenging.  I try to be present to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are arising within me in any given patient encounter.  This helps to facilitate a non-judgmental awareness of the patient and whatever they are experiencing.  If the patient is open, I might suggest a mindful breathing practice, yoga poses, and/or guided meditations rooted in kindness and self-compassion.  Sometimes we practice a guided meditation together.  I also facilitate a 6 week meditation and writing class to help patients meet personal challenges with loving presence.

 

  • What advice would you have for someone who is skeptical about meditation and mindfulness?

That’s an interesting question.  For years, I felt like a Buddhist Evangelist praising mindfulness meditation as the greatest thing in the world.  I’d convince anyone who had even the slightest interest to give it a try.  I’d even argue vehemently with those who were skeptical that my way was the right and only way.  It wasn’t till a loved one pointed this out to me that I realized what I was doing.  Mindfulness teachers often caution participants at the end of a retreat not to go home and be a ‘buddhist’ but practice being a ‘buddha’.  If we are to share the benefits of these practices with others, we must first embody them in a non-violent manner, and then decide how we want to manifest them in the world with kindness and gentleness.

 

  • If you had 30 days that you could spend in any way you’d like, what would you do with them?

 

Wow.  That seems like a generous amount of time!  If you mean consecutively, I might consider a silent meditation retreat or a trip to Europe/Asia on a Sacred Feminine pilgrimage, and vacation time with my family.  If it’s not consecutive, then I’d try and do the above in shorter time slots.  Still need to journey on a Sacred Feminine pilgrimage.

 

  • Do you have any final thoughts for those who are beginning or currently on a path of mindfulness?

The journey of mindfulness will be different for everyone.  Some will sit many meditation retreats while others might read or take classes in mindfulness.  Some will create a quilt with mindfulness as one square since other practices have already been stitched in, occupying the other squares in the quilt.  Some will want a blanket in only one color of mindfulness to keep them warm against life’s bitter truths.  Some will dive into mindfulness, impatient and frustrated that they cannot swim with ease in the deep end, while others will wade into the teachings step by step, learning to swim at a slow and steady pace.

 

Whatever your particular flavor of mindfulness practice might be, listen to your heart.  Let it inform you of how much or how little you might want to engage in any mindfulness practice.  Mindfulness is not a self-improvement project.  It is a kind, clear way of relating to yourself and others to help alleviate your suffering, not to perpetuate it.

 

Perfect Questions

 

What if I never wrote another poem,
never saw another patient,
or meditated ever again?
Would I still be respected?

Why is the President more valuable
then a prisoner on death row?
Why is your child’s heart more precious
than a homeless person’s heart?
Isn’t a homeless person also
someone else’s child?

I don’t want to live this life
always grooming myself for
the next moment, pretending
there is a better version of us
all just around the bend,

when all the perfect questions
never asked for perfect answers.
-from The Voice

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings.

 

 

best-quotes-ever-about-life-tumblr-5-287x400

 

A few months back, I had written a couple of posts on callings here & here. This post is a continuation of my thoughts in them. If you haven’t read those, I’d invite you to start there before reading further.

 

  • Your calling has to be your vocation

For some individuals, their job title matches exactly with their heart’s desires and the job pays the bills too. This is incredibly inspiring yet your story doesn’t have to be the same way. Your calling may be very different from your day job and that is perfectly fine. They may be somewhat interconnected and complement one another and that too is perfectly fine. There doesn’t have to be one linear way of sharing your gifts in the world.

Looking for more inspiration on portfolio careers and slash careers? Click here and here for more reading…

Lesson #5: It’s okay for your day job and your calling to be poles apart or somewhat aligned. Start anyway!

  • But I should have only one calling

Who said so???

Yes, we all get inspired by the story of the musician who spends 10 hours a day, every day creating music with a uni-directional focus. We absolutely need individuals with that laser sharp focus doing just one thing. Thank God we have those brain surgeons and oncologists in the world taking care of us.

But that doesn’t have to be your story. It is absolutely okay if you like to paint and also crunch numbers. You think I am kidding, read more about my colleague Mariah Walton here and see her art here.

You may spend more time on one at one time in your life and then switch gears at another. Multi-passionate individuals shouldn’t feel that something is wrong with them. Being strategic, creative and thoughtful with your different interests can actually empower you to live more fully.

Lesson #6: It is okay to care deeply about more than one thing at the same time. You don’t have to but its absolutely okay if you do!

 

  • Pursuing your callings should be easy

The media keeps sending us messages that when we pursue our callings, life will suddenly become easy. This is often not the case. Yes, there will be increased meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life but that doesn’t mean every minute of spending more time doing what you love will make life increasingly simple. Quite likely, it will mean learning new skills, stepping into unchartered territories, embracing fear, and facing some failures.

Continue anyway…

Lesson #7: Pursuing our callings add complexity and challenge to our life but also bring meaning, purpose and contentment making the extra effort worth it!

 

The world needs more of us to express ourselves and share our unique gifts with others. Yet, its absolutely fine if you don’t have a calling that you are pursuing at this point. If you’ve reached to the end of this post, chances are you have the curiosity to explore more about what makes you come alive and that’s the most important first step. While you are on this path, also remind yourself that trying to be a good human being, intentionally fulfilling your responsibilities as an adult, practicing kindness to yourself and others and doing your part for our planet and society is a worthwhile pursuit in itself.

 

Deep bow to each of your callings!

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness.

 

ReflectionsOnKindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last month I had taken on a project to practice kindness for 30 days and had invited all of you to join me as well.

So, how did it go?

 

In short, it was a beautiful journey to make kindness an explicit priority in my day. It was even more rewarding to listen to some of your stories on your kindness projects. One of you did a run to raise money, one wrote a yelp review for a friend starting a new business and another one of you brought lunch for your co-worker. Kindness is contagious! I used the word more often in business meetings when tough decisions were to be made. I paused more often to buy extra salsa at the farmers market to share with my neighbors. I exchanged more “kindness ideas” messages with friends and family but…

 

… despite this open & public declaration on my blog and a deep desire to practice kindness, there were enough days when I didn’t do anything extra special and my day just went by. Some days I even forgot that I had made this commitment to practice extra kindness. Sigh. My to do list took priority and unexpected life events came in the way such that I didn’t even spend a few minutes to make a loan at Kiva, give Vivaan’s teacher at day care an extra hug or send a handwritten note to a friend.

 

However, I learnt that on days when I was most exhausted, depleted and tired to chop a few extra carrots and add to my vegetable so I could share with my neighbor, that if I did spend five minutes practicing kindness and chopping those carrots, I felt more content, more full and more purposeful in my day. Kindness energized and refueled me. Kindness added purpose and meaning. Kindness added joy and peace. Kindness brought a smile to my face and made my overwhelming day a tiny bit easier…

 

Last month in our mindfulness circles, one of my friends mentioned that kindness was so empowering & yet so simple unlike many other aspects of our life. For example, if you may want to accomplish x at work, there are some many factors that need to come into play and your success doesn’t just hinge on how well you perform. However, kindness is so much simpler and doesn’t require power, political influence or luck for you to succeed in your actions. It simply requires a desire to brighten someone’s day and the willingness to take action.

 

I learnt practicing kindness requires building & strengthening my “kindness muscle.” It requires repetition for the brain to do it subconsciously to choose love over selfishness, to choose giving over anything else. It requires not making my day soooo busy that I forget what it means to take care of someone else. It also means that creating a world with more kindness starts with kindness to my own self, kindness and compassion for my own challenges and sufferings to have more love to give in the world.

 

So, now I am inviting you to another kindness project. Design your own project and include what you want to give and create in the world. Make it as specific as you can without making it a chore. Infuse love – for yourself and those who come in touch with you!

Here’s my commitment for the next 60 days!

  1. Write 15 handwritten notes of appreciation/gratitude. I love writing notes and always keep a stack of empty cards with me in my car, my laptop bag, my desk and bedside table so not having a card is never an excuse to practice kindness. And yes, I keep stamps too for those lovely people I cant drive to often.
  2. Share fruit, food or smoothies with my cleaners. I love my cleaners and can’t imagine my home, rather my life without them. I am not good at keeping my house super clean and they truly empower me to create time to write and express my self by freeing up some time in my weekJ. They love it when I make a fresh fruit smoothie for them and I want to continue doing it even more.
  3. Call up 4 distant family members who I haven’t kept in touch with. This is something I really want to do more often. I want to express my gratitude to my family members I haven’t kept in touch with and let them know that I love and appreciate them for all that they do for me.
  4. Share a home cooked meal with a friend once a week. I love cooking and sharing food. There is something incredibly rewarding about cooking from scratch, adding some love and giving it away. I hope to do it more…
  5. Complete my volunteering form for the Community Service Agency in Mountain View. I have been procrastinating filling up my form and starting my volunteering shifts with this organization for several months. I have even received an email reminder from the volunteering lead following up on my application. It’s about time I turn this intention into action!
  6. Fundraiser for Nepal. I recently found out about this inspiring story about an orphanage in Nepal run by a wonderful family in Sunnyvale.

Bishow Bhatta, is one of the people behind NECO who currently resides in Sunnyvale, California with his wife and four children. He drives a taxicab to earn a living and support his family, but donates up to half his income to help support NECO.

Soon after the earthquake, he flew back to Nepal to help the children and unfortunately he broke his leg during the second earthquake. Sumit and I wanted to help them beyond writing the check we did and are hosting a fundraiser at home and I’ll be cooking a multi course local, Indian meal.

 

I’ll end with another humble request. Practice kindness and share with the world, not to feed the ego but to inspire and spread kindness, spread love and generosity in the world. Here’s the Random Acts of Kindness website for more ideas and inspiration.

 

Let’s bring more kindness in the world.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings.

 

I was recently having a conversation with a friend who sadly shared that her life was just a to do list devoid of any form of self-expression or meaning. She said – “I don’t have a calling” and more importantly how do I find something that fuels my self? I am already overwhelmed getting through my day.

 

She isn’t alone. I have myself said this at many times in my life and have heard so many people around me repeat this. One of the key reasons we don’t find and pursue our callings is because of some limiting beliefs that we hold about them that come in our way. Here are a few reasons that hold us back:

 

I must always know my calling

Big lie! Yes, some people know when they were five that they were meant to paint, write or work with animals but for most of us it is a twisted, winding and rocky journey. Real world responsibilities come in the way, we have bills to pay, soul crushing jobs that take up energy and we may lose track. But all these experiences can give us information and we learn a little more about what matters to us and who we are meant to be…

 

Lesson 1: It’s okay if you don’t know what your heart’s deepest desire or form of self-expression is. You are not alone. Keep taking steps and you will get closer to what matters most to you.

My calling must stay consistent

Another story I don’t agree with. Again, for some there is something magical about cooking 5 hours a day for 25 years. That’s amazing & inspiring but that doesn’t have to be your version of a calling. Your calling may morph and take a different form as your life evolves and changes but you will notice that the core essence – the underlying value, the feelings it generates, the joy it brings will likely stay consistent even though its external form may change.

For example, I loved, loved teaching yoga at a studio for several years but I stopped in my last trimester of my pregnancy, as I didn’t have much energy to give to my students on top of a full time job. Once Vivaan arrived, I deeply missed teaching but leaving him for 3 hours on a weeknight wasn’t aligning well with my other values. I made some changes on how to manifest my love for teaching, self-expression and community by hosting meditation groups at home and giving birth to this blog that allows me to have the same joy and impact but in a different medium.

 

Lesson 2: The core of your calling stays the same but its expression and form can change & evolve

I don’t have time or energy for my callings

This one is so common. I was really nervous when I launched my blog when I have a pretty full life and thought I was setting myself up for failure. 6 months later with only 17 blog posts and my first guest blog, I can happily say, I am glad I followed my heart and didn’t listen to my inner critic.

Here’s what I believe – Pursuing our callings have a uniquely remarkable way of recharging & refueling us and giving us the energy we need to get through our day. I am not saying that on days I write or connect with you, my laundry suddenly gets done (Ah, I wish that were the case) but rather I feel more content and purposeful in my day and that’s what brings me back to my journal and my word document. There is a time constraint for sure and I don’t write for 2 hours a day, every day but 2 hours a week is possible on most weeks.

If you feel that you don’t have 60 minutes a week or a few hours a month to do something that matters deeply to you (say in the next six months), it is time to take an honest look at how you are spending your time and what needs to change to create that time and space in your life.

 

Lesson #3: Our callings add meaning and purpose to our lives that gives more energy to everything else we have to do on our to do list.

My callings have to be GRAND

Your calling may be to open a food truck that serves your entire town or your calling may be to cook a simple meal every week for your family or even just yourself and they are both equally beautiful. We often trick ourselves to believing that if our dreams are not big and larger than life that they are trivial and not worth pursuing. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Every individual is different with unique dreams, desires and life circumstances. The world we live in makes us believe that everything that bigger is better (houses, cars, paychecks, etc) but that isn’t true. What matters is that your callings are yours and are coming from a place of self expression, meaning and authenticity and not the ego, habit or lack of awareness.

 

Lesson # 4: Callings come in all shapes and sizes and each one is unique and worthy of your love, care and nurture

 

I’ll continue this post next week as I have a few more things I don’t believe about your callings.

 

How about you? Which one of these most resonated with you and what are some of the ways you hold yourselves back?