Posted by & filed under Callings, Everyday Lessons.

 

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For a long time, I believed that my “work” had to be an almost perfect manifestation of my callings and fully align with my life’s purpose and values. I went to a progressive and mission driven business school and had been trying really hard to have my professional work – my title, my day to day work, my employer and its mission statement align with my purpose. I even started believing that if this weren’t the case in its ENTIRETY then I was being “true to my fears” or I wasn’t trying hard enough or I had to keep seeking or that my path wasn’t correct.

 

Wrong, wrong, wrong…

 

Over the last one year, my thinking has expanded and I have come to believe that there is more than one way to live our calling and be true to our purpose. While there is something absolutely magical when your job, career and callings align perfectly, there is nothing inferior when they don’t. For so many of us this perfect alignment doesn’t happen overnight or in fact may that perfect alignment may not be the path we are meant to pursue. I have seen waaaaay too many people waiting to take that first step in the direction of their callings until the conditions are perfect. They wait until they can give their 100% to their vision only to live year after year devoid of the purpose, joy and light they are meant to share in the world.

 

For some a calling may ALWAYS complement a job or a career. Did you know that T.S. Eliot, the famous writer, poet & dramatist and Nobel Prize Laureate had a day job as a banker for many years to fund his dreams ??? For others, experiences at their job or a career may open their worlds to their calling and that path is beautiful too. Susan Cain, who has a TED talk with over 11M views on introversion worked for many years as a lawyer and his written extensively on how her previous journey helped her discover and live her purpose.

 

We often trick ourselves into thinking that the amount of time spent on our callings, their exclusivity & uniqueness and more importantly their replacement of our day jobs is what makes our callings credible and this is absolutely not true. The most important truth about our callings is to find them, nurture them and and start embodying them in our lives even if it starts with only 5 minutes a day…

 

If your heart’s deepest desire is to paint, it doesn’t matter if you do it for a living or a weeknight project. It doesn’t matter if you get paid or not, recognized or not. It doesn’t matter if you have consultant, teacher, driver, or hairdresser on your resume. What matters is you take out the time even if it is a few minutes to nourish your soul, express yourself and let your work be seen, even it is just by yourself.

 

And the most beautiful thing about taking that first step, creating space, time and resources for our callings is that these small steps will give us the information of whether we do want to make our callings our career or not. By starting with something we learn whether we want to charge for our art or not. We learn if we want to share our work with 10, 100, 1,000 or a million people some day. You will not know this until you start.

 

I had a friend who had a day job as an engineer and loved photography and had his work at various art galleries. I once asked him if he ever wanted to make photography his vocation and his response was a clear NO. He said that he didn’t want to monetize his work and learn about the business of photography. His hearts deepest desire was to focus solely on the art and this portfolio career of photography and engineering was an ideal manifestation of himself at this point in his life. How beautiful! His story always inspires me. Again, he wouldn’t have known this until he had tried creating & sharing his work with the world. If at any point he decides to change his mind and make photography his vocation he has a lot of data points to know what would work for him or not.

 

Things to remember!!

  • Your calling doesn’t have to be your job or career and it is OKAY
  • You DO have 10 minutes a day or a week to nurture your calling
  • Small steps in the direction of your dreams lead to their full manifestation

For your journal –

  • Is there something you have always wanted to do but were waiting when you had more time, money, or something else?
  • Can you take out 5,10, 15 minutes a day, everyday to work in the direction of that desire?
  • What do you need from your partner, friends, bank account, web designer, teacher, etc, etc to make this happen?
  • What do you need from yourself to let your dreams see a little more light?

 

I will be writing a lot more about callings, purpose and dreams in the coming weeks? Let me know if there are questions or things that you struggle with on this topic!

 

For the next post, I’ll be writing about how to find that calling of yours or discover your life’s purpose…

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness.

 

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As much as I like traveling, I also like coming back homeJ. There is something magical about the comfort of my room (even though its generally messy), the warm, cozy bed and my kitchen with all its gadgets. A few months back, we were on our way back from Hawaii. Our flight landed around 8 pm and it was almost 10 by the time we reached Mountain View. We were tired, hungry and debating if we should go home and cook a simple meal or just pick up something on the way back. We agreed on the latter and as I placed the order for food, a dear friend texted and said – “Neha, you guys must be on your way back and tired. I have some home cooked food for all of you. Why don’t you stop by on your way home.” I was touched and incredibly grateful to have such a caring, loving and kind friend with a big heart. She truly made our day.

 

Stories like these remind us of the power of kindness, generosity and care. It is moments like these that truly fill up our hearts and stories like these make life meaningful. Our ability to be present, notice, love, give, share, connect, empathize is a key part of being human and unfortunately in the “business” of modern day living and in attending to our to do lists, we forget that being kind is such an important part of our to be list.

 

I am inviting you all to join me in a small project where we do at least one #kind thing for someone else everyday for 30 days. No act is small and everything counts – bringing lunch for a coworker, helping an old person cross the road, a generous tip, helping a sick neighbor, whole heartedly thanking the janitor who cleans your office restroom…

 

Pause, see where you can contribute and you’ll find someone who can receive your love and warmth.

 

“I am on board. What do I do next?”

 

  • Great, we’re excited you are joining us. We’ll be starting the project this coming Monday 04/06. Add your name in the comments section below to be a part of the gang!
  • Pick one act of kindness and inspire others to do the same by sharing your story, pictures & thoughts on social media. Use the hash tag #30daysofkindness
  • Save the date – May 17th For all my bay area crew members, I have a surprise where we practice kindness for ourselvesJ
  • Invite friends & family. More kindness can’t hurt, isn’t it?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey! I am looking forward to listening to your stories:-)

 

Posted by & filed under Happiness.

Last week, I received Lindsey Mead’s post on “things that make me happy” in my inbox. I love her writing, her honesty, her vulnerability and am so grateful for everything that I have learnt from her. I sometimes nod my head in agreement and feel like I am listening to a dear friend talk when I read her posts and on other days her writing make me feel that I am less alone in my struggles and dilemmas. Sometimes, I wish I lived next door and could have a real conversation with her. Most importantly, I am grateful she inspired me to start writing!

Here are a few things that made me happy this past month –

  • Walking to Vivaan’s daycare after work and noticing the fresh, crisp air touching my face.
  • Watching his big bright smile when I see him and yell out – “Vivaan – Mama is here.”
  • French fries
  • Deep & vulnerable conversations with close friends knowing that I am cared and loved for despite my imperfections.
  • Hot tub with vivaan, several times this past month!
  • Telling Sumit – “ You look handsome” after he came back from his haircut
  • Watsapp messages with hearts, smileys and lots of pictures from my family
  • 8, 9 and 10 hours of sleep at night in a warm, cozy bed and feeling rested the next morning even though my sleep was interrupted
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Being able to fit into one of my favorite dresses and the ability to smile at my new mommy belly:-)
  • Watching the sunset on a lake
  • Home cooked food
  • Texts, emails and messages from blog readers
  • Writing hand written notes to people who matter
  • Watching Elle Luna talk about her book  – The crossroads of should and must
  • Having the time, support and desire to write this blog and share my voice

What’s made you happy lately?

Posted by & filed under Mindfulness.

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I live a very privileged life. Despite the numerous times when my fears, insecurities and doubts over consume me, deep in my heart I have nothing but gratitude for the different gifts that life has given me. At a more practical level, I am blessed to have a beautiful combination of work, family, community, service and self – care that define how I spend my time. It takes a lot of planning, juggling, surrendering and accepting setbacks. One of the biggest challenges of living a big, full rich life is truly being present and witnessing each moment as is before I add my own layers of judgments on top of it  (which I am working on adding less of!) and is really hard. It is a practice and like anything else requires repetition for the brain to get it:-)

 

On most days, I try to go to our office café that serves freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s a luxury to nourish my body and mind with fresh food on demand as many times a day as I’d like to. When you have access to these absolutely amazing Silicon Valley tech benefits every day, it can be so easy to take it all for granted. At first, I’d come, drink, look around, think of all the things that I needed to get done, feel a little blessed and get back to my desk on auto pilot. One day something shifted…

 

I intentionally slowed down and closed my eyes while I was waiting to receive my glass. I didn’t look up at the two large screens flooded with all kind of interesting updates on what’s happening in the world. I didn’t think of my to do list. I didn’t check my phone (though I was really tempted to). I was in no special meditation position but simply paid attention to my breath & body for a minute. I noticed the tension in my shoulders and neck and reminded myself to relax, smile and then gently opened my eyes.

 

Instead of rushing to finish my juice, I paid attention to each sip that I was taking. My mind was tempted to check my phone, of course! I tried to bring it back to simply drinking each sip and paying attention. It sure was hard. My mind wandered again and reminded me of how I was not being “efficient” and spending TOO much time on a glass of orange juice when there are so many things TO DO. I tried to stay calm and breathe and drink my last few more sips. I now try to do this every time I have the privilege and luxury to step away for my glass of orange juice and the reality is that paying attention hasn’t taken away from my productivity or output at work. If I am going to take a break, why not do it with intention & awareness!

 

This simple exercise has been magical in many ways. It’s made me appreciate how fortunate I am to have access to healthy, local food in my office for free when there nearly half the planet lives on $2.5 a day. It’s taught me to relax and not take myself too seriously and that by refueling myself, I have more to offer to my team. It’s a beautiful reminder that my breath, my friend is holding me all the time. I don’t need to be in a yoga studio, at a retreat or on the beach to connect with my breath but just pay attention to my breath and body.

 

It’s taught me to find other orange juice moments in my days and that there are 1,440 minutes in a day where I can practice being present. There is more time than I realize when I can simply be and not do, practice presence and not plan, not multi task and not analyze too much. And interestingly, this simplicity, this presence has opened up my heart to more kindness, more compassion and more gratitude. It opened up my heart to spend a few seconds saying thank you to the janitor who really makes my work life easy by ensuring I have access to clean bathrooms and clean mugs for my hot chocolate. It reminded me to send a thank you note to a friend who supported me through a tough phase by holding space for my feelings. It reminded me to make another loan on Kiva.

 

Most importantly, my orange juice moments make me appreciate my life a little more, its imperfections and generosities a little more. It makes me realize I am not as busy as I may think I am or that our culture may make me believe. It makes me realize that every moment indeed is precious and that how we spend each moment is what makes up our life.

 

What are your orange juice moments? Moments where you pay attention to the sounds and smells in the air. Moments where you notice the tiny white flowers that are beginning to blossom as we enter into spring. Moments where you notice the orange and yellow in the sky as the sun sets every evening….

 

Posted by & filed under Callings, Work.

Alan Cohen Quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few people have asked me lately – Why are you writing this blog? What is your mission & vision with this blog? Some people find it interesting that in addition to a full time job, grad school and a small baby (who is about to turn one!!), I would still dedicate resources to writing and growing this online community when I could be focusing more on what’s already on my plate.

 

And the short answer is – I am deeply called to do this work right now. My inner critic reminded me how busy I am as a new working mom, that every free minute in my day “should” be spent with my baby and that there are enough blogs in the world that my voice isn’t needed (ouch!) and YET, I couldn’t stop myself from writing & sharing with all of you.

 

I have to confess that I don’t have a well-crafted vision or a north star that I am aspiring for. It is in the works and perhaps one day I’ll have more clarity but for now I am absolutely enjoying this journey …

 

However, what I do have clarity on is my now (in formal terms my mission). I hope to share my voice & deliver content via various products & services to inspire a life that encompasses both personal fulfillment & global impact.

 

So what does this really mean?

 Self  Expression + Service

 a) Self Expression

 I had always wanted to write. In fact, I had started writing my first book, (on life at a boarding school) when I was 13. That book isn’t in print anywhere and I wish I had followed my heart and finished the book but somewhere I believed that doing math problems and competing in debate competitions is what good girls do. Ah!

 

Fast-forward to a decade later, I still wanted to write but my inner critic got loud, too too loud. She kept telling me how my grammar wasn’t perfect, how I didn’t have any new ideas and that my time is better spent somewhere else. I listened to her. Sigh…

 

For many years, my left-brain was fueled with numbers and power point in my job(s) but my right brain felt lonely and unloved. I only dreamt of this blog, this community, the impact it could have and I kept telling myself, I’ll do it when X happens, Y happens and the usual drill of listening to your fears.

 

It was truly during my pregnancy when I had this absolutely unstoppable voice that kept telling me – “Neha, you are giving birth to a baby and he will learn more from how you live your life than how you ask him to live his life. GO start your blog. You will never be busier or more exhausted than as a new mom but you have to start somewhere.”

 

I am so glad I listened to that voice and have the wonderful privilege to think about what I have to say, to think about what the world can benefit from hearing and translate them into words.

 

b) Service

 I have always found great joy in helping people and honestly I am no special person in feeling that way. Our brains are biologically wired to care. Pause for a moment and think of the times when you have felt your heart fill up with joy and almost always there will be a component of care, love and giving in it!

 

I am sharing this blog so that more of you can connect with your truth, share your voice and gifts in the world and contribute to the conversations that are not happening. I wanted to share my own thoughts as well as the voice of those who have helped me on my journey, in helping me feel unstuck and go for the life I am truly called to live. I want to build a community of people – those who can inspire others by their own truths.

 

When we feed our true desires, fuel our authentic voices, we make a difference in the world. We care, we give, we love and that is what the world truly needs!

 

Looking Ahead

 In the years ahead, I do hope to get my coaching certification and do more of teaching, writing, speaking & coaching. Not sure if I want this to be my full time work but I hope to create a business that can serve people in accessing their true potential through this platform and build in a component that can also serve children & women in developing countries so that they too can access their true potential and I can stay true to my purpose of self expression and service.

 

For now, I am finding great meaning in the work I am doing today and connecting with each of you via this platform.

 

Thank you to the people for the questions! You inspired me to write this post:-)

 

 

Posted by & filed under Interviews.

This is a project  very close to my heart where I have conversations with people who inspire me on my journey and embody what it means to live a mindful, authentic and meaningful life. I hope their stories and journey inspire you and bring you a tiny bit closer to your own truths, dreams and desires.

 

Myshkin_Ingawale

Myshkin and I went to college together and I have known him as a happy, adventurous, fearless, kind and empathetic person who  is always a joy to be around. He questioned the status quo and didn’t want to do what all of us were aspiring for in college. Fast  forward a decade and he is living true to his values and dreams. It’s been an honor knowing him and watching him follow his  dreams and serve others along the way. What strikes me most about his journey is his courage to truly be himself, take the risks  that many of us would cringe about and most importantly, his humility with all of his absolutely amazing accomplishments (see  below!!)

 

 

1) How does living consciously manifest in your life?

Regardless of our circumstances in life, each of us always has choices. Living consciously implies introspecting before making choices. The most important thing to realize, of course – that even though there might appear to be a “default” option, the choice to pick the default or pick any other option is ours to make – hopefully after a thoughtful consideration of benefits, costs and risks!

 

2) What got you inspired to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship when you could have sought a much more traditional and stable career? 

In today’s world, I think, increasingly, the notion of a ‘traditional and stable career’ is changing and everyone has be comfortable with change, with movement, with – essentially – innovation and entrepreneurship, whether it is within the guise of a corporation or without. I must confess I never even knew the term “social entrepreneur” when I took the decision to (apparently!) become one. I don’t agree with the term ‘social entrepreneur’ itself and believe the term to be more a ‘flavor of the decade’ product our collective social commentary than of anything with basis in ground reality – fundamentally, an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur – but that is a whole other debate! With regards to the logic behind my decision making about my career, this can be accounted for either by a) Temporary insanity or b) Temporary sanity, when I happened to do the introspection suggested in point (1) and unchecked the “default” box in my life 😛

 

3) Tell us more about your wedding and how that was so non conventional and yet so meaningful to what you and your wife stand for?

My wedding was non-typical of Indian weddings. Unlike the traditional “big fat Indian wedding” which I can only describe with not-so-complimentary words like “a big bore”, “a humungous chore” and “a huge snore!”, my wife and I were married with a scribble on a court document followed by what could have passed for a tea-party at our house, with her parents, my parents and a few close relatives dropping by to say hello over the course of the afternoon. I must thank both sets of parents for graciously agreeing to this much pleasanter way to tying the knot!

 

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

Fear – of all kinds! – of failure, of abandonment, of humiliation, of future regrets, etc – gets in the way of making intentional, conscious choices. Fear grips the brain and colors our thinking with panic, blocks out our true selves. I guess each one of us has to find a mechanism, a “trick” to get back to our true selves at the moments of making choices. My trick: I just “zoom out” mentally. At some level of zoom, panic vanishes, as you soar and see the big picture, the “eagle’s eye view” of your decision, yourself, in the interconnected world of people at large.Super trick hack with nitro boosters: Don’t stop there though! I find that if we zoom out sufficiently, we are nothing more than an assorted group of over- grown monkeys (now with great mobile phones!) who happen to habit this slightly bluish green dot, one amongst a great many similar and dissimilar dots that make up the cosmos. Now, take the decision in front of you…

 

5) As a new dad, what are a few things that you’d like to tell your son about your journey?

I would like to tell him that we are all just incredible lucky to be here on this bluish green dot, and whatever he does, will be OK. So long as he follows 1-4 above, haha!

 

6) What are some new adventures in the pipeline?

I am working to create a platform that allows anyone with an idea to bring it to reality, without taking a huge amount of personal risk. This is an initiative that will use the power of the social web, the power of the crowd, to help and support high impact ideas. More on this soon!

 

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

33%: Spend time with family. Play!

33%: Spend time on learning new things and putting them to the test. More Play!

33%: Eat, drink, sleep!

…so somewhat similar to my current schedule then 😀

 

8) Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?

One of my favorite one-liners is this one by Groucho Marx: “If you come to a fork in the road …. Take it!”I think it has levels of interpretation beyond the initial humor. It could be interpreted as saying “don’t worry about the definition that is ‘right’ for the first part of the sentence….you are free to make the second part into something a little bit different, a little bit special, by picking the non-default option if you feel like it: And the sentence will be all the more meaningful, thanks to your imagination and courage!”

 

Myshkin_Ingawale

Myshkin co-founded Biosense, an internationally recognized med-tech company designing and building innovative, disruptive healthcare technologies.

In the past, Myshkin has worked at Mckinsey & Company, on client engagements across the Banking, Technology, Pharma and Healthcare sectors. He has been a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was part of the team that conceptualized and built the Copenhagen Wheel, an innovative electric bicycle concept demoed at the United Nations Climate Summit 2009.

He holds a PhD in Management Information Systems from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Bhopal. His PhD research – on the conditions under which quality emerges in open collaborative platforms like Wikipedia – has been published in the international journal Online Information Review (OIR), and at multiple conferences. He is a regular speaker at global conferences such as TED, Global Insight Network, Autodesk University, St. Gallen’s Symposium, and an advisor to the Inter Institutional Inclusive Innovation Center.

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What part of Myshkin’s journey most resonated with you? Let us know in the comment’s below!

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

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A few months back I saw a movie in the theatre. Yes, with a baby who chose to be absolutely fascinated with big adults on a big screen and the unlimited nursing that he had access to!

 

As I walked out of the theatre, I looked at my husband and said – “ The movie was OK, nothing too special.”

 

I pondered that night. Was the movie just ‘meh’ or did I think it was okay. On the surface, they both appear to be the same statement but after peeling one layer, I realized that these weren’t the same things.

 

When I said that the movie was not too special, I made a sweeping generalization on the movie which was an absolutely narrow way of looking at a piece of art that had thousands of hours of hard work, dedication and love poured into it. The movie wasn’t good or bad, the movie was the movie. Sure, I didn’t like it but that had nothing to do with what the movie was. It was simply my opinion, my feedback and what the movie did for me and I needed to say just that – “ I didn’t like the movie.” Now, if someone absolutely loved the experience and said the movie was fantastic, did the movie suddenly become fantastic? No, once again, the movie was just that, the movie.

 

As I reflected, I realized I am so quick to label the thing instead of recognizing that I am trying to articulate my feelings, my emotions, and my responses. Could I have said – I didn’t like the grilled sandwich vs. the restaurant and food wasn’t good. I didn’t relate to the author vs. the author doesn’t know how to write.

 

It is our opinions, our beliefs, our emotions, our feelings that create impressions of what art, music, design is believed to be and we need to exercise more discernment between the works of art and what that work does for us. When we label pieces of work, we create limitations in our own mind on the possibilities of impact & influence of someone’s work. By acknowledging our own opinions as just that, our opinions, we can create a space for different ideas & views to co-exist and increase our ability to value our differences and the collective richness that adds into our worlds.

 

Do you agree or think differently?

 

What did you think of this post? Note: I am not asking HOW was this post but rather what did this evoke for you:-)

 

Posted by & filed under Callings, Imperfections, Work.

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I was 25, single, living in Los Angeles and in many ways having it all (externally).

I was doing what I thought good, hardworking, ambitious women do. They work hard, climb the corporate ladder, earn money, spend it (perhaps on some nice clothes at Anthropologie!!), save money in their 401k account, eat at nice restaurants, donate money, volunteer, run marathons, hang out with friends, serve on a non-profit board, find the right guy, plan a wedding, you get it!!

 

Yet, somewhere deep inside, I still wasn’t feeling complete. I had a lot of questions. Here I was living “ the dream” and yet not really living it. Being a working professional didn’t feel as fulfilling as I thought it would be. I felt disengaged, disheartened, exhausted, stressed, lonely & depleted. I feel a little odd typing these words today as it feels so clichéd having read so many of these stories here and here and here but regardless I’ll still join the club:-)

 

So while coping with my chaos, one morning (interestingly during a scavenger hunt for a team building activity at work) as I was walking down the streets of Santa Monica, I came across this absolutely gorgeous studio called Exhale where I took my first yoga class and I was hooked. I kept coming back again & again. Friday evening meant a Restorative Yoga class!

 

Every class made a difference. I felt a little more relaxed, a little more content, a little more aware, and a little more peaceful. As I saw my own thoughts more clearly, I also experienced more turmoil. In some ways more questions started showing up and sometimes there were no answers.

 

Yet, I loved going back to my mat. I loved the ability to truly stretch my body in ways I had never done before. I loved being able to pause and try to find the truth that existed inside of me and not having to prove or live up to someone else’s expectations. I loved being in a community of like-minded people.

 

Did all my problems disappear? Absolutely not BUT I felt a little more held, a little more supported, a little more secure in navigating life’s challenges.

 

My own practice and the difference it made in my life inspired me to get my certification, to learn more about mindfulness and compassion. I wanted to deepen my own understanding and share with others how amazing our own mind and body is and what a different it can make in healing ourselves!

 

One of the key reasons I am writing this post is to explore further the quote at the beginning of the post. A few years back, I would have never  imagined having the words yoga/meditation teacher in my bio because I am not the most calm or relaxed person and often carry anxiety with me. Somewhere I believed (wrongfully) that teachers have it all figured out and are absolute masters of the outcomes they are trying to create. Facing my own anxiety and learning to practice kindness with myself has given me tremendous strength to be real, human, imperfect and still hold a space where others can access their own wisdom, calm and peace that exists inside of each one of us. I wouldn’t be doing this work had I not been a sensitive, anxious and impatient person myself and seen the benefits of this practice and I am incredibly grateful to what I sometimes call negative traits. Ah, the ego!

 

What do you most need to learn that others can benefit from? What are you called to share in the world?

 

Come join the conversation!

Posted by & filed under Mindfulness.

 

Enlightenment

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days back I was having lunch with a new friend who I met at a retreat and we were discussing her experience at a 6-day silent retreat at Spirit Rock. This was truly a “silent” retreat with 14 hours of meditation everyday!

What a treat:-)

In some ways, you can expect perfect calm and relaxation at a retreat like this. No to do lists, no errands, no work, no email, no cooking, no cleaning. You get it! And yet in some ways, being alone with our own mind, truly paying attention, witnessing what shows up WITHOUT judgment is very hard work, very hard work!! (My friend Jeena Cho has a beautiful post on her experience at a silent retreat that is very heartwarming!)

As I was listening to her honest stories and reflections, she said something that deeply stuck with me –

“I didn’t experience PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT in any way but many several moments of enlightenment; moments of clarity, joy, peace along with moments of chaos, confusion, frustration, resistance, fear.”

Her statement was indeed magical. Many of us secretly aspire to that perfect state of clarity and peace yet the reality is that it almost never exists. It is in the moments of confusion that we get a chance to practice mindfulness, to practice self – compassion and further enhance our ability to see clearly and become a tiny bit more skilled at navigating all of life’s confusions. And when we are in the muck, it is so hard to see its wonderful gifts that we can get so anxious to push it aside and not be in the state of confusion. And yet, the discomfort is what truly helps us get a little closer to the feeling of calm!

In fact, over the years I have realized that when we aspire for that perfect enlightenment, we actually set ourselves up for failure because we forget what it means to be human.

I now aspire for the ability to feel and clearly see the pain, the anger, the confusion, the chaos and witness it without any judgment but have the wisdom to respond skillfully to these emotions. And this is indeed hard because I am constantly trying to be that “strong person” who doesn’t cry. Ah, the ego!

As Thich Nhat Hanh says – “Suffering can feel so bad, we try to run away from it or cover it up by consuming. We find something to eat or turn on the television. But unless we’re able to face our suffering, we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us.”

MudLotus

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I reflected on our conversation even further, I realized this retreat showed us what life really is and we need to find those moments of small enlightenments along with our to do lists, cooking, cleaning, working, emails, etc. that can sometimes seem to overconsume us!

 

 

Posted by & filed under Work.

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Our world loves labels – I am a LinkedIn employee, an MBA student, a yoga teacher, a blogger  and a lot more. When things go well in one arena, I feel accomplished and the world around me celebrates my success. When I have had professional accomplishments, people have reached out and wanted to learn about my work. I sometimes get asked how I “do it all.” Not to mention, my ego (often) loves this feeling of doing well. Somewhere I am mislead that this defines me, sigh…

 

And then there are the not so pleasant moments with these labels. I have had my fair share of professional risks that haven’t turned out as well. I have made choices that may not have had the best outcomes and I am no longer the popular kid on the block. It can feel lonely, confusing, and insecure and my friend, “self doubt” loves to run the show at those moments. My ego tricks me again to believe that these dark moments define me. Sigh again…

 

Yet, when I pause, sit in silence before bed, go for that long hike in the tall redwoods, I realize that none of this defines who I am. These labels sure are a part of my identity but they don’t define me and there is a BIG difference between the two.

 

These labels are the leaves on the maple tree that change with the seasons and many eventually fall off so that new leaves may emerge. What defines the tree is its foundation, its core, its roots, and its trunk. What defines me, you and each one of us is our ability to love, express our true voices, dream, give unconditionally (which is hard), receive, take risks, experiment, and sometimes fail. It is our ability to love ourselves despite our imperfections and to eventually find meaning in things larger than ourselves.

 

As I step into the New Year, I hope to nourish my foundation and create conditions so that the leaves may thrive and reach their full potential. Yet, also remind myself that the leaves will fall and no matter how much I may like the fall colors or dislike the brown barren tree, nature often has its own plan and I need to create a space, witness the changes and embrace what emerges.