Ten thousand flowers in Spring…

It is May – and Spring has announced its arrival here in the upper valley where I live. The trees are bursting with blossoms and yesterday evening, my daughter and I walked in the neighborhood with the special purpose of smelling the lilacs. Growing up in India, I read about lilacs in novels, but I could not have imagined the incredible scent they carry – rivaling the heavenly scent of the jasmine flowers I grew up with in South India.

When I think of jasmine, the images of freshly picked fragrant buds hand tied into little strings sold in the market comes to my mind. Adorning the braided hair of Indian women, it reminds me of weddings and special occasions and temples. Lilacs on the other hand bring to mind long leisurely walks in New England with my daughter, taking in the heavy clusters of little buds that so freely give their fragrance. Between the two, a whole world lies – ties to the old and opening to the new. Isn’t that what life is all about? This balance between the old and the new, and the potential in this moment for transformation, curiosity, openness and mystery.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

I have been thinking recently of change. Listening to Joseph Goldstein’s recent talk on 10 percent happier on the last three steps of the eight-fold path brought this into the center of my attention. Of course, the season of Spring as well as having a growing child both make it impossible for change to leave my attention fully! Anjali, my 12 year old, is growing like a tall tree – shooting straight up. She takes after her Dad and the women in his family – this morning waking her up, I noticed that she might outgrow her bed at some point! Each day feels precious, each moment when I’m truly present, a moment of awe. How does one hold all of this in one’s heart?

Even as I wonder, I know the answer. One moment at a time, one breath at a time. In this way, we steady our attention and then our attention can attune deeply to change itself as it is unfolding…And as we cultivate the steadiness of mind and heart that can attune to change itself, we uncover the wisdom that comes from a direct experience of this change in our own experience.

We often have a like-dislike-relationship with change, depending on what has changed. Change itself however is impersonal and the very nature of life. Indeed as the quote goes, the only constant in life is change. And the Buddha taught us this radical practice through mindfulness, of turning towards change instead of resisting it. And even when we notice resistance, there is a learning – a direct experience of dukkha, of the suffering that comes from resistance. And this too is important – in recognizing and getting to know dukkha in this intimate way, we cultivate wisdom.

The funny part in all of this dharma (or truth) is that to truly open to wisdom, we have to let go of our agenda and timelines! All we can do is have the intention and let it guide us…As Joseph Goldstein encourages us, our intention sets the direction for our journey, and through the journey of mindfulness and wisdom, we learn to trust that our path will lead to wisdom and freedom. And we appreciate the many moments of beauty along this path.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,

a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter

If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,

this is the best season of your life

Wu Men

May this Spring bring you many moments of ease and beauty!

With love, S.

ps: There is still space in my Intro to Mindfulness course for BIPOC, check it out under my course offerings!

The in-between spaces…

Photo by Ben Young on Pexels.com

I have just finished teaching my five-week course on the mindfulness trainings. Showing up for the sangha, the community of kindred spirits who were taking my class, as they showed up for me, was deeply rooting and grounding. Especially because it carried me through the month of March which always feels like a difficult (and long!) month for me. I felt nourished and grateful! I love teaching mindfulness – it helps me stay committed to my practice in an intentional way.

It has also been lovely this month of April to have a pause from teaching, to allow my practice to unfold more organically and take in the wisdom coming from many directions. Spending a few days in Washington, DC for spring break with my family was a welcome change. And as I return home, getting ready to go back to teaching next week (I am high school teacher), I feel energized and uplifted. And a sense of joy!

The joy is coming through from the constant stream of bird visitors we have had to our home – bright yellow goldfinches, pinkish red house finches, gray-black juncos, bright red cardinal, downy woodpecker, blue-gray nuthatch (I had to look this one up!) – it has been constant – and is bringing us much delight! I have been going out late evenings to hear the frogs and toads in the nearby swamp (thanks to a beaver family that transformed that eco-system!) and there has been such a raucous! One late afternoon last week, on my usual walk in the neighborhood, I caught sight of a beautifully gorgeous turkey vulture about 30 feet from me, taking flight and landing on a nearby tree. I saw the same (or different?) vulture at the exact same spot the next day while walking with my daughter – and we decided to name this special bird Majesty. Seeing Majesty made me literally stop in my tracks and stand in awe. That’s what nature does to us – opens us up to wonder and mystery.

I am fortunate to live in a beautiful landscape and the coming of spring, much anticipated by us, seems to be here. And while holding the realities of climate change and the terrible tragedies around the world that are coming from our ignoring the signs – the certainty that something is wrong if we go from winter to summer in a week – I am also holding this. This deep joy and gratitude for the life that surrounds me, right now. This moment. The daffodils starting to bloom and the day-lilies pushing themselves out of the ground. And I am remembering Mary Oliver’s words from Straight talk by Fox.

I see you in all your seasons

  making love, arguing, talking about God

as if he were an idea instead of the grass,

  instead of the stars, the rabbit caught

in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought

  home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is

responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not

  give my life for a thousand of yours.

Mary oliver

Please do check back for my next offering, which will be an intro to mindfulness course for the BIPOC community here in the Upper Valley and elsewhere in the world – the nice part of offering it online is that the world is suddenly a smaller place! And BIPOC or not, you are welcome to listen to the recordings of my guided meditations from my recent course, posted under the Guided Meditations tab.

Be well, take care and may spring be in your every step!



Sunrise Ruby

Photo by Tommes Frites on Pexels.com

As a busy week winds down, it is time to turn inwards towards stillness. This cold weekend extends a perfect invitation to do just that! Even as mercury retrograde is over (astrologically, Mercury retrograde is a period to turn inwards) and mercury is leaving its retrograde shadow, we reflect on where we are and move towards embodying our deepest self. We move towards what is skillful, what nourishes us and restores us into presence. This movement requires a courage and willingness to look towards the places in ourselves and in our relationships where we still operate from fear and reactivity, and to bring gentle kindness, love and understanding. The intimacy with these dark places allows us to bring light in, and shine that light outwards into the world. And what a gift that is to the world!

I’m always surprised when I turn towards my own fear and reactivity. I notice the resistance towards this process of making this U-turn (as Tara Brach calls it) until I become conscious of the fact that the charge in my inner heart and the obsessive thinking in my mind is painful. And when I turn towards my pain, it inevitably brings me face to face with enormous love, care and great gentleness. The courage is simply making the choice to turn towards dukkha, the rest usually unfolds naturally. And this process of transformation from within brings such joy!

I have been thinking of Christina Feldman’s words on tranquility, whose course on Essential Mindfulness I have been grateful to take this January. She talks about tranquility as a calming of the agitation of the mind. This calming, this tranquility, this willingness to be with our own discomfort and the joy that arises naturally as a result, is the process of uncovering our own inner wisdom, goodness, our sweetness. I love the word sweetness – it reminds me of the sanskrit word rasa – meaning flavor. This sweet flavor, this nectar is both the result of our practice and the path itself. The more we take this in, the more we abide naturally here. And we become like the sunrise ruby Rumi talks about:

“There is nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight.”

Rumi (translated by coleman barks)

May your path towards uncovering your own sweet rasa unfold with grace!

With Love, S.

The Middle Way…

One of the stories of the Buddha that I love is how he came to teach the middle way. He had left his life of pleasures as prince Siddharta, and he had tried many ascetic practices in seeking enlightenment – only to find his body weak and starved of nourishment. He had come to recognize that neither of them worked. And one key moment in this story is when a kind woman Sujatha passing by saw him in his weak state and offered him kheer: rice pudding. This spontaneous gesture of kindness led the way to the Buddha feeling nourished and sitting under the Bodhi tree vowing not to get up until he was enlightened. And enlightened, he did become – and taught for forty some years of this middle path to freedom and peace.

Photo by nicollazzi xiong on Pexels.com

The middle way of tending to our bodies and our minds and turning to our inner wisdom, discernment and compassion to lead the way forward is something that has always inspired me. Balance is the word that comes to my mind. Finding balance requires attention. It requires mindfulness to know when I am leaning too much this way or that. To know when I am stagnating or rushing ahead. This quest for balance has influenced many of my life decisions, and continually informs what I say Yes to, and what I say No to. Living a life that has balance requires intention and time to slow down. It requires turning to the stillness to guide me and it asks for a commitment to live in harmony with this world.

Peace in the world starts with peace in oneself. If everyone lives mindfully, everyone will be more healthy, feel more fulfilled in their daily lives and there will be more peace…

Thich Nhat Hanh

Too often, I am distracted, reactive and judging. And when I notice this, I can pause and remember. In Buddhism, the word mindfulness is a loose translation for the pali word sati and many dharma teachers point towards the word remember as a better translation for sati. So the practice is to pause and remember my deepest aspiration. And of course when we notice and get familiar with what out of balance feels like, it becomes easier to recognize the sensations and feelings associated with it, and easier to return to sati more easily! And the most wonderful part of this is our neuroplasticity – it becomes that much easier to return again!

I leave you today with a practice and a course offering. This practice I learned recently from Yoga with Adrienne – my favorite yoga teacher! Her new series Center is amazing, and is helping me be diligent with my practice in this new year. In the episode day 19 (Play), Adrienne demonstrates this short exercise of walking led by your center. It felt pretty amazing and somehow the next day, walking up the stairs to my classroom, I remembered her instruction and practiced walking led by my center. It felt incredible – grounding and centering!

And I want to leave you also with the announcement of my next offering – in the theme of continuing to walk the middle way – of Life as practice series. You can find it in my course offerings page. Be well, take care, and may your life unfold in many beautiful ways!

With gratitude,



Life is full of surprises. Two days after we returned from Cancun, I tested positive for Covid. My symptoms have been more akin to a mild cold, and of course when you have a cold, you feel crummy, you try to take it easy and you drink lots of hot tea… It does mean that I have not stepped outside my home in about 6 days. My family has been so wonderful – while I isolate the best I can. Anji especially, who worried so much about Covid wearing her mask the entire time until recently, has been so caring and relaxed. We are all getting through it together. One day at a time.

I have been thinking of the word Buoyancy this week. Strange, isn’t it, to be thinking of this particular word at this particular time? Well, one reason I have been thinking of this word is that one of the particularly strong memories from my trip to Cancun was watching pelicans on the beach. Pelicans would soar, glide, ride the wind and then plummet into the water, landing gracefully into a swim. I watched many of these beautiful birds, took many photos and videos though they don’t do much justice to the beauty of the moments.

One of the words Pelicans stand for is buoyancy (and also cooperation) as per Ted Andrews, whose book Animal Speak is usually by my bedside! Which is really not a surprise when you watch these beings. Especially during the last couple of days before we left when there were heavy winds on the beach, you could really see how the pelicans glided on them, buoyantly, gracefully, effortlessly. They remind me that it is possible to ride the changes in our lives with buoyancy. It is possible to show up to this moment with an open heart and accept whatever comes along. It doesn’t mean that I have not had moments of stress or anxiety. Of course I have. It has been possible to meet them – the fear, the uncertainty, the worry with equanimity and compassion. This too belongs. Even in the midst of challenges, awe and beauty is present. And tenderness. For me tenderness is intimately connected to buoyancy, thanks to Rumi:

Feel the motions of tenderness around you. the buoyancy.


Peace is possible. So this new year, I wish you all a happy, healthy, easeful year with freedom and peace! To feel the motions of tenderness around you. Please accept this guided meditation from me as a gift, on setting intentions for this year, recorded on New Year’s day when a small group of us gathered to meditate together. Take care and be well!

With love,


Finding refuge in kindness and community

Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash

I love this image of the Buddha supported by the tree branches – and resting.

Yesterday, Saturday, December 10th, 2022, thirty of us gathered – some in person and most online for a retreat I co-taught with my teacher Doreen Schweizer, my first time attending a retreat in the role of a teacher. Doreen Schweizer has been my primary dharma anchor and teacher – and someone who has inspired me to become a teacher myself. When Doreen reached out to me a couple of months ago asking me if I would co-teach the December retreat – an annual offering in the Valley Insight community, one which I have myself attended several times – I was thrilled! Over the last couple of months, we met a few times – to talk through the process – everything from the title and the intention to the structure of the days which involved an optional pre-retreat gathering on Friday evening and a day-long on Saturday. Through the meetings and along with many emails, there was joy – our spiritual friendship deepened and I have learned so much working alongside a veteran and wise teacher whom I trusted in completely and felt a deep metta connection with. 

Finally the retreat evening dawned, though not without some personal hurdles. Over the past week, my body developed an allergic reaction of some sort, breaking out into hives. It started on Tuesday night – and progressively worsened during the week. Hives are not new to my body – they are a familiar visitor but do not visit not often enough for me to have coping strategies lined up. After racking my brain this week, I realized this was probably a reaction to the covid booster shot I took a couple of weeks ago. Exhausted on Friday morning, I finally called my Doc and managed to get an appointment in – and get some medication to soothe. 

Part of what also unfolded was the resurfacing of my own doubts – will I be able to make this retreat? Will I be able to hold the container for others? Most of all, the thought – did I jinx this with my own excitement and joy? I’m sure this is something many of us can relate with. 

The journey from fear to love is sometimes a single step. A single thought. If this was meant to be, it will be. All I can do is show up. At night, laying in bed, I allowed mindfulness to take over. Itchiness. Heat. discomfort. Sensations. Compassion. Passing away. Arising again. My husband’s gentle hands soothing the itchiness in my back. receiving care from him. My daughter’s concern. This was the practice. This was my practice for the retreat! 

The medication received from my doctor on Friday evening worked wonders. I had almost no symptoms on the retreat day. Wow! Sweet gratefulness. I could be present, attentive and kind. My practice deepened in teaching this retreat with Doreen and holding the space for the participants, many of whom are my dear spiritual friends, and who brought their commitment, presence, resolve and kindness. 

Most of all, there was gratitude. Support from so many to make this retreat possible. Opening of hearts to being touched by boundless friendliness and peace.

It’s another beginning, my friend, this waking in a morning with no haze, and help coming without your asking! A glass submerged is turning inside the wine. With grief washed away, sweet gratefulness arrives.

Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks, in the collection ‘The glance’

Gratitude is the open door to abundance…

Frame on gratitude quotes, purchased in Ogunquit, ME

This frame resides in my meditation room, and often inspires me to hold the intention to have an attitude of gratitude. Each time I read it, depending on the state of my mind, a particular sentence stands out to me. For example, one of the sentences I love in this is about Piglet. I loved reading Winnie the pooh to my daughter, and we both love the stories so much that we have continued returning to them often. Piglet’s character in particular is one I can resonate with: like Piglet, I am afraid easily – I am scared of roller coasters, of swimming in the deep, of horror movies and when I was a child, I was afraid of loud fire-crackers, of the dark and many other things. And yet Piglet experienced what it was like to be brave and to be accepted for who he was. And Piglet’s heart can hold enormous amount of gratitude.

Our capacity to take in the beauty of life, to pause and savor the sweet little moments and to show up with openness for the difficult moments strengthens the heart. Gratitude connects directly to this: it helps us incline our attention and how we pay attention (wise effort) and it arises when we reflect on our experiences and take in the blessings in our lives. Indeed, ‘life is a series of thousands of miracles’. The invitation is to notice them.

When suffering falls away what is revealed is not a big blank but a natural sense of gratitude, good wishes for others, freedom and ease.

Rick hansen (in his book: Neurodharma)

Indeed sometimes gratitude arises spontaneously and at other times, we can cultivate this gratitude. Cultivation is the word Gil Fronsdal uses to summarize the seven factors of awakening that arise through mindfulness practice. Like cultivating a garden, we tend to these qualities with kind attention and care.

So how can we cultivate gratitude? One way to practice is to notice the moments of ease and peace and spaciousness in our lives, the ordinary moments when things are right, when there is absence of clinging or aversion, when conditions outside our control have conspired to create something beautiful for us. Another way to practice is to use what one of my teachers Tara Brach often reminds us of which is the Bodhisattva intention: ‘may this serve to awaken’, or the inquiry: ‘what is the opportunity here?’. This is particularly helpful in difficult moments and help us reconnect with gratitude and the kind compassionate attention that can hold all that comes along, like a mother’s warm embrace for her child. When I remember this inquiry, it helps me return to my intention to hold gratitude in my heart for all that comes along.

I leave you with this beautiful quote from Rumi:

“Be grateful for your life, every detail of it, and your face will come to shine like a sun, and everyone who sees it will be made glad and peaceful. Persist in gratitude, and you will slowly become one with the Sun of Love, and Love will shine through you its all-healing joy. The path of gratitude is not for children; it is path of tender heroes, of the heroes of tenderness who, whatever happens, keep burning on the altar of their hearts the flame of adoration.”


May your day unfold with many moments of gratitude!

with metta, S.

Renunciation as a practice in turning towards what we love…

In Buddhism, renunciation has an important role in the development of an ethical life, it is one of the ten perfections of the heart, also known as paramis, and it is the underpinning of the five mindfulness trainings, as I understand them. However, renunciation often has this tone of severity associated with it – it indicates that giving up is a sort of punishment or self-denial that we should do to be a good citizen, a good meditator or a good person.

Personally, I tend to turn away from anything I should do. However, increasingly I find that renunciation actually protects my mind and heart, and makes me more mindful when I am making choices, so that I can make choices that are skillful. For example, in choosing not to shop/browse the internet/watch late night TV when I was tired on Monday night, I ended up listening to my body and going to bed early. I woke up feeling nourished, less distracted and it helped me enjoy my next day with more energy for the things that mattered to me.

Notice, I said, choosing not to. Sometimes, when we can’t choose skillfully, and are driven through reactivity to act in our habitual ways, like I was last night, I noticed that I could still renounce judging and limiting thoughts by letting go and choosing to forgive myself.

And when I choose to let go of self blame, I notice that I have more kindness and compassion for myself and others.

Renunciation can be through big or little actions. It can be giving up wanting to make our tea or food exactly the way we like it, so that we can simply enjoy the tea (or dinner) for what it is. It can be giving trying to have the house perfectly tidy and spending time with our loved ones instead. It can be giving up trying to make this piece for the blog perfect, so that it can simply be what it is. Honest, authentic, imperfect and alive in this moment.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Choice is freedom. When we choose the path of wholeness and ask ourselves if we really need something, and connect with a sense of abundance and gratitude, we find it easier to let go. And when we let go – whether it is thoughts, emotions, stories, beliefs – that release feels so good! Suddenly we are not so caught up in our stories. We are free. And when we notice how pleasurable this feels, renunciation gets easier. We do it not because we should, but because we want to. And we find increasing freedom in this way.

Welcome everything, push away nothing…

Daughter Anji on the beach in Cancun, 2018

After listening recently to a talk given by Frank Ostaseski, co-founder of the zen hospice project, I was inspired to read Frank’s book, ‘The five invitations‘. The second invitation in this book is to ‘welcome everything and push away nothing’, and it has been the theme of practice for me this past week.

School began this week in full swing and I held this intention on the opening day, to welcome everything, all my students and all the experiences. I found that it is easy to welcome everything when things are good! The first day was magical. The excitement, the hope, the possibilities.

With school beginning, there also came the familiar worry and anxiety of the virus, especially for my daughter Anji. The choice of masking and the dependence of her well-being on conditions outside her control. I was listening to her while washing dishes, feeling my own impatience as I was listening – when the invitation cut through. Welcome everything, push away nothing. This too was okay. I could welcome this and make space for it. I loved her and that also meant welcoming her tendency to worry.

With first full week of school, inevitably there was tiredness and feeling exhausted. And for me, with tired often comes judgment. I noticed how quick I was at self-judgment! Welcome everything, push away nothing meant that judgment too was okay. I could notice and listen to my thoughts with kindness and patience – like listening to a child who is hurt and wants attention. I was lying in bed early in the morning, wishing for more sleep, noticing the thoughts of ‘if only…’. And remembering the instruction, I could soften with tenderness and welcome the experience. And just like the child calms down when listened to, the kind attention was enough for the judgments and thoughts to release.

So welcome everything, push away nothing is really an instruction to accept things just as they are, not wishing them to be otherwise. Even when we wish them otherwise, there can still be kindness, instead of aversion. Gil Fronsdal talks about this in the third awakening factor of mindfulness, effort. Wise or skillful effort is in paying attention – not just what we pay attention to, but how we pay attention.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Choosing a welcoming, grateful and kind attitude strengthens this response so it becomes increasingly available in the future. And then we start to notice the exquisite joy, the beauty, the love, the abundance that comes our way when we welcome everything. It opens our hearts.

With kindness, S.

peace in the moment…

Photo by Matteo Basile on Pexels.com

I was lying down on a yoga mat on Sunapee beach – it was our last beach visit of this summer. My eyes closed, my body sinking into the floor of the mat. I could hear the voices of my daughter and husband in the background, chatting away. I could feel the movement of my breath and the warmth of the sun and the air touching my body – and my body molding into the shape that received this air, and the surface beneath me. I could feel the tension in my neck and right shoulder – and I felt no inclination to fix it. Just a subtle softening into the tension, a gentle acceptance.

I felt a deep peace. And also awe. This moment was perfect just as it was.

I was happy enough to stay still

inside the pearl inside the shell,

but the hurricane of experience

lashed me out of hiding

and made me a wave moving into shore,

saying loudly the ocean’s secret

as I went, and then, spent there,

I slept like fog against the cliff,

another stillness.

Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

I would soon feel the urge to move, to join the others. But not yet…This was the time to linger in this peace, to soak it in, to let it permeate deep into the cells of my body…

with gratitude, S.