Living itself as a friend…

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause?’ -Mary Oliver

I love these words by Mary Oliver and I believe them whole heartedly! At its core, walking a spiritual path requires discipline, it requires commitment and labor, it requires showing up when things are good and showing up when things are not so good. It requires sitting on the cushion when we feel alert and balanced and full of vigor and also when we feel tired and sleepy and not so full of vigor! Above all, it requires letting go of purpose and agenda…and trusting that wherever we are is exactly where we need to be.

‘Be courageous and discipline yourself…Work. Keep digging your well. Don’t think about getting off from work. Water is there somewhere.’, says Rumi. All these wise words point to showing up and doing the work.

And yet, how do we respond when we forget to show up? That too is part of the practice! Do we berate ourselves and pile on the self judgement or do we soften in tenderness for the challenging life circumstances that have prevented us from coming to our mat, or cushion? Above all, do we give ourselves permission to begin over?

Beginning over and over is the practice. And we do it not because its what we should do, but because we have a choice and it’s what we choose to do. And every time we choose to begin over, we open the door to spontaneous joy, the joy that arises from making time to listen to our soul, our spirit, the inner most voice inside that speaks only when we become silent… And that spontaneous joy that ‘comes and sits softly on my shoulder’ (in the words of Thoreau) gives me the courage to stay on the path.

So, here is to discipline and joy and supporting each other on the path…

With metta, S

Ps: please enjoy my latest collage for which I used Brush Dance’s Rumi calendar from 2007 as backdrop…

In taking the photograph, the reflection of the window adds an interesting dimension! The words at the bottom are from Rumi as well.

Creative living…

One of my absolute favorite poems of Rumi is this one…translated by Coleman Barks:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Everyday life presents us opportunities to do what we love, in little and big ways, whether it is because we are frightened or because we are joyful! This has never been more true perhaps than now, for us who are living through this pandemic. We have experienced contraction and expansion in a variety of ways and most of all we have all experienced transformation…

For me, these past few months have opened up a well of creative living… whether it is in trying new recipes or foods, or in crafting collages and knitting projects and designing jewelry or in simply playing with time in spontaneous ways…Professionally, I am a high school math teacher so being in the classroom everyday presents its own challenges and rewards, but most of all, it reminds me to take care of myself, model that for my daughter and make time for play!

As I was talking to a friend about my new projects , she suggested starting a creativity journal! I don’t want to use yet another blog space but thought I would experiment using this space for some of my work…it will certainly help me be more regular in blogging!

So hope you enjoy what is to come…. this collage below is inspired by my intentions for my upcoming teacher training program and was done on this snow day today, with my amazing incredibly talented ten year old daughter who made her own collage (not shown here) and will probably start her own blog when she is old enough! 🙂

The woodpecker, according to Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak, represents new rhythms, and we sighted a couple of woodpeckers in our yard on New Year’s Day! It also represents discrimination, in what we take on in life so that we protect our time and our practice! And I really wanted to find a seat to represent meditation. Finally, the background is from the Nature Conservancy 2020 calendar!

With metta, S

Deep Purple Delight, a verse and more…

Last night, inspired by my teacher’s challenge, I was moved to write this short poem about Anjali:

Deep Purple Delight

In her purple-rimmed glasses,

and her deep lilac pullover,

She looks at me, her face shining pink:

Abounding in laughter,

bursting with delight,

Her whole being is alight with joy!

In that moment,

my breath catches, and my heart softens,

as I gaze in marvel at this radiant being of light!

Photo by SplitShire on

Imagine my surprise as I turned to today’s poem in my copy of ‘A Year with Rumi’ and saw the poem titled: ‘Who says words with my mouth’. It made me laugh. Here are a couple of lines from the end of the poem.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.

I don’t plan it. When I’m outside the saying of it,

I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

How apropos! I had written the poem after my nightly-ish meditation.

So, there it is: this quiet that is always there within us, waiting. Before or after the words. Just waiting for us to sit and wait in return. That is the marvel of the practice of returning home. Watching the breath, listening to the sounds, witnessing the thoughts, cultivating the love. Do you feel it? This beckoning of the silence from which the words spring? We just show up over and over again.

So, I return to my deep purple delight. May yours be filled with light!

Namaste, S.

That is the marvel of the practice of returning home. Watching the breath, listening to the sounds, witnessing the thoughts, cultivating the love.

Coming home…

It is my first day of school vacation. My second year of teaching has flown by, and it has brought me such learning, and growth and appreciation, I feel grateful to find something I cherish and love doing everyday. I love my students, and my colleagues, and I love that I am paid to do math everyday!

And I also love my school vacation.

On this beautiful quiet morning, after dropping off Anjali, now 4 and ¾ as she reminded me this morning, I walked on the meandering roads near my house and I couldn’t help marveling at how my life has unfolded here in the upper valley. I came here as a graduate student to Dartmouth college, when I was 21. And I just never left. It has been nearly 14 years now. It wasn’t a love affair from the beginning, I can tell you that for sure. In fact I cried those beginning months, to be back home, to be around people again. And then one starry night, I walked outside from a show at the Hopkins center, and that’s when I knew. I was going to stay.

It is amazing to me that such a small place can hold so much. The beautiful magnificent fall – in all its triumphant colors that change everyday, culminating in a rich golden dance of leaves that lead into nothingness. And then the beauty of pure white snow and the trees clothed in white, the snowy banks and mountains and the feel of icy cold air on the cheeks. Everything feels so still in the winter. And then the melting and the nothingness in between – before the buds shoot forth and miracle of life happens again. The trees and plants grow leaves, and somehow in a span of a magical month, everything is green again. And now, as I gaze around me, I’m greeted in all directions by the lushness of green. Who knew there were so many shades of green? Not to mention the flowers. Each walk I go, I discover a new bloom, a new kind of flower, a new scent. My heart is made so happy! And I am in awe of this unfolding that happens every year without fail, and that I get to be the witness to this beauty of transformation.

Each year seems to bring something new. This year, after living in our home for over 7 years, we saw a black bear in our back yard for the first time! It wasn’t large, but it had come to find seed at our bird feeder, which we then had to take down. In the last year and half, we have seen and learned the names of over 10 species of birds come to our yard, and listened to their calls and watched their way of patiently waiting for their turn at the feeder. In the roads around my home, I have taken countless walks. I have walked with friends, I have walked as a pregnant woman, as a new mother with my baby snug in the wrap next to me, as mom pushing the stroller with my child, more recently walking side-by-side with my daughter, and then sometimes like this morning, alone by myself. Life has come a full circle. And as I take each footstep up the hill lined with purple and yellow wild flowers, I know I am home.

So here is to the place closest to my heart, my home, the place I have lived longer than any other place in my life, the place that bears witness to my own transformation. I bow to you in gratitude and joy!

With love, S.

Sing your song…

I’ve wanting to write in my blog these past few weeks, but nothing materializes. Somehow I don’t have the words to describe all that I feel. When I try words, they seem cliched, trivial and I know my life experience is anything but that. So much has been happening, each day, each week, I can hardly keep up. I don’t mean externally – my life is a simple one for the most part – family, work and play. Internally, it is a different story. I have moments each day when everyone makes sense and I am magically alive. I spend several moments each day, lost in trance – of being elsewhere – not quite in the moment. I have come to recognize those moments with fondness – they allow me to soften. Making the turn and seeing a familiar face, or walking into a shop and seeing somebody I know, or simply walking sometimes. A lot of times, while driving. My judgments for wandering have diminished leaving a strange comaraderie for myself. This is me – imperfect. and my attention wanders. Lets return. and I do.

I have moments when I am caught in the anguish, of feeling that I am not enough. Frustration that I cannot be more, do more. And somehow, I notice, and they pass. The moments I feel most alive are when I am in nature, and when I stop and appreciate whatever is in front of me. It happens a lot when I am with my daughter – she forces me to pause. Its like she sees this beautiful being in me that makes me stop and figure out if I can catch a glimpse of this being in me too. Such love, a daughter brings. such joyful play and appreciation.

So, tonight, before I go to bed, I will be sneaking into my daughter’s room to watch her tonight. I hope you too have something that makes your heart smile.

I leave you with this…

Sing your song

life isn’t all that long
so take this moment
to sing your song

sing it wildly,
belt out loudly
let everyone hear

that heartful voice
inside of you
loud and clear

no one else can sing it
the way you do, not quite,
there is no other you

so take this moment,
pause for a minute
get ready and sing…!

With Love, S.

The graceful (grateful) coming of Spring…

Its April the 2nd. Spring is here! Whether it was for a day or a few hours, the sun was out today, and we had blue skies, cool breeze and a warm day. Just walking outside without a heavy jacket felt…liberating! A few pounds lighter and feeling heart-happy, I couldn’t help but muse on happiness. My thoughts ebbed and flowed, but there was nothing in particular that I was thinking or obsessing about. No worries that came to mind. I felt distinctly comfortable. My thoughts drifted along and I kept returning to the cool air touching my face and my feet touching the ground. I realized in the moment, that I was feeling happiness. A sense of wellness about my life.

Its amazing when we think about happiness – it doesn’t mean we don’t have issues or stuff happening – but somehow there is no pushing away, and there is a feeling of relaxed wellness that we can rest in. We are not holding on to something, and we are not pushing away anything. Somehow our energies are freed from efforting, and we simply are in the moment. happy. Sometimes conditions come together – like today: beautiful weather, time at hand, not too tired, and a comfortable body. Other times, happiness arises spontaneously like sun rays glistening through on a rainy day. What matters is that we notice. Somehow noticing solidifies that happiness, and increases it. I don’t know how.

Writer Gretchen Rubin talks about it in Happiness project, which has become one of my beloved go-to-books: that we aren’t happy until we think we are. In my own experience, I know this is true: when I notice my happiness, I can keep my stories of dramatizing difficult situations in check. I know that things are not always difficult – from my own experience, and hence they will pass. I have also found another secret that somehow eluded me for a large part of my life: that when things are difficult, it is nothing personal. It just is, and that’s life. When I don’t take it as the universe’s personal vendetta against me, I’m able to respond with equanimity and compassion.

Why realizing this secret in the moment is so hard, I don’t know. BUt I do understand why it is necessary to pay attention. When I invest in my happiness, like going for the walk today, I feel more relaxed and hence better able to pay attention without drifting off into space land of thinking or wishing. And when I’m balanced, I deal with life’s curveballs with more grace. And somehow this touches those around me – and that motivates me to take better care of myself. Its all inter-connected! That is the amazing part!

Blessings and peace to you and happy spring!

Twilight moments…

I am a twilight fan. There. I said it! I have been dreading this moment. It all started harmlessly enough. Sitting with Abhi on the couch, browsing through netflix, we came across Twilight among recent new releases on Netflix. I remembered vaguely enjoying it a few years ago, so we watched it that night. I am a sucker for love stories. Abhi, noticing my obvious enjoyment of Bella and Edward’s love story went ahead and ordered the whole saga for me. Mistake. Not that I’m not hugely appreciative – but mistake nonetheless. I ended up watching each installment of the saga over the period of a week. That is 5 movies of 2 hours each, so about 10 hours in total. This may not seem like much to some of you – but I’m somebody who doesn’t get very attached to TV series. Or rather, I’m impressionable so I practice restraint. The few shows I watch – and have watched – Downton Abby, Parenthood, Baking shows, to name a few – are in moderation because they only show one episode a week. I avoid crime, violence and intense drama because they get into my head. And I get bored by watching the same show for more than a couple of days. Hence, imagine my puzzlement when I found myself anxious to return each night after Anji’s bedtime, to the next chapter in vampire romance!

Clearly, this was against all odds. I could think of so many reasons why I should’t be watching this saga. Top of the list was that this series does not make any sense. And yet, drawn I was, like a moth to a flame night after night. My sweet husband valiantly watched all of them with me – that is how much he loves to spend time with me. I felt terrible for putting him through the ordeal! But stop, I could not.

Finally the last of Breaking Dawn finished and I realized how much of a lesson I was really learning. Other than my own self-judgment criticizing staying up late and any related thought that arose harmlessly in my mind, there was no problem really. But that is forgetting exactly how entrenched my self-judgment really is! I struggled with pushing away innocent thoughts of Forks as I drove on new england roads. ‘Go away!’, I said. And of course that didn’t work!

And finally, one night tossing and turning, berating myself and my mind, I came into softening. There was really nowhere else to go. My mind and heart softened. I chanted metta phrases every time a thought or scene from the movies arose in my mind. ‘May I be happy, may I be peaceful!’, I repeated over and over.. All night, my body and face kept softening intentionally until I realized: here was the practice! This was what Twilight had led me to. The workings of my own mind, observing, witnessing and accepting all of my thoughts. and softening and embracing my own loving heart. When I woke up in the morning, all was calm, my face and heart was shining.

I am a twilight fan. I adore the story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. There I said it. I’m not proud but I still love the goofball teenager inside me!

Peace to you,

January: reflections…

How the life of a mother evolves…When I got into motherhood more than four years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. Now four years into it, I’m learning what this is possibly about.

Patience. Enormous patience. Patience with oneself, patience with our partner, with our child, with others. Kindness. Kindness in those moments when we don’t know what is wrong, or what is happening. We don’t know why. Kindness and softening. That to me, appears to be a life-long learning. And the indescribable love and delight in life. Truly opening to what life has to offer – the not knowing, the mysteries and the day-to-day joys. When Anjali and I share our cuddles, I am complete and healed from every possible wound and hurt, internal and external. This embrace, loving, completely accepting is something I am always touched by. Sometimes if I am particularly overwhelmed, or my daughter is, we will do one-minute hugs. Just sit and hug for a complete minute with no agenda in mind. I love those moments!

Perhaps all children have this amazing capacity of appreciation and being present. I see when watching Anji’s buddies at school playing – how much fun kids have. We as adults are so much jaded. They seem so much more into adventure and lack of worrying about the future or self-critisicm about the past. When I am truly stressed, that is usually a sign that I need to be attentive and observe more and do less. It doesn’t take long for my daughter to inspire me. Perhaps it is the patience and presence she brings into her moment – whether she is beading, drawing or leaping joyously across our living room rug pretending to be a princess or on the beach. The innate capacity we all have to entertain, enliven and be happy is so inspiring to me. When I read books to her, or when I make up stories, which has been the new favorite thing, I feel connected to the flow of life. Present somehow. Wiser somehow. This is it. this is the joy I too felt when I was a child – of discovering something new, the thrill of learning something different, of figuring it out, of finding my own capacity to do something. And it all comes back. Maybe being a mother is at the end, about being a child all over again.

I don’t have all the words – perhaps I never will. Staying indoors, reflecting on this cold January afternoon seems to be right in expressing some of this…maybe more will come later… I would love to hear from others…

Peace and warmth to you,

Giving thanks…

Today I’m struck by how much love I have in my life. How much love I have had in my past and how much love there continues to be in my life. Surely if I were to believe in past lifetimes, this must be a special lifetime. When I pause to think of gratitude, I can only have a sense of marvel, of awe. Wow. This IS really my life. This is really the result of the choices I have made in life. We make choices at each juncture, each moment, on how we want to live our lives, what matters to us most, and what brings us most peace. Not every choice is an easy one, and many require great courage of heart.

Maybe that is why I have always had a hard time choosing a famous person as a role model. I find the ordinary person to be as much of a role model. My greatest role model is my husband who brings kindness and patience and steady presence into his life every single day. He is funny, fun, kind and positive, no matter how stressful his day. He always stops to give way to others, while driving. He always writes a thank you note for the server. He always greets me in the morning with such sweetness and love. He adores his daughter and has never raised his voice with her. And he has his share of stress for sure, like any of us. Like all of us.

My inspiration is also my daughter, my 4 year old, who is so profoundly wise and so tender and loving that my heart opens every day just a little bit more. Sometimes, it is hard to bear – like when we are having gelato and she wants to try mine but won’t let me feed her, so she spoons herself a bite from my spoon. How much she yearns for independence and how brave she is to be willing to try so many new things in life and never let things get her down. She is my angel, my darling and my shining star.

So many people have loved me with their hearts, and accepted me and embraced whom I am inside. Words cannot express how awesome that is. And I have allowed myself to receive this love – and I am only now beginning to realize what a gift that can be for others.

So, on thanksgiving weekend, here is giving thanks to all the people near and dear, family and friends, far away but not far from the heart. Thank you for being part of my life.


I was reading a magazine today and came across the bio of the author: ‘she balances being senior editor with yoga and teaching’, or something of the kind. I have read so many such bios, and written such bios of myself. Somehow today it made me pause: the word, ‘Balance’. We are always balancing. We are juggling so many things in life, and learning to balance on the ice, without letting it all drop. We lose our balance a lot – and that’s partly how we learn which direction we have to lean again – to regain our balance.

This month has been a lot about this lesson of balance for me. After a packed few months of so many events – birthdays, Diwali, Halloween, and work and doing too many things, my body took a pause. I had a really bad cold and it lasted for about 10 days. It forced me to get a lot of rest, less of talking, less of doing, and more of surrender. It was a reminder that we can’t always do things simply by force of will. The heart needs to follow. And as the beautiful poem by Daniel Mead, pasted on the door of my room reminds me, ‘a flower cannot be opened by a hammer’.

I had taken up swim lessons and confronting my deep fears from nearly drowning once. Watching Anji had inspired me and I was determined to ‘do it!’ this time. My body did not feel the same way. I have managed to attend classes once a week instead of two – and have had a lot of pain in left arm from possibly over-rotating. And then I couldn’t go, because I got sick. Maybe group lessons are not for me. I have also realized that maybe no push is needed.. Maybe the only deadline is my own. Maybe it will all happen in good time. Maybe I don’t need to ‘swim’ by tomorrow!

I had also resolved in the beginning of November, to commit to a more regular yoga practice. This has also been really powerful. It has also brought many questions into my attention. What modifications can I offer myself when I am sick? Can I be kind? Can I redefine success? I have not been on my yoga mat everyday, but my resolution has been successful nevertheless. I have come to yoga more often, and that has been super. I also found that since I had committed to only 5 poses, that was simple to practice and I didn’t always need to dedicate 45 minutes to an hour to practice. Sometimes 20 minutes was plenty. I also found that I had to bring mindfulness to how much I wanted to do each day, where my body was, and which poses. It has been a creative exercise as well as one of bringing attention. I have done poses I haven’t in a long time. I have also just showed up and done legs up the wall pose. My body leading the way has made me happier. And realizing that there is nobody else judging this but myself has been liberating, as always. I can be softer, kinder and when I do, I miraculously bring this into my life.

As Rumi says, ‘let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground’. May all our paths lead to more ways of discovering this…

Peace to you and happy thanksgiving!