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

Abiding in loving-kindness…

Abiding in loving-kindness or metta has this slow flowering quality of opening our hearts. It doesn’t ask for us to be perfect, but simply that we are willing to aspire and practice to be unconditionally loved and loving.

As many of you know, I am drawn deeply by the ecstasy, joy, truth, contradiction and union in Rumi’s poetry. I love reading Coleman Barks’ introduction in his many books of Rumi poetry, about the story of how Rumi and Shams met and how their friendship began, outside of time. When Shams disappeared, Rumi journeyed and looked for him everywhere, until one moment, one day, he realized that Shams was within him. And out of that union came so many of his songs and poems celebrated throughout the world. As Rumi says, “when living itself becomes the Friend, lovers disappear.”

When I attended my first metta retreat with Michele Mcdonald back in 2008, it was my first taste of this unconditional love and friendship. In metta, we concentrate on phrases/wishes of well-being for our benefactor; not with the aim of controlling their happiness or well-being, but to gently ease into and abide into our own heart’s capacity to love and wish others well, independent of their accomplishments or qualities. We start with the benefactor, because this is our ‘easy’ person, the person for whom wishing well comes easily to us. As we practice, our hearts expand in friendship and good will and then it becomes easier to extend those wishes to ourselves, neutral and more difficult people, in that order. Ultimately, our aspiration is to wish all beings on earth this same unconditional good will and friendship, as we would wish for our dearest ones.

Being a parent offers a beautiful doorway to practice this metta journey. When I sit in meditation and begin with metta for my daughter, Anjali, it is easy to wish her well. Her sweet face fills my consciousness and brings me immense joy. Not because of her accomplishments or certain qualities she possesses, but simply because of who she is. A radiant being of light and joy, for whom my wishes of friendship, health, safety and love flow easily and naturally. When I abide in the love I feel for her, and slowly turn it like a mirror towards myself, this magical alchemy occurs. I too am worthy of the same love that I extend to my child. Sometimes I find myself wondering who is the mother and who is the child.

Moon and clouds are the same. Mountain and valley are different. All are blessed; all are blessed. Is this one? Is this two?” – Wu-Men.

This abiding in unconditional love and friendship is the state from which we can then act in the world. Can we extend that same unconditional love to difficult people in our lives? This is certainly more challenging but as we keep coming back to the practice, our heart slowly opens and learns to relate in a new way to others. Extending this good will does not mean we condone others’ unskillful actions. But it allows us to respond from a place of wisdom and grace, simply because we acknowledge that we are all human, imperfect and worthy of love, friendship and respect.

I cannot say that I can love all human beings the way I love my daughter. If I did, I would be an enlightened being. Instead, I am very much imperfect, impatient with myself, insecure at times, trying too hard, demanding at times. But in loving her, I am discovering a far greater capacity for love and healing than I ever thought possible. Always remembering patience and diligence. And that, as Daniel Mead puts it beautifully in his poem, “A flower cannot be opened with a hammer.

May all beings abide in this friendship and metta,

With love, S.

ps: Please note that all Rumi references in this post are translations by Coleman Barks. If you would like a recommendation of his poetry, my favorite is his book ‘The Glance’.

Full Moon, Fish and Bird…

For a while in my life, Rumi poetry was part of the fiber of my being. I read a lot of his poems, and some of my close friends know that I have made some significant life decisions inspired by Rumi. Then, for a while, I took a Rumi break. I think I needed it, to be able to let go of my experiences of the poems and see them anew. That is one of the reasons I am so happy and excited to be back in Rumi-sphere again. So much thanks to Coleman Barks and to Mary Oliver (who read Rumi until her last days…a beautiful essay of her life here).

Today’s poem, from a year with Rumi, so apt for this full Moon, has this beautiful passage:

I am a fish. You are the moon.

You cannot touch me, but your light

fills the ocean where I live.

Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

I was inspired to write a verse in response to Rumi.

I am a fish. You are the moon.

Every one of your moon beams

has transformed me from within

so that I am a fish no more.

Instead I am a bird flying high

in the wide open sky

to be closer to you.

Shuba (with a bow to Rumi)
Photo by Frank Cone on

I am leaving you with this. I didn’t think Rumi would mind. What do you think?

Namaste, 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.


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!


Turning 3…

My little girl just turned 3 this past week. Its been three mom years for me. It is so mind-boggling to me! Just now, it seemed like she was born, nursing in my arms, sleeping for hours, utterly vulnerable and dependent on me; on us, as parents. And already it has been three years. And she is a sheer life force of energy moving dancing jumping always ready. As Suzuki Roshi called it, an alert readiness. A readiness for life. When she is upset, she is passionately upset. and when joyful, joyful with her full body and mind. My passionate wild darling. Sometimes too much like her mother. (“and the lily, how passionately she needs some wild darling!”, Rumi, Maybe thats what I asked for.) Perhaps a little temperance maybe in order. But that’s not something I have ever learned properly. Dad will have to chip in on that one.

My sleeping baby is my favorite moment of the day. She holds my hand, even now, into her fourth year, before dozing off, into dreamland. sometimes she has some last few words, some mumbles before sleep arrives fully. She is always so warm. and she curls up like a cat, with her other hand rubbing her belly. Sometimes she sings, until that very last moment of sleep. itsy bitsy spider (her most favorite song!) mostly, sometimes twinkle twinkle. Perhaps there is a reason these songs are so popular among the little ones. The melody that one can repeat over and over again. It doesn’t end. But then it does. Everything ends, just as the baby years end and the toddler years arrive, and then the preschooler years.

Right now, thats where my baby is at. So incredibly brave, learning so many new things, giving herself fully to each new day and what it holds. It is amazing to me how much she is open to, how present. More and more I am aware of how many complaints I have. and I don’t do half as much as my little one does each day. So I learn slowly to drop them.

So here it is, to our little ones, our little buddhas. May we cherish the moments, of their touch, their tiny hands holding ours, their small feet flexing, the pouring of water in the tub from one cup to another, the wearing of tiny shoes themselves, and braving it into the worlds with their tiny lunch bags. Thats my diva, my angel, my rock star. Happy birthday my sweetheart!