The spiritual communities that sustain us…

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COVID 19 has not been pleasant. It has been a tremendous period of uncertainty, struggle, death and transformation in the lens with which we view our lives. Nothing can ever be the same, surely! It has also brought some unexpected blessings into our lives. Perhaps, a slowing down, or a pause from the frantic pace at which we drive ourselves. Or forced time with loved ones. Solitude or togetherness in unexpected ways. A deep immersion in compassion, because how else can we get through this?

One of those unexpected blessings for me, is a reconnecting with my mindfulness community. I have been part of this sangha (buddhist word for spiritual community) for over a decade, and my teachers have influenced my path and my practice in indescribable ways. Since I became a mom, I have struggled to attend the sits regularly. I have tried and given up several times during the course of the past decade. The evening times seem to coincide exactly with when my child needs me for homework, piano lessons or when I am making dinner. I love my routine and giving up my evening routine and dinner with my family felt too difficult.

After reviewing the stress it caused me, I came to peace with my decision that I would forego the weekly sits, and try to attend the weekend gatherings whenever possible. I still managed to pop into the weekly sits once every few months thanks to spring break or summer break. But for the most part, my sits with my community and teachers happened during a Saturday or Sunday retreat. That said, it didn’t seem to matter how infrequently I sat with my sangha; every time I showed up, I was greeted with the same benevolence, kindness and enthusiasm as if I were coming every week!

During COVID 19, the sits became live on zoom and my teachers led sits virtually. And what a blessing! Sitting again with my sangha regularly, with people who share the love and passion for the Dharma, has been like dipping my feet again in the soft sand by the shore line. So beautiful and exactly perfect! And always such a pleasant surprise to feel the connection when we sit with beloved spiritual friends. The sit usually lasts about 30-40 minutes followed by discussion on the text or talk we have been reading/watching. So, on Monday evenings, when I can enter the refuge of my meditation room, I take a pause from everything else in life. Life resumes as normal after the sit, but as always, we are changed, transformed by the gifts of mindfulness and loving-kindness. The lens becomes just a bit clearer!

Another life-line for me has been Jurian Hughes’ kripalu yoga. I met Jurian at Kripalu last summer at the Dance into Joy workshop, and immediately felt a connection to her teachings and her presence. Kripalu is too far away for me to see her regularly and I missed the yoga, so I leapt at the chance to practice with her when she started teaching via zoom. Her Wednesday morning gentle yoga is just a perfect way to re-enter the week. She also sends a recording of the yoga class which is valid for a week, so that I can practice with it multiple times if I need. And what makes Jurian’s classes so enjoyable is her warmth, groundedness, chanting and the energy she brings into the practice and into our lives.

I feel so grateful to be part of a rich spiritual community where we can support each other with the practice of mindfulness, movement and compassion. With a bow of gratitude to all our teachers, who influence us, inspire us and keep us going on this path to liberation!

I leave you with these words from Rumi:

So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where?

Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck

we could have. It is a total waking-up.

Why should we grieve that we have been sleeping?

It does not matter how long we’ve been unconscious.

We are groggy, but let the guilt go.

Feel the motions of tenderness around you, the bouyancy.

Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Have you experienced any unexpected blessings during this time? Have the teachings of loving-kindness and mindfulness spoken to you in new ways? I would love to hear about your journey, through any comments you leave me.

With love and a bow, S.


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!


the practice of gratitude

In the beginning of this month, I set the intention to bring my yoga practice into focus, along with the practice of gratitude. This week, I have managed to make space for yoga everyday with the exception of wednesday. The space has been sometimes early in the morning, sometimes in the evening before the chaotic dinner time and tonight, after 7.00. The commitment to five poses has been liberating. I have felt good about extending my yoga practice when time permits, but I have not held it against myself to have a brief practice at times. Doing yoga more than just a couple of times has been so good for me. One, it has helped me sleep better. Two, I am able to be more mindful of my spine extending and able to sense more resilience in my body and mind. My mind has felt clearer at the end of the day, with less of the dullness I usually feel by the time my family duties are over. I’m energized by the possibility that doing yoga more frequently IS possible. 


Regarding gratitude, isn’t this an endless journey!? Just when I was noticing yesterday that I have been feeling less inclined to anger lately, today I was hit by it out of nowhere. Yes, it is true, I have felt less prone to strong emotional upheavals in recent months; partly because of better diet and movement and partly because I have enjoyed many activities with Anjali. Her growing up into her 4s, has meant less irrational tantrums for her, and more calm for me. And I have taken time to notice this for sure. But today, my familiar friend Anger threw me for a loop. I had dropped down my guard. I had not taken my pause in a busy morning. I was also nursing the beginning of a headache. And there He was. Waiting. Of course. And I had forgotten my beloved Rumi’s words: 

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open. Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade. Joke with torment brought by the friend.”

There is no other way but through, and gratitude leads us through. I feel humbled by my own emotions and vulnerability. My body’s tiredness and limitations sometimes and the shortcoming in mY own capacity to respond with wisdom. I think this is essential to compassion. If I were perfect, I would be unable to understand and empathize with the imperfections of others. When I see through my own humanness, when I accept the troubles, then my heart softens. My daughter said to me, ‘mom you are not being kind to me.’ It tore my heart open in that moment. The situation doesn’t matter – that I carried her crying, through the playground before she had a chance to say goodbye to her teachers, even though she had had adequate warning and plenty of time to play. Yes, I was not being kind. I was busy in a battle with my ego, my anger. My stories. My heart wrestled in that moment with the truth of the words. I was crushed against the weight of my own judgment. Anjali forgave me soon. She moved on. We had a beautiful afternoon. But  I didn’t really move on, until now, until the breathing softened me, through the yoga.


We hold ourselves with such love when we hit these tender moments. That is what we learn through the practice, and that is the way through. May we appreciate these moments of waking up. May we have peace through this journey of life. This moment is like no other. May we welcome this full moon, this new day with open heart. 


With love,  S.


November challenges: the mindful way…

November the 1st. How this year is flying by! One of the books that I have been reading and rereading three past couple of months is the ‘happiness project’ by Gretchen Rubin. I have found it a fun read and also incredibly useful in reminding me about intentions and resolutions. I can really relate to Gretchen and I think it is helping me keep some of my controlling behavior in check and let go a little more. I have tried to become more mindful of my complaints and criticisms, especially in my relationship with my close ones. I have become more mindful of bringing in more lightness into my life. I am trying to pause more and take in more. Especially more delight around Anjali. Many small changes, and now I am ready for two big ones. Here they are!


1) Take care of my body. I used to be a serious yogi – yoga everyday, classes twice a week, retreats and so on. Becoming a mom changed my priorities hugely and in unexpected ways. And somehow I have drifted away from paying attention to my body. My yoga practice has dwindled to mostly supportive poses to offer respite from busy days,  but not strengthening in any way. My massage today was as usual, an eye opener to how much stress I carry in my body. I would like to change this relationship and take better care of my body. So here is my challenge for November:

To do yoga everyday,at least  five poses. The five poses I have chosen are: child’s pose, downward dog, plank, forward bend and triangle or tree pose. I could certainly do more if time permits, but I got to do these five at least once everyday for the month of November. It has been ages since I challenged myself, and I think I am ready to do so now. Anjali can be a witness if she would like, as she usually is, to any major happenings in the house 🙂 

2) keep a gratitude journal. What better month than November, the month of thanksgiving? I journal frequently and often write about what I am grateful for. But writing for myself makes me lazy sometimes and I hope making this a deliberate and more public resolution will make me more accountable. I’m sure I will have thoughts to share!


If you would like to join me on one or both challenges, please do so and let me know through the comments! Your support is always appreciated. I don’t intend to make my posts on these public on Facebook, so if you would like to follow, please sign up on my blog!


Wish me luck,

With peace, s.