Friday, July 24, 2015

the need to be seen

I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline awhile back, half paying attention, when an image came up which read:

Don't know which is worse: To be present and your presence not acknowledged or to be absent and your absence not felt.

It caught me off guard and made me stop what I was doing, reflect and pose the question as to which would be worse for me. As a person who thrives on validation, my initial response was immediate - obviously being present and not having my presence acknowledged would be worse. But the longer I thought about it, the more I felt: It's a hard question to answer!

The first situation addresses the immediate here and now. Being absent and not having your absence felt is much more complicated. It might mean you are aware that your absence wasn't felt or it could also mean that you are unaware or oblivious to the fact. For most, being unaware is easier on the ego (after all, there is some truth to the saying "ignorance is bliss!), but it still doesn't mask the reality that your absence wasn't felt.

Just think about that for a minute. Simply put, it can be interpreted to mean that if you're not there, you're not missed.

As living beings, we all have a need to feel connected. Among individuals, that need for connection can vary from needing to feel it at all times, to seeking it out at certain times, in specific situations or with specific individuals.

Connection implies acknowledgement of our presence. It also gives us a sense of belonging and feeling valued. It is the lack of "being needed" that is at the root of both these scenarios and which can leave one feeling unsettled and uncomfortable.

It is in these moments that the potential to grow and become truly wise present themselves.

As much as the need to feel valued and needed is a natural one, it is one that will not always be fulfilled. Recognizing and acknowledging that truth is essential to becoming a balanced and mature human being. Although a potentially painful and unpleasant experience, it teaches us that the world doesn't revolve around us. It also offers us great insight into whose eyes we want to feel needed. After all, it's not in all situations where we feel bad if our presence is not acknowledged or our absence not felt - it's specific ones.

So the next time you find yourself in this situation, take a step back from the hurt and dig a little deeper. What you learn from that exploration will be invaluable in your personal journey of self-discovery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The effect of good news

Hearing good news about others affects people in different ways. Personally, the feelings it evokes within me serves as a barometer of how emotionally healthy I am and my relationship with the individual. Feelings of joy and "they totally deserve it" are what I aim for. However, in instances where it dredges up not so pleasant emotions, I realize I have internal work to do.

Just as pain serves as an indication that something is wrong with the body, similarly, negative emotions can serve as an indicator that we need to pay closer attention to an unfulfilled need or issue. That something can vary from person to person, but it's important to identify it and work to see what is needed to heal it. The importance of this topic was highlighted again by something that recently happened.

I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by practitioners of bhakti yoga my entire life. In order to invoke the blessings and share in the good news that I am to be married soon, my dear parents have been personally inviting well-wishers and friends for the occasion. Today I'd like to share with one reaction that melted my heart.

Although I wasn't physically present to witness the reaction, my parents later narrated that upon hearing the news and receiving an invitation, one well-wisher, who is an extremely deep and advanced bhakti yoga practitioner, immediately started to inquire as to my parents' assessment of my future husband's character. Satisfied with their responses, he expressed his heart-felt congratulations. That in itself totally melted my heart. An uncle-like figure in my life, I don't often get to see this well-wisher, but his genuine concern and care for my well being was palpable even through my parents voices.

Not soon after, he came back and immediately pressed a small gift in my father's hand. This was totally above and beyond the realm of anything any of us expected as his sincere well-wishes were all that we were seeking.

Although this may seem quite simple and ordinary, I assure you, it was anything but. The sense of reciprocation and gratitude to have such an exemplary well-wisher in my life was and is still overwhelming. In fact, while meditating on the incident a few days later, it was all I could do to restrain the tears filling my eyes.

As an aspiring practitioner of bhakti this is what I too long to be: the happy well-wisher to others, especially in their time of success and joy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

it's time...

Some of you may have noticed that I don't update this blog very often anymore. For those who may not know, it's because I'm fully occupied in my humble endeavour of trying to write on a Gita verse everyday! If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, please feel free to:

Today, however, I write because I am perturbed. I am perturbed by the "news-worthy" events that are constantly unfolding and that are almost always steeped in negativity. At the moment, the one that is fresh in my mind is the tragedy that unfolded in Boston yesterday. What a waste of energy and time to cause such disruptions and spread so much pain.

The predictions of the Bhagavatam are unfolding in front of our eyes. At such a time, the two words HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami coined keep ringing through my ears "Spiritual Warriors." If there was any time or any push we needed to truly invest and take our spiritual lives seriously - it's now.

However, it doesn't come cheap. We only have to look at the lives of incredible role models such as Srila Prabhupada and Bhakti Tirtha Swami to know that to become a spiritual warrior isn't something that can just be bought. It takes an investment of time, commitment and spiritual practice (sadhana).

Those sixteen rounds of the Hare Krsna mantra we chant are our shield. In the battlefield, weapons and strategies are important, but if we do not have a shield to protect us from any weapons that are sent our way, what is the use? The Hare Krsna mantra is our shield in this battlefield of maya where corruption, negativity and hurt are the weapons of choice that are being hurtled at us. Therefore, it is so important to make chanting our utmost priority. Through chanting, we can take shelter and genuinely pray for the welfare of one other.

Our weapons to combat this battle are those that come from purification of the heart. Those intangibles such as kindness, compassion and realized knowledge come by putting in the time to work on ourselves and cultivating genuine, loving relationships with one another.

It's time...are you ready to step up to become a spiritual warrior?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


As some of you may know, I've taken on the challenge of writing on a verse of the Gita daily ( That's why I haven't been writing as regularly as I would like to here. That being said, today I wrote some reflections on Chapter 2, Verse 10 of the Bhagavad-gita and thought I'd share it here.

Verse 2.10: O descendant of Bharata, at that time Kṛṣṇa, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.

On the surface, this verse seems pretty astonishing. Krsna is smiling at Arjuna's grief? What kind of God is this? Someone who takes pleasure in others' suffering?

Firstly, let's clear one thing up. Krsna is not smiling at Arjuna's grief. Krsna is smiling because his dear friend has now taken shelter of him. He is smiling because Arjuna wants to let go of the material suffering he is experiencing, as a result of identifying with his body, and instead wants to understand what reality is all about. Now that puts things in a whole different perspective, doesn't it? Just like a parent who may smile with compassion and understanding when their child comes to them in a heartbroken state and asks for help, Krsna too is smiling because this dear soul is now turning to him.

Arjuna is putting all his faith and trust in Krsna, a lesson we can all take inspiration from. Oftentimes, when things don't go the way we want, when we lose loved ones and when we see someone else getting something we think we "deserve", we blame God. C'mon, if you are in any way religious, spiritual or just believe in a higher force or entity, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

Our problem is that we have been burned by the material energy so often. Not just in this lifetime but in previous lifetimes. Although we may not remember those previous lifetimes, what we carry with us are the impressions from those lifetimes. Having been hurt, disappointed, misled, and betrayed, it is no wonder that we have such a hard time trusting one another, what to speak of God.

God doesn't work by "our rules", which by the way are often different for every single living entity. He gives us what we need. And what is that need? Normally it's not the red Porsche, million dollar book deal or perfect relationship. No, often those things will just drive us away from him since we will feel we don't need anything but material temporary pleasures. What we do need is a reminder that our trust and faith should be put in that person who will never let us down - God.

But we forget this and keep questioning "Why? What did I ever do to deserve this?" Thing is, we cannot remember everything we've done to deserve what we're receiving now, but Krsna does. The law of karma states that for every action, there is an equal reaction. Because we tend to live our lives thinking that nothing comes before or after this lifetime, this truth doesn't often bring solace to the heart. But, if we were to actually remember this, things won't affect us as strongly as they do.

Krsna only wants us to come back to him. So everything that happens to us, whether good or bad, is actually an opportunity to remember that. Anyone who is aspiring to reconnect with God will go through this. "But why?" we may ask and the answer is actually quite simple. To make us stronger. To deepen our faith.

Growth only occurs when there is some pressure. Whether it be a weight-lifter, academic or aspiring bhakti yogi, we grow the most in difficult conditions. Not conditions that will break us, but those that will stretch us. God loves us more than we can even fathom, so the next time you pose the question "Why?" remember that. The answer is because we need to grow and he's giving us the opportunity to come closer to him.

Friday, January 4, 2013

on fast forward

Last week as I was sitting down to chant my noon gayatri I realized something. I was trying to chant all the mantras really quickly as though I had some place to get to immediately. Truth was, the only thing I had lined up afterwards was checking my email! So why the need to rush?

When I analyze my life, I grudgingly realize it's something I do constantly. I fast forward through most of my spiritual practices as though there is some imaginary race that I must win. Even though I know faster isn't better, the challenge in slowing down is having to acknowledge the fact that I may be doing things imperfectly.

When I used to take singing lessons, the thing that challenged me the most was singing my scales slowly. And I'm not talking about just slowly, I mean excruciatingly slow. That was the time my teacher would always correct me. Over and over and over again would I have to repeat them until I got it right. Although frustrating, I never forgot what she told me. "If you don't get it right when you sing slow, you'll not only sing it wrong when you sing fast, but worse, you won't even notice that you're singing it wrong."

Similarly, as I hit fast forward in almost everything I do, I'm starting to realize the only person I'm short changing is myself. As aspiring bhakti yogis one of the most importantly lessons to imbibe is that it is the mood and consciousness that matters. When I rush, my consciousness is of stress, not devotion!

It's a humbling lesson. There's no need to fast forward. It's a good thing to hit pause and re-evaluate and even more important to be satisfied on play. That's the time when I'll grow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

my inspiration for today

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

I remember the way I felt the first time I heard this, "Wow, that's totally applicable to me and everyone I know!" Years later, I've realized it's not only beautiful and inspirational but more importantly, it's a call to action for all of us. Krsna has given all of us unique abilities and talents and it is our service to culture, nourish them and offer it back in His service. om tat sat. :D

Sunday, December 23, 2012

in honour of gita jayanti: a new blog

Today, Sunday December 23, 2012 marks Gita Jayanti- the anniversary of when the Bhagavad gita was spoken over 5000 years ago on the sacred grounds of Kurukshetra.

The Bhagavad gita - as it is, is one of my favourite books. In fact, I often comment that it's "my hand book for life". If I have a question, a problem, am frustrated or am in need of some inspiration, the Gita is always there for me. I never need to worry that it's too busy or doesn't have time for me. In short, the Gita never lets me down.

I wanted to do something to commemorate this significant day and so for the first time in my life I consecutively read all 700+ verses - in English. I've recited all the sanskirt verses before and it was a wonderful experience. However, since my understanding of sanskrit is minimal at best, I could only appreciate the beautiful sound vibration of the mantras and not the essence it contained within them.

That's why I challenged myself to read the English translation of all 700+ verses. At some point in time between Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 an idea came to me. was more like a challenge: write something about every single verse in the Gita. A verse a day on the importance of the topic discussed, the way it makes me feel reading it or perhaps even a question that comes to mind.

And so here I am at the start. Today marks the beginning of diving into THE greatest yoga text. I invite you to join me...