Downsides of Gratitude?

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Photo: Myself “Fallen Leaves”

Gratitude & Joy are on my mind a lot lately.

My understanding of gratitude and joy, how it has evolved and grown for me, is on my mind a lot lately.

The quality of Gratitude and its power became known to me during the seemingly toughest times of life when I found myself naturally leaning into all that was available for me to depend on – people, basic necessities, nature – every single thing that I was receiving anything from, to help me keep going. Genuine Gratitude swelled from my heart for every perceived blessing, every kind word, every new day, each genuine smile, each laughter that became possible.

Joy was the gift and the jewel that came as the core fragrance of Gratitude. It felt the most amazing to wear on me – something radiated brightly with just Being in this state of Gratitude and Joy.

Then came the awareness that my Gratitude for roles people played in my life was taken for granted and seen as my neediness alone. I wrote a short poem to give this an expression.

On further self exploration, I recognized that deep down I have always felt unworthy and undeserving, having to earn any regard, support from any one else. There was a feeling of indebtedness. I felt obligated to become everything I can for their comfort and be available to pacify any of their struggle. Result was a lack of boundaries, lack of self-compassion and honoring my own needs in favor of what was required of those others who had made any contribution to my life. I had a tendency to disregard any unfairness towards me, constantly justifying it as their humanness.

Eventually I was able to separate my heartfelt gratitude from the feeling of having to give up my true sense of being in return for approval and appreciation. I felt empowered, free and actually very unselfish. I am now available in my best possible ability to be of good service to anyone, when I am truly being myself. No amount of taking on other people’s suffering is going to lessen their’s.

That lead to the awareness of the guilt that permeated the joy available for me. Guilt about how much some other people had not still caught up on the true simple pleasures of life and how they needed to be supported in that. With time I realized, I can honor each person’s journey, feel the tenderness of their suffering but the Gratitude for what is available to each, is their’s to find.

Grief brings us in touch with the core of our being, empathy brings us in touch with the core of humanity.

Each one of us is responsible to use our emotions skillfully and compassionately towards self and others. No matter how many tantrums I threw about the sometimes seemingly treacherous life, I had to live out my own until I was able to choose the right perspectives that led to more Gratitude and Joy. There are so many people that I am grateful for, for showing up to help me keep steering powerfully in the right direction. I just needed to keep the strength to NOT let go of the wheel, and depend completely on others to carry me. The direction I am headed towards comes from within me.

Gratitude is a means and also the gift received through the means. Joy is something that flows through our veins and becomes a natural expression that shows up in relationships and life experiences. There remains no need to stage and create moments of happiness. Joyful moments keep occurring naturally. This happens with looking at some excruciating times of life in the eye – with the eye of Gratitude.

I am finally free to celebrate Gratitude without forever feeling indebted or undeserving of what life offers me through people and opportunities. I am still learning to express joy without the guilt because of how much suffering humans hold within. I share my Joy when moved to do so, in an attempt to inspire more people to move in that direction, share in this pure juice of life and genuinely celebrate life with each other.

 

This post is a contribution to ForgivingFridays of ForgivingConnects. Debbie Roth’s work on this blog is a wonderful inspiration.

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Innocence & Its Faces

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Photo Credit: Manish Doshi

Innocence is the face of a baby born
So also that of a person reborn
Each one has faced the struggle
To show up in the world

In their painful journey of birthing & re-birthing
Gut wrenching twisting and turning
Courage and surrender both have shown
To be able to breathe
And cry a cry of relief

That innocence has known survival
Not a scent of the vices of the world
The purity if they wish to retain
The reborn must keep the intent
To be alive & born to new moments
To die to each that has gone by …

We are blessed with many rebirths
In this lifetime alone
As much they make us weep & cry
Smile to welcome each one with joy

 

Note: This poem was first published on Dec. 11, 2015, when I was about 3 months into my blog on WP. The 4 bloggers that read it that time had felt so very precious to me. The poem itself was an emotional experience in response to a curious remark sent my way. Today this poem called me back as if to check in how and if it still fits with me. I felt it natural to share it again with all my new blogger friends.

This post is a contribution to ForgivingFridays on ForgivingConnects, a blog by Debbie Roth who profoundly teaches the art of letting go.

Beauty in Resilience

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Photo Credit: Atanu Chakraborty “Ladakh Old Lady – Hard Labor for Living”

Note: This is a narration of a true personal experience of a profound mental shift, I went through. This was originally posted on Infinite Living on December 2, 2015.

I was standing at the busiest intersection of Mumbai, India, just arrived from US, couple of days ago. It was the end of June and rains were expected anytime, unannounced. I was there waiting for my friend to pick me up, to take me shopping for some rain shoes.

I was much immersed in the experience of being there, soaking in life moving at a fast pace around me. There was a sense of impatience in the atmosphere as there were too many vehicles on the road, to be able to move fast enough. Mixed in, was the sun, moist heat, dust, pollution and the blaring horns from drivers.

I was going to be waiting there for 15 mins, my friend called.

My eyes lingered and then my gaze dropped down on a sight, about a foot by my side. Just inches away from traffic, on the footpath/sidewalk, on a tattered mat, was a mother tending to her newborn …maybe a month or so old. She had the baby on her legs outstretched, no clothes on the baby.

My mind drifted very briefly to some memories of how I had lovingly purchased multiple things to keep my babies in perfect health and comfort. I was again drawn back to the sight in front of me. Words came to my mind-  hygiene, safety, nutrition, sickness – but I was again drawn into the scene.

The cars and people zapped by. But the only thing real for me was the mother taking care of that baby. Perhaps just like the only thing real for the mother was her baby and what she could do for the baby.

Flies were hovering over the baby. The baby was clean. The woman had a rag in her hand and a half filled bottle of water by her. She would sprinkle a few drops of water on the baby and then wipe it off with the rag, every few minutes. It was her way of keeping the baby cool and the flies away. The mother and the baby looked content, and for what it takes, doing ok with each other.

I was filled with love and inspiration for the duo. What endurance and strength they have been born with! What beauty in that the mother making the best use of all that was available to her, to be able to give her baby all that she could!

This experience opened me up to a different reality altogether. The reality of our human arrogance that equates a good life and happiness with wealth and all that it brings.

I remember only 3 years ago when I previously visited Mumbai, I had a very different perception. I used to feel sad and have tears in my eyes as I walked past poverty and people living in tiny made up houses with their kids roaming around naked. I felt happy and also guilty about having a beautiful house and a bountiful life. I assumed they were suffering from poverty. I assumed I was happy and was supposed to be happy because I had all these material comforts.

In the 3 years in between, I went through a profound journey of self-discovery, transformation and renewal. I could now see the world through the eyes of people who have felt like their body has betrayed them completely.

People who have to show up for themselves, each day with tremendous courage to survive, what feels like their own death, day after day.

The ones that go through pain so intense that they have to continually keep tapping into the pulse of life itself to find faith, surrender and the means to help them inch towards the ability to thrive.  

Having a house, the food, the comforts, all become part of gratitude. Body and mind become the primary dwelling and the immediate place of turmoil and suffering.

There is tremendous beauty in the strength and resilience that people show, in showing up each day of their life, to make the best of what they have available to them.

To me this day, there was no difference between this mother and anyone else doing just that. Having a house is not enough. What you choose while living in any kind of house or under the sun is what makes you what you are.

In that baby I saw a beautiful being born with a purpose. One purpose was to open my eyes to this beauty. In the mother I saw a face of pure nurture and love. I felt a renewed faith that we are all very well equipped for where we are placed.

In that mother and baby, and all other contrasts around me, I see no suffering, only beauty, grace and strength!

 

P.S. This post is a contribution to ForgivingFridays on ForgvingConnects. It is in the forgiving non-judgmental perspective of our circumstances is where we find our strength and happiness.

Who’s breath am I breathing?

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Photo: Manish Doshi ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’

Who’s breath am I breathing?
Who’s story am I weaving?
Who’s memory am I churning?
Who’s thoughts am I carrying?

With each breath I take

Who’s life am I living?
Who’s pain am I feeling?
Who’s right to breathe freely have I made my story?
Who is it that I am not left with my own pure breath for myself?

We talk about letting go. And for that process we invite all our stories and all of others’ woes to look at, to be able to let go. And then we look at them and we defend them and justify them and find ourselves lost in them. And the only thing we let go of is our deep, pure breath. Nothing else.

I have found that I imbibe, absorb, feel, sense every thought, feeling, energy around me. I pick up on it very sensitively. At times making my inner life a chaotic tangle of feelings. I have made a personal career out of my life to continually keep cleaning out my energetic closet that sometimes catches the cobwebs of negativity, lies, untruthfulness, facades, envy, jealousy in thought and action directed or not towards me. Most times I am not even aware of any of this actually going on. I just feel horrible inside and I know I am not breathing my pure breath but breathing a heavy air of all that is toxic to me. My breath catches it like a virus. I just feel it.

I have found myself very strong, resilient, having magical perspectives that lift me above any drama and trauma, in the face of the worst. I am unshaken in faith when it comes to threats to the well being of those closest to me and those who choose to work with me. I am undaunted in my intention of creation of a life of possibility and true joy for all of us. I will not give up on my version of a world where we absolutely trust the spoken word, show up as our real self and have compassion for each other.

Yet I end up using tremendous energy to keep my head above the waters of feelings and emotions of those around me physically, virtually and spiritually. I am an empath who feels the hurt behind your need to lie to me, your need to be untruthful to me, to act what you don’t mean with me. Yes I actually feel it and live it until I process it to rise above it.

I know I have done this when I am able to breathe purely, deeply, fluidly, smoothly, softly, leisurely, luxuriously – just pure breath of air that does not carry any charge, thought, feeling, emotion, story attached to it.  I am glad it is becoming increasingly easier, and the beauty of life is pouring in for me.

Do you know what a gift this kind of breath is? Have you given yourself a breath solely for yourself lately? Have you lived a moment purely as yourself lately?

I have dedicated my life to just that – taking as many deeply pure breaths and teaching you to do the same. It is a learning process to be able to let go of the stories. Even the real ones have to be let go, so they actually change.

Let’s breathe space into our stories instead of our stories clinging to our breath.

 

Yoga – My Work & Life

This post is a contribution to ForgivingFridays on ForgivingConnect, an amazing blog by Debbie Roth.

Feel Shine Melt Love

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Photo Credit: Virag Doshi

Feeling invisible
I seek longingly

To become visible
I burn seethingly

Find that the burning
Shines bright my yearning

You drop a glance at me
Then take it away so quickly

In that moment I know
And you know what we see

Now I want to keep burning
All that feels invisible in my feeling

Each time you look away
I will keep burning away

Until I shine so bright
You can’t evade my light

The heat of this resolve
Melts away my fury

As I come to know newly
There is no you or I

What’s burning away is my own lie
What you are is the divine eye

None but that part of me
That I am not willing to see

Rather than simply and magnificently Be
Keeps hiding behind the cloak of invisibility

And the fear of dying unseen
Or is it the fear of living and being seen

Oh dear me the heart keeps beating
Be kind with your breathing

All is good about the burning
All is beautiful about the feeling

Oh dear me there is no you no me
All there is, is to love me, so I love me

 

This post is a contribution to Debbie Roth’s ForgivingFridays of ForgivingConnects. This poem comes back to me very loudly, to help me accept where I am today without judgment and fan my intentions for moving forward from where I am.

Originally published on Jan 23, 2017

True Smile

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“True Joys” Photo: Manish Doshi ‘Lone Kayak on Kauai”

The numbness that we wear, in order to always smile

Choosing not to feel the pain, with that practiced smile

It is liberating to experience all there is, and not smile

For the true joys of life do not necessitate that we smile

One that comes from the heart and eyes is a true smile

 

 

P.S. This is a contribution to ForgivingFridays on ForgivingConnects, a blog by dear Debbie Roth, that is a wonderful work in support of acceptance, self-forgiveness, and self- love.

Colors of Change

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Photo Credit : Vikram Phale “Leaf”

Change is inevitable
Seems like fate’s offering
Makes you chase elusive happiness

OR

Change is intentional
Seems like chosen wise suffering
Helps you perceive pure joy within any sadness

 

Yoga – My work & Life