Punctuate Life

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New Year and New Hopes

I don’t know what it is about a new year that makes us all so optimistic. It is just another year, like the many others that have gone by, leaving behind dreams, aspirations and resolutions that never really took off. And yet every year is vividly different from the one before and the one after it. I believe it is what we make it. For in the present moment we are planting seeds for our future.

With so many people taking time to celebrate and ring in the new year, the energy and excitement is palpable even if you are home and celebrating in front of the television. Many of us can simply ride the wave of excitement coursing through the world. Here in Cary it was a rainy day – ALL DAY! That would have been enough to dampen my spirits but I was on a high for no apparent reason.

And so it continues. Even after the kids left for school yesterday, there was this mounting excitement. Again I had no clue what was causing it. It wasn’t some outside event or circumstance. Sometimes when something bad is about to happen our soul senses it and we feel uneasy. I guess the same is true when something good is about to happen.

In contrast, December had a very different energy to it. The end of an unsatisfying year and all the trials it brought with it. One day I was just done with it. I’d had enough and wished that if 2017 was going to be the same old, same old, then I didn’t want to go on.

The next day I woke up with this song in my head – Don’t Let Go, You Got The Music In You. And it kept playing in my head all day. On the way to my kids’ eye appointments I switched radio channels and this song started playing. I was blown away. The lyrics if you haven’t heard it goes like this – Don’t give up, you have a reason to live. When the night is falling and you cannot find the light, If you feel your dream is dying, Hold tight. You got the music in you.

It kind of set the trend for 2017 for me. And somehow the way you feel on the 1st of the year sets the energy for the rest of the year. I felt carefree, light and happy and hope to cruise through the year.

I spent the last few months of the year in sober solitude and I vowed to make more friends in 2017. Let’s see how that reSOULution goes. Made a tiny step in that direction by enrolling ourselves in a spiritual group that meets every week. Things take time and perseverance. My motto is to not give up too soon, before the results show up.

Wishing all my readers a very happy 2017 filled with all good things, world peace and abundance in every corner of the world. Do share your resolutions when you comment and let’s all support each other.


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The Rise of the Sensitives

I have known that I’m different for a long time. When the whole world is going east I would be looking west. I gave up meat when I was in 12th grade and also became a Reiki Level II practitioner. I dabbled in yoga and spent Saturday mornings at a home for the mentally challenged. Yes I was different. I felt everything more intensely than everyone else. I just thought I was sensitive and being sensitive of course is considered a bad thing. It is associated with weakness and the inability to cope. Sensitive people would rather be at peace than be right. So often times we keep quiet to keep the peace. It doesn’t mean that we are in agreement with you – it just means that we don’t want to soak up the toxic energy created by an argument. I had to learn to be assertive even though it meant ruffling a few feathers.

Earlier I had to deal with just my emotions but these days I find that I’m picking up on everyone’s vibes and it is very unsettling. For no apparent reason my mood fluctuates. Then I look around me and I see people acting out, depressed, lonely, sad and hopeless. Some who can’t take it any more are ending their lives. There has been a rise in our level of sensitivity as a race. We are no longer living utterly selfish lives filled with apathy. Don’t read the prophecies of doom and gloom that the media is publicizing. Read stories of real people reaching out and helping – fellow humans, animals, trees and other distressed souls. Being tough and street smart aint getting anyone anywhere. Natural disasters, death and disease – humble levelers of us all – have taught us that we need each other and we can’t live in isolation, oblivious to the suffering of others. One day we might be in their shoes and all the money and intellect in the world couldn’t help us. Only another human can. Another sensitive human.

So I wear my sensitivity proudly as if it were a prized possession. Yes it is hard to manage all the emotions swirling around me and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and helplessly at the mercy of my feelings. But over the years I have learned to manage them and divert them for a better cause.

If you are sensitive you understand what another person is going through. You feel their emotions like they are your own. People feel soothed in your presence because you can empathize with them without any exchange of words. You are probably the person who takes all their distress calls.

Being sensitive is a blessing but could be a curse if you don’t know how to manage it. Of course you can manage it! Didn’t you know? You should know when to cut back and retreat so you don’t take on too much of other people’s energies. In Reiki they teach you this. Protect your aura before you start healing another and it applies to all of us even if we are not healers. Certain people can drain you of your energy and you need to identify these energy vampires and stay away from them. Some will be naturally drawn to you but you need to say no because no one benefits when you give at your own expense.

So how do we protect ourselves from being dragged down by the toxic energy around us? One way is obvious – pray and ask for protection. Another way is to stay away from news, media and not so loving people. Spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi and qi gong help center us and keep our emotions in balance. Lastly, get away, go on a vacation or simply retreat and rest. Affirm to yourself daily that you will at no cost be pulled into the drama because your nature is peace! Even when people spew out their negativity at you, stay centered and mentally negate the energy so it has no power over you. If it happens too often then try and get away from this person.

Being consciously sensitive is empowering and is in no way a sign of weakness. It is in fact the way to lead this world into a day when loving kindness and peace will prevail. Because loving kindness starts with you.


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The Energy of Allowing

On my 30th birthday, my husband gifted me Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life Purpose”. This book joined the select list of books that ‘changed my life’. It is not a book you can skim through, with so many complex ideas and concepts that delve deep into the human psyche.

One particular sentence did not make any sense to me when I first read it. Tolle says that we should allow life to pass through us and not be rigid like a brick wall. Now after several failed attempts at trying to orchestrate the events in my life and force a desirable outcome, I finally get what allowing is.

A pattern emerged over the past few months. I would apply for jobs, go for interviews and then wait impatiently to hear from the HR. I would check e-mail three times a day and when nothing showed up I’d get frustrated and antsy. Every time this happened my levels of desperation rose and I would plunge into self-pity mode. Like most things in life, one gets fed up of one pattern and then tries something different. I didn’t like the way I was dealing with rejection and responses that never came.

Years ago I remember applying for jobs and not even getting a single interview. It was downright depressing. I would quit after trying for a month. Then again after a few months the same circus would unfold. After a point I decided that I should simply keep applying and not care about the outcome. I also decided not to quit when nothing showed up. My perseverance and change in attitude paid off and I did land a job, although it was short-lived.

Allowing rather than forcing things to happen seems like a passive way of going about your life, but that is far from the truth. It does not imply that you wait for things to drop right into your lap. It just means that you don’t push too hard and chase outcomes. Instead you patiently wait for things to unfold. Do the work involved and see what shows up.

Allowing is a graceful way of receiving the bounty of the Universe. Much like a river that naturally flows into a valley, allowing is being receptive and open to the flow of the cosmos. A deep peace accompanies this state which involves knowing that the Universe delivers at its own pace. You cannot ask for speed delivery or priority mail. You can’t tame a gushing river nor can speed up a slow-moving glacier. Each has its purpose and rhythm.

It also helps to affirm daily that you are open to receive your highest good through the Universe. If you can sit quietly for a few minutes each day, breathe deeply and be receptive, you will be more in tune with this energy. Small upsets do not throw you off track. You stay centered. If one opportunity is lost, you allow another to enter your life.

Sometimes allowing also helps you fine tune your senses to the outcome that best suits your needs. If you squeeze yourself to fit into something that is not meant for you it won’t be long before you burst at the seams. You may also miss something that is better suited to your needs. Allowing is a state of alert receptiveness. It is gentle, flowing and peaceful.

I for one flit in and out of that state and long for the day when I will be firmly planted, nay cemented in that wonderful state where life flows and living becomes effortless. So stop fighting life and simply allow. Then watch the magic unfold.


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A Ray of Hope for Racial Tensions

Ferguson. The very word conjures up images of racial discrimination, violence and segregation. Images of black and white. Cops and innocents. Right and wrong. How about Los Angeles some 1800 miles to the west of Ferguson? Same story. Different names but the same drama unfolded in LA. Incidents between police officers and the public have blown out of proportion in the past. The black community does not trust the police and they are looked upon as the ‘bad guys’. Much like in the game – Grand Theft Auto.

Now what this adds up to, is a community plagued by gangs, drugs and sky-high homicide rates. Do the homicides cases get solved? No. The people refuse to co-operate with the police even if they know the truth, leaving the killer at large, smug with the knowledge that the cops can never get to him.

At some point the police force in Watts, LA decided enough is enough and came up with a unique plan to regain the trust of this community. They started a youth football team coached by LA police officers. Now don’t even for a second think that all the parents lined up to register their kids for the team. The officers had to go door to door asking if they would allow their kids to join the team. Many turned down the offer. Some reluctantly agreed but refused to leave the kids alone with the officers. Painstakingly and one by one, the parents slowly began to open up to the officers. They no longer demonized them, ignored them or stared daggers at them. Now the Watts Bears accepts players between the ages of 9 and 11. The program is free, the kids get a uniform and they are picked up in a police van. The boys have to get good grades and model good behavior at school. Using sports to reinforce good character traits and having contact with a good role model keeps this boys out of gangs. Most of the boys do not have fathers and this negatively impacts their ability to become responsible citizens.

One of the officers reminisces about finding an abandoned baby in a parking lot on a rainy night. He rescued the baby and put him up for adoption. A decade later he is coaching the very same boy who just happened to join the Watts Bears football team. Three years later the homicide rates have dropped in this neighborhood. Citizens are co-operating with the cops to solve crimes. Kids from rival gangs actually play on the same team – something that was impossible in the past.

The officers who support this program are a couple – one a black woman who grew up in Watts and the other a white man who started his career as a cop in the same neighborhood. So police cameras, guns and protests did not resolve the situation here. Interaction between the cops and community – not just when violence erupts but in a more stable environment to slowly build trust and co-operation, until both sides could see beyond the differences and see how human they were.

If this can happen in LA, the very place that was burning with fires of racial hatred and dissension in the 90s, then this can happen in Ferguson as well. We are a ‘Race of Hope’ – for every 10 people who breed hate and terror there is one person shining the light of love and compassion to bridge gulfs of separation and differences. And the number is growing and growing. I believe that one day we will look at a person and not see the color of their skin but the light of their soul in their eyes and know deep in our hearts that we are one.


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Fall in Paradise

MtRainierPic (3) Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees – John Muir

A long weekend in the middle of October is a great time to do all things fall. Like a trip to the pumpkin patch and a drive up to the Cascade mountains to catch some fall colors. We headed to the pumpkin patch on a cloudy day interspersed with rain. The pumpkin patch had pumpkins in all shapes and sizes. The kids picked three pumpkins – a large, a medium and a small (for N’s pumpkinology school project). We loaded them up in a wheel barrow which N had a swell time pushing around. The farm also offered hay rides in a wagon pulled by an old tractor. We took a bumpy ride around the farm with its apple trees, pumpkin patches and dried up sunflowers from the summer. The farm also had lavender plants from which they bottled lavender oil, available for purchase at the store. There were some old-fashioned water pumps in the farm that were set up for rubber duck races. N enjoyed pumping water at the pump, with the water gushing down little horizontal chutes. Goes without saying that my kids felt they were too old for rubber duck races! Too old to stick their heads through wooden pumpkins for pictures. We were all cold and wet and hungry after our trip to the farm. So we headed off to Bamboo Garden for some Hot and Sour soup, fried rice, Mongolian chicken, Szechuan veggies and Manchurian. The warm meal lulled us into a torpor and we all dozed off when we got home. The next day was our big trip to Mount Rainier. P was to buy some snacks and veggie burgers for the trip but I was in an unusually good mood and wanted to make everything – including the snacks. I made veggie cutlets, crispy murukku, apple pie and mixed nuts for the trip. MtRainierPic (1) The next day we rose early and headed out by 7.00 a.m. The roads were free and we made it in good time. We saw a rainbow as we were driving through perfectly straight rows of evergreens that fringed the roads. The Cascade mountains showed up in the horizon – black and austere. As we neared the park entrance, Mount Rainier appeared – aloof, majestic and snowcapped. Our first stop was at Christine falls, right by the side of the road. We then drove to the Jackson visitor center in Paradise, which offered a really stunning view of Mount Rainier. The summit was seldom free of cloud cover but we did manage to get some pictures of the cloud-free peak. Armed with trail maps, we headed off to see Myrtle falls, which was a short hike through the meadows  in Paradise. The wildflowers were long gone but the meadows were dressed in different hues of red and yellow. MtRainierPic (4) Near the 72-foot Myrtle falls, is a little bridge over the Paradise River and we went under the bridge to touch the ice-cold water. The last waterfall we saw in the park was the spectacular Narada falls, named after the Hindu sage Narada. The early settlers thought the falls had a spiritual connection. It connected the earth and the heavens much like sage Narada did. MtRainierPic (8) We drove to the Reflections Lake and hiked around its perimeter with Mount Rainier in the background. The lake was surrounded by trees that were changing color. Parts of the lake were still and reflected the trees and the clouds above. Some of the pictures we took here look like picture postcards. All that walking got us hungry and we went to the Paradise Picnic area to eat veggie burgers and chips with juice and coffee – with a perfect view of the ever changing Mount Rainier. Later while watching the film on Mount Rainier at the visitor center, we realized that the engineers had built the roads and the buildings to offer the best views of the mountain. MtRainierPic (10) After lunch we headed off to see Nisqually Glacier which was a short 1.2 mile hike (or so we thought). We ended up on the wrong trail and kept going for more than an hour until my legs burned. But the trail kept going on and on. We reached the Deadhorse (believe me I felt like one!) Creek trail before we realized we were not on the right trail. It was too late to turn back so we kept going until we reached Glacier Vista (elevation 6340 feet) which offered an amazing view of the glacier, falls and the valley below. At this point I was freezing – hat, gloves, double jacket and all! N and P wanted to continue up the trail to see Mount Rainier up and close. I was dreading the walk back downhill so I stayed put with A. There was some snow off to the side of the road so A played with it. She found a tiny snowman that fell apart when she touched it. She put it back together as best she could. Meanwhile, N and P reached a snow-covered road and took some great pictures with the magnificent Mount Rainier in the background. The hike back down was steep and painful and I doubted I’d make it before my legs collapsed under me. But I made it and we enjoyed some apple pie before catching the 20-minute film at the visitor center. Boy was I surprised to hear that Mount Rainier was an active volcano with steam vents at the summit. I had told my kids it was dormant, given its snow-white and innocent demeanor. The park boasted numerous glaciers and I was glad we were able to see one of these ice rivers. There was obviously more to the park than we explored (235,625 acres to be precise). The Great Patriarch Forest with its huge ancient trees was worth exploring but considering the plight of my muscles hip-down, we put off all further exploration for later. The kids got their first-ever junior ranger badges from the park ranger. It was a big deal, with oaths and all. Almost like being knighted! Almost. We picked up some souvenirs from the gift shop and headed home. The drive home was quiet, with the kids sleeping, but the traffic we missed in the morning came back to bite us. All in all, it was a day well-spent, in the mountains, breathing in the fresh air, drinking glacial water and away from it all. When we got lost while hiking, or it started raining and we had no where to go, I knew we had to give up all control and just submit to Nature. Because up here in the mountains She was in charge. If I had collapsed during the hike downhill we didn’t even have cellphone coverage to call for help. I had to simply trust and go down one step at a time.

Where will you go this fall? Make a trip away from it all and witness the magic of wilderness.


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Happiness, Trust and Uncertainty

I don’t want the fleeting happiness that comes from acquiring beautiful things. Nor the shallow mirth that comes from people who please you, praise you and bring you gifts. But I crave the satisfaction of one who need not try so hard to prove one self in a cruel world. One who without seeking has all the treasures of the world at one’s feet for the taking.

I no longer know what I want. After much striving and finally arriving at the place I wanted to be, I reveled in my success for a while before I realized all that I had strived for were worthy goals but in itself could not sustain my happiness. Husband – check. Kids – check. Home – check. Job – check. Sense of purpose – check.

Why can’t I enjoy the journey instead of fretting about the final destination? Especially since I have learnt many times over that there is no such thing as a final destination (even for a soul’s journey). Life does not stand still and idle. It seeks to go further and further to unseen lands.

The grey clouds outside reflect the gloom that has descended over me. A shroud of uncertainty that keeps the hopeful sun from lighting up my face. How many times will I falter and fumble knowing fully well that I am not in control. I never was. Led by an invisible hand to realms I had never dreamed of and experiences I never wished for. And yet all of it was necessary. All of it was beautiful. Even the cruel, dark places had their purpose. Uncertainty is not such a bad thing after all but it brings out the worst in us. The what-if questioning mind with its apocalyptic scenarios. But when I look back I see the paths that this hand led me down – sunny, shady, dark and gloomy. And I always emerged unscathed and stronger. So why can’t I trust that this hand will lead me down the best path yet. Down winding sun lit meadows and fragrant orchards. Up hillsides soaked in dew to mountain tops kissed by the clouds.

Trust is like plunging headlong into deep murky waters and suddenly bolting to the surface on invisible life vests. It is like falling backwards off the edge of a cliff placidly and getting caught in a safety net that happened to be there.

Why can’t I be like a child walking into the ocean holding its mother’s hand, trusting that when a big wave comes threatening to engulf him, she would clasp her arms around his little body and lift him up before the ocean could swallow him whole.

When you place your trust in something bigger than you then you can be certain that the right path will open up. When you trust, you give up anxiety about the future and are filled with peace and a deep inner knowing that it will turn out ok in the end. But to trust when you are in the eye of a storm and unraveling is the biggest challenge of all. After facing enough storms and upheavals I can assure you that those invisible arms held me tight and never let go – not once (although it felt like I was alone when it was all happening.)

So surrender and be at peace. Let the drama play out in your life and in the world and be no part of it. Know that it will all be over soon and you will be exactly where you are supposed to be.


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The Hills are Alive…

In the last week of October we drove up to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. It was a 11-hour drive, mostly on I-95 North. A straight highway with regular cars making their way up North somewhere. Towards the end of day I dozed off for what must have been thirty minutes. I woke up suddenly and found myself in the colorful mountains. The winding road had bursts of color popping up at every bend, the evening sun throwing spotlights on the mountain slopes. Breathtaking, enchanting are merely feeble words to describe what I saw. Whoever included “great” when naming these mountains knew exactly what they were doing.

I was ecstatic and I broke into a song –  The Hills are Alive. For four years I hadn’t set foot on the mountains. For four years I hadn’t filled my lungs with the crisp and fragrant autumn air. For four years I hadn’t witnessed the awe-inspiring season that is fall. Unquestionably, my most favorite season of all. We stopped by a river right by the road, walked over the pebbled and rocky banks and touched the freezing water. My son picked up some rocks to add to our river rock collection. It reminded us of summers spent by the Deerfield river in Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts.

That evening, we reached our hotel, nestled in the mountains. The next day we headed off to the Great Smoky Mountains known for their permanently cloud-capped peaks. God bless the visionaries who fought hard to preserve these scenic places as National Parks for future generations. We drove all the way to Clingman’s Dome which is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains at about 6,600 feet.  Shrouded in fog and freezing cold (at least for us Floridians), we skipped the 30 minute hike to the observatory/dome for the warm and toasty gift shop. After warming up by the fire we headed off to the Cherokee Indian Reservation on the North Carolina side of the park. It boasted the biggest waterfall in the area and it was a short hike to reach it. Doable by our family of kids, elderly parents and us – middle-aged adults. The Mingo falls could be reached after climbing 170 steps and a small stretch of rocky mountain path. It was well worth the hike to see it.

On the way back my husband was compelled to stop at an Indian gift shop to buy a dream catcher. The one we got from Mohawk Trail years ago was falling apart and he wanted to replace it. Dream catcher in hand we headed off for lunch and some more tree ogling, oohing and aahing, and trying to take pictures of tunnels and trickling rivers. On the way we were forced to stop on a narrow road as cars in front of us slowed down and came to a stop. People were jumping out of the cars and heading to the edge of the road overlooking the forest. We were wondering what all the fuss was about and found a big group of people gazing up at the treetops, cameras and phones clicking away furiously. We too looked up in the trees and saw a black bear climbing up a tree.

Now in all my years in the U.S. I had never seen a black bear in the wild. I had always wanted to see one (hop across the road while we were driving or take a drink in the river while we watched from yonder!) My husband (the ever practical one) warned me of the dangers of encountering a bear in the wild. So this was just perfect. We were far enough to be safe but not too far to miss all the action. We simply had to get off and take pictures. One excited person yelled – there’s four of them. But we only spotted three and they looked like cubs. My husband joked that we should be on our way before “Mama Bear” made a grisly appearance.

Next day we packed up and checked out of our beautiful hotel and made our way to Ober, Gatlinburg to board the aerial tramway for a view from way above. It was like seeing the mountains for the first time ever. We took the tramway up and down four times and each time the mountains and the colors looked different because of the light and the position of the sun. We then took a chair lift to a ride called the Alpine slide where you squat in a little car with a hand pedal to go forward or slow down. Our little cars took us down a winding concrete track. The kids loved it and wanted to do it again and again but we had to leave. I wished we could have spent another day in the mountains but we had to say goodbye and reach Atlanta, Georgia by 4.30 p.m.

P’s Dad loves elephants. When he was a young boy growing up in Kerala, many families owned elephants and some used to turn up in his backyard for a treat of bananas by the bunches. He loves telling my kids about elephants and stories from when he was a child. But in his 80 years he had never seen an African Elephant. So P and I were determined to show him one on this trip. Zoo Atlanta boasted not one but two such elephants. But we had to get there in time for the last admission which was at 4.30.

We drove for 3 hours without a break. Not stopping for food or drink. We made it in time to see these magnificent elephants. One was swaying away happily and the other was moving around. We also saw a very restless lion that was growling and pacing around and two hungry pandas munching on bamboo shoots. In an hour the zoo closed and we headed off to our hotel for much needed R & R.

The next day we left early to see Martin Luther King’s house and the Freedom Walkway. We then stopped by the Georgia Aquarium and spent the morning there before heading back to Florida. The sights of the city and aquarium held no magic for me for my heart was still in the mountains. I simply had to close my eyes and I was there in the midst of the trees in their glorious hues, feeling alive, feeling surprisingly healthy and happy, the melody in my heart rising to my lips until I could hold it in no more and I burst into song…The Hills are Alive.

 

From Darkness to Light

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I don’t know how many of you are fortunate enough to have taken an early morning flight from Orlando to New York (totally worth getting up at 3 a.m. for!). This poem is for those of you who haven’t. Nature speaks to us and it’s no wonder that great saints sat under trees or preached from the mountain tops. The beauty around you is a testament of God’s love for you. So next time you feel a cool breeze or see an amazing sunset don’t take it for granted. See it for what it is and receive it with reverence.

I was floating above the clouds and fog

The night sky with its blanket of stars

Stretched endlessly before me

The moon shyly reflecting

The morning rays of the sun

Its orange beams breaking through

The black ocean of clouds

Piercing through the darkness

Transforming the clouds

Into a frozen ocean with peaks and ebbs

The golden horizon lies beyond

Which was but a second ago

Dotted with infinite stars

A jet whizzes past my window

Above the milky ocean

With its white smoky tail

Now there, then gone

The sun broke through the clouds

Beaming gently and taking in the view

The top of the clouds tinged in orange

Every wave in the milky ocean highlighted in gold

Who might be the artist

Of such glorious paintings

That change every second

As I watch in awe?

 

The sun emerges from the prison of clouds

Shining with all its might

Bidding adieu to the starry night

I have to close my eyes now

For His resplendence is too much to bear

With the sun outside my window

And my heart singing with joy

For the wonderful treat I got

While up in the sky!


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Peace Anyone?

The World cries War! War! War! and my tiny heart weeps and cries for Peace. Peace and brotherhood beyond the confines of nations, religions and race. Isn’t it high time? Do we want the 21st century to be named the Darkest Ages Ever? Seriously! Have we progressed? Look back at history and you see the same pattern. Yes we had kings and queens and dictators but they all did the same thing. Religious persecution. Political supremacy. The same old nonsense.

And we are at it again. Our democracies are a joke…leaders go for war even when the people are turning out in huge numbers for peace rallies. Are we truly civilized? Does any other species hunt down and kill its own kind? Or even better, call the murderers ‘heroes’ and shower them with medals. Sometimes I think I’m part of a minority that believes all life is sacred and no one has the right to kill! But the people in power and the misguided media loves breeding intolerance. Why do you think something as personal as religion and spirituality is a topic for debate?

Then again my ‘righteous’ anger serves no purpose and my intention is not to set you afire. My intention is to help you hold onto peace amidst all the turmoil. To not get pulled into the drama and lies. Killing cannot be justified. Period! Let judgement be left to the higher ups and I don’t mean mortals! We are incompetent as human beings to judge our brothers or sisters.

A few years ago I wrote about the Peace Pilgrim – a woman who had dedicated her life to peace. Much like Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi did not resort to violence when the British did. The freedom he won for India did not involve any killing or blood shed. That is the power of peace. It’s like how in the Tao, Lao Tzu talks about water and how it is soft and weak and yet it has the power to carve canyons and erode rocks. Both Gandhi and Peace had inner peace and believed that if a majority of us choose peace, then violence will have to burn out because there wouldn’t be anyone to fuel it. When you react to violence with violence, you multiply it, make it stronger and it turns into a monster that consumes all. Not only the unjust and evil but also the righteous and good.

If you are married or in a relationship you know what I mean. If your partner is in a bad mood and says something they don’t really mean it’s better not to react or the whole thing blows out of proportion and before you know it you are serving your spouse divorce papers! Well, we all learn it the hard way. After years of tears, heartache and harsh words both me and my husband know when to bite our tongues and when to fight our battles. And in a our own small way we preserve the peace and our marriage!

If God is love and God is peace, how can there be room for war, hatred and strife? If God were this judgemental and wrathful he would have sent a million lightning bolts to strike all of us every time we did something wrong! Chances are He wouldn’t have missed and humans would be an endangered species!

Remember God or the forces of good (if you prefer) are with you as far as your attempts to find common ground, forgive and compromise, prevail. The moment you think you are better than ‘them’ and set out to defeat and destroy your opponent, God has left your heart and something else has taken over. And however much you justify your actions you are not coming from a place of love, a place of peace and definitely not from that place in God.

You and I sit in our living rooms and watch the madness unfold on television. Sometimes it’s easy to feel totally removed from what is happening in the world. But know this. Peace is cumulative. If you find peace in your heart and if you make peace with all the people who have wronged you, YOU are making a HUGE contribution to peace. The world needs every tiny heart that cries peace to join in the chorus. We will be heard eventually. But I need you to spread the word and embrace peace in your life everyday. Soon our deafening cries will be heard and truth & peace will definitely triumph. This insanity has gone on far too long. Enough is enough. Rise and shine on all you peace mongers!


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The Happiness Prescription

As humans we seem to be constantly seeking something. A better job, a better relationship, better education, a better house and ultimately a better life. But it’s really not the job, relationship etc. that we are yearning for. It’s happiness. We think that the job or relationship will make us happy. And most of our lives it eludes us. Because we seek it from without. When actually it resides in every one of us.

Why do we seek happiness? Because it is our nature. It’s like this alarm system going off every time you do something that causes you grief. You want to quickly get out of that situation and be in a happy situation. It’s like you have a compass in your heart that is always seeking the direction that leads to the greatest joy. A craving for happiness if you will.

We have an ‘idea’ of happiness. A list of things that if acquired in this lifetime will make us happy. After years of studying we get a well-paying job that can buy us things that make us feel good. We accumulate a lot of things and then realize that the job and the things are no longer enough. We want someone to share it with. The quest for a perfect relationship begins. When we find that we’re happy for a while but then we want to add to our happiness by having kids. Then we go about getting the best school,  a bigger house, best activities for our kids so they grow up perfectly. We save up for their education and then we save up for our retirement. Then before we know it we are saving up for our funeral expenses! It’s never enough and we never really get to that pinnacle of happiness and stay there. We find something missing and hanker after more things in the hope that it will fill that gaping hole in our soul. That it will fill our cup of joy.

But happiness just is. It cannot be added to or taken away. Things cannot increase your happiness or decrease it for that matter. More things do not equal more happiness. More money does not equal more happiness. Then the rich and successful would be very very happy. The poor and impoverished would be very very unhappy. And you know that ain’t true!

The nature of the world is ephemeral. Things come and go. Beings are born, they grow and they die. Money comes, accumulates and then in a second it’s gone. So isn’t it foolish to seek happiness from fleeting things? Happiness can only come from things that never die or never leave you. Joy and bliss can only come from the deep recesses of your soul – the part of you that never dies and is connected to the source of all happiness.

I for one have struggled to find happiness all my life. I had everything on my ‘happy list’ and still was unhappy. Life has dealt me a lot of blows and I’ve had a lot of struggles. But one fine day it dawned on me that ‘I’ was in charge of my happiness. Not my family, not my friends, not my job or the lack of it. That is when I stopped blaming everything and everyone (including the government!) for my unhappiness.

When you let things and people be in charge of your happiness you end up powerless and at the mercy of the world. Constantly swayed by everything that is thrown at you. Bruised, battered and unable to carry on. It’s not like happy people do not have any problems or struggles. The difference is in their attitude and how they perceive problems. Your attitude can most definitely determine how happy you are.

Joy and breath is the very essence of life. It pulses through our veins. Often it is covered by layers of perception. Distracted by the constant stimulus of the outside world, we fail to see this joyful place within us. We are not always aware of our breath but when we slow down and move our attention to it – we find it’s there – it has always been there. Same with happiness. I don’t care how many horrible things have happened to you, I don’t care how broken you are, if you are alive and breathing, you have a well of happiness deep inside of you. You just might have to try harder than everyone else to find it.

Once you see the world for what it is and take time out to unwind and disconnect from it you reach that place of constant bliss, peace and love. When you connect with your inner joy on a regular basis, you slowly disconnect from the world and its false promises. Your idea of happiness is no longer the same. You seek happiness from only one person – YOU. And you seek happiness from within not without.