Transitioning

There is no one thing that makes someone feel settled in a new place – it’s a lot of little things put together. Having been in the UK for almost three months now, there are lots of little things different from my life in Australia. But I realised early on that there was no use comparing. Thanks to the help of my dear friend Rukmini, who so eloquently and artistically put this into words (actually it was her image which prompted me to realise that comparing was actually one of the worst things I could be doing). I had to see everything as a new experience, a new way of life. It was hard thinking that I had to let go of the old ways (the stubborn kapha nature in me) – not let go completely, but let go enough to make room for the new.

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Rukmini’s creative portrayal

When I first looked at it, EVERY little thing was different. The bathroom, the way a particular dish was cooked, the way the clothes are washed – EVERYTHING. And I’d keep thinking, “Oh, in Australia, we’d do it like this….” But then I started to feel miserable because it just reminded me of home, and how I wasn’t there. There’s this incredible grace that women (especially Indian women) have – of just embracing a new family as their own. I used to think there was a button that got switched on the minute you were married – of entering a new family and seeing them as your own. But that’s not the case – this happens over time, as you build a relationship with each member of the family, getting to know them like you would your own. And plus, humans are adaptable beings – so over time, new routines will develop, new relationships formed, and I guess the new becomes home.

Besides life at home, you’ll find differences everywhere you look – the grocery store, how people drive, how they talk. But when you find the similarities, that’s when the scales tip in the favour of being settled. And for me that was when I found a job at The Alternative Healthcare. As an Ayurvedic therapist – just two days a week to begin with – but doing pretty much exactly what I used to do in Brisbane. And it fills me with so much happiness! Connecting with strangers through Ayurveda. It’s amazing how the healing powers of a 5000 year-old medicine system has transcended time and place boundaries – being just as effective to ancient sages in India, as it is to local Aussies or Brits. It reaffirms my faith and belief in this science, and makes me feel fortunate, that I’m able turn my passion into my career.

Similarities don’t just exist in where they are obviously manifest, but they also exist in where you see them. It’s how I perceive of things that helps me feel settled – and not just focus on things as they are. Whilst there are new relationships and friendships – I look for similarities in what I value; whilst there are new foods and grocery stores – I look for the similarities in how I enjoy these foods; whilst there are differences in weather (SUCH DIFFERENCES) – I look for the similarities in routine, and try and make it regular regardless of the weather.

This great move is a big lesson in detachment – letting go of things that were, to embrace things to come – and in a twisted way it helps you prepare for the ultimate move: death. You come into this world with nothing and you leave with nothing, and the less attached you are to things and people, the easier the final move will be. Sounds morbid I know – but it’s the truth.

I’m kind of in two minds about publishing this post, because if the opportunity arose, I would jump at the chance of moving back to Australia. But I don’t want to live life holding onto the possibility of that opportunity – if it comes, then seize it I will! – for now, my clothes are unpacked, my two feet are in England, and very soon, my heart and mind will follow too.

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On Love

So it happened. The great migration – from Brisbane to Crawley. I’m coming up on three weeks into my new life here in England. While lots can be said about that (possibly more on that later), there’s a thought that has been on my mind for sometime now – and now time to get that thought from mind to paper (blog post).

Having just been married almost three months, and planning a wedding before that, two things became apparent. 1. Wedding planning is a catalyst for putting relationships to the test – emotions are high, tensions are even higher – it’s all a recipe for chaos. 2. Marriage (among a million other things) means getting to know someone like you’ve never known them before. Duh, you must be thinking – of course everyone knows that!

But let me explain: while it is widely understood that in a wedding TWO people are getting married, it is probably more widely understood, that in planning a wedding, MORE than two people’s opinions matter. Of course it’s the big day of the bride and groom in question, and it should be about what they want. But very rarely is the wedding organised by just these two people in question – mine was a mammoth effort requiring the help of countless people (to whom I am extremely grateful!). And so when you have a lot of people, you have a lot of ideas, and while they all differ, they all stem from the same cause – LOVE. I quickly realised – that while I didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with a lot of ideas being thrown around (from decoration, to logistics, to food – you name it!), they all came from a place of love – people were suggesting these things because they loved me (or so I hoped!). And the same happened in reverse – I would make requests of people of what I thought was the best idea in the world, and while they silently mocked my suggestions, they humbly did what I asked of them – again out of love. It was interesting to see how the same emotion had SO many different expressions.

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This takes a lot more than just two people to pull off! 

The same thing happens in marriage. It was accentuated by my reading of the 5 Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman. The basic premise of the book says that there are 5 widely recognised ways in which we give and receive love:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Two people in the one relationship may speak a different love language – and when the two parties realise what the other speaks, and respond accordingly, then true love will be fully manifest and expressed in that relationship. So while I may show my love by making lunch in the morning, my husband may not see that as anything extraordinary, and would rather me spend quality time with him. Again, this highlighted to me the vast differences in expressions of love.

It’s almost humbling to think that my idea of love isn’t the one accepted by everyone, especially those close to me. I guess that’s what love really is – doing what the other person loves, even and especially, if it is something that you don’t love. It’s an act of sacrifice, of surrender – starting on the earthly realm with those you love, and ending in Divine love. Even Krishna has ideals on how He would like to be loved – mainly through the acts of sravanam (hearing) and kirtanam (chanting) – but He’s so kind, that even if we can’t do that yet, He will accept any form of love we offer Him. So we can start by loving Him the way WE want, and ultimately through practise, we can come to the stage of loving Him the way HE wants – pure, unmotivated and interrupted love.

sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
ahaituky apratihatā
yayātmā suprasīdati

The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.

Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6

So look introspective at the way you love others – is it how you want to love, or is it how they want to be loved?

New Year or New Day?

New Year’s always start off with great hype and optimism. At least for me they do. Exercise more, eat healthier, read more etc etc. The list sounds all too familiar, thanks to the over-saturation of New Year’s resolutions in social media over the last few years. Self-improvement websites are all the rage at this time of year with 50 New Year’s Resolutions and How To Keep Them or New Year’s Resolutions You Should Never Make, making headlines.

On top of this, marketing companies have jumped on this bandwagon and started bombarding us with New Year sales, to help us keep those said New Year’s resolutions. As cynical as it may seem, discounts on yoga passes, offers on cleanses or sales on gratitude journals are not really going to help us keep those resolutions for the next 364 days of the year.

I too went through a phase where I’d make these absurd resolutions – pretty much setting myself up to fail the second the ideas formed in my head. ‘I’ll walk up Mt Coot-tha EVERY single day‘ she said. Yeah right. The year would be shaped a bit like a series of parabola’s put together – a week where I would walk up Mt Coot-tha everyday, then a week of doing nothing, then a week of walking, then a week of nothing… you get the pattern. For someone who’s not naturally good at implementing new habits or routines, the prospect of doing multiple new things 365 days of the year looked pretty grim.

But then, like many other things in my life, I looked at it from a different perspective. What if I didn’t think of it as a New Year, but a New Day? If I didn’t go on that walk one day, there was no need to beat myself up about it, but realise that tomorrow was a NEW day, a new chance at picking myself up again. I was given a whole new set of 24 hours to live again! And when I began to look at things like this, the year didn’t look 365 days looong, but more like 365 chances at getting 24 hours again!

An important part of a New Day is setting an intention, or sankalpa, as it is called in Sanskrit. A sankalpa is a strong mental creative determination or affirmation. Sacinandana Swami, a modern day meditation practitioner, writes extensively about sankalpa in one of his newsletters. He once asked his Ayurvedic doctor about his maintenance plan, after a period of intense treatment at an Ayurvedic clinic. His doctor replied:

“The most important thing is a strong sankalpa – an inner resolve. All the best medicine and therapy in the world would be ineffective without such a commitment. On the other hand, with such a sankalpa you would almost not need anything else”

It was such a nice way to begin each day – with a strong inner resolve – something I could plan new for each day, rather than be daunted by the task of having to do it every day for 1 year. And what gave each day more strength was the very nature of this inner resolve. The more I read about sankalpa, the more I was drawn to it’s spiritual and mystical nature – qualities which contributed to its strength.

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In times of need, our sankalpa shows us the way like stars that twinkle in a dark night sky. But you need to treat it like a good friend, and then cultivate it.

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In the school of life there are always tests – which ultimately serve our purpose only. These tests are there to make us stronger in our determination. When your sankalpa gets tested, remember that your life is a unique gift to you personally and that you are expected to find your own path which is true to yourself. You can not live the life of another. Just like eating and breathing is something that only you yourself can do – a sankalpa is also highly personalized.

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It can be strenuous to navigate one’s life through a world where constant change seems to be the only constant. However, for someone who discovers his or sankalpa, the universe starts to move in their favour, and the fact that everything changes because the

We can use sankalpas to help frame our day, or even the very activity we are concentrating on – for as little or big as the task is. It’s a powerful method of setting your intention, and cultivating a strong inner resolve. So don’t worry if you haven’t been able to catch up with your new year resolutions – there is a new day waiting ahead 🙂

Reason, Season, Lifetime

Reason, Season, Lifetime 

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,

it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty;

to provide you with guidance and support;

to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend, and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,

this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realise is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,

because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;

things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,

and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Unknown

I read this on Facebook recently, but have heard it in conversation in the past few months. As I wrap up over 4 years of work at Back2Health, so many emotions keep running through my head – and this poem comes at a very apt time. I’ve always had difficulty in letting things go – I remember balling my eyes out in grade 7 when we all parted for different high schools. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I hugged pretty much every person in the grade, promising we would still see each other every Friday afternoon at the Indooroopilly food court, and belting out the words to Friends Forever.

A familiar and welcoming corridor - Queenslander from the outside, oasis on the inside.

A familiar and welcoming corridor – Queenslander from the outside, oasis on the inside.

I always find break-up/end-of-year parties hard – I don’t like saying goodbye, and want to hold onto everything and everyone. The same thing is happening now – a hesitancy in leaving what I know and what’s comfortable. In Ayurveda this is a very kapha quality. Dr David Frawley writes in his book Ayurveda and the Mind:

‘They like to belong, to be part of a group, and seldom rebel. They are good followers and prefer to work in association. They are content and accept things as they are. They are stable but sometimes stagnate. They do not like to change and find change difficult, even when they want to. They are friendly, particularly with people they know, and hold closely to their families.’

Parts of this explain me to a T. But sometimes life forces you to change – and whether you like it or not, it’s going to happen! And from the advice of others – it’s better to embrace this change than to resist it.

Butterflies are a beautiful byproduct of change.. if they can do it, maybe so can I.

Butterflies are a beautiful byproduct of change.. if they can do it, maybe so can I.

Four years in one workplace is a long time (at least for me!), and it’s grown to be a big part of my life. The team that I work with, the clients I treat – everything has become so familiar and comfortable. While each exchange with clients is completely different – from a logistical point of view there’s definitely an element of familiarity – stable place of work, stable client base, and people know me! With identity comes a sense of ego… and letting go of work and clients, means letting go of the fact that will be someone to help them on their wellness journey. I know this is not the only way to look at the situation – but I can’t help dwell on this as I try to understand why it is so difficult for me to leave or move on. This is not the only reason, but digging deeper, I can understand that it definitely has a role to play in how I’m feeling.

Reading the words on Reason, Season or Lifetime has definitely helped me to understand why I can’t be close to everyoneall the time. Each person has a role to play in my life – some more long term than others, and I need to be OK with that. Embrace the moments we have together, and hold the memories close to my heart – that’s the best I can do. And I guess that’s the nature of this world – nothing is permanent – and the faster we learn to deal with it’s temporary nature, the easier it will be for us to face whatever the world throws at us. The words of the Bhagavad Gita shed some light on this:

O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. (BG 2.14)

That being said – modern technology enables us to stay in touch with those who may only enter our lives for a short period of time. And I plan to take full advantage of that! While I may write of letting go, I don’t think I’ve got the handle on applying it so well. I’m still a kapha and still want to keep my connections close. So hopefully I can have my cake and eat it too! Assisting people on their Ayurveda journey from the other side of the pond – and if you ever cross it, my doors are always open to you!

So here’s to pushing out of my kapha zone, embracing change, and enabling others from a distance!

As one chapter ends, I’m writing the outline for the next one – a month of learning cooking from my mum! Learning traditional Indian dishes, some not-so-traditional dishes and maybe a little bit of experimenting!

Reflections and Revival

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Obviously I didn’t abide by the end date. 

 

100 days of keeping in touch. This was a little project I embarked on earlier this year (and thought it to have been well finished by now!), but as many other things in my life – it got dragged out considerably. But I’m finally doing this! And so for my last post for #100daysofkeepingintouch, I thought I would share some reflections AND revive a long lost friend – my blog!

One thing that definitely struck me, was how integral maintaining relationships was in all spheres of life. Be it professional, social or even spiritual. The situation could be as diverse as this: a professional multi-million dollar company striving to close on a huge business deal OR a non-for-profit spiritual organisation working hard to spread their mission and teachings. Fundamentally, both of these can succeed only on the basis of maintaining good relationships. For the multi-million dollar company, even though it may be about numbers, deals, strategies, reports etc – at the end of the day, without good relationships between all the employees – nothing can really be achieved. And while the non-for-profit organisation maybe centred on giving back, charity, selflessness etc – unless its members work in a cooperative mood, then the vision just remains on paper.

Another thing that I realised is that keeping in touch can be so simple! I tried to outdo myself and get creative in the ways in which I kept in touch – through cards, presents, food, voice messages, video messages – there is no end to this list! But then I realised that it wasn’t so much the medium through which I was keeping in touch, but more the fact that I WAS keeping in touch. Reaching out to someone in a personal and direct way creates a huge and lasting change – and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just send them a text to let them know you’re thinking of them, or call them, or pop by to see them – the best times were when I kept in touch JUST BECAUSE, without any agenda, no need for any occasion – just that I wanted the pleasure of their company. This is what I found that recipients appreciated the most. Everyone calls you on your birthday, or to congratulate you on a new achievement – but how many times do you call/keep in touch with people JUST for their company – without needing anything from them or it being an occasion.

And although I documented 100 days of doing this, I realised that some of the best moments I had weren’t ones that were captured. Either I forgot, or the moment had passed, or it just didn’t feel right to document – but I hold them close in my heart 🙂

Hopefully this is a chance for me to revive and regularly post on this blog. Who knows what is in store for the future? More #100day projects? #100daysofsoup?