A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Archive for the ‘Circle Moments’ Category

Little moments of truth

There are days when I just watch and learn, and give thanks. For there is so much joy, love and joyousness in little moments of truth

As I observe my own journey, I am aware that there are many journeys that obviously inter mingle with mine. I learn from observing those journeys as much as I learn from mine. WIth an open mind, even a small incident can create an extraordinary moment, and I had one today. Please click the link above to visit the story in my other blog. 


Loving Myself

…And even allowing myself to be indulged.

We love to indulge the people we love. An extra bit of butter on the toast of a child who is on the way to a particularly difficult exam. Swapping dishwashing night with a spouse who has had a tough day at work. Buying an overworked and troubled friend a spa day. We think that they all deserve these things. We believe that these indulgences are important in order to have a full life.

Yet, when we it comes to ourselves, and that butter melting on warm toast smells so inviting, we deny ourselves the right to that minor indulgence. We tell ourselves that, that (oftentimes unnecessary) vow to lose that last kilo is far more important than the momentary pleasure of a buttered toast. We drag ourselves to the sink martyring ourselves on the altar of dishwasher duty because we are too strong to ask for help on minor occasions. And gifting ourselves a spa day? Oh, dear me, no! Never! That would be just too sinful, in this climate of economic strife that has seeped in to every household. 

This morning during Yoga, as I folded forward in Uttanasana, reveling  in the winter sunlight streaming through the window, and in the fact that I can now place my palms on the floor, (well, almost), I noticed that my nails needed a manicure. Of course I could do it myself, but I know that it would be weeks or even months before I would. So much better to go to a salon, and get them attended to. As I sailed through my Sun Salutes and more, the train of thought never quite subsided. Even as I paid attention to my teacher’s admonishments to engage the shoulder blades, or pull the inner thigh in or tuck in the tail bone through the various poses, my mind swayed in an all too familiar dilemma. To mani-pedi or not to.

The Hedonist Archetype has always been strong in me, and it is only in the recent years that I have come to accept her presence with love. If not entirely so, at least to accept that she deserves as much love as any other Archetype that I have within me. This often means giving in too easily to the temptations of buying “beauty” items, that I don’t really need, or getting a beauty treatment with funds that could have been more sensibly used.

And so, during my yoga training today, in between postures that did not allow any wandering of the mind to other things, I caught myself coming back to the thought, “Don’t do it, all that will happen is, that you will feel guilty.” “The nail polish only lasts a short time, and then you will be back to wanting to go again, what’s the use?” Was it a dialogue I was having with my Higher Self? Does the Higher Self of me disdain a perfectly groomed and coifed me? Or was it my sense that right now, I need to keep my funds growing for other things that I need in my life? Things of less moral dubiousness. 

But I have accepted a Challenge: “40 days of self love”. It is day 6 today. My intention was to express my self love through writing and reading everyday, but I don’t really need to keep myself confined to that, do I ?

As I slipped into savasana, a light popped into my head. My teacher is holding a “Handstand Workshop” a posture that I am needing to conquer at the moment. Conquer? Let that pass. Miraculously, that Handstand workshop is the same price as the mani pedi I would be getting. 

The decision was made. As I slipped back into normal ness, and went through the post savasana routine, I felt calm. As I opened my eyes after the final “namastey” I noticed that my teacher was looking straight at me.

“You look enlightened”, she said quietly, as everyone began to roll up their mats.

“Do I? I feel good …. May I enroll in your Handstand Workshop?”

I came home feeling loved, and hopeful, that maybe I will also get a chance to get a mani-pedi. Both my Higher Self, and my Hedonist can be happy. It is an abundant Universe, after all.


A Few Conscious Breaths

I watched a TED.com talk recently. It was about Consciousness, partially defining it as that state of  being which we experience once awakening from a dreamless sleep and throughout our awake hours. The state of the brain during this time is consciousness. I enjoyed Philosopher John Searle’s quirky speech very much. I think I agree with most of what he said, and definitely would not put myself up as a dissenter. He has spent a much longer time on the journey than I have, and also, in a much more conscious fashion.

This brings me to my confusion. Is what  we experience which Professor Searle seems to have defined as the “state of not being unconscious” really all that consciousness is? I have no doubt at all that the scientific experiments and knowledge Professor Searle refers to in his lecture are all valid, correct, and reliable.

Yet, to me, it seems that consciousness is perhaps, a little more than that. How often do we tell our children to be conscious of the environment as they walk home from school or the playground? How often do we refer to someone’s mannerism as an “unconscious” gesture? Rather than these being incorrect use of the term, I feel that these are an extension of the meaning.

On the yoga mat we take conscious breaths, which as all practitioners of yoga know and experience, is very different in its results from just “unconsciously” breathing. Yet, according to Professor Searle’s definition, everyday standard breathing is also conscious. We know that if we play the piano, a conscious practise of a shorter time can yield far stronger results than a longer time just playing with the mind in a different realm. We certainly have, most of us, experienced sitting “like a zombie” in front of the TV and not taking in the programme at all. Is that conscious behaviour?

It is possible that defining consciousness in the wider sense that is described in the video can detract from the true meaning of consciousness. Perhaps it is important to remember that it is possible to live at least bits and pieces of one’s life in a robotic fashion, and the journey to making it all completely conscious is one of the things that makes life fascinatingly meaningful.

What do you think?

Do you think that it is important to draw a distinction between mere “awakeness” and full consciousness?

Do you think that there is a difference?

A Beginner’s Mind

I was first introduced to yoga by someone who taught herself. Let’s call her Sukhi. She had a book, which had a few pictures and many strictures. It seemed to emphasise on how difficult yoga is, more than how to learn it. Something that often comes up in Indian ways of teaching. Sukhi wanted to learn, and even though I was so much younger than her, I was there, and got roped in as her buddy. Her fervour, while it lasted, took us on a journey that led us into dark and deep forests and far away from any sort of union of mind, body and soul. The book did speak a lot about the union, not that I read it. I was ten, my job was to turn up on the mat. Figuratively speaking, that is, as there was no mat, just a concrete floor.

Sukhi expected herself, and me, to be perfect from the word “go”. So there was a lot of muttering to herself, and talking at me. Our postures were not perfect, nor did we have any idea how to get there.

Possibly from some idea of “No Pain No Gain”, we did headstands on the first day.  We did not use any props, the book did not recommend any, either. “Iyengar” was unheard of in that household; during those days he was probably far more revered in the West than in India. My ten-year old, classical dance trained body managed fairly well, but there were many gaps for Sukhi to correct. So reading aloud from the book, and interpreting them in the narrowest most harrowing way possible, she would push and pull me into postures that probably were not right for a pre teen to get into in the first place. She did not know any better. She practised with me, and fared little better than me. So each practice session was one of disappointment more than learning. Very soon, I learnt to hate yoga, and very thankfully wiped it all from my mind when Sukhi went on to other pursuits.

Some dregs of wisdom from those days, and that much thumbed little book, must have lingered, and many, many years later, I began a journey of my own to learn and practise yoga. With guidance from many teachers, and some research of my own, I softly and gently led myself into a wiser practice. It took a long time, but I gradually learnt not to strive for an A+ mark from my teacher. I learnt to ease myself into the postures, and the practice. I fed from the energy of each class, and slowly and surely ceased to compare. I felt immersed in my own journey. So good. So light.

Then today, as I reached for my block, strengthened and stretched my legs, taking care not to hyperextend, and breathed into my posture, the teacher said, “Come to the pose with a beginner’s mind”. My mind blew out so hard that I nearly stumbled.

There I was, turning up regularly on the mat (there is a mat now), with all my baggage. My big belly. My hurt toe. My awareness of how far I think I can stretch, or balance, and acceptance when I need a prop. Each day, I walk a little bit further along my journey, dancing on the reflections of my practice. I feel present and in tune. But, perhaps, in my acceptance of the limitations of my body,  I have closed my self to the endless possibilities I could experience? Should I instead, present myself on the mat, each day, with the intention of a fresh new start? I could just bring my beginner’s mind, and let muscle memory work its magic in the background? Maybe I am still comparing myself, now, to how I fared yesterday?

As I drove back home after the class, an image of a toddler frolicked in front of me. Giggling, swaying straight from a downward facing dog to happy baby, rocking up to tree on tippy toe, falling over and moving on. No wisdom. Just joyous abandonment.

Glass half empty

 You have just walked into the kitchen, and on the table, you spot a glass with some water, that has been left there carelessly by someone else once their thirst was satiated. As you reach out an irritated hand, picking up again after whoever it was, does the glass seem half-empty to you? Have you just labelled yourself pessimist? Or is it half full, which makes you an optimist? Which one of the two kinds of people in the world are you?

What if there is a third possibility? What if the sight of the empty space above the water in the glass reminds you that you could fill it up to the top, and drink it all yourself. What if the remaining water in the glass reminds you that the lemon thyme on the windowsill needs some watering, and you pour it there? What if the carelessness of  that other person just opens up possibilities for you to view it as a blessing?

When we write our journals of gratitude, we take so much care to remember each “good” thing that happened. We write them down and feel blessed, and rightly so. What if we also write down the “bad” things that happened, in recognition of the possibility of their being blessings as well? What makes an experience good, or bad? Is it the colours we paint it with?

Dear Journal, I am deeply grateful that I cracked forty push ups today. My core feels so much stronger, and I will soon be able to progress to preparing for hand stands. Thank you.

Oh, by the way, dear Journal, I am so deeply thankful that I fell down the stairs today. I now know, for sure, that hopping down the stairs with my eyes closed, and hands held above my head, is a bad, bad idea. Thank you.

This short post was inspired by the “theme of the week” of one of my yoga teachers, Tania Burgess. Please visit and like her Facebook page.


Swimmingly Precisely Serendipitously

Have you ever had one of those days when everything goes along just right? I am sure you have ! You know, when the sun is just bright enough, the wind not too cool, or warm, the temperature just right. The right birds singing in the trees. But that is not all. Everything you need to do gets done, and things you did not even think to put on the list, get ticked off, leaving nothing but a shining pure, bedazzling smile!

That’s the kind of day I am having.

None of that, “I will just watch this oh-so-important clip on Youtube it’s only 4:01 minutes long”… and three hours later…

None of that “Oh no, I have only done two things on my list, and now I have remembered five other things that I should have put on there and totally forgot about!!!!”

Nope. I awoke to the buzz of “It’s a wonderful day…” Lyrics and tune mine.  Rolled around till I felt like getting up. Checked WordPress. Fed Hungry Boy. Did mundane chores including cooking and washing. The smile and the song still shining all around me. I have even completed this post! WHOOPPPEEE!

The chipped nail polish is only a reminder to take it off, and I am sure there will be time  to put on a fresh coat before we go out to dinner…. And I will get there on time. Unusually and perfectly.

Time is following my needs today. It is neither slow, nor fast, nor on its own agenda.  Who was it who said that time is a human construct? They were so right.

I offer up my thanks for today, and the love and happiness I feel right now.

Do you have happy days? Do you feel unstoppable, and more importantly, just a lightness of being? What makes you feel so? When?cooking moments


Radiating the definitions

It is my belief that mediation works wonders for the individual, and by extension, to the community at large. I do believe that an ever increasing number of people taking time out their day to meditate, can only benefit the whole circle of existence. In the course of sharing my progress and responding to comments on my posts, I was reminded that meditation can mean different things to different people, as well as be a slightly confusing idea, in itself.

So I thought I needed to answer the question “what is meditation, really?” The first step was just to get on to Google. “The action or practice of meditating”. Right. That then took care of that, but left me in a circle not of my choosing.

Derived from the Latin verb “Meditari” which means to think, to contemplate, to ponder, the word is used these days to describe the act of quietening one’s mind and focussing on an idea or a thought. Or as is also commonly practised, emptying ones mind…

I believe that this sort of trance or contemplative state of mind can be more readily achieved by sitting down in a regular quiet place. If one sits down at the same time, at the same place, with the same candle lit, it is easier to slip into the mode. Hence most mediation classes advocate such a habit.

Most classes teach breathing techniques and relaxation techniques and lead the student down a well practised path of visualisation. My mother taught me to stare at the flame of a candle in a dark room, breathe slow and deep, and then close my eyes and hold the picture of the candle in my mind, and  visualise it come to the centre of my forehead, where the third eye is. She was very insistent that the mind had to be a blank and the image of the flame was all one was allowed to see. Needless to say that at the age of ten, such a feat was completely beyond me, and I did not even try. I just sat with my eyes closed until she said I could open them again. Even then, I knew that what she was trying to teach me had value, I did not realise that I was not attuned to her process. I ended feeling that meditating was for special, wise people.

Through my on again off again yoga journey through the years, each teacher has taught a different way to meditate. Sitting in those classes amidst the calm, vibrant energy of a number of yoga students, I have found each method to be of value.

I have also read and heard about a number of people’s experience with meditation. Some people find their mediative state through some activity or the other, and some people swear by bodily stillness. Also, in monasteries, monks bring the meditative experience to their daily chores and if they are doing it, it must work!

So, it seems to me, that meditation is a process through which one experiences oneself.  To the lay person like me, its value lies in the effect of calm and peace it brings. The increased ability to concentrate, and the slowing down of the heartbeat fills me with an awareness of myself beyond the flesh I can see. It makes me feel, that, I might not be very wise, but I might be getting there!

Some more thoughts on meditation:

Deepak Chopra explains meditation:

What happens during meditation?




How would you define meditation? I am curious. As soon as I tried to define it, it became too broad a question for me.

Enhancing the Circle

I have gone on record multiple times saying that I am unable to sit down and meditate properly.  Meaning with quietness, deep breaths, lightness, and emptying of thoughts. I have now incorporated the Bodhi Circle into my life for a few weeks, and the only thing to report about my experience has been my ongoing learning to deal with sitting down. Quietening down. Breathing well.

I am loath to harp on my failures, but I have not had any kind of success in my attempts at meditation so far. On the days when I do get to quiet myself down for more than five minutes, I am happy to say, I have slept better or felt happier. But there have not been many such days.

I know this has been more my special personal journey than any belief that meditation is “not for me”. So in spite of my deleteriously repetitive experience, I am persisting. Now, who was it who had likened me to a bulldog? “She latches on and never lets go!” 

 So when Deepak Chopra announced his latest Meditation Challenge a few weeks back, scheduled to begin today, I jumped on the wagon immediately. I don’t know whether you can still register, but why not give it a try? For the novice, such courses are extremely helpful. And for the experienced, please join in as well, as your energy will help lift the energy around the globe. I am sure, this being the third time that I have registered on a meditation challenge from Deepak, I will experience the luck that is famed to come at the third try, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Perhaps, for others, beginner’s luck will triumph. The previous times I registered, I did not meditate once in the assigned twenty one days. For good measure, I scowled fiercely when anyone tried to remind me of my commitment. Now so now. Today is Day 1. I am proud to report, I have started a new journey. 

Therefore, I feel that I will be able to continue and at the end of the 21 days, I will have developed a habit that will last me a lifetime. Easy, no? Of course, easy!

So, tell me, do YOU meditate? Would you LIKE to meditate? Do you feel meditation is for everybody?


Onwards and Anon!

It was my intention to lead the Bodhi Circle through my practice of meditation. Instead, others are more regular and steadfast. In the meantime,  I stand steadfast in my non-practice.

One person has shared their visualisations with me, another person has shared how their aching shoulder ache has improved. What do I have to share? Nothing much.

Most days I forget when I get up, and when I go to bed, I remember as I am dropping off. This results in, sometimes, hurried three to five minutes at night time and not at all during the day.

So my meditation practice has become like my start everyday “tomorrow is a new beginning” yoga practice. In the meantime the middle aged spread settles in more securely.

So. I now make a new commitment. Tonight onwards I commit to the meditation circle again. I will turn the times around. Ten minutes at night, and 5 minutes in the morning. I firmly believe I will report major progress next time.


Update: Last night I did meditate  – for about 4 minutes and 32 seconds… . 🙂 I can now follow my followers… into the Circle! Now that I have remembered, I will sit down right now and do my “morning” session! Blessings be!

Steps: Learning the Circle

 ImageHello all! One week and a bit into my daily practice of meditation. What have I done and how have I progressed?

In a world that views progress in measurable chunks of continuous improvement, I must say, I have taken a few steps backwards. Those first few days radiant with beginners’ success, were followed by days of indifferent meditative quality.

In the first place it has become more difficult for me to settle down and breathe well. For example, today I found at one point of time, I was holding my breath and my chest felt tight, and my back tense. I consciously had to let go, allow my self to breathe, and then allow myself to breathe long and deep.

I also find that I sit down in my designated spot, on my designated cushion, close my eyes and start planning what I will do next. In the mornings, I think, “I have to check that note, once I have done that, I will take such out of the freezer to cook later…. Drat, I release my thoughts.” After a few moments of emptying of thoughts, another one pokes in and off I go on a merry go round again. In that first flush of excitement with my meditation circle, I had no problems releasing my thoughts, and sinking into a comfortable silence. Any intrusive thought would be quietly recognised, accepted and let free.

The other thing is that every time I sit down to meditate, I find an urge to get up and get going. Yes, even when I go to bed and sit down to meditate, I have this feeling of “hurry up and go to sleep” !!?? And my stopwatch has been showing an ever decreasing span of time. Gone is the 10 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes at night. I find I am lucky if I am putting in 3 minutes.

So last night, I decided to hunker down, and get to it. A 6 km walk in the cool of the evening, had calmed me down, and I felt quiet and fresh at the same time.  I sat down to my nightly pause, set my intention for 5 minutes Plus, as I had been doing less for a few days ( I know, I know, it is not a simple matter of plus and minus) and breathed in. I was still restless, and I was still flickering between anger with events that had happened 20 years ago, and plans for the morrow, but I was resolute. I breathed, and recognised the thought patterns and set them free. They came back, and I set them free again, and they came back again….. After what seemed like ages, I opened my eyes, and the stopwatch said 4mins 40 seconds…. ARGH! Even as I started to feel upset, I agreed that it was better than the 3 minutes or less I had been doing. So I had a good night’s rest.

This morning, it was even better, 7 minutes 49 seconds. There still seems to be difficulty getting rid of the restlessness, and allowing myself to breathe deep, but I am pleased that at least I sat still for 7 minutes 49 seconds. I feel great, and I think tonight will be even better.

I think I will go on to class three even though I had not mastered the visualisation of class two. … Yes, I think I will do that right now.

I will leave you with the thought that arrived in my inbox today. “The more significance you give the moment, the more the moment has the opportunity to be significant.”


PS: Have you joined me yet? Please shout out if you have. I am eager to hear from you and about your experience

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