Dec 4, 2015

THE SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS






Ordeals accepted cheerfully, going through the process, will bear spiritual fruits.
-Kamlesh D. Patel

For most of my life I grew up looking insatiably for answers to Life. In Sunday school, I asked the “million dollar questions,” and often got less than satisfactory responses. For most of us, the problems we face in life burn within us on some level until there is a sense of resolution. This inner turbulence can come out as a myriad of emotional responses from anger to impatience to depression. For me it mostly manifested as anxiety and existential sadness. Though a generally positive person, these imbalances took a toll on my inner world and relationships. I had a lot of unwinding to do.

When I started meditation, I caught a glimpse into the balance and possibility of inner stillness. Over the following years of a daily practice, I continue to find more grace and softness inside. Now those over-sensitivities have come to a beautiful equilibrium, where I find an unprecedented sense of satisfaction and contentment. I’m still (definitely) refining to become more gracious. But overall my approach to life has become smooth and trusting.

Nov 4, 2015

THE ENERGY OF MODESTY


For many of us around the world, how we dress rests as an important element of how we express ourselves in the world. We use our clothing to present our mood, our sense of style, our personality. I’ve learned to make an effort to be presentable but consider myself generally low maintenance. I don’t like to fuss too much or spend too much time and money on how I look. (Though I’m aware that’s extremely relative to the culture I find myself in.) I’m the kind of gal who joyously lets her gray hairs grow in. But I do prefer to look good and feel comfortable both in my clothes and in my heart.

Growing up, often that would translate to what an ex boyfriend of mine sarcastically referred to as a wardrobe of grandma sweaters. For the better part of my fashion-conscious years, I would wear outfits I deemed quirky and cute, but probably considered less than flattering. A college friend and I commiserated once on this subconscious tendency to sell ourselves short aesthetically by striking a middle ground between presenting a fashionable awareness but still covering our bodies behind our generally more slouchy, “frumpy” clothes. This was our attempt to tell the world: hey, I’m fashion conscious, but value me for more than my body.

Oct 14, 2015

IT'S ALL GOOD: FINDING PERSPECTIVE


When I was about six or seven, my mom and I were in the car a few blocks from our house. Some impatient young chap zoomed past us. In his hurried display of aggression, he presented his middle finger in hopes of translating his distain for our existence. I, rattled, immediately burst into tears. In a desire to allay my outburst, mom asked me, “will you remember this in ten years?”

Because I knew she was right, I set out to prove her wrong. I made an exaggerated mental dog ear on this page of life to justify and pacify my moral outrage.

Two decades later, I do, in fact, still remember this incident.

But I can’t say I have a whisper of emotional connection to it. If anything I have more compassion and patience for people who don’t seem to. So while on one side my younger self can happily prove my mother wrong that I remember, she must wave the white flag knowing that it actually all turned out okay in the end.

Sep 20, 2015

THE HEART’S COURSE - HOW MY BRAIN TOOK THE BACK SEAT



Dear Brain,

It’s time you take a break. Think of it as a permanent vacation. Chill out and enjoy the ride. I’ve got it from here.

Love,
Heart

For the longest time my brain ran the show. Constant. Chatter. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “monkey mind.” This monkey was pretty wild. It would just extrapolate any possible cause, make commentary on the current happenings and their possible meanings, pontificate on what had happened and how it could go from here blah blah blah.

I finally became aware of this tendency shortly after college. I had no idea how much I had been ruled by it for all these years. I started watching it go go go. But mere observation remained powerless to prevent the onslaught. Maybe if I could muster enough will I could shut it down.

Sep 14, 2015

LESSONS FROM A RECOVERING “NICE GIRL”


Beware of being something outside which you are not inside. Beware of being polite when you are not having polite thoughts in your heart. Beware of appearing friendly when you have enmity in your heart. It is good to be anything if you are inside and outside the same.
–Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari

“You’re trying to be sweet and nice.” The words stopped me in my tracks. But I am nice. There was a catch here. My colleague was discouraging me from taking on tasks that weren’t my job. I was “just trying to be helpful.” But this time the words hit a different part of me and echoed in my heart.

I had grown up always wanting to do the right thing. “Doing what’s right keeps you happy and safe.” If I had a dollar for every time my mom said that over the years… Of course, she’s right on an esoteric level. And I believe with full conviction that we will always be guided and supported when we follow our highest truth. But how I internalized that growing up was to be a “nice girl.” Maybe that sounds like a good thing to you, but let me explain. At best, being nice is courteous, at worse it’s passive aggressive until a bandwidth is reached and some degree of lashing out is inevitable as the pressure buckles the effort to maintain a docile exterior.

Sep 4, 2015

FIVE FUN TIPS FOR MAKING MEDITATION MAGICAL


My good friend once said, meditation isn’t hard; it’s as natural as brushing your teeth. You do it and you feel cleaner. You can skip a day or so, but if you don’t do it for a while you feel kind of icky. Then you do it and it feels great again, so you keep doing it!

I loved her sentiment and feel similarly. I know though that for some of us there’s still the mental monster under the bed: there’s not enough time…do it later…five minutes is enough… You may know what I’m talking about.

Well kick that critter out of your headroom and give yourself the extra motivation to revel in that magical inner space. Here are a few simple tips on setting yourself up for success in a regular practice:

Jul 12, 2015

4 MAGICAL LIFE-BALANCING KEYS FOR MILLENIALS

“Quarter life crisis” is the new buzz issue sweeping our generation. But maybe we can look at this shifting period as a positive. Like any growing process, we’re being given an opportunity to shed a layer we’ve outgrown and come into a new level of who we are.

Upgrade!

It’s like when you get to the next level of a video game, it gets a little more challenging, but you have the tools from the other levels you went through. You just have to apply them in a new way and get new tools as you keep going. (Actually, the more I live, the more life feels like a big game of Zelda…)

Here are a few practical tools that are helping me most to get through the Quarter Life level.

Jun 26, 2015

CAPTURING THE HEART - SYNCHRONICITIES PART I

In Sahaj Marg, one of the most fun parts of the adventure is the little synchronistic alignments that keep happening one after another. Though the rational mind may write these off as mere random coincidences, their frequency and specificity never ceases to bring wonder and awe to my experience of the journey, practicing meditation. One of these synchronicities stands out in particular.

In August 2013 I visited the Babuji Memorial Ashram in Chennai for the first time to meditate and meet Charji Maharaj. A couple days after my arrival, a group of us saw him for the first time. I was asked to present a small mobile of hearts that one of the women at our Los Angeles center had made for him. We gathered in outside his cottage, and I timidly went up to present it. I was shaking with anticipation, and could barely look him in the eye. He said, “you brought this all the way from there?” It was a modest offering, but I was happy as a child to be at his side for the first time.

Jun 18, 2015

MEETING KAMLESH - A HEART'S CONFIRMATION



I’ll always remember the first time I met Kamlesh Patel. It was February 2014, the second time I went to India to visit a Sahaj Marg event. I didn’t have a lot of vacation time at work, but after my first visit my heart knew I had to return. My whole trip took only a week, with a total of five days on the ground. Though I know now I will always stay as long as humanly possible, I was happy for every absurd minute of travel time, every wink of jetlag, every itchy mosquito bite.

I was traveling to a three day gathering of about 30,000 meditators to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lalaji Maharaj, the founder of Sahaj Marg. Those heart-packed days felt like my perception lagged behind the immense gifts being given, slowly digesting the grace showering within.  I had already begun to understand the beauty with which the practice had endowed my life.  Here was another milestone of potency.

Jun 3, 2015

THE MASTER WITHIN



When I first started practicing Sahaj Marg, I had no idea of the vast wealth that awaited me. Sometimes I would hear new elements about the practice or new information about the spiritual journey and think, why has no one mentioned this before? One fellow aspirant put it beautifully. She told me that we come to new information as we’re ready to assimilate it. Her words were important for me to hear, as sometimes I can get into an all-or-nothing approach. I can want to know everything right away and can forget that all worthy endeavors are a gradual process.

One aspect of Sahaj Marg a number of us in the West confront is the concept of “the Master”. People kept talking about “Master” after group meditation, and frankly I was confused about what this whole master business was about. There was Master, the man, Charji Maharaj, who was living in India whom I hadn’t met. He was the president of the Mission, and someone whose speeches we heard a lot. Then there was the Master within – the eternal divine presence. This was the Master we prayed to, the Divine Source that I found a new experiential relationship with as I progressed. Why, then, were people using the words so interchangeably, and did they mean that this Chariji person was God?

May 25, 2015

WHERE SEEKING ENDS, THE JOURNEY BEGINS


I grew up with a strong base spirituality in my home. My mom always said, “God’s plan for you only includes good.” While I couldn’t begin to understand her comment in my youth, I’ve come to know just how true it is.

Before coming to Sahaj Marg meditation three and a half years ago, I had had my fair share of exploring. I was raised with a beautiful metaphysical foundation in Christian Science, but after college my thirst for inner discovery continued elsewhere. Over the next three years, my exploration prepared me in countless ways. I learned about “karmic healing”, became involved in the yoga and kirtan community, and was studying to convert to Judaism, took ten day Vipassana mediation retreats. All of these rites of passage forged new pathways of understanding my connection to the Divine. I will always cherish the immensity I learned in those few years.

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