My neighborhood and the neighbor I always wanted

My neighborhood and the neighbor I always wanted

Hello guys,

When we moved to the new home a couple of months ago, I thought that I would be able to gel up with a lot of people. For the last many years we (husband and I) have been living in a condominium. And a condominium life sucks. Well, not every time. But the place where we lived before our current house was kinda boring. No one knew who lived next to whom. Not that it’s NOT common. That’s how a condominium life is. But when we decided to move to an independent house, I was excited more than usual. Because I would have more space, I would shift closer to friends, and especially because I would have a sense of community living here.

When we shifted, it was almost spring. Though there were days when it would snow.  And knowing myself who feels extreme cold in normal weather too, I would say it was winters for me. Does not matter what they decided to call it, spring or summer whatever! So, in the initial months, I would rarely see anyone. But I would hope that very soon the neighborhood would turn green. That I would see lovely faces and we would walk and talk. Honestly, all I had in my mind was an image of a wonderful neighborhood. However, it was different. Not that my neighborhood is not good, but then! You see similar faces every day. They will look at you, smile at you and very very rarely it would go ahead to a formal chhit-chat. In the house right to ours, there lives a big family. I haven’t seen them all together, though I know they are six in count and they rarely strike a conversation. I would label them as shy, very shy yet very sweet people. The conversation here would mostly end at ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘How are you doing?’

In the house left to us lives a couple. An elderly couple. They appeared more friendly and weren’t that shy. There was a comfort level, more because we could speak the same language. Uncle would give us lots of advice on how to do gardening and other stuff. Since this is our first experience living in an independent house, there is always so much we are unaware of. Like where do we keep our plants in the winters, which nursery is the nearest, where to buy a good snow shovel from. Uncle was ready to guide. Our conversations were not very frequent but most of the time it would go beyond ‘Hii’, and ‘Hello’.

Once my husband and I were worried about why our plants were dying even though we would water them so regularly. I remember my husband was watering the plants and I was standing there discussing the same. I guess Uncle overheard our conversation therefore, he interrupted , ‘Summers are bad. Especially the summers of May and June. During these months when the sun is burning the world with its heat, it’s pretty hard for the plants to survive without water.’

‘But I am watering them every day!’, my husband said.

‘Twice. You have to water them twice. Have you seen the grass at your end? I think you need to water them too. Twice every day’, he suggested.

The other day, I saw her wife walking in the park. It was morning 6:00 am and I was up for running. Our eyes met, we smiled at each other, and then she joined me when she talked about her family. Apparently, the couple lives alone while the daughters who are married, live a couple of hours away.

I had finally found a neighbor whom I could actually call a neighbor. That was now more than just a familiar face. A couple of days ago I said to my husband, ‘This Diwali festival let’s ask them to visit our home. We can invite them for an evening snack or dinner.’
We had agreed to this, but then something happened that almost broke our hearts yesterday.

So, a few days ago, our neighbors were busy with the painting of the house. I said to my husband, ‘Why are they getting the gates painted? I somehow feel that they are getting it ready to sell the house.’

‘Oh no, I don’t think so! Uncle is always busy doing some modification in the house!’, my husband was confident that his heart would remain in place always.
However, today we saw the board for registering the house on sale.

‘Coming soon! For sale!’
That moment nothing broke our heart more than the board.
We felt dejected. A feeling of betrayal flooded our bodies.

Of course, it does not make sense. Why should we feel bad about it? We are neither their relatives nor friends. But how can you make your heart understand who always makes plan and love to remain in the world of dreams? Dream of finding a family-like neighbor. Yesterday when we were outside, we saw Uncle returning from somewhere. He smiled looking at us when my husband went ahead to talk to him.

‘Oh! You are selling this house!’

‘Yes! Our kids live in Caledon and my wife and I are planning to buy a house near to them. We have grandkids and we want to see them as often as we can. Staying near to them would make things easier for them and for us too.’

While that made sense on Uncle’s behalf, we are still very sad. We can see them busy with house hunting, we can see how they are sorting things and throwing the unwanted stuff out of their house. In between our eyes meet, and we smile at each other.

But our eyes have a different story to tell now.
Story of uncertainty and anxiety about who would be our new neighbor.
Though we label ourselves as optimistic people, I will miss them being around. And for unknowingly giving us the feeling of having a warm neighborhood.

Thank you, Mrs. & Mr. Silva!
You guys will be missed!

My Firsttt Rranttt!!

My Firsttt Rranttt!!

Hello People!!!

So, I have decided that I am gonna rant here. This blog has been dead for almost a year. Mainly, because I wanted to build a website like Kris Carr. Or maybe like James Clear! A website that offers hope, health, healing and much more. A website that talks about ‘something useful.’

However, if there is something helpful or useful that needs to be published it needs extensive research and exploration. It takes time. Something I don’t have. Especially when you can find hundreds of such informational material on the internet. Nope! I don’t want to demean what they are doing. Because they have build credibility. Because every time I need some genuine advice on healing or habits, I look up to them.

But then it makes me think about my website.
What’s that ‘something different’ I am gonna offer?

This question depressed me so much that I completely stopped writing. But now I have decided that I will write. Well, nothing informational every time but mostly rants.
Ummmm.. You can call it rant or you can call it my daily interesting encounters.
Well, I don’t know if it will be interesting.
I was reading a book called Book of Delights by the American poet Ross Gay, and everything he has written is nothing less than mystic. He says that all the essays in the book are his everyday encounters. And then I look at my life.

What’s so interesting in my life to write?

A husband who sits in the front of TV whole day watching cricket match or Big Bang theory for the 1000th time, or some crap on YouTube, AND me.
Poor me!

Did you just see? I have nothing, absolutely nothing interesting to write. Many people write/talk about their interests. Something common to talk about makes them best of best friends.

But I don’t have any interests.

Except reading books and writing on a lesser known platform Quora, I don’t have any interests. Oh, wait! I do have an interest!! Yes! I love meditation. Every day I sit for almost two hours to meditate (wow! That’s some number!!!!)

But now I think that’s because it does not involve any activity. I just have to sit and don’t do anything. Basically I am lazy and meditation is an escape route to show that I am productive while the truth is that I am just being dull, slothful, lethargic!

I look at my friends who are so busy living their lives. They work, they take care of their kids, they keep their house clean and still shine in the party. And then I look at me (I tried looking for an emoji perfectly suited for the mood, but could find none). I don’t work, I can’t keep my house clean, I don’t have kids and I honestly I suck at parties. Most of the time it feels like I have just gotten up from the bed. Especially when I look at my friends all dressed up. Ummm.. I should thank them for not outcasting me them from their circle.

Anyways, I am writing all this while waiting for my food order. My husband and I are on fasting today. My husband does the fast because of some religious reasons while I do the fast because it saves me from cooking (Yes, one more reason to label me as ‘Lazy’). But then fasting is tough too!! And therefore, most of the time by the evening I have this great urge to break the fast. I curse myself for not staying true to myself and pledge that this won’t happen the next time. Well, this ‘next time’ has yet not arrived. Because like every time, I broke my promise today too. Very soon a restaurant will deliver a southwest wrap for me.

And yes! It’s here with a knock on my door. That’s when my today’s rant will end.
If you think you liked it, that does not make you awesome. That makes you lazy and uninteresting like me.
If you are still here, you can visit the website again, as I plan to post my rants weekly.

And I swear I would be lazy for this too.

 Your lazy blogger,

Ankita

How to forgive? (or not!)

How to forgive? (or not!)

Hey peeps!

After new year’s eve, a video resurfaced where-in Pope Francis was greeting the crowd of pilgrims and children. The crowd looked excited, and everyone wanted to shake hands with THE POPE. Suddenly, a woman grabbed his hand. While he tried to move on, the lady pulled him back, and kept saying something. The ‘not-so-gentle’ pull annoyed Pope, and in frustration he slapped her hand and moved on (Video Link).

Do you expect something like this from a Pope? I know, I know, many of you would be surprised to know about Pope’s behavior because isn’t he the one who teaches the world about kindness, compassion?

And when it was time to practice what he preached, he contradicted his teaching!! Oh man!

However, I know there would be different set of people who would see pope as a ‘human being’, a person who in spite of his wisdom and teachings makes mistakes. And there comes real compassion (Pope later issued a public apology for the same).

“The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”Louise Hay

Now, what if you aren’t like a pope (which you surely are not!), and don’t forgive (which includes forgiving ourselves too) easily? I see your hands raised up! And you can count me in too!

I don’t forgive easily. I love to hold grudges, and decorate it in my grudge cabinet. Like talk to me about my boss from previous company, and I would pick one grudge from my cabinet, and would tell you thousand reasons for why I still hate her.

There are many articles I have read which talks about how good it is to forgive, and move on. They say that it can pretty much offload too much of weight from your shoulders, and I whole-heartedly agree to this.

While I have been successful in forgiving many annoying events and people in my life, there are still many events which are stuck, like a lump in my throat, and doesn’t matter how much I try to spit it out, it’s still there! A little part of me does not want to forgive! Forgiveness feels impossible in many cases. Are we in the same boat, mate? Cheers!

Days ago I was listening to a podcast by Tara Brach, and she said that when we are consciously or unconsciously, not able to forgive, it means we are holding onto a thought, or trauma just so that we can unconsciously protect ourselves from experiencing that pain again.

It simply means that we are yet not ready! Our body knows better. Over years I have learnt that healing is not linear. It takes times to heal wounds, and it take seasons to lighten the scars.

Same goes with forgiveness. It needs patience and love. A little part of our body needs us, and our inner child wants to hear that, ‘It’s okay if you can’t forgive now. We will keep doing it, and someday we will be successful.’  And I have noticed that it releases some blocked energy. I mean, it really works, even if you are not that ‘into’ your body to notice it.This simple ritual says that it’s good if we do not judge ourselves.

You see I can say to myself, ‘All the spiritual talks you talk, books you read is bullshit. You haven’t learned anything if you can’t forgive! You definitely need a spiritual retreat once again!’

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” ~ Marvin J. Ashton

Come On! It don’t need anything external to validate myself. A little love, and self-compassion is what I need. Therefore, here I am ‘Forgiving myself for not forgiving’.

Once I tried to dive deeper into finding the reason about ‘why can’t I forgive’, and I found an underlying fear that if I forgive, someone ‘else’ will do it again. It’s like creating an imaginary shield in my mind. But the truth is whether we forgive or not, it has nothing to do with other person’s behavior. People do what they want to do. They rarely think from other’s perspective, simply because they can’t.

We can not control how others see the world, but then we can define our boundaries.The fact is, we do have a choice, though we are not aware of it most of the times.

I mean I HAD a choice when my manager talked rudely to me, and the choice was to respond though calmly yet assertively, and it could have led me to the situation where I had one ‘less’ grudge in my grudge cabinet.

As soon as we decide that we won’t tolerate ‘something’, there comes the power, and a plan on how we can do it. (I am still defining my boundaries, so count me in here too, mate!). And I am learning this slowly.

Over the years, number of self-help books have taught me that ‘how a person behaves’ has nothing to do with ‘me’, it’s all about his past life, his piled up stories, his griefs and insecurities. While it still causes irritation to think that ‘why I am being treated badly for what he/she has experienced‘, it actually helps to calm down a little bit, and let go of the anger. (Pic on right: Just to fill the page. Lol).

It reminds me of one of my annoying managers in India. Every time he would shout at one of the team members, we would joke, ‘Aaaj fir biwi se lad kar aaya hoga.‘ (He sure would have fought with his wife today again.), and this would cheer our mood.

Final thought: Every action which is inspired by ‘Love for ourselves‘ is bound to heal us. And while we stress enough on giving love to others, showering the world with kindness and compassion, the first person who deserves our is ourselves. While we all strive to be perfect, just accepting ourselves as we are now, and at the same time working towards healing, is incredibly powerful.

I hope we all learn to have faith in ourselves, and our unimaginable healing power.

I hope we remember to ‘Forgive ourselves for not forgiving others’.

Love and big hug,

Ankita

Quick meditation tip for beginners!

Quick meditation tip for beginners!

Hey people,

Here is a story I want to share. Story of a battle between me and my ‘MIND’.

This is the story of my roommate. So, here it goes!

He thoroughly enjoyed my company and asked me if he could stay with me as my ‘roommate’. 

It was fun to live with him. 

He had some great thoughts and gradually I started relying on him for everything, In fact I started losing my identity. 

However, with the time he started dominating me. He would misread every situation and would give me unwanted advice. Surprisingly, I would listen to his non-sense without thinking about what I want. 

He started interfering in every aspect of my life, be it relationship or financial advice or my own identity! 

Worst thing was that he would NEVER cooperate. 

He had something to say about everything and everyone. Basically, I was not alone but with a chatterbox 24*7. 

The day I realized where I went wrong, I wanted to free myself from his negativity. I started observing his behavior and would sit quietly, watching him talking. 

Was it easy? 

No! But I was trying every day. 

I remember once my husband got a bit late from work, the few things my roommate had to say was: ‘Why is he is not picking up the call? Is he partying somewhere and ignoring your call? Does he really care about you? I hope everything is fine with him.’ 

Since I was alert enough to analyze what he was saying, I discarded his opinion. 

Latermy husband informed me that the subway was running late, and his phone was on silent mode. 

When my roommate started realizing that he was being watched, his behavior started changing. 

He started creating less chaos. 

Aha! It felt wonderful to get my kingdom back. I would not get lost in chatter and would observe him. Sometimes, I would ask him to keep quiet or go away. 

He still talks nonsense sometimes but, he is no more a chatterbox. He talks less and tries to be a good friend of mine. 

Best thing is that I have taken back control of my life. 

The roommate or ‘inner roommate’ is my mind. 

I observe him daily when I meditate. 

Since I have become conscious, I am able to recognize the negativity and change it to positive thoughts. I am happier, calmer and, more positive person now. 

Struggling for months to find out the easiest way to meditate, I could figure out few ways to start without getting overwhelmed.

  • Thoughts are cats: I imagine a blank screen in front of my closed eyes. I imagine my thoughts to be ‘Rats’. My aim is to catch as many rats as possible in the next 10 minutes. Sometimes, I forget that I have to catch them and I try to get along with them, but as soon as I remember, I start it again. 
  • 1 Minute tip: For a quick 1 minute meditation, I count 1 to 60 with my eyes closed, and observe how the numbers change from 1 to 60. I might get lost midway but again coming back is the trick.
  • What matters is ‘Now’: Sometimes, I sit for 5 minutes, and say ‘Now, Now’ with a pause in my mind. It reminds me of the current moment. For me, this method has worked it’s best. I even try to incorporate it while doing yoga.
  • Tik Tik counterI have bought a clock with ‘Tik- Tik’ voice. In the evening, I sit in the room with that clock. I just sit calmly and observe it’s sound. It’s important to realize that the sound isn’t bad or unpleasant for ears.
  • Mindful walk: I try to be mindful of my walking. Once in a day, while I am walking from one room to another, I just watch my steps. Though it’s not for a longer duration, but it cultivates the habit of mindfulness.
  • Imagine a real person:  When you sit for meditation, visualize your mind as a real person in front of you. Sit in silence watching him speak.  You don’t have to do anything expect watching him. With time, this practice will make you more concioous of your thoughts.

Most of the time, we think that our mind should be still in the first attempt only.

I have friends who said that they stopped meditating because they couldn’t keep their mind calm. But, if our mind is calm why would we need meditation? We don’t have be a yogi or a Buddhist to practice it. Let’s just be gentle with ourselves. Important is to be persistent. With time, we can definitely see a positive change in our life and choices. 

Happy meditating!

How I connected back to my soul…..

How I connected back to my soul…..

Years ago, I came across an article which talked about soul satisfaction. The writer had experienced how using meditation, she connected back to her soul.  It was like a homecoming for her.

Just a brief overview and I was eager enough to scroll. ‘Soul connection!’ -it sounded to be an alien term to me.

It can happen only to sages and saints. No! It’s not for you, for me, it’s their world!

It’s not that I did not believe in God, but I never had time to connect to the Universe. For me, God was only there when I had to crib and I needed someone to blame. ‘You don’t love me eh? I did not get this job? Why? Why are my things not getting sorted?’

I turned blind to all the good things and would curse my destiny for all the bad things happening.

I was not living my life, rather crawling through it.

I remember, someone once told me about a miraculous story of how she got a job. I made fun of him showing in all the logics and calculations behind his success. Miracles do not happen, not on this earth at least!

In short, I was someone who believed that I am here to live forever, old people have always been old, you can exploit your body for whatever reason you can and it would say nothing, and you are here on this planet to work, get married, have kids, get them married and die!

Life changed after I miscarried. Not everything looked the same!

Losing the first child was bad. Also, it did not fit my sequence of marrying and having kids. There was physical trauma, and a mental one too though I did not realize it then.

Weeks later after my appointment with my doctor, I was heartbroken only to know that my baby had a heartbeat. I felt like a part of me was lost. The thought that it was more than a flesh hit me hard.

I restlessly looked for some relief, for an answer to my questions!

Why did this happen to me?

Is there something more beyond this life?

Can things change so suddenly for anyone? My friends still have the same happy life though!

If the sequence of my life is not the one, I thought of or not the one everyone does, why am I here?

While everyone in my friend circle was planning for kids, switching jobs, and having fun, I was trying to solve the puzzle of life.

I still remember the day; I closed my eyes for praying. This time, it was different. It was not to curse the universe, not to ask something from God, and not to lure him by saying, ‘I will do this if you give me this.’

I just kept quiet.

I got a strong surge of emotions. It was different, it was divine. The flow of energy I had never experienced before! There were emotions I wanted to vent out but beneath it was something very calming, very peaceful. 

Those few moments of calmness were enough to understand what a soul connection meant. Those moments of stability had an unsaid communication with me saying, ‘Things are Okay. You will be fine. Everything will be fine’. I started looking for more of those moments. It was like something I had never experienced before. Though it did not have answers to all my questions, it gave me something I craved for.

There I started learning more about meditation. With 3 months of continuous practice, I could understand what is meant by ‘Homecoming’.

A calmer mind would give all the space to question my existence. With time, I learnt about how powerful prayers could be. I was widening my spiritual dimensions by meditation, prayers, reading books, writing.

There was more to life than to just run for a 9-5 job, have kids, and die! I learnt that everything which makes you feel lively is like a soul food. And we are here to see colours of life, learn from the mistakes, awaken our buried creativity and make the best of what life has to offer!

I do not regret my past, I do not regret not knowing what life was about, for whatever happened paved the way for where I am, and I am really proud that I am moving, and growing.

I believe we all need to broaden our spiritual dimension to feel alive!Many of us do it unknowingly, they do everything they love which keeps them alive and glowing.

But there are a certain set of people like me who was busy sorting out life and fixing its problem, and such people need a soul connection.

While there are ways to awaken yourself, it’s important to recognize what works for you. ‘Listening to music’, ‘Reading books’, ‘Walking in Nature’, ‘Dancing’- it can be anything.

Following are the things you can try:

  • Sitting in the park or outside for 10 minutes while listening to birds chirping.
  • Sitting idle in a chair or bed for a few minutes, and thinking about all the beautiful memories of past starting from childhood.
  • Dedicating a couple of minutes to do what you love. It can be as small as reading a book or gardening.
  • Praying for 10 minutes while connecting to the universe.
  • Taking out some time in the evening with your favorite coffee while watching the clouds moving.

While these are the things which have worked for me, you can definitely find something better, more natural to you. But the bottom line remains the same.

Connecting back to ourselves is like charging our battery, it is important to charge it before the light gets so dim that we get misguided by the puzzles of life!