Gratitude

Every year I conduct a Summer Camp at Hindu Center for children aged 6-12. Our specialty or USP is “A Samvit Perspective”.

The most popular feature of our Camp is “The Discussion Session”. Every camp we pick a subject and every day of that camp we discuss it.

Last year’s subject was Happiness. We talked about how can we be happy? We talked about all things that take away from our happiness – fear, greed, envy, selfishness, self centered attitude…..

It was a major hit!

A mother came to me and shared her experience-

Mom and daughter had been arguing about something for few days. One evening on her way back from the camp daughter says “Maa I am sorry for our argument. I was not looking at how my decisions affect you. I feel I have been making myself and you unhappy for days for no reason!”

Often parents come up to me and say this camp has made our children think in ways we have never seen them think!

Success story right?

Today I am not so sure.

In one of Swamiji’s pravachans he said something to the effect that as long as we live in the illusion of lacking, everything we produce will be lacking.

Past few weeks I have felt depleted. It’s not a welcome feeling. I think I would prefer sadness! Anyways, it got me thinking ……. how to be happy became serious business! I was looking for practical tips. I started with eating healthy, sleeping better, being active ….. it helped …. but not really. Then suddenly something just clicked. All those discussions I had with the kids last year were rubbish. The answer is so simple ! Daily Gratitude. Thanking Bhagwati for everyday moments of joy, beauty and comfort is the simplest road to happiness.

This is what I am thankful for today:

1) We woke up early

2) Unmukt got ready without a fuss

3) I had a delicious Peanut Butter Sandwich for breakfast

4) I was able to get not 1 but 2 coffees in the morning from 2 different places

5) Papaji had his cataract surgery and he is doing well

6) Unmukt wanted to go visit his grandfather in the hospital

7) We were able to see papaji in the morning at his office

8) Unmukt was able to spend time with Alina (cousin sister)

9) I got to spend time with Alina

10) At the coffee shop Unmukt offered to wait for me in the car while I got my coffee

11) My to go salad I bought in the morning was tasty and not at all soggy when I had it for lunch

12) Munmun is making dinner tonight

13) Sachin Ji was able to get a ball autographed by Cam Newton to help raise money for my favorite cause “Project Alive

14) I am writing a post on my blog!

15) I watched a movie today!

16) There is a good chance that I will be able to finish a writing assignment I have been working on!

17) I feel better than I have felt in weeks!

18) 18 reasons to be grateful and it’s only 4:40 pm

You see, everything we create is a reflection of the distance between our Maya shrouded thought and our Sanatan reality. Last year’s camp discussion on happiness reflected that distance in me. This year’s discussion on gratitude will also reflect that distance. My only hope is that the movement is continually inwards to a place of stillness.

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Please click on “Project Alive” to donate. Every penny, every paisa counts and every Rupee or dollar gets us that much closer to saving my Buddy Finn’s life

The Bear under the Bridge

At Unmukt’s birth my Mom gave me an Article to read. It was titled “Parenting isn’t about raising a child. It’s about raising a parent” written by Shefali Tsabary. The article reinforced the importance of leading through example. Combine that with an abundance of moral stories and what you have is the Age Old Indian Parenting Style – The best parenting style.

Though unsure of how well I am “raising myself” I have become adept at using stories to communicate expectations when it comes to Unmukt (my son).

Below is one of the 3 stories I wrote for him on the subject of compassion in accordance to last week’s theme.

The Bear Under the Bridge

Compassion

This week’s theme was compassion with a declared goal – Encourage compassion towards Homeless. My secret goal however was “Somehow get Unmukt to be nice to Ved (cousin)”.

The good news is that this week we (Read husband) did figure out a way to make the kids be nice to each other. He plays rough with the 3 boys for 30 minuets or so after which almost magically they Cooperate and play together quite well ! (Translation- they aren’t killing each other).

While this is more of a parenting hack than anything else it did teach me a lesson in Compassion. Sudeep approached the kids at their level. He didn’t sit on a moral high horse and dictate “Be Nice”. Rather he understood “Boys will be Boys” and helped them find a safe avenue to spend their excess energy in a physical way.

Approach people with an understanding of their situation and needs. This to me is the definition of Compassion. This week I understood compassion by witnessing Beauty of the Testosterone bond between the boys (of all ages) of my household. Who Knew!!!!

This experience was then compounded by a Facebook video I watched about a school that uses Meditation rooms instead of Detention. This school management understood that people act out because they find themselves ill equipped to deal with their emotions. They showed COMPASSION by helping the children develop the ability to experience those emotions in a wholesome way. I too am now trying to inculcate this practice in parenting AND in my dealings with myself. After all, if we are cruel and judgmental to ourselves we cannot truly be Compassionate towards others. I can only give what I have. (Click Here)

This week started with my focus on Unmukt’s behavior but has ended with me evaluating and correcting my thought process. This again is a lesson in Compassion. It’s Bhagwati (Goddess) being compassionate towards me. It’s no coincidence that this same week I also came across an Article that my sister had shared last year. It was titled “It’s hard for them too”. Regardless of your relationship status this is an article worth reading. I found it a lesson in Compassion through and through.

As I enter a new week I carry the theme of Compassion with me. I hope you will continue to accompany me.

For fun – How many times did I type “Compassion” in this post? Can you tell me?

Week 2’s theme is Compassion

I know that to my readers I do not need to talk about what is compassion how much the world needs it and what it does for us when we give or receive it. I do not need to tell you how important it is to be ……..

I did say I won’t say it !

Anyways, this week’s theme is compassion. Ideally I would be able to coax my son and his cousins to show compassion for each other but I prefer having small attainable goals so we will try ways of feeling and expressing compassion towards the homeless first.

This theme just might continue for week 3

Work is Love Made Visible (Divinity & Gender Roles)

Khalil Gibran has written “Work is Love made visible.”

These lines struck a chord with me today as I sit and read articles about Homeschooling. (Yes I hear your responses. Stay with Gibran for now.)

My son Unmukt is my work and everything I do for him an expression of love. This recognition sent a jolt of fear through the Feminist inside me. She raised her head and said “They will use such statements to say This is why Women should stay at home and raise kids. This is why they should not make their jobs a priority. This is why they can not be paid equally because they might have to quit and go home because that’s where they should be!”.

Next, to raise her voice was the little girl who frolicked in Abu’s forests climbing rocks, hugging trees, wind in her messy hair, dirt on her clothes, sap on her face singing made up songs about how special she felt about being a Girl. How Blessed she felt about being made in the image of The Goddess herself. She didn’t say anything. She just laughed.

Finally awoke the Samvit Sadhika and this is what she said to me –

Work is a visible expression of Love when it’s an Expression of You.

As an intern of Law College working at Consumer Education Research Center (CERC) my work was truly an expression of love. Love for justice, service and community. It was work that expressed what mattered to me. It expressed a part of me.

As a fresh graduate I declined the job offer at CERC to work at Bodhi Global in Mumbai. There was no love there. It’s because my work was not an expression of me. I chose it for the money. I was MISERABLE.

Self Expression – It is a beautiful sight to see a Human Soul express itself. But it can only happen when it’s free from duress. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman choosing to express herself as a Mother. It is as close to divinity as we can get on a daily basis. BUT it can only happen when that decision is made consciously and freely by HER.

You wish to see stronger families? You wish to see more mothers respecting their motherhood? Raise boys who respect everyone regardless of gender. Raise children who value principles over money. Teach children Shankaracharya’s “Bhaj Govindam” not BeediJalaiKe or whatever Rihana is singing these days. Tell them stories of our child heroes like Markandeya, Prahlad, Dhruv, Arjun, Bheem, Kanha, Shankaracharya before you pick up the Fairy Tale book or Mickey Mouse’s Adventures. Then let them binge on Tom and Jerry. Raise children on Advait principles. Raise them so the first book they study is not Robinson Crusoe but Tatva Bodha. Then let them read Robinson to their heart’s content. Raise them so the first biography they read is not Bill Gates but Shankaracharya or Vivekananda!

I will summarize in 3 words

Raise them Hindu