The best gift you can give to your children and family is being alive in sound body, mind, spirit and finances. Don’t you agree?

Sometime back Himmi went on a vacation to pine mountain with his girlfriend’s family for a couple of days. When he can back he said mom you wouldn’t believe what happened. I said tell me more. He was on this vacation but would be up so early in the morning writing in his journal things he wants to do and such. He said mom I can see myself at forty getting up early probably doing meditation just like you do and going for a walk just like you do may be yoga just like you do and working hard just like how you work hard and watch what I eat just like you do. I said ok what is the bottom line here? He said something very funny you know I love my children already just like you do. I laughed. We will have to go back to a conversation Himmi and I had few months ago for some reason one day we were talking and I said Himmi I want you to know that I love you very much and I love all of your children and all of their children as well. If you ever get a chance someday make sure to tell them that their grandmother, great grandmother loves them very much. I want them to know that they are very much loved and are welcome to this planet earth and I am here waiting to see them. He Laughed and said I know I know don’t worry you are going to live up to more than hundred and see all that. So you see I better keep myself healthy, fit and strong to enjoy life to see them all. It takes work, Kaizen and I believe consistency is the key.

I told my son I truly believe that “the best gift a parent can give to their children is being live in sound body, mind, spirit and finances”. My role model, my mother is an amazing women I haven’t had a chance to see her in a long time but I do know she loves me very much and she takes excellent care of herself. She really does. This tiny 5′ tall woman has fantastic, healthy routine and I am very proud to share. She wakes up early every morning does her prayers for an hour and more. And then goes for a nice long walk. My Mother is a vegetarian and is very carefully watches what she eats and maintains a good routine in her eating and sleeping habits. These are very simple habits but she is very consistent as I have been watching her forty years now. She is extremely healthy, has a very positive and optimistic outlook for life, very smart planned her retirement very well. My mother is my strength. The truth is you can be thousands of miles far away but you are still the role model,  a major influence on your children and it feels awesome to have a happy strong, healthy parent that takes excellent care of herself/himself.

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

-Mother Teresa.

Meditation for Beginners

I am so stressed about this move to Berkeley I just want to be stress free and happy like you said my older son a few weeks ago.  Can you guess what my answer was? I said to him find a Zen center or meditation center close to you that can give free meditation session for the beginners. It makes it easier on you if you have a meditation buddy to talk, once in a while to keep you in to the path. Here are some tips and trick I often use that you might find it helpful in meditation practice.

Things that definitely help in the beginners’ practice:

  • An area in your apartment that is clean where you can place your meditation mat.
  • Large Zabuton Meditation Mat. 33″ long and 30″ wide and a “Zafu”. You can purchase this at a Zen center near you or any online store.
  • Take time into finding a comfortable posture for yourself. There is no rush it takes time and practice. Always remember meditation is a lifelong practice. So good care must be taken in finding a good posture that helps. It took me multiple years just to find that I am very comfortable sitting on Zafu on the Zabuton  in “half lotus posture”.
  • Light a candle or incense if you like. Personally I don’t like to attach any rituals other than just to sit on my mat into meditation.
  • Make a fixed schedule but be very easy on yourself how long you can sit still for the first few months/years.

I prefer it as the very first task, as the number one chore in my to do list, in the morning as soon as I wake up use the bathroom, brush my teeth, awake and I am on my meditation mat. This is pretty much like part of nourishing spirit/mind routine just like how we have nourishing body routine with a breakfast, lunch, dinner. This is no different from that. Making meditation as a routine, one of those sorts of things I do worked out very well for me try it out it might work for you as well.

A sort of  “must do”  for practice:

As someone said it takes 21 days to form a new habit getting into meditation takes some effort and determination. I still have those days when I am still in bed one part of my mind says stay in bed and the other says, up it is time for meditation. We all struggle with this if you fail to in the morning in a day just be easy on yourself and try to do in the evening.

By the way if you are very stubborn like me you are more than likely to keep going in the path. Meditation does require a lifelong commitment to practice irrespective of what circumstances you are in. Whatever life situation you are in if you are having good days,or bad days, your life situation should not become hindrance to your meditation practice. Be very determined; be very stubborn about your practice on the path.

Here is something I found from Massachusetts general hospital Mind body Medicine: tips and trick to practice mindfulness during the day.

Happy meditation and welcome to a tranquil, peaceful, blissful, joyful and happy life.

Happy Onam every one!

Happy Onam every one! Onam bring backs to me memories of a special friend Mini Sahadevan in my PUC at BEL College. I have been very fortunate to come across and befriended some extraordinarily kind people where ever I went where I lived. I haven’t heard about Onam festival until my best friend Mini invited all of us girls for a festival lunch. Onam is the main festival and is celebrated by people from Kerala- India. I remember the day when I met my special friend Mini Sahadevan on the first day at BEL school. My big brother dropped me off at school said it was getting late to his work, I should get going and I will be alright. I was damn nervous I almost cried I said to him but I can’t speak kannada or English and I have no friends here…he smiled and said then go ahead and make one I said what if they don’t speak Telugu he said go find out first and if you still have trouble you can call me. I was this sixteen year old young women from Gadwal never spoke any other language other than my first language Telugu on the first day at BEL school sat on a far corner in my class room close to the window on the last bench trying to avoid everyone  so I don’t have to speak.   Here I was sitting in Botany class by Ms Jayaraman not understanding a word she is speaking because I felt she was speaking too fast. After a while a chubby girl moved back and sat next to me and said I am big I need more breathing room you know and it is a hot day. I answered with a smile and I don’t speak English. She smiled and said Telugu? I said yes. She kept quiet until the lecture is over then said she speaks a bit of telugu and understands it well I was so thrilled I said How is that  possible? She mentioned they were building a new home and had telugu speaking construction workers working on their site and she ends up talking to them in telugu since they don’t speak any other language just like me. Now after the lecture she asked if I wanted to go with her and her friends to the next class I said sure so by the time it was evening when my brother came to check I ended up sitting with a gang of eight other girls and we were best friends for the next couple of years on my stay BEL. Now getting back to my special friend Mini, she became my ESL Teacher I should say. She was my guardian angel sharing the lecture notes explaining the concepts in physics and such, because it was just too much learning in English. It was just overwhelming, moving into a new city then trying to learn everything in English and then trying to learn to speak two different languages Kannada and English. It was almost a couple of months at school and I reached my breaking point one day. I was very sad and quite because when I was in Gadwal I always thought I was this smart and social girl and here I was in Bangalore so nervous and shy to speak to anyone and let my friend Mini answer on my behalf. So Mini came up with a fantastic idea one day. After school that day she said let us walk to the bus stop. On our way she said Radhika you know enough words in kannada and in English and all you got to do is open the words tank in your brain and let it flow… You must try to speak with everyone around you so what we should do now is we go to the school bus stop you meet random people and just start making conversations. You just do not pre judge anyone and give your big friendly and sincere smile just like the one you gave me at school on the first day and start talking. I freaked out. She said I know your concern what if they judge you but you see you are never going to see them again how often do you see your friends from first grade and how often do you think they will remember and judge you? Mini was a very wise soul for her age. She said just go ahead and pick random person with open heart and start conversation. If they answer in kannada you answer in kannada if they speak in English you do the same. You can tell them you are nervous and still learning to speak that language. I will stand here and watch you do it. You go girl! So I did and that went very well. I was excited I said Mini everyone is speaking to me. She said now you go home tell your brother you don’t need him to take you to school and instead you will take the bus to school and speak to everybody that you come across. Remember big friendly and non judgment smile I said yes! let us do it! The next day on I was on a bus talking to everybody. By the end of that school year I could speak Kannda and English very well and a bit of Malayalam with my friend’s mother. I sort of mastered how to move right into the middle of a big crowed and talk to random people as if I was friends with them for the past ten years. I will never forget the help of my friendly angel Mini Sahadevan. I was so in gratitude with her I ended up singing and dancing for Onam festival at the annual school show. I was also into big time volunteering the cultural activities with Mini, sang a duet with my other chubby friend Krishnan, was participating in almost a whole bunch of singing and dancing planned for the annual show with a whole bunch of friends Mini, Ravi, Allen, Bina, Bina Phillips, Jyothi, Padmini, Mohammed, Taj, Lakshmi, Keerthi, Seshadri to name a few. I had a really good time. I don’t have to tell you how happy and pleased I was at school and now that I made this big decision to move and live a big city worked out well. The other day on our talk about Berkeley I was talking to  Himmi, I said just go ahead meet random people, be alert keep a very open mind, very open heart and do not pre-judge and then you will have time of your life every single day for the rest of your life. Because life is about people, giving that warm friendly smile, making that small conversation, recognizing and acknowledging the fact that after all first and foremost we are all spiritual beings having human experience. We are all one, human species, Homo sapiens with similar insecurities, concerns, worries, feelings of pain, sorrow, love, happiness and joy.

Onam Light Picture: by Kavitha Kuram.

Acceptance – the possible formula for successful parenting? Leave your comments…

A couple of months ago Himmi came home and said, “God! Mom! Want to know what grade I got in Bio test?” We don’t talk about grades anymore but I said, “Sure, if you want to tell me.”  “Mom, I got a  D.” I said “Well! Congratulations Himmi!” He said he still had other tests and assignments left before the final grade. I replied “I am sure you have and I am sure you might end up getting an A or something like that” and we both smiled because we both have a clear understanding of the expectation “Very sincerely does your karma” rule. What he does every single day and how much he learns is absolutely 100% more important to me than what his final grades are.  It is as simple as that. To talk about this we need to go back to when Himmi was between age five and eight. By the time he was nine he was almost on his own doing his home work with an occasional prompt or I had to participate in just a few  of his projects. I am a “Yes” Mom, I say yes to whatever Himmi asks most of the time. He does not ask much from me at all, anyways.
Well anyways, a few years ago when Himmi was in third grade in India, one evening he came home from school gave me a big hug and said, “Thank God you are a good Mom and you are the best” or something like that. What happened was report cards were sent out that day and his best friend was crying most of the day worried about how his mother is going to punish him and be upset with him. Himmi was really surprised. He said, “Well, my Mom doesn’t do all that at all.” His friend wouldn’t believe and asked what if Himmi get’s low grade. Himmi said, “Yah I have a bad grade in Telugu, but I know I won’t be in trouble because my Mom knows I did my best.”  But here is a catch: Himmi’s mom insists on doing the school work right, doing it every single day until it is done, meeting all the deadlines, submitting every assignment on time. If we have to keep an alarm clock and wake up the next morning then Mom will be up, ready, with a cup of coffee, for home work.  I learnt this from my Mother; I had a good role model, you see. I think in India it is common practice; almost all of the mothers are very committed to helping with homework. The only thing I can think of that was different in our case was that Himmi never had to stress about results. Since I believed in do your karma/action part correctly, if we focus on completely doing it every day results are automatic, right? And I am very careful and picky about not criticizing, not saying a word to anyone or to him regardless of  the results and to totally accept and embrace them while encourage the good things about Himmi. My Mom was pretty good at this when it came to learning and education and I thought it was a good idea – why not use it for Himmi and in all other areas of life as well?
Here is what happened. As you know not all conversations with teenagers go well.. . aren’t they always testing boundaries? Some time back Himmi came to me and said “Mom you are very Indian, right?’ I said “Ok, so what is it now?” He said, “What if I hang out with four girl friends? Will you disown me?” I said, “Himmi first of all I hope you are not serious; if you are, then you are in big trouble with your girlfriend. Second of all it is your girlfriend’s problem, not mine, so don’t bring it up with me.”
Anyways let us now hope “Freeman” Himmi at Berkeley focuses more on his academics for the time being. As I always say, there is no rush. There is time for everything in life. There is nothing I can do now other than wish him Luck, all the Happiness and joy to be always with him.

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.” – -John N. Mitchell