Archive | May 2016

Swimming Deeper

(My inner spiritual reflections)

You will not find pearls on the surface of water. To find such precious and divine beauty, you have to swim into deeper waters. And so it is with God.

Devotion cannot be a half-hearted effort just like a bird cannot fly by flapping only one wing. It requires a concerted effort, which, with practice, becomes automatic.

As a mother, I can say that my daughter is never far from my thoughts. I love her without ceasing. No one has to remind me to think about her. It has become automatic.

I believe one can experience such devotion with God.  I have to remind myself that everything around me, including the breaths I take, is a divine blessing from our Creator.  If I make a concerted effort on this, then my devotion too becomes automatic. I begin to pray without ceasing. My connection with the Almighty becomes constant. After all, how can I not see God or think about Him when I am looking at His creation? How can I not see His love for me when I am looking at my daughter or at my husband? How can I forget that He and only He is the source of everything?

But I do forget. I forget the Creator and attach myself to the creation instead. I develop a false ego, believing the material comes from me; that I created my job success, that I created my daughter, etc. When I begin to take credit for everything, when I fail to surrender to the universe, I lose sight of what is real and what is illusion, what is eternal and what is temporal.

And so, I have to keep swimming. Deeper and deeper. My devotion cannot be once a month or once a year. I have to immerse myself in this spiritual realm to keep myself on track.

As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the yogi whose mind is focused remains always steady in meditation on the transcendent Self.” – Bhagawad Gita Chapter 6, verse 19

Once I am centered in Him, then His love will pour out of me because to love God is to love all of mankind. I will not need to claim to be “devoted” or on a dharmic (spiritual) path. There will be no question as to whether I have found the pearls. The divine light in me will shine through my being.

My state of mind will no longer harbor fear or anxiety or insecurities. I will be content and at peace. I will no longer fight God’s will in my life. Rather, I will accept His doings. And I will be positive. No longer saying “no” to the universe but embracing my responsibilities, my sewa (selfless service), my karmic accounts with a “yes.”

Holy scriptures say it is a rare and difficult feat to attain such divine loving devotion.

Of many thousands of men, one will attempt to reach perfection; and of the few who reach this goal, only a rare soul will perhaps know Me as I am.” – Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7, verse 3

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Holy Bible, Matthew 7:13-14

That is why I must continue to swim deeper in the sea of devotion. If I stop swimming, I will drown. If I swim without purpose, I will stay afloat but the pearls will elude me. But if I continue to swim deeper, there is hope that one day I will find those pearls, that one day I can become that “rare” soul to know God, my Creator, my Sustainer.

It may sound like an impossible mission but I believe if I earnestly take strokes in the right direction, God will carry me through the rest of the waters.

For those who worship me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form, I carry what they lack and preserve what they have, both materially and spiritually.” –Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, verse 22

How do I swim deeper? By trying my best to stay connected with my divine Father through sewa (selfless service), simran (prayer) and satsung (spiritual congregations). When I connect with my Source, I lack nothing. Those pearls that I once thought were far away are handed to me like a gift and the deep swimming I thought I had to do, He does for me.

ocean

Healthy Birthday Snack: String Cheese Snowman

Amaani’s 2nd birthday happened to be on a preschool day this year. Although we were throwing her a birthday party, we still wanted to do something special for her friends at school.

The only challenge for me, as a parent, was trying to think of some type of snack or treat I could bring that would fit with the guidelines at school. Many schools no longer allow the traditional sugary treats like cake, cupcakes and cookies.

I’m not that creative in the kitchen but Pinterest came to my rescue here (it was the first time I used the social media!). I found something perfect because it was –

String Cheese Birthday Snowmen

String Cheese Birthday Snowmen

  •     Quick
  •     Affordable (about $10)
  •     Easy
  •     Healthy
  •     Cute

It’s called the String Cheese Snowman…We decided to alter the look a little bit and call them the “String Cheese Birthday Snowmen.” We did this simply because this design was super easy and fast to put together for us. (I was too lazy to cut out black hats for each snowman)

We bought a 24-pack of string cheese and birthday hat stickers from Michaels. All I did was put a birthday hat on each piece and draw a snowman with black and orange markers. Afterwards, I tied a piece of ribbon around the neck area to make it look like a scarf.

It was a hit with Amaani’s friends! The decorated snowmen made the healthy snack fun to eat and added to a “celebratory” atmosphere in the room. I’m thankful to whoever came up with the original idea because with the busy schedules parents have, this was something simple, creative and perfect for the kids!

String Cheese Birthday Snowmen

Make Life a Celebration

Picture this- a couple standing in line waiting to get tickets to an amusement park. Their two sons meander off and start playing with these cute little ducklings. They are giggling and laughing when their dad comes to them and says, “Hurry up boys and get off the floor. We have to go inside the amusement park so we can START having fun.”

A light bulb went off for me when I read this story.

The father was telling his boys that they had to get inside the park to have fun while the boys were enjoying themselves right where they were.

How many times in our lives do we forget to enjoy where we are because we are so focused on the next goal, the next destination?

Oprah Winfrey has drawn a lot of attention to Eckhart Tolle’s book titled the ‘Power of Now,’ in which Tolle basically says that one shouldn’t think about the past or worry about the future because the only moment we have is right now.

It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living,” Tolle writes.

I don’t want to wait. I want to live.

The title of this article is Make Life a Celebration. But life IS a celebration every moment when we are connected with our true nature and to our source, God.

When I am aware of His presence within me, it gives me spiritual confidence. It reminds me that He is a part of me and I am a part of Him. If I am a part of an entity so great, then there is no reason for insecurities or low self-esteem.

When I am aware of His presence, it makes me strong. It allows me to face my fears. On the inside, I am afraid to fly on an airplane. But when I tell myself that God is the pilot, I find myself surrendering my fears and making it through countless flights.

When I am aware of His presence, it gives me peace of mind. Life does not have to be perfect for us to be happy. Peace doesn’t come from the material. It comes from the inside. And when we get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.

Dhan ka bisther mil jaye neend ko tarse naan,

{a person can be lying on the most expensive bed and still thirst for sleep}

Kanto par bhi sohkar aaye kisi ke man ko chaan

{while somebody else could find rest even while lying on a bed of thorns. – spiritual song

 Once I have connected with the Supersoul through prayer, congregations and meditation, I now have spiritual confidence, strength, peace and joy. My life becomes a celebration. I understand I was made in His image. So, everything He possesses, I do too. I can tap into love, peace, and joy when I tap into my awareness of Him. My mind, body and soul are in a state of bliss, a state in which I was always meant to be.

meditation_sun