awareness?

Updated May 16, 2019 (18 Older Versions)chevron-down
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awareness?
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Flow

Week of May 13, 2019

[identity]

I have thought recently about how humans like to be stubborn about things. We seem to tie that stubbornness to an innate ‘this is who I am’. Probably we also don’t think we are stubborn even though we kind of are. How have I changed recently? Actually, a lot. Views I thought were part of my identity have really shifted over the last several years. Maybe I was reticent for certain shifts or not ready to think or feel in that way. Things happen at the pace that works for us. What if this thing called identity is really constructed, and I opened my eyes to that? That seems like true freedom. Maybe then I would be who I am, ironically. It feels like then we as entities become flow states. That seems scary but also kind of cool. What if I detach from narratives altogether? Become an energy flow?

Tools

Week of May 6, 2019

[patronus]

JK Rowling beautifully captures so much with the concept of dementors and a patronus.

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory, will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself - soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.” - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This so aptly captures sinking into depression and sadness, going into the abyss. A patronus is the defense against a dementor, something that channels happy memories and thoughts and feelings and is light against the dark. I want to reframe any descents I do into the abyss as getting too near a Dementor. I want to think about what is a patronus in my own life.

Smile pyramids

Week of April 29, 2019

[a good day, a good life]

Tenzin posed to us the question - what makes a day a good day? I thought a good day was when I feel and experience positive things, like good energy, joy, excitement, and other positive emotions or experiences. Themes other people had centered around productivity and feeling in the zone among other things. I don’t want to tie the goodness of my day to achievement metrics I think, but my feelings about a day are definitely tied to these self-measures of productivity and worth. Tenzin then elevated the question - what makes a good life? Ah, profound. I started to think of the simplicity and tininess of human existence and the rational side thinks of how inconsequential existence might be on the infinite scale of the universe. But then, the good life is really just a life full of smiles for me. There was a picture in my middle or elementary school I remember often - a smile pyramid. Smiles are contagious and spread and spread and one smile causes so many downstream smilies. After moving to the East coast I felt fewer smiles externally and sometimes think it has socialized my outer smile spirit to be dampened. The other day someone random smiled at me and it made me so happy, just one smile is so powerful. I thought about continuing the smile pyramid. What a fun social experiment! Maybe a good life is really just a bunch of infinite and reinforcing smile pyramids.

Being stars

Week of April 22, 2019

[child of the universe]

When something takes me by surprise and I don’t understand it, or something bad happens, my immediate reaction is self-reflection in the form of self-doubt. Although this can sometimes be healthy, I think it takes away from my sense of contentment and security that I am a good soul. Instead of trying to criticize myself so often and take something that may happen as because of some flaw I think I have, which hurts, I seek to shed this belief.

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

This beautiful quote is on one of my silk paintings. I remember painting it because of the value of its meaning and I wanted to remind myself of it. I realize now I rarely look at the words on the painting hanging every day on the wall. This is a reminder to notice a reminder that we are children of the universe. I also like the part about stars. My name means star, and I think it is fitting about each of our souls.

Direction

Week of April 15, 2019

[unguided]

I transitioned into doing more unguided meditations recently. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as I imagined it would be. These meditations felt, at the moments I did them, even better than the typical guided meditations I would do. The lack of direction and narrative was refreshing.

[routine]

I recently started to try to have a more consistent routine and separate work and life a little bit more. It is helpful, but the monotony gets to me and makes me bored and feel burned out. I like the experimental lack of routine because it fills me with a sense of freedom. The drawbacks are the lack of work/life balance and lack of the traditional feeling of productivity you might get if you sit at the same place for many hours a day. A routine gives the feeling of a rat race and aging into the monotonous part of life. How can I make it not so? I try to infuse the routine lifestyle with experiment and fun, but it is difficult to find a balance on either end. Sometimes, a routine gives me some direction when I find myself unmotivated. It is funny that in some areas of our lives, direction can be helpful and in other areas unhelpful. It ties back into acceptance and not trying to control, but also nudging ourselves towards our best selves.

Reflecting forwards

Week of April 8, 2019

[my power]

I love this one African song about energy. One lyric that stands out: ‘no [hu]man can take my joy away … they can’t take away the energy’. I love this. It definitely changed my outlook and life when I heard the song over a year ago. I already try to live like this, but the song re-energized my spirit when I needed it.

[lessons learned]

An exercise we did in this group I was in was about sharing the best lessons we have learned in our time here. I loved this - it is great to take wisdom from the life experiences of others. It was also an introspective process that made me more grateful for the difficult experiences as well as wonderful ones.

The lessons I learned centered around these themes:

  • learning what is a healthy balance - in many aspects, such as work, school, fun, relationships with others and setting healthy boundaries

  • insecurity - learning how to practice self-love and how that feeds into compassion for others

  • freedom - detaching from codependency, meditating

  • gratitude and perspective

On one meditation retreat our teacher spoke about the importance of confidentiality in our group, summed up with one apt saying ‘the stories stay and the learning goes’. We can take the lessons we learn from others while staying in trust and respecting their stories. I learned many valuable lessons from others.

The lessons from others were around these themes:

  • getting out of the rat race mindset of life and being happy in the present

    • reframing ‘I’ll be happy when …’ to ‘I am happy because …’

  • walk through the world joyfully

    • joy: bliss in spite of

  • acknowledging fear is a strength

    • to be human is to be insecure

    • acceptance

  • lifelong learning

    • openness to others and to who we truly are

  • asking ‘how can I help you, love you? What do you need from me?’

    • being mindful of the context and point of your actions and purpose

  • who should we bring into our orbits?

  • how we do anything is how we do everything

[purpose]

We did an activity called a Purpose Stand, where each person in the circle has one minute to talk about why they do what they do. At the end of the minute, the entire group cheers and claps extremely enthusiastically, showering that person with so much energy and love. I realized I don’t take a lot of time to reflect on my purpose and it has become a sort of automated reflection and acknowledgment, making this process very valuable and introspective. Currently one of my purposes is to bring unconditional love and joy to others and help spread that through the world. I think reflection on my purpose will help to see if my actions align with my purpose and if some of my actions need to be re-aligned with my purpose. Purpose can change over time. Reflection is meaningful.

[fears]

Who can you say the things you are terrified of saying out loud?

What feelings take away our energy?

[checking yourself]

Would you want to have you as a kid, partner, friend, employee, family relative?

Hell yes.

<p>stars</p>

stars

Energy

Week of April 1, 2019

[choice]

I have been thinking about what kinds of energy I let into my life, from internal and external sources. I also want to think about the energy I create. I think there is this perception we can always choose our reaction to our environments. I don’t know if this is actually always true. Maybe it is if we are stoic and truly detached, but I think not being so is part of being human. We can perhaps encourage certain good energies and let go of negative energies. Some parts of this journal and my thoughts are very tied to each other. I want to make choices about not letting negative energies into my life by perhaps having good boundaries and balance while cultivating self-love and positive energy towards myself in addition to good energy in my relationships with others.

[after practice]

I was lucky to get to visit one of my favorite spots on the water recently. It was so sunny and the surrounding nature was beautiful. I meditated outside. The visualization of warmth and sunlight was so easy because I could literally feel the warmth and light on me from being outside. It felt like the visualization was realized. The transition from finishing the practice and opening my eyes was so different from usual - my eyes were closed in the bright sunlight, and with my eyes closed, I could see a purple or pink glow on the insides of my eyelids. When I opened them the outside scene shifted colors like I was wearing different shades of sunglasses. It was really a blissful experience. It made me think about that transition after meditating, and how I want to bring awareness to my life even after I practice.

Movement + balance

Week of March 25, 2019

[breath]

I used to think yoga was a cure-all activity. I would enthusiastically encourage anyone to try it. When I injured my back powerlifting and being overly ambitious over a year ago, my cure-all activity hurt, it wasn’t the always therapeutic practice it used to be. After a lot of physical therapy and more, I started to practice yoga again. I remember the smell of my red rubber mat for the first time in a long time, and instantly I felt happy and deeply rooted in something calm. I liked that yoga was included as a potential practice of awareness - previously, I viewed it more as an active practice that was separate from meditation.

Now I have actually started heeding the breathe instructions my yoga teachers give. I usually forget to breathe. Focusing on the breath and how cycles of inhaling and exhaling are specific to different sequences of postures is very opening. When I am anxious, it is hard to use my breath as an anchor to ground myself in meditation. I always thought movement-based meditation was better for me when I was stressed - I never thought I was capable of meditation until a couple of years ago when I really started practicing. Before that, yoga was my sort of meditation, but the breath was disconnected. Now, I see that I can start to cultivate breath as a grounding anchor for my practice, on and off the yoga mat.

[intensity]

I see physical exercise as pushing myself to the extremes. It doesn’t feel like a ‘good’ workout or session if I haven’t given everything I had to it. That mentality became a problem when I got injured. If I didn’t tone it down, it was so painful. It was and still is hard to reframe what is ‘okay’ or good. Taking long breaks from working out was really hard. There were points where I would go to the gym as if it were an addiction multiple times a day. By the end of the day, it just hurt to even walk. My physical therapist made me take a complete break from exercising for a while. I felt jittery and anxious, really on-edge, but it taught me a lot in retrospect. I learned so much about balance, and I still have a long way to go. That guilt-driven motivation needed to be reframed. I have started to view working out as nourishing rather than the unhealthy attitude of needing to push myself to painful extremes. I didn’t need to prove anything to myself or anyone else.

[mirror]

Yoga helps me appreciate my human body and its abilities. It cultivates gratitude. It extinguishes the self-hatred and body image issues with each beautiful posture. Honestly, it isn’t yoga itself, but truly my yoga teachers, who imbue these spirits and channel the inner meaning of practice to each of us students. Those wacky mirrors at theme parks that distort our reflections - that is what I feel like unhealthy societal norms of body image do to our eyes when we look at ourselves. Even to our inner mirrors. Yoga and other meditative practices help remove all the mirrors to see the beauty in what actually is.

Emotion and FUN!!

Week of March 18, 2019

[being caught up]

Often I find myself caught up in different things. My mind is thinking about some recent incident, or some past experience, or worrying about some future event, among many things. If I am aware or present, does this change? Am I just aware of what my mind is doing and the fact that I am thinking these things as a sort of removed observer? What is the difference between having clarity about our emotions as opposed to suppressing or ignoring them, or dissociating from our emotions? Tenzin beautifully said that the past is simply a motion picture. We want to be able to work through it without being caught up in it. He used the example that when people get really into movies, others remind them ‘hey, it’s just a movie!’ - are parts of our life just movies that we shouldn’t get caught up in? What is the difference between being involved and a participant and being detached? I want to be an active participant in life, but sometimes it feels like part of awareness is being removed by one level of observation - I’m not sure how these are balanced together.

Is being in a stable emotional state desirable? In one view, a stable emotional state seems boring, as if one becomes an inanimate object not participating in life. It seems much more fun to get to experience bliss and joy, even if there may also be experiences we associate with the negative, such as sadness and insecurity. Maybe being aware allows us to cultivate emotions we enjoy and have healthy space from emotions that harm us. A recent Headspace session’s ending quote was “emotions are a part of life, giving color and texture to our experience. We don’t need to be free of them, we only need to befriend them.” There goes Andy Puddicombe figuring out life again! :) Spilling all the wisdom.

[acceptance]

If awareness gets us off the emotional rollercoaster of life, and these highs and lows are experienced in a different way, are life and its relationships boring? Is accepting the lows of life the same as settling, accepting disappointment? How can you really be happy if there is something possibly not positive you have to accept? How can we fill all the insecurities in our souls on our own? Other people cannot do that for us even if we really want other people to do that for us.

What is the difference between acceptance and settling for less than what is humanity for us? Acceptance feels like a passive act. I’m thinking about how acceptance could be perceived as active. I wonder how acceptance and activism fit together. Maybe acceptance is peace.

[music]

If I feel like I’m getting out of a happy, energetic, excited headspace, I put on some music and that usually changes completely. Music is so energizing for me. Whether it is some unbelievable African music, making even the least likely to dance humans dance, or some ethereal peaceful soul unfurling music, it seems to heal all in whatever needed ways. Maybe it has an even better effect than meditation! I think sometimes it is much more fun that meditation for me. Actually that makes me think. Is meditation even fun? Actually, not really for me. I wonder how it motivates people to do it. It is much more fun to eat cranberry honey and dance some Zumba and sing watch movies than meditate. But… meditation probably makes the cranberry honey eating experience even better overall in the highs and lows of life. :)

[the sun]

The sunlight makes everything so happy for me. I just noticed I was so excited and energized, and I realize I can finally see blue skies instead of gray. I miss California. In the winter Cambridge feels dead without any evergreen trees or nature being green… and the cold seeps into your bones and you cannot go anywhere without having to wear big pants. I prefer basketball shorts year-round. The sun and green life (I like to call baby plants green aliens because it is crazy that we can grow life from a few seeds and water, maybe even a little creepy…) totally make me happy. I can’t wait for summertime!!!

Compassion and learning

Week of March 11, 2019

[guidance]

How much does guidance affect me? What is the difference between being guided and following with a sheep-like mentality? How does thinking critically for ourselves play into having teachers and mentors? I think there is a distinction between being guided personally and academically. I want to think about personal guidance. In the realms of spirituality, there are many schools of thought, teachers, and leaders.

I question most of the teachings that people have tried to pose and impose on me. My motivation for this is not only for understanding what something might mean for me but also to not blindly accept something as truth. Truth is inherently personal for me. After I discovered meditation as something I found for myself and not pushed onto me, I quickly found resonance and meaning in many of the ideas and narratives surrounding it. I still hold the attitude of healthy questioning and dialogue, but since I didn’t feel as I do with other forms of spiritual teaching that feel pressured by different communities and social norms - I felt more acceptance. Pressuring or forcing spiritual ideologies to me causes a defensive reaction. Meditation was a very different experience. I am exploring of my own free will. What does resonance mean? In class, the idea of becoming happy when we see resonance made me think of why I seek resonance. Resonance is a form of validation and visibility. Is finding certain ideas as resonating with my essence a false mask for wanting to feel belonging and validation? Resonance is tied to guidance in my mind. Even the existence of ideas that I resonate with, having these guiding ideas - that feels sometimes contradictory to a personal spiritual journey. Where is the balance between exposure to ideas of guidance and a truly personal journey?

[boundaries]

Unlimited compassion. As a concept, it seems like a good thing to value. In real life, it seems like it could lead to unhealthy relationship behaviors. Some people truly exercise compassion to all, even to those who abuse that kindness. These people unfailingly amaze me. I have heard many stories. One that has always stayed in my thoughts is of a Holocaust survivor who maintained that the most important thing was to have love and forgiveness for others, no matter what. He held those two things even towards those who tragically hurt and affected him. This always inspires me. This person went through true horrors and still maintained love and forgiveness. That attitude of unconditional compassion is something I always strive towards.

It is really difficult to have unconditional compassion. I don’t know what this really means in practice. Is it having compassionate thoughts towards someone, being empathetic and understanding? Is it excusing people who do wrong and hurt others? Does having compassion for hurtful people mean they are in any way excused? Is it acting on that compassion and continuously making an attempt of kindness with people who hurt you? I don’t understand how to do this. It makes me think of unhealthy relationship behaviors and boundaries. Boundaries seem like a healthy thing to have. It might be an act of self-preservation.

Is having boundaries mutually exclusive with being unconditionally compassionate?

[inner state]

I get many vivid nightmares. It can be very disturbing and unsettling. Sometimes I try to figure out whether it means anything about my inner state other than possibly being tied to life experiences. I always wonder if meditation helps, but for me, the nightmares still happen. Meditation has helped me be aware of my inner state. It is interesting to me that we use anchors that might be considered our outer state when we rest in awareness of both our inner and outer states.

In times of high emotion, the tactic of labeling the feeling and investigating it to detach from the negative effect is a practice I did not see as much value in before I started meditating. The origin of the feeling always seemed obvious, which made the exercise feel silly at first. This thought process was actually not reaching the deeper origins of those emotional states in a way that allowed detachment in being aware. After meditating I started to realize there were many layers to certain feelings and emotions, and it was easier to be aware of the true origin of those thoughts and feelings. That awareness started to allow me to understand the way I thought about different things, and this helped me disrupt negative thought patterns for more constructive ideas. It comes back to the idea about narratives defining us and moving away from certain narratives.

Constructing narratives

Week of March 4, 2019

[making stories for the soul]

Why do we try to make stories out of what happens in our lives? ‘Oh, this happened and it made me a much stronger person’, ‘it was for the best’. I think it is a coping mechanism to deal with struggle and to find a reason for it retrospectively. This idea of humans constructing narratives as being a necessary part of our well-being makes intuitive sense. The uncontrollable, stochastic nature of the world is sometimes too hard for us to be okay with, so we have to make up these stories to make sense of the world to ourselves.

What stories do I tell myself? Are these constructive or do they obscure reality? A recent quote at the end of my Headspace session this week was that “inner dialogue, monologues, and commentary mean we're living in an idea, not the present” - are these narratives making me live in ideas perceiving my reality rather than reality itself? I like to use the concept of strength to define myself. Inner and outer strength. I think it feeds into me having passion and excitement in life. But what is behind that, if I take away these facades? Are these facades or actually my essence?

What happens if I stop telling myself these stories and putting observations of life into boxes? Sometimes boxes protect us. Other times they might limit us.

[resilience]

Resilience is a large part of the stories I have about strength. It is the character-building result of life experiences. It is an important part of the narratives I construct and inspires in myself hope for the future. But, it is also a story. What is my essence? What are all of our essences? Thinking about Winnie the Pooh, I had this thought that maybe all of us are in essence happy and compassionate. Then some of us are hurt or roughed up by the world somehow and become the Christopher Robins of the world, pre-adult-Pooh-transformation. And our essence is in going back to the inner child within?

Pooh is simple. I love that quality, it feels like it is essential to embrace joy and be in the present moment.

[emotional independence]

It is hard to feel tied to many things and people that can negatively affect my emotions, including being tied to myself. How can I be in a joyful equilibrium, without letting things affect me? Is it possible, maybe it cannot be an equilibrium that is always joyful, but how about just an equilibrium? I think the essence is how to not let myself affect me! This sounds mysterious. But since I love Pooh, I think this relates back to the pre-transformation Christopher Robin. Probably what would help is to be aware like Pooh, to be in the present, rather than being swept up in ideas and narratives in my mind, going back to the Headspace quote I mention before about inner dialogues. Maybe emotional independence comes from awareness. I still have trouble believing this, because it is a difficult concept to be aware and come into reality and suddenly be emotionally independent. Part of emotional independence to me is detaching from old thought patterns that weigh me down and bring me into a bad mind state. So it isn’t all about the external world, it is really also the way I perceive that connects to freedom. I see the theme of freedom coming up a lot in different ways in my thoughts! I value freedom so highly.

Snow + peace

Week of February 25, 2019

[bad sits]

Sometimes I don’t feel like some sessions are as good as others - I find it harder to focus, my mind races a lot, it is harder to be present. I aim to accept all sits without judgment, but a lot of the time it is hard to withhold self-judgment.

[themes - balance]

I got back into doing the themed sessions in Headspace. I am currently doing on one Balance. I enjoy the daily meditations that are on a variety of themes, such as today’s theme - ‘sense of purpose’. It is difficult to practice for longer durations. I especially find it challenging to meditate without guidance in silence. I want to explore this.

[practices to cultivate joy]

I like this journal on happiness - every week there is a different journaling prompt and all of them have been meaningful in reflecting and having gratitude. At a recent meditation retreat, one of our teachers talked about these five things to do every day to have a joyful life. It was to meditate/pray, exercise, be aware of three things for which we are grateful, a random act of kindness, and to journal a happy moment! I think gratitude journals help us to look for things to be grateful for just as our class exercise of discovering ‘one new thing per day’ encourages more awareness.

I also like music as a meditative activity. Especially the profound, ethereal music that transports me to another magical plane of existence. Sometimes I find music in my mind and that brings me great joy and even peace, especially when I am walking outside. If I forget to listen to music for a while, like when I am traveling, the first time I hear it after that long break, it feels like something is restored to my soul.

Humans seem to like being in groups and doing things as collectives. It is a lot of fun for me to sing with a big group of musicians, to dance with a big group of dancers, and to just be with other people. Meditating in groups feels powerful too, but harder for me to not let my thoughts run around, as they call it the monkey mind. I definitely feel the monkey mind in general when I meditate. Is it good for creativity?

In Zumba the other day, I was in a gym without any mirrors. I realized we have mirrors for our physical outer world but none for our inner world, our minds. I think maybe awareness is that nonjudgemental mirror that we try to cultivate.

Meditating in my ancestral home

Week of February 11, 2019

I eagerly anticipated returning to India after 11 years and see all my extended family - my grandma, first cousins I hadn’t even met, uncles aunts, grandpa, and I even got to see my great grandma! I was hoping to explore different meditation and yoga practices in India, especially because many of these practices originated in India, it felt like I would get to experience a different type of these practices. Finding this in Chennai was rarer for me than finding it here in Cambridge.

[on the motivation behind practice]

So, I stuck to my original practice. On one meditation retreat I went to, someone beautifully said that he found meditation through the doors of suffering. I found meditation through that same doorway a little over two years ago. Before that I used to think meditation was not for me, something with more movement was more fitting, but then I tried guided meditation and it fit and I felt a huge difference in my life. I have been using Headspace for my guided meditations, and Headspace has an element to it where you have a run-streak of how many days you have meditated continuously. This motivated me a lot. The first time I broke my streak at 60-something days by accident over a Fourth of July, I was so sad! It was hard to get back into meditating consistently - silly enough, I must have thought internally, what was the point without the streak, being so hard to gain back? What was my motivation - meditation or getting an electronic picture of a badge for X days of meditating straight? Then I started back, and now I am at 501 days of straight practice.

I have been thinking about intentionally breaking my streak or somehow transforming the experience to not be rote. It has been a bit imprisoning - sometimes when I have meditated it is just to maintain the streak, and I feel that my heart wasn’t in it because of this external goal and the stress to maintain it. But how can I break a 501-day streak!? It has taken so long to build and feels sad to break. Am I doing this streak for some sort of validation, is meditating in a streak considered to be cool in my mind to society? Or is it to prove something to myself about consistency? I have realized that this streak is detrimental to my practice because the motivation is external instead of coming from within myself. Instead of just doing a mini (very short) meditation to satisfy the daily quota and move to the next day, I want to be invested and present with every sit, or at least strive towards that feeling. The streak is supposed to encourage practice in my perspective, not insincere meditating. To re-align myself with these values, I will either break it soon or realign myself with purposeful intentionality when I practice.

[sit spots]

I found it difficult to meditate in a new place that felt like a new world when I was in India. It got me thinking about what were conceptions I held about what I supposedly needed in order to meditate, which the ideal answer to me is just existence. However, I realized I have all sorts of notions of what I find conducive to meditating. I like cozy-feeling spots, especially where I can see some nature. I like being alone when I meditate without too much noise like conversations in the background. I have a ‘sit spot’ at home at the edge of the bed facing out towards the window. The window opens out to a large green lawn with trees and feels really beautiful. Through all seasons, returning there often as a typical meditation spot for me has been really nice. In the summer I see the odd for Cambridge jasmine-smelling type flowers blooming on the trees, sometimes a cute red birdie will sit close or a squirrel or two. In the winter there is a peaceful snow blanket that dampens all sound. The fall and spring have different feelings too, but the feeling I get at this sit spot is usually a deep comfort and coziness.

In India, I was really busy most of the days with my parents visiting many relatives, going out, eating, shopping, the wedding of my friend - it was harder to carve out time for practice and quiet in a place that my mind views as one of the manifestations of the vibrancy of life, where the chaos of so many lives constantly interacting and coexisting becomes this excited norm. It was hard to find a sit spot in this place. I even tried to find a quiet moment in some of the temples we visited, which was not really possible as there is even chaos in some of these temples! (Maybe it was because at one temple it was going to close soon and there was a rush to be in line to get in…) There wasn’t ever really a point where I was alone, as I was always with family. When do I feel ‘safe’ to meditate, or capable of it? Is it something that there are conditions around? I don’t want to feel conditions around meditation, as I feel like it should be unconditional. No matter what is going on in life and the universe, we can meditate. I did meditate at night and got back into investing myself more fully in my daily guided meditations and paying attention, even if they were short.

Week of February 18, 2019

[freedom]

I felt like I was in such a different world in Chennai and life that my life in Cambridge felt much farther away than it really was. I, in essence, felt like I forgot my ‘original’ life and felt completely absorbed in a new world and culture. It is interesting for me because I am originally from Chennai, but I grew up in Colorado. So I felt like I was going home in a sense when I was going to India, but it was also very different. I feel a true sense of belonging and acceptance here in America, and I wondered if I would feel that in India. Something I value in my practice is cultivating freedom. In any society, there are norms and implicit rules - not just in cultures but within our own relationships. I feel this strongly, but seek to detach from most of these. I don’t like being controlled by others, and I don’t want to feel the need to control others/life outcomes/etc. I have been for the past two years actively trying to detach from the codependent behaviors prevalent in our human lives. This is tested more and more when I’m in old relationships with a lot of history of behavior patterns.

My practice helps me do this a lot. I am not always sure why, but it is one of those things where you realize, hey, this is something I observe in my life and I want to change it. I want to change it, I want to change it, but it doesn’t change immediately. It takes a long time maybe. Then one day I just realized, I don’t think the way I used to think, the thoughts that I had been striving to change. Yay! This started to happen after I first started meditating, but I think it is a lifelong journey. I also want to note - we don’t constantly have to be in this battle with ‘self-improvement’. We aren’t bad currently. A teacher once told us at a meditation retreat - we aren’t projects that need to be fixed. We are perfect as we are. I need to remind myself of this in the journey of practice and the motivation I have for it.

It is hard to feel free in some places. I think meditation helps me strive to be free anywhere.

[meditating for others]

Someone posited to me - meditation is a selfish activity. I thought about it a lot, thinking ‘how could meditation be selfish, all it has done has helped so many of my relationships and non-relationships’. On a surface level, maybe practice to some may seem focused on the self. However, every time I practice guided meditation, I hear some variation of ‘think about how you are doing this for others and how it can benefit others’. Loving-kindness meditation and those on relationships are especially focused on others as well. Another quote comes to mind - ‘ you have to love yourself before you can love others’.


Discussions


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New Discussion on May 5
Katie Lewis: I connect with this and also like the next section as well. I think framing it in these ways really encourage me to continue meditating :)
New Discussion on Mar 27
Katie Lewis: I’ve been thinking about the same question recently. Especially when it comes to relationships or interactions with others.. let me know if you have any insights :)
TS
Tara Sowrirajan: This is a hard question. :) I think a quote I like is that ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’ …. and maybe this ties to self-compassion and knowing what is good for us in terms of our relatio...
New Discussion on Mar 4
Kat A.: I really like this thought process
Océane Boulais: I resonate with this. Sometimes I think that if I meditate in noisy environments successfully (definition of success is very subjective here), I can meditate more deeply in my “safe-zones”. Do you ...
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Tara Sowrirajan: Definitely! However usually meditation does not come to mind as a first response to do in extreme moments - I hope I can bring more awareness to that!
New Discussion on Mar 4
Kat A.: what was the motivation for this attitude? it seems like a really good one to have, but I’m curious about it’s origins
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Tara Sowrirajan: I think I (and people) tend to be very self-critical and judgmental. So I feel like in trying to cultivate non-judgement in my lifestyle, I should also cultivate that in my practice! I also heard s...
Joichi Ito: I also try very hard not to judge during meditation. I find it allows things to rise up and be seen and then gently released. If I am judging, those things that might be judged might not feel as fr...
New Discussion on Mar 4
Kat A.: I feel the same way
New Discussion on Mar 3
Ziv Epstein: How will you break it? Will you commemorate the moment with some intentional ritual, or let it fade into the monotony of another day?
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Tara Sowrirajan: It is actually really hard for me to break it :) I have a really hard time letting go of the streak. So I think to make it a celebrated moment would help and make it joyful :) I like this idea of h...
Joichi Ito: Maybe we should have a streak breaking ceremony for everyone in the class working on various meditation streaks. :-)