Mindfulness, and a Slice of Heaven

As a child I could sleep standing. Any time of the day.

It was a quality that drove my parents insane. It was a quality that I was secretly proud of. Having a child put paid to that. However, as she grew older and more independent, things began to return to normal. I could sleep through the night without a hitch. And then something happened. I couldn’t sleep through the night. Occasionally it was because my kid had a nightmare or was unwell. But increasingly it was because of… nothing. I was awake.

Desperately trying to fall asleep. Refusing to get up and accept defeat in the face of a friend who had always stood by me but who had now just… pffffftt… disappeared!

The results were obvious – fatigue, irritability and lack of productivity.

The causes were not so obvious – deficiency of vitamin D and mindfulness, and an excess of social media. Addressing the vitamin D deficiency was the easy part.

Maybe it is a sign of the times we live in. The constant sense of being rushed. The balancing of multiple roles and responsibilities. The juggling act that we fail at on a daily basis.

For the last few months, I had been getting increasingly overwhelmed by it all. This amorphous ‘it’ was also eating into my focus… taking me away from my writing. And while I had decided on not making any new year resolutions, an idea I was toying with since January this year was to quit all Whatsapp groups. I am in one too many. Unfortunately, for me, I am not good at ignoring messages. But I could not just quit. What would others think? Will they be offended? How will I know what is happening?

Then I came across a friend who had quit social media and was happier for it. And I came across a post by a Facebook friend who had quit Whatsapp groups and seemed alright. It was like the universe was sending me messages. So a week or so ago, I quit the groups. I also reduced my time on Facebook.

The first two days I was like a junkie desperately sneaking a peak at my mobile. One or two friends had messaged me directly. Mom and dad had messaged me supporting my decision. Another friend had gone into a panic thinking she had offended me resulting in my decision. Otherwise, silence.

The initial sense of being adrift was however soon replaced by something deeper. The sense of being overwhelmed… of being available 24/7 had receded. I am beginning to enjoy the quiet time. There is a strong sense of reclaiming myself, my space and in many ways, my soul.

Of course, I don’t know what is happening in everyone’s lives anymore. But surprisingly that has not caused me any harm.

I also finally gave in and downloaded an app that guides one through basic meditation. Yesterday, I did some meditation with my 10-year-old before bedtime. The results were almost magical. Yesterday night, she had a good night’s sleep after a long time. No nightmares, no coughs, no midnight bathroom breaks. And, after a very, very long time, I slept well too. Out cold by 10.30pm and my eyes flew open at 5.30am! The rest of the time I was asleep!

The joy. The humbling joy of a good night’s sleep.

This morning I packed the husband and the kid off to work and school respectively. After lazing around I walked into the kitchen to make my morning cup of tea. I did not feel like making a proper breakfast, so settled for a basic sandwich. But I was not in the mood for brown or whole-wheat bread. I wanted to celebrate the quiet in my head. I wanted processed carbs and something sweet.

And then it happened. I had laid the two slices of white bread on the table. The Gods conspired in my favour and the butter was just right and I spread it evenly on the two slices. Spread some mint chutney and sandwiched a lettuce leaf in between. Toasted the sandwich lightly. Strained my tea and cut myself a slice of chocolate cake that I had baked for my daughter the previous day.

I placed the cake, sandwich and tea on a tray and took it into the living room. The sun was streaming in through the French window that opened to the balcony. I set the tray down on the floor and sat there on a slightly chilly wintry morning in my patch of sunlight. Deep breath. The sun’s ray’s warms my skin. I bite into the sandwich and experience true happiness. Heaven. My piece of heaven. There is something to be said about mindful living after all.table-1031148_1920


Don’t Send Me Another Memo

The page is back under my control… Am posting something that has been with me for a while. And forgive the spacing between some of the lines.. I am trying to figure it out :/

It has been a while. The kids have been shot and they have been buried. We have since moved on. Sydney, Paris and Pathankot, innumerable natural calamities have grabbed our headlines and eyeballs. But the causes and the results are the same. To twist Sartre’s words around a bit, ‘Everything is different yet nothing has changed.’

We still forget that religion is not a path that we walk on. It is not even our destination. It is the light that we carry in our hands to show us the way, as we walk the path to our destination.

How can anyone decide that the light they carry gives them the right to extinguish someone else’s life and light.

This poem was written in December 2014.

Don’t send me another memo…
another forward.
Every time a bomb blows up
Twitter explodes.
Every time kids are chewed up
by bullets
fired by terror mongers and psychos
Facebook posts come alive.
‘It could have been our kids!’
‘We are so lucky!’
‘This is so sad!’
‘I feel so bad!’
‘What can one do?’
‘The world has gone mad!’
Just please STOP!

Remember Beslan. Beslan!?
You say the word out loud…
The fingers of your mind
Stretch and reach…
Yeah… it sounds familiar!
Where is it?
That is what is going to happen
to Peshawar… To Utoya
You think you will not forget.
Or that school in the US…
Hook something
Oh I forgot the name!
But those poor babes!

You know what we can do
With all our collective feel bads?
Not for polite company
the answer to that.
We tweet, post and whatsapp
And…. we are done with it…
Our duty done.
Until the next tragedy hits.
And here we go again….
‘It could have been our kids!’
‘We are so lucky!’
‘This is so sad!’
‘I feel so bad!’
‘What can one do?’
‘The world has gone mad!’
STOP!For heaven’s sake!
What can we do?
You ask…
Here’s what…

Don’t bad mouth
your Muslim neighbour.
Don’t laugh at the rituals
of your Hindu neighbour.
Treat the Christian and the Jew as one.
Don’t just preach…
But practice.
Not just in front of your kids…
But everytime.

Make them see the turban,
the beard and the veil…
for what it is.
A representation of someone’s faith,
not a threat to your belief!!
Stop huddling together and
flinching away from strangers.
Open your eyes.
Open your mind.
Open your heart… please.

I refuse to mourn.
To shed another tear.
Because tears are so fickle…
shed and wiped.
And then the inevitable moving on.
I refuse to feel bad.
My feeling bad is not worth
even half a cent.
I refuse to join a candle lit vigil,
or mouth platitudes.

But what I will do
is to teach my child…
That be you a Hindu or Mussalman
Be you a Sikh or a Jain
A Christian, Buddhist or Jew…
Don’t think it doesn’t matter!
It matters!
The language is different
but the message from
this tower of Babel
is the same.

Keep your colour in mind….
White, black, brown, yellow…
It is what makes you unique
It is also what makes you different.
And different is not bad,
it is interesting.

Stop brushing our differences
under the rug.
Rather dust it and address it.
I will stop walking
on fucking egg shells
When discussing religion, God,
faith, love, homosexuality and gender.
I will teach my child that
true peace lies
hand in hand with honesty
and courage.
And sometimes the bravest thing
we will be called upon to do
in our entire life will be to
quietly say “I don’t agree”
or “it’s not right.”
when faced by peer might

And while I teach my child all this
I will pay attention
and try to imbibe.
Practice what I preach…
Be a part of the human tribe.
‘What can you do?’
you still ask me!!?