Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dhyan se - pay attention, be mindful.

'Kadam sambhal ke rakhna (step carefully). You've not done this before. Dhyan se chalna (be mindful of your steps.).'  My father-in-law's words when I called him to say that the bus I was in was ready to leave ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) were like any other words one would expect from him.

He worries. He cares. He's a father.

At that time, I had smiled and put my phone on silent. I had struggled with the lever to push the seat back to recline and given up. By the time I reached Mcllo, I had already forgotten his words.

A couple of days later, 'dhyan se chalna' became our mantra as we traversed the rocky cut outs of the last leg of our trek- from Kareri village to Kareri Lake, for the following reasons:

1. Dried pine needles can be slippery to step on.

2. Climbing rocks is a killer cardio work out, so to feign fitness, I HAD to take one step at a time!

3. The impact on 'auntyji' knees when I was climbing down could only be mitigated if I took ONE step down at a time-  dhyan se (mindfully)- placing the receiving foot at a forty five degree angle each time.

I am glad to report that yoga helped and despite the arduous climb up and back, the joints didn't protest a painful revolt.

Paying attention to each step opened up opportunities to pay attention to my surroundings almost at a meditative pace. The camera clicked happily. We absorbed it all- the camera and I- dhyan se...


'What's this?'

'What's it called?'

my monkey mind would ask
every time 
I spotted 
pretty flower
or
an insect
or
a tree.

'This is here. This is now.'
replied the soul.

Come with me on this trek- one step at a time. 
and 
experience
the
moments...

Of
sunrises
and
sunsets.

Of
Shiva,
his lingam
and
Nandi.

Of
hazel eyed shepherds
and
their sheep.

Of
snow covered peaks
and 
dried up leaves.


Of
filling up water bottles
at
springs
and 
puffing
on
a bidi.

this is...

















Is she sick?
'Hmmm..', he nodded.









This is Sanjay.
He brings his sheep up here every day.
Then sits and waits for them to finish before he heads back home to his wife and two children,
a boy and a girl.









'You have beautiful eyes.' I complimented.
He blushed.
This was a first for me- complimenting a grown man 
(other than my husband, who has stunningly magnetic eyes).
This auntyji was in form:)























It's only when I was back in my kitchen in Doha that the words of May, hanging on the calendar beside the water dispenser distilled into clarity.

Breathing in,

I see myself as a flower.

Breathing out, I feel fresh.

Breathing in,

I see myself as a mountain.

Breathing out, I feel solid.

Breathing in, I see myself as space

Breathing out, I feel free.

Thich Nhat Hanh

But that was May, it is June now.

June has conspired to present me with the unenviable task of dragging my teen aged children towards a normal routine, i.e. get up before midday, shower, tidy up their rooms and get some sort of exercise. Exercising their eyes while they're glued to their computer screens and thumbs while they're busy drumming out texts and snap chatting does not count.

'But, it's our summer holidays!' they cry out in unison.

Only if all my days were as simple as this...


That was Kareri. This is Doha, boiling and dusty.

So, why is it that I can be mindful and carefree on a trek, but so full of irritability when my children let their dried out cereal bowls pile up in the sink? Why can't I practise mindfulness when they sleep on a bed minus the sheets because I abstained from making their bed in the hope that this would make them more responsible?

My daughter and I have been catching up after her intense IB year and before she goes to university. We've chatted, watched Melissa McCarthy in the Spy, shopped and argued. We've had our share of cuddles and tears.

'You're the only one who can make me cry.' words uttered by my daughter last week broke my heart.

No, she wasn't getting emotional about leaving home or anything. I had hurt her. I had hurt her with my words and made her cry.

No, it wasn't about the unmade bed. It was about what I thought was the right thing to wear for a dinner party. She likes practical and I wanted to show her off.

Instead of being mindful of her, I was being mindful of how things 'should' be- just a bit better, just a bit different- her choices should be just a little like mine.

Arti, Dhyan se chalna- mind your steps as a mother, as a human, as a traveller.

Don't overstep.

Don't leave footsteps. She doesn't need them. She'll forge her own path- just like you did- one step at a time.

Yes, it's so easy to mind my steps, breathe deeply, inhale the good and exhale the bad when I'm in the lap of the Himalayas or lying in shavasana; not so easy when I'm coming to terms with the fact that my children are souls on a journey of their own.

The weight of her words sits heavily. I try to lighten it with Gibran and Rumi. It helps a little.

Like yoga and writing, I have to practise being a mother who's learning to let go everyday, a mother who is learning to .
"Welcome and accept
things as they are
Welcome and accept
children as they are."

( The Parent's Tao Te Ching by William Martin)

There are days when we hurtle word-weapons at each other under the guise of sarcasm and days when my almost adult children dive into my bed, shaking it with their collective weight to sleep with me while their father is out of town. There are days when they accuse me of playing the guilt card and days when the son whistles while he mops floors and the daughter cooks a delicious meal just because she felt like it.  It's all part of the deal. But, practise I must.

All these years, I had thought that I was bringing up my children. Today, I realise that they have brought me up.

Words wound when we use them to impose our expectations on our loved ones. Silence soothes. Reading rescues me. It reminds me that I haven't done this before- this living, this parenting, this letting go. So, I need to take one step at a time- dhyan se. 

"Know that each action,
each word
has its effect.
Be alert and mindful,
living fully in each present moment.
Treat your children with courtesy
as you would treat a guest."

The Parent's Tao Te Ching by William Martin)


The Parent's Tao Te Ching by William Martin is my go to book when I feel unsettled. The summer holidays have only just begun and I plan to treat my children with courtesy as long as they behave like reasonable guests and wash their bowls:) 

---------------------------------------------
The evening call to prayer rings out as I type. My Muslim friends will be breaking their fast within the next half hour. The day comes to a close after celebrating fathers and yogis and saluting the summer solstice sun. The 21st of June will melt into the 22nd...one tick at a time. I will cook daal and rice for my family- dhyan se, with love and jeere ka tadka (tempered with cumin) in my kitchen in Doha. I am here and this is now. 

Breathe in...
Breathe out...