The Magic of the Gayatri Mantra

Today at the Sai Centre, we sang the Gayatri Mantra, which is an ancient Sanskrit hymn that dates back thousands of years. It originates from the Rig Veda, a sacred text in Hinduism, and is dedicated to the Savitr, the Sun god. According to Hindu mythology, this prayer was said to be given to the sage Vishwamitra as a gift for his years of dedication and penance. The lyrics are as follows:

Om Bhur Bhuva Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayaat

There are many translations of the mantra, some that are line by line and word by word, and others that are more interpretative. Some of the ones that resonate with me are:

“We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds.”  — Swami Vivekananda

“We meditate on the effulgent glory of the Divine Light; may it inspire our understanding.” — S. Radhakrishna

“Oh Creator of the Universe! We meditate upon thy supreme splendor. May thy radiant power illuminate our intellects, destroy our sins, and guide us in the right direction!” — Unknown

My Mom and I chant the gayatri mantra nine times in a row at 12 noon every weekday. It’s an opportunity for us to stop what we are doing, join forces, and align ourselves with cosmic energy (at least that’s what I think we’re doing!). It definitely reminds me of God and the universe and ancient wisdom, and returning back to my true self. With all the different mantras available, having discipline and establishing a routine are very important.

Speaking of universal energy – the craziest thing just happened. As I am in the middle of writing this post, I received a text message from my friend Gayathri (who I haven’t spoken to in months) saying Happy New Year and that she is happy to see my different profile pics on Whatsapp. Is that not a crazy coincidence?! She is also a Sai devotee, and a vibrionics practitioner (but that is a story for another day). The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes – but then again, maybe that’s just how life goes when you are blessed.

May We All Be Flutes

This morning I went to the Ottawa Sai Centre with my parents. The Sai Centre is a spiritual centre that is devoted to the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a messenger of God, who lived in India for all his life and passed away a few years ago at age 85.  I love going there because there is so much devotion, love, and joy – the people there are committed to serving others and are always so friendly and helpful.

On Sundays my Mom teaches a class for special needs students, and I usually play the role of her assistant. We prepare crafts for the kids and sing with them – my Mom has a song called “Start the Day With Love” that the kids absolutely adore.

One of my favourite parts about being there is taking a tea break, and chatting with people and hearing what’s going on in their lives. Babies on the way, sharing spiritual lessons, talking about work (or in my case the hunt for work!), and being around the adorable kids that attend the classes.

My Mom, Dad, and I had decided that we were going to leave after three bhajans, but then someone began to sing a beautiful English bhajan, so we changed our minds and decided to stay. The song is called “May We All Be Flutes.” Kind of reminds me of my post from way back when, that I wrote around the time when I first started blogging and sharing with my friends and family. Here are the words from the song today:

Let Us Be Your Melody, We’ll Sing at Your Command
Krishna’s Flute We’ll Be, We’ll Sing His Melody
When Desire’s Gone We Will Finally Sing His Song
Song of Love, Song of Truth, Let the Melody Flow Through
Song of Love, Song of Truth, May Our Lives Be One with You

Krishna, the blue God, is known for his enchanting flute playing. His flute entrances the gopis (cowgirls) in Vrindavan, and especially Radha, who forgets even her name when she hears him play. I love the words of this song – it’s a reminder that each of us has a beautiful melody inside of us, and that the vibration of these words on your lips has a purifying effect.

After the bhajan we stopped to see the Christmas display. A volunteer from the Centre had assembled it that morning, and it was a sight to behold!! All the kids loved it, and the adults as well.

Christmas Display at the Ottawa Sai Centre

Overall a wonderful Sunday morning. Hope you all had a great Sunday too!

The Owner Of Everything

Week 16. I started off the day reading an article by Alexandra Shimo, who is one of the teachers at the School of Continuing Studies at U of T. She wrote about how she suffered from PTSD after spending four months in Kashechewan, a First Nation on James Bay. The reason I’d looked her up is because I’m choosing my next creative writing course! I’m debating between “Introduction to Writing a Novel” and “Life Stories 1”. The latter is an exercise in memoir writing – as if I don’t already write enough about myself! But I think I’m leaning towards that one, because I like digging deep into my past and making stories out of my experiences. Anyhow, Alexandra wrote about how the high school there had been on permanent suicide watch because 21 kids (including a nine-year-old) reportedly tried to kill themselves in 2007. I had to do a double-take, because it was exactly like the situation in Attawapiskat right now. Alexandra eventually recovered from the PTSD by practicing mindfulness meditation. At first she resisted because she didn’t think something so gentle could work, but then learned to stay grounded in her body when the feelings arose, and actually feel them rather than avoid them. This is something that I continuously work on. I’ve been practicing for more than two years, and I can’t really say what the benefits are, but I do know that it grounds me and I actually look forward to it most of the time (like right now – can’t wait to relax and sink into my meditation once I’m done writing).

I left the house around 2pm, and headed up University. It was absolutely glorious weather. Hot and sunny (I wore a tank top!), and I was loving every moment of it. I stopped around King to read a chapter from my book, then continued along, looping past 525, down Elm street to Yonge, and then to CCVT. Today was my first day doing Homework Club with the high school students. Usually I go on Tuesdays, but there was an urgent need for math tutors so I was asked to switch days. I helped Aisha with her math homework, and we also talked about other things. She asked me if I was married and I said no, but I do hope to be one day, and she said “I’ve heard of 40-year-olds getting married”.  Haha! Like they really do exist. It was pretty hilarious. It was fun hanging out with the kids and hearing what they think of Chris Brown and Rihanna and what their dreams and hopes for the future are (one guy said he was ready to have a baby).

After CCVT, I made my way to Allan Gardens. I chatted with Daisy for a bit – she called me as part of her homework for a Landmark course. I told her how I’m ready to get back to project management, and I’m really interested in mental health, specifically CAMH. She said that her friend who was a psychiatrist in Ottawa was saying that there aren’t enough resources available, and that there are always services being cut, while meanwhile the govt is funding things like egg freezing.

Got to Balzac’s and read from The Underground Girls of Kabul. Jenny asks a group of women how they would go about turning her into a man, and they say that she basically already acts like one. She walks around as though she is “the owner of everything” (I love that!) and arrives everywhere without a husband or a father. And when she speaks, she looks people right in the eyes, without seeming shy or emotional.

On the way home I walked through Queen’s Park and saw some girls playing badminton as the sun set, and I thought back to the days when my dad and I used to play badminton for hours on the street outside my house. I can’t wait to find a badminton partner here!

Girls playing badminton, Queen’s Park

Before I got home I stopped to watch the Raptors game outside at the ACC. Go Raptors!!

Raptors Game, ACC






Hare Krishna, Hare Rama

This evening I went to the Toronto Yoga Show at the Metro Convention Centre. There was a beautiful energy in the hall, and I was instantly calmed by the smell of incense, chanting from the Hare Krishnas, and seeing the graceful postures of the yogis and yoginis practicing in the central yoga class. I wandered around for a bit, admiring the cotton t-shirts with pictures of Buddhas and Aums and Indian gods and goddesses. Then I went to visit my friend Neesha’s booth. She has a booth with Reshma, Mike, and Zak, and they sell their creations as well as their services. Neesha and Reshma both teach meditation and yoga, Zak is a spiritual healer and all-around badass (she has a t-shirt line called Spiritual Hustler) and Mike is a Qi Gong teacher and energy healer. Here is a pic of Mike at the booth:


While I was there, I ate at Govinda’s (the Hare Krishna restaurant), and listened to the beautiful chanting that calmed my soul. These Hare Krishnas sure know how to lose themselves in the moment!

When I Dance, I Forget Everything

Today was pretty great, although I’m feeling tired and a little broken right now. It was a long day.

I walked along University Avenue and went to my creative writing class. It’s the second last class – I’m sad that it’s almost over! We talked about techniques for writing stories, such as writing lists, doing research, and drawing upon personal experience and observation. Kelli said to trust your instinct and your fascination with a certain topic or subject – that thing that gnaws at you, that you can’t seem to stop thinking about, or that you can spend hours on end researching. There are so many things that I want to write about, but most of all I just want to see where my imagination takes me. I tend to get stuck on certain ideas and limit myself, so it’s nice to write about something completely out of my comfort zone.

We broke into groups to review each other’s work. I had written a story about a young girl Kamini who is from a village in India and is forced by her parents to marry a local village boy. She can’t accept that this is her fate, and runs away on her wedding day. This of course is something that many little girls face on a daily basis, and it is an atrocity. I got some great feedback on how to revise the story, and everyone in the group loved it and wanted to hear more. It was amazing because I had actually started it in a previous class not thinking it was very good, but as usual I was being overly self-critical and hard on myself.

Following the class, I stopped by the ROM gift store (image above) and discovered a fascinating book about Hindu temples in India and the stories they tell. After that I walked to Balzac’s and saw that it was closed! So I went to Aroma instead to do some work and catch up on my reading. I read an editorial on the CARE Canada website about women and girls that are vulnerable in emergencies. One of the girls whose entire family was killed in the Central African Republic, said that dancing helps her to forget the pain. “When I dance,” she says, “I forget everything.” I’m similar that way – dancing makes me forget the pain. I think that’s why One Billion Rising is such a great movement, because dancing is a liberation of the spirit, and is healing and freeing.

The editorial also described the story of a young girl named Muzoon from Syria, who flees to a refugee camp in Jordan, and witnesses the marriages of many of her friends. She herself wants to fight against child marriage and become a journalist one day.


On the way home I ran into my homeless friend Marc. He recognized me and said that he’d been thinking of me – LOL – all good things I hope! It was his first week sleeping on the street (at Nathan Philips square) and he was actually enjoying it better than the shelter. He said that he slept better outside and wasn’t bothered by other people. I’m sure I’ll see him again soon!