National Poetry Month

April is national poetry month. Usually I wouldn’t even notice something like this, but ever since I took Poetry II at U of T last year, I’ve kind of fallen in love with writing and reading poetry. There is something about crafting a poem, putting words down on paper (or on your computer), expressing an idea, a notion, or truth on any topic that interests you. Poetry has a way of cutting through all the nonsense and touching the soul.

There are soooooooo many poems that have changed my life, that play through my mind when I’m faced with a difficult situation, experiencing a moment of joy, or in need of some inspiration. Here is one of my favourites, by Mary Oliver, called The Journey:

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The Journey, Mary Oliver

Is there a poem that has changed your life? :-)

I Am

I am beautiful
I am worthy
I am raw and wild and untamed
I am intelligent and rational, spiritual and intuitive
I am dignified, yet when it comes to love
willing to throw it all out the window.

I am love incarnate.
I am submissive, yet defiant;
sensitive, yet callous –
I long to experience the joys of love and union,
yet value my independence above all.

I am WOMAN.
I have eyes that can see through the depths of your being,
hair that falls graciously beyond my shoulders,
hips that sway to the rhythms of the earth.
I am everything you think I am and more,
yet can be magnificently misunderstood.

I am logical, yet open to forces much greater than me
I am powerful, yet acknowledge that the black hole of doubt
can drain me of my strength.
I am an artist, seeking his muse.

I am everything at once, yet deep down I know that I am nothing.
I am spirit and soul, earth and water.
I am never-ending….

***

“I AM” is the strongest creative statement in the universe. The universe responds to this as would ‘a genie in a bottle’ – it knows no other way to behave. My friend Melinda once asked me to summarize what I thought about this statement and this is what I said:

I always say that “I AM” is the most powerful statement in the universe. It has the power to change your body and mind, which can be rewired simply by repeating this basic mantra. It can be as straightforward as “I am love, I am light”, or as intricate as “I am the being that recognizes the God in you.” The repetition is important, especially in times of doubt and when you don’t believe what you are saying is true.

This is the passage from Conversations with God that first introduced me to its power:

“When  your  thoughts  are  clear  and  steadfast,  begin  to  speak  them  as  truths. Say  them out loud. Use the great command that calls forth creative power: I am. Make Iam statements to others. “I am” is the strongest creative statement in the universe.  Whatever you think, whatever you say, after the words “I am” sets into motion those  experiences, calls them forth, brings them to you. There is no other way the universe knows how to work. There is no other route it  knows to take. The universe responds to “I am” as would a genie in a bottle.”

Another cool fact about “I AM” is that the reverberation it makes in your body has a realigning effect. In every enlightened being, and in every major religion, you will find the sound “I AM” – in Hinduism it’s AUM, in Islam it’s Ameen, and in Christianity Amen. They all derive from the same universal source/sound, and are one and the same. Cool huh?

Here is a recording of me saying “AUM Shanti” – have a listen and pay attention to how you feel when hearing it. Then when you have a moment on your own, take a deep breath in, and on the exhale, let out a long “AUM”. There are lots of different opinions on how to say it properly, but I just say it the way that feels right to me.

As you go about your day, keep this AUM sound with you, and let it lead you to the place of peace within yourself.

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.

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Christmas Display at the Ottawa Sai Centre

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

How Long Can We Hold Women Back?

I’m barely alive right now. I’ve been processing my pain and there is a lot coming to the surface that has been suppressed for a long time. It’s funny how things happen in your life and it’s not until months (sometimes years) after that you process them and assimilate them into your experience. Sometimes I feel like I am choking on grief. It’s actually a wonder that I’ve been able to function like this.

It was a beautiful day in the city, with all the snow and the branches laden with white, glistening and still. Everywhere I went I just wanted to capture it forever by closing my eyes and holding the image in my memory. I had missed doing the walk yesterday (I usually do it on Mondays) but it was family day and I stayed home pretty much all day studying for my project management exam. I set the date to three weeks away hoping that it would help motivate me to study but so far it hasn’t worked.

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Walking on University Avenue, near Victoria College

I walked past 525 University and stopped to talk to Anthony, the concierge. He showed me pictures of his daughters building their very first snowman in Canada (they’re from the middle east so this was their first Canadian winter). Then I walked to Balzac’s where I read an article about a filmmaker that created a documentary about a girl Saba from Pakistan, who was almost killed by her uncle and father because she married a neighbourhood boy against their wishes. It was a very difficult story to listen to (I’d heard it first on CBC radio), especially the part where her father boasts about it and says he now feels more empowered after teaching her a lesson, and his other daughters and the girls in the community will know better than to go against the rules. It made me so angry. One part that resonated with me was when the filmmaker said “How long can we hold women back? I see cracks in traditional society. More and more women know their rights because of how interconnected they are; they’re no longer isolated. Even in the remotest of villages you have cellphones now, and of course this is going to shake the status quo in a patriarchal society… Women now want a greater say, they want greater economic independence, they want a greater say in the kind of marriages they make, the kind of education they get, where they work.” Seriously! It is amazing that these societies all around the world have managed to hold women back for so long. Like Raj Balkaran says, patriarchy is a result of the fear of the power of the feminine. Who knows what this world would look like if women were enabled to unleash their power? I think we are going to find out! There is no holding us back anymore, that is for sure. And when I say ‘us’, I mean us as a global community. Because when a woman is repressed anywhere in the world, it affects us all.