Fitting In

Many people struggle on a daily basis to fit in and belong. The struggles, and consequences of these struggles manifest differently, and the truth is in order to have peace in the world we have to continue to explore what is truly meaningful personally. 

To feel like we truly belong we have to have courage to be ourselves  and realize that sometimes it means we can’t please others or that we won’t belong to a specific group.  This will no doubt cause pain and suffering and require courage, vulnerability and resilience. However,  when we try to fit in and go against our grain, we also suffer.The more we face the fears we have of being our true self,imperfections and all, we find that being ourselves can be our biggest gift to the world.

Our inherent goodness and worthiness is waiting to be uncovered at all times.

Your purpose

is to be yourself

You don’t have to run anywhere

to be someones else

You are wonderful

just as you are

~ Thich Nhat Hahn

Namaste,

Shobhna

 

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Mental Health

May is Mental health awareness month

The theme for this year is fitness for mind and body. Wellbeing includes emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellness. All of those to varying degrees influence our daily life.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans is affected by mental illness. That means it is highly likely we know someone who has a mental illness. Alongside with having a mental illness, there is still stigma attached to mental health issues, making it all the more challenging for people to get help.

During the month of May, National Association of Mental Illness is focusing on Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding as ways to reduce and remove stigma attached to seeking help for mental illness.

Stigma, adds to the suffering a person is experiencing with mental illness. We have the capacity to understand and alleviate their suffering. We liberate others when we allow them to speak of their perceptions and mental constructs without fear of judgement. Compassion is the urge to alleviate another person’s suffering. When we experience compassion, we also feel uplifted. Reducing stigma to mental illness is important. Having empathy, understanding and compassion is crucial to personal and global wellbeing.

Below is a link to an interview with Thich Nhat Hahn on compassion that I hope you will watch and find thought provoking

https://youtu.be/PewRDHeh3oY

Namaste,

Shobhna

Thriving

This lilac tree was once struggling to bloom and thrive. We moved it from a shaded part of the garden to a sunnier location. We gave it some rich nourishing soil and have continued to add soil through the years. The tree has bloomed like clockwork by the 2nd week of May every year. Last year a wren built a nest in the tree and we had the joy of seeing fledglings emerge and fly. A once fragile tree is now a shelter for other beings.

It’s not just plants that don’t thrive in some areas but do well in others. Happens to all living beings. Conditions need to be consistently evaluated. Where some beings do well, others might require help, further nourishing and enrichment. Not always easy to uproot and move but one can always ammend the situation, balance out the environment and find ways to grow.

We can make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same – Pema Chodron

Namaste,

Shobhna

Parkinson’s Disease

Recently, Parkinson’s Disease became a part of our daily lives. The symptoms were present before we knew about the diagnosis. So really, Parkinson’s had already become a part of our lives before we became aware of it. As other conditions were being ruled out PD (Parkinson’s Disease) was becoming more prominent. Here it is in our lives. James, my husband, has Parkinson’s. There is no cure for PD but there are medications and therapies to help cope with the disease.

As we learn more about Parkinson’s, we realize a lot more still needs to be done. As long as research continues there is hope for a cure. Hope and action have to go hand in hand. We are learning to accept Parkinson’s disease in our lives and still finding ways for James to keep the full impact of the disease at bay for as long as we can.

We have been educating ourselves about PD. Books, research articles, webinars and podcasts, anything to learn more about this disease. To learn how to live with it, to keep advocating for research, for supportive care, to understand PD, to prevent it for future generations. The whole gamut.

If you want to learn what Parkinson’s Disease is…here is a short video from the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

https://youtu.be/cRLB7WqX0fU

March 21st is advocacy day for Parkinson’s Disease.

Even if you are not personally affected by the disease, but are an advocate at heart, for science, research, eradicating diseases, then please ask your congress members to increase awareness about PD issues

http://advocate.michaeljfox.org/app/write-a-letter?7&engagementId=262473

Your support means a lot.
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Namaste,

Shobhna

Shift in Perception

On January 1st,  Iceland started enforcing a new law where any employer with 25 or more employess, is required to pay men and women equally for the same job. This law makes Iceland the 1st country in the world to make it illegal for men to get paid more than women.

In the United States women are paid on an average of 80 cents per dollar that a man earns for the same job.  The gap is higher for women of color. In Europe women earn 84 cents on every dollar a man earns for the same job. In India women earn 25% less than men.

Hearing about wage equality in Iceland gives me hope that someday equal pay will be part of the norm.  Per the World Economic Forum, In the U.S. we should reach economic gender equality in 2059. Globally we wont see economic equality until 2133.   Because it will have taken many people to have advocated for the right to receive equal pay, I sincerely hope that in 2133 people rejoice and celebrate as economic inequality becomes a thing of the past.

In the present, however I am happy knowing that in 1 corner of our world, in Iceland, the government has recognized the value of equality in pay.  The message on the surface is that men and women will get paid equally. But deeper than that are so many other factors that make this a monumental shift.  With equal pay, life for so many will be transformed. Now that it is happening in Iceland, perhaps other countries won’t want to be left far behind and might catch up. A cause for healthy competition.

I am grateful for other healthy shifts taking place as well and I am mindful that they did not happen overnight. Whether a personal shift in perception or a collective one, it all leads to a better world. Wishing everyone a blessed year and liberating shifts of perception.  In John O’Donohue’s words:

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

 

Namaste,

Shobhna

 

 

Belonging

Fran Peavey, in her book Heart Politics talks about an experience she had at Stanford University. She was walking on the campus one day when she came up to a group of people carrying recording equipment. They were recording a male chimp who was loose and a female chimp on a long chain. The scientists and spectators (mostly men) were trying to get them to mate. Every time the male chimpanzee approached the female chimp, she whimpered and backed away, to avoid his advances. Peavey says as she watched this scene, a wave of empathy swept through her. In the next moment, the female chimp, yanked her chain out of the male chimps grasp and walked through the crowd of people standing directly to Peavey, and took her hand. Then she proceeded to take Peavey back into the circle towards the only two other women there and joined hands with 1 of them.  The 3 of them then stood together in the circle. Peavey says the chimp had formed her own support group.

This story affirms how we instinctively seek support, look for cues of safety and have the deep need to be seen, heard and recognized.  Paying deep and focused attention to others allows us to be attuned to their experiences, creating space for the person to feel seen and heard. As Peavey stood there, feeling empathy for the chimpanzee, the chimpanzee sensed this support and found her safe space.

Listening deeply to others requires stepping out of our own constant inner dialogue. When we listen and attune our inner selves to the other person we also reduce the gap of separation of “us” and “them”.

 

“One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen”  ~John Donohue

 

Namaste,

Shobhna