Embracing a morning ritual of writing down my gratitude has become a regular practice in my life. This routine fosters an appreciation for my everyday existence and cultivates acceptance of circumstances as they are. It serves as a tool to stay positive, maintain hope, and move forward despite life's interruptions.
Light of Knowledge
The beauty of clay lamps captivates me for their earthy and organic qualities.
In Sanskrit, the word for lamp is "dipah," signifying the light of knowledge dispelling the darkness of ignorance. In my childhood, I delighted in lighting rows of oil clay lamps with my brother, adorning the entrance of our porch during the Festival of Lights. Witnessing the flames radiate through the darkness is an ethereal experience, symbolizing the purity and strength of goodness.
In Indian households, lighting an oil lamp at dawn and dusk is a customary practice. As a child, I remember my grandmother's daily ritual of lighting her vintage brass lamp. She would briskly rub the match head against the red strip on the matchbox, igniting the lamp's flame. Crafting the wick involved braiding 3-inch strips of cotton yarn, which were then immersed in oil. The flame fueled by oil represents devotion, and the wick embodies intellect.
Lighting a lamp suggests that our thoughts and actions are guided by the light of knowledge, much like the flame ascending. Our knowledge should propel us towards higher ideals. The act of sharing knowledge is a mutually beneficial endeavor, benefiting both the giver and the receiver. It serves as a pathway to invoke our own inner nature.
The A.W.E Moment
Attention. Waiting. Exhale
On the Ten Percent Happier podcast episode, "How to Meditate If You Have No Time to Meditate with Dan Harris," Jake Eagle and Dr. Michael Amster introduce the A.W.E (Attention. Waiting. Exhale) method, labeling it as "microdosing mindfulness." This involves briefly focusing on something in your environment for 15 seconds to connect with a memory or experience. Through consistent practice, this approach helps us tap into moments of joy in our daily lives.
Here is my ten-day experience with practicing my A.W.E moments
Day 1: Savoring Philter Cofee
I savor hot coffee twice in the morning and once in the evening, often while engaging in various activities. Today, I relished "my moment with my morning Keurig coffee." Slurping every sip, feeling the warmth, and hearing the gulp made me nostalgic about my mom's South Indian philter coffee. For my second round, I made Philter coffee and enjoyed each sip. Take a moment to notice and relish the joy in simple moments.
Day 2: Mom!
The local artist, Meredith Wakefield's mini artwork currently graces our home office/breakfast area, holding a special place in the central hub of our living space. Acquiring this painting evoked memories of my girls calling out "mom" as they stepped into the garage/mudroom after school.
The artwork captures moments of innocence, mischief, and vibrant energy, transforming our house into a home filled with love, joy, and din. Anticipating the eventual fading of the familiar sound of "mom," I recognized the inevitable as my girls ventured off to college to carve out their independent lives.
With my older daughter now away at college, I keenly feel her absence. Focusing on this painting for my 15-second A.W.E moment brings forth a mix of shared moments that are both joyful and heartwarming.
Day 3: Women's Work
The print "Women’s Work" by the artist Sandra Sedmak Engel, which I acquired at my first art show in 2015, holds a special place. Despite being from her older works, it resonated with me, capturing the humor of the hand-pressing ritual I embraced as a homemaker.
Devoting two and a half hours each week to hand-pressing my family's clothes may seem odd, but we all have our quirks, right? Indulging in this peculiar routine brings me sanity. Pressing clothes serves two purposes: creating organized, crisp closets and providing a space for my mind to wander. I either listen to art podcasts or let my thoughts percolate, finding the activity so familiar that it puts me on autopilot. Ironing, surprisingly, cools my head! 😄
Day 4: Sprinkles of Sparkle
This morning, I had a delightful conversation with my mother-in-law about our family's hundred-year-old antique chimney lamp—a cherished heirloom from her mother. The sculpted metal heart on display, crafted by the artist Lele Galer, adds an extra touch of significance.
I finally resumed reading "The Creative Act: A Way of Being" by Rick Rubin, a book I had started during a restless flight to India. Today, I devoted a couple of hours to immerse myself in its wisdom, particularly on the theme of "awareness."
As Rick Rubin puts it, "Awareness happens first as a pure connection with the object of your attention. If something strikes me as interesting or beautiful, first I live that experience. Only afterward might I attempt to understand it. Though we can’t change what it is that we are noticing, we can change our ability to notice. When we cultivate our awareness, we are expanding the universe, the life we get to live."
Day 5: My art journey began here...
Phoenix Village Art Center - A Reproduction of Original Painting by Teresa Haag
The year 2013 marks the beginning of my art journey—an infusion of new energy, community, perspective, and a world filled with possibilities and connections. The universe whispered, and I listened, entering this realm with blissful ignorance, unconditioned by external influences, self-doubt, or fear.
With a beginner's mind and a childlike spirit, I entered my first art class not by choice but by destiny. An art seed was planted, urging me to grow, evolve, and create beauty and meaning. Here I am, still on this artistic path, staying open to wonder and possibilities and embracing surrender as I continue to make art.
Day 6: Mother Nature & Creativity
I find solace in two spots: my art studio, where creativity takes form, and my patio, a serene haven for reading and writing about art. Amidst struggles for words or frustration, the fresh air, quietude, bird melodies, and green surroundings ease my mind. I grant space for creativity to flow, and I've never been disappointed. Every session concludes on a happy note. Having these peaceful spaces is a blessing, and I am grateful for this privilege.
Day 7: Deeper Wells of Wisdom
Diving into "The Creative Act: The Way of Being" by Rick Rubin, I find it a dense yet meaningful read—far from a book to finish in one sitting. I pause to process, write thoughts, and copy paragraphs to deepen my understanding. While podcasts have been my go-to since lockdown, I'm considering audiobooks, but there's something mysteriously tactile about a physical book.
In my current "nurture" phase, I'm exploring ways to care for myself. With a stack of unread books, I've realized dedicating twenty minutes daily to reading is crucial for evolving as an artist, gaining self-awareness, and articulating my work. Shifting from a minimal interest in reading, I'm making a conscious change.
Day 8: Breathe In, Breathe Out
Today, despite having no plans to leave the house, I found myself stepping out for two hours to help someone—an act of good karma. Upon returning home, frustration over the unexpected interruption clouded my mood momentarily. Aware of my negativity, I acknowledged its unhelpfulness.
Taking a breath, I retreated to my studio, consciously choosing to move forward instead of getting stuck in resentment. Reminding myself that there was neither loss nor gain, I allowed the day to unfold, and this shift in perspective proved beneficial.
Day 9: My fascination for Sanskrit
My connection to Sanskrit is deeply rooted, and the language, written in the divinely beautiful Devanāgarī script, holds profound significance for me. Guided by my guru Lexa Chernin, whose knowledge, devotion, and understanding of Sanskrit enthralls me, I cherish the experience of taking Sanskrit lessons.
Although I could read, write, and chant Vedic mantras from childhood, formal Sanskrit learning brings back memories of my grandfather reading Vedic scriptures. The enchanting melody of Vedic mantras, resonating during priests' rituals and ceremonies, not only gave me goosebumps but also transported me to a realm of transcendental reality. In those moments, I could feel the purity and sacredness of the space, accompanied by the distinct aroma of the surrounding air.
Day 10: Move Fast or Slow Down. It's a Choice.
In today's world, filled with distractions, heavy reliance on technology, and social media coupled with our multifaceted roles in our families and communities, we often neglect to carve out time for a personal retreat. The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) keeps us constantly on the move.
Finding solace in nurturing oneself becomes a source of hope and healing. Personally, I cultivate self-nurturance through the practice of art-making to find my inner peace.