Iguazu Falls, Argentina/ Brazil

a section of Iguazu falls

this isn't even all of Iguazu falls

look mama!

So sometimes I can be kind of all or nothing. Lately, obviously with my blog I’ve been nothing. I know that I haven’t had sufficient time to really blog the way I want so I haven’t been blogging at all…but well, I’ve been missing it so I’ll write what i can. So, last week we were in Porto Alegre, Brazil and this week we are in Montevideo, Uruguay.

I don’t know what is going on with me, or if it is me, or if it is just life right now, but I go through rollercoasters of emotions everyday. There are some moments when I feel on top of the world, like I’m exactly where I am suppose to be, I have everything under control and I feel confident, and an hour later I could be thinking god what am I doing here, what did I get myself into, I don’t know what I’m doing.

This whole study abroad experience I challenging me in so many ways…

For one, my inner-child, or my ego, is constantly throwing a FIT. I mean big time. Sometimes it takes all of my mental willpower to keep from screaming and actually throwing a fit, but I mean I’m 22, I’m suppose to act like an adult now, I can’t be seen kicking and screaming in the streets now that would just be wrong. Ok, so you are probably wondering, well gosh what is making her so upset that she wants to scream? Well I’ve ranted about this already a bunch with other people in my program who have similar sentiments, but one big thing that frustrates me is the fact that I am taking classes on economics and politics, two subjects that I have no experience studying whatsoever; I actually tried to avoid them in the past b/c I thought they were boring (I was really just stubborn and close-minded, they are actually quite fasinating and essential parts of our society that should be understood). So, apart from taking classes about subjects in which I have no background knowledge, did I mention the classes are entirely IN spanish? I probably have, but anyway it’s hard.

I am actually using this opportunity to observe myself closely, my reactions and overall use it as an experience to know myself better, how I work and how I can know how to work with myself in these kind of difficult situations so that I can succeed despite the intense obstacles. In reality, I blow things way out of proportion and stress myself out more than neccessary. It is part of the philosophy of this program to push us out of our comfort zones in order to challenge us and motivate us to work harder, and therefore learn more, faster. I know that this is happening, but learning is a process, it is a gradual progression, so it can be hard to recognize that change IS happening.

Lately I have been feeling very frustrated. Just. Stuck. I’ve also been feeling like there is not enough time. Each day ticks slowly by, but all of a sudden the sun is going down and I’ve got to go to sleep so I can try not to nod off in class again tomorrow.

Yeah, my mind and spirit are really getting it right now. I am literally living my dream life, it’s crazy, but of course it never feels like how you imagined it would feel. Once you finally get what you wanted, sometimes you realize that you were happier before. It is all a process though. I’ve really realized that this life is more of a flow than something solidly set, like stone. I just keep reminding myself that these challenging times are my teachers and that I am becoming stronger.

I am building my capacity to deal with life.

I worry about the future sometimes. I worry about others.

Sometimes I feel so out of place, like what am I doing here? Where do I belong? Do I even belong?

It’s crazy how you can feel so alone when there are so many millions of people in this world.

When I feel like this, I’ve found that reaching out to others, even just to ask “how are you doing?” makes me feel a bit better. And I mean, reeeally asking how they are doing, not this “hey, how are you?” “oh i’m good” “yeah? good.” “how are you?”, “good.” kinda crap. I’m talking, looking straight into their eyes and really asking how they are and being there to listen without judgement to whatever they have to say.

I’ve realized, everyone feels these things at times, it’s kind of ironic, in sharing our mutual sentiments of loneliness, we can feel closer to one another.

Anyway, I’m learning a lot of cool academic stuff too in this program but in the moment these things seemed more interesting to write about for me. I just feel like I’ve had a lack of personal expression and I’ve felt like my thoughts and emotions were starting to pop my seams but writing about these things in my blog is really liberating. I feel like for me it is self expression, I also intend for it to be a place where I can rebel. So many influences around me expect me to be so composed and calm. Ugh, that is not life, that is not what it is to be human.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Sometimes I think, for our spirits, to be so stuck in this flesh; glued to the ground. That can be a hard reality to face when all we really wanna do is fly fly away…

Olimpio, where they held los desaparecidos

From your hands, we take the flags, until victory forever!

Olimpo is one of three main "military schools" in the Buenos Aires area where los desaparecidos were held and tortured before being killed

A room for torture. There were no windows then

faces of los desaparecidos

This they couldn´t destroy, history of the lives of the detained disapeared comrades of Olimpo

Solstice Post!

there was so much smoke

there is something about those mountains and about that sky that takes my breath away

morning Gurdwara was one of my favorite times of the day. There is nothing like meditating to beautiful kirtan with the rising of the sun

Ok so I have kind of been procrastinating writing this post, mainly because I have been asked by so many people, “Oh how was Solstice?” so I’ve been repeating myself a lot lately, and the thought of sitting down and writing it all out just seemed a bit excrucuating…but it is necessary, so here goes.

Solstice was…amazing. It was amazing and very transformational. Overall, exhausting. I could write quite a bit about the uncomfortable conditions up the hill, the wind, the dry heat, the cold showers, the dust that got everywhere….yeah all that was quite unpleasant at times, but besides all those physically uncomfortable sensations, I experienced a very profound change which sticks out in my mind as the most important part of my summer solstice experience.

Where I spent most of my down time

I found the Guru….or you could say, I finally was able to relate to the the spiritual path of Sikhism with my full heart. I now understood the wisdom of the teachings of the Siri Guru Granth. Waheguru, wow it was amazing! It happened like this: Up there in those mountains of Ram Das Puri, I was under so much pressure in every single way I felt like I was going to implode. Physically, I was uncomfortable all the time. I got sunburns, heat rashes and generally was overheated. Emotionally, I was under more stress than I think I have ever been in my life. My mind was constantly consumed with anxiety and stress. I was also just feeling the pressure of the changing times. Change seems to be happening so rapidly, for so many people, the pressure of all this change to be flexible is tiresome, it tests you! So much change in such a short period of time is exhausting. I found myself trying so hard to cling to the past and what I knew, than be able to just let go and accept the change. Emotionally, I exhausted myself, by not being able to accept the present situation. I was trying to impose what I wanted to happen on the situation, which never really turns out well. I was trying to control my life, haha.

Anyway, so my point. During this recent solstice experience, I realized that I do not want to…rather…I cannot live anything but a spiritual, committed lifestyle, and having grown up as a Sikh, I have a deep love for the mindset and daily practices of this lifestyle. Now, more than I ever have in my entire life, I am trusting the infinite to take care of me. I am giving myself to the Guru. I feel as if a huge, sloppy, sticky mess has just been lifted from my shoulders. Another huge change, I am now fully committed. Before this year, there was always a thought in the back of my head that maybe, someday, who knows, I might not be a Sikh, you just never know what can happen in life. Throughout this past year, I have gone through a lot of pain, and during the past few months have been coming back to my Sikh lifestyle to give me strength and help me renew. Summer solstice was merely the final process which called me to really decide, to really commit. I know now what it is to not live as a Sikh and for me, it was a living hell. I do not like some of the effects that straying from the lifestyle has brought me, but I have found something that is more important than anything that I may have lost. I feel that I have finally found myself. Whatever happened was merely a sacrifice to allow me to find my path. Now I know I will dedicate myself to living as a Sikh no matter what. I cannot imagine doing anything else, I do not want to do anything else. Now I am experiencing such sweet joy within from the wisdom of this path. I am REALLY hearing it! I’ve grown up as a Sikh, so it’s not like any of this is really new to me, but it was not relevant until now. I guess now I have some real-life experience to relate to.

Resting while listening to beautiful kirtan in the Gurdwara in Espanola

So, solstice was a chance for me to really attune to all this. To finally commit, and say, no I don’t want to life a wishy-washy life always searching for satisfaction outside of myself. I want to live a life of devotion and service to others through the wisdom of a Sikh lifestyle. Waheguru!!! What a beautiful place in my life to be right now! It is so amazing there are no words to describe it. I am quite ecstatic. There is a steadiness that is growing in me that comes from my committment. With committment, there is no question and with no question there can be no duality, and without duality there is no need for worry, stress, emotion, commotion. Thank god, sheesh. It’s about time I gave myself this gift. I feel so blessed. Wow!!!

😀

Sikh weddings are firstly about one's own comittment to the Guru, and secondly to each other

“Soohee, Third Mehl: The body-bride is very beautiful; she dwells with her Husband Lord. She becomes the happy soul-bride of her True Husband Lord, contemplating the Word of the Guru’s Shabad. The Lord’s devotee is forever attuned to the Lord’s Love; her ego is burnt away from within. ||1|| Waaho! Waaho! Blessed, blessed is the Word of the Perfect Guru’s Bani. It wells up and springs forth from the Perfect Guru, and merges into Truth. ||1||Pause|| Everything is within the Lord – the continents, worlds and nether regions. The Life of the World, the Great Giver, dwells within the body; He is the Cherisher of all. The body-bride is eternally beautiful; the Gurmukh contemplates the Naam. ||2|| The Lord Himself dwells within the body; He is invisible and cannot be seen. The foolish self-willed manmukh does not understand; he goes out searching for the Lord externally. One who serves the True Guru is always at peace; the True Guru has shown me the Invisible Lord. ||3||…”         -Siri Guru Granth Sahib
I am you and you are me, what is the difference between us?

Looking forward to…

Solstice so much. Yeah, life is hard lately. Just, everything piling up all at once. When dealing with issues of the heart vs. school, the heart seems so much more important, it has been hard to pull through this year. I’m just glad it’s over so now I can focus fully on taking care of myself and getting better.

I don’t know, can meditation fix everything? Sometimes it just feels good to cry.

I know it makes me sad, but I can’t help listening to Bon Iver. I am ecstatic and filled with sorrow all at once.

Another song I probably shouldn’t be listening to, but I ❤ Band of Horses…

So this part term I took a class all about Gandhi. It was awesome, I learned so much about him and his movement and motivations that I had not  known before. One of my favorite passages from his autobiography that I just have to share which I completely agree with:

“The importance of vows grew upon me more clearly than ever before. I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. Up to this time I had not met with success because the will had been lacking, because I had had no faith in myself, no faith in the grace of God, and therefore, my mind had been tossed on the boisterous sea of doubt.

I realized that in refusing to take a vow man was drawn into temptation, and that to be bound by a vow was like a passage from libertin-ism to a real monogamous marriage. ‘I believe in effort, I do not want to blind myself with vows,’ is the mentality of weakness and betrays a subtle desire for the thing to be avoided. Or where can be the difficulty in making a final decision?

I vow to flee from the serpent which I know will bite me, I do not simply make an effort to flee from him. I know that mere effort may mean certain death. Mere effort means ignorance of the certain fact that the serpent is bound to kill me. The fact, therefore, that I could rest content with an effort only, means that I have not yet clearly realized the necessity of definite action.

‘But supposing my views are changed in the future, how can I bind myself by a vow?’ Such a doubt often deters us. But that doubt also betrays a lack of clear perception that a particular thing must be renounced. That is is why Nishkulanand has sung: ‘Renunciation without aversion is not lasting.’ Where therefore the desire is gone, a vow of renunciation is the natural and inevitable fruit.”

I had a good friend tell me these things as well, now I really understand. I felt like I had an unfair advantage in this class. already understand what it means to follow a dharma, a spiritual path and I understand the Indian culture. Discussions were pretty fun. A group of college kids discussion karma, dharma, renunciation, commitment, spiritual practice and much more. Pretty cool.

 

There is no sweetness like the soul

These last few days have been slightly excruciating. It is finals week so I’ve had the stress of doing well on my exams and final papers to deal with as well as being just emotional. I’ve been studying a lot, but I can’t help feeling anxious all the time.

Last night I went for a run around 11pm at school. It was a warm night. I climbed over the fence to the racing track at school and started running laps to calm myself down. I was feeling very emotional and could have gone and hid in a corner and cried. I don’t want to wallow anymore. I will not wallow anymore. I didn’t feel motivated to do much, but I could run. I kept running until I didn’t have the energy to be upset anymore. I collapsed on the damp grass and stared at the stars and reminded myself that I am just a small being in the universe. My emotions are insignificant in this grand play of life.

I sat up and listened to Ardas Bhaee and felt myself merge into the flow of life. Simrit Kaur’s voice is so etheric, and

beautiful.

Listen: http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/3002160

It was quite a beautiful experience, I can’t quite describe it. Lately, my life has been so emotional and all over the place, I get such sweet comfort from meditation and bani, I wish all of life could be like that! I get into a beautiful meditative state, I experience such bliss, and then the timer goes off and it’s time for real life to start again. It’s like a drug. I’m getting better at incorporating simran (recitation of mantra) into my life, and catching myself when I start going down a depressive, emotional spiral, but I am nowhere near perfect. Every few days it seems, my emotions find a crack in my resolve and burst through. Sometimes I can last a week or so. I just pray pray pray for the strength to keep up through this. I want to feel whole and loved by myself.

For the most part, I have had a very easy, cozy, pain-free life. It is only this year that I have recognized what real pain feels like. I now know what the purpose of living a spiritual life is, to be able to withstand the pressure of life. This time is very painful, but it is also very beautiful, it is transformational. I am changing, finally, growing in ways that I have wanted to for a long time, but never had the motivation.

I am finally an active participant in my life.

Thank god. It’s about fucking time. Sheesh. Where have I been all my life? I’ve just been coastin’.

I just need to work on forgiving myself for my mistakes. I don’t like that word, mistakes, it implys that there is regret there, and well, I do have some now, but I also believe in karma and that everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t made these “mistakes” I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

I feel that I am being put through the fire. I am being purified. I have been asking for this for a few years. I have been challenging life to give me all it’s got. I want to be challenged. I want to be put through the fire. I asked for this. So, I need to forgive myself, because it was out of my hands. Everything is as it is meant to be. I have been burned, but nothing is lost.

Life is a rollercoaster these days. There is not much that I can rely on. Although, I do keep coming back to “Waheguru!”

Awesome: 

Truth

There is something so beautiful about being transparent. I don’t want to hide anything anymore. I have a lot of bullshit in me that I don’t want to rule me anymore. By speaking about it, I feel….relieved. This is a side of a spiritual life that I feel a lot of people don’t want to put out there to the world because they are suppose to be past this, to be able to transcend it. Lately, I have been able to be more honest with my friends about what is going on with me and where I am trying to go in my life.

Sometimes, I feel like I was suppose to be born perfect. I was born into a loving Sikh family with a pretty conservative lifestyle compared to many other people in the US. I feel like people expect me to be able to keep up with the lifestyle because I was born into it, I shouldn’t question it. Well, I did question it, and I got burned. Now I really understand why many Sikhs rise in the early hours of the morning to recite prayers, do yoga and sing devotional songs, why many Sikhs wear a turban and bana and don’t put themselves out there “for sale”.

I’m going through a healing process now. I didn’t follow the lifestyle for a little while, I was doing things very contrary to it, but that phase is over now. Now I’m forgiving myself for all that, and trying to just keep up!

Keeping up is a daily struggle. Moment to moment. But, man, it is much better than not trying.

It is inspiring to learn about great teachers who have come before me, who did amazing things, but were not perfect and made mistakes in their lives. Gandhi was very consumed with lust in his marriage, and he also experimented with eating meat for a year. The Buddha left his wife and child to pursue an ascetic life! Albert Einstein was a horrible father, hardly saw his kids and at one point married his cousin!

It just makes me think, I have made mistakes, but so did they, and look at what they were able to do with their lives! What an impact they still made! I do not doubt that great things are in store for me

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
Albert Einstein

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Albert Einstein

“A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.”
Mohandas Gandhi

“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”
Mohandas Gandhi

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
Mohandas Gandhi

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
Mohandas Gandhi

“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”
Buddha

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
Buddha