blog

in a nutshell

I feel called to serve beauty, wisdom and wholeness. I was recently asked what my ‘message’ is- and here is what I said:

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I am interested in existential, fundamental truth. The mechanics of being. In my explorations here’s what I have found to be true:

Absolute Truth can only be approached as Shiv-a – That which is Not.

The reflection of this Absolute is knowable in form as the organizing intelligence of the universe. It manifests within each of us as our own internal harmonic.

Every being is moved by a unique internal harmonic sometimes called God and exteriorized in culture, but of course, the source of creation, of preservation, of destruction- all aspects of manifestation are alive and beating from within us.

The degree of our alignment with the harmonic determines our degree of coherence with the rhythm of the whole, and the fluidity and joy we experience in life.

The illusion of a separate self to be protected, guarded and perpetuated creates distortion in our alignment with the harmonic (never in the harmonic itself). Self betrayal- saying no to our life force- the harmonic- leaves us disconnected from the song our instrument wants to sing.

Liberation, fulfilment, efficacy, joy, and fullness of expression- all lie in aligning with the harmonic. Learning to listen, trust and be guided by it- moving in harmony with all that is, asymptotically towards coherence of the particular with the Whole.

The harmonic isn’t missing in anyone of us. Even those of us who have conditioned and distanced themselves from it consciously or unconsciously, intellectually or somatically…the harmonic vibrates within us all.

To listen, we need silence. To trust, we need direct experience of our own Truth. And the only way to aligned, fulfilled, joyful living, is in.

All that is ever needed, is to go within.

In every moment, consciously allowing the directness of experience to be seen, felt, known, allowed, invited and finally loved…

Hence, Open Meditation.

no-thing

Let me preface this by saying once again that words are never true and all forms of communication are inherently subjective, and this one is no exception.
That said, living from non-dual experience, it is pretty clear there is only One. Because ‘things’ are just processes disguised, it feels more correct to say there is only One process than One thing.
However, as I noticed at some point in life, not everyone is experiencing existence without separation. It’s kinda curious isn’t it? In the dual experience multiplicity is mistaken for separation, fueled perhaps by the perceived evolutionary need for self preservation- which appears to necessitate differentiation between self and other, the formation and attachment to that identity. And the One/Self/Whole nature becomes forgotten.
Even the different stages of awakened consciousness models are inherently embedded in a dualistic model at a level. As I pointed out my discomfort with this to a teacher (Steve Ulicny) in a discussion, he noted there aren’t different states of consciousness, but different experiences of Totality.
But of course!
The Whole/One/Formless is unchanging. There is only One Process. The experience of it as such however, changes with the neurophysiological state of the ‘experiencer.’ So, there aren’t different stages of consciousness, but simply different degrees of experience of Oneness. In the fully integrated functional neurophysiological state (enlightenment, the culmination of spiritual awakening), the experience of Oness/Totality is total.
No remnants of a separate self remain, and as the ultimate alignment within solidifies, deep trust emerges, leading to surrender of individuality. The piece of the whole (the small wholeness) begins to function in coherence with the Whole, of which ‘it’ is a perfect and complete reflection, ultimately totally.
So, from this perspective, it’s obvious that everyone everywhere is capable and wired for the experience of re-cognizing/re-membering/coming home to Self/One/Wholeness, often termed Awakening, and the delusion of the separate self falls away.
And while there is only One Process, there are as many ways of experiencing it, as there are its reflections. 7.2 billion people on this planet = 7.2 experiences of Wholeness. Here to be/experience just that!
It’s why formlessness keeps coalescing into form in the first place.
Which is why a role I play in the world is to serve as a constant reminder to look inwards, within, without attachment to method, process or external models to compare experience to- which leads to distortion of isness. But instead, to look within and see what is true for you now! What has the One Process incarnated into you to experience fully, in this moment? Allowing it to be seen, held, known, loved, celebrated! That’s the premise behind Open Meditation.
Reminds me of a poem Shunyata (voidness) I wrote a while ago…
“existence smiles, experiencing itself
as you in me in me in you and I”

on advaita

Advait Vedant (अद्वैत वेदान्त) is the collected body of existential knowing transmitted through eons in India, reflecting the nature of being and the organization of formless into form that points to the .

A = not/without. Dvait – two/second.

So the word Advaita, points carefully to ‘that without a second.’ For it wouldn’t suffice to say One- it must be noted that there is no possibility herein for a second- for divisiveness within the whole. The focus is on the indivisible whole that knows nothing outside of itself- pointing to intrinsic, inherent existential connectedness, oneness, wholeness of which all form is a reflection. Multiplicity without separateness. And there is no possible way for a separate self to exist, even though sometimes we are deluded into believing in this separation…In Vedanta, each “piece” of the whole is known and celebrated to be a “small wholeness”

Lacan wrote “The I cannot exist except in the field of the other.” Conditioned to believe in the separation between self and other, driven by the evolutionary need for self preservation, somewhere along the line the knowingness of the connection of the piece to the whole is lost and an identity emerges, wrapping its cocoon around a piece of the small, a small wholeness, that forgets its own nature.

And 13.8 billion years of evolution later, one small wholeness begins to question itself. To yearn to know itself. A seeker is born. Consciously or unconsciously, engaged in a journey that inevitably begins to point back to the seeker itself. Constructs and identity unravel into a homecoming. Wholeness begins to be experienced by its smaller reflection, and self dissolves into Self.

Advaita. That without a second.

Open Meditation Meetup

New online meetup to demystify meditation and build conscious community.

Looking at collective social, economic, political and cultural suffering I have always asked why? And, what can I do?
For years, I looked to architecture, design, writing op-eds for the answer. Every line I drew as an Architect, every space I envisioned, was aimed to mitigate disconnection, depression, anxiety, overconsumption, isolation…but it didn’t seem quite enough, when people were suffering the nature of their own thoughts and emotions.
Design aligned the exterior, but if our interior itself was misaligned all beauty, wonder and joy would be missed. And it is. Everyday, we suffer our own constructs, individually and collectively.
A good friend once said to me, “In America you have to be rich, white, thin and beautiful to be happy. Ishita you are not the richest, whitest, thinnest or most beautiful person, but you’re probably the happiest!”
And in that spirit, as I grappled with the divisive and fear based political upheaval, I realized more and more that I can only ever do one thing- be whole in myself and keep clearing out my own core wounds so I can serve the highest and best for all, through the highest and best in me.
What can I do? Facilitate conscious connection to fullness and wholeness already within you which is our birthright. When we feel safe, full and connected, we act out of love not fear.
That was the birth of Come to Center. The only “work” that feels both worthy and true for me.
Meditation aligns our interior. Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, say and do are the same.” And that is my “secret.” Conscious alignment.
I dream of a conscious and present world, where every being acts from stillness, fullness, from love, for the highest good of all, which is the highest good for each.
Wherever you are, I hope you will join me for Open Meditation. It’s what we really need in the world now.

embrace

transformation can only occur in embrace.

embracing I
am
become

love,

transforming holes into wholeness.

look-
where did    you      ever       find
a piece of the          whole
(a (small) wholeness)
less than,
that?

did you find shelter from your shadow in the womb of darkness?

in the great No thing
where Allness
hides

swallowing form
forgetting to remember
whence you came?
how will you know the shadows you carry?

without
ever turning to the Sun

in embrace

 

 

*photo by Nikki J.

 

Lead, learn, thrive!

Re-wire Your Brain to Master Your Game

Life in 2017 moves faster than we can keep up. Overstimulated, hyperconnected and always on the go, we seldom pause to self-center. Competing priorities vie for our scattered attention, and in the face of increasing workloads and pressures we navigate life on autopilot.

Stress or burnout inevitably follow, hijacking decision-making and communication, thereby straining relationships and inhibiting access to flow- the very place where creativity, innovation and joy thrive! 

Overwhelmed, we start to question if it’s all worth our life energy. You may know this cycle. Through my time in the high stress design industry, I sure did.

So, how can we lead, work and thrive in the Attention Economy without sacrificing our sanity or well-being?

The key lies in our ability to align intention and attention- our skill at being present, here and now. Best practices in business and spirituality intersect at meditation, or in simpler terms, attention training. Efficacy lies in the mastering how our inner space meets the world.

Mindfulness and Meditation train our attention on which all else depends. Cultivating focus and self-centering develops flow. Presence, Self Regulation and Emotional Intelligence are vital to harness technical and leadership skills in the fast paced digital age.

Enhancing our work, relationships and wellbeing depends on enhancing our inner space. Neuroscientists and global business leaders know this too well.

Presence, Self Regulation and Emotional Intelligence are vital to harness technical and leadership skills.

Rewire your brain to master your game. It’s time to come to center.

on attention

From a certain perspective, meditation is essentially attention training!

“You should care because training your attention is the most important thing you can do in life. All your other skills depend on the quality of your attention. A weak, flitting attention makes doing anything in life slower and harder. A strong, steady attention makes doing anything easier. It even makes being yourself easier, because it opens the door to knowing yourself. It smooths the path to knowing who you are, what you want, and what to choose in life. It allows you to navigate your life more skillfully. So why not put in the work to develop a strong, steady attention and take the easy path through life?”

-Steven Kessler (author of the 5 Personality Patterns)

the ease of being!

erik-on-the-water-copy
the ease of being

no action 

           rooted
 in      lack

could ever

bring

forth fulfillment for fulfilment

is

here    now     whole ness
               !          (the nature)


of being 

               free and full and delight full !

action
            may
                     (or may not)
arise and 

you 

will know from the 

very 

ease of being

 

in prose:

No action rooted in lack could ever bring forth fulfillment.

Fulfillment is here and now. Wholeness is the nature of being- free, full and delightful! Action may or may not arise- you will know, from the very ease of being.

and more:

To examine inner grasping with curiosity and amusement, rooting into being, is to invite its own dissolution.

Photo above
My husband floating on backwaters in rural Thailand, March 2016 (from STUDIO-ish)

Open Meditation

What is Open Meditation? Meditation isn’t an act. It’s a state of being that occurs within you. Just as naturally as breathing…effortless, always perfect.

Reflecting on my life a few years ago, it dawned on me that though meditation was always a huge part of my life, I had never really been meditating!

Meditation had been happening to me. 

What I now call Open Meditation has been happening to me since memory- when I played on the banks of the Alaknanda which flowed behind our house and lost myself in the reflections in its waters. It happened to me on my long walks to nursery school, as I crossed the stream, as I smelled the raw mountain mist meeting the morning Sun, or the Koels singing in the forests…it happened to me when I found a leaf on my way to high school, and placed it on my desk just so, mesmerized by its beauty. Needless to say, confused peers thought I was weird- and weird I was, joyfully!

It happened to me as I walked from all-nighters in design studio to long days at work…tired but awake. Alive, relishing the beauty of the day…tearing up at how beautiful the very moment was. I remember when I would lie watching storms moving through the sky, birds dancing in murmurations in the clouds, meandering through precious breaks between the intensity of design school with delight into pure conscious experience of being-

“So much beauty, so much joy…!” resounding within.

And it happened to me when I finally separated knowing and understanding, making space for what I knew in my bones to surface. Always curious, my investigations of the nature of my own experience intensified and seeped into waking, sleeping and even dreaming! Until, stillness within became more intense than any movement, and I found myself closing my eyes and sitting. A little bit, everyday, any chance I got.

I’d avoided formal meditation for ever. I didn’t think I was ready, but unbeknownst to me, it was already happening through me. I didn’t plan on it, but there it was…

Never an early riser, I’d wake up minutes before I had to be at work, get fully dressed and for reasons I couldn’t describe, find myself sitting quietly for the last few minutes before I had to run out the door. Eyes closed, the same stream flowed through me, just more intensely now-

“So much beauty, so much joy…!”

For a long long time, everyday, I would sit in overwhelming gratitude, as these words moved through my mind, and tears flowed through my body. I found a whole new world within…energy flowed in me, and not randomly! Light and shadow coalesced into pulsating patterns, depths I didn’t know I had, revealed themselves quietly.

In total surrender, I watched my self dissolve.

I let it.

Being with what is, that’s all. I didn’t apply any technique or method I had learnt. In fact, I wasn’t ready to learn from anyone just yet. I knew I had to, had to, go within.

That’s all “I did.” And in retrospect, this subtle difference between trying to meditate and simply being with my meditativeness, was key.

No agenda, no expectations. No attempt to awaken into spiritual enlightenment, no desire for being a better person, no trying to get rid of my thoughts, no desire for better focus or sleep or creativity. Nothing.

no thing

Just, being with what is- consciously, curiously and unconditionally. That’s Open Meditation- open to whatever may be. Radical acceptance, absolute surrender.

When people ask me what kind of meditation I teach I say, I don’t really teach any particular method, but that I guide you in becoming meditative within yourself. That’s all. Along the way, we may invoke an in-the-mind or on-the-mind method, delve into the body or play in awareness…

but the underlying theme is always openness- being with what is, with no requests for it to be any different.

 

 

Life. Joy. Transcendence. Evolution…

“Success is easy. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be given to you. It’s all around you.”

Excerpted from a Jenny Wade interview with Rich Murray. His words resound:

“If you are reading this, in this very moment success is certain.  Success is easy. It’s going to be fun.  It’s going to be given to you.  It’s all around you. Everything you do that’s fun, that you really feel like doing, especially if it’s new, if it puts you in contact with people that feels precious and exciting and playful joyful and there’s a lot of uniqueness and there’s not a lot of rules and there’s a lot of things to choose from and your field of choice is expanding, then you’re being liberated from what you’re used to, you’re being freed from what you’re used to — go for it.

Go for it.  You deserve it.  You absolutely deserve it.  You deserve to have it fast and easy, and you in turn will make it faster and easier for me and the others. No sooner than you learn something, you are teaching it the next minute.  It’s fast. It’s chain-reacting, and it saves the entire world dream.  Everything that is a mistake and is painful is innocent confusion.  There’s no evil.  You are not evil. You are not bad.  And any time you become aware of your limits, that means you are already leaving them behind.  Everything that you don’t like about yourself and other people is already being outgrown, whether you’re aware of it in yourself or in another, the ostensible problem is already the doorway into a rapid avenue of progress.  It’s a revolving door and you spin through it effortlessly into the next stage beyond it.  The body level, emotion level, mind level, spiritual level, technology level all become fluid, interactive, equivalent, merged in brand new ways.  Laughter is the way.  Wrong way is way.  Failure and mistakes are the way for sure.  And even ordinary success can be left behind, no matter how sophisticated and busy it may be.  Just because you’ve always been such and such and done such and such and are really good at such and such doesn’t mean that you can’t grow within it and beyond it both in most amazing ways.  And every mistake is discovered to be a source of tremendous wisdom and inspiration.

Death is not a serious problem, and it is never punishment.  It’s just another opportunity, just like everything else, like every morning when you wake up.  I am Richard Murray.  Hear me.  And hear yourself.  Speak with joy, exuberance, authority, speaking freshly, making it up as you go on.  Be certain of things and be uncertain about what you’re certain about.”