What’s your part?

In light of recent events, I have been asking-

What are my implicit biases around gender, race, age and nationality?What are yours?

How are they affecting our discernment, and our ability to receive the gifts of those who we disagree with?

These are the questions I myself am sitting with and hope you will too. Last week I went in for an interview for US citizenship. After 19 years of living here, I will be granted the right to vote. The man who granted me this right was a Mexican immigrant, spoke with a Mexican accent, and represented the USCIS.

It was beautiful. In him, was the reminder that I will be just as much a citizen as anyone else. First, second or two hundredth generation Americans are all just that- American. And the law of a land must include and nurture all those who dwell in it- the Tao names this beautifully- IF we wish to create harmony. There are plenty of ways not to.

I have been mourning the sad state of this nation and this divisive politik that wants to get the worst in us.

I know what it’s like to come to a new land without 300 years of my ancestors living here before me- the loneliness, the hope, the despair, the fear of losing the life I have created on a single employer or govt officer’s whim. I know the pain of not being able to call home home, not knowing whether to buy real furniture because my visa may expire in a year.

And through this all, I know the incredible gifts of the Divine- I know what it is to integrate polarities of two divergent cultures within myself, bringing the best of each together, in new beautiful ways.

My family lives on four continents, and my children will be children of an immigrant and my God! I hope they protest louder than I have, calling for reform where reform must happen, because they’ll belong here in ways I am only just about to.

I know the immigrant story from the inside- and I assure you it is not the narrative of entitlement, America hating, self-serving drama we are often sold on the news.

Like wholeness comes from wholeness, trauma perpetuates trauma.

No amount of meditation or immersion in silence clears that out unless we’re truly willing to look in the mirror honestly, take responsibility for the ways in which we ourselves (each and every one of us) perpetuate pain inside and outside and sit with the unbearable within us rather than projecting it outwards, and of course, invite our own pain to be seen, known, lovingly held and transformed.

I content the era of the “power over” strong-handed authoritarian leader is coming to an end, and for that matter, I sense this may be the last time two white men in their 70’s are running this race.

A different reality is taking shape. Like a dying animal you can hear it going out with a scream.

Trump may well be re-elected as many people say (I don’t know), but that re-election is going to bring its own demise.

Even as I feel the collective cry for coherence, I do not think this country is ready to receive it just yet. For as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev noted, “for a Buddha to rule the world, we must have Buddhas to recognize, and elect one.”

No. I do not think either candidate is the Buddha, but I can see the humanity of both- their failings and their goodness, through the veil. I hope you can too.

When (very soon) I am granted the right to vote, I will use it to elect the man who reflects power, not dominance, models empathy, compassion and humility, and has dedicated his life to serving our nation.

And that would be me doing my part.

My fiercest hope for humanity lies in YOU!


That’s my fiercest hope – is that we come back to the natural intelligence that flows through us, instead of constantly negating it. It’s surrendering to the impulse that is the driving force of life. That’s the impulse of creation coming through you!

What could be more natural?
What else could bring fulfillment?

Click on the image for the full podcast episode!

Dear one,

I had a colorful conversation on my soulful colleague Andy Cahill’s podcast, the Wonder Dome. He asked me what my fiercest hope for humanity is- a beautiful question he poses to each of his guests.

I realized my fiercest hope for humanity lives in you. It breathes in the way you and I show up in the world, and in these catalytic times, our way of being is more important than ever.

In this intimate conversation we talked about being human and whole, and the juicy possibility that emerges when we come together as one- in service of a world that consciously and lovingly includes and transcends all its parts.

If you’ve been in one of my group courses you know this place of possibility, and if you haven’t, I hope you’ll join me. The world is begging us to show up fully for ourselves and eachother.

You can meet me in all my colors if you listen in! 

with hope and love,
Ishita

SHOW NOTES:

Come to Center
Call to Coherence Intensive
Un Becoming Podcast
Sanskrit
Bhagavad Gita
Francis Briers
Stoicism
Dharma

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In the deep

This poem came through tears…as a teacher of mine asked I accept my place in the world. It’s time, I know it’s time.

In the Deep
5/25/20

Deep
in the deep of the deep
something profound is stirring.

Even as I cloak myself -
Parvati to Kali,
hiding between the play
of Sun and Moon

something quiet is moving.

Listen:

From heart to heart,
the heart of God.

This is a beautiful incarnation.
There is a majesty here!
A profundity-

Joy!

I walk where spirit and matter kiss...
and
withinbecomeswithoutandallaround

A magnificent incarnation!
It is a Truth.
I stand at the top of the mountain.
It is a Truth.

And from here it is seen so clearly-

all the while the only thing stirring
was Vishnu's play-
His Sudharshan chakra
swirling through this world
quietly
creating another.

The call of fire in our hearts

Fire.
Our world is on fire. And so is my heart.

Art by George Redhawk

Fire. 
Our world is on fire. And so is my heart.

And I know that fire is the element of transformation- the cycle of initiation, purification, becoming…this is a becoming that necessitates the burning away of all that is false- inside and around us.

Between a peaking global pandemic, uprisings and protests for basic human rights and dignity and political mayhem, the past fortnight has truly tested us all!

I hope you are simultaneously safe and stirred to the core in the very best of ways because a new reality is pouring into this planet rapidly and calling us to take our place in it in a whole new way. Somedays it has felt to me like drinking right from a firehose!

They say hindsight is 2020, and 2020 is here. What you want to see when you look back at today, is begging be seeded now. The call to alignment has never been louder!

This stirring is not punitive, but rather an invitation into embodied wholeness. 

If you’ve been denying your truth, hiding in the shadows with a dream in your heart, stifling your voice, waiting for someday to live your purpose, I want you to ask yourself: what are you waiting for? If not now, when? If not you, who?

I know the path is uncertain and scary- I’ve walked through this fire myself before, leaving familiarity, safety and comfort to heed an inner calling. So I also know, that every time we step in through the fire, committed to living nothing less than the life we came here to live, when we dare to welcome truth over comfort, courage over fear, we are supported in unimaginable ways that bring us into a state of grace. 

Our planet needs your unique medicine in ways only YOU can bring! In ways that make you come alive!

Are you willing to let the false burn away and embody your truth? In your very ways of being and doing?  

The world just opened a direct path to your innermost calling. Come claim your rightful place in it. Align! 

In this radical time, feeling is not just healing, it is also the doorway to inspired, aligned action. Remember, there is no transformation without embrace- within and between us. 

To help you digest, reset, find purpose and resource in this fiery time, I am offering mini restorative sessions at no charge to you.

If you haven’t worked with me privately, you may be amazed at how impactful and powerful these re-sets can be. 15 minutes of attuned presence can transform lifetimes of pain.

This work is for you if you want to live a fulfilling, vibrant and authentic life. 

If your heart is also on fire, join me. Whether you want to offer the world your unique medicine, express your authentic voice or need support to heal and release emotional, relational and spiritual roadblocks, our work together will help you realize your deepest longings. 

All you need to begin is curiosity. Let’s talk.

Please take great care of your hearts and share this invitation with someone you know who could use it. 

I’m here. I’m listening. I’m standing with and for your brilliance, and the power of the human collective to rise in love together. 

Only love,
Ishita

Where fear and yearning meet.

All fear comes from a forgetting of who we are- when we forget life isn’t happening to me, I’m creating it. When we forget I’m not a tiny powerless thing in the universe, the whole universe is in me! When we forget the darkness is here simply to help us remember, we get scared.

And when we remember life is here to make us conscious, not happy- we can again embrace the arising with the acceptance it needs. We can give our fearful inner friend the hug it needs- because what it needs, is to be seen and held.

What fears are holding you hostage from living your fullest expression in the world? What’s the risk you cannot afford not to take?

I just got off the phone with a dear friend facing the crisis of having outgrown her own cocoon. She knows it’s time to step into her dreams, and she’s afraid of facing the unknown and the potential disappointment of asking life for what she wants and not getting it.

She isn’t alone. Sound familiar?

As the spring comes into bloom, it brings new yearnings in our hearts- and each yearning must meet the fear that keeps it chained before it can be realized. This is natural- ever impulse to expand is met with its polarity, until we can integrate the two. That’s the beginning of wholness.

Yes- there is a space for fear and yearning to meet, to know eachother, and ultimately transform into ease and fluidity.

When I started Come to Center I had to sit with similar fears. And the truth is, as we meet our fears, they morph into newer ones. If you’re waiting to feel fearless before you take the next step in life, I want to remind you that every fear is a gift. It is an invitation into the next step of your evolution.

It’s the next dragon on your hero(ine)’s journey.

In fact, it’s something I help people through all the time now. Because I know it isn’t about not feeling afraid, it’s about learning to hold our fearful inner child with love and compassion, while growing it up. As Liz Gilbert says, fear gets to come on the ride, but it doesn’t get to drive the car.

All fear comes from a forgetting of who we are- when we forget life isn’t happening to me, I’m creating it. When we forget I’m not a tiny powerless thing in the universe, the whole universe is in me! When we forget the darkness is here simply to help us remember, we feel afraid.

And when we remember life is here to make us conscious, not happy- we can again embrace the arising with the acceptance it needs. We can give our fearful inner friend the hug it needs- because what it needs, is to be seen and held.

How can we turn fear into alertness? How can we meet it with open hearts when it’s busy shutting our heart down?

Consider this:

In our last session, I asked a high performing client who was feeling stuck with fear of a pending decision and who is basically a master at whatever she tries, to identify something “She sucks at” and go try learning it.

After fishing for a while, she decided she definitely couldn’t write songs and was shy of her singing voice. So naturally, I made that her experiment for the fortnight. 

Today, she came back for our next session, bubbling with excitement about “all the things I am just terrible at! Which are SO fun to try! I forgot how much fun learning is! I didn’t just try a song, I tried everything! I even tried juggling- and I suck at juggling but people were cheering for me saying how cool it was to see me approach it so fearlessly- and to see me improve as I went through the process.” 

And then, she sang the song she’d written.

By the time she was done singing it, we both had tears rolling down our faces. She had written the song about the fires she was facing in her own life and meeting the heartbreak and beauty of all that is unfolding. It was real. It touched my heart. It was her first song.

And she said, it’s been changing even as she sings it…isn’t that a metaphor for life? 

When we stop taking everything so seriously, when we stop avoiding, and rather embrace our fears, stare our imperfection in the face with love, it only brings us deeper wisdom, and love, and joy and connection. 

The pending decision was still daunting, but the fear could no longer debilitate her, because she’s experienced the beauty of fear paving the way for fluidity, all it takes is the willingness to meet it.

It is a privilege to do this work, with people willing to go into these places with me!

So, what’s the risk you can’t not afford to take?

What’s the fear stopping you from living your fullest expression?

How would it be to transform that fear into fluidity?

What could open up in that reality?

If you’d like to dig deeper and are curious about 1:1 work, let’s talk. All you need to get started is curiosity!

Design-in-self

What I sought to create, I found inside myself.

11 years ago (feels like lightyears), for my architectural thesis I designed CeSRON- the Center for Self Reflection, Otherness and Narcissism. A building designed to be a mirror for our inner space.

Little did I know I would create Come to Center, a live mirror that does just that, or that I would end up becoming that mirror myself for others, down the line. 

This surreal project was a celebration of, in a very tongue n cheek way- the obsolescence of self-awareness- before I had heard of transformation, awakening, healing, or any of the work I do now- ALL of which is about self-awareness.

I was fascinated by the race riots in Detroit- and in studying, and considering what led to the violence and deep separation between people, I saw very clearly, how the inner division leads to outer conflict. I was just so curious about the moment at which a child looks in the mirror and says- “me”. 

I spent final year of architecture school studying Lacan and Jung and Heiddeger and falling in love with Gordon Matta Clark…. I had a hay day questioning everything in a way that ultimately led to transcending my discipline of design and architecture altogether, when staring at the face of human suffering. 

What supported this inquiry was a reflection from my professor- I had finally found one person who saw my hunger for the edges of knowledge, and encouraged me to go all out-wherever you are Rupinder Singh I am so deeply grateful for our time together spent in joyous explorations of the depths of art, architecture, meaning, connection and dissection of life itself! For hiding my keys to get me out of hiding in the bottomless pit that was opening up as I got closer to facing existential truths. You weren’t just a teacher, you were a healer to me.

I didn’t know it then, but the questions alive in all these drawings are: What is the root of separation?

How did we become people? What got made into a self? Who am I? What is this? I even labeled the diagrams things like (my favorite) “Labyrinthine search for self”, never suspecting any of this had to with Spirituality.

And the thing is, I knew then, that all this, is really the search for our center. I just hadn’t seen I was literally searching for my self and that the answers lay within me, and that I could trust all that which I knew, but couldn’t understand. 

That took time. It took living in inquiry and eventually turning inwards.

It took facing the pain of my own inner separation, seeing through the trap of needing to understand things that lay beyond the confines of the mind.

As they say, hindsight is 20-20! Of course it adds up. Having looked in the mirror long and hard, coming to face myself over the years, now I have become the mirror I once set out to design.

Everyday, I hold a mirror to reflect back the truth, power and wisdom that lies within my clients, their shadows, their light and everything in between. In deep inquiry, I appeal to something that lies beyond my clients’ intellects to allow them to step outside the confines of their minds- diving into their conditioning, their traumas to find freedom within.

The journey of personal healing paves the path for our collective transformation. 

I often say, everything is everything- all forms reflect the One. What appears to be separate, is a facet of difference, not separation.

From the outside it may seem like I am doing transformational work, business consulting, designing a building, painting a painting, writing a poem or telling a story… 

From the inside, it’s always been about one thing- falling ever more deeply into loving exploration of myself, and life itself!

What drives me, what drives you?

Ever wonder what it is that drives you? What you yearn to bring forth?

It turns out, purpose is always about something bigger than ourselves that we are asked to stretch into.

What is your yes to in life? That’s the elemental question of purpose.

I get asked this often, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what drove me to end a decade long career as an architect and start Come to Center — a holistic transformational consultancy, that constantly has me walking the edge of discomfort, asking me to face my demons every step of the way.

And the answer is L O V E!
Big love.

A love of life itself, a love of something bigger than me, love of those in search of light, of truth, of something bigger than themselves.

So often in our world we go looking for fulfillment outside of us- marketing is great at perpetuating a paradigm of lack- get the new outfit, the perfect job, the perfect partner and then you’ll be happy! And we believe them, until we actually ‘get it all.’

We can have the perfect job, the perfect house, a helluva lot of money and still feel empty, disconnected and meaningless. We can have three PhDs and a lineup of accolades and still know nothing about our own nature- who we are, why we came to be, how to live a joyful life!

We can go through a whole lifetime in unconsciousness, driven by compulsive consumption- without ever honoring our deepest yearning, without ever knowing the exquisite privilege it is to be alive!

Seven years ago I saw through the illusion I’d been living in a way I could no longer deny. I had always suspected there was more to reality than met the eye.

And this seeing shattered everything I thought I was, I wasn’t, everything I thought I knew and my whole worldview itself.

It gave me absolute response ability. It silenced the yearning in all my questions. It plunged me into a bottomless hole that grew so big, it swallowed everything up and left a Wholeness that has never since left me, even in the darkest of times, even as I’m still falling through the hole! It’s the wildest, most fun ride I’ve ever been on!

So fun that it had to be shared- you know, like when you find the most incredible secret, so simple and profound, you want to TELL EVERYONE? Like that! So I listened to my heart and let my spirit drive.

I now live and share a simpler, more authentic and fulfilling way of life. I know what I am, I know why I’m here:

I’m here to know myself ever more deeply in relationship- with life, with all of creation, with you.

To be unapologetically me.

To heal inner division.

And I’m here to embody and teach a new way of being- one that lets us love ourselves fully and deeply.

To provide an alternative to existing in stress and turmoil.

To empower conscious evolution.

To bridge the wisdom of the East with the gifts of the West.

And holy shit, is it scary!

It turns out, purpose is always about something bigger than ourselves that we are asked to stretch into.

You will be tested along your hero’s journey. Every day I face some flavor of my shadow- my shyness, my reticence to really be vulnerable, shame in asking for my needs, to allow myself to be seen in my power, to let you know I know what I’m talking about and a hundred other defense strategies I’ve perfected over lifetimes…

But beneath all of that, there’s the love. It permeates everything. It shines from behind the fear and guides me through and to the light. There is much to learn and be and do and share!

So, what are you driven by in your life?

What is your yes to? Can you let your deepest love be your guide?

Come to Center is an invitation to join me on the ride. To turn suffering into growth. To return home to yourself. To live from the center of your being- to align with your truth, your beauty and your power- and bring it through in how you meet life, in this moment. And this one. And this one…

Come with me. Collective transformation starts with us!

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:

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 source.

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.