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.

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.

an outline for mornings

-open eyes (no alarm)

-resist checking your phone/email/clock etc.

-smile at being alive

-smile at whoever lies next to you

-rub your palms together (activate nerve endings and wake up the body)

-place them on your eyes

-stretch/roll/sigh…you’re alive! and you have a body!

-roll to the right and sit up in steps

-express your gratitude: say what you are thankful for

-express your intention: say what you wish for: for you, for your loved ones, for everyone everywhere

-express forgiveness: forgive those who have harmed you, ask those you have harmed for forgiveness, forgive yourself

-imagine yourself at the end of this day, beaming, surrounded by everyone you love and everyone who loves you cheering, shining, for you, with you…

-stand up

-stretch along your whooole body…move all the joints, break the fluids from last night- add a little angamardhana if needed

-visit the loo

-drink a couple sips of water

-breath practice

-morning meditation

-asanaas if needed

-warm herbal tea with honey

-warm, cooked non sugary breakfast

 

 

 

to heal the world, heal your wounds

You cannot give to the world what you do not have. And you cannot ask the world to be what you are not.

You cannot give to the world what you do not have. And you cannot ask the world to be  what you are not.

In Viktor Frankl’s words:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

In Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s words:
“If there is no transformation in you and me, if there is no change in a way we perceive , experience, feel and act in this world, How can you change the world?”

It has become clear to me, that the only (not just the best) way to help the world or make it a better place or create positive impact, as many are out to do, is for each person to clarify and settle their inner space. The only way to heal the world, is to confront and heal your own wounds.

To connect with the peace within, and solidify into that connection.

Notice I didn’t say find peace within, because it’s already there. Your attention probably just happens to be elsewhere, and because life happens “at the intersection of awareness and physical reality,” your experience and perception is limited to the expanse of your awareness.

Everything you know and experience already exists in it.

You must be wondering how I would know this most fundamental, intimate secret about you that you may not even know for sure…I know, because this peace, this stillness, this beingness, this fundamental wholeness, is my home. And it is also yours.

You may have forgotten, but maybe as we journey here together, I can help you remember…

 

a story of my becoming

I used to think I was Ishita. Then I was sure I was nothing. Now I know I am everything.

As Ishita I have spent my life asking big questions and dissecting the edges of knowledge, unconsciously engaged in what I now recognize as a search for core Truth.

Growing up close to rivers and mountains in a Himalayan valley, I could be found admiring forests full of Koel songs or tracing lines of ants for hours at end, moving through the day with eyes closed, trying to see without seeing…

Driven by hungry existential curiosity, I looked for Truth in my homeland and awaylands, in forests and mountains, deserts and oceans. An explorer and creator, a wonderer and a wanderer I did, made, felt and thought about much…

Searching for answers through my work, I evolved into a multidisciplinary designer and thinker. Trained as an architect and a writer, I grappled with steel and concrete on one end, and our very humanity on another. Refusing to limit my explorations to a single label, I have worked as an architect, designer, painter, photographer, potter, editor, journalist and yogi…

I kept searching for Truth in the hearts and minds of others, in up-down-out-and-arounds, until my incessant questioning began pointing me towards my self and I got quiet, clear, still and full.

I separated knowing and understanding. I dropped the lie.

I admitted that the answers to my own questions lay inside me and had always been there. I realized time was a modification of my mind.
I accepted and surrendered to that which I knew but didn’t understand.
I began to align my outer self with my inner knowing.

Then, walking past a bookstore window I read the words “I Am That” popping out at me. To my own surprise, I heard myself say, “Why, yes, I am!” I walked into the bookstore, picked up the book, opened it up to be brought home by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings. It became the only book I read for 4 years!

Over the next couple months, re-cognizing my own inner truth I had never had the words to articulate, I wept with joy and laughed with gratitude. Here at last, home at last! And then, the depths of my I-ness dissolved. All boundaries between me and not me melted so completely that there was no I left…no time, no space…nothing but the non conceptual one-ness, that which had no second. That which cannot be put into words, for it is the thing that makes words. And all else.

Eyes opened, the dream was over.

If you’re curious, yeah, I kept going to work, apparently losing your I doesn’t prevent architecture to be made through “you!” A glorious time of learning and assimilation followed. I discovered that the biggest questions have small and simple answers, that there is no core Truth. And that is magnificent!

I don’t believe there is The Truth, but I have found a Truth, in which I am finally home. And I want to help you find yours.

In 2015, I left work & home to make space and figure out how to engage consciously with the world and integrate my inside and outside. In that space emerged pointers that have brought me to exactly where I need to be now.

Now, whether I am leading a meditation, designing a product or a process, a painting or a poem or a photoshoot, I do it just for the pleasure of doing it. I don’t expect or need it to fill a hunger or a void in me. And the work is both better, and more pleasurable than ever.

Life is light, joyful, wholesome.

Fully at home in the foreground of spaciousness, I play in the world centered in peace within. And this fuels a joyous curiosity and a wondrous exploration, rather than limiting them.

I am ever more intrigued by the manifest world and want to know its very fundamentals as I explore life in its fullness! I am finally, free.