Jesus says, “Know thy neighbor!”

2020 has made it clearer than ever that community is a deep human need! Connection is what we all want underneath all our wants- connection to ourselves, to each other, to something bigger than us. Here’s a story about how I created my own community when I wanted it the most!

Not long after I moved into Joe’s triple decker in Somerville- what I called Casa 69 because I wanted so badly to speak Spanish, I got to know my neighbors in the other 5 apartments, only to find out they didn’t know each other. Even though I was the newest to the building, and others had lived there for years on end, no one had gotten to know the people living 6 feet away from them. Literally! And I couldn’t believe it!

Our sense of community is intrinsically different in America than it is in India- our space bubbles are smaller in India, somehow everyone shares a sense of belonging that is easily extended…Riding a train for 3 hours can have you end up exchanging food over discussions on politics and religion, holding people’s children…there’s an easy familiarity in ways that most Americans I know may be terrified by!

Not knowing your next door neighbors is like a warped version of an impossible reality for most Indians!

I got to confront this difference in many forms as an international student and again and again as a young professional moving around the country alone. So back to Casa 69- I saw so many fun people stacked above each other and suspected they’d enjoy meeting each other!

In fact, I was craving community- like many of us are now! I wanted the kind where you just knock on each other’s door to have a chat, to borrow some milk, to share the craziness of the snowstorm (or the pandemic) outside…So I decided to create it.

Next day, I made these (to me hilarious and awesome) fliers from a deck of post-its my friend Loren had gifted me. For a second I worried they might seem preposterous to a serious Church-goer, but if they were offended, we weren’t going to get along any way! So I posed it as a divine duty- I mean, Jesus says know thy neighbor, right?! I slipped a flyer under each person’s door.

There was a buzz in the building, planning as we crossed paths in the hallways for days, I bought some cupcakes, some wine, and when the day came, so did every person in the building.

Crammed into my tiny living room over a circle of food and wine, we exchanged stories, happy to discover unexpected camaraderie over the hilarity of our rental configurations and the eccentricities of our landlord.
We roared in laughter as we shared our reactions to him blocking out our bathroom windows, all at once, for no reason…We laughed as we realized the Americans were outnumbered by international folks- we had an Irishman, a German, two Mexicans, and of course, me, the resident Indian!

As time went by, the distance shortened.

We knocked on each other’s doors, we played tennis, made art, went on adventures..we even combined apartments and hosted Casa 69 parties (you may have been to one), we had late night existential discussions over music on our porches…We cried and laughed together through life’s growing pains. Some beastly nor’easter nights when Boston was covered with 6′ of snow, I put a giant lasagna bake in the oven n we’d all snuggle into my living room to play games n voluntarily be locked in together!

We became friends. So much love, so much community, just waiting to be put together…oh and most of us aren’t connected on facebook :)

2020 has made it clearer than ever that community is a deep human need! Connection is what we all want underneath all our wants- connection to ourselves, to each other, to something bigger than us.

We all want to belong to something, know that those around us stand with us, that we are part of a grand adventure together- it’s more fun to share the ride!

New partners, new jobs, new horizons came and we all left that building eventually but I still talk to each of them, though less often. It was the sweetest period of my Boston life and I’ve drawn on this experience often to bring people together, and more importantly, bring cool people to me!

They say strangers are just friends waiting to be discovered. I couldn’t agree more!

How are you building community through the pandemic? It’s the balm we all need and in these times we need to actively create and nurture it. I’d love to hear your adventures in turning friends into strangers.

If you’re interested in sharing this kind of fun community, with a purpose to support your deepest intentions- join us in Murmurations! A transformational community starting Jan 28, shepherded by yours truly.

A group of some really cool folks is coming and I’d love to have you too!
Your new friends might just be waiting to be discovered.

<3
Ishita

If you’re feeling the call of newness, a longing for connection and self-transformation, join us!
 
This 6 month journey is a space to realize your intentions in an intimate, conscious community. We’ll be the wind beneath each other’s wings, as we examine who we are and our deepest purpose.

We’ll dive in to clarify your wants in alignment with your deepest purpose, examine and release the blocks in the way, while synchronizing with your natural rhythm and greater order. You’ll cultivate a conscious relationship with yourself, others, your purpose and the earth itself as we journey together. I’m pulling the best parts of my rich healing journey here to usher you into the newness life’s calling you into!

The course starts Jan 28th and an impressive group is forming.
If it resonates, I encourage you to apply soon- I’d love to talk with you too! 

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.

Even though meditation is a way of being for me, I’ve been reluctant to teach it. I want so deeply to share it with everyone, and I know that ultimately meditation cannot be taught, it must be discovered.

Though meditation was always a huge part of my life, I had never really been meditating! Meditation had been happening to me. 

Meditation isn’t a thing you do. It’s being vulnerable with life. Close your eyes and feel life. Every moment is an end in itself.

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…!” the words kept 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, 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.