family prayer for home.

puja-shah copyrighted

When men raise their daughters with honor, patience and affection rather than restrictive controlling made to oppress her true essence, she will become a leader, strong and confidant. When she respects herself, men will respect her.

When men raise their sons with loving guidance rather than physical and verbal bullying, he will be a leader, strong and confidant. When he learns to respect the women around him, everyone will respect him.

When women nurture their children from belly to body, heart beat to heart love, cord to breast, breath to smile, their children feel roots in their world, powerful and courageous.

When men treat their wives with gratitude, respect and compassion, and caress their beauty then their women open their vessels of unconditional love and strengthen their family in divine power, bringing in ever flowing abundance.

When wives treat their husbands with gratitude, respect and compassion, honor their protection, their men shine with pride.

When children witness this union, they feel secure and grow well.

Businesses flourish, homes thrive as a unit, health is vibrant and leaders emerge.

Abandon the actions encountered and dogmatic beliefs held and engrained by previous generations and ancestors who accepted interpretations of truth. Nurture the inner and divine equality of love. True yin and yang. Both are needed, both are important, both are alone powerful, but need each other to create the purity of what makes up consciousness.

Do not worry what this looks like.

Do not worry what seems right or how things were done before. Do not worry about the things that should be. Do not worry about rules in rituals that came far after the golden time of unspoken understanding. That was an old home of ego.

Learn.

This is our new home. Our rules. Our essence.

Home is the current place of hearts.

When things get blurry…

Focus.

These inner gifts we individually have.

Follow and trust the voice of heart.

Praise your partner. Praise your children.

Lift your partner, lift your children.

Raise your head to the sun when patterns of the conditioning surface. When ego blares or unconscious flashes seep in.

Cold words and shoulders are not welcome in this home where warmth meets eyes and fingertips.

Even in the hardest of moments…

Melt away any doubt, fear and awaken to this presence.

To do it at other way goes against the grain of innate wisdom. Of the natural elemental energy we are one with.

This is our dharma as partners. As parents. As souls in this realm.

This is the home that Buddha can say is oneness.

This is the home that Vishnu’s serpent brings treasures to reside in.

This is the home that Lakshmi chooses to light.

This our chosen home.

a meditation poem.

my inner lotus

I wrote this during my first yoga teacher training. I had come home from a strenuous day of asana, but felt open, heart centered, raw. So I meditated and the words danced in my mind. I picked up my journal after opening my eyes and this is what I found…

AUM. 

If you would like to learn more on how you can find bliss and creativity in your daily life, try this simple FREE 9 day meditation challenge I created for Project Yourself here: http://new.projectyourself.com/13280.html. It begins this Friday, May 22nd. 

year of my avocado tree.

DSC_0381

Photo taken in Napa Valley, California: 2008 with my Nikon SLR

HAPPY NEW YEAR. 2015 will be a good one…

It takes 8 years for an avocado tree to grow and bear fruit,

I live in our countries’ avocado haven…

So I know.

How much care

Goes into one tree

of life.

8 years ago was his first

coma

so we planted

seeds of hope

let our love shine and

watered it with prayer

but things still turned yellow…

remember that bamboo plant?

that nani revived

sang it from yellow stalks

to sprouting green leaves,

yellow sclera eyes

to now

my father’s sparkle.

her Sanskrit shlokas

filling walls

that were crumbling

with each episode

of pain,

as my mother glued

them back

piece by piece

as she always did.

the fruits are growing

and we are breathing

life force into weak limbs

breathing

fresh air again

to surprised hearts

breathing out

instead of holding in

we are breathing

this delicious blessing,

these fruits have never tasted so good,

mother earth

your miraculous ways

have

my hands

at

my

heart,

this year will be a good year

for our avocado tree.

happy anniversary from your miracle baby.

my parents

Today is my parents 34th wedding anniversary and yet, our whole family is spread across the world. A time ago, we would have been piled on my parents bed, laughing at an American phrase my mom picked up from my brother, but of course butchered in her Indian accent. My sister would have been massaging my father’s head, (she is the world’s best at scalp massages), my mom would have her Bhagavad Gita in her hand, since most likely we all jumped onto their bed interrupting her nightly spiritual reads, (she always happily accepted and anticipated those moments of course), and I would put my head right on her chest to listen to her heart beat, my favorite. It feels good remembering that on this day, where I celebrate their love.

I tried to FaceTime with my father yesterday to tell him all this, but the connection was bad so will try again. Yesterday was one of those awareness days, too. There are so many it’s hard to keep up with them all, but when I saw all the hashtags on Facebook for this one, it caught my eye.

It was world premature birth awareness day. And I thought, wow, so much has changed.

33 years ago, on a cold NYC mid-December day, my mother gave birth to me. 2 months early.

Then the less than 2 lbs. of my early existence was rushed to special hospital for special treatment. And my new to this country mother, and my young father both prayed.

I imagine what it was like back then, before the fancy NICU rooms of parent interaction and promising technology and before people made a big deal about bringing awareness to babies who had to fight for their life.

I imagine what my mother felt, giving birth to me without her mother or sister by her side.

I can imagine all this now because for me, it was quite different. I had my sister in the room with me when I gave birth, I played spiritual music and had my yoga mat. My sister massaged my back as I bathed through contractions, my husband held my hand when I started crying, my daughter was healthy.

I am a mother, a parent now, and so I can viscerally feel the truth behind their words of nightly prayer with their best friends, as they all stared into the plexiglass window at my little body, chanting for the vibration that they created to try to heal me, lift me, strengthen me.

So when my parents called my grandfather in India on the phone, my mother’s guiding light, he said to name me Puja.

That is what I became then, their little prayer, the one that beat the odds, whose lungs grew strong without any issues, the girl who ended up being tallest in her class and who could run the fastest on field day.

And when I would hide my baby pictures from embarrassment, the ones of me in an incubator, my father would kiss the picture and say, “you were meant to fit in my palm perfectly, my beta,” my mother would hold my hand and say “you are my miracle.”

Their words of joint love that I celebrate today, they lifted me, strengthened me. Their little miracle baby.

I remember this one moment so clearly, as a child, overhearing a story of a baby being born earlier than his due date. Like me…but not making it. He was born too early, they said. And right then and there, I closed my eyes, held my little palms together and whispered, thank you for this chance. 

festival of inner light.

SRF

Photo taken with my iPhone: October 23rd 2014: Self Realization Fellowship, Encinitas, CA

Our mornings on Laila’s school days consist of a general routine: getting ready, picking out what to wear, (my 2 year old has recently become very opinionated on her daily outfits…oh teenage years, that will be even more fun- sorry about the days I fought for ripped bell bottom Levi’s mom!), lighting a diya, breakfast, getting her lunch and school bag ready to go. And we are off.

Then it’s working, prepping lunch for my husband, teaching, picking her up and cooking dinner. If I can, I will squeeze in my yoga/meditation practice in there, or at least some pranayama. But mostly, I find myself working and taking care of and nurturing my family, something I carry with high esteem as a momma.

So today, after I dropped her off, picked up my husband’s dry cleaning and headed home to my computer for work, I took a different turn. I had just had a phone conversation with my best friend about self-care.

I drove down the 101 and found myself at a place I took time to go every day during my pregnancy.

At the Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden, I sat on my favorite bench and I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in and out. I let it come back to me, slowly, as the noise of my long list of things to do silenced, faded to a background. As the current background noises I heard, started to somehow blend with my breath. Ocean, leaves, birds. I let compassion in. For the nature I heard at first, then my sweet baby girl’s face filled my sun-kissed mind, and it kept going…for my love, my husband, for my whole family. I thought of my sister who was visiting us this evening, my brother who had just texted me, my mother and father who I miss dearly. My friend who I had just spoken to, my in laws who would be visiting next week. How amazing to have so many loved ones, I thought. And as the silence took over, as my breath felt fluid, as the thoughts dissipated, I felt my heart full of love for myself, the inner guide who always shines in my most difficult moments and helps me, this inner voice…she is my light.

When I opened my eyes, it was as time had stood still. My list was still there, my work was still ready for me. But you know, it felt like forever that I had spoken to her, my inner goddess, full of shakti, it had been some time since I had found her and embraced her. And in that moment, I realized how important self-care for myself truly is, especially to be able to tend to the needs of my loved ones and shine with my work.

May your inner light glow with compassion and truth today, happy diwali.

to the universe, for my father.

grandfather
Photo taken with my Canon SLR. Encinitas, CA: May 2014
Dear Universe,
You may remember it as clear as I do. I’m in my room again, circa 1996. I have my headphones on and my new Walkman blasts In Bloom by Nirvana. It’s a Saturday morning that I don’t have to go help my parents in the office. I can feel the music in my veins and I don’t know it then, but I’m an empath like daddy so music enters my body with conviction. My window’s slightly open and I see the magazine collage on my wall and hear the gardeners mowing the lawn. I can smell spring. Life feels still in that moment.
It was a happy year. Things were good for my parents, we had moved to a new home, mom went back to work and had her own office. Daddy sang old movie songs in our kitchen and made homemade sauces, he had life in his eyes.

The first time I asked daddy where his sparkle went was when I was a sophomore in college. We were in line at the grocery store and I looked straight at him and asked him. He told me everything was fine. But I knew something was up.

2001. Sh*^ really hit the fan that year. My parents seemed stressed at work, (even though daddy never showed it to us), my younger sister was in high school and rebeling. Nothing serious, she was never a party girl, but things like blue hair and a Jewish boy who liked her were amongst the mix for my shocked Indian parents. But that was all stuff we could have handled.

It was the Ahmedabad earthquake that really got us. That swallowed mommy’s smiles and daddy’s faith.

My grandparents went to India with my mom to visit their motherland after a decade of being in the States with us. Before they left, I had secretly talked to my dada about helping mom and dad with office management and numbers since he was a math genius. He told me I should concentrate on studying, don’t worry about it and things were fine. I will promise to help when we are back, ok beta?

For many years of my grieving after that, I had always thought you may have taken dada away from us, because I had asked that.

I was young, but felt that there was a something greater working and if dada had helped, something would have shifted fate. And so you roared as the force of a city’s rumbles killed my strong, brilliant dada.

I’ll never in my life forget what it felt like watching my mommy and nani walk from baggage claim to our car without him. I’ll never forget how much my own father cried. Dada was like a father to him too, you know.

I’m not sure from then to now, how things got to where they are now.

Sometimes it seems like a blur. Like I can still hear daddy, his brown stylish dress shoes walking on the granite floors strongly, his humming making me smile and in turn, his eyes dancing as his 3 kids hug him home.

But daddy got sick. And we blamed all the things we thought, diet, lack of exercise, stress, but even amongst that stuff, we learned that it was his condition that was truly attacking him.

I came home from final exams in grad school and we all prayed in that ICU. You heard us, over and over.

And daddy, you know him, he’s a fighter. He woke up and he was with us. Things were ok for awhile. I moved to California, got married.

Daddy was so happy at my wedding.

But it happened again, he was in the hospital during a visit to see us and then during my yoga teacher training. I gave him news of a granddaughter, (now the love of his life). It gave him life all over again, his little Laila. He woke up, ready to love her.

 Nowadays, it’s been many times where we’ve been scared. I’m grateful you hear us and sometimes think, mommy and nani’s faith has given our family these chances at his life again. At our family’s life to be whole. It’s the prayers of all the people daddy helped and loved with his true to the bone kindness.

[Read more…]

footprints of our future.

It was the look in his eyes when he said he was thinking of going, but was concerned about leaving me alone so pregnant…. I could see his calling, how deeply he wanted to just…explore.

And so as I held my round belly with our child in it, I told my husband Amish to take off. And in true Indian Jones fashion, he did.

I remember when he got the book way before that moment, the thick old looking one by SR Rao…The Lost City of Dvaraka.

He was intrigued, fascinated, and consumed the knowledge. As I studied Patanjali for my yoga teacher training those evenings, I would hear him tell me facts on Dwarka in bed, on the evidence and history.

We were creating these vibrations and sanskara for Laila without knowing it.

Then in the midst of completing the paperwork for our nonprofit organization, The Shah Education and Exploration Foundation: SEEF, (which was my dream I had envisioned for our footprints on this earth together), this vision came to him. It felt stronger even more so, with the tiny feet that kicked my belly at the time. He said his calling to Dwarka would all connect to SEEF, it was going to come full circle.

And here we are now…and it did.

When he got back from India, he was thinking of a name. He needed something to do with this amazing idea he had about exploring and preserving areas like Dwarka, other lost cities and historical places. “Ancient explorers?” I said. “That’s gotta be taken online,” he said. But it wasn’t. It was just waiting…for this.

His passion and drive to discover might have been what created this documentary, even when he never had the intention of creating it…it just happened with events and people that came into his life for it. So…it feels like it’s more than just that. Like a message, or larger idea the universe is conveying…telling us to explore. To find. To discover the truth. To create these footprints of our future.

The documentary goes live next week on Thursday May 1st, 2014… so sign up for the free screening at Ancient Explorers…and walk this path with us to re-create history.

Check it out: [Read more…]

my birthday: 30 reasons I love my 30’s

eyes

When I turned 30 two years ago, I remember feeling like it didn’t “feel” old. I didn’t really notice any thing different, I didn’t find any new wrinkles or extra white hair…but I was also in pregnancy bliss and loved every minute of getting over morning sickness the week before my birthday.

Then last year rolled around and I reflected on it more, as a new mom and as I starting thinking about my goals, and where I wanted to be “after 30”. Parts of me felt confused about it, but I was immersed in motherhood…I was just figuring it all out.

Now, at 32, I am starting to realize that I really do love my “30s”, (as I did my 20s and will I believe, hopefully find in my 40s).

I am embracing what it is to be post 20s emerging grad student/shifting style. In my late 20s, I remember the feeling of letting go when I donated many of those Guess jeans, sheer “going out” black tops for a more sophisticated drapey sweater and fair trade yoga pants. It felt like my “entering my 30s” look.

And not only in clothes. I started appreciating quality family time, reducing social obligations and carving out more time for myself.

(Yes, I love bubble baths with soulful music and reading my latest fiction book evenings…But I guess that wasn’t anything new- I have been doing that since my teens).

In the last year or so, I have found myself deeper in my own introspection, understanding my actions and thoughts more, feeling more connected to those around me and at a deeper seed of my intuition.

I can say that I love it here and now…so…well, happy birthday to me:)

Here are 30 reasons I love being in my 30s:

[Read more…]

colors of fall.

in the fall i miss you Photo taken with my Canon: Las Vegas, NV

With fall here, new winds have starting to feel cool to my body and refreshing to my soul. In my New York days, the change was apparent… from humid, moist air to a dry, crisp leaf. Being in Southern California, there are pockets of places where the leaves change color, yet keeping the tropical feel of palm trees who remain to sway in the sun. Here, the change is subtle, allowing my awareness to rise at nature’s secret happenings. The flowers bloom differently, the stars in the sky change patterns and the farmer’s market attests to the new climate as I pick apples and broccoli over blueberries and okra. I wrote this haiku in honor of this beautiful season.

“in the fall, i miss you.” 

By: Puja Shah

New wind blows gently with scents of you

Leaves change colors

Refreshing heart, soul, mind

momma earth.

Photo taken with my Digital Canon: My favorite look-out in La Jolla, CA

The other day, the most beautiful thing happened. Laila and I were sitting outside and there was a slight breeze swaying the tall Eucalpytus trees we have lining our backyard and she looked up at them and started talking. Then she stopped and started laughing.

She was talking to the trees.

It was so natural, in this profoundly poignant yet simple way. Like, no biggie, just being one with nature mommy.

Recently, I worked on a lesson plan for kids for the Next Generation Yoga Lesson Plan Club we launched…and the topic: Earth Day is Every Day.

So it was no wonder then, with spring here, with this past week’s celebration of Earth Day, that I keep feeling nature all around me, and decided to listen to her, to momma earth, like Laila does, to hear what she has to tell me. Here’s what flowed through my heart: [Read more…]