by Vishnu | Sep 8, 2013 | Books
Meeting Shiva, a spiritual memoir by Tiziana Stupia
A friend yanks you out of the water before you drown. (Never mind that you were just taking a leisurely swim.)
A holy man bestows you with a special mantra which you repeat to find unlimited spiritual bliss. (That and an increasing army of cattle, goats and livestock on your farm)
Or serendipity could even unveil a literary feast of a memoir which resonates with your very being, help shifts your perspective and ingrains the seed to heal from a broken-heart.
That’s what occurred when the universe presented me with Meeting Shiva: Falling and Rising in Love in the Indian Himalayas, a first time spiritual memoir by Tiziana Stupia.
She travels to India. (Check)
Falls in love. (Fist bump)
Finds herself in relationship. (Yup!)
Finds herself in profound pain and confusion. (Amen, sister)
And has insightful spiritual realizations…well I was with her all the way until the discovery of weighty truths but not too shabby otherwise.
This memoir simply knocked me over like a Japanese bullet train because of the incredulity of the story and the gripping account of an impermissible romance.
I gasped for air reading because the author not only lived my story but started imparting the deepest spiritual truths for awakening and healing.
Tiziana’s journey to her soul-mate.
While I’ve always
day-dreamed, fantasized, imagined finding a spiritual Goddess tucked away in the holiest of lands, Tiziana seemed to have found the man of her dreams tucked away in the remotest regions of the Himalayas.
The small predicament is that her soul-mate, Rudra, is a “drop-dead gorgeous” ascetic monk who serves as the administrator of the ashram she decides to reside in.
The development of the passionate romance in the holiest of ashrams was a real page-flipper which made me constantly ask myself, “Holy Lord Shiva! Is this *$&#&@*@ real? A true story?”
Tiziana finds herself in a forbidden romance. Rudra has so much to lose. The ashram seemed intimate enough that word of this intense love affair could have leaked out at any moment.
As thoughts of “could we” and “should we” danced in their minds, a passionate and amorous relationship begins to unfold.
More torrid than a Spanish telenovela and more taboo than your typical Bollywood romance, Tiziana shares the entirety of her relationship with us.
The intense romance slowly turns to confusion and frustration for the author as she finds her spiritual and meditative Indian boy-friend isn’t quite all he’s cracked out to be.
As she delves in further to know the spiritual-seeking monk, she’s shaken up by his very “un-guru” like personality, unholy behavior and disturbing addictions.
Who’d have thought?
This book is no Eat Pray Love, which is the only narrative I could remotely compare it too.
A single woman on a journey to find herself, her purpose and her man. Except unlike EPL, I found Meeting Shiva fast-paced, attention-grabbing and acutely wise.
Tiziana is able to make profound self-revelations and discover sage-like spiritual truths which she shares with us to help us on our journeys.
Here are 5 insightful revelations she imparts to us in the course of this memoir:
5 Lessons of Meeting Shiva
1) Love is freedom. Sometimes loving someone is having to let them go. (Still haven’t woken up from the knock-out punch of this insight)
You may love someone deeply but loving them may be holding them back on the path they’ve chosen for themselves.
You may have to put your own needs and desires aside and let go of the person you love so they can grow and develop.
2) Love which lasts requires authenticity. For any relationship to work, it needs to come from a centered place of authenticity and awareness.
Tiziana shows us that you cannot simply fill a void in your life with a romantic partner, without delving in further into each other’s background and issues.
You must come to the table as you are and be willing to confront your own insecurities, shortcomings and pain.
You can’t just sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.
3) Love yourself first. Tiziana realizes that in order to find true love, she has to go through much self-healing and growth.
If you want to stop living the life of conditioned responses and pain from your childhood, you have to work on yourself, heal, grow and become the person you’re capable of.
Otherwise, you will continue to find partners who you think will help you heal and fill the void you feel.
Unfortunately, they can’t help you as much as you can help you.
4) Pain brings transformation. Tiziana came to realize that relationships are learning experiences and can bring profound healing and growth.
Staying in the fire can bring the greatest alchemical transformation.
Start thinking of relationships as a spiritual journey towards healing, not an emotional treadmill you have to endure.
Your change in perspective about relationships can help you change your understanding and purpose while in a relationship.
You’ll go from a place of satisfying needs to embracing healing.
5) Enlightenment is here now. Enlightenment doesn’t have to mean heaven, God shining down upon you or moksha.
It simply could mean liberating yourself from years, and sometimes lifetimes of accumulated patterns and conditioning.
Liberation means to be free from all that so you can be aligned with your true blissful and joyful nature.
Enlightenment is already here and within you. You just need to realize it.
In addition to her savory and heart-rendering personal life story, the memoir touches upon mythological stories of India, the caste system, Indian customs and traditions, the nature of living in a patriarchal society and more.
If you’ve experienced a traumatic heartbreak, seeking spiritual wisdom or simply looking for a laugh-out-loud, cry-even-harder personal journey, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Meeting Shiva.
Be prepared to have a life-changing experience.
What are your thoughts on the 5 spiritual lessons from Meeting Shiva? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
* Lord Shiva (or most likely, I) will award one lucky commenter, drawn at random, a free copy of Meeting Shiva simply for sharing your insights in the comments below.
Meeting Shiva author, Tiziana Stupia
To learn more about Tiziana, visit her website at http://www.tizianastupia.com/. For more information on Meeting Shiva, visit Changemakers Books.
by Vishnu | Apr 14, 2013 | Enlightenment, Faith, God, Purpose, Religion, Spirituality
Is it too late to go back to my regular life in Brooklyn?
If you’re a spiritual-seeker hunting for the truth, you might feel like you’re regularly letting yourself down.
You don’t have enough hours in the day to play chauffeur to the kids, be a fabulous manager at work, and super-volunteer in your church and community.
You may feel like your spiritual pursuits go to the wayside. You’d like to live a more spiritual and religious life but you’re just not able to do it ALL.
Wouldn’t it be nice to give it all up, move to a local mountain-side commune and spend the rest of your life seeking self-realization?
Should you disappear into the forests once and for all until you’ve become an enlightened human?
Learn to find spirituality in the world you live in.
You don’t have to pack up the suitcases, sell the house, abandon your family and hit the closest mountain resort to live the monastic lifestyle with a religious community.
You can be just where you are and continue to seek the spiritual life.
Learn to live in the ‘real’ (ok, “illusionary”) world.
You will learn many spiritual lessons in the world you live in today.
You want to move to the ashram, mountains or cave to find enlightenment. But you’re not going to find it there. Well, you might find it there but you’re not going to get to realization if you can’t conquer living in the places you do now.
You’re not going to get traffic jams, lawsuits, suspicious neighbors, antagonistic supervisors, penny-pinching landlords and rebellious children in the ashram!
You’re not going to get offended, heart-broken, crushed, pained, lied to, saddened, depressed in a mountain setting.
No money worries, loved ones dying, divorce, bankruptcy, failure, when you’re solely in deep spiritual pursuits.
Balance your spiritual life with your material life.
Your life gives you plenty of opportunities to practice spirituality: it allows you to confront people and circumstances who will hijack your peace and test your patience.
Not wanting to punch the motorcyclist who just cut you off on the freeway is a divine practice.
Choosing to forgive the man who just duped you of your life’s savings is a spiritual exercise.
Your life allows you to tame your ego, perfect your character and make choices about how you accept your life’s circumstances.
You will also have time for inner spiritual growth, mindfulness and prayer.
You can bring in spiritual practices into your life if you simply prioritize the importance of them.
Start small spiritual habits and be consistent with them.
A little spirituality every day.
Become a better person every day. Build your character every day. Find the spiritual answers to your life’s problems and circumstances.
Take the high road. Take the spiritual road. Give. Forgive. Love.
Be mindful. Peaceful. Thoughtful. Generous. Soul-Centered.
Use every situation and encounter to practice love.
Build up small spiritual practices daily that recognizes the divine. Practices which allows you to reflect on your mind and see through the illusions of the material world.
Stop the “I don’t have time excuse”
You may want to move to the ashram or commune of your dreams because you’ll have all the time in the world there to pursue your spiritual desires.
Pursue those desires right from where you are.
Make time for the things that matter in your life.
If you’d like to seek God, wake up earlier to reflect upon Him.
If you’d like clarity, be mindful throughout the day and spend a few minutes each day watching your thoughts drift through your mind.
Find the time. Make the time. Schedule the time.
Refuse to live by the “all or nothing” strategy some realized beings have taken.
You DO NOT have to go all in. You DO NOT have to spend every minute and every hour in prayer and meditation. You don’t have to do that remotely, in silence or by yourself.
You can chose the middle path. You can straddle the world you live in with the spiritual world.
You can be in the world. You don’t have to be of the world.
You don’t have to choose between the normal life of suburbia and family against the spiritual world of realized beings.
You can seek your best self and find your highest source of inspiration in daily life and everyday moments.
Forgive yourself for imperfections and keep trying every day.
If you’re human, you’ll have a bad day. You’ll fall off the fire-truck when putting out a fire.
You’ll blow half your salary on the roulette table.
Commit perjury, adultery, forgery, thievery and find yourself with all kind of other quandaries.
You might not have time today for silence, meditation, prayer, divinity.
Intentionally hurt someone else.
Refused to forgive a parent who’s wounded you.
Ignored your friends who desperately seek your help.
Refused to let go of your ego so you can salvage the friendship.
When you fall off the path to self-knowledge and enlightenment, keep going. Start over. Start again.
Do not move to the woods, mountains or your favorite religious order in search for the truth.
Friends, if you ever tell me you’re moving to the woods to spend the rest of your life trying to reach enlightenment, I’m going to do three things. First, get a hold of my ex-wife, a psychiatrist, to give you a special rate on weekly therapy. Second, contact the local police department to try to stop your planned-escape and finally, spend the rest of my time trying to track you down and bringing you back to your regular life.
Don’t take the easy way out.
Refuse to disengage completely from people, circumstances and the pressures of the world around you.
Listen, you’re hearing this straight from someone who would be first in line to join a monastery, new religious order or cult. If there’s a promise of free meals and self-realization, I’d get in line like your zealous holiday shopper, setting up a tent overnight to purchase my flat screen tv.
I’m not going to join the order. The brotherhood. The nunhood. Or any ‘hood’ with anyone wearing robes, saffron sheets or sunbathing in the nude.
I’m going to stay and fight. Fight, you say. Fight what?
Fight to come to terms with your human self. To become a better version of you.
Fight your anger, ego, desires, imperfections and all of your human qualities. Fight to become a better person.
You can’t fight in isolation without other humans, without worldly problems and without being challenged. In my opinion, that’s the easy way out.
Let’s confront our nemesis, face our ego, work on our shortfalls. Let’s work on loving our Creator more every day while we’re fighting the battles of our daily lives.
Ever thought about living the life of monastic? (Oh, you haven’t. 🙂 )
To pick up my book, Is God Listening, about God, spirituality and resiliency, click here.
Photo credit radhanads
by Vishnu | Jan 21, 2013 | Inspiration, Motivation, Optimism, Overcoming Challenges, Personal Development, Perspective, Purpose, Spirituality
Free air-conditioning and rent. What could get better than this?
It was 1:30 a.m.
I was startled awake by a loud knocking on the door. My friend’s roommate had returned a week earlier than planned, and would be needing the room.
Yes, the very room I was sleeping in. That very night.
I hurriedly packed my things, cleaned up, and moved to the comforts of the nearby living room where a beaten-up sofa welcomed me.
I have been couch-surfing ever since.
After sleeping in spare rooms – and on couches – for the past 6 months, I’ve started reflecting on my life.
Can it get any worse?
I now own sufficiently few possessions that they can all fit in my car. I’m equipped to travel with all my worldly possessions in tow: clothes, dishes, laundry basket, ironing board, lamps…
I’m also technically homeless, as I no longer have a permanent residence. My brother has been generous enough to provide a temporary room (and a mailing address) when I need it. My friend Diane kindly let me stay at her home on my last job.
I became jobless the day my last campaign ended in November. Although I should be accustomed to the fact that my employed life ends on election days due to the nature of my work in grassroots activism, it’s still unsettling and terrifying for the period of unemployment that follows.
I also became legally single more than a year ago after a sad – if amicable – divorce. Divorce changed everything I had known about my place in the world and my future and left me lost and searching for meaning.
During this time, I grew increasingly isolated. I eventually stopped contacting my unsupportive parents, who couldn’t see past a wounded family name to be supportive during difficult circumstances.
So, yes, to sum up my life at the moment: homeless, unemployed, divorced and isolated. And don’t forget couch-surfing, with all my worldly belongings in my vehicle.
Can it get any better?
Upon further reflection, I also realized that the four months I spent traveling in Central America last year were some of the best I’d had.
I lived on a luxurious Costa Rican farm, ate tantalizing organic food, and spent two months at my friend’s idyllic Costa Rican paradise.
A tropical paradise, right outside my window
When I returned, I started working on a series of independent and freelance jobs, work which I put very little effort into finding. In fact, a recent project that came out of nowhere might actually turn into a full-fledged business.
Not having a home has allowed me to travel up and down the beautiful state of California. I’ve been grateful to reconnect with friends of new and old who’ve take me in, treated me like an honored guest, fed me, and opened their homes to me.
Not having a spouse has allowed me time to seek out many old friends, family friends, new friends, and blogger friends. So many relationships which have been rekindled, refreshed and renewed.
I’ve immersed myself in weeks of Spanish classes, lived in homes with beautiful views….
A beautiful view of the California bay.
I also attended nearly a month of Sunday church services at the Cavalry Chapel in Chino Hills, Baptist church services in San Diego and a visit to the Zen Center in San Francisco.
Are these the best of times? Or the worst of times?
I find it hard to think of myself as unemployed, homeless, divorced and alienated from my parents. I’ve found, instead, that the people in my life now bring me infinite happiness, the temporary housing has brought me into contact with wonderful people and places to live, unemployment has brought forth exciting opportunities, and spiritual discoveries have helped me uncover lessons of a lifetime!
Here are 6 life lessons I’ve learned in the process.
1) Change happens. Embrace it. I once hated change like you hate being pick-pocketed. It can be intrusive and inconvenient. One minute you have something, the next minute you don’t.
But I’ve realized that being able to adapt to changing circumstances makes you stronger, wiser and calmer. Change can be unsettling, but it also spurs growth. I’ve learned to embrace change, rather than shy away from it. Now, I welcome it.
2) The universe knows better than you. Trust it. I used to demand that my life work out a certain way, always trying to be in control of the circumstances. When life took its own twists and turns, I realized I could no longer do that. And the universe was infinitely wise in bringing me opportunities that were a perfect fit for me.
Do your part, then trust the universe to take care of the rest.
3) Friendship is a choice. Cherish it. While I am no longer with my spouse, or in touch with my parents, I’ve created much stronger bonds with everyone else in my life. My brother, who I fought with growing up, has been both supportive and helpful. I’ve strengthened relationships with many friends from my past, and reconnected with many people who fell out of touch.
Since friendships are a choice, you can make a choice to value them and work on them.
4) Gratefulness is a practice. Thank it. Although so many bad things have happened, so many great things have also swooped in. I’m grateful for the positive people, circumstances and energy I have found.
When you notice, acknowledge and appreciate the positive events in your life, you invite more of the same in.
5) Happiness is a choice. Choose it. Here’s the thing about happiness: you’re confronted with many opportunities to be happy each day. I have come to realize that I can choose happiness in every decision. So, I choose to be happy in both the simple and big events in my life. The people you’re with, the places you go, the work you do – all are laden with choices.
You have the power to choose happiness, and that’s a compelling feeling.
6) Happiness comes from within. Be it. You don’t have to go very far to be happy. No one person or event or job will make you happy. Happiness is an everyday practice. And more importantly, it comes from within. You have the ability to be happy exactly where you are, without doing one thing more.
Find the happiness in what you have, where you are, in the moment.
“I could chose to see this differently.” – A course in miracles*
I used to feel like I had so much control over my life. Now I feel like I’ve surrendered my life to the universe, and it leads ME.
I used to be so averse to change. Now I welcome it, accepting that it’s a part of life.
I used to strive towards happiness someday. Now, I simply choose to find it every day.
I used to hate falling. But now I realize that, the more I fall, the more I learn and the quicker I get back up.
Where you are in life has a lot to do with perspective. If you’re willing to change your perspective, the world around you changes.
Have you had life experiences that were both positive and negative at the same time? Something that was painful, but spurred personal and spiritual growth in the end? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
* If you would like to share your story through a guest post, please reach out to me. * Thanks for sharing this wonderful quote Galen.
by Vishnu | Nov 14, 2012 | Spirituality
If the Buddha, Deepak Chopra or your favorite televangelist have not yet made the case to you on why you get more spiritual in your life, you’ve been missing out. I talk a lot about what spirituality can do for you on my blog and today, on my guest post at Pick the Brain.
Spiritually tends to get swept up with far out characters, hokus-pokus practices, and bizarre beliefs. The spiritual people you know you in your life also may not be the best examples for wanting to live a spiritual life. Your hippie Uncle, fortune-telling ex-girlfriend and organic-fasting colleague (who fasts while breathing organic air) make you want to have nothing to do with spiritual people or a practice.
A good spiritual practice is one where you are able to discover your true nature and self. It’s the process of digging through your physical and emotional makeup and reaching the essence of who you are as a person.
To read more about 5 benefits of spirituality, visit my post at Pick the Brain.
What do you think – what else can spirituality do for you?
For my book about spirituality and resiliency in life, Is God Listening, click here.
* Photo credit, Jennifer in Meditation, to www.adhiwus.com
by Vishnu | Jul 1, 2012 | Spirituality
Do you want to look ravishing, land a leading actress role in Hollywood, snag your own reality TV show and sport a Mercedes?
Getting spiritual won’t help you achieve any of those things.
HOLD ON there paisano! Before you flip the channel, hear me out…
What CAN spirituality do for you? (let me make you an offer you can’t refuse on getting spiritual – in addition to the free makeup kit and hairbrush, of course)
Hustling spirituality in your life will have you to start asking some deeper questions about meaning and purpose. It might question your desire for the fancy car and reality TV show in the first place. Living from a spiritual place will bring about a re-examination of your desires and intentions.
Getting spiritual will also help enhance your life in these 6 ways:
1) Reduce suffering from indigestion, anxiety, stress or jet lag.
Ok, I don’t know about jet lag which you mostly get from flying across time zones but connecting with your inner self can help you dramatically reduce or alleviate some of your life’s stresses. Seizing a spiritual practice can make you less anxious, reduce your blood pressure and lead to a calmer and more balanced life.
2) Control your mind like a lion tamer.
By the time you’ve devoured this post or glanced at this sentence, probably a hundred thoughts have gone through your head. Your mind is like a rabbit in search of a carrot . Or a lion about to eat it’s tamer:) It’s frantic and wild (and is jaw-crushingly strong) – how do you tame your mind?
Start a mindfulness practice to calm your mind. If you calm your mind like a lion tamer tames his cat, you will achieve more awareness, clarity and can become more effective in life’s daily activities. I’ve found having a tame mind helps stop procrastination, increases focus and helps you achieve goals. My friend Sandra has provided you with 10 essential tips to tame a wild mind here.
3) Open your heart.
Spirituality has been known to put you in sync you with the world. If you start thinking the world around you is a part of you, you’ll be acting from a place of connectedness, abundance and love. And when you operate from such a divine place, all positive things and infinite possibilities start opening up in your life.
Spirituality can open the heart of the most rushed Mom, stressed professional or entrepreneur. Once you start operating from an open heart, you’ll find love, kindness, empathy and compassion pour forth.
4) Clarity in your life.
Oh, yeah – you’ll start having profound life revelations. Material and trivial things begin to fall away from what actually matters. Prada purses and fancy sports cars lose their meaning in and of themselves. You may have thought your purpose in life was to be the divine Goddess to all men but you might realize that the purpose for your life is to be simply divine.
With clarity, you’ll find purpose.
You’ll bail out of professions that don’t suit your soul or fulfill your purpose, and start tackling work that does. You’ll stop wasting time and procrastinating because you’ll become inspired with your life. Clarity is a beautiful thing!
5) Being content.
You might be living a life of lack and unhappiness because you don’t have the perfect mate, house or car. You’re running frantically trying to achieve a dream, goal or fulfill an expectation of you.
Getting spiritual will help you realize that you don’t need to fulfill a single damn goal or dream to be happy. You’ll also realize contentment in the place you are in life for the the things you do have. If you’re content with what you have and grateful for it, you’ll be rocking a life filled with abundance. Spiritual teachers of new and old also teach us that being in alignment with abundance will bring forth everything that you’ve ever needed or wanted.
6) Having the universal laws work with you, instead of against you.
Does everything feel like it’s working against you? You want bullet it home and find yourself in a hellish LA rush hour! You pain-stakingly sign up to take that horrendous architectural exam to find out it’s being offered in a different city. On a different %(&#%@$* continent! You want to marry Giovanni but find out he already is!!
Whenever I’ve noticed that things go bonkers in my life, I’ve noticed it’s because I’m not in sync with the universe and stopped pursuing my spiritual practice momentarily.
When you are in sync with the universal laws, things just start to shift. Opportunities come your way, obstacles get removed and life becomes magical. Traffic jams disappear as God himself intervenes to get cars off the 405 (in Los Angeles)!
I hate you, blogger-dude. Or what if you’re already spiritual?
Oh, I get it – you were born at Woodstock, grew up going to Sunday school or spent your college years being a Hare Krishna. You drink organic chai, visit church on Christmas and do yoga. You’ve got spirituality locked up.
Well here’s the deal – practice allows you to be more conscious of and grasp your spirituality more. “In the spiritual realm, it is not that practice makes perfect so much as that spiritual practices reveal your perfection” according to Kumuda, aka Sharon Janis, in the sacred Spirituality for Dummies.
“If you’re a multi-billionaire but you don’t know it, you may find yourself living like a pauper instead of in luxury. Similarly, if you don’t know that you’re an express of divine universal spirit, you may think that you’re just a world-entrenched person living in spiritual poverty” Janis tell us in her spiritual guide.
So even if you think you’re spiritual, spirituality is something that can be perpetually refined. You have to practice spirituality to realize your perfection. It’s not just reading a Deepak Chopra classic the next time you hop on a flight. Spirituality, like dating and diets takes work.
If you’re spiritual, what are your practices and what benefits have you received? If you run from spirituality like you’ve just seen a 7 headed-monster, why?
To pick up my book, Is God Listening, about spirituality and resilience, click here.