20 August 2016

Road to Surrender


Upper Dharamkot, Dharamshala, India

Last year, almost around this time, I was beginning to feel broken, hurt, abandoned, and almost hopeless. I found myself in ego-shattering situations, one after the other. The biggest thing that "saved me" and helped me get through was to surrender, to realise I don't always have to be in control. I don't always have to be in my comfort zone. Things don't always have to go according to my plan or wish. When I let go of trying to "be in charge", when I surrendered, it seems that I have welcomed the universe to deliver its gifts (ones beautiful beyond expectation), and myself to be open enough to receive them.

Having said that, I must say that the road of, and to, surrender can be rather rocky, especially when the ego-mind chatters loudly. One of my friends recently asked me a simple question; “How did you surrender, how do you stop that need to be in control and just let the world take you wherever?” This was my answer;

Diminish Fear
One of the main things preventing us from surrender is fear. Fear from losing (things, people, a sense of security, our identities, etc), fear from being hurt, fear from change, fear from the unknown, fear from not having what it takes to deal with that which we fear, etc.. This fear is mainly inherited and passed on to us (and sometimes still trying to be shoved down our throats) by our parents, bless them. Although there might have been a valid reason to practice a degree of fear when we were children, we no longer need that fear.

Fear functions here basically as an emotional "shield" that we wear to "protect" ourselves from being exposed (ref to Max Strom, A Life Worth Breathing, where he elaborates about the emotional “armor”), but it also works to block in feelings and block out experiences, opportunities and love.

Be Vulnerable
While we try to diminish our fears, one of the things we can do is allow ourselves to be vulnerable. All emotions are valid, all thoughts are valid and are part of our human experience. They are much better provided a chance to be expressed (preferably in a welcoming and compassionate environment, with us accepting ourselves fully) than suppressed. It may sound paradoxical, but when we allow our chance to be vulnerable, we are stronger.

We can start by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable between us and ourselves, then expand to also allow ourselves to be vulnerable around others, particularly those we love and trust. I sometimes visualize being vulnerable as having a wound and looking at it with love and compassion rather than hiding it, and showing it to a loved one to also provide love and compassion, without fear of the wound hurting more. We can practice being vulnerable simply by expressing ourselves, through talking, writing, painting, any creative form, or simply by accepting our thoughts and feelings without judgement.

A Drop in the Ocean
Another point is realising -because it IS a fact- that the whole world can survive and function well without our complete interference. We actually have very little control over how our lives progress. All that time we spend trying to be in control is futile, almost like struggling with a gigantic solid wall, because no matter what we do, we are but a tiny part of a vast, massively and complexly connected world. Everything affects everything, and even though we have a tiny role to play in how things go, we are but a drop in a sea.

One of the challenges here is that we think we know what's best for us, which we might, yet the universe keeps surprising us (me at least!) with experiences that we initially resist that turn out to be the "better" best things that ever "happened" to us. So if we don't even know what’s really “best” for us, we definitely don't really know what's best for others. This can be particularly difficult if we are assuming a role of control and/or wisdom, especially when you are a parent or spouse, because you are in a position of responsibility. There are some matters that require our effort, indeed, but after a certain point they are no longer in our hands. At a certain point, the borders of our responsibility end, they open up to the vast ocean that the universe is, which we are but a drop in. This is also a good reminder to let people be, to judge others less and accept people more, regardless of how “different” they are to us. When we let people be, we also learn to let ourselves be.

Faith
Surrendering to the “ocean” requires a degree of faith. This faith doesn’t have to be religious or affiliated with any particular philosophy. To "surrender" we need to surrender to something/someone. For me personally, my faith is in this big cosmic ocean that we are merely drops in, and what reminds me to keep the faith is "signs" I get from my guru, teachers, friends, strangers, animals, situations, sort of like road signs that resonate with my deeply rooted values.

I personally feel connected to all through love, and this love is what fuels the act of surrender. Speaking in more practical terms, when I find a situation/person challenging, I actually say to myself, with love and compassion, "I surrender to X", "I surrender to all that is", "I surrender to this experience", and the same goes when I feel helpless, or simply when something is beyond my comprehension.

We each view and practice our faiths differently, that’s the beauty of it, so see if you can derive faith from that which you believe in, and remind yourself regularly of it.

Here. Now. Bliss.
Surrender has been a beautiful journey, active mostly over the past 3 years. I feel so happy now, and what helps me to keep enjoying this happiness is believing that I deserve it, and rather than fear it, embrace it.

I feel blessed. By all the ups and downs. By all the things that left and those that stayed. This universe we live in is abundant in magical ways. There is always room for love to flourish, and love does wonders. In its own, crazy way, everything is perfect, whole, complete, always.

Perfection
Here's a mantra I love that captures it all, and I leave you with it:
Om
Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate
Om shanti, shanti, shanti

Om.
That is perfect,
This is perfect.
When perfection is taken from the perfect,
Perfect alone remains.
Om, peace, peace, peace

Love,
Amal

26 June 2016

Waves

Everything moves like waves of the sea. I love you, your eyes sparkle and gates of the heart flung open and you flood my existence with passion. We make love. I love you. You go. I go.
I miss you. We kiss. You go. I go. I miss you. We melt into an intoxicated cloud of instinctive love that recognizes no boundaries.
I go. You go. I go. You go. I go. You go.
We go apart.
I love you still.
I miss you like hell.
I burst into a gush of tears. My heart weeps.
I love you. I miss you. We dance in my heart. I let you go.
I come back to myself.
This. Here. Now. My heart. This is my centre, my home, the only truth that is true.
I love you. I love me. I love all.
I be.
The waves pass.
The waves be.
Chaos be's. Calm be's. All be's.
I be.
I be.
I be.

27.6.2016

06 March 2016

DT Feature

Happy to have been featured at the Daily Tribune, Bahrain. Was a beautiful treat from the universe :)
To read the full article you can click here.

13 February 2016

حُرة



ولدت
لأثور
على كل التوقعات مني
على كل القيود
أبشعها وأجملها
أفظعها وألطفها
لا أطيق القوالب ولا الأحذية
لا أطيق الحدود ولا الأحجبة
لا أطيق الحب الخانق
ولا الدفء الحارق
دعوني أحلق في فضاء بالي
غيمةً وردية
تدندن لحنا حراً
وترقص عليه
منتشية

أمل
12 فبراير 2016

03 November 2015

On Femininity

Sitting at a temple watching my beloved Guru perform puja (prayers) on a statue of Goddess Narayani (“universal mother”, symbol of wisdom, abundance and strength) on a lotus-shaped stage, it dawned on me, I have, for as long as I could remember, always rejected my femininity.


I grew up in a relatively socially liberal family. My mother had for long been a women’s right activist. My father repeatedly affirmed he considers my younger brothers and me equal. Theoretically it sounded splendid. Practically, I never really saw I was treated equally, often in over-consideration of the socially conservative society we live in. This left me feeling quite frustrated.


At the age of 12 I found myself diving in the rich, dense books of Nawal El Saadawi, a renowned Egyptian feminist writer and activist. Page after page she told devastating stories about oppressed women and men, brutal inequality and sexual abuse. Her stories reflected how gravely inequality was prevalent among all, even the so-called elite and educated. Her books were my bible and although I don’t anymore adopt such extreme views as she carries, she is probably the reason I almost never wear make-up. Her ideas and stories made me view the world drastically differently, and I began perceiving many acts by women as submissive and many by men as oppressive. I developed a highly sensitive sexism-sensor and refused all expectations of me acting like a submissive female, the biggest of which was marriage.


As a result, I spent my early teenage years being quite aggressive and trying to walk and pose like a boy and the other half of my teenagehood breaking as many social rules and taboos as possible, doing exactly what I wanted in an act of roaring rebellion against all attempts of gender oppression. I was angry. I was furious at society.


I had a love-hate relationship with fellow girls. I loved the fun and intimacy with my female friends, but was repulsed by all acts of weakness, submission and superficiality. I had a love-fear relationship with boys. I loved freedom and openness with my male companions, but was unknowingly afraid they would think of me as weak, stupid and emotional, being a “lesser” sex.


Dating a hardcore communist for 7 years didn’t help either. There was a constant struggle, within myself more than anything else, to be the woman I yearned to be in that intimate relationship. Getting married was perceived as submissive and shameful. Often self-suppressing my emotions and avoiding expressing them was the norm until bursts of explosions happened every now and then, and until it ended.


There I was - absolutely free yet utterly confused about finding a balance between embracing myself, with all my thoughts, emotions, needs and desires, most of which I directly or subtly thought were weak and shameful, on one hand and being “strong”, independant and “collected” on the other.


One door opens to the other, one heart connects to another and I find myself listening to lectures by Waleed HashimReiki Jin Kei Do and EnerSense Master and an expert in interpersonal relationships and romantic love. He tells tales about how we all are made of both feminine and masculine energy, how for most of us we are dominated by one and not the other, though by a distorted version of it, and how both energies are neither “good” nor “bad” and neither “strong” nor “weak”; living with them at peace is merely a matter of keeping the energy balanced within us and allowing it to be and act with love and for love.


However, it is difficult for me to look at myself in the mirror, wearing this sleeveless top or that short dress, letting my afro wild and loose, with my tiny feet and slender cheek bones, with my strong and (generally) rarely suppressed opinions, with my love for singing, dancing and cooking and my insistence to get things done on my own, after all the stories I have been through and all the strong feminist stances I took and the loving yogic thoughts I expressed, it is difficult after all these years to stare into the deep oceans of my sparkling, curious eyes and say,
“I love the feminine in me as much as I love the masculine in me. I fully understand that neither are good nor bad. I fully understand that I am made up of both and it no longer matters which I am dominated by. I love how my masculinity inspires me to get things done, to be practical and to assume responsibility when required. I love how my femininity inspires me to take a break when needed, to comfort people but also be taken care of, to express my thoughts and feelings unashamedly and allow my tears to flow as often as they would like for whatever reason it may be. It doesn’t matter what I wear, I fully love and respect myself. It doesn’t matter what people see, it is merely a reflection of their own selves. I embrace my desire to love and be loved. I embrace my need to feel independent. I embrace my desire to be carried and nurtured. I embrace my desire to be married and have my own home with a loving and compassionate partner.”


It is difficult to say at first, but it can be seen, it can be said, it has been said and it will be said over and over again until the lies that spread in the back of my head wash away. I refuse to walk around the rest of my life feeling like part of me is broken, shameful and ugly. I am fed up acting out of fear of being hurt or judged. I am ready to embrace my perfection whatever it may be. I am ready for love. My arms are open. My mind is open. My heart is open.

Amal - Nov 2015

01 November 2015

Temple


At the temple that you are
My heart melts
Love
I bathe in your warm, gentle light
I surrender at your feet
Grounded
Blessed.

Amal - Nov 2015

26 September 2015

On Reaching Out for Care

Fifteen years ago, I fell sick for the first time away from the warm and caring arms of my mother. I had left home to go to university abroad. I didn’t particularly feel bad about being sick; what upset me was that there was no one there to take care of me. It was just a cold, I could handle it, but for the first time, I had to handle it alone.

Fast forward to the present moment, I have been suffering on and off from a sore throat for a few weeks. Refusing any allopathic medicine, the process of natural healing is slow. I am giving my body the time to figure out how to gather its strength on its own and clear itself off whatever is in it, using nothing to help but honey, lemon and a few natural herbs and spices.

Within this slow healing process I’ve had much space and time to study myself and behaviour. I am being reminded to slow down and not work my physical body too hard. I am reminded to close my mouth and retreat to home to rest my throat, despite the tempting invitations to go out with friends. I am reminded to listen, most importantly to myself. It turns out, while listening, there’s a faint voice in the back of my head that still wants, rather expects, to be looked after when I am unwell. So is this voice coming from somewhere healthy? Or is this a new issue I have to “deal with”?

Could this be one of the main signs of being an independant mature adult, when you finally stop expecting others to look after you, heal your wounds or take initiative to help you out of trouble? What’s peculiar is that, growing up, I have often suffered for feeling lonely and unloved, yet simultaneously continued to act as independent as possible, fixing things on my own and rarely reaching out for help from others. I am recently finally learning to let go and receive love in all its forms and shapes without feeling weak or dependant for doing so.

What about this, though? For some reason I expect that half of my physical pain from this illness would fade if I felt a warm hand stroking my hair and a loving chest holding me close, if I even just knew that someone out there cares. Love is healing, emotionally and pranicly. Love is nourishing and essential to our existence and it is as important to experience it externally as we do internally (bearing in mind both expressions are one, only illusionary separated by the mind).

However, I still remain confused as to where the line is drawn between healthy dependency (which is part of our natural coexistence in this universe) and unhealthy expectations. Should I pick up the phone and call someone to come over and massage my back? Or should I let go and drag myself to the nearest Ayurvedic doctor? I don’t know. Taking it moment by moment, nevertheless, I shall keep observing my thoughts as I sip on fresh ginger juice, lemon and honey mix and chamomile tea.

Bless.

Amal - Sep 2015

25 September 2015

Loving You

This is it
This is it
Me loving you with all my passion
Me loving you with all my silence
With all my words
With all my strokes
With all my flesh, my bites, my kisses

This is it
This is it
I love you with all I am
I adore every cell of you
I bow to your heavenly beauty

This is it
This is it
I see me in you
I see you in me
Entwined
I see One

This is it
My heart is flooding with love
What is this
Is this okay?
My ears are talking of you
My mouth smells you
My eyes taste your sweetness
Your love is throbbing in this chest
And I want nothing
Nothing more
But to tell you I love you.

Amal - Sep 2015

20 September 2015

Twinkling Joy


It has been a year since I freed myself of my corporate job in an attempt to be free of all unnecessary attachments and give myself the space and time to be, to go with the flow, to shed off baggage to the possible minimum and to accept nourishment from new concepts, ideas and schools.

It has been beautiful. It has been the most peaceful and enriching year I have had in my adult life. And I feel it is just the beginning, an intro to something deeply transformative. It had initially started with a big “shake” of destruction during a 4 month stay in India, yet, in the meantime, many things have been shifting in a subtle and gentle way.

Things feel like they are falling into place. I have cut down on my travels, learned to enjoy being in my country, staying at home, tidying my room, visiting the same grocery shop twice a week, keeping a loose schedule. I have been enjoying being in loving, nurturing, somewhat stable relationships. I have been feeling the spaciousness of space, the wide air that allows me to be, to fly, to turn, to dance. It has been relatively quiet. The drama gauge is on the very low side. I have been feeling expansively connected to the earth, flexibly rooted. Things depart my ground gracefully and I accept new arrivals gratefully.

Yet something peaks out. Doubt. It sometimes comes through people’s questions of how I have been. It sometimes lingers as I sit quietly on my couch staring at the window. It asks, am I happy? Am I really happy? Am I feeling the best I could feel right now?

Then again, why is it happiness we seek (as opposed to just quiet peace)? And if it is so, can true happiness also take the form of quietness, without the loud euphoric fireworks and big cheerful cheesy smiles influenced by Hollywood’s “American Dream”? Can I give you a short debrief about how I have been without my heart beating fast in excitement, without your eyes widening and jaw dropping?
And if it is not an extroverted representation of happiness that is sweeping me off my feet, is it OK that I am feeling even “better” just by being at peace?

Part of me is concerned because I see doubt in some friends’ eyes. Yet most people look into my eyes and say I look genuinely happier, calmer than I used to be. I say this not because I am necessarily concerned with people’s opinions, but because it is sometimes useful to reflect on one self through someone else.

Now I sit here staring at the yellow flowers on my coffee table and it fills my heart with subtle joy that I am in their divine presence. I stare at the pink and green garland from my birthday hanging on the bookcase with colors sweet to my eyes. I contemplate my new home “office” corner and a sense of delicate happiness passes by. Whether I look at the food I eat, the loving relationships I have, the yoga classes I teach, the tiny conversations I share, the minute encounters, the multiple quiet reflective moments during the day, I am grateful. There isn’t anything big going on. There isn’t a grand story to share. Very little is newspaper or stop-the-chat-on-the-table-I-have-something-to-tell-you worthy.
There are no big actions, no dramatic appearances, no super events.

There isn’t much to say. There is so much to feel.

And it is not a “state” I am in. It is a process. This process is unlabelable, unanalyzable and is beyond description.

I think it is called “being”.


Amal - Sep 2015

03 September 2015

طفل الأرض


طفل الأرض

لقد متّ
بالتأكيد لا أحزن عليك
عذاباتك التي أشبعوك بها مبكراً كانت أثقل من الموت
ربما كان الموت خلاصك
ربما يكون التراب الذي سيدفنونك فيه
أدفئ لجسدك المقدس من وطنك
ربما ضاقت الأرض ذرعاً وإكتفى صبرها عليك
فإسترجعتك مبكراً رحمةً بك
لا أحزن عليك
أنت في سلامٍ الآن
نحن الذين نفجع على أنفسنا
نحن الذين نخشى أن تطول رحلتنا
لا يأوينا مرسى
ولا يرحمنا الموت
ونحن الذين لا زلنا هنا
في ركام هذه البشاعة
مشلولون صدمةً
ننتحب بحسرة
نرتعش كلما رأينا صورتك
بعد أن إكتفيت من هرائنا
وأدرت وجهك عنا
..
صلاةٌ عليك..



أمل - سبتمبر 2015

02 September 2015

Puja


May I offer you flowers every day..?
Marigolds, pink, orange and red
And a party of jasmines on your bed
Maybe just a yellow rose..
May I twirl fragrant incense around your crown?
May I bathe your feet with rose water?
May I set those adoring thoughts to circle around you
Seven times
May I sing to your beauty..?
OM
May I chant?
May I close my eyes and contemplate your magic?
Humbled
Grateful
Bowing my head to the heart
May I be swept into absolute silence,
Into that place where we see we are one,
We know we are one?
May our chests be golden temples hereafter?
Kissed by the moon,
Blessed by the sun?


Amal - Sep 2015

30 August 2015

Being Bare


Let us gather all the hopeless love songs
All the dramatic hollywood chick flicks
All the fiery disney suspense
All the relationship advice piling in our ears
All the crimson valentine boxes
All the howling in late nights
All the assumptions that we will cry
All the fear of being rejected
All the pride of being accepted
All the longing to be cradled
All the horror of being abandoned
All the nausea
All the cries
All the walls
All the lies
All the noise, the hype, the clutter
Let us gather all that doesn’t matter
And throw it all
Into a burning dark hole
May it set on fire
May it burst into billions of billions of dust particles
May it shatter into a blazing unblinding light
Washing over our faces
May we be
Let us be
Here
Now
Let us stand raw, naked
And stare into the elaborate details
Of the barest versions of ourselves
A collision of vulnerability
May we illuminate each other
May we taste the sweetness of delving into one another
Let us be etherly subtle
Like streaks of the colour pink in the wind
Let us fill each other’s lungs and tongues with our scents
Surrendering
Breathing in peace
Breathing out love
Breathing in peace
Breathing out love
Breathing in peace
Breathing out love
And nothing but love.

Amal - Aug 2015