I know that things may seem quiet around these parts. And while the blog may seem quieter than usual, things have been anything but quiet around me. Being committed to my full time job and family leaves little time during my waking hours for much except at night and into the wee hours of the morning.
My head, my thoughts, my words, my inspirations are running at a million miles an hour as I’m working on launching a business which I explained a while ago is a dream of mine, called Simply Om. This has confused some who look at it at the surface level.
“Um, so Kiran. You’ve been dreaming your whole life about opening an Etsy shop?”
Technically, no. Although I think Etsy does rock.
Simply Om is another road in my journey. I knew I needed to do it when I started this blog a few years ago. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and there were times I thought, well maybe it’s not my journey to take. Especially when I realized how “not easy” it really would be. But dreams are rarely “easy.” I guess I just wanted to explain a little bit about where this dream comes from.
I also know that to many of you who read Masala Chica, I’m just a girl who likes Les Miserables perhaps a little too passionately or an Indian-American who has a few funny/irreverent stories to tell about straddling two cultures. But those things, along with other glimpses you have had into me through my writing, probably make Simply Om not so much of a stretch, but an extension of what you know of me.
I feel like I have enjoyed sharing a lot of myself with you on this blog. In turn, your responses, letters, comments and stores have been a big inspiration for this adventure.
Given how wonderful you all are and all that, I may as well let you in on (bore you) a little bit more than I have.
A big part of Simply Om is not just about jewelry, clothes, India, yoga or fashion. It’s about creating awareness, which I want to explain. Note: If you don’t understand, just nod and say, “OM” and smile. That will make me feel better. You might even be able to relate to what I am about to describe.
I love Indian culture! My dad has a Ravi Shankar album I listen to when I get high. When I was a little kid growing up in America, there was little to no knowledge of Eastern philosophy and culture in mainstream American culture. Short of what people knew because they had an uncle who had done some backpacking in Nepal or had been to Woodstock, there was very little about Indian culture that the Americans I knew understood. And like a game of telephone, what was known could quickly be re-interpreted or changed around.
Just as an example, did you know that the swastika is originally an Indian symbol? The word, “swastika” comes from Sanskrit and literally means, “to be good.” When you break down the word, it is formed of tiny, beautiful messages:
“SV” means “good” or “auspicious.”
“asti” means “to be.”
The swastika is used in almost every Hindu ceremony and has nothing to do with celebrating the atrocities of the Holocaust. The Nazi party literally took the symbol, reversed it, and put it back up on its flag. I remember on our wedding day, during the Hindu ceremony, John’s dad saw the swastika on the priest’s books and didn’t know what that was about. He tapped John on the shoulder in the middle of the ceremony.
“Is Kiran’s family Anti-Semitic?”
“I’m just saying, Son. Not sure what you’re walking into on this one, ” and he pointed to the swastika.
My poor father-in-law, wondering if his son had married into an Indian Skinhead family.
I sometimes wonder if Hitler knew what he was doing, taking a symbol that meant so much to so many people, most of them hovering on the “wrong” side of tan, and sullying its meaning by making it synonymous with hatred, death, genocide, intolerance and white supremacy.
Knowing what a monster Hitler was, it was probably his way of getting in an extra jab at lots of brown people around the world. He seemed big on destroying the spirit of many, many beautiful things and people.
I look at that lesson, however and think about how easily things of beauty and light can be changed into something completely misunderstood if people aren’t taught about it.
People say “namaste” a lot but don’t know what it means. I kind of want to help change that. Growing up, I would often say, “Namaste,” to relatives without really thinking about what I was saying. It’s similar to how I ask and and answer the question, “How are you?” Rarely taking the time to thoughtfully answer or give the party on the other side of my question a chance to really, really answer. I think I use the word, “Namaste” almost carelessly.
After all, it’s just a word.
And it is.
But it isn’t.
It’s so much more.
As I got have gotten older and started to learn more about its meaning and the different interpretations of it, I have found it to be such an unappreciated word.
“The divine in me sees the divine in you.”
“In you I see the divine.”
“The spirit in me recognizes the spirit in you.”
At the end of a yoga class I will be the first to say, “Namaste” to my instructor. I try to think about the divine spark in me or her, in you and the man in the corner who takes this yoga class as he is handling a life that makes him feel anything but divine these days.
But I am usually thinking about if I have time to grab a latte. What will be for dinner. I am still slightly annoyed at the lady who almost ran me off the road just before the class.
I am not saying that those things aren’t important (ok. maybe I am, me with my huge first world problems).
I just think that believing in that spark can be really grounding and inspiring. There is something beyond the blood, the cells, the organs and the matter within all of us. It’s a soul, it’s an energy, it’s a spirit that needs nourishment.
Namaste. Say it.
It’s big, guys.
People are still scared of what they don’t know.
And it makes them say really weird things.
In San Diego and some other school districts in the country, there is a huge controversy about children doing yoga in the schools. The programs have been instituted to help children relax, learn how to breathe and learn how to stretch. However, the storm that has resulted from this is somewhat shocking to me. Many people look at the program to encourage yoga for children as an attempt to brainwash or indoctrinate Eastern religion.
I am scratching my head a little bit.
“They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort,” one of the parents against this told The New York Times. “They’re using this as a tool for many things beyond just stretching.”
I was so taken aback by this statement that I said something about it on Twitter and Facebook. Those responses surprised me too.
“I don’t do that stuff. I find my peace through God, not within myself. Kids should find peace in the Church, not in their minds. Oh, and I do Pilates to stretch instead.“
We live in a world where we are looking at more guns as the solution to many of our problems. We have a mental health crisis in this country and children dealing with unprecedented anxiety levels further heightened by our kids being constantly connected through social media. Suicide is one of the top 4 causes of death for American youth aged 5 – 14. It’s in the top three for youth aged 15 – 24. Bullying, cutting, eating disorders, drug and substance abuse are things most American children are very aware of, if not personally touched by, by their early teens.
Is helping our kids find internal peace really so scary?
Is learning to breathe and maybe love and accept yourself (a little more than you already might) a bad thing?
If you think those things are “taboo,” or “against God” in some way, can you please explain why?
I used to think this was a rhetorical question, but now I am realizing that it’s not at all.
Yes, Simply Om will start out as a jewelry company. A jewelry company inspired by yoga and tenets of ancient Sanskrit texts that need to have a place in this very chaotic world that has forgotten how to breathe sometimes. Yes, I also know that this is a bit of a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
What can I say? “Hello, pot. Would you like some Fair & Lovely?“
I will learn how to breathe again. But every step I take to get this company off the ground gets me closer to a steady state of breathing.
I can really breathe now.
Follow up posts I hope to share with you this week….
1) Why you don’t have to look good doing The Downward Dog to be divine.
2) A behind the scenes look at the first Simply Om photo shoot which involved freezing our butts off, tripping over lots of deer poop and having a not very om’ed out lady in a golf cart yelling at us.
Yeah, that was simply crazy, but fun. Complicatedly fun, even.
3) The ultimate vision for how Simply Om will work with and empower women in India.
Maybe? Maybe even around the world.
Dream big or stay home and reheat a frozen samosa. That’s kind of my philosophy on this, anyway.
Thank you, friends. Thanks for the letters, the support, the well wishes, the many questions and the constant encouragement that I can do this thing.
Can’t wait for you to be a part of it too.
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(1710 words, 2 images, estimated 6:50 mins reading time)