By Phavanjit Kaur
With the pandemic and the constant bombardment of bad news, it can get exhausting to just exist. I found that one way for me to stay above water, is to flow with words. I reflected on my days for the last two years. Seemingly ordinary and repetitive, often times felt like there was just nothing to live for or to look forward to as we stayed cooped up indoors. As time went by, I realized just to be able to wake up the next day, healthy and functioning, safe and secure in a pandemic brought me to be one of the lucky ones. It was then I began to take “one day at a time” into practice.
I hope that in these times, when it feels harder to function – you come back to what’s most important which is to simply Be.
Think less, breathe more. We know this, yet perhaps the easiest of things can be the hardest challenge to tackle. It is when we think, think and think, we become further from our true essence. I like to think this is the reason why we were gifted with Vahe-guru, to breathe and be here now. In the present moment, everything else can wait. Imagine how powerful we can be throughout our lives?
In my journey, I have realised how pure Faith can be. You can be taught that Faith needs to look or dress a certain way in order to be Faithful. As a Kaur who struggles with Rehat, I have learnt that carrying guilt with you only waters down your Faith. I learnt in my journey that habits make a practice. If you want to have Gurbani in your life, make time for it. If you’re struggling with kes, reach out to someone who you trust. Similarly, the guilt that comes from not being who you think you should be as a Sikh, only clouds your practice; it becomes a burden rather than a blessing for you to embody.
As a Kaur, I have struggled so much with self-confidence and still do especially in a time where almost all moments in our lives are documented online. I still do suffer from it from time to time but I have found one grounding reminder that has helped me come back to center. That comes with my name, Kaur. My name, Kaur has only reminded me of where I come from and the lineage that I, as a Sikh woman carry. There are difficult days, ones that dim the Light but when I think of how our mothers, daughters of the past and present build their children as fortresses in service for the World, I can only feel strong and protected.
When I lost my father, I was in a state of confusion. I know that in Sikhi, we do not cry and wail for those who have passed. Instead, we honour them and we smile. I tried my best but I suppressed so much just to adhere to it. I realised then, that I can still honour those who have passed and grief. Grieving gives birth to light in a dark room. It airs out your emotional windows, it lets you dust the memories. It lets you open your floodgates. Grieving does not mean you are weak; grieving means you allow yourself to feel all things that comes with being human and isn’t that in line with Sikhi too?
Keep laughing. Making people laugh brings me so much joy because if anything, laughter feels a lot like Love. Do you realise how when someone laughs with you, all distance between you both seem to vanish? Laughter can start a beautiful friendship. Laughter can ease a grieving heart. Laughter can bring you back to here and now. So, laugh deeply.
Nowadays, it’s hard to find some quiet. We may be alone but we could be interacting with hundreds of people through our social media feeds. Ever feel drained after or find yourself spiralling down with unwanted thoughts? I know I do. We need real peace and quiet to function authentically. A kind of quiet that is present even if 1,000 people sit before you. How do we do that? Again, Rehat (practice) plays an important role. Self-help advocates can write best-selling books on this but our beloved Guru Sahibaan have known it since before it was cool. How you spend your first two hours as soon as you wake, determines your day. There are many methods which you can influence the space between stimulus and response; the Quiet – journaling, meditation and exercise. All of which do not need to be separate from Simran, Kirtan and Gurbani too.
When we travel light, we become Light. But, life is tough. We don’t always agree with our loved ones. We see things differently from our peers. It is what makes us, unique. What can we do then to travel light? I have learnt that assumptions kill. It kills relationships, it distorts your practice as you are meddling with Ego. When we give others the space to be and embody their opinions, we free ourselves too. When we choose to look at our uncomfortable daily situations or distressing global issues without any labels, we began to accept Hukam. When I think of Hukam, I like to picture a strong old tree with strong roots. Hukam to me is the roots that keeps the tree upright, strong and tall with all of its branches, fruits and flowers. Sometimes, we cannot make things right. We can however, forgive and start anew even if we do not have the chance to say it to the other or even if the other refuses to forgive us. It is hard though, to accept that in another’s eyes, we bring anger, negativity and pain. But, remember – you are solely responsible for your own words and actions and no one else. You have the choice to travel light and sincere. Be Light.
When we stand, let us stand knowing that we are held up by our communities. When we succeed, let us be reminded of where we come from and how many hands and hearts molded us to come this far. When we progress, let us be humble enough to thank the ones who had given us the education, the privilege and the chances to be where we are. We are nothing without our Sangat and Sangat comes in many forms. It comes as encounters, people, music, pages of a book or an Instagram page. Recognise them. To think only we have made ourselves, is a disservice to the beauty of Sangat.
How do we Love in a space of Hate? How do we fight in the field of injustice when we have been taught to Love in Sikhi? Countless stories have been narrated to us whereby we can affect change and justice while Loving the other. To see those who oppress, those who corrupt as One, is probably the hardest path to walk as a Sikh woman especially in today’s dark age. How can I embody Ek? Well, (and I speak for myself), I am now on a constant journey to separate action from a person. It is the action that fails, not the person. Inherently, we come from Light. A story that always keeps me rooted when I engage in political and social engagements is the one of Bhai Kahnaiya Ji. How he selflessly fed water to wounded Mughal soldiers despite being on the opposite side of the war. It always brings me back to how important it is to remind ourselves of Hukam and that in our duty, the fundamental bricks ought to be of Love. Only then will we embody true activism.
10. A cup of cha
There is nothing a hot cup of cha cannot fix. As you boil your tea leaves, boil your hurt. As you let the spices simmer, let your worries evaporate. As you add milk and sugar, be reminded that there is purity and sweetness in every experience. As you take your first sip, let it wash over the walls of anxiety. Let it open the Doors to You – the authentic version of You.
All of these lessons I have come to embrace and recognise in my 26 years of existence as an evolving Kaur. Like little notes to Self, I hope they serve you too.
About Phavanjit Kaur
Phavanjit Kaur is passionate about social justice and building sustainable solutions for everyday life. Based out of Malaysia, follow her advocacy and creative work on Instagram: @phvnkaur + @kitaaban.withkaur
All views expressed are of the author’s. Views may change as learning progresses. ☺
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