Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Build Community. Share. Spread Love. Speak from the Heart.

The World is Your Mirror.
This post is a follow on to my blog post about Ashram life. Please bear with me as I am not the most eloquent writer.

The world Ashram is defined as a place for religious retreat or community life. The piece that I loved the most about being in an Ashram was the sense of community that was present. Unfortunately we live in a time of isolation, fear of what and who we don’t know, where the sense community has been lost. We tend to put up barriers to ‘strangers’, our own internal defenses, and even physical fences & walls. Proof to this statement is the sad fact that even after living in the same flat in San Francisco for 3 years I don’t know my neighbors. I travel the world solo without fear, but I can’t even knock on my neighbor’s door. We live in the same building for goodness sake. Why do I have this fear in my own community? How come this fear is driving us? Here’s something that Amma had to say about the current time we are living in that resonated with me:

“We are currently living in the Kali Yuga (the dark age of materialism guided by our ego). Dharma is at an all-time low. We are surrounded on all sides by war, violence, disease, hostility, famine, overpopulation and environmental destruction. Amma says repeatedly, “The world is caught in the grip of an octopus of fear.” People are becoming more and more isolated from themselves and each other. The balance of nature is greatly disturbed. The seasons rarely come on time. There are droughts, floods, storms, earthquakes and tsunamis causing great destruction.There was a time when humans and nature co-existed in perfect harmony. Now, our ignorance and our separation from our true Self and from nature have greatly disturbed that balance.”

I know that all sounds very negative and scary, but it’s reality. The beautiful part about our reality is that we have the ability to bring the balance back. Reconnect with ourselves, with nature and those around us. Live our lives out of love rather than fear. Smile more often at stranger, say hello, look them in the eyes, what’s the worst that could happen? Just being seen can make the world of a difference to somebody.

One of my favorite documentaries that my flatmate,  Julia, showed me is called Happy. It taps right into the importance of community and how having a sense of community is what brings true happiness. Not travel, money, cars or experiences, but the people around you who you build a community with. Those you can lean on. That’s one of the reasons I believe religion is popular, it truly brings people together. That’s a whole another discussion. Anyway where I am trying to go with this is my decision to make my community a priority. I vow to be a better neighbor and member of my SF community.

Spend the 60 minutes to watch this beautiful film. Happy has stuck with me and I think it will with you too.

There’s another beautiful thing I noticed at a couple of the Ashrams. The pure genuine love that can radiate from one’s smile and gaze. There were two individuals in particular that come to mind and I can’t seem to get there smile out of my head. I want that connection to my heart that they have, where they can spread love so easily and without fear. I don’t even know how to smile the way they do. It’s such a pure honest expression with no walls up. Just from one smile they can pierce straight to your heart and remind you its okay to be exactly who you are. Relax and let your guard down.

One of the reasons I think I can’t stop thinking about it is because it made me realize how much love I hold back. They smile at you and I can only hold their gaze for a couple seconds before I look away. Anybody else felt this as well? It makes me realize how important it is to share love. Share love with those close to you and let them know how much they mean to you. There is a quote from Shantaram that I love:
“I know now that when the loving, honest moment comes it should be seized, and spoken, because it may never come again. And unvoiced, unmoving, unlived in the things we declare from heart to heart, those true and real feelings wither and crumble in the remembering hand that tries too late to reach for them.”

When your heart wants to speak, seize the opportunity. Let that other person know your true feelings.

I was discussing all of this with my new friend, Myriam, and she brought to my attention the 3 different types of love.
Eros is known as "erotic love". It is based on strong feelings toward another. It usually occurs in a romantic relationship.
Philos is the second type of love. Its a unique kind of love, like the love that one has for a friend, to love like a brother or like a sister. When we have Philos love for someone we have placed that friend in a high personal position.
Agape is unconditional universal love. Agape love is above Philos and Eros love. It is a love that is totally selfless, where a person gives out love to another person even if this act does not benefit her/him in any way. Whether the love is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit).

We were specifically talking about Agape love. How when somebody can shine so bright with their smile that you feel love come through. There are moments when you want to tell somebody that you love them and truly care about them, but if you said “I love you” it would freak them out. When in reality this is Agape or Philos love you’re trying to express. Or even when you smile at a random person on the street, sometimes they will smile back or may look at you a bit sideways. Agape love is wonderful and it would be beautiful to see more of this love in the world. Smile more often, let your love and light shine out! (even if you freak a few people out along the way).

Life is beautiful. Be Present. Be Curious. Challenge Yourself. Leap.


  1. Hi Brianna --
    Stephanie, here, we met at the Laura Fraser book signing in SF right before you left for India (I'm the one who works for the adventure travel company). You popped into my mind a few moments ago and I wondered Where in the world...?? :)
    Love your blog - your trip looks amazing. I can tell that you love India.
    If you haven't already, go pick up a copy of Holy Cow - you can probably find it at various English book-sellers. Fun and fab read, it's a great companion as you travel around India.
    Continue enjoying and living to the fullest ~

    1. Stephanie! So great to hear from you. Yes I remember us chatting and you giving me a few tips. My trip has been wonderful. India was incredible and always an adventure. I actually just finished Shantaram and loved reading that while in India. I'll definitely pick up a copy of Holy Cow and reminisce about India while reading it :-)
      Thanks for checking out my blog and writing me a note! Hopefully see you at another book reading when I return in June.
      Jai Ma!