An Unusual Kartika Vow
By Ananda Vrindavan Devi
It’s that time of year again when we get a chance to be intentional about nurturing our relationship with Krishna by considering a vow (vrata in Sanskrit) for the month of Kartika. Many Bhakti practitioners give things up as a gesture of love (sweets for example) and others add more powerful spiritual activities (more reading or chanting). Whatever we do, if it’s done as an offering of devotion and to bring Krishna joy, it’s good. The main thing is to choose what works for you in the current context of your life, make it stretchy but not super difficult, and stick with it. It’s also helpful to have a Kartik buddy, to keep us on track with our vows and take away any need to brag about our vows to others.
But here is a different kind of vow to consider - engaging in conversation.
What pleases Krishna more than anything is how we care for and honor those around us, and especially his devotees. Here is a formula for us to consider:
Engage, Encourage, & Add Something Helpful
Engage - choose a good time where you can have an exchange with someone without distraction. With a smile and eye contact ask them how they are. Be genuinely interested. Be curious and eager to learn from them. What are some good things happening in their life? What might be some challenges? A great question is, “What’s a crossroads in your life at this time?” or “I’d love to hear how you sense Krishna’s presence in your day.”
We are mainly listening here, actively listening, and hearing the other speak without judging or fixing or advising.
Encourage - by being a good listener we naturally encourage others. They feel seen, valued and gain self worth, which are the foundations of the courage needed to continue wrestling with life’s challenges. We also encourage others by our response - ‘wow, that’s amazing!’ Or by gratitude - ‘thank you for this conversation’ or ‘thank you for doing whatever they are doing’ or simply ‘thank you for being you’. To give positive responses to others is the most powerful way of encouraging.
Add Something Helpful - engaging and encouraging are most helpful as they are. To add a bit of wisdom or something from your own life experience can be the cherry on the cake. It’s an exchange, a sharing of your own humanity and spirituality, and can end the conversation on a sweet and positive note.
Taking time to talk to each other about things that matter is how we build community and connectedness. Lean in to talk and listen. It’s a Kartika vow that can lift us all up.