Welcome to Daily SPARC – each weekday our chaplains, friends from the Penn Religious Communities Council and other voices from campus will be posting messages of support and encouragement. 

Today’s message is by Mounika Kanneganti C’17 and M’21:

There have been several times over the last few years in medical school where I have referred back to our Reverend Charles Howard’s book Pond, River, Ocean, Rain. The calling to just appreciate stillness and be ok with inaction is comforting at a time like now. For many of us, we are unfortunately caught up in imagining an intangible future rather than engaging more deeply with our tangible present. I believe in the idea of finding one’s “pond”, a space and time that can be set aside to just truly be in the moment. The Schuylkill River Trail near my home has provided me with a beautiful space for reflection with its shimmering waters (more ideal during certain weather or without social distancing conditions), but even by sitting in my own bedroom I found I can achieve a similar level of peace and joy. For me, taking time regularly to appreciate music and to listen to the voices of those who are on the path to enlightenment like Gil Fronsdal of the Insight Meditation Center and Sadhguru of the Isha Foundation raises my confidence in my ability to hold onto a more inclusive and durable version of happiness. For others, it may be dancing, writing or reading that allows them to be fully present.


I recently completed a course called Inner Engineering by Sadhguru. It consisted of daily 90-minute lecture + meditation sessions for 7 days. During the course, I learned that when you have conflicting ideals of self preservation vs selfless advocacy, or career vs relationship success it can be really hard to be honest with yourself about what you want. Thus, working towards clarity about what you seek and why can bring more gratification than achieving particular results. At the end of the 7-day course I also realized the importance of commitment, as deep commitment to even one goal provides a great sense of fulfillment. Living deeply is a lifelong philosophy that can take many forms, but we can all start by slowing down a little bit and delving into something we truly believe in.