Things I want to say to an assortment of uncles I have known

Woke up with thoughts of a particularly heated evening from 2017, soon after I had just moved back to Bangalore. A living room conversation I found myself having, with a bunch of uncles — some relatives and friends of my parents who until then, I was until then doing my best to try and tolerate anew. The conversation was responsible for not just a crash right back into reality about the new society I now inhabit, after years in the Goa bubble, but also the reality about having to once again be in close proximity with uncles and their views, many of which I simply cannot digest and take lying down anymore.

It was not long after Kuldeep Singh Sengar got away in the Unnao rape case. My emotions were volatile, tempers were high, and I somehow got into a conversation with said uncles about how I just do not trust the current government in power because they’re crooked and vile and will leave no stone unturned in perpetrating the most heinous crimes on the people of this nation. I had already enumerated enough instances to explain why. But when the unnecessarily pressing questions persisted, I simply said “Modi is a terrorist and I refuse to accept him as my PM. I have massive problems with what he is and what he stands for.

I will never forget, and it came back to me swiftly in a cloud of rage this morning, the response I got. The most blind, sanghi, blindly servile, sanskaari-drivel-fed response of them all. “The Supreme Court has cleared him of all charges. The Supreme Court is like the mother of this nation. Questioning her word is like questioning your mother about who your father is.

VOMIT. UUUAAACKKK.

I had to leave my parents home that evening, abruptly. To keep from either barfing or breaking something. Or both. It’s been a while since I have been that triggered. And I decided then that I’d do my best to avoid discussing politics with uncles and their ilk, thereafter. It has meant blocking many on whatsapp, choosing to be quiet in the interest of my sanity when views are aired in person, walking away from political discussions with uncles who will not listen to reason, distancing myself from some family members, and unfortunately quietly cultivating a lot of loathing for some of them (which I know doesn’t serve me at all, but until I figure out a better way or achieve higher levels of Zen, I’ll deal with it).

Today is day 3 of helplessly watching things escalate while nothing is being done to abate the violence, and I have a few things to say to Uncles At Large. That mass of grown ups, every single one of them, who in 2014 told me not to worry because “Modi cannot afford to play those same politics now that he is PM“.

I want to thank them, with folded hands, for their faith and blind servitude.

For their sycophancy and commitment to turning a blind eye to the lies.

For their refusal to open their eyes and look beyond the empty promises of development and economic progress.

For their ignorance and obstinance, even now, that he is somehow the messiah who will lead this country to deliverance.

For their impudence that they knew it all, and their insistance that as younger (angrier) people we could learn a thing by being servile.

I’m angry today.

I want to go to every one of these uncles and tell them this, today, is on them. The blood of all these innocents is on them.

They voted a terror accused to power, knowing fully well that they’re backed by literal admirers of Hitler. And yet, they believed we’d never see pogrom of the scale of Godhra again. So, here we are. Exactly the same place we’ve been many times over.

I’ve watched that video of the goons dressed as cops thrashing the near-dead men, commanding that they sing the national anthem (and they comply), in absolute terror. I can’t get over the images of the thugs climbing atop the minaret on the mosque in Ashok Nagar, destroying it and placing an orange, RSS flag in it’s place.

Wake the fuck up, uncles. Wake up, own up and say you’ve fucked up and we’re here today because of you.

This blood is on you. 

So much for fucking progress. So much for development. So much for economic growth and prosperity. So much for forward thinking leaders and visionaries.

I wonder if they’re happy now, watching the news. I wonder if this gives their bloodthirsty guts a riotous fill, or if there’s even an iota of shame and guilt for what they have contributed to. And if there is, this is a good time to take it and shove it deep where the sun don’t shine. Sit now, with your Hindu Rashtra (read: Taliban), and take shelter in your Ram Mandirs, hang on to your sacred threads and do everything to revive the most backward, regressive aspects of our culture (and none of the hope-filled, progressive ones) and hope like hell that it’ll all give us the many, many, many jobs that can keep these mindless mobs out of trouble. Because this is what this is. A long-drawn, very complex plan to destroy democracy, to destroy our very humanity.

Let’s make no mistake in not seeing it now. Miscalculated errors like demonetization and GST weren’t isolated. They were done to bring this countrys growth and employment to its knees. So frustrated empty youth can fester and form a fertile bed in which to sow seeds of hate. Then, fan them. With Pulwama and Balakot. With the Ayodhya Verdict. With 370. And finally CAA and NRC.

If after all this, you still support this government, you could do well to introspect deeply on what humanity means to you. On what the Hinduism you’re so insecure about really teaches you.

Make no mistake in calling this a series of unfortunate events. This is calculated. This is the work of monsters. Monsters YOU voted. Monsters you brought to power, twice over.

One year ago: At ease, at home
Two years ago: I’m glad that I’m alive
Three years ago: In between mouthfuls

Cancelling today

I don’t know if it is naïveté or just hopeless optimism but I didn’t think I’d live to see things escalate as much as they have in Delhi yesterday. What’s worse, and has been physically impossible for me to digest, is the blatant, brazen way in which the violence has been orchestrated. In full view and with the full support of those in whose hands law, order and peace is usually kept for safekeeping. It is impossible to look back at over two months of protests — almost entirely peaceful — and not see the “chronology” of what played out yesterday, following the threatening speech Kapil Mishra made. What’s in the news doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what is going on on ground. I am completely shaken by the visuals I have seen on twitter and Instagram this morning. Even though the constant thought in my head as I try and go about my very mundane, normal day that will be completely untouched by what’s happening in the country, is “How did we get here???” I know the answer. The writing has been on the wall. Not just since 2019, not since 2014, but long before. In 2002. In 1992. In 1984. The model is the same. The prototypes the same. The methods the same. I want to go back to every time that someone has said “But what about 1984?” to me in the last two months, when I have expressed concern about the CAA, and shown solidarity at protests. Yes, what about 1984? Is this how we’ll right that wrong? With another wrong horrifically worse? The truth is as long as we cling to what makes us different — caste, religion, creed, economics — we’ll be this bloodthirsty. Willing to throw it all away, and entire groups of disadvantaged minorities under the bus, to get what we can grab, and to do what we need to, to stay on top. We’re a horrific people. Now is not the time to call Amit Shah “incompetent”. Now is when we wake up, fully, and smell the shit. You can’t call it incompetence when there is this degree of evil and malice attached to systematically flexing your untouchable muscles to show people who is boss. These events will go down as achievements in the history books of the groups Shah belongs to. They’re nothing to be ashamed of, where people like him come from. Let’s not be stupid and dismiss this as incompetence. This is planned, sanctioned, state-sponsored violence. No different from 2002. This is what they call the Gujarat Model. This is no longer an attempt to quell dissent around the NPR/NRC and CAA. This is plain and simple violence at the hands of an anti-democracy, anti-liberty power. I am angry and helpless at the completely empty handwringing and platitudes being thrown around. Which brings me back to where I began, and the thought that just won’t leave me today: How much more will this escalate before questions are answered. Before someone steps up. Before something changes. Before I can feel hopeful again.

One year ago: Notes on an island
Four years ago: Travel

Strength

Re-negotiating one’s definitions of resilience and coping, is bound to shake up the definition of strength too.

What does emotional strength look like?

Taking an inner journey, moving from the level of the personality towards alignment with the authentic self comes with peeling back several layers. Going inwards means encountering deeper and deeper emotional truths, and processing them, living through them, as you go.

Every level will present challenging emotional material that will persuade, almost seduce, us not to move further. These will manifest as fears, anxiety, self-doubt, shame and several other things that we typically prefer to keep under wraps in our outward lives. All the things that the world around us deems “bad” coaxing us into the singular pursuit of “good” alone. A pursuit that is inherently exclusionary and fragmenting.

The work is to find vulnerability in meeting all parts. Integrating them in a healthy way demands a great deal of curiosity, compassion and kindness — emotional flexibility and strength, in other words — and minimal judgement in seeing ourselves as an amalgamation of so many moving, human parts.

Any attempt to hide from, push away or deny the existence of these lesser-than-ideal parts is what keeps us stuck. Liberation and spiritual evolution comes from honouring them. Even embracing the difficulty, anger, despair, loneliness, shame (amongst other things!) that facing them will bring. This requires the ability to flow with, rather than try and outrun these emerging parts. To align and fall in love with all of ourselves, rather than go against the grain and shame and distance some parts.

This will demand emotional strength that looks like:

  • gentleness over forcefulness
  • vulnerability over perfectionism
  • brutal honesty over projection
  • allowance over resistance
  • acceptance over judgement
  • self love over loathing

Aligning with the authentic self is to accept our completely ordinary, imperfect and often mediocre humanness. That takes inner strength. And you might just see that the strength it invokes and calls for looks nothing like the kind of strength celebrated and even upheld in the outer world.

***

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One year ago: Like waking up again
Two years ago: All my sweat, my blood runs weak
Three years ago: Ten reasons why I love the girls I am in long distance friendship with
Four years ago: Let go, already

Shit on toast kind of day

It’s been a strange day. I could blame on having got my period, but the truth is it’s been building all week and I have done many of the things I mentioned here, in distracting myself and keeping it at bay. I’ve spent a major part of the week fighting the constant urge to just veg-out and binge-watch Netflix. The only thing I’ve been very pumped and motivated to do is the readings I had booked thru this time, and sorting some things out for Instagram. It’s been a challenge waking up early. It’s taken a LOT of effort to go for a run and I only managed three days. I’ve dragged myself into the kitchen to have meals cooked in time. If it were just VC and me I’d have taken the liberty to eat eggs and toast or order in, but it’s not just us and I just don’t have that luxury right now.

I’ve kind of floated through in this strange twilight zone between getting by, staying just on top, but also knowing that there is something bubbling beneath the surface that I am avoiding getting in touch with.

My absolute telltale sign is the need for sloth. When I want to do nothing else but sleep, stay in bed, that’s usually my being shutting down and telling me to shut up and go with it. But this week, I have not listened. I have guilt-tripped myself, beaten myself up over it and cumulatively felt shittier still, by trying to stay active as one “should”.

Avoidance rarely gets me very far anymore. It only works for this long and this morning it bubbled over. I was inexplicably sad, that sinking feeling of not knowing what’s come over me, but feeling distinctly like something has. The cluelessness is because I have done everything in my power to avoid it up till now — boo. There is also that old familiar loneliness whenever I hit a phase like this. It’s what N and I call the “Empty Elevator Phase” whenever we talk about it. It’s like the elevator emptying out naturally, when you level up, emotionally. Leaving you either alone in the elevator, or finding yourself at a new level looking at an empty space when the elevator arrives and the doors open. There is always a sense of going through this alone. I am not feeling particularly social, and yet I do wish for some company to share this with. Company that is not VC alone. But the usual suspects I can share this with are travelling or live in a different country.

Anyhow, I don’t know what I am processing. I’ve passed off the lingering blues as everything else but what it is. I keep thinking it’s this or that — maybe I’m recovering from the weekend of animal flow, maybe I need to ground more after all the readings, maybe I need to push through and get that exercise, maybe it’s PMS, maybe I need to watch less TV before bed and sleep early.

Maybe it’s a little bit of all of that, but it is also some overwhelm (from a lot happening all at once), some loneliness (from not having anyone to really share this with), some anger (at some of the events that have transpired), some grief (at the change and inevitable moving on and loss that comes with it), some disappointment (at some specific events), some abandonment (from a combination of the disappointment and loneliness). From various things that have happened in the short span of just five days, but also from some things that happened a couple months ago that I have just been waiting and watching from a distance.

***

This morning, the exact feeling was of doom. Impending doom. Like things are poised to go downhill and like I am wholly responsible for it.

The only thing that got me through this morning was exchanging some laughs over whatsapp with amma and Niyu, who are both in Bombay at the moment, and the spontaneous decision to ditch my self-made responsibilities in favour of just being by myself. I went to Koshy’s and sat at my favourite table by the window. Originally, I planned to take my work along, but later decided against it, and instead just sat there for an hour journalling what I was feeling. No coherence, just freewheeling words. Not even full sentences, sometimes.

Then I had a masala omelette, buttered toast, two cups of tea. Slowly. Listening to a playlist I love. After over an hour, suddenly the penny dropped. I realised what was festering — a combination of many disconnected things that at can all be summarised as having demands/pressures on me and my time, when all I want right now is to just be left alone, to do my thing, in my time, as I will.

Allowing — actually even just articulating this need — myself has brought up a LOT of guilt and shame today. I’ve been better with this guilt and shame in recent times, but this is an old part of my brain that kicks in if I am not watching closely, and with kindness.

When the penny dropped, it came with a gush of tears. And I surprised myself by just sitting there, looking out of the window, wiping the continuous stream away. I dialled VC and did what I can only do with him, word-vomit of everything I was feeling. Said okay thanks, I feel better, I’ll see you at home and hung up.

I felt lighter. A little.

***

I often forget that feelings don’t always come up as an indication of something that needs to be fixed. Feelings are just feelings. They just need to be felt.

I don’t give myself that option all the time. I think I need to be able to catch myself more often, that I should understand, that I ought to have the answers.

Why? (Because I think I’m a goddamned knowitall hahaha.)

Jokes apart, it’s just too much pressure on myself. Again, an old, old trait. Of having to ace things, be good, stay on top of it.

I’ve been feeling like there’s a lot of demands on my time lately, time that I really just want to spend on myself. I’m doing things I don’t want to do and it is really gnawing away at my time and my space and that sense of ease I had so carefully cultivated. And because I have been “selfishly” spending so much time and attention on myself for so long now, my old brain tries to guilt me about it from time to time, bringing back old notions of what is selfish, what isn’t, what my “responsibility” should be, etc etc.

I forget that there is no need to make sense of feelings. Not immediately at least. That feeling them is usually all that is needed. Sometimes the feeling asking to be felt is shitty, or overwhelm, or loneliness.

I forget that I am allowed to feel those things too.

One year ago: Like coming home
Two years ago: I hope you’re not lonely without me

On resilience

Putting my deck away yesterday, a card fell out. I might have just slipped it back into the pile otherwise, but yesterday it really felt like the card was asking to be seen.

It’s not Monday, but here’s a bonus tarot message for the day. Just, because. As usual, it felt like a timely reminder for myself, I have been experiencing some difficulty in staying in contact lately. Partly because I have thrown myself into the fullness of work, and I’m still finding my feet with a natural rhythm. But partly also because the nature of this work itself has been bringing up a lot of my own inherent needs that need to be seen. There is sometimes discomfort with this sort of process, and the mind usually kicks in and does it’s very best to keep me on top of things, and it’s easy to lose sight of the cost at which that “staying on top” comes.

So this was a good reminder. And maybe you need one too? Stealing this one off my Instagram, but here goes.

What are you ignoring, in the pursuit of resilience?

While we’re talking about mind-body connect, here are some classic coping mechanisms that we’ve culturally come to accept as being good for us.

  • Staying busy to stay distracted
  • Abusing food and nourishment, either binge-eating or crash-dieting
  • Throwing ourselves deep in work
  • Powering through our days on auto-pilot
  • Shirking help

When we hit a rough or an emotionally challenging patch, particularly one that demands stillness, introspection and a deeper connect within, our minds work extra hard to bring in some/all of these coping mechanisms as a way to keep us from feeling miserable. But it invariably comes at a cost — most often a huge disconnect between mind and body. Which, while it may provide immediate comfort, can send you deeper into emotional disconnection and not really do you any good at all.

Culturally too, we laud these behaviours as resilience, perseverance, as “bouncing back”, and further reinforce them. And while it is important to allow whatever it takes to cope, it is also important to know there is no bypassing the process of healing, which sometimes takes us to uncomfortable places that demand a deeper mind-body connect. The distress and discomfort, while being intrinsic to healing, can be eased.

It’s okay to lean on a coping mechanism, but are you in touch with when you may be going over the edge, into numbing something that needs to be seen?

  • By seeking a trained professional to assist/guide your healing process
  • By leaning on sources of strength, rest and rejuvenation often
  • By gradually inculcating mindfulness and stillness
  • By creating spaces for safety, vulnerability, joy and connection that heal

I also know, and I will personally vouch for this, that the healing process is a severely non-linear one. Having mastery over something, being in touch with inner self, at one time, does not ensure that you will remain in that state at all times.

It’s just best to be realistic and know that you will inevitably swivel this way and that, depending on a host of different reasons. How aware you are of those movements, and how compassionate and non-punitive you can be with yourself with that self-knowledge, can make all the difference.

One year ago: Like seeing sunlight
Two years ago: Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again

Seasons

Observing the quiet, natural way in which the planet gently and purposefully moves, signalling timely moments of birth, blossoming, life, rest, recovery, strife, renewal and eventually death has come to hold a lot of meaning for me. I’ve unconsciously internalised the message about everything happening in it’s right time, all things — even difficulty — having a place and a purpose, so deeply in the last couple of years, that it has become natural to now see a tree in full bloom, or absolutely leaf-less and immediately feel a connection.

Flowers, plants, butterflies, dragon-flies, moths have taken on a new meaning, when I spot them. Nature holds so much more. The earth has called out to me in so many ways.

It’s how I observed some days ago on a Sunday walk, that it is that time of year again.

The start of the same cycle that I have noted before.

Here. As hope, in a time pregnant with uncertainty, but promise.

Here. When I experienced the transience of time and how insignificant my worries, and I myself, felt in the larger movement that is life.

And here. Symbolic of the the despair I was experiencing then.

Looking back I see a movement in how I have moved in experiencing the same phenomenon as distress, to eventually hope. It’s telling for how much power there is in working through distress, even when everything is saying don’t go there, and processing it. Not so you can forget, forgive, or deny and minimise the effects of a difficult time and the pain it may have caused, but so you can actually integrate it in your being, in a way that eases the power it holds on you, to move on with ease.

Yesterday, I wrote a post on Instagram about trauma, and how the most human tendency towards processing it is avoidance. And how holistic methods of therapy can actually work in ways that befriend feelings in order to loosen their grip.

One year ago: Move, move, move
Two years ago: There’s nothing here to run from 
Four years ago: Major leaps, minor struggles

Flow, flow, flow

For a while now, I have been aware of the fact that the ups and downs in my energy and attitude towards working out everyday, has carried a message for me. I have, as far as possible, tried go with the — giving in to the needs to be slothful as much as working the high energy bursts to my advantage. But it has been a tad sad, to have to see the absolute high of last year’s energy in this aspect of my life change so dramatically.

The message has mostly been about coming back in touch with my body. To listen when it is saying something — whether asking for rest, or a change in form of exercise, or an indulgent rich dessert — whatever it is. Just to listen. Some clues have surfaced when I have, but it has been a challenge to still the mind and it’s need for rigid routines and perfection, and allow for that listening.

Yesterday’s tarot message was, unsurprisingly, mostly for me. It is already very, very true for me — when my mind is well, my body is too, and vice versa. Which is to say when my body isn’t well, it’s sometimes something to do with my mind. After years of training myself to listen in, and the years I have spent exposing myself to a holistic practice like Family Constellations, I now turn to look at what inherent connections I am missing, before I jump to medicating myself.

Anyhow, after many months of chipping away at a return to fitness on my own last year, and the uphill task of trying to sustain that some rhythm this year even in the face of clear and present need for change, it was suddenly time for an intensive movement workshop that I had signed up for last year.

I spent this past weekend in an intensive two day level 1 certification of Animal Flow, a practice I have been tracking for some years now. I’ve watched in awe not just the flair and flourish with which these flow-ists practice, but felt very deeply attracted to the mind-body connect it inherently requires, the slow, mindful way in which the movement flows, and the way in which the practice always feel so grounded — literally — since it is performed bare feet and on all fours.

This ground-based, quadripedal, body-weight movement training is focused as much on strength and power as much as it is on flexibility, agility and grace. It draws heavily from primal movements typically seen in animals, and is a beautiul framework of movement that has an insanely high focus on building greater neuromuscular connections and performance.

Again, bringing me right back to the mind-body connect that, even as I dole out as advice to so many people on a daily basis, I have been unconsciously moving away from in my own life lately.

The opportunity to certify myself as a level 1 practitioner finally aligned for me, after three missed chances, last year. I grabbed it back then, no knowing what 2020 would hold for me or if I’d even be around, and that an early commitment would mean I would prioritise it. And yet again, unknowingly, most serendipitously the timing couldn’t have worked out better.

Just when I have been flogging myself for not being able to just get with it, and get regular with my exercise, just when I have been not listening to the cues I’ve been getting about trying something more grounding, more in tune with being outdoors, something a little more challenging than the comfortable rhythm I have fallen into, it was time for the animal flow weekend.

And it kicked my butt. Physically, and metaphorically, both.

Despite being in a very good place as far as my body and fitness goes, I have been struggling since the start of this year. Waking up has been hard, my body is clearly demanding a new rhythm from me that I have not been very willing to give it. For eg: I have not stopped to wonder even once, why it hasn’t been hard to wake up and get to Sunday walks, as much as it has been to wake up and go to the gym everyday. The answers are there, pretty clear, if I had chosen to stop beating myself to go against the grain, than lean in and do what my body was asking for. More outdoors, more nature, more unfussy practices, less rigidity, less routine, less flogging.

At a time like this, there’s quite nothing like spending two full days around serious fitness aficionados and trainers — I was one of only 2 members in the group that were learning it for purely personal reasons — to shake the ground beneath one’s feet. The rigour of the training was way up there, because it was geared for fitness coaches, but I enjoyed every bit of it.

The thrill of a new skill, new tricks, and a 1000 new possibilities that lie ahead as far as working out and fitness goes, is high. But what’s more, I felt an intense mind-body connect over the last two days, and spending the whole time crawling about on all fours, doing those moves over and over and over was just the kind of big dose of physical grounding I need right now.

There’s also quite nothing like a good challenge for the body to remind me once again what’s emerged as important points in my fitness journey goes. The weekend brought me right back to remembering how well these have worked out for me recently:

  • Being honest and realistic about my expectations and goals
  • Focusing on what feels right and noticing when I find flow
  • Being grateful for my body, where it is at, and all the it enables me to do

I’ve already made the shift from focusing on fitness as the pursuit of slimness to focusing on it for strength, health and wellness. This past weekend I felt myself feel into my body, at a cellular, muscular level, and I daresay I really enjoyed the experience of what my body can actually do, in a very, very different way than ever before. There was a very deep, primal connection I felt with my limbs, my muscles, my skin, for my brain, for how incredibly crazy it is that we can learn new things and get our bodies to work in new ways. AND THE BODY JUST LISTENS.

Overwhelming. And humbling.

I guess there’s something to be said about non-fussy, no-equipment practices like this, or even yoga, that just use the body as the best instrument that it is. It touches and activates a very powerful, primal spot that is in all of us, that either lies dormant, or covered in heaps of layers of gunk for the most part.

I keep thinking about how the word flow keeps coming to me. My my experiences, conversations, how it’s emerged as a focal point, a goal, a measure of goodness almost. And it’s so uncanny that I literally learned another way to flow yesterday. The synchronicity is not lost on me.

One year ago: In-between   
Four years ago: Light and shadow

Mind-body, body-mind

In somatic approaches to therapy the body is considered a vessel of energy and information when looking at one’s psychological past. As we go through life’s ups and downs, in differing levels of contact with our bodies and energy, we may either work through, process and release the energy, or in the case of difficult experiences and emotions, avoid processing or letting go. But in the bargain, we invariably end up holding on to the energy tightly.

However, energy being energy, must go somewhere. And most often it wanders deeper, lodging itself in the body. The Devil, as ominous as it may seem, is today just a gentle reminder that we are all vessels of moving energy, sometimes chained to energies embedded in places we aren’t aware of.

We may experience it as blockages such as ailments, stuckness, difficulties, struggles with mental wellness, chronic pain, sometimes confusion, joylessness, grief or sadness. Sometimes it manifests as recurring patterns of difficulty. Or self sabotage. But have no idea where it is coming from, why, or what to do to free ourselves form it.

Most often, this is just trapped energy from unresolved emotional material, asking to be seen, or heard. Thankfully, the world is waking up to somatic therapies that go beyond just the mind. Many such practices make it possible to access these spaces, tapping into the sub-conscious through what is locked in the body, and release energy.

Allowing free-flow in this energy brings profound shifts, not just as physical changes like alleviation of pain and movement towards wellness, but also in a deeper mind-body connect that sets off a holistic healing which may be experienced mentally too. As feeling “fuller” in ones being, believing more in the self, seeding fully into ones own power and potency, feeling confident, etc.

In a Family Constellations perspective this is a reinforcement of the idea that what is in the mind, is in the body, and what is in the body is in the mind. It is limiting to try and work with one without the other.

The tarot message for today is to reflect on whether any of your current challenges that feel recurring, or insurmountable, or beyond your cognition, may be seeded in something deeper, something from your past, something from previous generations even, that you maybe carrying in your body.

If so, it is time to free yourself from it, put that burden down. And the work is to get to it through your body. Begin by establishing a connection with your body — by using your hands, exercise, walk bare feet, ground your energy. Then, explore holistic therapies that consider both mind and body equally.

One year ago: Another favourite
Two years ago: If you could change your mind
Three years ago: Pointless post
Four years ago: Make like a tree

On love

Generations of conditioning about love as something that completes us has ruined it all. We’re not jigsaw puzzles, ffs. We’re all independent human beings, capable of being whole and integrated on our own. If anything, authentic connection begins right here — within. In our own hearts, with our own selves.

Instead, we roam the world in search of connection that can complete us, when actually the struggle is a connection with ourselves. And that connection with ourselves is really the basis from which healthy, balanced and positive connections with fellow human beings can grow. Without it we’re only going to find projections, attachments and codependency; instead of true intimacy. And belonging.

What’s worse, that sort of inauthentic connection will demand people-pleasing of you. All of which comes at a high cost to The Self. Negating, minimising your true self, and moving further away from an authentic connection with yourself.

When that connection with oneself is on shaky ground, it leads to the need to find safety in connection outside the self. When there are things within us are difficult to see, hear, sit with, acknowledge and integrate, we push them our Shadow. And the larger the Shadow gets, the more fragmented we feel. This is the sense of being incomplete. And so, we look for “completion” outside of ourselves.

Some weeks ago, I wrote a post about the fleeting moments of being the harmony of being deeply connected with myself and how that miraculously reflected in a sense of peaceful connection and ease with everything around me. This sort of authentic connection with each other is the need of the hour. In this age of hate and polarity, we need connection more than ever.

If you’re looking for love, start with yourself. Begin within. Do you truly love yourself wholly? What parts need some work before you get to acceptance?

Today, a wish for every one of you to find and nurture love — in significant relationships and friendship alike. Love that gradually grows free of projections, that isn’t attachment masquerading as love, that isn’t the harmful claw of control under the garb of love. A love that holds close the spark of honest and free expression, but also knows deeply the silence needed to hold space. A love that allows for comforting space to individuate and become your own person, while also connecting creatively and intimately. A love that both liberates you, as well as grounds and anchors you.

Today, this wish is for every one of you to find and nurture that love within yourselves first. It really is the first intimate relationship to nurture, and the only way to find true, balanced, wholesome love in significant relationships and friendship alike.

One year ago: Born again, all grown up
Two years ago: We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got

That time of the month again

For sundry work updates.

1) Tarot sessions

My tarot sessions are ongoing and open to anyone anywhere in the world.

I offer these as one-on-one card reading sessions, either done in-person if you are in Bangalore and would like to meet face-to-face, and by telephone or Skype, which makes them conveniently location-agnostic. These are guidance sessions for clients who may either be facing specific challenges they wish to get a deeper understanding of, or simply for anyone who is seeking general guidance or clarity about broader areas such as work, life path, relationships, success, money, travel, etc.

The wisdom of the Tarot and ancient symbolism holds a ton of information to explore conscious and unconscious realms of our minds and lives. The cards have been an excellent tool for me personally, to reflect on issues, patterns, situations and challenges through my own life these past few years.

The specific benefit being the way in which they mirror visually, what’s usually going on inside, giving me a pictorial story board of sorts to get a grip on what I am going through, how I feel.

Think of it as a mirror to hold up to your inner and outer worlds so you can navigate the path accordingly, and sometimes make them meet.

Each session typically lasts between 45-60 minutes, and they can be booked very easily by reaching out to me via the contact form. I am usually quite prompt with responses.

Again, if you are maybe considering but have questions or would like to understand more about how this works, or if you’ve been waiting for or looking for something like this to get a handle on something you have been sitting with, please use the contact form to get in touch with me. I’m happy to help.

2) TWO Family Constellation Therapy Group Sessions in Bangalore:

  • 29 February, 9.30 am t0 5 pm | Katte Creative Community, Indiranagar | Rs. 1500 (including morning and evening tea)
  • 1 March, 9.30 am to 5 pm | SMArT, Ulsoor | Rs. 1500 (including morning and evening tea)

We’ve been working hard to keep these group sessions small and intimate as possible, because I know how much I valued a space of warmth and safety.

During these sessions you will experience Family Constellations therapy at work, whether you personally bring your issue/challenge to the fore or not. It is beneficial for anyone seeking to either break patterns such as stuckness, negativity, ill-health, etc. My colleague Sunitha has an FAQ that has some more details.

I’ve had a lot of messages from folks via Instagram, email and also by phone with questions about Family Constellations (from people all over the world! which really makes me wish I could do this online — boo), many of whom have ended up signing up for our sessions. This time around we’re also hosting second-timers! So if you’re considering, if you have questions, if you’re sitting on the fence and you’d like to talk about exploring this, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

However, if you’re already keen to register please do it immediately — details in the poster, or use the contact form — as we have limited spots this time around.

***

While it has been exciting and the anticipation of working towards a group sessions has been challenging yet fun, the flow and ease that I have with Tarot sessions has made me very happy. To have spoken to and connected with over 25 people (some of whom have come back for seconds) in this way has been deeply humbling and enriching.

I ran a discount promo for Tarot Bookings at the start of this month and it sold out in less than a day, even before I could announce it on my blog as well. I was really pleasantly shocked. So I hope to do these more often. If you’d like to stay informed about these, and other updates, please find me on Instagram where I am trying to be diligent with posting everyday.

Some months ago, when the idea of doing these for the world at large began to take shape, I was really shaky. Mostly I didn’t think anyone would be interested. And I didn’t think I had it in me to hold the time and space for a client. But much has changed, and I really underestimated the value and depth in the months I spent training with my mentor for Family Constellations.

But of course the dots only connect when I look back. And today, it makes sense. It fits. And I do feel like I am in the right place at the right time, and that things will unfold as they should, when they should. I just have to stay true to myself, keep doing what feels right.

One year ago: To heal
Two years ago: Make me somewhere I can call a home

Finding flow, and flowing with it

It’s been over a month and a half of doing tarot card readings for people. At the end of practically every one of these sessions, I feel a bit in awe with the realisation that if there’s one utterly human thing that connects us all, it is the basic desire to understand ourselves.

It’s very grounding and humbling. Levelling, unifying. As much as we are diverse and unique, we’re all also much the same.

The pursuit takes different meanings and manifestations for each one of us, but at the heart of it, is always a desire to “make sense” of the machinations of our minds, hearts, desires and stimulations and getting them all to align from time to time.

Since committing to sharing my journey and learning, and stepping into what Bert Hellinger calls The High Art of Helping I try and stay in touch with what feelings are evoked in me when I engage with clients and am in the seat of The Helper. It’s usually where I find clues for what I need to still see in myself, what parts I am yet to integrate and possibly to unpack a little bit more, the complex machinations of my own spirit mind.

It is a process that while very satisfying, evokes a simultaneous helplessness and the desire to do more, reach more people (because I see how common and universal human struggles are) while also drumming up the soft rhythmic beat of a series of gentle yeses that affirm I am in the right place and this pace is just right.

Like I said, grounding and humbling. Levelling and unifying.

***

At some point in the last few months, I made a slow and almost inconspicuous shift from the pursuit of flow, to just flowing with it when it arrives. I’m somewhere in the process of making friends with the up and down natural rhythms of my body’s energy, my minds willingness to be motivated and push through, and the sweet spot when the two meet and find alignment. I don’t recall exactly when, but I do recall having a conversation about it with S and saying, perhaps this is just it then. I welcome the highs when they arrive, and ride them fully, enthusiastically. And I give in to the lows with as much welcome, allowing for rest, if that’s what it is asking of me.

Working with people in the way that I am these days is also asking for a lot more emotional and mental energy than I imagined. I know I will develop ways to conserve and protect my energy, as I go on, but that is a curve and right now I am at the very bottom of it. So it has been taxing, depleting and quite revelatory.

Which explains perfectly, why my energy hasn’t been uniformly upward or even plateaued. I’ve seen wild ups and downs and for the first time in my life, I have been able to go with it peacefully, rather than grit my teeth and fight the natural rhythm of things.

***

And then there have been days like today. Three readings, two of which were in-person, in my home. And two more enquiries from people who I’ve done readings for last month — my first repeat clients!

Today has been a super demanding on me, but also super satisfying for all the same reasons. It’s been a day of flow. A day that flowed. And I was able to just go from one thing to another with ease, enjoying thoroughly, every moment of my work. I live for days like this, and I’ll bookmark this one to remember.

One year ago: Renewal
Two years ago: You guys, I must be the luckiest alive
Four years ago: Beach bum

I’m alive

WHAT. A. DAYYYY-YYYYY!!

1) It started at 7 am. For making it to the gym, two days in a row. Yes I’m now down to celebrating this, because January has seen the exercise streak take a severe beating. One that I was happy to just go with, till it led to unbelievable levels of sloth that I had to just ride out, I suppose. An upward spike in energy since the weekend has meant I am back, once again. And two days in a row made me insurmountable happiness first thing in the morning.

Working out to this on repeat a handful of times probably also had a major role to play.

2) Also the fact that I started loading and refreshing the Election Commission’s website at 8 am today. It was bound to be a good day, right form the get go by the look of things. But boy, I was not prepared for just how good Delhi came through!

This is probably what reaching tipping point feels like. When the status quo has been hella shook, people have no fucks left to give. I’ll admit, I had a mad sadistic happiness watching the results, with BJP getting absolutely pissed on, and Congress, walloped. Every cell in my body feels relieved. And insurmountably happy that after years of wondering how much lower will we have to go before there’s a glimmer of some push back, some turnaround, this happened.

The single-minded hate campaigns have had me really disillusioned lately. That this is a state’s response the country’s current ruling party got, for what was probably the lowest, most despicable, disgustingly hate-laden, vilest campaign possible makes me happy no end.

Kejriwal’s “I Love You” to Delhi punched me right up in the feels today. I feel hopeful that as a country we know better, we want better, and even though it might be a long and painful road ahead, this victory makes me feel hopeful that we will not settle for less. Not anymore.

I read this couplet somewhere today, and aside form feeling really apt for the turning point that today is, it really, really touched me:

tū shāhīñ hai, parvāz hai kaam terā
tere sāmne āsmāñ aur bhī haiñ

Translation:
You are a falcon, flying high, your purpose
And you have so many undiscovered skies ahead of you

This is what hope looks like.

3) And as if all that goodness was not good enough, I watched Little Women. It was an impulsive plan to tag along with S and S and I wanted so badly to “revise” the plot of the book before I went but that didn’t happen. I kept repeatedly mixing up details and plot lines and earlier televised and cinematic versions with Pride and Prejudice (*eyeroll*) and I was all kinds of confused until right before the movie began. But OMG OMG OMG — what. a film! Came home so utterly confused about why Soirse Ronan didn’t bag the Oscar for Best Actress.

It was just beautiful — stunningly re-imagined, picturised, shot and edited. And just such a delight to see a film so full of powerhouse women taking so much screen time, uninterrupted by men who are just mostly in the background. It was poignant, and I could personally relate to so many little nuances of each of the characters. Their pains, sorrows, joys, triumphs, confusions, disillusionments, frustrations and ecstatic successes alike. It was touching and joyful, heart-wrenching and uplifting, simultaneously. Experiences that show me humanity, and duality are fast becoming top experiences in my book.

4) We shared a plate of the best potato wedges after the movie.

Yeah that’s it. That counts for a darn good happy day in my books.

One year ago: Super power
Four years ago: Fail

On doing too much, as a way to find love

For some time now, the King of Wands has signalled compulsive doing, a restless energy, hyper-activity. For this message, I’m going to talk about compulsive doing as a response to early trauma, as a coping mechanism.

Dr. Daniel Sumrok, Psychiatrist and Director of the Centre for Addiction Sciences at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine introduced the idea that Addictions are essentially coping mechanisms and should be renamed “Ritualised Compulsive Comfort-Seeking” behaviour. He also says that at the heart of comfort-seeking such as smoking, alcoholism, excessive shopping and consumption, binge-eating or even spiritual bypassing and excessive doing is a response to an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE).

Yes, compulsive doing is often classified as an addiction if it is excessive to the degree that it occurs at the cost of one’s own self, sanity, health and wellbeing. Whether it is the urge to keep oneself busy, or it is linked to ideas of ultra-productivity, this constant subconscious need for be “at work” or “fix things” or “remain committed” to others needs, or just masochistic levels of perseverance, many times stems from the inability to just sit with something that needs to simply be witnessed. It very often catapults into compulsively putting the needs of others over one’s own needs.

If one were to trace this back to Adverse Childhood Experiences, it could go back to growing up being less parented than one may have wanted or needed in the early years. This instills the idea that one has to DO something to earn love and belonging, which manifests as compulsive doing to be “useful” to another, to prove ones worthiness of having a place and receiving love. The idea that to be loved, one has to take on the responsibility of doing something, is innate.

I’ve personally been thinking a lot about how I engage with periods when I feel compelled to do nothing. Lately, it has been difficult to allow it without judgement. And I have been wondering what has changed.

I’ve been questioning where my ideas of doing stem from, and if this is a form of ritualised comfort-seeking, what am I soothing? Having grown up in a family that placed a huge premium on teeth-gritting, bone-crushing perseverance as a virtue, with an absurdly high value placed on enduring (self-inflicted) pain, developing strength, commitment, never giving up and constantly being useful for others more than myself, I have grown up without healthy ideas of when it may actually be safe or essential to give up.

This has had catastrophic effects on my relationships, thanks to not having a clue what healthy boundaries look like, or how to keep myself safe. I have worked hard to learn what listening to my body and my inner cues actually means, to know when I need to stop doing, when I need to drop commitment to an unhealthy relationship, when I need to recognise a damaging pattern, and when I need to just sit still in silence. I’ve had to learn boundaries, on my own terms.

Today’s message is about looking at whether you have enough space for rest and recharging in your life. To quote an old adage, you cannot keep giving from an empty cup. If restlessness and compulsive-doing ring true for you, and if you think they may be ritualised comfort-seeking behaviours, is it fundamentally fulfilling an inner need for being loved and accepted?

One year ago: Safe and sound
Two years ago: The heartache lives on inside
Three years ago: Commitment issues
Four years ago: Pur very first Carnival in Goa

Small changes, big feelings

A little over two weeks since I have stepped gingerly back on Instagram turf. The single biggest change in the 2+ years of staying away from it slowly came together for me this past week.

The allure is as diminished as the angst is. I have gradually realised why — and like everything else these days, it’s something linked to discover authentic inner power — there is a steep increase in confidence about where I am, just as I am, and a steep decline in the need to justify, explain or prove any of it to anybody.

Earlier in the day, it was exactly the inverse. A serious deficit of true confidence, and an overcompensation through displays of various kind that acted as justification and efforts to constantly prove something or another.

Something about showing up and willing to be seen as I am has really clicked into place for me. It’s been interesting — a tight rope to walk — navigating actual selling of services and building a presence for myself in the absence of the desire to go down the “personal” nature of my old Instagram presence. Its been all kinds of interesting to witness.

One day ago: Of days that turnaround
Two years ago: The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind

Cry freedom

Scratch Bombay. Say life, instead?

***

Came out of therapy today, thinking about just how much bloody work it takes (even after one has peeled off many ,any upper layers to get closer to the authentic self) to make any head way with the work of getting over all the unnecessary things I think about myself. On a daily basis — there’s a bedrock of seemingly small judgements, piled high with layer upon layer of daily self-loathing. Over that comes the beating-myself-up for petty transgressions, just for some crunch. And finally the fluffy top layer of shame. And it’s all deceptively delicious, pretty to look at and promises to pack a serious punch.

There comes a point after when the road to the authentic self gets so subtle and the shifts so nuanced, it’s like clutching at straws. This moving from the level of the personality to the inner core involves so much of moving away from what I think I know about myself, to what I discover of myself, when I have successfully let every little judgement, every bit of shame, every unnecessary standard fall away.

IT’S TOUGH.

One year ago: Digging to find the happy
Two years ago: The future is no place to place your better days