My amma turned 60 on the weekend, and we had the privilege of making it over to be with them not just on the day, but the weekend and a few days after too.

It feels both surreal and perfectly in sync to witness this milestone. On the one hand, I remember my grand mother’s (her mother) 60th like it happened not too long ago. Even though it was nearly 25 years ago. And I have also watched my mother gracefully ease herself into this decade, belying the actual number in so many ways.

Recently, when discussing their relationship with their mother, a client said to me:

I’ve learned that a river cannot flow if it is in conflict with it’s source.

and I had one of those moments that therapists/healers are known to have — when a client says something that feels and looks like a mirror held up in one’s own face, and in fact to the depths of one’s own soul. Sometimes a client conversation heals, and settles something in me.

I use “conflict” very differently from the conventional, most obvious sense of the word here. I have spent too many years trying to move away and carve my own space in being where I am. But the last 4-5 years have been about returning to my source in more ways than one. And oddly, it is in this collapse, this return, this re-nesting as an adult that I have found the strength to be my own whole self.

There couldn’t be a more apt way to put it. And to witness amma hit this milestone felt like a moment to record, to recollect and look back on all that I have received from her as a mother, a woman and an immense source of support, joy and life itself.

One year ago: On missing the offline life
Five years ago: Blend

Supporting COVID frontline workers

Unlike last year at this time when a sudden opportunity to help those in need emerged right from the chaos, I have found no vent to channel my restless helplessness at watching the widespread devastation unfold. This year, things are infinitely worse than they were last year. And this year, we are even more locked up than we were last year. It’s become obvious yet again that we have been left in the lurch to fend for ourselves. Once again, it’s on us, regular citizens to make a difference in a way that the powers that be just will not. In these circumstances, being physically unable to throw myself into any sort of organised effort to pitch in has left me feeling doubly in knots.

I sat on this “what-can-I-do” feeling for days, and over the weekend I realised I could use what I spend most of my days doing — working — to contribute. It’s the one thing I am privileged to be able to continue, uninterrupted. And so it is the most obvious and useful way that I can help at this time.

So since the Sunday that just passed, through till the end of May, I will be donating 50% of all my earnings through tarot and family constellation sessions to this campaign that is supporting the mental health needs of frontline workers at the help of this disaster.

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get a personal reading, this could be a chance to do it and support my efforts to pay it forward. Please reach out to me to discuss this or any other way to help. I’m open to listening to any ideas you might have.

If you’d like to directly support the campaign yourself, this is where you can do it: https://www.ourdemocracy.in/Campaign/covid19mentalhealth

Here is also a live and constantly updated list of various campaigns and fundraisers that are supporting a wide variety of causes during this time: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eiobgyrl8iz-R1Dz7c4R5pzzzkuZLBj99vaC7T_UeVo/edit

Please give in any way that you can. No effort is too small at this time.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Working with fear
Three years ago: And love is all that I can give to you
Four years ago: Because wanting to leave is enough
Five years ago: This day, that year

Monday Tarot Message: Evaluate your progress

If you have been trying to bring about change in some area/s of your life, today is a good time to evaluate how far you’ve come. Take stock, pat yourself on the back, make changes where necessary. And keep going on.

Making change happen involves letting your heart (mind) guide the way, but also following it up by action (body). Seven of Pentacles is a reminder that the process requires both — mind and body, desire and action — to work in tandem.

So as you take stock today, remind yourself of what you value. Why is this change important to you? What will your life look like when you have changed?

Most change is inherently testing, and it is likely that your self-talk and mind chatter will remind you of it. Possibly even discourage you. Be aware of this as you evaluate your progress. How you feel alone, is not necessarily always the most accurate measure. Since change challenges the comfort of hard, old patterns, they’ll do everything in their power to discourage you from growing or moving out of that comfort. Even if that means making you believe you’re not actually moving ahead or good for change.

Listen to your heart and what it feels about your progress, but don’t give the negative talk or chatter too much attention. Follow through with action that reinforces your commitment to what you value about establishing a new pattern, new ways of being, and why they are iportant for you. Act like you’re committed to the change you want to see.

Two years ago: Unfurl
Three years ago: Bad news never had good timing
Four years ago: In-stages
Five years ago: See Lanka

Throbbing with the audacity of life

Butterflies have been showing up a lot lately. Literally, flying through my living room, and figuratively in crucial messages that I need jogged back to the fore for.

Earlier this week, I mentioned the same butterfly analogy in a reading and almost immediately the butterfly that’s been making a dialy appearance flitted into my living room not far from where I was sitting, ambled around and casuallyflew out again. Almost like an affirmation. An iridescent blue affirmation with white, close-set speckles that scream YES YES YES! like a choir.

The next day, I saw the same fellow in my kitchen. Trying to make it out a closed window. So I watched for a while, and then opened the window, to let him go.

The next day, he was back again. Probably trying to find, or had already found, a spot somewhere in our home to make a home, I thought.

Again, I spotted him the next day. Basically I spotted him everyday for a week.

We came away to my folks’ today. got here mid morning, and this happened in the evening.

I spoke of a death cycle recently. And all week I have been given this representation of life after death. So finally, I see it. I get what this is about. It feels like a massive, resounding yes, throbbing with the audacity of life.

I so see it.

One year ago: Poof 
Two years ago: Plant babies
Three years ago: You know it used to be mad love 

When I am untethered

Dying has meant coming completely undone. Feeling utterly untethered. In the worst-best way possible. Absolutely terrifying, at first; midly exhilarating like filling my lungs with new air in the midst of terror next; and then the sweet painfully liberating fight back to life.

My primary response to the terror phase has been being in low key hibernation. I often called this a “phase” imagining a short span of time, and believing many of the smaller cycles of change I went through to be it. But in reality this phase lasted upwards of three years. The hibernation meant going within, cutting away all that distracted from the going within, considerable loss as a result — of people, of opportunity, of perspective, of comfort — and the constant lure of turning back and resisting the journey inwards.

I had many a good day and my bad. Entire periods within the larger phase where my triggers were heightened, as the contours of whatever was changing found its new normal and readjusted the edges again. I felt like my limits were tested, my capacity for endurance woefully inadequate, and my appetite for pain constantly challenged.

Even in death, there was constant movement and action. Even in hibernation, the wheels of change were in motion. Just not in the outward way that one expects, towards furthurance or progress.

This is the quintessential fire. And I believe I am still somewhat in it. Probably feeling the vestiges of the last of the dying embers. Because even in the heat, I feel the cool, inviting breeze of that which lies above. Air, water, sky. Glimpses of the rising phoenix that will come.

I hold it as a beacon of hope. I’m finding my way up.

One year ago: Card games
Two years ago: Beachy things
Five years ago: Stop

You are allowed to feel

The other day I was looking back at the last year feeling a bit shocked at how far I’ve come with the tarot and family constellations practice, because honestly, this was not the plan. I didn’t really have a fixed plan, to be honest, but I know how far off from this point I felt at the start of last year (pre-covid). I was excited, but also nervous about beginning anew. Putting myself out there. Taking on the responsibilty of other peoples wellbeing. And so I had decided to take baby steps, in the company of my peers, holding hands and gathering support from classmates from my course. We’d decided to work together because none of us was ready to go solo. I was also not ready to go online.

The only loose “plan” was to go slow and take as long as I needed to, to take off and fly on my own. Somehow, the pandemic pushed me into the deep end of both those outcomes that I hadn’t prepared myself for. There are times when jumping intp the deep end happens organically, and you don’t feel the resistance as much. Things just snowballed for me from there on.

Looking back the other day, I counted and realised I have held space in 300 sessions. It’s been a week of feeling quite grim about the reality our country is going through at this present moment. And this felt like a silver lining for me. An unexpected outcome from an otherwise very shitty year. And the irony of it: a year of building many personal milestones and gains, while the world is breaking in so many ways, was not lost on me.

I’d be lying if I said I chose to move into this line of work only for the greater good and to be of service to people around me. It is merely one reason of many others. If I’m being completely honest, one of the big reasons I continue to do this work is that it brings so many gifts my way. Big and small, simple and complex, silent and booming. And there have been many (metaphorical) gifts. I was buoyed by the circumstances that played out last year. I profited from the incredible mental health challenges that cropped up in full. I cannot shy away from this.

There is quite nothing like receiving an unexpected message like this (pictured above) that slips into my WhatsApp messages, many weeks after a session. A client’s reflections in-process, looped back to me, that somehow offered me permission on a week full of feelings.

Lately I’ve seen my work morph slowly. I’ve felt quite loudly encouraged to tap into my other skills and bring them into sessions. By going where I’m being guided to, I’ve found seamless natural extensions. Working with words, written expression, images, stories and tales we hold, bringing memories to life suddenly feels like the most obvious thing. My life and identity as a writer that I had put in deep-freeze has found a new avatar, and reason to come out of hiding again.

The past couple of years have been a long-drawn death cycle for me. Even as new beginnings consistently sprouted in many aspects of my life, the overarching theme has been a slow, slow, painful death and a facing of the resultant darkness and emptiness that comes after. Death cycles do that — they strip way any manner of illusions of safety, pushing us towards the truths. Some that we know and shy away from embodying, and many that we are completely blind to.

It is like burning down a field after a cropcycle. In turning everything to dust and ashes, so it may bear fruit again. There is potential in that destruction. Hope in that death. Space, in that nothingness.

Stepping into this expansiveness sounds liberating, but is very frightening and often painful. It’s comes with quintessential bittersweetness — grieving the ends, death, finishing and letting go of so much, and stepping into new beginnings, new ground, new ways of being that are completely unfamiliar and will take a lot of getting used to.

It is delicious. It is vast. It is open.

And so when I received this message and picture from a client last week, it took me back to our session earlier in February this year. I noticed how much has changed even in the short time since then. Around me, yes. But within me too.

I’m enjoying letting the edges of the process of my work that I’ve held on to so tightly as a guiding light so far, blur ever so slightly. It’s nice to trust my instincts that are gently goading me to allow my other capabilities to bleed, one in to another. It’s wonderful to be able to add to my work with tarot and family constellations, bravely. To go in without any fixed plans, and see new directions emerge as they are meant to. To trust. And to enjoy the emerging process.

One of the fundamental lessons from death has been to really understand that while I make conscious choices in my outer life, there is a lot that happens on the inside that is always guiding me, luring me, showing me what’s good, what’s right for me. This is entirely out of my consciousness. The work has been only in tuning in, learning to listen, and humbly respond with surrender, smallness and grace.

To go where I am led. It is what I have been doing this year. Who knows what leaving the shores and swimming free holds for me. I’m being mindful not to make a destination out of this, or to feel like I have arrived, and my work here is done. I’m just eternally grateful for the many resources that have come together to bring me here, and now that I am here I’m ever so grateful for people like these — friends, clients, both — who are brave to swim along with me.

One year ago: Slow, scary change
Three years ago: Doesn’t mean I’ll stop
Five years ago: Dawn to dusk

New way, new life, new being

Growing into a life more aligned with my true needs and desires has taken a lot of confronting exactly that which makes me most afraid. Playing small and sticking within the lines, accepting my patterns and fates keeps me safe. But as I’ve understood what I truly value, the same responses and ways of being feel inadequate. Ironically, moving towards new values has asked of me the ability to slowly discard the safety I habitually seek. To let go of old shores, swim bravely to new ones.

How does one do this with thinking and a way of living?

I’ve found that a big part of the way is to be willing to try new things. Beliefs, attitudes, choices. To be less judgemental when I see others try them. To be open. To be less set in what I think I know to be true. To taste the confusion of not knowing. To lie in limbo, inaction, even. And to let new paths reveal themselves.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Practice mindfulness and intention
Three years ago: I was born this way
Five years ago: Happy music fix

Monday Tarot Message: Another kind of balance

This morning, it seemed futile to write a tarot message when our world is literally choking around us. It didn’t seem relevant to pull my mind out of a cocoon to put some words together. And so I put it off.

But I have also been telling myself what if 1) turning away entirely or 2) drowning in the misery of it all didn’t have to be the only two choices here?

What if getting away from how I am feeling right now — worried, furious, grief-stricken, in despair, confused — wasn’t the only thing I need to do? What if I could acknowledge the reality of this, and off-set it by also choosing soothing habits to nourish and ground myself? What if I could stoke sweetness and hope too, to fit right beside the despair and sorrow? What if that might ground me, keep my mind from feeling untethered? What thoughts and practices could I call on to balance the coming undone that I experience when I actively avoid the heavy feelings?

How can I find balance when all about me is spinning out?

Maybe there is nowhere to go. This is where it is, and one must embrace whatever one must to find the inner balance between the extremes we’re watching play out. You do you, you do whatever you need to, to get you through.

One year ago: Just now
Two years ago: Slow and steady
Three years ago: The times they are a-changing
Five years ago: Go far, they said

What’s good?

Fully and completely escaping reality today. I haven’t wished we had a television more than I have today.

The news has just been too much this past week and I’ve started to well and truly tune out. Limited reading and updates via the news, feeling numb to the little I have seen and just no energy left to process anything with respect to the madness that is this second wave and the clusterfuck that is this fresh hell of what is nothing short of genocide at the hands of this government.

Over an out.

One year ago: Too much
Two years ago: Loud
Three years ago: All the small things
Five years ago: Essay aftermath

Cue the lockdown brain

So. Long before this round of “please stay home” began, I’ve been feeling a bit like my attention span is shrinking. It’s been on a downward trend since the fag end of last year of course, but I have hit an all new recently. My focus on the only thing that I could engage with for long periods of time — my laptop — is also now dwindling.

I was ready to get out and be untethered from my screen, in more ways than one. and this reigning myself back is proving very hard lately. I’m not taking it well. I know it’s the right thing to do, and I’m able to rationalise it exceptionally. My mind gets it, and I am acting the part. But inside, I am conflicted. I want out.

And so I’m turning once again to exercise and cooking something everyday, to ground me and bring some stability to my days. I didn’t plan this. Exercise has been steadily on for a while now, but the cooking has made a steadfast return.

At this point, I’ll take anything that helps me not doomscroll and have my eyes peeled at Instagram for an unhealthy number of hours at a stretch, when I’m not working.

One year ago: Tarot: Loss and betrayal
Two years ago: Postcard from staycation – 2
Three years ago: Remind yourself, nobody built like you

Tarot: Renewal and restoration

I don’t ever plan to make two tarot posts in a week. The monday reading is the one I try and do diligently, but if there happens to be another, it is usually because I’ve battled a brain-worm that’s been eating away at me all day, or inspiration strikes and a connection between an insight and a card is made, or I’m just in need of a message myself and so I pull a card.

Been thinking a lot lately about what a contrast this year has been for me personally, emotionally — living in the light, feeling like I am out in the world again — compared to the last few, especially 2020 which have been spent largely securing myself and getting comfortable with the dark. What is it about these periods of downtime, darkness, nothingness, slowness, that is enriching even as it is deeply unsettling and challenging?

We have ritualised fasting and rest in most of our traditions. The coming of this horrific second wave and the possibility of another lockdown (whether it is externally enforced or not, we know staying in and staying safe is the right thing to do, right?) is causing forced stillness all over again. I’m noticing how I feel very different this time around. I was just about getting to enjoy some semblance of normalcy when things turned again. And I am really feeling the pinch of having to pull back yet again. I wanted to be in denial about the numbers and the real situation out there. I am having to remind myself what this time might offer, that I am not looking at. I am struggling a little.

In my work I have been speaking to many people for whom the period of transition that 2020 represented seems to be nowhere near over. This is the thing about transitions — they don’t follow calendar years. So this is a message that puts all of the above together. If find yourself sometimes frustrated with how slow things are moving, perhaps this is something to think about?

Periods of fasting, rest and dialling down on the constant productivity are essential precursors to periods of great renewal and coming alive in a new way. If you are in the privileged segment that can afford it, what can you do to claim these time of repose? This is a time to gather resources, nourishment, iron out your future intentions, steel yourself for the blossoming that is to come. Perparation, gestation, germination — all sees slow to no movement, more being than doing, lying in waiting for the transition to complete.

The pupal stage in the metamorphosis of a butterfly offers no escape from the entrapment within the cocoon. It is where crucial growth happens. Opening up too early is dangerous, and so unfurling takes waiting for the precise moment. Once it begins, there is a literal struggle. Hectic movement, flapping, breaking out, stretching, flying — this is sometimes painful and the butterfly has to struggle to own it’s new shape, form and bring.

Perhaps this is why a long period of rest precedes this high activity? We need all the energy reserves we can gather, before we break out anew.

Identify what stillness offers you. Think about how you can it soak up. How can you gather all the reserves you will need when the wheels start moving and you are ready to bloom again?

One year ago: Work updates, lockdown edition
Two years ago: Postcard from staycation – 1
Five years ago: Satisfaction

School again

Back in the classroom again today. A different set of people. Different modality of work. Different mentor. Different me.

I’m so excited to be learning again. And so happy to be interacting with other humans. Just so, so sad that this too is across a screen.

I was only just about getting comfortable with getting out and about, meeting humans in the flesh, and settling into the “new normal”. Some friends and I made promises to each other to try and do this more often, fight the fear and get out and live a little. And somehow we are back to square one. Only worse?

One year ago: Zen
Two years ago: And thanks, Goa
Five years ago: Imperfect timing

Haathi Time

In January, the forest was lush, green and overgrown. Mornings were snappy, with a cool wetness in the air. The light dappled through, casting lacy shadows all over. Venture out early enough and a mysterious fog clung close to the ground, making every broody and eerie. You just felt and knew it was winter.

Now, just three months on, nearing the peak of summer, it’s a scene from a different chapter.

A mess of largely naked trees, woody browns, earthy tones, dry and open. Everything sparse and spaced out, nowhere to hide. Punishing heat and all signs of awaiting a period of restoration to come.

In the midst of the vastly dry, waning cycle of the life in the forest, these Amaltas are the late bloomers. Showing up unannounced, late to the party, and making themselves seen. Bursts of yellow here and there, taking you by surprise, giving you that much needed respite.

And then, the icing on the cake. In the midst of this largely barren landscape, we spotted an elephant.

Day made.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Make way for hope
Three years ago: I got mad, mad love
Five years ago: Space

Monday Tarot Message: Connecting with your deep truth

The High Priestess is the guardian of the subconscious mind, the epitome of inner knowledge. When she shows up it is a reminder to lean in to the hidden workings of the intuitive/higher self.

Working towards doing this in a healthy way is to commit to knowing yourself fully, just as you are, no matter what shows up on the exploration. To meet your higher self is to confront all of you, as a whole. Including the not-so-beautiful, vulnerable parts that we may otherwise keep hidden. This includes shame, anger, fear, guilt, regret and evil, amongst other things the world deems unworthy of display.

The movements and shifts — in healing and self-improvement — that come from this approach then happen right through the process. Whereas improvement that is hinged on a striving for a particular “good” outcome becomes a striving for perfection, for an externally determined idea of worthiness.

“Undesireable” parts are present in all of us. To deny or disconnect from them, is to move away from our humanness. To lose contact with the essence of us. And when we disconnect from this truth, we feel lost and disconnected. Within ourselves, and from everything around us too. To embrace them, learn to see their existence in us, is to own ourselves fully. The messy parts of us, the cracks and pain that we hide away are the very portals to meeting our deep truth, healing ourselves. We can’t get there by pushing aside that which we don’t want to acknowledge.

When we go to therapy, it is important not to expect it to be a silver bullet to being magically “healed”. A therapists job isn’t to heal you. Instead it is create and hold space so you can find your own inner compass, tap into your own capacity to meet and heal yourself. Through your intuition, the wisdom of your emotions and systems of regulation.

It’s about the journey, not endpoints we may think we want to be. It’s about the process and all that it brings up, not the outcome. This self-reflective journey is the High Priestess’s way.

One year ago: Regeneration
Two years ago: Thank you, Bangalore
Three years ago: And I’m feeling so bohemian like you
Four years ago: Serendipity
Five years ago: Lucid

Rest easy

When I have adequately tended to and cared for the vulnerable parts of me, I allow the overactive parts, that work hard to numb and hide them, to rest. And when they rest, I have more life to spend on living than merely existing. My days are bright and my life feels harmonious.

Not a tarot message. Just me marking a delightfully happy evening with VC in the yellow evening light of our home, conversation and much laugher, that affirmed this truth.

One year ago: Sweet relief
Two years ago: Happy days
Three years ago: You’re beautiful, it’s true