Uncertain

Balance has felt just within reach and like it slips away ever so quickly even when I touch it. And yet, I know it is what is being called for, the most. I find myself swinging between feeling calm and settled feelings that say This is a major blip, but you’re privileged, your life hasn’t changed even slightly in all this uncertainty, you will get through this, we will be okay, to suddenly, the very next instant feeling like Nothing is okay, and I get the strangest feeling that it may never be okay again.

Then I segue off into a mind-tunnel wondering What even is okay, in these times anyway?

I keep thinking this is a great time to do so many of those things I have been wanting to but never find the right time to begin. ALL those unfinished books from the last two years. That tarot course I want to do-over. The writing project that is sitting at the back of my mind. Listening to the endless list of podcasts I have bookmarked. Catching up on all the TV I can’t keep up with.

That would be very productive use of this time, I think.

And yet, there is an inertia to begin. What if it isn’t about productivity at all? It has felt like inertia for days, but today I wondered if it is just necessary pause. Pause to see what this uncertainty is actually making me feel. Can I stay with it for just a minute, an hour, a day, maybe? Before I fill the “empty” time with the next act of doing.

S said to me this morning, something deeper is at play, echoing what I have been feeling. I’m noticing how quickly and easily the airline industry and food and beverage industry seems to be down on their knees. I’m watching how rich, comfortably privileged people are panicking so easily.  And I’m sure this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg with very much worse to come.

The excesses aren’t just in our consumption and our external lives. There are excesses in the way we use our energy too. And I have felt the dissonance of this for a while now, as my own internal pace has been slowing down to a point where I wonder (and worry) how I will continue to be in a world that’s on the run all the time. The very forces of capitalism that have encouraged us to keep doing, more and more, hustle harder, ear more, buy more, just don’t sit still are so very vulnerable. And clearly crumbling today.

So I can’t help but feel it’s not time to fill this emptiness with more mindless doing. It’s okay to take a moment, to see what’s emerging and move accordingly. By all means read that book, watch that TV show, but let it be a touch mindful. At least that’s what I am trying to do.

Mostly to just sit with the uncertainty, and to accept that I know nothing about how to go on from here and to feel the fullness of that not knowing. To realise how little control I have. And to let the blankness of this time sweep over me.

I’ve felt out of sorts a lot this week. And every time that I have paused to ask myself what it is I’m actually feeling, the answer has been: Uncertain.

One year ago: Things that are shiny and new   
Two years ago: People say I should forget

On balance

Last week, back in the classroom before things got disrupted by escalations due to the coronavirus, it wasn’t surprising that so many of us brought up Balance. In context to things feeling very out of balance around the world lately. Between the political shitstorm in India to what is playing out in the USA as well as globally, the ecological extremes and now the virus, everything seems a bit off kilter, no? One of my classmates didn’t even make it in for class because she comes in from Dubai and the travel ban was enforced a couple of days before class was scheduled.

Balance (like Belonging, that I also talk about a lot) is another fundamental principle of family constellations therapy. Bringing back balance in systems (usually families), restoring individual members to their rightful place, size and helping them understand their place as not just as individuals (in that singular fashion) but as symbiotic beings belonging within the interconnected framework of a larger natural system (or family) is a significant part of the work we do. This is a big part of the therapeutic work in viewing our individual realities, understanding context, making perspective shifts and releasing energy that is blocked when we are otherwise in a position where none of the above is possible.

It involves learning to pull back and view systems and how they operate, what impact it has on individuals and most times the thing that we’re viewing under the microscope suddenly takes on a new look.

One of the key principles in understanding Balance is that the system always works to restore balance. To bring back that which is off-balance. And in doing this, it may sometimes sacrifice some other elements. And so, I can’t lie, I’m fascinated at how looking at things through this lens, the systemic lens as we call it, is making me view the pandemic: as an instance of the system taking charge to restoring balance (as systems as naturally programmed to) that we haven’t been able to do ourselves.

And as we also see in family constellations every movement in the process of bringing back balance, comes with a serious amount of churn, a lot of unsettlement and what presents as destruction with far reaching consequences, before things can settle again.

The scale of these “consequences” in the case of the virus has been mind-boggling. I’m marvelling at how equally helpless we are in the face of this mysterious thing we know so little about. Except that it’s deadly, airborne and spreading uncontrollably. I’m fascinated how nobody is above this. No race, no country or border, certainly no religion or economic group. None of the divisions we have created to pit ourselves against others matters.

The pandemic is testing each of our personalities. Bringing out our collective compassion and monstrosity alike, surfacing parts of us that are deep-seated and rooted. Something deeper is at place, affecting change from within, showing up who we really are and what we have become as people. As a planet.

Notice how we’re facing shortages — in food, in resources, a foreboding sense of shortage of time, a palpable shortage in patience, an inability to deal with our fears and panic. It’s quite something. Mostly, a sign that things are not balanced within.

Restoring balance requires bringing back a deliberate consciousness towards natural rhythms, cycles, checks and balances. Our own, within us as well as around us. This forced slow-down, stay-home situations feels significant of that restoration. A time to do nothing, with no plan and little control.

How easy or hard has this been for you? What feelings have surfaced? It would be telling (and useful) to check in with yourself.

Restoring balance also means returning to our original size and place in the universe. Knowing there are forces that are and should be larger than us, literally and metaphorically. That we are not omnipotent and indestructible. Because far too many of our choices these days make it seem like we are.

This has been a sordid reminder of how frail and vulnerable we really are, and a jolt to step back from the plunder and destruction we have made a normal way of existence. It’s time to check our excesses, at every level, from the personal to the global. It’s time to return to some state of compassionate, synergistic, balanced way of living.

As a civilisation we have been through churn like this many times before, showing us how far off we have veered from the natural order. How cluelessly we believe we are the bosses of nature. How many horrific gaps we have created and how many of those we continue to ignore and resist fixing. How overly disconnected we have become from ourselves and the planet that has obliged us this chance at civilisation.

If this situation has thrown your emotions off balance or brought up difficult things to deal with, that is probably exactly what you need to reconnect with, witness and bring back into balance. And I believe it’s what this time is doing for us — bringing us back in touch with ourselves, one way or another, at whatever level we are willing to receive it.

We talk so much about “slowing down” and “solitude” and “self care” but very rarely do anything significant about it. There never seems to be enough time, and always far too many distractions. And yet, here it is, the perfect time. With nowhere to go, nothing to do.

If nothing else, it’ll be immensely useful in steeling yourself for future eruptions like this, because Gos knows this is just the beginning.

It’s a process. Connecting with yourself. Restoring balance within yourself. And you can start now. This is nature giving you a chance.

One year ago: Out there
Four years ago: Abandon

Eerie days

After three days of being home, I stepped out for a run this morning. It’s not like my life has changed a lot since this directive to stay indoors and avoid public places and people was enforced on Friday. I mostly operate from home, my work happens online, a lot. So I can’t complain. But still, I felt so good to be out today. What I didn’t expect was the summer vacation mela that the park was. I guess kids at home ahead of vacation time means parents are finding ways to keep them entertained and outings at the park are one way. It was more crowded there than it usually is on a Sunday, which was kind of shocking.

The darshinis mostly looked packed today. I stopped by at the supermarket to stock up and it was buzzing like business as usual. The streets are mildly quieter and smoother because of less office going traffic and zero school traffic. But I hear folks are eating and drinking out as usual. It’s all a bit confusing.

It feels like surreal times. On the one hand this post-apocalyptic doom lingering over us, with the virus and the absolute mayhem it’s causing across the board, and on the other hand this absolute disregard for the seriousness of this situation. I’m not sure which side to belong to and how much I should worry.

Meanwhile S tells me it feels like war time in France. And J said Germany is beginning to feel eerie. Closer home I have a friend staying with me who is worried she might not make it back home to Canada in time before they shut their borders. Somehow this wasn’t a situation I thought I’d ever witness in my lifetime.

The scale and expansiveness of a mere virus, it feels pretty incredible. It’s bringing the whole world to a place of slowing down, staying in, being with themselves. And we’re seeing a surge in polarities of compassion and cruelty in ourselves as humans. I’m kind of fascinated, I can’t lie. It feels like a global turning point of sorts.

Anyhow. Wherever you are I hope you’re washing your hands frequently and not touching your face. And as far as possible, just stay the fuck home.

One year ago: Happy spots   
Two years ago: Flowers in the window   
Four years ago: Moved to tears

Monday Tarot Message: Find your tribe

That familiar grief of lost friendship that keeps rearing its head time and time again, is never without reason. I am going through yet another cycle of re-looking at myself, observing what has changed in this brief period, and along with it re-looking at what that has changed in my relationships. It also means observing the subtlest shifts in how I am with people, and how people are being with and around me. It’s making me once again re-look at who I want to belong to and how. This happens every time I reach a point of levelling up. I realise it is actually an upward spiral that brings me to the same emotions again and again (that’s why the recurring grief), albeit a little deeper. Lightness follows grief, brightness follows darkness, connection and solitude dance together, belonging and loneliness walk side by side.

So I have been going through a strange sort of pulling back that feels quite unlike me, and yet I am allowing myself to go with it. It’s almost like I am testing what happens when I pull back and really let go. What changes in people around me, who stays, who reaches out, who understands. It has been utterly fascinating. It has been a period of loneliness, and frankly, some anger too. This time around, though, there is renewed clarity about what I want for myself in terms of people and relationships, and what kind of presence (or the lack of it) just won’t do anymore.

So this seemed like a super interesting card to have popped up right after feeling this way for a while now. A reminder that just as relationships endure when individuals are committed to developing a healthy sense of who they are, individuals can truly grow when they’re surrounded by others who support that.

But this can be difficult for many of us. Especially, if we didn’t grow up with adults who valued or encouraged a sense of self in us. In many cultures this is avoided as encouraging over-confidence, self-obsession or selfishness. Without these early lessons, we may go through adulthood lost and trying to discover ourselves, wondering what we are outside of all the roles we play.

Inculcating wholeness, or a sense of self involves exploring making and respecting boundaries, getting in tune with personal desires, discovering the ability to hold space for ourselves, being in touch with our needs so we can go after them in an authentic manner.

While some part of this work is solitary, much of it requires the company of a chosen tribe.Relationships act as mirrors for our projections, where suppressed needs find expression in mysterious ways. Observing how you are around people, and how they are around you can be a very loaded way to get cues and insights into what you need to work on yourself.

So it is useful to identify a tribe. Who gets to be in your circle and walk with you as you tend to your inner self? Are they committed to their own growth? What happens to you when you are with them? Choose who you show your vulnerabilities to, with care. But perhaps that’s the stuff of another post.

In learning to relate to others, we understand our preferences, we see who vibes-in and who vibes-out. It is a key part in finding belonging, and in finding our true place in the world at large. It helps iron out the chinks, confront our shadow selves, and deepen what we want to make of ourselves. To believe this work can be done entirely in isolation is delusion.

The Three of Cups asks us to embrace the role of people around us on this journey. Friends, parents, families, significant others — whether or not there are difficulties in these relationships, they are good spaces to find portals into healing the inner self and learning in adulthood who you really are.

***

This is your timely reminder that if you’d like a personal Tarot Session to explore yourself and get more insights like this, you can reach out to me to make a booking. I offer these sessions in person, in Bangalore, as well as telephonically for anybody anywhere in the world.

Also, pssst: if you’ve already worked with me and are considering a second session, there’s a discount of 10% waiting for you. Only until the end of this month.

One year ago: The last of the despatches from Benaras   
Two years ago: But if you try sometime, you’ll get what you need   
Three years ago: What I’ve been reading   
Four years ago: Telepathy

In my head and in my heart

I’m am back to the classroom this morning. I’ve missed the learning space but I’ve also missed the cradle, the nest that the space has been in teaching me how to fly. And so it was good to head back there today.

I felt the need for some guidance today so I picked a card this morning before I set out. And it was not only apt for a day of re-entering an academic space but also for something I have been working thru in doing my work out in the world.

Questions I have asked myself: What would it be like to find a place where I can think *and* feel? How can I talk about this work without mystifying it but also not losing the essence to jargon and academia?

Today’s card made me instantly see something that I have known but perhaps been unable to articulate. The value the modern world attaches to the singular pursuit of intellectual/academic knowledge that is verifiable, over building intuitive knowing, that is not, is worth questioning.

It is inviting me to surrender in a new way. This is something I contend with a lot in my work with clients which requires me to use practices founded in psychology and therapy, while also building my own intuition, and encouraging my clients to as well.

Perhaps the answer isn’t so much in pitting one over the other, but understanding that they each have their place and are valuable for different things. An understanding that sometimes a gentle combination of the two is required.

Much of my own healing journey has been the deliberate return from doing/thinking to just feeling. And as a product of the world that routinely lulls us into doing, not feeling, it has been a tough but essential hurdle to scale.

In Somatic therapeutic practices, the accent is clearly on feeling. Our bodies are the vehicle/container for sensations that carry clues about our emotions. It is important to rebuild that connection with the body, in an environment that is always asking us to exit the body and rely on our minds alone.

Exiting the body and only relying on the mind amounts to a form of dissociation. And while dissociation may be a legitimate coping mechanism, unpacking or reversing it to help manage illness and some forms of psychopathology, requires returning to the body.

The more we let go of ways to access the knowing held in our bodies, the more polarised, rigid and unchanging our perspectives become. And what we reject in our outer worlds, we also reject within ourselves. The more comfortable we get with exiting our bodies and bypassing all that we reject, the more fragmented and disconnected we feel.

The softness and fluidity of intuition can keep our inner world from turning polarised. This also means we’ll be better able to witness parts of ourselves that would otherwise turn unacceptable, unpalatable, and best avoided. Integrating unpalatable aspects and experiences is a very useful way to work through a backlog of unfelt/unprocessed emotional material.

There are several practices today that are grounded in the soma, in accessing somatic and intuitive material, in going beyond the limits of the cognitive to delve into the unconscious. Because there is so much more, in places our minds will never go to.

Today is a good day to honour both sides — the cognitive/intellectual/academic, and the intuitive/energetic. And to see where in your life you need to bring back balance between the two.

Through the day, learning new things — broadening some, deepening some — I realised that this is true for my work as much as it is for my personal journey. This finding a balance in my reliance on both.

One year ago: The food, the food
Two years ago: We form our own boundaries

Of love and longing

Like thousands of other Indians who are horrified at the aftermath since the Delhi pogrom, I am no longer able to keep my politics under wraps. I find that it is showing up, surfacing, in my face, even without any effort. Pushing me into spaces and conversations where I have to really think about where I stand, and what I really feel. I’m trying not to be hasty about many things, to take my time to decide and make up my mind, but I find that being altogether apathetic is no longer an option.

It’s clear that what the current Government is doing in the name of making a statement that probably works as a (severely myopic) political tactic has done some severe damage to the minds of people. Much of this is going to be hard, if not impossible, to rebuild.

This has come up especially loud and clear, in my work. Last weekend at the workshops, it was not a coincidence that three clients came with issues of distress around the devastation playing out in our country. I know that going forward, in an increasingly polarised world with multiple forces trying so hard to divide us in as many ways as possible, people’s longing for connection and belonging is only going to be on the rise. And so, I realise my work as a practitioner and facilitator of family constellations feels relevant and has suddenly taken on a new avatar.

The connection between the personal and the political has never been greater for me than since studying family constellations. Belonging is such a fundamental theme in the work, and I have written about it so very often, here too. I’ve seen time and time again how the transgenerational trauma and effects of world events like the Partition, World Wars, mass migrations, being prisoners of war, and the like, experienced by older generations impact the current generations ability and need for Belonging, Love, Flow and Life. And how the effects of it show in surprising and often unbelievable ways.

Watching current events pan out, I am frankly petrified of the nation we are becoming. In full view of the world that is watching. The continued blame shifting around the violence in Delhi, the complete lack of accountability, the violent amounts of straightfaced lies, the atmosphere of uncertainty and the abject lack of empathy as we have all just slipped back to assumed normalcy as thousands in Delhi are still missing, possibly dead, entire neighbourhoods burned to the ground, with virtually no questions asked, IS TERRIFYING.

I know this is going to show up in my work time and time again. The need to hold these polarities, to make a case for peace, love and hope, against all odds, even as we acknowledge and call out the effects of these atrocities. It’s a tough job. And it’s easy for me to slip into an abyss of gloom sitting in my home endlessly scrolling and consuming the news.

But because Belonging is such a huge theme not just in my study, but now in my life too, recent events have had me wondering a lot about it.

  • Who decides who belongs?
  • How do you belong once you have lost everything?
  • What is the place of love in the world today?
  • What is connection in the world today?

I live for pockets of solace and moments of hope when I get them and yesterday, it came in the form of Sindhustan. An exquisitely made labour of love. I went to catch Sapna Bhavnani’s epic film Sindhustan, but reached the venue early and slipped into a talk that was already running. It was titled “The Politics of Citizenship” and it was about a newly launched book The Deoliwallahs, about the true story of the internment of Indian Chinese in the 1960s. Co-author Dileep Dsouza was present, while Joy Ma spiritedly joined on Skype. Somehow the boundarylessness of the setting itself was so fitting. The conversation shone a light on an issue I was entirely unaware of and even though I had to duck out in time to catch the film, the experience was everything.

Sindhustan, on the other hand, had me in tears from the get go. I was so overwhelmed for so many reasons and I feel a serious lack of words to express what or why. So I’m not going to try, except to share some lines that have stayed with me.

No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

I may finally be understanding that my inexplicable bind with Sindhis goes beyond my love for VC and Sindhi curry, because my fascination about the community, their migration and the way in which they exist as a culture today has no logical reasons.

I came away definitely looking at not just the community differently, but also feeling very differently about my family. The family I have often struggled to find my own belonging with. It is so interesting how answers to so many long-held questions can suddenly crystallise when you’re least expecting them.

When love ends, everything ends.

I have known for a while that the average South Indian like me, especially us who live in the South, are largely shielded from the true atrocity and violence of the Partition. I have in some measure tried to dig up and read about it for my own curiosity. More recently, it has come up again and again as a theme and an event in my work with family constellations, and I may have only begun to understand its consequences a little bit more. The film gave me a solid hours worth of fodder to pull away from the frankly useless maddening cacophony of news cycles and Twitter threads, offering not just hope through the stories of love, of overcoming strife, of humanity, of spirit and of belonging, but also reason to change my perspective.

I’m sitting with that for a while.

So I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity I literally chanced upon yesterday. I went off to soak in the feeling over dinner with myself after the screening, furiously jotting down notes and thoughts. And I sat quietly, with a sense that while I know what is going on right now is looking like it will be a long, brutal fight that we will undoubtedly pay for heavily, somewhere inside of me I carried a glimmer of hope. That maybe we will be okay after all.

One year ago: Baffling Benaras
Two years ago: Everyday is blue Monday

What progress looks like these days

Unsurprisingly, therapy this morning took off from the thoughts I’ve had sloshing about in my head for a few days now. I know I have turned yet another corner in my journey, and it’s come with realisation and reaffirmation of the nature and energy cycles in my process itself. I’m riding the peak right now. And so I had one of those seminal light-at-the-end-of-the-very-long-tunnel kind of sessions today. With props, pats on my back, a big, wide smile and a full, full heart. And then we traversed other things and explored a recent dream that put a completely unique spin on the milestone I’ve hit. Then it ended with a revolutionary thought (is frightfully good at offering them rarely, but when I really need them).

“Even as you celebrate the liberation from this step forward, what do you need to do to be in touch with the fear and panic you feel about stepping into the unknown?”

Yet another reminder that the two feelings can absolutely coexist — the joy and freedom of having clearly shifting an old pattern and moving forward, and the confusion and distress of suddenly having to navigate completely uncharted territory that lies just ahead.

It’s a crucial reminder for me, and I’m lucky that I get these often enough. As someone habitually looks at having things sorting, figured out, pickled and fixed as a sign of progress, and habitually thrives on making progress, it’s absolutely essential for me to understand and remind myself over and over that the process isn’t always linear, and will not always lead to a perfect ending tied up in a bow. That progress doesn’t always look like I might want it to — happy endings that feel wonderful.

Like I said yesterday, standing my ground, while liberating also comes at a high cost. Those are opposing states, they invoke opposing feelings. Liberation and panic. And so it is important for me to remember to be attentive to and tend to both ends of that emotional spectrum whenever I enter a phase like this. When I’ve turned a corner. When I’ve stepped up. When I’ve made progress. To honour my progress is also to honour that this is and will always be bloody scary and really solitary work. That there is no one without the other.

To work towards emotional strength and authenticity is to, time and time again, make room for vulnerability.

Without these timely reminders it’s very easy for me to turn my therapeutic journey into a performance sport and try and win at. coasting from one shiny milestone to the next, getting completely taken by conventional (capitalist?) markers of progress that mostly always negate the inherent difficulty of the journey itself.

This is the part of the journey that most needs self care. Delving deep in practices and ways of being that will help create a holding space (within) for it all. And that is quite an excruciating space to be. Because it means tolerating the distress. Observing it. Staying with it.

Like I told N today, since I’ve been back on Instagram and browsing through a lot of the pop-psych content that shows up on my recommendations, I don’t understand at all how self care is made to look so beautiful and almost glamorous all the time. Many, many times self care is just brutally painful. And the goal isn’t always to feel “good”, like I said yesterday.

These days progress has started to look like moving towards doing what is right, even when it’s difficult or distressing, to face the full spectrum of emotions that may surface along the way, and to stick by it anyway.

One year ago: Back to base   
Four years ago: Pretending to be brave

Standing tall

When I am relaxed. It really shows. In more ways than one.

***

Noticed an important, subtle shift in me today. It is a change in the surety and confidence I feel in taking time. In giving myself the permission to take my time. In allowing myself to remain in a space of undecidedness. For as long as I need.

This has played out across the board — in something as external as when I was asked about my opinion on a burning issue everybody has a stock response about, to something as internal as allowing myself to feel a whole gamut of things from nothing at all, to confusion, to blankness, to abject distress and vulnerability at not knowing at all where things are headed in a certain situation that’s playing out in my life. In fact, it’s now been nearly three months with said situation, and I find myself really testing the boundaries of how far I can take this not-knowing-ness. It is playing out with extreme levels of discomfort, bringing up some of the worst of my tendencies to worry, be confused and restlessness to have some indication that it will be okay.

But through all of this, I have been steadfastly reminding myself, especially when doubt raises its head, that I am not going to force myself into knowing, into taking a stand, into making a decision, unless I intuitively arrive at that space. The hope is that this will then be the decision that is most right for me. Not influenced by the “right” thing to do, not fuelled by fear, not spurred by haste, not a compromised safe choice. A choice that will come from a place of true strength. Honouring the very crux of my needs, and keeping that at the heart of it, and not choosing to do something that will “keep the peace” or just to quickly make everything alright again.

Tempting as that has been, several times over the last three months, I have often wondered just how far I will have to go with this. What the full price or consequence of this might actually be, by then. And truth be told, it is bloody scary. Because we are talking real people, real relationships at the receiving end. Not hypothetical emotionality. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also tell you that that very scary outcome also comes laced with the promise of such sweet liberation. Even here, now, I can sense a palpable freedom in honouring myself to this deep degree. It is a process I have never allowed myself.

I realise this is the duality of life. Honouring oneself deeply, always comes at a cost — either something or someone. But it also comes with a high reward. For the self. And while this can feel like a terrible choice to make, committing to being completely, authentically honest is the only way to know which way to go.

This is something that contemporary pop-psychology glosses over, papers over, so, so often. It’s so easy to make healing or self discovery a journey of pursuing feeling good all the time. Of making things right the . Of finding bliss through everything.

This is untrue. Healing involves a lot of discomfort on the road to peace. There was this line in Thappad that I watched last week. Where Amrita’s father tells her that many times in life walking the path of truth, standing by your authentic self, doing what’s right by you, does not feel good.The line hit me like a pin through my heart. It touched me so deeply, because it is exactly the situation I am living through. The pain and the discomfort, and the joy and liberation of standing by myself in a way that really, only I can.

It is as frightening as it is liberating, in the sheer solitary-ness of it. And that is precisely what makes it so worth it.

One year ago: Mornings in Benaras
Four years ago: No. Just No. 

 

 

Monday Tarot Message: Everyday grief

I have found such a stark difference in the way I experience closure in lost relationships where I have had a greater degree of processing the sadness of it, versus those where things ended suddenly, where I felt misunderstood (and still continue to) and had to move away, shut myself off, close my heart up, without any degree of processing that sadness at all.

It’s ironic that this past weekend, as hung out with some of the nicest friends I have at this point in time, having a genuinely good time, engaging, feeling nurtured, while also kicking back and relaxing, I was flooded with thoughts about a friendship that ended with a complete lack of space for vulnerability in the ending itself.

This was of course the issue with said friendship, and why I had to eventually let it go. So perhaps it is not ironic that even in the ending, the same pattern continued. The friendship had thrown up a lot of smaller grief along the way. Signs of a possible, impending ending. Signs that I had ignored, because at the time I was so frightened of having to let go, of being alone, of untethering myself. And in the bargain, I know the relationship had made me avoid facing the pain and grief it was causing me altogether.

And this is probably precisely why thoughts about this friendship still linger, long after it has ended and we have both ostensibly moved on. I have much grief still to process with this one. So I am not at all surprised at today’s card. It has come at an apt time, as a timely reminder to do right, now, what I haven’t done enough in relationships past.

Regular, functioning relationships throw up so many instances of small, everyday grief. That cancelled plan that you were so looking forward to, the prolonged lack of availability, the desire for conversation when there was no space for it, that friend who suddenly changed (as everyone is entitled to).

While there is always good reason for each one of the scenarios above, it doesn’t negate the minor level heartbreak that we’re all constantly facing. It is also not to say that we turn into snowflakes who take offence at and hang on to every little instance of things not going the way we’d like. But how often do we allow ourselves to feel this heartbreak? Is there space for sadness and everyday grief of this minor kind in our relationships and friendships at all?

We usually reserve the grief for potential endings of relationships/friendships. Even the mere thought of that grief can be scary, so we avoid familiarising ourselves with it. Over time it may be that even when we know a potential ending maybe good for us, we put off the inevitable, and sometimes the necessary too. Sometimes we keep walking back into failed relationships in the hope that something will be different, simply because we don’t want to face the sadness of the ending.

The reason it feels impenetrable and all-consuming is usually because we have not made space for small, daily grief to touch us. To slowly make space for it, is to know that we can hold it. So you do not have to avoid it altogether.

If you find yourself at a crossroads in a relationship or friendship, the card today asks you to imagine what rebuilding might look like. To put pen to paper if necessary, and work out all that you will need to hold yourself in the time after an ending. When the grief has arrived. To think about everything from the minutest, deepest emotional needs (the grief and sadness to deal with), to the other practical physical needs (an altered physical reality?). To work on building resources so you have them when the time of need comes.

I know it seems like this might be more apt for broken marriages, cases of divorce or long term romantic relationships that come to an end. But I feel strongly that it is no different in matters of friendship too.

Often we avoid this part of the work, not wanting to imagine ourselves at our most vulnerable — feeling abandoned, rejected, like we have failed — and so when grief comes, we jump straight to “moving on” bypassing the grieving process that is crucial to authentic recovery and actual moving on.

The message for this week is to acknowledge and make space for everyday grief, to get friendly with it on a daily basis. To avoid making it a monster you have to avoid at all costs. So you know you can hold it when it comes, as it does with every one of us. Because it is important to give grief a holding space. Without it there is no evolving, no growing.

One year ago: Slow row
Two years ago: Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say
Four years ago: Small joys

Even flow

It’s been a good couple of weeks, the energy from the weeks before has turned. Like I said yesterday, there is equanimity. And this time, I find myself not dismissing it as “surprising” or “sudden”. I know this is deliberate. It is cultivated. I have put certain practices in to place, prioritised some stuff over other stuff, realigned my life to look and feel the way I need it to.

I’ve been sitting with duality again. About how sometimes it is possible to be going and coming at the same time. To feel incredible freedom and yet feel clenched up at the same time. Finding surprising elements of femininity and masculinity that exist within me at the same time. In realising that a sense of loss almost always precedes new discovery.

It’s been a day spent out with S again. A day of such lightness and freedom. Rushing off for a morning movie show so early, I was reminded of my years when I held down an office job that required rushing against time to get things done at home before I dressed for the day and dashed out the door. Except that was to go to work, and this was to go to fun. Walking around CBD with its wide pavements in the summer sun, oversized sunglasses making an appearance in March, an easy, luxurious Mallu sadya lunch on a banana leaf, running errands with S, and then catching up with D and S for a work meeting that turned into a lazy hang that last three whole hours before I slowly dawdled my way home.

It had been nearly 12 hours since I had left home in the morning.

It was a day that gave made me experience freedom in more ways than one. And a day filled with timely, required reminders that this, here, is enough.

One year ago: This is us. Really.
Two years ago: Let’s get one thing straight now
Three years ago: Whisky-shisky
Four years ago: Flying solo

Peace within

Feeling a sense of equanimity and peace today. Despite stepping out of my cocoon to read and realise that the world is still fast spinning out of control.

On days like this, when the balance shows itself, I feel that internal “container” within me that we have been talking about building and growing since I began therapy. It’s the space that keeps me grounded and in touch. Balanced. Peaceful. Even as worlds of emotions swirl inside. The two can coexist, without my having to fly off into a mood.

It’s also been a full, satisfying day. Once again reiterating my need to be grounded, in reality, to feel equanimity in my being.

A night of restful sleep, a sweaty workout to start the day, two readings in person, the house to myself all day long, a nap, a long walk around the neighbourhood and returning with some fresh greens and groceries I picked up along the way, some solid, involved, deeply satisfying cooking (for today and tomorrow!), dinner that hit the spot. Finishing this all by 8 pm and settling in bed, done for the day and writing this as I get ready to shut my laptop off and wind down already — it just feels very, very good.

One year ago: Home away from home kind of feeling
Two years ago: I still remember when we did not have the answers

Soft, rested, easy

A softness and ease that I was missing since the start of the year, seems to be slowly returning.

Easy. Relaxed. Unwound. Rested. Calm. Happy. All things that felt like they needed effort, are now within reach again.

A good night’s sleep, that has been really hard to come by (to the point where it was beginning to worry me), has made a comeback. Consequently waking up — that I was also struggling with — has become easy again. Which in turn means I’ve been very good with getting exercise at the best time of the day for me. And that soft, good beginning that really sets me up for a day of ease and flow, is possible again.

I had decided I want to get 5 days of exercise per week, as far as possible. Because this number had dwindled in the last 3 months of 2019, and the effects of it were showing. I have had way too many fits and starts since then. But as of last week, I think I may have made a real comeback, without having to struggle for it.

Mid way through last month, my gym membership expired. It was around then that I realised it was time to listen to my body that was asking for the usual change I crave every now and then, and I didn’t renew it. I’ve also been feeling a very strong urge to run, outdoors, more seriously, more frequently. And so I began. I just began, without thinking about it. Running outdoors and working out at home on alternate days.

Summer is also upon us. The days are getting longer, mornings warmer. Waking up and wanting to head out has been easier. And so, I’ve had an unbroken streak so far — 5 days last week. Everyday so far, this week.

The green outdoors, running amidst freshly flowering trees, morning glow all around, my current music OBSESSION in my ears — on two occasions I teared up while running just from the sheer goodness of the endorphin rush combined with the perfection of the moment.

I managed to get out and have some fun, to balance out all the heady work I’ve been doing. The heaviness that has made me constantly choose the bed as my only respite when I wasn’t working, has lifted.

Solo outings that I so, so, so need are happening again. I’ve also been enjoying cooking good, wholesome meals for us at home again. Minus the drudgery. And even allowed myself take out on the days I most needed it. Minus the guilt.

I’ve been taking naps when I needed them, given the bad night sleep I’ve been having. I have been in a consistent fog of sadness through the last few weeks. Even when things have been good, happy and uplifted even, there has been this fog lingering at the back of my mind. It sometimes felt so physical, like my vision has been hazy at times and seeing clearly was difficult. But, I feel rested, eyes open and I feel clear again.

VC and I have been enjoying relaxed time together — something we strangely haven’t done very much of since the start of the year because we’ve both dived headlong into our respective new work areas and it’s been very, very preoccupying for the both of us. So the past week or so we’ve had relaxed evenings just sitting together, chatting, sharing a drink of wine and I realised it’s something so simple, but has been missing, even though we’re both working from home, and are together all the time!

My energy has changed, and I know getting sleep and exercise back on track has everything to do with it. But I also feel it was an energy shift from the weekend of workshops. Not just from facilitating, but also from being in a healing circle and receiving gifts even when I am not there to work on myself. That has been such a gift.

I didn’t know that what I was missing during these confusing, heavy, sad last few weeks was softness. But now that I feel it — in my body and in my mind — I realise there was something clenched up, hard, about the way I have been lately. Maybe it’s the constant onslaught of the political situation, plus the hyper-focus on making work work and a serious reduction of all my rejuvenating practices that actually ought to double or triple at a time like this.

I’m enjoying this return to me.

One year ago: As Goa as it gets
Four years ago: Because I want to remember

Chasing sunlight

I took yesterday off.

After a rather hectic week, and an intense weekend of two full day workshops, and the realisation that I need to see some light, I got out and spent the day with S.

We’re so focused on our catching up that we make time for it, choosing to meet ahead of lunch to maximise the gabbing so we can cover all the topics we routinely file away to discuss at length “when we meet”. So there was a pre-lunch hang over chai, then greasy Chinese for lunch, then a post-lunch chai, and then dessert. And this time we did each thing at a different place, walking around Richmond Road.

It was like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very dreary time.

On my way there, as early as 10 am, I thought to myself what a privilege this is. To be able to have life go on, undisturbed even as parts of this country are ravaged. What a luxury to have the space and the ability to begin a Monday morning like this. What a delight, to choose rest and recovery, with deliberation.

I’d like me more of this.

Three years ago: Kitchen soup for the homesick soul
Four years ago: Shine on

Monday Tarot Message: Shine the light on your shadow

Last week’s message about emotional strength talked about honouring all parts of ourselves, including the lesser-than-ideal parts that aren’t “sexy” or that we feel the need to hide away from the world. Parts that just don’t work for our increasingly performative lives. And this week’s message feels like an extension, or a follow up, to that one.

What parts of yourself do you most negate, ignore or push away? Are those the very parts that need to be seen, and included?

The Moon is a symbol of our Shadow selves. The part that lies in the dark, our unconscious, and is seldom accessed, whether by choice or circumstance. It usually encompasses all our fears, anxieties, guilt, shame, rage and many other “unpalatable” facets of ourselves that we strive to keep hidden from the world. Our vulnerabilities, our challenges, loneliness, pride, jealousy, addictions, cravings, and just so many other things we might either not be in touch with within ourselves, or sense from time to time, but never let them surface.

But here’s the thing about shadows. They’re ever shifting, depending on how the source of light moves. Just like the dark side of the moon comes into the light with time, our Shadow selves will not remain completely in the dark, forever. It is natural, cyclical and the very nature of movement (life) itself for all parts of the moon — and ourselves — to be seen at different times.

It is no different with our psyches. If life is the light source that is constantly at play with our inner worlds and our emotions, you’ll see that parts of our Shadow are routinely being coaxed out of the dark. They may manifests as challenges (most times emotional) in our lives, and every time that they do, we are offered a choice. To either approach them with great anxiety and tension, leading to further avoidance. Or to see them as opportunities for growth. With the openness to look at them, we can cultivate the strength to own these darker sides of ourselves, and begin to include them in our being. This makes for a fertile ground for clarity and growing intuitive abilities.

In the Tarot tradition, the Moon also symbolises the unconscious as a wellspring of material through which to build intuitive clarity, or oneness with the self. The two are related — the more in-tune with ourselves we can be, the more we will have clarity in our lived experiences, and consequently the ability to deal with “unpalatable” sides of ourselves with compassion and acceptance.

There is no light without shadow, and no shadow without light. It takes including both parts/sides to form an authentic whole self — the goal of any inward journey.

If this message resonates, if you’ve been getting in touch with an unpalatable side of yourself, or if you’re slowly becoming aware that there are things in your life or your emotional journey that you have avoided looking at or processing, take this as a sign that it’s time to begin. And a good place to begin is to go right into the spaces you don’t want to look into.

One year ago: Reboot
Two years ago: Hit the road Jack
Four years ago: Why facebook just feels like a lot of noise

Lightness

Thinking of this Sunday morning spent at Cubbon Park at an Art for Adults session with Drawing Room, in the company of four women whose company I enjoyed immensely. Listening to a playlist I titled “Mellow” while we roamed the park foraging for natural objects, studied their textures and shapes, and made art from seeming nothingness. We ate oranges, drank super sweet tea, watched happy dogs frolic and decided to try and do this at least once a month. If you’d like to join us, follow Drawing Room for updates about the next session.

This wasn’t art as a pursuit of beauty, rather an effort to use my hands, connect my mind to my body, and ground myself. So it doesn’t matter if one is “good” at art or has even done it before. Doing things like this, like my Sunday morning walks, or the occasional coffee I take myself to all by myself has come to be important ways to bring myself back to me.

Everyday life and all the many things that are going on — in my immediate world as well as the horrors that are unfolding around — have totally consumed me lately and I have felt many times like I am drifting quite far away from myself. Disconnection, sometimes. Deviation, sometimes. Distractions, sometimes.

It as also a morning of much-needed lightness in a routine that has begun to feel all kinds of heavy lately. I realised this morning that between mobilising this new kind of work, thinking and doing all that is required around it, managing the spike in the number of readings I have been doing, pushing my Instagram, while also keeping things afloat on the home front, tending to my own emotional needs has meant a full-time mentally exhausting few weeks since the start of the year. Added to this, I’ve felt the latent impact of the political shit-fest quite intensely, inwardly. My body seems to be picking up and carrying a lot of fear of late. I have felt hyper-vigilant, and almost a constant state of terror and worry looming over me. This has certainly taken a toll, and I have felt a lot of heaviness.

I have had some pockets of lightness. Like this impromptu lunch we did some weeks ago that really set me up for the day and week. And yet, they have felt few and far between. Reminding me that I need to amp up my self care and other sources of rejuvenation, much more than before in light of being able to do this kind of emotionally-demanding work.

Today, I had a hard look at the days gone by and reminded myself to create more moments of lightness for myself. Some fun, some high energy, some nurturance, some peace and quiet. More often. More deliberately.

One year ago: Not my country
Two years ago: Pretend like there’s no world outside
and Ribbon in the sky
Four years ago: February