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

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

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

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. 

 

 

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
Four years ago: In between mouthfuls

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

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

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

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

Love and belonging in politically charged times

My journey back to myself has been pockmarked with several points where I’ve questioned and examined belonging. Belonging is a theme I visit often, as I heal parts of myself and make efforts to integrate them — to really belong to myself fully again.

In recent times my focus has shifted from beyond myself to the world around me — both immediate and extensive. I have been asking What is my place in the world? Where do I fit in? What is my purpose? Where and how can I belong? And I find myself deeply disillusioned and let down by the ideas of belonging that crop up around me. Wishy washy, idealistic notions that sound pretty in words but are very difficult to put to life. Lip-service by the rich and privileged who cleave to feel-good ideas of connectedness and togetherness but think nothing of putting their support behind acts and bills that scream disharmony and throw entire sects of our people under the bus. Religious ideas of love and togetherness that they otherwise hold close are rendered null and void when the same mouths and brains that do things to tell me they’re backing the idea of a Hindu Rashtra.

I’m sick of the hypocrisy.

This makes it very hard for me to belong to groups that I ought to belong to by default. My family, my neighbourhood, my state, my country.

Today, I question where I belong. And I’m constantly looking for a spark of some signs of belonging in people around me. But it’s getting harder and harder to find.

I am the great granddaughter of staunch Gandhians. My great grandmother spun khadi at home, and she and my great grandfather marched with Gandhi in many acts of civil disobedience. My grandmothers older sister even went to jail for it. And yet, those same Gandhian values that I’ve grown up being dinned into my head, are altogether washed out today. My family is mostly unrecognisable when it comes to politics. They’re supporters of the fascist forces that celebrate Gandhi’s assassinator. I simply don’t understand it.

How then, can I say I belong to this? When I have nobody to converse and dialogue this with? When ideas of respect and politeness are conflated with dishonesty.

I can no longer be dishonest so I’ve chosen silence for too long now. That silence is slowly snapping.

My building is filled with upper-caste, patriarchal Brahmins who have displayed their displeasure of our unbrahminical ways more than a handful of times. I definitely don’t belong here. But I shut the door of my home and I make do.

I have for very long now questioned how I feel about belonging to India. The truth is, I don’t feel it at all. I have resented being Indian since 2014.

But something interesting happened this week. Over this week at all the protests I went to, though, I felt a surge of belonging. Like I had found my people. Like all is not lost and we may have just not sold the country to a majority of hate-mongers.

There is something incredibly softening and nourishing about finding this kind of connection. In receiving it, I realised it s something I have been missing it for way too long now. I have walked around feeling like an alien in my surroundings, around my family and everywhere else for just too long

So what I felt this week, I’d like to think is a start of something new, a new wave of healing yet another part of myself that has been deeply hurt and excluded.

Registered my protest today by beginning to read BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. Woefully late in life, and just a quarter of the way through this is essential reading for every Indian (every human really), in a country that’s being fast made to forget the very idea of India that birthed our constitution and our identity as a nation. Essential reading for people being lulled to sleep slowly in a hateful frenzy. Essential reading for a staggering number of people in my immediate circle who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

I can’t do much to change people around me, I think. As always, I realised today again that I can only work on myself. If what’s going on in the country today means anything to me, I can only inform myself and solidify my politics. I can only show up more often. I can only do everything it takes to put my entire being behind knowing exactly what I am talking about when I say,

I refuse to buy this hatred that insists on making me believe that I don’t belong in my own country.

I can keep speaking my truth. And I can keep consistently choosing love.

Because without truth and love, I’m going nowhere in this search for belonging.

One year ago: Find my direction magnetically
Three years ago: Too much nature ho gaya

Can you hear the roar?

I have talked NONSTOP today. Too many words just to keep the incessant churn of emotions at bay.

I have talked nonstop today, when I wasn’t crying because today was emotions from the get go. I woke up amto messages that sec 144 had been imposed and that the protest I planned to go to would proceed with full preparedness to be arrested or detained.

I wasn’t sure what this meant or if I still should go. Clearly this time around we’ve scared them enough to take “pre-emptive”, unconstitutional action.

I wept as I watched the news online and saw things as they were unfolding on twitter.

This seemed like exactly what they want. Confusion and chaos. Mixed up locations. Misinformation. Detention of hoardes of people as a possible warning of things to come. Anything to keep people from showing up.

But guess what?

It didn’t work.

People continued to show up. Long after warnings were issues. Long after the stations assigned as detention centres got full. All through the day. Until they were granted permission to protest peacefully.

So I dropped everything and reached Town Hall.

And I wept some more.

For someone who spoke all day I have a lack of words to describe what I’m actually feeling. A full body surge of pride. I’ve been to protests before. But this felt different. This felt like it was backed by the spontaneous outpouring of unity not directed at any one religion or party or politician. This was people saying enough! People saying fuck you and your fascism.

We stood up and collectively flipped a massive middle finger at the powers that be today. I don’t know where or how far this will go but I have a hunch that this is just the start. Of a long and arduous but important fight. The revolution everyone says we need but didn’t see coming. I don’t know if we’ll win or we’ll lose but it makes me damn proud to know that I can look back on this week and think of not just Bangalore but the scores of places and the thousands of people and know that when it mattered, we showed the fuck up. FINALLY.

Today felt like a massive cumulative jack pot of fury and unity, pride and belonging, resistance and assertion all at once.

They tried every trick in the book to stop us today. And we didn’t relent. Of course I got there and wept some more. Not just at the people and the protestors but the placcards and slogans too and most of all at the incredible togetherness and connectedness of People going around passing on satchets of water, bananas, snacks, reminding each other to sit down and catch a breath, people offering each other banners and standing by each other shoulder to shoulder.

They tried every trick in the book to silence this. These fascists, they’re powerful. But they’ve got nothing in this massive outpouring of love I witnessed today.

In the end politics of hate can only be met and challenged by love. And today reaffirmed that for me. This love, it’s going to kill them one day.

One year ago: We got soul food in the house
Three years ago: Old and mighty

Little tricks

Somewhere in the utter landslide of grief and sadness from everything that came up this week, I forgot what it takes to ground me. I was so caught in the undertow and flailing from trying to stay afloat that I completely forgot that I know there are a few practices and things I can do for myself. To help myself. To bring myself back to my body, to the here and now, from the far distances of despair that I felt.

Exercise. Everyday.

Salt in my bath water.

Gardening and tending to my plants.

Cooking a meal from scratch.

Walking barefoot.

The 5-4-3-2-1 method.

These have all worked for me in the past. And a couple of them like the salt baths, cooking and exercise are my usual go to that I turn to quite frequently. Something about a mundane, monotonous rhythm of chopping vegetables or running on the treadmill one step in front of another does the trick.

And yet, so heavy was the despair that I just clean forgot.

I’ve exercised and cooked everyday this week but it’s been two days of doing all the rest and it has made all the difference. I feel alive again.

Today I stepped out to catch coffee with D this evening and I ended up telling him how it’s been for me since class ended. What a relief it was to hear someone say;

I get it.

There were cheesy garlic toasts and French fries to boot but my god there’s nothing like connection from a shared moment of vulnerability with someone who can hold it — without either brushing it aside to tell me to feel better or rushing to panic/worry on my behalf — that can do the trick.

One year ago: Now I’m free falling
Three years ago: Grasp