Are you tired of me talking about grief, yet?

Because here is yet another post about grief.

Right. So, I’m having a hard time with what’s going on. I just needed to say it.

It has felt doubly hard because I feel stupid about even thinking and saying this to myself. While most people began to take this seriously only two days ago, we have been largely indoors and not socialising since March 14th. And we have been fine, which in a perverse way, makes it doubly hard to accept that even with everything being okay, I am having a world of emotions swell up inside of me, and that it has been challenging to hold.

I have a roof over my head, a fridge full of food and enough stocked up to last me weeks. The luxury of staying at home and so many ways to keep myself engaged and happy. My very first world issues include wondering about when I will get this a very overdue haircut, and when can I go out to the park for a run. While millions have been rendered homeless and jobless overnight, and are having to walk back to their villages many, many miles away. While J and S tell me stories of how their work and teams in Europe are slowly imploding, and how some of them are having to justify their teams existence from one week to the next. What business do I have to say I am sometimes emotionally overwhelmed?

Except, I am. And the additional guilt isn’t helping. But hiding the truth isn’t making it go away either.

I’ve felt uninvited anger. Inexplicable sadness. Confusion. Exasperation. Downright rage and fury. Helplessness and hopelessness. Grief, anguish and deep sadness. Fear. And sometimes just blankness from it all. I have felt all these things in the past 2 weeks, sometimes too much for my heart-with-limited-capacity to hold.

Even words, my usual go to, have evaded me. And I have pushed the edge to which I can go without trying to make sense of what’s going on and what I am feeling in response. I may not have always been very successful with that.

Then, yesterday I read this HBR article that demystifies this “discomfort” as Grief. I realised this is what I have been feeling, through therapy yesterday. There’s a bit in the piece about the power of naming the feeling really struck home. Because I realised that the moments of upliftment these two weeks have been the moments where I have shared and stated what I am feeling.

At a time when words have been few and difficult to find for me, having S text “how are you today?” literally every morning, and getting on a video-call with her every other day to simply say what has not been easy, and what has, has helped. We invariably end up having a giggle fit. And that really helps!

In addition to frequent group video calls — a thing I have avoided like the plague until now — J, S and I have a continuous stream of sharing images of what we’re cooking and eating. This is literally the only whatsapp group I am active on, save the other one with my folks and sister. Talking to them is always equal parts keeping it real and making a big fat joke of everything. I have a bunch of images where we’re chuckling, and a couple where J gave us a guided tour of his plant family, complete with telling us their names. So there are colourful plants in the window where his face should be, and there’s S and I laughing our heads off in the other. Clearly we’re discussing the gravity of the situation, and our collective sads, in the picture below.

In all this, I’m so glad I’m not alone in my isolation. I have my sister and VC with me, and we spend a fair bit of time sharing the little things that are scary, annoying and confusing about these times. Minus the guilt. Plus we have been doing things together — cooking, exercising, eating, painting — that certainly help.

It helped to just say it as it is — I’m sad, angry, exasperated, confused, uncertain, while also feeling fiiiine — in all the different ways possible, for a full hour of therapy yesterday. We skyped and talked so little. Again, virtual therapy sessions are a luxury I have enjoyed all through last year when I spent extended periods of time in Goa. That is the extent to which my life, on paper, hasn’t changed.

And even then, this is me saying it: Ive struggled from time to time these past two weeks. If you have, have you tried naming it? It certainly helps emotions lose the grip that they sometimes have over us, holding us down.

There is something powerful about naming this as grief. It helps us feel what’s inside of us. When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. It’s important we acknowledge what we go through. One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling.”

I guess what I’m saying is these are uncertain times for all of us, and if you’ve been feeling weird, overwhelmed, confused, foggy — it’s probably grief. We’re all experiencing this in our own ways.

Even when our lives are intact and largely unchanged. It might seem illogical to feel grief for something that hasn’t really touched you. But here’s where I differ from the BHR piece. Which there may be grief for the prevailing circumstances, I think what we’re all feeling is also the grief of uncertainty. The grief of many fundamental pillars of ur existence being challenged. Knowing that certain critical things are crumbling and making way for a new era that we know nothing of. There is grief in that letting go, fear in not knowing.

The guilt of having certain privileges may be keeping you from admitting to what you’re feeling, making you teeter around the edge of this discomfort for days on end. It might help to open the door, jump in, right into the depths of whatever you’re feeling. State it, name it, call it out, share it if you can and if you have the luxury.

One year ago: This new abyss
Two years ago: I get the strangest feeling you belong
Four years ago: Fam-jam

The birds

I know it’s been two days since I’ve posted. But I haven’t turned my laptop on in two days. Partly because I’ve been otherwise engaged. And partly because I have been trying to avoid the internet to feel better.

Quick post off my phone to say I haven’t heard the birds so resounding clearly in my neighbourhood since the 90s. These are such strange times.

More soon.

One year ago: Mostly nothing
Four years ago: Piece of peace

Lockdown things/thoughts/shenanigans

It’s been over a week of mostly staying in, except for the odd grocery run. In truth, and as I’ve said before, my life hasn’t changed or been disrupted at all, but I have been thinking (and feeling) a lot about what this is potentially doing for us as a community. That has caused a fair bit of mental disruption. I am feeling many feelings, to the point of wishing I could turn the feelings off.

There was a spot of joy right at the start of the week. This flower bloomed seemingly out of nowhere. After a full year of having this plant and not knowing what colour the flower would eventually be!

Some lockdown thoughts:

  • One thing’s for sure — I’ve really had to re-examine control, in every single aspect of my life. To relinquish the idea that I am in control. Or that we are as a people and a race. Control in every aspect — internal, external, outwardly exerted, self imposed, has been challenged these past few days. And with it I’ve had plenty thoughts about nature vs nurture. About doing vs being. About capitalism and what is the way forward. About finding new ways to exist and operate. About society and the place for empathy. About truth, and our inability to see it, and how far we will go to hide from it.

    About how we’ll go from here on. What is “normal”? Will we have to find a new normal? And what will we differently? And through it all there is also a voice in the back of my head, a constant low hum, telling me that it’s okay NOT TO KNOW. To take it one day, heck, one hour at a time, to trust that the new will emerge. Most times that is a process of unfurling, not a mere switched turning on on a new day and time. And we have so little control over any of it.

  • I’ve been super grateful for this mostly stay-at-home life that I’ve had for oh so many years now. This staying in has made me realise how good I have it and how much I take this existence for granted. So many people are struggling with being home, being around their families, not being able to run away from so much that we do on a daily basis. I’m mostly okay. I am not bored. I have gotten used to long periods of solitude that often feel like isolation. I am okay with the boredom if it comes. I also have had experience in not filling every free moment with some activity. In letting stillness come when it does, and enjoying it even. I have given stillness, solitude and staying-in a place in my life already, so this doesn’t really feel out of the ordinary. But I certainly do take it for granted, and don’t realise that this isn’t “normal” for so many people. I am glad I have learnt to love my own company, so this period isn’t feeling out of the ordinary or particularly testing.

  • It’s been equal parts overwhelming to see the outpouring of kindness online and around me, and disheartening to see how some very fundamental and core essence of our humanity has been slowly numbed. For every piece of ghastly news (much of it hidden away from mainstream media) I’ve seen instances of surprising compassion. For every display  of unbelievable selfishness that has come up, I have been humbled by several acts of unbelievable goodness. I feel overwhelmed to think that the two polarities co-exist, and in such close proximity sometimes.

    I know for sure that the way we go from here depends a lot on how quickly we understand that this is not just about our safety as individuals. Now and going forward. I hope it’s making us think beyond the pandemic and notice how much of our lives, our ways of existence, the systems we have come to accept unquestioningly have become insular, small, narrow, divisive and completely without heart. That, fundamentally, is being challenged, I think. And that, fundamentally, will have to go through a massive re-haul if we are to collectively overcome and heal from this experience.

  • Aside from that I’ve also wondered why we aren’t taught to cut our own hair and wax our own legs like we are taught to cook and clean toilets. Because by the end of this I’m going to be long-haired — in EVERY department. I was about two weeks overdue for a haircut even before we went into lockdown. My hairdresser was already stuck in Manipur back then, and now it looks like it’s easily going to be a month before I can even try and venture out. I am anyway quite lax about waxing my legs, so I’m not even equipped with backups like a razor — boohoo — but summer is here, and that kind of changes everything.
  • How much more extra can I be in the kitchen, I wonder. I have made a big, I mean BIG, batch of granola. I have baked a wholesome buckwheat flour chocolate cake, with icing. I made two batches of banana bread — one for me and one for my help’s kids since they’re all stuck at home too. And this morning I did the unthinkable. I churned about a month and a half’s worth of milk cream that I’d collected in the freezer. It’s a task I never do, because my help otherwise gets it done when I’m not looking. I wasn’t even sure if I could do it. But with text instructions from amma, I managed! And I churned a massive lump of butter that was made into a batch of ghee. And the buttermilk will either be lightly spiced and consumed, or turned into kadhi. Fully extra, no?

Four years ago: Fitter and stronger than before

Life these days

In truth, my everyday life isn’t altered very much by social distancing. I do stay home for much of the time. And since VC moved back here, he does too — working out of his home office in our second bedroom. Life has fallen into a neat little rhythm. There is routine and I know it keeps me grounded to have this baseline of some method to the day. Even when I allow myself the odd day of freewheeling out-of-schedule meandering, and do wild things like or sleep in till noon and order-in a burger for lunch, I know that days like that are the exception not the norm. I take solace in some routine, and I have finally, after an entire lifetime of being a slave to routine, learned to acknowledge it’s place and purpose in my life, and make it fluid so I can move, rather than rigid so I feel caught.

Anyhow though, I’ve noticed that when things are spiralling around me, I take extra pleasure in taking my time to do the little things. Like making my bed every morning. This morning, as I folded up our blanket, stacked the pillows, stretched out and de-wrinkled the sheets, I realised I have really grown to like being at home again. Full circle.

The simplicity of this life suits me a lot. And I felt glad we have a life that hasn’t faced much disruption, where work can and has continued for the both of us, where the comforts of home with home cooked food are easily had. It makes a huge difference.

So, I’m listing down the simplest pleasures in my daily routine that I have enjoyed these past few weeks (and months) of uncertain and trying times, when what has been happening in the world has had an impact on me and my mind, and the one thing that has kept me sane has been my routine and the comfort of my home.

  1. A full nights restful sleep, waking up, turning off the alarm and going back to sleep
  2. A good home workout or a run in the park
  3. Slow, mindfully cooked lunch, most every single day
  4. Eating lunch at the dining table with VC, sharing that window of time together before we go back to our respective work/activities
  5. Sometimes catching a nap
  6. Being actively involved in doing the laundry, folding it when it’s dried and putting things away
  7. Thinking about what to make for dinner
  8. Making, or should out to VC to make us our evening tea or coffee
  9. Enjoying it in bed with a snack plate of sponge cake and sweet rusk (this has become something of a ritual in recent weeks, since we have found the ultimate source for both)
  10. Sitting in my living room at sunset, looking out the windows at my plants and beyond, it’s become my little window of absolute nothingness, where I do nothing, no phone, no laptop, no book
  11. Smelling the rain as it has threatened to come, watching glimmers of lightning in broad daylight
  12. Taking client readings and sessions (online and off), different times of day, it’s been an unexpectedly satisfying thrill
  13. Cooking up imagined recipes that have formulated from nowhere in my brain, and having them turn out well
  14. Eating fruit in bed before turning in
  15. Lying on my massage ball
  16. Regaining my lost sleep again

I have certainly been cooking with a lot more involvement than I usually do. And I have taken way more interest in home chores that I otherwise find quite tedious and just like ugh-this-needs-to-get-done. I suppose this is is the difference between staying in and having to stay in with nowhere to go, maybe? Because I know I have been doing all of this with a quiet, but furious energy like my life depends on it.

Maybe, deep down, it does.

One year ago: It’s been a long time coming   
Two years ago: Let’s talk about love   
Four years ago: On un-learning and relearning order

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

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

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

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

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

That time of the month again

For sundry work updates.

1) Tarot sessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) TWO Family Constellation Therapy Group Sessions in Bangalore:

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

Regular programming ensues

It was past 2 am by the time I got home last night so I have spent much of today in a daze, and catching up on sleep. But at 3 pm I woke up and took myself to Town Hall again, in solidarity with Shaheen Bagh. I sat there for two hours today, softly repeating slogans, watching the sea of women, hearing fiery speeches about women doing the work, and witnessed passionate cheering and coming together around me.

The more you stand your ground, the more ground you will come to know.

There is power in finding your truth. As much as there is truth in finding your power. I feel this so deeply today. As myself. As a woman. As an Indian.

Finding deep correlation between my own personal journey and the awakening of this country, especially of women. And it feels like an unfurling that simply won’t be undone.

One year ago: Waking thoughts
Four years ago: Orange is the new black

Awaaz do

Hum ek hain.

I really wish I had at least one video of this slogan, but every time that it was hurled out through the mic, I would freeze, my hair standing on end, driven to tears.

Sometimes I wonder what’s the point of taking myself to protests because I spend much of my time just crying, and wiping tears. So two nights ago when I headed to the first night of the 24/7 protest slowly growing outside the Frazer Town Mosque on MM Road, I wondered if maybe more than my doing something for the protest, the protest is doing something for me.

It has certainly been very cathartic for me. Just to be there, surrounded by swelling crowds of unity, finding a voice and joining in the slogans. Just saying Azaadi, over and over has been healing. For me.

After literal years of being a cynic and fearing this country is a lost cause in the hands of rogues, this past month has filled me up with hope. Literally, somatically, I have felt like I am being filled up by an energy I didn’t know we had as a country. Every time I have been at a protest I wonder where these people, people like me, have been hiding for all these years!

The MM Road protest has been incredible. Organised completely by and for women, it’s been an outstanding show of how ultimately it’s women who roll their sleeves up and get the job done. I’ve seen them there in huge numbers, big and little kids in tow, organising food, passing around water, multiple rounds of chai, and even coming back to collect trash.

At the foot of the stage, where woman after women goes up to speak or sing or chant or sloganeer, there is a makeshift activity centre of sorts. It’s not as fancy as I am making it sound, but it moved me immensely, because it was a sign of women doing what they need to, to get out of their homes to get the job done. It was well past 10 pm on Thursday night, and with  probably nowhere to leave their kids since they were out on the streets, several women gathered their kids together, distributed piles of paper, scattered some paints and crayons amidst them and asked them to stay together. The kids stayed, doodling, making posters, painting the tricolour on each others’ faces, while their mothers donned reflective jackets over their hijabs, and job hustling with their volunteer work.

I was there till well past midnight, all by myself, long after my friends left, and it was entirely safe, well organised, just so tremendous and inspiring.

I said this before, and I’ll say it again. This isn’t just about religious fundamentalism anymore (though that is also a big reason why we need to push back). This is about divisive politics. Politics that will come after minority after minority. Today it’s religious factions, but it wont be long before it irreversibly ruins the poor, Dalits, Adivasis, LGBTQIA folks, women and children.

Tomorrow marks 70 years of the Republic of India, and there is no better time to revisit and reassert our rights, and celebrate the very constitution that makes us who we are as a nation. The constitution that is at stake today.

All bets are off. The shiny veneer of the promise of development has all but faded. Unemployment is at its lowest. We’re in the midst of a full-blown agrarian crisis. The economy is in shambles and all we can seem to do is wring our hands and watch hopelessly. In fact, IMF is now pitting the global economic slowdown on India. And to top it all, our rights are severely at stake now.

The world is watching. Yesterday, The Economist revealed the cover of the first edition of the year. It reads “Intolerant India“.

We have got to stand up as one, like this matters. And like it matters to all of us alike.

***

The MM Road 24/7 (indefinite) protest is happening outside the mosque, opposite Carry Fresh Supermarket in Frazer Town. Today is Day 3, and there’s a lot of hope and determination to keep this going in support of the incredible women of Shaheen Bagh. If you’re in the city and you’d like to show your support, even if it is just for a short while, please consider going there.

This realy awe-inspiring piece talks about how it’s women taking the lead.

They need our support. Awaaz do, hum ek hain. 

One year ago: Full moon magic
Two years ago: Gravity is working against me
Four years ago: Love

Fitness in 2020

I took this picture on a particularly cold morning last week that took us all by surprise, after a spell of warm days, when D and I caught a mid-morning walk. The crunch in the winter morning air, misty treetops, dust-speckled sunlight slicing through, casting dappled shadows around. It was such a good morning to be out and moving.

It was a good day, in a week of almost no exercise. It hasn’t been the best time for exercise in general. And by that I mean, I’ve experienced better — better regularity, better commitment, better follow through — over the major part of last year. 2019 was largely a good year for health, and for fitness. I started to course-correct and bring myself back in the bandwagon and found what felt like the missing piece in healthy sustenance, the difference between fitness as a fix versus fitness as a lifestyle. And so I suppose in that case, I must accept that in exercise, as in life, there are fits and starts, periods when life happens in spaces other than the ones we’d like to keep flogging.

I have had a dry spell. It began way back in October when I went to Manali, where it was too cold to exercise, plus I was on holiday. Then we were in Goa to pack the house up and I got rained in, which made it impossible to keep a regimen going. And then I came back to a hectic few weeks of the last bits of my course, which went into December that had S visiting, and two back to back getaways, only to return in January. I’ve had fits of two week stretches of regular running and gym work in between all of this, but nothing longer.

Even in January, I started in the second week only to give it a break last week again, post my first workshop, when I typically have somatic changes and my body demands rest and slowness.

I observed this time though, the stress about the dry spells has all but vanished. I seem to be able to move in and out of the slumps as and when required. Give in and rest when my body or mind asks for it, minus (and I mean absolutely NO) guilt or shame, and get up and get going when I know it is time to move again.

Like I did this week. Resuming my morning workout, in earnest once again.

I still have starting trouble, seeing as how the mornings are still nippy and life under the covers is far more inviting than outside the covers. It takes a herculean amount of willpower to stay out long enough to brush my teeth and change out of my night clothes and into my gym clothes without slipping back into bed. Because the od time that I have done that, has meant a drastic change of plans. All plans for movement have been rendered shelved in favour of rest.

That said, once I am at the gym and working out, I feel almost immediately that getting out of bed has paid off. Days with exercise go far better than days without exercise. I know this for a fact, and I really count on the flow that starting the day with exercise brings.

In just two days this week, the energy feels different. And it’s uncanny that it will be exactly two weeks of this before I have to give myself a break again because I am off to Bombay for my next workshop.

And so I wonder if this is part of fitness as a lifestyle. As with everything else, I am seeing how to operate with ease and gentleness rather than by compulsion. To tune in and listen, rather than force myself to go against the grain.

I’m curious to see what fitness in 2020 holds.

One year ago: An inalienable joy of meeting grief
Four years ago: Bengloor-life banter