Incremental change

Almost one month of the year down, and I finally feel like the pace is finding some semblance of balance and normalcy. My days are even and I have time to do it all, with ease.

I accidentally stumbled on a list I made on 01/01/2019 — a list of things I want. I think it was meant to be an open-ended list containing some of the most basic to the wildest wants that I had for the year. I saw it and chuckled. It’s sweet how I can dream, unhindered. And it’s sweeter still how much of that “wild list” that I actually forgot about, got done. This is the second such list for the past year that I have stumbled on, and I have made the same pleasant discovery both times.

I won’t go into details about the “wildest” wants that didn’t see fruition but here are some of the things that did, and that paid off very well.

  • To spend at least 10 minutes each day writing — really writing, pen to paper — in a notebook
    Okay, so the real notebook writing habit faded away within three months or so, but I did continue to write everyday and the ways in which this habit has changed and grown has really meant something deeper to me
  • To wake up early and start some form of exercise again
    Haha, I laugh hard reading this today because I know just how far off the bandwagon I was at the start of 2019, and I know what it took to get back on, and how far I have come since then. The difference is staggering
  • To do more tarot
    This was one wonderful, really pleasant, immensely satisfying development. Another habit that has grown and transformed me very internally in the process.
  • To be a little more mindful about taking care of my skin
    I started an actual skin-care regimen this year. Something I thought I’d never do. I realised how much my skin reflects the state of my internal (gut) health and emotional health, and I began to really make a effort towards balancing them
  • To be more in touch with my body, all that it holds and all that it can tell me
    This was something I have not just gotten better with, but also something I think I cannot do without now. Being in contact with my body has become essential, and I can tell immediately when I lose contact, these days. It has been a direct result of the family constellations, and the ongoing therapy I’ve been working with

***

One thing that struck me when I saw this list was a general sense fo ease and acceptance that has pervaded them over the year. For a few years now, I have ditched the term “goal” in favour of “milestones”. It has helped look at these as markers of somewhere I’d like to be, rather than an exact spot I’m aspiring to reach. It’s given me a broad range, a zone to work towards, a spectrum of acceptable outcomes, rather than a single, rigid fixed notion of what the outcome of each of these should be.

Last year, more than every before, I realised that this ease can only come with working towards acceptance. And that began with the understanding that acceptance isn’t a switch in the head that can be turned on and off. It’s not even an emotion. It is a willingness to look at reality differently. With playing with reality as it is, allowing it to do things to me, rather than constantly going against the grain to make it different.

One year ago: The changing face of loneliness
Two years ago: How about me enjoying the moment for once

On rejection

I usually look at this card as a very bright and optimistic one. Of birthing new ideas, welcoming new dawns. Of tending to the inner child. Of returning to a place of innocence and trust in how I operate.

But today, the same card brought up rejection as experienced by an innocent child. And I am always so fascinated by how the same cards provide differing anchor points, a story-board of sorts, depending on where I am, what I am experiencing or how I am feeling. The cards have become a powerful way to engage with whatever I am experiencing, in a visual way.

Since a large part of my recent work has been to do with autonomy and power, it has been really interesting to observe and witness how this is playing out in various relationships. One of the strangely-timed recent events has been reconnecting with an aunt of mine after a decade-long period of estrangement. She is one of my absolute favourite aunts from when I was growing up, and a true kindred spirit in many ways. As a child, she was my everything. I emulated her, imitated her, strived to be like her and in the process, aligned myself with her completely, probably in mind and heart too. With that background in mind, reconnecting with her, after this long gap, and at such a significant juncture in my life as I am navigating reconnections as a new me, has been super interesting to say the least.

As with any process of individuating, in peeling away and separating myself from many of the ways of being — that I might have cleaved to from blind loyalty, kindness, politeness, wanting acceptance and validation — and finding my feet in my own power, I have seen some really stark differences in the way we have connected this time around.

It’s different. And I feel the difference the most in that I may be that same doting niece, but I feel far less vulnerable and gullible in wanting approval. I am the same doting niece and I have felt an incredible amount of love and respect since reconnecting, but I also feel so grown up in how I no longer desperately want to be just like her at any costs. And yet, there have been a couple of instances, particularly in the face of a heavy projection of opinions, when I have chosen either 1) complete silence, 2) over-explanation of my stance on said thing — both typical tell-tale signs for when I am seeking approval, or avoiding rejection.

This morning, it came up in a big way for me — this dance of avoidance of rejection. It instantly took me back to specific times in my childhood when I have behaved in much the same way, and when I struggled to quickly try and formulate an opinion of my own that would be acceptable. That would make me continue to be worthy of approval and love. I know now, that this has been the unsaid, unconscious code for our relationship.

And it got me to thinking about what love does. Love can be the wellspring of nurturance and care. But for children, it can also sometimes be the channel for heavy projections and oppressive helpings of adult hopes and desires for what they want of and for their children. Every part of this happens unconsciously, and completely devoid of malice or ill-intention. And yet, this very lofty placing of the best hopes and dreams on to a child — it does so much.

It dictates to a child what is required of them in order to belong.

And it lays down early experiences and memories — sometimes violent ones — of rejection.

Today, as I sat with that flitter of a hint of rejection at having an opposing view — my own (seemingly questionable?) view — I had a rush of memories and visuals of that old self, that child I once was. Who has experienced this rejection in full force at times. And I realised this is such a primal human emotion, an evolutionary building block, as it were. For if we didn’t experience rejection, we wouldn’t learn the codes of how to belong and stick together which was so crucial for our survival.

Literally every one of us knows this rejection. It is the very basis of what keeps families together. A watertight unwritten, but experienced, knowing of what is right and wrong. What is acceptable and what is not. What is good and what is bad. What is allowed and what isn’t. And if we were to dial any of those experiences and really feel in to them, at the very core it is usually a rejection of the very essence of who we are, through the eyes of a member who really needed us to be a different way.

So we comply. In order to avoid rejection. And when we comply, it is often at the cost of dishonouring our own instincts and inner needs. Oddly enough, it is at the cost of rejecting, or sacrificing, ourselves.

Today, when I touched that old place of rejection, it wasn’t long before I realised where in my present I am rejecting a part of myself. But that is the stuff of an entirely different post, for when I have processed this some.

It’s an old and heavy wound for most of us, this one. Not one we can shrug off easily. It cam come up again and again, even when we have touched the place and healed some parts of it many times before. And so, of course I shuffled my deck of cards and pulled The Sun, which immediately took on a new meaning this morning.

It so happened that I had a therapy session today, and even though I have had a world of things to talk about since our last session, pulling a few cards this morning gave me immediate clarity on the one thing I wanted to bring up and dive right into. That old wound of rejection.

One year ago: On crying
Two years ago: Tell me what you really like

As within, so without

When Joseph Campbell came up for the third time this week, in passing conversation, my ears perked up.

As always, repetitive things, strange coincidences, synchronicity, catch my fancy. I have dived a little bit into his work lately, as I am charting out some projects I want to kick off in the first half of the year. I’m dreaming of a melting pot of writing, psychology, Tarot and behaviour sciences and the ideas are blossoming faster than I can keep up with them. Exciting work that for now requires me to make a laboratory of my brain, to meld together old (and sort of rusty and dusty) and new identities (still emerging and unfurling), old and new skills, the comfortable spaces of familiarity with stepping into new spaces of discovery.

Still not in any coherent form, I am going with it — mind-maps, vision boards, lists galore and the like — in the hope that clarity and form will emerge. All through this month, as I have nurtured these thoughts, I have realised time and time again how much this year is already different to the last one (or two actually!). The last two years felt quiet, slow, restful, inward, while this year already I feel so outward and such a significant sense of movement and shape-shifting taking form. It felt like affirmation for how much the focus within has impacted how (differently) I can now relate and connect to the world without.

Affirmation also that the last few years I have spent looking within have irrevocably altered the axis of my being, putting a wholly different spin on how I want to be as a person in the world. What it means to be a human being in 2020, and how I can bring purpose to my existence.

Affirmation of a necessary journey that everyone must make if they can — this inward one — for how much more rich and fulfilling it makes the outward experience of life itself.

I seem to be running into this same message over and over again in different forms, in interactions, conversations, pieces of writing, video. It’s quite astounding.

Affirmative. Life-giving.

Today, I read something Campbell said and it has stayed with me, speaking of The Hero’s Journey (which is central to Tarot, and also what I have been researching):

We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. And where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the centre of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.

It spoke right into my search far and wide for belonging, and more recently, thoughts about how to belong in this jagged, fragmented world today.

And then, one of the favourites I have cultivated and savoured over the past year — Adyashanti — put it beautifully in a view from just a few days ago. Speaking of the universal interconnectedness of all beings, and the need for us to operate from that place of deep connectedness with ourselves.

Speaking affirmatively once again to the fact that there is no better way to connect with the outer world, than to first be authentically and deeply connected to oneself.

If one thing has become more and more obvious to me—and I don’t say this so anybody is overly aggrandising themselves, because it’s actually a very humbling thing—the world needs you.

The world needs each and every one of us. It needs anyone who is endeavouring to be connected and to live from a place that is a bit more connected.

It ties in beautifully with the tenets of my Family Constellation work, with the state of the country in this present day, and the ask of each of us as human beings in this world that is insistent on spiralling out of control.

I feel a gentle coming together of many disparate threads of my life. And I am curious, humbled and very, very, excited in a childlike manner, imagining what is yet to unfold.

***

In the interest of new dawns, new beginnings, new steps, new spaces, new projects, after much, much, much deliberation, it’s taken me a few weeks to figure out the best way to do this in the manner that best aligned with my specific needs, minus the onslaught that social media inevitably brings.

Finally, today I swallowed the red pill.

I am on Instagram, purely for work. Follow me, and spread the word, if you’d like!

https://www.instagram.com/revatiupadhya/

One year ago: Little pieces of magic
Two years ago: Pretty lights
Three years ago: Because I want to remember
Four years ago: Saru-anna

On being

Very quietly, I stepped into a new life and into a new role — that of a practitioner and helper (as we call ourselves in Hellinger’s system of Family Constellations) very early this month. First with putting out my website, then with inviting tarot sessions that flew in thick and hard, and finally with two Family Constellation workshops on consecutive weekends these past two weeks.

Even though I very silently slipped into this new space some weeks ago, and it has been a busy time since, I really felt like I had landed in the very centre of the space that is this feeling like a whole new identity for me only yesterday, at the workshop.

One of the threads of Hellinger’s Family Constellation philosophy, is the idea of a spiritual conscience. And even though we have defined it in words so many times over the years in training, and I know in my head what it is, I have struggled to really understand what it is. I have had no counterpoint or marker in my outer world, in real life to pin it to and say Ah! Yes, this is what it is.

I have over the years understood it as many things and concluded that perhaps it is all these things at different times. A spiritual realm, a twilight zone between that which is known and that which can only be experiences, a sense of flow, a connection with ones higher conscience.

Yesterday though, at the workshop, I really landed — and I mean to reflect the deeply visceral experience that I had facilitating a full day’s work in Family Constellations — in this new space. I felt firmly in my mind, body and heart, that I was in the space of a helper.

It felt like safety.

It felt like alignment.

It felt like all was well with everything around me.

It felt like everything was as it should be, in the right place, in the right way.

It felt like a great sense of harmony flowing within and out around me.

It felt like intense satisfaction and intense purpose simultaneously.

It felt like perfection.

It felt like grace.

It felt like flow.

It felt like I have hit solid ground, and yet floaty and airy like I could fly endlessly.

And I realised at some point, for a brief moment, mid-work, that perhaps this is what the experience of the spiritual conscience is. The dance of the movement of one’s spirit, when it is unencumbered and free to move in the way that it needs.

When I get out of my way.

When I surrender, over and over, to the call from within.

When I find a deep inner connection that feels in my outer world like I am being guided mysteriously.

I also realised that this experience of the spiritual conscience is not an end point like I have imagined in the past. It is an experience that will come, when all things are in alignment, and go, when it must.

Yesterday was a blissful, immensely satisfying and rich day for me. I can only hope some of it translated to the group of folks that attended. And I ended the day just so grateful to have found this work and to be sharing it with the world in my own small way.

One year ago: Learning to let go
Two years ago: Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Three years ago: 2017 book beginnings
Four years ago: Perspective

On anger

I have been confronting ideas of anger, lately. Anger that’s held in my body. Anger as a mere idea, and how my family has felt about it over the generations. Anger as something I have not been very much in touch with at all, growing up. Anger that I only mistook for rage. Anger and shame. Anger and guilt. Anger and permission.

Anger as a woman.

Anger towards the injustices we’re facing as a country. Anger at basic, everyday disappointments and rejections. Anger at the personal level, as well as the level of the collective.

It’s also been up in the air, around me.

Personally too, at therapy over the last many months, I have visited that place of anger, really opening the door, laying out a red carpet and allowing it to enter my mindspace in its full potency. Airing it, fanning the flames and sometimes letting it billow into a huge all-consuming fire. Sometimes watching it erupt, but fizzle out quickly, leaving a spot of singed skin. Raw, asking for the comfort of cool breath.

In the process I’ve had to examine my relationship with anger, and how much the ideas of anger, and the beliefs the adults around me held about anger, have shaped my own. How much that has made me either turn away from my anger, or bury it the moment it has raised its head. And consequently how much that has caused repressed, festering wounds that would just be gone if only I was in touch with my anger.

And now, with frequent entry-points into my anger, I have learned to go back to points in my life where anger came up but didn’t find a way out, and tell myself that that then, was the experience of a child who didn’t know better. A child who had to choose between being herself in the full flow of the emotion she was feeling, versus being accepted and loved.

I have had to reconcile with the fact that I have grown up believing that my anger is bad. Sometimes, the unsaid message has been that anger, in women specifically, is difficult. Other times it was that my anger makes me too much for people around me to take. That my anger has been a huge burden.

As I have processed much of this, and in turn built a safe container in my adult self to give room to that anger to find it’s way out, I am now, slowly, seeing a mellowing down in my current relationship with anger. I am angry, but I don’t act out as often. I am angry, but not rage-y or vengeful in that misguided, out-of-control way that I used to be. I respond, more than I react.

I am angry, but with purpose. I am angry, with energy.

And it is entirely because I have tapped into my anger as a life-force. Anger, that actually warned me when I felt unsafe. Anger that actually cued me to claim my place. Anger that made me realise when I was let down, disappointed and dejected. Anger that signalled something I was deeply passionate about.

Anger that kept me safe.

Anger that should have had a significant, life-giving place. Anger that didn’t find a way out.

And when I numbed that anger, I also numbed joy, passion, energy and purpose too. I numbed life itself.

Historically too, women have been taught to keep anger under wraps. It’s a centuries-old tactic to keep women in check. To keep our emotions locked away, to keep our power diminished. However, the greatest revolutions and steps forward that women have made, have been born out of moments of blinding anger and often destruction. Even culturally, essential female archetypes of death and destruction such as Shakti, specifically Kali, embody anger, red hot power and strength.

She embodies that heart of anger that is the umbilical cord to out full power, and our emotions. She is life, as much as death. Birth and fertility as much as rebirth. Her demand of us, is to be vivaciously alive, passionate and deeply committed to truth.

We know this all very, very intimately. And yet, we continue to give anger the bad rap it doesn’t deserve. I know this because I am suddenly so, hyper-aware of the great levels of discomfort around anger (especially in women) in my own family. I also understand that some of it is well-intentioned and modelled around wanting to be better human beings — more gentle, loving, forgiving, kind, empathic and peaceful.

What I know now, is that the only real way to be all of those things, is through feeling anger if and when it comes up, and not side-stepping it. Through realising that anger is a life-sustaining energy, primal force, that it comes up to signal danger, cueing preservation and safety. It is impossible to make those choices and move forward, without fully accessing anger.

For generations, women have had to bypass their anger in the effort to be more pleasing. Palatable. The kinder, fairer sex. For generations, even those of us who have talked of anger through our myths and legends and religious archetypes, have simultaneously managed to never feel it ourselves.

So is it a wonder that expressions of anger are then seen as the horrible, ugly things that they’re made out to be?

***

Here’s another thing I’m working hard to rewire: my relationship with anger. By accessing it fully when it comes up, freeing myself from beliefs and reactions coded in my childhood, and navigating through it in safe, adult ways.

And so, it is no surprise at all that I am having anger come up in so any different conversations around me. Speaking with VC two days ago, I told him I have been feeling deeply angry on his behalf, because I noticed and paid attention to something that is brewing in me. To notice it, allow it, acknowledge it and let it play out its natural course without judgement or panic that the world is somehow going to implode because of it, is a huge step for me.

Yesterday, my mother mistook my emphatically and emotionally voiced opinions to be an angry lash-out. It absolutely wasn’t and not too long ago, the mere mention of anger might have triggered off a fit of rage. However, I surprised myself by a spontaneous chuckle that escaped from my chest, and the surety with which I was able to say I am not angry.

This post in fact, is an outcome of many meandering thoughts that have been swimming in my head for months now, but that somehow found bright crystallisation this morning, in a chat with my aunt.

Later in the afternoon, my sister shared with me an insight about how she has noticed how she holds anger in her body and wonders how to process it as an adult.

Anger. It’s in the air. All around me. In so many forms. Asking to be seen, to be held and examined closely.

This kind of synchronicity, when things repeat and show up again and again, are my markers. Deep affirmation that what I’m on to is really important for me.

***

I’m learning to love my anger. To touch it when it shows up. To see what it has come to teach me, before I bypass it in a rush to feel better.

But anger rarely comes alone. It often brings along its friends fear, judgement, guilt and loneliness. But as I am also learning to sit with all of that, simply as it is, it has been a revolutionary idea: to love my anger. To drop the weight around it. To allow the adult in me to redefine what anger means to me now.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.

Rainer Maria Rilke

One year ago: New light
Two years ago: Block rockin’ beats (Wayanad, 2017)
Four years ago: Come undone

On emptiness

Committing to a life of getting to know myself a little more intimately has meant consistently peeling back layers and layers of protective fluff that we as humans tend to gather around our hearts. As I told someone in a reading today, this is human nature — the need to protect and keep the heart safe at all costs. Even from seeing the truth that needs to be seen, before we move forward. This process also takes us further away from the core of our humanity as well. Creating layers between our outer and inner worlds, keeping us away from our own  selves.

So then, to commit to a life of getting closer  human to try and confront whatever it is we are seeking protection from. To do it in a gentle and compassionate way, that facilitates integration and forward movement in life, is super important. The goal then has been to be more touch with that which makes me human. What lies at th core of my spirit, when all the layers have been shed.

I have been thinking a lot about this — about the very core of humanity, and what it is that makes us the way we are. And the process of getting there through constant cutting of fat, peeling of layers, letting go of all that doesn’t serve me, processing all that does, often requires culling away and gracefully shedding many things. People, emotions, beliefs, ways of being and living, even. And very, very often, staring at the emptiness that remains.

It has taken me to the depths of understanding the heartbreaking, but liberating, price of living in a way that deeply honours the needs of what lies at the core of my spirit.

I have been witnessing emptiness in my life so often, in so many places and forms, these past couple of years. But the simultaneous process of filling myself up in a healthy way, of finding inner solidity of and from myself, has made all the difference.

This mornings edition of the daily aha moment while on my run was this: that I have discovered the difference of looking at emptiness from a place of emptiness, versus now looking at emptiness from a place of being quite filled up.

It means I am less compelled to be uncomfortable as I once was, by that emptiness. Less troubled, less thrown, less inadequate because of it. And I am less drawn to immediately fill it up with something else. Less inclined to do anything at all, actually. I have somehow found the ability to just see it and acknowledge it for what it is — emptiness. Necessary emptiness. And I am able to hold it as it is, more often than not. And the discovery thrilled me no end this morning.

One year ago: Solo Saturday night
Two years ago: Obscured by clouds (Coonoor, 2017)
Three years ago: Two new pieces
Four years ago: Lessons in letting go

Full moon, moon shine

Full moons are already times of release, of purging the old and making intentional space for the new. With a lunar eclipse added to the mix, it makes for a really potent time to let go of the past, remove self-imposed blocks and barriers, and re-evaluate and release beliefs we’ve held (with good reason) but that perhaps no longer hold good or serve a meaningful purpose.

This first week of the new year has already been such a sharp and steep contrast to not just the last year but the last many years, for me. It has been like going from sleeping to standing up tall and taking strides ahead.

I keep saying it has been sudden, that I woke up in January and suddenly everything had changed. But this is untrue. It is also doing myself and the work I have slowly and steadily done over the past many years a huge disservice. The truth is that the last couple of years have been a time for germination. Of slowly chipping away at myself, getting to the core and seeing how I can nurture and nourish what makes itself seen there.

And like with all germination, it happens slowly and in a hidden way. Beneath the surface. It’s hard to tell from above the ground what is at work or how things actually change. And then “suddenly” after many days of nothing, and staring at plain crumbly brown ground, there is a tender shoot that pokes thru.

I am that shoot today. January saw the beginning of that waking up and emerging into the world. And I can’t help but feel the sacredness of all that is already so new and different from before. I am heading in ways that are drastically opposite to what I have thought good for me in the past. And to be moving thru steadily, slowly chipping away, with a quiet confidence and clarity every step of the way is proof. Change takes time. A heck of a lot more time than we are usually willing to give or notice. But this process of letting go of the old and welcoming the new. It is such a special journey. Sacred. Important. Life giving. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

One year ago: And so it’s done
Two years ago: A hazy shade of winter
Three years ago: Happier: perpetual WIP

Rework

Had what was probably my first, full, real and intense experience of strength in vulnerability today. I say first, full, real, even though it is something I have known (and had a knowing of) for so long now, what happened today was a circumstance abd solid proof of what it is to be in touch with a fault line that deep. A vulnerability otherwise kept under wraps and away from the world. And how being in touch with that, actually foster’s deeper connection.

It is true what they say. Vulnerability is strength. We’ve got it all wrong and I’m happy to be putting in the work to rewire this notion in my mind.

One year ago: This being human is a guest house
Two years ago: The hardest part

On listening

In a full tilt turn from last year, 2020 is already off to a very full beginning. So full that I am making good use of the delightful little planner that S got me as a present for the holidays. I didn’t see this coming. At least not this soon, even as I was planning and making motions towards directing my energies towards a new kind of work. I didn’t anticipate this. So even as I am trying to work the pace, I am also consistently reminding myself to listen to my pace.

It’s easy to get carried away in the first flush of the new year. That squeaky clean energy of a new beginning, a new shot at trying this efficiency thing out once again. That gust of enthusiasm to go, be, do, that we all feel at this time of year. Sure, it maybe all of those things, because it has well and truly begun in full josh. But, what I have also been feeling quite intensely this past week is that a lot of what’s coming at me now is a reflection, a rebound, a return present of energies I have been consciously and unconsciously putting out for months now.

I am in receiving mode, now more than ever. And what a paradox it is, because what’s brought me here is actually putting myself out there in service of others. What I am receiving is the opportunity to work with and for others.

Since the very next day after I returned from holiday I have had packed days. Not the kind of busy like the headless-chicken and aimless-hustle I usually associate with packed days, but the slow, deliberate, intentional packed.

I’ve done multiple readings every day, sometimes with follow ups. And there’s another change that occurred to me today. I am suddenly also in listening mode. For years now, my healing journey has been about making my voice, my mind and myself be heard. Incessantly, selfishly and singleminded-ly so, sometimes.

It seems as that need finds more and more comfort and integration, I do have a largely undiscovered and untapped capacity to also listen. And I mean, listen deeply. Doing readings for absolute strangers, speaking to them for the very first time and having them often immediately share a vulnerability or a deep difficulty means listening first, and speaking minimally, but thoughtfully. It has meant listening respectfully. It has meant remembering that this is not about me, that I am in service.

Professionally, I have always been in the business of words and communication. I have always prided myself in doing the “speaking” in that way. In giving voice to unsaid things, shaping words where none exist. And now I am learning to listen. Between the words, beneath the words. And to hold all that I hear with care and compassion.

It occurred to me today that there was no way to learn to listen in this way, without working on building a container to hold and all that I have been hearing. And to do that, I have had to learn to have myself be heard fully. Within and without myself. I have had to do enough honest talking in my outer world, as well as to myself in my inner world, and integrate and accept every kind of response I have received. In the process I have encountered contradictions, disappointments, difficult dualities and discomfort, as much as I have the joy and jubilation. I am beginning to see that there cannot be one without the other.

When I listen carefully, I am able to do it because I know that I am, and I feel, heard.

One year ago: Changing seasons, changing reasons
Two years ago: I’m just too good at goodbyes
Four years ago: On waiting

Clear

Just taking a moment to acknowledge how much clarity has emerged so quickly and suddenly from seeming nothingness. To know what I want to do and have the avenues emerge and show up, and have the sudden confidence to walk the path — this is a big one for me considering where I was even just six months ago.

Every day, in at least two different ways, I kind of surprise myself at how I am conducting myself in conversations, relationships and how certain dynamics in my immediate world are changing because of it.

It is a bit astounding. And sometimes frightening. But I realise that’s my old brain always ready to kick in, bringing back the fear and diffidence. I am quicker to check myself lately and listen to the old voice that rears its head every so often, but also confident in firmly but gently telling it to bugger off.

This has been a refreshing change.

One year ago: I am the universe
Four years ago: Shiny new guiding lights

Ways of seeing

The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We’re know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet there knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.

— John Berger, Ways of Seeing

I’m really enjoying the newness of this ease in the not knowing, in seeing and noticing the relation between what is and what I know, and that which may never be “settled” in the way my mind might desire.

I don’t quite have the words for what has altered, but something has shifted within me yet again. Altering the way I am seeing things around me, just a wee bit again.

Ending the first week of the new year in yet another home away from home, in such deep levels of peace, has been everything.

One year ago: Boombox updates
Two years ago: Going by the book (and all that I read in 2017)
Four years ago: Love letters

Where focus goes, energy flows

I have to say it was lovely to be so off the grid (my phone has zero network and I bum my father’s hotspot to post and send messages a few times a day) that I didn’t have to spent yesterday morning making and answering obligatory calls. Those that I wanted to wish, I did. I received way more than I have this new year’s day.

Despite not having connectivity, I made a small step in a new direction with an offering of the work that has held and helped me find my feet and know myself a little deeper these past few years.

It’s ridiculous how I got into this without the faintest clue I would be here today — sending out messages into the world about taking on clients. It’s surreal, but also very happy making. And a real-life testament to the power of this work, how deeply it has touched my life and how much movement it has introduced for me.

I spent much of the day looking out. And it hit me that I have left the life of the hustle far behind. Or at least the hustle the way I used to know it, driven by the idea that I have to struggle to make a mark or get anywhere. To be sitting in the boondocks without network, and yet be able to send off my humble little offering out into the world, receive enquiries, messages cheering me on and excitement all round, felt like so much momentum from minimal, but intentional, effort.

There is power in quietness too it seems.

It’s true. Where focus goes, energy flows. And I have waited a long time to see and feel this.

One year ago: Food and friendship
Two years ago: Gratitude. That’s all.
Four years ago: Love

In with the new

I moved into the new year very quietly last night. In my sleep, to be very specific. Hahaha.

VC, my father and I had a day and evening no different from the ones we’ve been having since we got here. A long walk, coming home in time to cook dinner, while VC and my father potter about around me doing their thing, a drink (or three if you’re VC or my dad *eye roll*), some conversation and laughs, music, and a quiet meal together.

And we were in bed by 10.30 pm. Happy new year to me.

Quiet. It’s something I have been sitting with since I came here to my father’s new home. The literal quiet around here has been profound. It’s making me hear sounds I wouldn’t otherwise. The umpteen birds playing raucously, leaves rustling, wind howling, water sploshing, cows mooing. There’s also been a quiet within me. A peaceful settling. And then there’s the quiet way in which I’ve been directing energy and focus to what I want to the new year.

I’m stepping into the new year, the new decade, with something new. And I seem to be wanting to do it quietly too.

So here it is. I’m delighted to share my new and updated website:

https://revatiupadhya.com

Same look, new me, I suppose? This is me quietly stepping into new shoes, a new journey and hopefully new avenues of work. The foundations for which I’ve been quietly building for two years now.

Sharing this here, especially for those of you who consistently write in to ask me what I’ve been doing for my self-development, what happens at therapy and how I’ve “changed”. If you’d like to know more, please reach out to me.

Also! To mark new beginnings, and to step forward in the spirit of the work I am setting off to do, I’m opening out a new year offer:

A short tarot card reading for guidance to begin the new year with clarity.

This could be either in the form of a question/s (I’ll take up to three questions per reading, for this one), or just seeking guidance/a message for an aspect of your life as you step into the new year.

We can do this over a phone call or whatsapp, as we’ll need to chat very briefly, and then we can go straight into the reading. This will typically last 15-20 minutes. And as a first step into this, I’m offering this for just Rs. 400.

So, if this is something you’d like to explore, please get in touch with me via my contact page. I am keeping this offer open for the next five days, post which I will begin to do readings.

I’m SO excited!

One year ago: Taking it slow
Two years ago: Day 1: Onwards and upwards
Four years ago: Day 1: Move more

Sunset

I had my last session of therapy for the year today and it was such a good culmination of the work I have done since I resumed again just over a year ago.

Today, as we talked about where I’m at — the cusp of a new unfolding in possibly every different space in my life — I had a moment of almost disbelief at the way in which I was even holding myself and articulating the things that I was.

Today, I reiterated and reaffirmed to myself the uniqueness of my own journey, the need to honour my pace and place, without judgement or measuring it up against anything or anyone else.

Today, I felt like I turned yet another corner in my becoming.

***

The fundamental building blocks of doing things to please others (and in that way make myself agreeable to them) because of the firmly held belief that doing things to please me will inevitably and always be “too much” for them to take, or might make them upset, or unhappy, or confused, or hurt, are shifting. This has been an unsaid code and way of being in my family. Especially for generation after generation of women.

In moving out from that space, that way of being, I have had to slowly let the foundations — those very fundamental building blocks that decide how I will be in the world — slowly crumble and fall away. There is no rebuilding new and healthier foundations without undoing the unhealthy, unsafe and unstable ones that have held me so far.

There is tremendous power in doing this. The proverbial endpoint seems promising,  liberating and great. And it is. But the journey to there is seldom uniformly great. It is downright painful, difficult, isolating and harrowing even. Milestones and in fact many important pivotal moments along the way are often the ones that have left me shaken up to my core and like I have lost the very ground beneath my feet.

But one of the most powerful experiences I have had this year is of letting myself crash and drop so low, allowing myself the ability to dive and sink to depths so low, and meet vulnerabilities so raw and deep that the only way from there has been up.

And the person I am today, as the year draws to a close, definitely feels like a transformed version of the person I was at the start of this year. I am ending the year feeling solid from within. Truer to myself, more in touch with my body and emotions, and very, very unafraid of seeing and holding my vulnerabilities

It’s true what they say. True strength only comes from being intimately and ruthlessly honestly in touch with those deepest fault-lines that exist in all of us. If only I learned earlier that there is no glory in that outward facade of strength and powering-through facade that comes at the cost of bypassing real pain that is asking to be seen and heard.

Today, I felt extra gratitude for all those whose help and support I have sought and leaned on during this time. Fellow truth-seekers, truth-tellers, some professionals whose work it is to help shine a light in spaces we are unable to journey alone, some friends and confidants who have offered everything from a kindred spirit, silent holding of space when I’ve been in the lows and cheered me on through my highs. All the people who have joined me on and off along the way, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes leading, sometimes being led by me, sometimes holding up a mirror or a light, sometimes stopping momentarily and letting me go on so I can journey those necessary parts on my own.

Meeting myself has been equal parts thrilling and terrifying, but I hold close those moments that I have been in touch with recently, the real fruit of all these years of an inward journey — moments where I have felt in love with myself. It has been life-giving like drinking sweet, sweet nectar. And somehow it makes all the heaving difficulty, the bouts of pain and loneliness so worth it.

What a ride.

One year ago: Be kind to the growing mind
Three years ago: Rewind

Better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow

I went to the protest yesterday and I was immensely moved. It was a relatively small gathering, unfortunately. But large in spirit, in voice and in intention. And it happened: I felt something welling up inside of me. In no time at all, my efforts to push back tears were futile. So I stood with the not-so-large crowd of women and men gathered at Town Hall on a Sunday morning, wiping away tears, looking and feeling quite foolish, really. But also feeling my body billowing with a mixture of helpless rage and frustration, mixed with a wild, unbridled wave of inspiration from some of the amazing women who had organised the protest and came forward to speak and share stories of their work with women, with children, and with disadvantaged sections of our society, on ground.

I was particularly enraged not to see a single social media influencer/celebrity with any reach or influence present on the day. That post Manu Chandra post about Bangalore mourning for Monkey Bar, that I spoke about the other day? That enraged me just as much. None of the many, many thousands in this city who are otherwise so quick to take to woke catch-phrases and news pieces, to carefully curate their words and build an image that plays nice and is sufficiently activist-ish and sufficiently pleasant, somehow didn’t find it in them to make it and show solidarity. Many, many regular city women showed up though. In their regular clothes and no photo opportunities. With placards, slogans and heartfelt intention and presence. And once again, the tears welled up.

I am feeling sick to the stomach and peoples duplicity in a world where a woke social media image is becoming everything. This has been a long time coming. Waking up to my own privilege has been a difficult, slow and often painful process. And for many years, I have had the luxury of turning away. While I figured out where I stand, while I allowed my politics to shift and grow, while I took care of my sanity. I had the privilege to turn away. Slowly, but surely though, now I have been feeling compelled to push through. Push through my fence-sitting, my incomplete opinions, my sometimes dilute politics, my apathy, my helplessness, my privilege to just turn a blind eye when things get uncomfortable. And I have been questioning my place in the larger landscape of our society, this country and what is happening around me. And in this context, I have been looking at people around me with new eyes. People whose minds I once admired, some of whom I called friends, people whose politics I aspired to. Many of them are unbearable today. I cannot bear the armchair activism anymore. It began with a disgust at my own, and a kick up my own backside about time running out.

I know, I am not a foot-soldier out there doing the work. Just listening to the women speaking yesterday reaffirmed that. I am not even a person of influence. And yet, there are little things I can do. I am feeling more and more that the time for aimless despair is done. It is time to walk the talk or forever hold ones peace. I do know that my heart and my body are pushing me to be different, to be better — that’s what this welling up and bubbling over of tears, time and time again, is. And I can no longer turn away.

My personal politics have been shifting for a while. I am not the person I was even one year ago, let alone 4-5-6 years ago. I don’t ascribe to many of the views I held then. I look back on posts I’ve written and feel a deep sense of what has changed, and what has remained. Lately, I’ve been feeling immensely disappointed in some of the severely liberal talk online, at the hands of folks who seem to only talk and not do much more than that. In them, I see where I once was. In them, I see an absolute stubbornness and a dangerous change-averse stand. In them I see the terrifying arrogance of believing their politics are all figured out, superior to everyone else’s and somehow an immovable, unchangeable thing. In them I see the dangerous idea that personal politics are cast in stone, need no examination, growth and evolution. I’m ashamed to say, I see this in some of my friends too, and I watch and listen quite confused many times, about which way to go, and what this means for our personal relationship, sometimes. It’s something I discuss a lot with S, seeing as how again, it is not something I can bring up with just about anybody. And so waking up this morning to see S on absolute fire (instagram stories, if you’re interested) it hit me: I am slowly moving away from safety in numbers, for the sake of safety in numbers. I want lesser and lesser to do with people who cling to echo chambers and folks who play niceties so hard they want nothing else but to be surrounded by people who only prop them up and never call out their inherent hypocrisies. This is essentially saying they are opposed to growth.

I find that exceedingly frightening. And I can no longer relate to it even for politeness sake.

***

Later last night, before I shut down my laptop for the day, I happened to check the news and picked up on Delhi burning. Once again I felt the tears rise up, and so I cried to myself, a mixture of confusion and anger, and just a heavy sense of hopelessness weighing down on me.

So is this what it’s come down to? Is this what those who voted this government in wanted in the name of Acche Din? Blood, hate, violence? The brazenness of it all, so blinding. The news continued to come in today, even though I haven’t looked it up and my laptop has stayed shut until now, when I reached out to begin writing this.

For over five years we’ve patiently, silently watched this government perpetuate atrocity after atrocity. One fuck up after another. We’ve stood by watching dodge criticism, silence dissent and opposition and continuously shift the goalposts. We’ve witnessed a slow brewing fascism take shape right in front of our eyes, and last night things may have gone just a bit too far. I have a deep gut feeling what has erupted is just the beginning. I am filled with pain and pride somehow.

This evening, S came over to talk shop and work, and of course we talked about the news. Once again the tears came up. It’s like on-tap these days. And I am a bit flummoxed at how much and how easily it is coming up. In certain spaces, with safe people, I am feeling pushed to a degree of deep vulnerability, it hurts. I feel thankful for friends like S, with whom I now have the language and the means to process nebulous, unnamed feelings like this. And so we did.

It was no coincidence that everything we talked about work and plans and what is to come, after that, was centred around giving this new for of work that I have stepped into, a place in the world.

And so we mind-mapped and vision-boarded the heck out of it, until I felt uplifted and like I could breathe again. It is time to walk the talk.

In the face of a country’s shared trauma, with violent atrocities being committed day in and out, with questions of who belongs and who doesn’t, what is justice and how can it be met, I feel more and more certain deep in my heart that I want to go beyond “doing the work” and making money. Beyond making this yet another professional choice. I want the work I now do to have context and depth, meaning and purpose and it has to shape the way that I bring this work to my world around me. And that thought gives me some much needed solace.

One year ago: Wait, can you turn around?
Two years ago: Clarity
Three years ago: Misty mountain hop