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 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

Sundry work updates

Okay folks, it’s time for some plain and simple work plugs. I’m starting off my work as a Family Constellations practitioner with a series of workshops. Two in Bangalore, in January and one in Mumbai in February.

If you have read this blog closely for the last few years and wondered (or reached out to me asking) what form of therapy I have been using for my self work, it is this. I began with attending workshops in Family Constellations, before I decided to do the level 1 course which is a deep dive into the work, followed by the level 2 course that trained me to be a facilitator.

So this post is going to be some housekeeping. First, I’ve added a page on the blog to reflect the new work developments and my new offerings. Second, some fliers for both workshops. IN case any of you in Bangalore or Mumbai want to connect to understand more, possibly register for these, or reach out for tarot card readings, you know where to reach me.

1) Workshops in Bangalore:

  • 12 January, 9.30 am t0 5 pm | SMArT, Ulsoor | Rs. 1500 (including morning and evening tea)
  • 19 January, 9.30 am to 5 pm | SMArT, Ulsoor | Rs. 1500 (including morning and evening tea)

To confirm your place at the workshop/s, please reach out via the contact form or any of the contact numbers on the poster above.

2) Workshop in Mumbai:

1 February, 9.30 am to 6 pm | Santa Cruz | Rs. 4000 (including morning and evening tea)

To confirm your place at the workshop/s, please reach out via the contact form or any of the contact numbers on the poster above.

3) Tarot offering, via telephone:

A short, 15 minute reading for guidance and clarity going into the new year and new decade. 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.

15 minutes, or 3 questions at just Rs. 400. Please get in touch with me via the contact form so we can schedule a reading.

Please see my page on Tarot Card readings to understand more.

Going forward, I’m probably going to be making a couple of such posts a month. If you’re here just for the posts and words, you’ll have to bear with me!

It would be great to meet some of you — especially those who have written to me expressing interest in therapy and healing. I do hope that you’ll reach out and we can connect one way or another.

Four years ago: Sometimes, I draw

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

The ground beneath my feet

The mind is still a tizzy with thoughts of the country and how fast things are escalating. How the mainstream news channels and newspapers aren’t portraying a picture that’s even semi close to the reality on ground. Sending out prayers and good vibes to everyone facing this in a far more brutal and real way in their lives and days. And trying hard to find my grounding in simple things today. A visit to the nursery, where my father and I spent over an hour traipsing through the entire length and breadth of the sea of plants and flowers. The winter flowers are in full bloom, and it is an absolutely delightful sight for the eyes. So I walked, stopped, touched, smelled, picked, and then some. Before returning home with a small loot.

I napped a nap deeper than I’ve had in a while. My night sleep hasn’t been the best the past ten days or so. Preoccupations, my mind active, reaching out to read the news — all the things I do when I cant sleep that then keep me from getting to sleep. I woke up feeling tremendously rested.

I felt a shift, a weight lift, a sense of clarity and a penny dropping after my afternoon with S yesterday. There is a sliver of light shining through, and I feel heartened and suddenly invigorated by the possibilities, and the palpable sense of things coming together. I am no longer in dream stage, but things are quickly moving to action. I am not feeling paralysed by that movement, rather feeling more and more energised to get going. I have a website going that I hope to finish by the close of the year, tomorrow we meet a CA to discuss the options ahead of us to work together and the first project is already in sight.

And so, this evening I feel alive and full again. Not shrinking and cowering under a helplessness like I have been feeling inside of me, for over a week now. I cooked us dinner, figured out what meddling I need to do with my pots and plants tomorrow, and now I’m off to pick up some frames of prints I want to get up on the walls this week. And then I’m off for therapy.

I want to acknowledge and state here, that since my first meeting with S last week, where we really got down to the brass tacks of working together, I had this feeling that shit just got real, it has translated into a sudden burst of action in the rest of my life. My days are flowing smoothly. I somehow wake up knowing what I want to do and have been moving through my time effortlessly, getting things done. And not just work things, but home and food and life things as well. We’ve had people over, I’ve cooked umpteen meals, we’ve made time to chill and watch TV, we’ve been out, I’ve found my rhythm and regularity with the gym again, I went to a couple of protests, work got done, home improvement is in full swing like it hasn’t ever been. Somehow everything has been finding a time and place, and happening. I have managed to get some simple, small things that I have planned and not moved on for literally years — like a website revamp, like a visit to the nursery, like frames of prints I’ve collected over the years. I’m feeling a sudden effortlessness. And t has brought to my days a fullness that is not overwhelming or exhausting, which is the only kind of “full” I knew for a very long time.

Balance and flow, balance and flow, balance and flow. It is such a surreal, heady feeling to suddenly have that which I have only dreamed of and coveted for so many years. I feel so grateful.

This feels so sweet, I can almost taste it.

One year ago: Love in a thousand different flavours

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

Up and about

Im wired and totally buzzed on a high energy, productive day spent out and about. Getting shit done, talking endlessly and thrashing out ideas and discussing ways to see them to fruition. I haven’t had this sort of an upswing in an outward moving energy, in years. It’s been two since I have slowly and gradually petered the freelance writing to the back burner. I’ve been in shifting-gears mode for so long now, not quite sure which lane to pick and which stream to find my flow in. But suddenly, after what feels like way too long spent thinking about things alone, I am making moves towards seeing new dreams to reality. And today, that energy was palpable.

Zipping thru the city, I realised this is in some measure what I missed towards the end of my days in Goa. This palpable feeling of swimming in a fully flowing stream of getting shit done. I have so so so missed this feeling, this distinct sense of satisfaction.

S and I ate a massive Vietnamese lunch to celebrate the excellent good beginnings and quick progress. And because she’s superstitious like that, we will follow it up with a consecutive day of work tomorrow.

I am so thrilled to be back in work mode. But in an entirely new way from anything I have ever done before. Not just in the nature of the work but the manner in which I am having to function and the way in which this will put me out in the world.

I am so excited for what the new year will bring.

One year ago: Abiding faith and peace of mind

Finding flow

I had a deeply moving and powerful experience practicing with S yesterday. It was stormy out, and we almost didn’t make it. Until we actually did, and after cups of chai and much quiet talking, when we finally got down to it, something came over me.

I’m noticing how different I am in the presence of people with whom I have a level of comfort that uplifts and energises me. I see how my pace and flow changes and how my demeanour is different. I have a feel of what it is to tune in, but let go. To be present, but not control that in any manner. To hold space, to facilitate the healing.

And that was a powerful experience for me. I felt moved just doing the work with and for S.

The session left me thinking so much about how the burdens and traumas of the past, of past generations, of women who came before and laid down the path for us, is still so present in us. This, even as we are the generation that is significantly challenging so much of the old, and so determined to figure out an all new way. We’re the ones really pushing the boundaries, even while we have so much of us so steeped and conditioned by what we’ve grown up with.

I see this in how I am exploring redefining what work, ambition and success is to me. I’m finding I need to find a new measure and means to what excellence is to me. VC and I are constantly, sometimes unconsciously, re-evaluating the shifting equations in our marriage. I am still steadfastly convinced about going childfree.

S called us the twilight generation. An apt term, I thought, for us lot with one foot in deeply held by all the conditioning we’ve come from, so aware of how it has helped us get this far, but also simultaneously ready to question the status quo, push back at tradition, find new balance and meaning in a way that seems fit for where we are now and what we want from the world the way it is today.

I slept like a log last night. So sound and deep, unbroken, that I almost missed gym today. But I pushed through and came out at the other side better for it. Deep sleep seems to be my reaction to any kind of intensity these days. I seem to be processing things in a much quieter, restful way than the active, restless way that I used to not too long ago. And I woke up hyper aware of my privilege. To be in a place and have the kind of life that is facilitating this. To have the opportunity to allow for this deep rest when I need it.

I thought back to the practice session, and realised how much of it was me at work, and how much of it was something more, something beyond. That inexplicable flow that comes from an inner connectedness that is fleeting and completely not in my control at the moment. When all the right things align, for a brief time I experience the flow and that complete syncing of inner and outer worlds. It is blissful and so powerful. And then it is gone.

I was at a screening of an excellent documentary made by Premjit Ramachandran along with his architect brother Bijoy Ramachandran, on the life and philosophies of Architect BV Doshi, last week. And there was a brief presentation at the start of it, which featured this handwritten letter Doshi once wrote to Bijoy.

It speaks of flow. It speaks of that something beyond that takes over when there is flow. And it spoke to me again of how we are mere vessels, and our job is to find connection — with ourselves first — and the through, out in the world. No matter what the nature of our work, this is the only way to find meaning.

He talks of architecture and the act of designing a building, but it spoke to me like it could very well have been about the work of life itself. In fact, it spoke to me of grace and divinity, and their place in our lives.

The building itself is as integrated as a human being or an animal or an insect or a plant etc

What one needs to do is to understand the flow

To know the flow, you have to be in contact with YOURSELF and the material which is used as a medium

I have days when I wonder why I ever embarked on this totally consuming journey. I wonder if I have lost balance. Then there are days like the day I watched this film, or like yesterday when I had that impactful experience practicing with S. And there are flashes where the lightbulbs come on, when fleetingly, I have a moment of clarity about what this deep and burning need to get to know myself is fuelled by.

One year ago: Walk with me for a while (Amsterdam. Day 2.)
Two years ago: On letting go of what is meant-to-be, and enjoying what-is
Three years ago: I am eager

Stillness

It’s so great to be in a learning environment again. While I’ve really enjoyed and felt the need for the time of processing in the months between level 1 ending and level 2 beginning, I have also missed staying in touch with the work and being in an environment that nurtures and makes me feel like a learner. Just two days of it and I’m thrilled, my heart brimming over with joy.

Last year, there was a decided pause I had made in my life to make space for this learning. This year it feels like I’m going with the flow. To be in a classroom again, without a plan, without a focused specific outcome and without any inkling where this learning is going to take me is like flirting with the unknown at another degree. To go with the flow even as I remind myself to go one step at a time, one day at a time is exciting. To lean in and make myself available to any way in which this journey may unfold and take me is feeling as much a part of the learning process as the course itself.

I’m glad to be able to give myself this opportunity and to be in this process minus the regular anxiety about performance and outcomes that I am known to experience, is refreshingly new. And it feels like a shift within me.

When I began this journey, this exploration of learning last year, it felt like a sabbatical. There was a concious putting off and away of all other preoccupations. It has been interesting to see how much more has peeled away in the months after, how much more continues to strip away even to this day, and how I am being guided to really focus on this without much effort on my part. Without a plan. Without any preconceived ideas. Without expectations.

My life looks nothing like it did one year ago. It looks nothing like I thought it would either. And I have been having Ong a strong feeling that I have to let go of the very idea of what “my life should look like”. Earlier this month when I had thoughts about work and which way to go, there were vestiges of a past life creeping in, which though I invited and explored, didn’t stay very long. So I’ve been feeling for a while now, with a growing sense of confidence every day, that perhaps this isn’t a sabbatical anymore, and just a new kind of life itself. The end of one way of living and making space for an entirely new one.

This exploratory, flowy way of living through my days has a special kind of slowness that now sits beneath my skin. I find myself reluctant to have days that are packed full of activity or that require me to run helter skelter. I am.unabke to function in that way. There is a slowness that has pervaded my very being, shifted and rewired some very fundamental building block in me.

It’s like an internal clock resetting, a rewiring of my system. And maybe I need to stop looking at this as a temporary set up, or a stop gap, but just a very new way of life itself.

One year ago: One day, we’ll be old and think of all the stories we could have told
Three years ago: Thoughts on a girly holiday

These days

I’ve only been back in Bangalore a week, but the settledness that comes with returning home makes it feel like it’s been a while. Longer. Only thoughts of my plants give me a pang for the wonderful summer I had this year, not so long ago. But for the most part, life here has resumed in full swing. The weather has turned here with thunderstorm-y nights and grey, overcast days. Summer feels long gone.

There is the new development of not having work at all, something that otherwise grounds my days, giving me tangible milestones to work towards. I’m also mostly still eating all meals at amma’s, because ammama is visiting, so my kitchen hasn’t found a burst of activity as it usually does when I return. The only thing I’m doing (and by doing I mean expending physical energy) with utmost dedication an enthusiasm, is hitting the gym every single day. As much as this is a luxury that I love and appreciate, it has meant my days are rather floaty, like an extended holiday of sorts. Except I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t a holiday, this is now life itself. A phase of life without work, a life with abundant help and generosity from my mother. It is here for the taking — with freewheeling days to do as I please — and I must step up and take it for what it is, without diminishing its (or my) value with my sometimes problematic notions of what is “okay” to receive, and what is an unnecessary indulgence.

This seriously still disorients me — the floaty days, and the internal tussle I go through before I can enjoy them — but the uncanny and deliberate way in which events aligned to land me in this place this time around feels like a fresh call to just stay with it for a change. Do not rush to fill it with busyness, Re.

Even though I am getting better at it, it still takes a lot of effort to put myself in the headspace to go with it and enjoy it, to believe I am not “slacking off” for not being “productive”, to quit equating my usefulness to professional work alone. There is a sense of urgency I feel in getting to work, that I haven’t had in a while. The comfort of a steady gig, a steady income had kept that at bay, I suppose. The emptiness left by it now has brought old demons I’d somewhat put to rest, back up again. I’ve done my share of overthinking it silently in my head. And I keep coming back to asking myself this — what is your rush? What are you in looking to fill, ignore, move your eyes away from? Are you looking for work to numb the discomfiting silence that comes from extreme stillness? What is so scary about emptiness that you are trying avert it so urgently?

While I figure this out, I’m casting the net out again. Feebly. I’ve been out of the game for so long that I feel inept and a bit at sea about where to begin. So I must remember to take it slow, telling myself as many times as it takes to remember, I didn’t get to this stage of funemployment overnight, that sheer providence has sent a steady flow of work my way even in phases when I wasn’t really looking for it, that I am probably not going to go back to a state of steady work overnight. This is the natural order of things now. That it is okay. That there are gifts in here, even in the sometimes uncomfortably empty days, in the laziness that forces itself on me, in the wealth of time that is opening up for me. Is work really the only thing I want to fill it with?

At this point, I don’t know.

One year ago: Life has a funny way of helping you out
Three years ago: Period story and writing lessons

Loud

Today, I had what I thought was a perfectly normal, if slightly loud, conversation that one has with a client. It started off as a clarification of miscommunication from both sides, but very quickly turned into a shouting match that took an unnecessarily emotional turn. I used to be someone who would get very worked up by confrontation of this sort, but I now much prefer having things out in the interest of a better outcome (even if that outcome is that I lose a client). But today, somewhere in the midst of decibel levels rising and emotions flaring, I realised that what was playing out was a story, a script. Something I have been a part of before — conversations with clients/colleagues where there is an unmistakeable undertone of a power equation threatening to be toppled simple because one party decided to come clean and ask the tough questions.

I used to be afraid of this kind of confrontation, no matter which side of the argument I have been in. I am not a fan of ruffling feathers (and losing a good thing) nor have I been a fan of being at the receiving end of a confrontation. But today, I initiated it. I didn’t even realise how naturally this had come to me today, even as I was doing it. And suddenly, in that moment when I realised what was actually at play, I had the blinding clarity that I refuse to play a part in this repetitive script in my life again.

It was suddenly no longer about missed deadlines, miscommunication, ironing out wrinkles so we can work it out going forward. It was about reclaiming my power from a person who was hell bent on irrationally taking it away. I have never been surer of how right I am in an engagement with a client. And today, I really had it out.

The conversation was difficult. It touched a very raw nerve, gave me a headache and tested me emotionally so much, I burst into tears when I hung up, even as I was so relived to have ended that contract. Now that I think of it, I think they were also tears of relief. But when the call was done, my temples were pounding, I needed a tall drink of water and immediately took myself to my air conditioned bedroom to cool off.

There’s suddenly so much happening with me, in this area of power, space and boundaries. It comes in waves with such intensity and is revealing itself in little and big situations, inspiring a host of different actions and reactions on an everyday basis. It is making me do things every single day that surprise me, push me, elate me, exhaust me.

This situation, this conversation and this outcome (ending a contract on a telephone call) would be so very unlike me. Except it doesn’t feel unlike me anymore. The more these situations present themselves, the more I am pushed to see this side of me that also exists, that has been lying locked up, that needs to be seen, the more I am forced to see what I really am. I’m a mix of it all. I am as aggressive and can fight loud and aggressively for what’s right, as much as I can be compassionate and let you have your way on a day when I feel kinder.

Today I may have shaken myself up a bit. This probably the first time I really stood up to a client who was being a bully. It’s the first time I really made myself heard, without relenting in the moment and saving up all my pent up aggression for a politely worded email sent much later when enough deep breaths were taken.

This new side, I find aggressive, loud, shrill, even hostile sometimes. But, I realise how much of this is conditioning. Conditioning that makes me believe these qualities must be hushed up. That I must be coy and cooperative as far as possible. That I must sometimes relent in the interest of work, and money. But I am so much more than that.

I am sometimes angry. Fierce. Unreasonable. I am all of this too.

When did anger get such a bad rap? Why is it looked down upon so much? I see now that anger and rage, when expressed, are clues to dig deeper. And invariably, when I do, I am compelled to change something towards a better outcome. Anger maybe a trigger emotion, but it’s certainly a catalyst for change. So when and why have we become so comfortable with pushing it away?

I feel loud and large today. It is like stepping into a side of me that has been a long time coming. But on the flip side, I feel emotionally very vulnerable and fragile. And yet, kind of empowered. I feel new.

One year ago: All the small things
Three years ago: Essay aftermath

Day 347: Yes we all need a room of our own

Not very long after coming back to Bangalore and being on my own here, I realised just how much I have missed having a workspace of my own. It seems ultra-rich to have arrived at this awareness of the lack of it, at a time when I am actually surrounded by nothing but my own solitude, and I have the entire house to myself. It’s odd, and a bit upside- down, I’m aware. But I have found myself thinking fondly back to the time I had an actual room — a dedicated space in which to retreat for all things workAnd not travel around with my laptop from dining table to bed. It’s more than just a desk-space I long for, but a space to fuel my energy. I imagine it to be a room with a desk, yes. But more, a place where I can have a vision board up, have all my books and cards within easy reach (given how I’m currently thumbing through many books for many different purposes), a little altar for a newfound calling, and also space to chill where I can think, read, ruminate, work, take calls, practice tarot and anything else that I might fancy.

It’s a bit ironic that I have a whole extra bedroom in this home (in addition to the rest of the house to myself) but it’s not once I can use for much at the moment. With our collective life currently split between Goa and here, I don’t feel inclined to put in time, money or effort into turning it into anything either. But, there is this longing for that space as I see it in my head. Some part of me also knows that this space as I see it isn’t in the now, but a space in the future. A space that is still in the making, if that makes any sense at all.

Yes, yes, I know this reeks of bratty privilege. Such a first-world problem this, to have a whole home to call my own, and still want another room. The thing is, I have been enjoying being in my cocoon at home so much that I very quickly resort to lying in bed. Even when I’m working, I find myself working out of my bed. And you know how that goes right? It very quickly devolves into a Netflix binge that leads to inevitable sleep. I am at my productive best when I am at my folks’, and the instances when I had A and S separately, over for “work dates”. This is a strange place I find myself in. On the one hand, I am allowing myself the luxury of this non-rigid existence, enjoying the mid-morning Netflix binge as much as I am working late into Sunday night. There is space for both, right from the cozy environs of my bed. Yet, on the other, I find that the distinct feeling of wanting to get into action towards new areas of interest are also beginning stir quite vigorously. And that calls for a totally different kind of space. Outside of my head. Outside of my bed. And in a room of my own.

Title and current mood inspired by:

One year ago: I shake off all that no longer serves me
Two years ago: Day 347: 6 am essentials

Day 332: Shoot high, break low

So. I was published! In a Canadian anthology featuring stories and essays about menstruation from around the world. I was first notified in an email from one of the editors, Tanis, who wrote to me last year, about my essay being picked. I’m not quite sure why, but I wasn’t terribly excited then. It’s been a long time in the works since then, and I had actually even forgotten about it. Until I came back from Auroville last week, to a heavy package waiting in the mail for me.

From Canada? That’s unexpected, I thought, only to open it and discover two copies of this formidable anthology.

Opening up Gush: Menstrual Manifestos For Our Times, edited by Roasanna Deerchild, Ariel Gordon and Tanis MacDonald, though, I felt that familiar thrill creep in again. No matter how many times I see my name in print, the excitement never gets old.

One of the first instances of experiencing that feeling was when I was first published in a community newsletter when I was 12-13. My grandfather had insisted I submit some of my poetry to them, and when published, he neatly cut out strips of my published poems form the newsletter, stuck them on a letter and posted them to me in Bangalore for keeps.

It was probably one of the first instances of realising that I could be a writer. That this business of word-soup was actually fun and gratifying.

That same thrill has oft-repeated since then. Every time that I see my name and a byline in a newspaper or magazine, I remember that day where it kind of all began. And now I am in a book.

In a year that saw relatively less professional work (and aspirations, even) on my part, this felt good.

I was telling N in a long voice note last week that even though I knew I was slowing down with work this year, I didn’t know I was going to reach a point where everything “work-related” would completely take a backseat. For once in my life, I have allowed other kinds of work to take precedence. What little writing work I’ve done, I’ve done on occasion, only when I was particularly inspired or compelled to voice an opinion. I’ve had a steady, low hum of assignments that I took to keep me going, and my writing muscle in good use. But it’s extremely low-key and very, very basic compared to the kind of writing I was used to doing last year and before. However, it’s given me a few busy spikes and the income is always welcome. But this? This felt delightful at an all new level.

I’m now slowly going through the rest of the essays in the book and finding I’m in some fine company. If you’d like to read the essay, it’s a mildly edited version of this one I wrote for The Establishment on World Menstrual Health Day a few years ago.

Second, now that I can talk about this, I was one of the many judges for the Conde Nast Traveller India’s Top Restaurant Awards. I won’t be making it to the shiny awards ceremony in Mumbai next month, but I look forward to eating at some of these winning restaurants over the next few months.