Blog

dealing with my humanity: how i am breathing through my strong/ negative emotions

Breathe
credit: Pinterest

i.

again.

which number would this be, i wondered.

my sister was peacefully sleeping in bed beside me so i couldn’t ask her for an exact figure. “again,” she would’ve said, too.

fuck this, cant hold it in any longer, i thought.

so i sucked in a huge breath- a humble attempt at pranayam and breath control- and orchestrated my tears with exhales so that i could cry but not bawl/ wail/ moan. so i could let the pain out but not rouse my sister and the rest of the household from sleep.

would i be crying for the 28,867th time in bed, i asked myself.

all of this was too much, much too much for a single, solitary moment.

nothing felt figured out, there were no answers, no inspiration, nothing certain, and nothing comforting. for the 31,789th time?

on top of that, i was not my favorite person at this time. you can handle yourself better you know, i thought. people do it all the time.

why the fuck did i have to end up like this again and again?

ii.

my five foot + some inches frame is capable of over-thinking/ over-feeling at times, carrying out both activities with flawless perfection, and digging a pit deep enough to reach the doors of Hell.

in my defense, though, i had never been taught how to deal with this inescapable consequence of having a mind, and what to do when faced with it. no one talked about being affected by their thoughts or the happenings around them, so i had no one to discuss coping strategies with.

hey, i just had this bout of fear last night due to an existential crisis because i cant figure out what to do with my life or answer what my ‘God-given purpose’ is. what can i do that does not involve me blaming someone or taking a bad decision or thinking i am doomed and far behind others?

yes, never had that conversation. everyone seemed to have it together. but, really, i knew- everyone, everywhere was terrified of something.

so, i figured i’d run my own experiments.

i tried to rationally calm my very irrational feelings. its okay. not knowing is a part of knowing. “how long till this not-knowing ends!!?”

asked my friend what he did today and planned to do for tomorrow. “me? chill.” well, not much ambition there.

read books/ saw other people struggle/ slept it away/ despaired it away/ did nothing.

my experiments yielded no reliable solution.

iii.

both suffering and happiness are of an organic nature, which means they are both transitory; they are always changing. the flower, when it wilts, become the compost. the compost can help the flower grow again. happiness is also impermanent and organic by nature. it can become suffering and suffering can become happiness again.

-Thich Naht Hanh; No Mud, No Lotus

if my twenty years have imparted me any wisdom, i’d say this is it. things are always changing. and i’ve seen and felt enough changes to no longer sulk and cry like a spoilt child when life takes a 360. again.

monday might see me brimming with faith. by wednesday, i might be struggling through deep, dark shit and a few pesky doubts.

saturday might find me making love to and with my Muse. by tuesday, my Muse would’ve departed on an unaccounced holiday for an undefined period of time, leaving me alone and flummoxed with a half-finished project.

january might be a month of endless family celebrations and bonding time. june might see the heat within my home rising with arguments and fights.

i might be convinced he loves me unfailingly but around 1:01 AM doubt the truthfulness of his words and actions.

a lot of turbulent waters, wouldn’t you agree?

now if i were to chase and follow and act on every thought and feeling, heaven knows what foolishness(es) i might have committed and the disasters i might have invited.

and now after n number of experiments, i’ve finally found a way to help me through these stormy waters and manage my overwhelming thoughts and emotions.

breathe.

whenever i feel fear, first step: breathe.

despair and hopelessness? breathe.

angry and full of blame? breathe, baby, breathe.

when i feel any emotion that makes me feel like i am drowning, the first thing i look for is refugee, a tiny silver of calm. not this will get better or this was meant to be or to simply ignore it.

i want to acknowledge it and take care of myself without being swept away by it.

i am not perfect at this nor do i remember this every time, but now whenever a strong emotion comes up, i take in a full breath, focus on that sensation only, and then release. and i continue doing this until my attention is more inclined towards my breath than my unhappy thoughts. then i can give up on taking in purposeful, deep breaths and just settle on feeling my normal breaths.

the idea is to let the emotion be- not magnify it, not belittle it- but also to take care of yourself (and your sanity in the process).

Feeling flow in us like a river, and each feeling is a drop of water in that river.

i’ll let Hanh explain the practice:

when you look at a tree in a storm, if you focus your attention on the top of the tree, you’ll see the leaves and branches blowing wildly in the wind, and the tree will look so vulnerable, as though it could be broken at any moment. but when you direct your attention down to the trunk of the tree, there’s not so much movement. you see the stability of the tree, and you see that the tree is deeply rooted in the soil and can withstand the storm. when we experience a strong emotion, the mind is agitated like the top of the tree. we have to bring our mind down to the trunk, to the abdomen, and focus all our attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen.

breathing in, you notice the rising of your abdomen. breathing out, notice the falling of your abdomen. breathe deeply and focus your attention only on your in-breath and out-breath. if there is anything to be aware of, its that an emotion is only an emotion, and that you are much more than one emotion.

sometimes, you might feel a sense of calm real quick. other times, it might take a while. but the important thing is to keep yourself company, to not bury an uncomfortable emotion, and to be there for yourself the way we want others to be.

you might cry. again. but you’ll know it’ll soon end (like every time). this time however, you’ll have handled it oh-so-differently. and beautifully.

Advertisements

if you want to change the world, love a man

this poem is by Lauren Wilce. i seldom (ever, really, as of yet) post anyone else’s writing on here. but this. this, i felt, needs to be read. atleast once, even if for the sake of remembering one tiny line. forget about changing the world. this, i believe, is how to love your man.

If you want to change the world love a man; really love him
Choose the one whose soul calls to yours clearly who sees you; who is brave enough to be afraid
Accept his hand and guide him gently to your hearts blood
Where he can feel your warmth upon him and rest there
And burn his heavy load in your fires

Look into his eyes, look deep within and see what lies dormant or awake or shy or expectant there
Look into his eyes and see there his fathers and grandfathers and all the wars and madness their spirits fought in some distant land, some distant time
Look upon their pains and struggles and torments and guilt; without judgment
And let it all go
Feel into his ancestral burden
And know that what he seeks is safe refuge in you
Let him melt in your steady gaze
And know that you need not mirror that rage
Because you have a womb, a sweet, deep gateway to wash and renew old wounds

If you want to change the world love a man, really love him
Sit before him, in the full majesty of your woman in the breath of your vulnerability
In the play of your child innocence in the depths of your death
Flowering invitation, softly yielding, allowing his power as a man
To step forward towards you…and swim in the Earth’s womb, in silent knowing, together

Continue reading “if you want to change the world, love a man”

do not read this if you do not like a kick in the pants

ba3c3c403638758664fbec9ad1648cee
I absolutely love Calvin and Hobbes! source

 

i’ve had the most amazing and yet, uncomfortable realizations with regards to the already-shining and the shinier aspects of life.

right now, at this point in my life, my happiness springs from these flowerbeds: being alone, being with my family, the practice of following and paying attention to my breath, having the freedom and time to nurture + engage with my creativity.

these are the already-shining parts. the conditions that are ever-present for me to savor and enjoy.

the shinier aspects, on the other hand, relate to achieving specific goals and living specific physical realities that are simply a flashier, better, and ‘more’ version of the above-mentioned sources of my happiness.

let me explain.

there are people worse off than you.

people who are homeless, people who have only known violence, people who have suffered things we can’t imagine- trafficking, rape, slavery.

Continue reading “do not read this if you do not like a kick in the pants”

i want to be a tree

i want to be a tree. silly, dancing, waving my arms about,

rejoicing

rejoicing

and then rejoicing some more.

i want to be a tree. tall and mighty and grounded,

my roots holding the soil like it is the air to breathe,

the air to breathe slipping and tangling

around my branches.

i want to be a tree with the wind forever on my face,

my bark coarse and brown-black and scented

with the smell of the Earth,

the smell of all that’s wonderful and pure in this world.

i want to be a tree,

with kindness dripping from my leaves (along with orange and red and green),

the birds roosting in my warmth, the squirrels burrowing at my bark’s end, the animals resting ‘neath my shade.

i want to be a tree-

one out of many,

one out of millions.

i want to be something- so alive

so viscerally alive,

standing in awestruck respect and respectful awe

of who i am, of what i am a part of-

Nature,

of who made me, of who continues to sustain me.

while all i do here is

wave my branches, is

be still and alive

so, so alive.

only inhabit this moment fully,

then the next, then the next, then the next,

and then die just as simply- having lived as such.

on listening and following the call

warm the soul

october was a major overhaul for me. change crept in as slowly but surely as the winter chill does through the doorway of autumn. as the air stilled and cooled around me, i discovered a newfound stillness growing inside me. an overwhelming call to slow down and… to just slow down.

the culture will always be ready with a million and one reasons on why you have to keep moving, keep hustling, keep neglecting yourself, and keep reaching for a goal you never want. keep pushing, keep go-go-go-ing. and when you do attempt to step out of the crowd and carve your own home base, it will follow you with a million more reasons that will have you reconsidering your decision.

but not for long.

pretty soon they will back off. pretty soon they will see that you are serious and committed to this home base/ life you are building. pretty soon they will see that you have a strong why, an unflinching devotion for what you are after. something they never slowed down to discover.

and they will back off.

they’ll see the supersonic you are made of, see that it isn’t like anything they’ve encountered. and they’ll get scared and mind their own business thereafter. you made them uncomfortable with your faith-filled walk, with your devoted determination. you made them see this whole another way of living that is unlike anything they’ve yet seen/ heard. sure, they might throw in a nasty comment here and there, an annoyed glance backwards, but for the most part, they won’t bother you. because they won’t be able to nail down the best weapon or set of words to bother you. who can deter the devoted, the determined? no one but they themselves.

but all this only if you walk the distance to build your own home base.

so, yes, this is still a season of overhaul for me, still a time of walking the distance as i seek to follow the call from my own home base: to slow down; to connect more deeply with myself; to practice the art of appreciation, of mindfulness, of living more out of intention than of autopilot. for me, it matters more as to how i live my days than what i fill them up with. and frankly, i’d prefer to not fill them up too much so i can live better.

here’s to heeding the Call. and building your own home brick by brick.

will you be following it, too, today?

“be light, wild child”

i.

if there’s anything i am naturally good at, it’s stacking up anxieties.

wait. i might not be actually good at it but i have trained and habituated myself to be so after years of practice. serious, disciplined practice.

*gasp*

when did i vow my fealty and devotion to tormenting myself? and for what good reason? it neither helps me to be creative, nor does it support my overall well-being. well, then, why?

perhaps because that light energy seems so frivolous, so unpredictable, so ‘all-over-the-place.’ melancholy, on the other hand, is thick, slow-moving, comfortable, brooding, predictable (because it had nothing to look forward to! what would it predict?)

ii.

for a long time, i wanted to write real poetic; i feel like i am not poetic enough in this space. the heavy, serious material, you know. the how-to’s and the the posts having a point. the posts needing to change lives. the posts needing to <insert heavy responsibility my oft-overwhelmed 20 year old self can’t fulfill.>

but my creativity didn’t want to do that.

most of the time, it wants to sniff around and pick up any object it finds interesting to investigate before moving on to the next one. my creativity wants to have fun. it wants to be whimsical, light, to skip, and to embrace a meadow of buttercups with open arms. it wants to dance the most playful of dances (think funny expressions + arms distorted at weird angles) and then sleep just as peacefully, splayed out and sometimes snoring.

it just wants to live and be expressed.

Continue reading ““be light, wild child””

insignificant 

do you know you aren’t here 

to live for long? 

that the next blink of your eye 

might find you on a hospital bed, 

and the next one trying to wriggle 

into a comfortable position in your tomb, 

and the next one 

dissolving into atoms that trickle into the soil and become the roots of a rose bush. 
i am most thankful that the Universe does not 

have me at its center. that there are matters more important 

than me. 

that i am most insignificant and that (approximately) the whole of humanity is unaware of my existence.

that my primary obligation is only to live out this insignifance of mine 

and turn it into artwork and a song of communion. 

that i can sit by the window and no one, without quoting the ways of the world, can tell me that i am not living enough. 

i am most thankful that i will  

die one day. that death, like redemption i couldn’t earn for myself, will be waiting to embrace me- fully accepting of my failed attempts at Godliness and importance. 
would it be alright if 

i do not want to be the best? or the fastest? or the most beautiful and clever? or even remotely well- known? 

if my measure of wealth is not money but faith in the eternal generosity of life and it’s offerings. 

would it be alright if the only thing i ever want is to not always be caught up in my wants 

or in proving and striving and hustling, 

but to be content in my insignificance- even rapturous, almost awaiting the last blink of the eye 

before i dissolve into the roots of the rose bush in my backyard.

fear will never make a good lover

I’ve tried to give equal amounts of love and attention to both fear and to the other parts of my life. These two, mind you, are two disjoint sets. 

Oops, atleast they were, I mean. *fear sniggers in the background*

This, btw, is what happens when I allow fear to be my lover. 

Tell tale signs that you have fear as a lover: you say no when you want to say yes, you say yes when you want to say no. You want to go after it but think you can’t. You want it to come after you but you think you aren’t worth it. You want to create and be fearless, but you are duped into thinking that you aren’t good enough. You question your goodness ceaselessly and trust in your insignificance implicitly. 

You feel constantly smothered. There isn’t any anchor that makes you feel centered. You are diagnosed with inertia that has nothing to do with a lazy summer day. 

Most telling of all: this feeling plays itself over and over like a broken record that won’t shut up- more, more, more. More, more, more. More, more, more. Yet you can’t pinpoint what that more is. You can’t tell who’s hammering it on your heart. Fear can’t either but it whispers in your ear “that is our enemy.”

i.

Fear will always keep you small and boxed up and within the lines. Fear will always tell you why that idea isn’t good enough. Fear will shut you up the minute you open your mouth to inhale air so that you can use your voice. Fear will pipe up first to give it’s opinion on things and tout that as being the only practical and sane one. Fear will tell you that you aren’t made for more.

I remember the feeling I got when I first started this blog. Exhilaration and pride. I had done something fear had kept me from doing since so long. Scored! I felt shy and hesitant but I knew I could never be at peace unless I gave blogging a chance atleast. And it wasn’t the prospect of actually starting a blog that frightened the jitters out of me. It was the fact that I was going to put myself out there and share something I had only always kept for myself- my words and the tumultuous whirlpools swirling inside me that they spoke of. I cannot lie while writing. I go to writing for solace and understanding. To lie there would be to make sacrilegious something that was previously holy. 

And while I had a deep need to share + to be seen and heard, I was equally terrified of this longing coming to pass. To be seen would mean to be on the edge, in the line of target as a potential victim- of judgements and criticisms. Especially my own. I didn’t think i could handle that. Fear didn’t think I could handle that. 

ii. 

Truth of the matter is- we are capable of handling (with grace) so much more. We are capable of being so much more. Yet fear tells us otherwise. And we listen. We think the mountain top is not for us, that only the struggling climb to the apex is what’s in our fate, that we’ll never reach. And the result? We give up midways or pull back on our efforts or, having reached the top, fail to see it for what it is. Fear clouds our vision that way. 

iii. 

I am just beginning to recognize the spots where my lens is clouded and so limits my vision. My blog is one of those spots. Blog and commercial and success and followers seem to go together. But that never was the case for me. I care about + love the people who read my words and then tell me how much they love them. They dont come in throngs and crowds and nation wide sizes but as a precious handful who trust in me + enjoy my writing. And I am always glad to have written something that they found helpful. I tried making the numbers a measure for my success but that seemed like a standard that I had no control over + would never be satisfied with. Fear would then take over the narrative and tell me how that meant i was a failure. It took me a while but I began to question it. 

“Really? Is that so?” 

And that is all that’s needed to defuse fear. A repeated mantra of “Really, is that so?” The trouble starts for us when we begin to believe everything our mind ever tells us. Including fear stories. It will weave elaborate, detailed fear stories that have little basis in reality and prove to be a great exercise for the imagination. Alas, they prove to be of little help when the time comes for us to act. Digging down and questioning if the story is even true creates this little space where we can see the thought as separate from ourselves that comes with a choice- to believe or not to believe in it. 

Fear, I know, won’t go away. I’ll come up with a new goal and fear will seize the opportunity to choke it to death even before I plant it’s seed in the soil. Fear will always be here. But something else can be there, too. 

My choice. Of whether I allow fear to get the better of me or not. My decision. Of whether I allow my actions to be influenced by this feeling of fear (which ebbs and flows like the waves). My intention: to create and grow. With these as my guide for the creative journey, I cannot help but feel excited. And just a little more invincible and possible. 

Fear, you can come along. But you ain’t rollin’ this show no more.  You ain’t my lover no more. 

a manifesto for everyday, meaningful living 

I do not need for everyone to know that I walked on this earth and did something worthwhile. I simply need to feel the silent crunching of the grass, the soft bed of the sand, the pebbles digging into my heels, and even the sterility of the modernized wooden/ marble floors, always. I need to feel those sensations of walking and being. 

I do not need for this world to remember me always or make a place for me in one of their archives. I simply need not forget that me being alive is a cause enough for celebration and joy. Right here, right now. 

I do not need for my future to be safe/ certain/ predictable/ without any hardships. I simply need my present to be infused with a faith as strong as the force that holds this Universe together. 

I do not need a lot many people to make me happy. I simply need a few whom I can share this journey and be crazy with. Know who to keep, know who to let go. And sometimes I need no one but myself. 

I do not need to prove my worth or justify my existence to any-every-one. I simply need to remember that I was born with an intrinsic worth which only I can accept or reject. 

I do need people to approve of me always. I simply need to allow myself to follow my inner compass and sail in the direction of my true north. 

I do not need to be caught up in the same things that the culture is. I simply need to honor those that captivate me and bring me truly alive. 

And i do not need to follow a manual that God-knows-who-wrote-in-what-century. I simply need to keep reading and living the one I wrote myself, for myself. A song that never was, nor will ever be. 

today, i wanted to love myself

i’m on Week 10. of my creative recovery. 

i almost feel like a recovering alcoholic writing this (lol) (i don’t drink BTW if you started thinking that). it’s got to do with using the word ‘recovering’ definitely. i’ve been a recovering perfectionist before. recovering creative, though…  

the thing is i really am regaining my creative prowess. and it has nothing to do with how much i am writing in a day or whether i have started with my dreams of painting modern art (yes i really love paint). all it has to do with is a shifting of priorities and how my perception of and attitude towards myself is changing and growing.

so, yes. today, i wanted to love myself. like freaking-love-myself-in-action-and-do-something-nice-for-myself-because-WHY-THE-EFFIN’-NOT? 

i think we are the most neglected persons in our own lives. we’ll run around catering to and taking care of tons of people (‘cuz we are nice, we care, we are generous blabla) and investing energy in all kinds of tasks (both fulfilling and energizing). however, do we ever extend that same niceness, that same care, that same generosity towards ourselves? do we invest energy into taking care of our own needs?  

imagine someone you love wholeheartedly. with all the marrow in your bones. someone you don’t mind giving up your time, energy, money- anything at all- for. even if you aren’t around them, you would be thinking of them, wondering where they were, and sending them love with your thoughts. and if they were in front of you, you’d soak up their very presence and give thanks for it, while at the same time, give them the best of you. that is how you deeply love someone. 

swap that someone for you. 

are you unconditionally there for yourself? or do you end up slipping (very cleverly) away from any intimacy with yourself? 

do you take the time to think of yourself with love and kindness? or is it a constant stream of ‘i can’t do this’, ‘i can’t do that’, ‘i am such a terrible person’ etc. 

do you remember to give yourself the best of you? or do you reserve them only for others and keep the worst ones for yourself? 
if you’d asked me a few weeks back, i would have answered no to the above questions. or i would have said yes because i didn’t really get what this whole loving yourself thing meant. 

loving yourself sounds so fucking cliché, right? it is. if you go by the phrase alone. it isn’t, though. when you put it in action. 

love will always be actions in the long-term. thinking/ speaking about it keeps it alive only for so long. 

so, yes, today i wanted to love myself. i wanted to do something substantial and tangible to indicate to myself that yes, you matter to me and you are the gold of my life (‘cuz I am). 

and so i did. 

i went home and i rested with The Artist’s Way (my creative recovery Bible). rest is not something i naturally gift myself. i’ll whip myself in frenzy to be doing something all the time so that i don’t fall behind. God only knows on what. i then sat down to write this post (and promised to hit publish on it) because it had been 2 long weeks since i wrote anything and I was missing how homely it felt to be writing in here. 

and tonight, i’ll allow myself to sleep for a straight 6 hours atleast (exams don’t allow you to do that) because that’s what my mind and body need to feel refreshed and taken care of. 

little things. seemingly inconsequential things. but it is these very tiny things that snowball into having the greatest effect. because more often than not, we deprive ourselves of small comforts like these. and we all know how precious and heart-warming they can be (think a winter’s day with a quilt + a good book + hot, hot coffee.)

caring for yourself and loving yourself is something you do everyday. and i can promise you that if you do it everyday, you’ll experience a whole new strength and openness in yourself that you only could have yearned for before. 

you blossom under your own care. you light up when you give your love to yourself. 

i’d like to leave you with the following questions so you can ponder upon them and then follow up with some sweet action to put this love and care into practice. 

  1. when was the last time you consciously and intentionally did something loving for yourself? 
  2. what has your heart been calling out for that you have been ignoring? (it could be a time-out from the everyday, a new book you’ve been dying to read, a dance form you’ve been yearning to try, or a new dish you’ve been eyeing to taste)
  3. could you schedule in 5-15 minutes this week to do it? and do it without any interruptions or guilt? 

self-loving and self-caring dont have to be big, unacheivable goals. they can be small daily actions that we take everyday to honor our own selves. they can be incredibly simply and do-able. 

what small (yet significant) loving thing can you introduce into your days? 

also, if there’s someone who you think could do with a reminder of caring for themselves, use one of the buttons below to share this post with them.