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You’re looking happy

9 Jun

These are not words I am accustomed to. Compliments that come my way usually fall into ‘you’re looking pretty’ and ‘you write very well’ categories. ‘Looking happy’ is something I never heard.

Now I seem to be getting it from anyone and everyone who meet me after a 6 month/1 year gap.

The first time, I was skeptical. Really?

“Yeah, you’re just looking less stressed. More relaxed, little more calm, more … happy.”

Oh.

That first time I dismissed as a fluke, but the second time rolled around, then snowballed into a third and a fourth and a fifth.

In the blank sanctuary of my bathroom, I examined my face. My hairline was not as high-strung as before, even though age has not been kind to it. Looking myself in the eye was easier than it had been for years, and they looked bigger… or perhaps they simply weren’t narrowing away thanks to this newfound comfort.

The corners of my mouth weren’t slumping.

Hmm. Those people were right. I do look less stressed, more relaxed and therefore, happier.

Does that mean I am happier?

I definitely react less to people.

I have had someone I gave my heart and soul to lie repeatedly to me, and worse, say there was something wrong with me for thinking anything negative. This, after I saw and heard all that I had. That person is no longer in my life.

I have had close friends suddenly act like I wasn’t in the room. No explanations, no attempt to reconcile whatever problem lurked in their minds, and more lies what? I’m not avoiding you or ignoring you when I asked what was wrong. I have let go of them.

I have had someone cause immeasurable pain to a friend I am so close to, the attack might as well have been made on me. Instead of trying to punish that someone, I focus on loving my friend better and sharing joy with her.

I spend less time with people whom I have to ‘try’ with. Sooner than I imagined, most of them fell away as naturally as a scab that hasn’t been picked on. Only the ones who accept me or are willing to work towards accepting me, remain.

Anger comes and anger goes. Sometimes it stays with me for an hour, sometimes for a whole day, but it goes. Same with hurt. Other people’s behaviour is a reflection of who they are, not who I am. When someone behaves badly with me or with someone I love, I stay quiet and let the moment pass. I stop myself from being nasty, even in a playful way, to the person. My days are better than they have been in a long, long time and for no reason that would cut muster with a Why. When someone asks me how I’m doing and I say good, I mean it.

The only thing that still stays with me day and night is sadness. It is ironic that I look more relaxed, and people say I appear happy, when sadness is always a part of me. Perhaps because I have come to accept it. It doesn’t impose on my daily movements. In fact, I laugh better when I find something funny, I smile more and I practice paying attention to what is right in front of me, instead of what is going on in my head. I don’t succeed most of the time, but it is an effort that keeps me more grounded than not trying at all.

I have lost so much of late and funnily enough, the only regret I have now is how long I took to lose them.

One day, that too shall pass.

Reiki

30 Oct

One of my favourite things and currently my primary activity is Reiki. I have always believed in a higher power, a Universal Energy that we all come from, that resides within us, that we give various forms and anoint with different names, the most common one being God. At the age of 19 I first came to know about Reiki through two friends. I did my First Degree shortly after but lost touch until last year. Today, I hold the Third Degree, and my next step would be the Master’s Degree, though that’s a long way off.

Considering that I am the first amongst my current group of friends to be a Reiki practitioner, I get a lot of questions. It seems that nobody I know understands Reiki. Some understand it so little they cannot even formulate their questions … and I have to grapple with a series of ‘what’s. Often, I find it difficult to answer questions that come my way, firstly because it’s been only a year since I started practising Reiki regularly, and also because so much of Reiki is about experiencing it, not asking about it.

But there are two kinds of people whom I find are most resistant to the very idea of Reiki. Type One is the sort whose skepticism – and I find this amusing – stems from a ‘that’s it?’ attitude, a belief that something so simple can never really help. Type Two is the person whose belief system is completely different – either she’s an atheist (there’s nothing beyond the linear physical plane) or an agnostic (completely neutral to the question of an existence beyond the linear physical plane).

I am gnostic, humanist, feminist. Here’s my understanding of Reiki.

Rei – Universal.

Ki – Energy.

Japanese.

You can draw it in with symbols and direct it wherever you want it to go. ‘Wherever’ includes a physical body part, an emotion, a present situation, a future situation, a past condition, another person, global situations, a city far, far away, an apartment, an office, and even your mind is no limit, as I have discovered having done Reiki almost every day for over a year. You can ask for a result, but I have learned it is best not to; there might be a better result than what I ask for. This is the Universal Energy, the source, the cosmic womb, and it has its own intelligence. It knows the grand design that we as mortals are not privy to. The best thing you can do is understand that it knows better than you, and accept whatever it chooses for you. I have gained unimaginable peace in situations by not asking, simply accepting.

As humans, we each have a physical body, which is clear enough, but we also have an energy body. Just like our physical bodies have nodes along our various systems (skeletal, nervous, etc.), our energy bodies have Chakras. We have a chakra to match every physical ‘joint’ that we have, and I’m not just talking knees and elbows. At every point that two nerves or veins meet, there is a chakra. But just to make life easier, we have eight main Chakras, located along the length of our spines, going up to our heads and the last is in our auric space. For those who do not believe that we have auras, spare me your skepticism and google bioplasma science.

While yoga speaks of eight Chakras, Reiki speaks of seven. From lowest to highest, indigenous name to global —

Mooladhara/Basic Chakra

Swadishthana/Hara Chakra

Manipura/Solar Plexus Chakra

Anahata/Heart Chakra

Vishuddhi/Throat Chakra

Agya/Ajna/Third Eye Chakra

Sahasrarara/Crown Chakra

These seven Chakras together nurture every vital organ and emotion of our bodies. The idea is that curing a skin problem is a surface-only way of looking at the problem. The skin problem has come from somewhere. Healing the concerned Chakra is the deeper solution.

Most people turn to Reiki to heal physical problems, but I have found Reiki to be the easiest method for self-growth, self-development, for the technique of Reiki is as easy as growing up is painful, leaving you to deal with the pain while you keep your hands busy. Oh, hands. They’re the Reiki practitioner’s best friends. Keep ‘em happy, ‘cause they’ll be doing all the work especially when you’re doing your back.

Even though we have seven Chakras, Reiki differentiates between the front and the back. Any diagram of our Chakras will show that they’re open at both ends. Reiki teaches that the front and back deal with different aspects of the same issue.

There is very little theory in Reiki. Other than the absolute basics – which Chakra is for which problem, symbols – everything is about experience. Because everything is about experience, learning will vary from teacher to teacher. Which teacher you end up going to and how you learn is all based on you attracting what you need most at that given point in life.

For instance, the teacher I went to at age 19 taught me the First Degree. In that, you have no symbols to fall back on and need to concentrate. I didn’t last the mandatory 21 days. My second teacher at age 28 understands that nobody likes to concentrate, so she teaches the First and Second Degrees together and voila, you have the symbols to fall back on while you watch TV. Even if I had met her at age 19, I don’t suppose I would have done the 21 days because at the time, my life had no space for conscientious self-growth or self-healing. I was too busy partying and bitching and mooning over the wrong guys. So all in good time.

Most teachers love to use the word ‘easy’, and it does make Reiki incredibly accessible to people, especially since we’re all so very busy these days. I prefer ‘generous’. You ask, Reiki gives. You can heal a stomachache, and you can heal your anger. You can remove the distance between your sister and her estranged parent, you can ensure your travel to a destination is comfy and safe. You can protect your apartment from thieves just as you can protect your mind from negative energy.

Before you start thinking this is a miracle cure, and while I agree it is miraculous, there’s nothing hunky-dory about self-healing. Discovering traits in you that you dislike is repellent. Realising you’re nothing what you told yourself for 20 years that you were, can make you wish you were dead. Sitting in front of the TV and making a couple of symbols beneath your hands sounds pretty darn easy, but that’s where easy ends. But you still let it in, for Reiki thrums on a positive frequency, and even the difficult is good.

the Woman who Tried

7 Jun

There was once a young woman. It was her nature to try hard. She tried hard at everything, work, relationships, family. She fretted over the tiniest of things. Her friends frequently forgot to invite her out. Her boyfriend lied. Her family pushed her efforts away and work… work never even looked up from its desk.

There is a straw in the universe for every camel.

One night, the straw with her name on it landed lightly on the young woman’s back. So lightly did it land, the woman didn’t notice its presence at first. She only knew that she couldn’t get up from bed the next day. Her body felt like a slab of dead meat. The rank stench of her life hovered over her, and the stench was as thick as a wall of chilled London smog.

How long she lay there she didn’t know, but lay she did, by herself, on her back, so long that her heavy limbs lost sensation against the anonymous contours of the bed, and she hovered into the stench of her life, that stench that was as much of her making as it was of her friends, family or lover, perhaps … (dare she say it?) more. The remnants of a deep, aching sadness flowed out through her eyes, nose, beat her chest into a hollow, thrummed against her head till her head wished it could explode.

She lay there her every waking hour; every hour turned to minutes, turned to seconds, turned to heartbeats. Slow, slow heartbeats that made an oddly comforting, full ‘dhumph’ inside, and every dhumph held a promise of redemption. Her whole universe shrank, contracted into her, into this dhumph, the only thing within that was alive and whole inside, until it filled her entire being, and was the only thing she felt.

Day passed into night, and night passed her by, this young woman lying in a pool of her own making, with a stench she could slip a leash on and call Bobo. The night passed her by, and with it her needs, evaporating in the first light of dawn, high up in a blue scudded sky. The need to make a difference in her family, the need to be employed, the need to turn the table on an ailing relationship, and the need to go out of her way to meet people who never even called.

She was leached clean.

When she rose next, she was ordinary. A shrunken social circle, the blessedness of singlehood, a family left to its own unique follies, and yes, some form of employment. There was a remarkable ordinariness to all these things, these things that were supposed to feel new but didn’t, perhaps because they were meant to be. Perhaps they were already there, waiting and watching in the wings, waiting for excesses to be shucked off.

Bombay Blues it is!

11 May

I’d had enough of Bombay after eight years of breathless partying, cold friendships and an even colder bed. In those eight years I moved five addresses, three of which had heaped themselves up on me in the span of 16 months.

Life happened, elsewhere, unforeseen (read: Reiki, yoga, Spanish, not writing); after a gap of two years, I’m back in Bombay trying to rent out my bite-sized apartment. I expected it to be easier than looking for a place. After all, I get to sit in one place while the others run around, right?

Turns out, sitting in one place is harder than I thought.

I  ->  met my broker through a friend  ->  through a colleague  ->  through family. Of all the brokers I have met in my eight years, and I have met many, many many, he is the only one I would give my keys to, except that he doesn’t want them.

Unfortunately, not everyone seems to be in as much of a hurry to rent my flat as I am in renting it out and getting back to Calcutta. I met three clients the day after I confirmed my broker, and one on each subsequent day for the next two days; each praised the place only to never return. Who can explain that? No, it’s not the rate for the rate is negotiable and none of them even tried.

The only couple (siblings) who got back to me turned out to have given false references. I agreed to the second meeting because they were the only ones who returned and loneliness engulfs me every night. The girl came first, and I felt her pleasantly straightforward, except when she started talking about her late latif brother. When he did arrive, my first impression of him was a complete no-no (he hadn’t scoped out the flat the previous evening). He spoke very little, very quietly, and I can understand someone being embarrassed about bad English. What struck me as being odd is that neither of them could agree on his age. They work for the same company but yet, the agreement was being drawn up in her name. She started out by saying she would pay by cash “for IT reasons”, and when I insisted on a full upfront payment, she switched unblinkingly to cheque.

My broker dismissed my misgivings.

I accepted their token, even had pictures taken for the police NOC, informed my friend and parents about my decision, but my disquiet didn’t die. So off I went to Leaping Windows to use their wi-fi. Inexplicably, my mini took a strong dislike to it and refused to function, but Bidisha (yes, that’s right) and Utsa generously let me use their desktop. I got the numbers, made my calls, and was I surprised to learn that the brother did not work there? Or that the girl had worked there for just 2 days against her claim of 40? Nope. For no matter how right things were on paper, or how to the left-brained mind everything appeared kosher, my right-brained mind had been restless and frantic about it. By now, it’s no surprise to me that in a face-off between the two, life always vindicates the latter.

So here I am, alone and friendless, counting paper plates in my kitchen and buying squeezee tubes of ketchup, waiting for the right person to walk through my door, very close to scratching out days on my canary yellow walls.

 

😛

 

I think. therefore I think.

26 Jun

A lot of thinking is more good than bad for the soul. I went for Vipassana, went off the internet (meaning: Facebook) and (as good as) blogging. I read and re-read books, started writing in a diary again, and I stopped talking about myself to everyone but my therapist. Somewhere in there was a family vacation that triggered this withdrawal, a family vacation I would like to smother in the dark recesses of my mind except for the eating of a whole butter chicken in strictly-veg Joshimath.

But two days ago I went for my first yoga class in nearly three months. My yoga instructor is a darling who doesn’t have a time limit on the classes that you pay for. And I went shopping for a birthday gift for my brother who turned 26 this year. I feel like visiting my friend’s parents tomorrow. And I even talked with my friend about myself, the first time I  had done that in about … well I can remember the last conversation but not when it happened.

The meaning of friends has shifted. It has been such a subtle change that I realised it only yesterday/today…? They’re there, far away, but there whenever I want them to be, need them to be. I’m not in anyone’s pocket and no one is in mine, but all I need to do is call them and start talking, and they listen. None of them can solve anything for me, but them listening as beautifully as they do is priceless. I’m awed by what I have with them.

The last couple of days the feeling of being okay was a bit wobbly, shaky, like a toddler trying to stand up on her own feet and take a few steps. Today, she walked. Not very far, but she walked.

Such is life — the pace is never the same. Right now, if I were any slower, I’d be crawling backwards.

Of late, I have been inspired by Homestudioandlola.blogspot.com to create my own visuals, like I used to in my childhood and my college years. Though something other than fashion illustrations. I think her Durgas are gorgeous. The good news is that she has started getting commissions from abroad now. Being a Bengali, she was always embarrassed about money but has recently graduated (after a lot of push-n-pull) to the 5-figure realm. Considering I’m unemployed, I regret not taking advantage of her when she was still under-charging.

Anyway, doing one thing at a time might not be a good thing for me. So I shall start my painting and sketching too, though not on a professional basis. I’m more into comic strips and surrealism. I bought some paper and got my paints together, but haven’t started yet. I’ll do it in my own sweet time.

And that’s where my thinking has led me — picking up one more thing-to-do. The idea is to freelance when in Bombay and sell paintings through the web while I continue writing books.

Oh, I’m also more relaxed about my TV-watching habits. It stays on all the time. Hallelujah I’ve invented a new way to write a book.

Am off…I think

16 Apr

Off to Vips tomorrow.

And despite what everyone’s been saying — eeeeps. The location of the V centre is not all that great, apparently it’s a den for anti-social elements. My parents keep trying to get me to change my mind, but — bottom line — are supportive. Bless them. I’m so incredibly proud of having parents who understand and accept that I’m not an extension of them, and that I will be doing stuff that they are unsure about. Despite that I bit my dad’s head off today. bad moment. actually a culmination of bad moments.

I’ve forgotten the wonderful feeling I had about the V centre when I was there two months ago, when I had gone to check it out and couldn’t because there was a course on.

Yesterday, I went shopping for it, and found myself choosing unattractive bottles and brands. only becos we re not supposed to be prettifying ourselves there. I bought my first ever Colgate prickly heat talcum powder. sandalwood.

BUT on my way to the supermarket, I took a detour into Vero(a?) Moda. It has been in Calc for less than a year, and the last time I went there I was pretty unimpressed. Yesterday, there was a sign in the window saying linen pants are 35 pc off. So in I walked. And bought a barrelful of clothes.

I know women are supposed to have a thing for shoes. Or so the stereotype goes. Apparently, the logic is that feet sizes don’t shift and change shape as frequently as our waists and hips and thighs do. So the generous outpouring of love. I, on the other hand, love clothes. I pay almost no attention to footwear. I love heels so long as they’re on shelves; cannot bear them on my feet for more than an hour. And accessories make me feel heavy, like I have something extra, totally unnecessary on me. Yeah, I’m not about fashion, channeling my personality through clothes (although if u head to fashion week all the stylists and several designers look like they’re channeling the same personality) I don’t care about trends or the right colour combinations or any of the ‘shoulds’ of fashion.

Probably cos I love my wobbly bits. Fashion and its stores/brands are unkind to women who aren’t thin. Maybe age has got something to do with it, but I love my wobbly bits a lot more than I used to, instead of starving to get as thin as I can be before I hit my 30s (I expected myself to do that). I bought two linen pants and love them. And three or maybe four blouses that I love, they’re a bit different from the usual stuff in my wardrobe, and just what I’ve been wanting.

Of course, only the linen pants are valid for vipassana. No prettifying.

Oh, and the date on this blog will show 16, but I’m writing this on the 15th. I procrastinated.

Patience, my child, patience

9 Apr

It’s slow. But I’m a lot less impatient that I was even a fortnight ago. I guess it’s age.   😛

 

And someday I shall write a proper blog post.

Begun

8 Apr

For all that no-TV binness (couldn’t resist — it was the one thing about Band Baaja Baarat that made me laugh out loud), I finished my plot outline pretty fast the minute I sat with the idiot box switched on. So now I’ve begun writing. Today was a slow day, but I’ll pick up speed. It’s a matter of focussing each day at a time. Focussing is an uphill climb for me. And Lord knows how much I hate exercise.

 

Day … 11?

6 Apr

Ready to write. Starting tomorrow. excited.

Day 9

4 Apr

is the day I looked back on Day 1 and laughed. And shook my head at myself.

So I kept the TV on all day, been sleeping really late (this is the second or third night in a row for posting a post post-midnight and getting the dates muddled), and waking up really late, and doing okay.

I made progress on the alternate plot outline, in case you’re wondering.

No reading though. That’s the caveat with watching TV.

The thing is — I don’t quite feel I’ve relaxed and I don’t quite feel I’ve worked either. I’m in a middle zone of numbness.

Japleen Pasricha

Feminist. Activist. Founder of Feminism In India.com. Writer. Educator. Traveler. Not particularly in that order.

jerry-mahoney.com

Author, ranter, dad

All Quiet On The Wench Front

Herstory at its fucking finest.

Ashish Shakya

Writer. Stand-up comic. General idiot for hire.