A Charmed Life


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it takes all sorts

toxic

This topic was born out of my frustration with an individual in present day, but the more I think about it and write I find myself taking a trip down memory lane.

You know when you think about a person and there is generally one word that can sum them up like lovable aunt or graceful friend or in my case a nutcase (I’m kidding… well I hope I am). When I was little we had(have?) this family friend and the word that immediately comes to mind for this auntie, based on my interaction with her, is toxic. To my young mind every word that came out of her mouth was mean spirited, she was a proper mean girl.

To me personally she never missed an opportunity to knock my private school education, and to deride me for not being a real New Zealander for not learning Maori – the native language of New Zealand (both are kind of ironic as I explain later on) and I was always too skinny. It wasn’t so much what she said – because I always look back at my school days with delight and I am appreciative that my parents ensured I learnt Gujarati which is the language of my Indian heritage, and I like that I was skinny – but it was in her delivery, open hostility and it wasn’t only directed at me. She would throw her negativity out to everyone from what I remember and like a dog senses danger, as a child I knew to keep clear of her.

As an adult I have learnt you never know what a person is going through until you have walked in their shoes so it is not my intention to slight this person’s character. Besides she wasn’t all bad, one year after I had complained that Indians don’t celebrate Christmas properly, she threw me a Christmas party (with her husband as Father Christmas) and my Christmas present from them, a comprehensive atlas, was most treasured right into my late teens.

I use this auntie by way of illustration for toxic people are everywhere; they are family members, people we work with, people we socialise with and sometimes toxic people are us. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive pleasure from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. I know for a fact the toxic individual who inspired this post will read this and instead of recognising their toxicity, point to others who are.

A person is never all bad; a toxic person or a person who exhibits toxic behaviour is unhappy and when they are being toxic, they are in fight or flight mode. This unhappiness makes them lash out because they lack the awareness to say ‘I’m unhappy,’ ‘something’s not right here,’ or ‘help!’ It is my experience toxic people in addition to being deeply unhappy, live in fear and most likely lack emotional intelligence –  the toxicity that emanates from them is always about them. Even though being on the receiving end can be hurtful, it’s never personal. You will never change the toxic person, that they must do themselves, but you have a choice how you show up in any situation:

‘Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out.’

Limit the interaction. Actively limiting your physical distance from the individual is the easiest and most effective way to keep yourself from being directly affected. In recent years I’ve had to walk away from a longstanding friendship because I found the other party’s toxicity was pervading into my energy, making me feel all kinds of negative. It wasn’t that I hated her, it was that I loved me more. I chose me and I feel better for it. BUT when this is not an option:

Practice self awareness. Falling into their drama is fruitless but when you pay attention to your own emotional state, you can better equip yourself with the tools to deal with toxic people. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening and because toxic behaviour tends to be predictable, once you are able to maintain an emotional distance it becomes easier to see the patterns and manage the situation. You might need to stop and regroup or you might be fine to proceed, either way you will be in control. It’s tough not to react because it’s a human thing to do, but being self aware is key to keeping your sanity so it’s worth it.

Rise above the negativity. Toxic people defy logic, there is no reasoning with their crazy so there is no point getting caught up in the mix. Getting back to my auntie and those two examples I gave – me not speaking Maori and going to private school – well she herself was not born and bred in New Zealand and to my knowledge did not speak Maori AND imagine my surprise years later when I discovered she had sent her youngest child to private school. Seriously ignore the crazy and respond only to the facts.

Establish boundaries. Toxic people try to consume you and make you swim deep into their problems, but you have a choice to not join their pity party. If you set boundaries and decide when and how you will engage a toxic person, you can control much of the crazy. The trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will. Know when to engage. Know when to walk away.

Surround yourself with the right others. You don’t have to go it alone. Build your tribe, of people who support what you value and who support you in creating what it is you want.

It takes all sorts to make this planet of ours go round, every person teaches us something and toxic people are actually our greatest teachers, even if it is only to make us look at our own behaviour and understand better how we can raise our vibration.

Sat Nam

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embracing love

KeithHaringLike many of you, I feel heartsick thinking about the unconscionable loss of lives and the destruction caused by the earthquake(s) in Nepal. When tragedy like this happens I struggle with the ‘why,’ it churns over and over in my head until I feel like I’m going to burst. Of course what I think or feel doesn’t make the tragedy not exist so I know there is no point on dwelling, what is done is done, so I am trying to let go of the negativity and focus on embracing love.

Mother Theresa said ‘Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action’ and because I believe god is in the details I’ve compiled a quick list of ways to take responsibility for our own energy to embrace love (in addition to other goodies like meditation, prayer, being in gratitude…):

  1. Allow yourself a little extra sleep. I say this because sleep is something, as I wrote previously  I had to learn to appreciate. Now that I understand the value of sleep I actively try to get a little extra now and then whether it’s by going to bed a half hour earlier or sleeping in an extra fifteen minutes. I always feel better for it.
  2. Replace strenuous exercise with something less intense like yin yoga. I have an exercise regimen which I am very strict in following daily but I have learnt that is okay to have a day off but because it is not in my nature to do absolutely nothing, I find yin yoga to be a good substitute on these down days.
  3. Express yourself creatively. Dance and sing, get up and do your thing. When you are engaged in something fun and expressive you are less likely to stress and over-think.
  4. Tell someone you value “I want you to know you make a difference in my life. Thank you for being you.” It’s an instant feel good for the recipient and for you.
  5. Identify what you’re really seeking from technology. This is huge bugbear for me, for the growing reliance on technology does not sit well with me at all. I am pretty good at being disciplined about how long I spend online but I know there is still room to improve. There was time before Facebook and Twitter, it’s a bit hazy now but it did exist and it wasn’t so bad so whether it is acceptance, acknowledgment, or stimulation you are seeking from technology, switch off and look for ways to get that without logging on.
  6. Stop what you’re doing and look directly into their eyes when someone is talking to you. It is something I do naturally – maintain eye contact but increasingly in this age of smart technology it is getting rarer that I see people doing so with me. It’s not just good manners, it also makes you more appealing.
  7. Count successes. Coulda, woulda, shoulda… it’s human nature to think about what didn’t happen. Well I say Meh! to that and instead make a note of all the things you’ve done well, and give yourself permission to be proud instead of frustrated with what you haven’t done.

A special epoch in my life came many many moons ago when I shared a flat in London with one of my treasured friends and her partner (now husband). Looking back, we were very much like The Odd Couple for while we had a shared history (same school, same ballet class and a love of English literature), she loved to hoard and I so did not, and where I like routine she rocked a more boho vibe. Despite this, I am constantly reminded of the many lessons I learnt while we cohabited; for where I would reserve weekends for mundane tasks like house cleaning she would encourage me to:

  1. Be Together. She taught me to relax and enjoy each other’s company. One our favourite things to do on a Sunday was to veg on a sofa and watch the Eastenders omnibus or some obscure channel 5 show whilst drinking copious cups of tea.
  2. Go outside and immerse yourself in nature. With Hyde Park at our doorstep we used to frequent those grounds all the time. Before I was never one to like being near trees or grass but in this time I learnt how to make daisy hair bands and to love the feel of grass underneath my feet, dancing in the rain, laying like broccoli on the grass watching birds fly by and star gazing. What I didn’t realise at the time was I learning how to be mindful.
  3. Set aside some time to play. It probably speaks to our sensibilities but we did the most silliest of things; go out in our pyjamas, eat cake for breakfast, skip whilst holding hands and it was so much fun. As we get older and focus on the minutiae of life we tend forget what awful fun it is to stop thinking so much and be childlike. Okay you might look a bit naff on a swing but I bet you would have the time of your life swinging.

‘When we function from a place of positive energy, the world around us becomes more positive.’~Gabrielle Bernstein

In the spirit of this post today – embracing love  –  please join me in sending a kiss to the sky for our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in Nepal (and in Tibet and India) AND spare a thought for a very courageous man… one Bruce Jenner. Never in this lifetime did I think I would ever say this but it seems that there is a redeemable member in THAT family. To Bruce, your bravery will save lives, sending so much love to you as you go about your journey to be who you authentically are.

Sat Nam


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when nothing goes right… go left

I am left handed and in all my years I have hardly given it a thought, until last week when I received text messages out of the blue from some random¹ about being left handed.

Totally weird coinkydink!

So now of course I can’t stop thinking about being left handed.

There are quite a lot of us out there, we are said to make up about 10% of the world’s population and we have been bestowed a day, given for the celebration of being left handed -13th August- whoever creates these days needs to work on their marketing as I never got the memo and I feel cheated, of what exactly I have no idea but I feel cheated nonetheless.

The word left is from the Anglo-Saxon lyft, meaning weak or broken so it’s no surprise then that as I have read through the history of left handedness, we are not portrayed in a positive light in practically any culture. The Scottish use this saying when describing an unlucky person ‘He must have been baptized by a left-handed priest.’ If you are to believe information that is available: We left handers are scaredy cats. The Devil is left handed (i.e. in religious paintings he is depicted as being left handed). We are three times more likely to become alcoholics and have mental disabilities, but on the up side we adjust more easily to seeing underwater. We are better at multitasking. We are creative, innovative and have a greater chance of being geniuses. Lefties also make better sport people (southpaw anyone?)

Only a couple times in my life do I remember being left handed being an issue. One time was when I was in India when I was four; we were in Mumbai at our family home where many of my mother’s elderly relatives lived. In an Indian home the elderly are much revered and their word considered gospel, counter that with the fact that in Indian culture the left hand is considered unclean because it is supposedly used to clean oneself after one uses the amenities; you can imagine how little four year old me trying to eat with my left hand went down (think lead balloon). On an elder aunt’s say so, in an effort to coerce me to eat with my right hand I spent the rest of my stay eating meals with my left hand tied to a chair. Needless to say there was more crying than eating done on that particular trip.

Other times I thought about it was when I was at school like when handwriting with an ink pen, writing left to right with ink is messy and smudgy for a leftie, same goes for writing on a blackboard OR when sitting on the chairs that are attached to a writing surface, I either had to get to class early to find the one left handed chair (think needle haystack) or sit on the edge of the chair side-saddle.

That’s where my memories end, for you just get on with things don’t you and you ignore all the little, everyday inconveniences; you don’t think about why can openers exist to cause you pain or why you have to manoeuvre your body so you can swipe your card with your left hand on the tube turnstile or how awkward it is to take a selfie/use a camera or why you have to twist your arm to read the measurements on a measuring cup or why spiral notebooks are the absolute worst to use or why the only guitar lesson you ever had was an awkward experience thus thwarting your rocknroll career before it ever got started.

As I ponder on all this now I still don’t think it a big deal that I am left handed but I do rather like the company I am with… MARILYN MONROE Oprah Winfrey ALAN TURING Friedrich Nietzsche BART SIMPSON Julia Roberts MARK ZUCKERBERG Julius Caesar PICASSO Nicole Kidman BARACK OBAMA Diego Maradona BILL GATES Mozart RICHARD PRYOR Winston Churchill DAVID BOWIE Amitabh Bachchan PRINCE WILLIAM Lewis Carroll GOLDIE HAWN Kate Hudson JOHN F. KENNEDY Jr. Caroline Kennedy HILARY SWANK Bill Clinton MICHAELANGELO George Michael ARISTOTLE John McEnroe JON STEWART Leonardo da Vinci ROBERT REDFORD Albert Einstein JIMI HENDRIX Benjamin Franklin GANDHI Diane Keaton BACH Robert de Niro Rembrandt DAVID ROCKEFELLER Angelina Jolie FRED ASTAIRE Babe Ruth JOAN OF ARC Ronald Reagan BEETHOVEN Napoléon Bonaparte EMMA THOMPSON Prince Charles HELEN KELLER Charlie Chaplin CARY GRANT Buzz Aldrin JUDY GARLAND Mark Twain EMINEM Henry Ford MARIE CURIE John-Paul Gaultier

No, not too shabby company at all.

Sat Nam

¹To the mystery person who arranged for me to get these text messages – thank you for giving me something new to think about but you can stop now, it’s not interesting anymore.

 


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love is need of love today

 “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill 

What keeps you smiling? People who use their platform to raise their vibration, does it for me every time And yet while I was moved by the speeches the following three gave at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, I believe it is not just up to the famous to do something. As the times we live in become more and more precarious the onus of social responsibility sits on all of our shoulders more so than ever before. We all have a platform. Our voices matter. Don’t ever forget it!

Oscar2015

 Whatever you do today please remember to raise your vibration.

Sat Nam


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this kiwi girl muses about… race

There was a moment in time when I didn’t know that race existed. I’ve been thinking back to that time recently with this talk of the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominees this year and people using the incorrect terminology when referring to other races. Of course talk about race is nothing new, when has there ever not been talk about race. As long as inequality exists the talking will (and must) continue.

Still I had this moment and it lasted for approximately thirteen years. The first thirteen years of my life actually. To illustrate just how unaware I was I have this one embarrassing memory to share. It takes place at primary school but before I go on, you need to remember my love for Madonna and that it started young. On this particular day my friends and I were sitting on the bleachers in what was known as the Birdcage, I think it must have been lunchtime because I remember I was munching on crisps (Discos, remember them?) So there we are, my friends and I talking away, possibly eating, when in an effort to be cool (you remember when it was all about being cool in front of your friends right?) I exclaim out loud that Madonna is related to me. I go on to elaborate by saying our grandmothers are sisters (yip that overactive imagination started real early). My friends, bless them didn’t walk away and de friend me instead they laughed at me and gave me reasons like ‘she lives in America’ as to why this couldn’t be true. The whole exchange lasted a mere seconds and was soon forgotten by all save me; it is a memory that has always stuck with me not least because it proves I have never been able to lie well but that it reaffirms I never knew race. I didn’t see that Madonna and I are different. Hell I didn’t even see that my friends and I were different – to me we were all just kiwis.

Fast forward a few years to when my father decided it would be a good idea for me to have a South African education (on account of my mother being South African); we relocated temporarily to Johannesburg to live with my grandparents. This was in the 80s towards the end of apartheid. Here’s where the wheels started churning for me in regards to race, how could it not. We lived in a predominantly Indian only area and we had a maid and gardener (not Indian) who were not permitted to sleep in the house or eat with us. I still remember the stern look of disapproval and tap of the walking stick my grandmother would give whenever my brother or I spoke to either of them. This was a country that has known much cruelty as such we lived in a house with bars on the outer windows even the pet giant tortoise wasn’t just left to roam, he too lived in enclosed quarters. And every time my brother – always a hothead – took off down the street after an angry outburst, the adults would be on tenterhooks until he was found should something ‘bad’ befall him. All because of perceptions of race.

It wouldn’t be till years later when I studied the history of South Africa that I would understand the firsthand experience I got when I was living there; but a light had been switched on during this time and I would never see the world through those innocent eyes again more’s the pity. It might be naive of me to say but the socialist in me can’t help thinking it is not necessary for race to be important if people don’t want it to be. In any case whether it is down to the fact that I grew up in Wellington (which although technically a city is really a village) or that I grew up in a time before the world wide web; I am happy that for a short window I lived in a world in which race didn’t matter.

Sat Nam


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i’m going to tell you a secret

secret.jpg
Do you have a secret, one you have had for most of your life? One you have never discussed with anyone – no I don’t suppose you do, lucky you. For most of my life I’ve harboured a secret, one that brought me deep shame whenever I thought of it and restricted the way I conducted my life.

Still better late than never, I am a true believer that the universe always has my back so in my past year – my year of magical thinking as I have come to call it – I was given the opportunity to address this shame and work through it, and hey it must have worked because here I am today ready to share it with the whole world, well the blogosphere which is tantamount to the same thing these days.

Hi my name is Reena and I have suffered from a food phobia for most of my life.’ My specific manifestation was a phobia of fruit, more accurately a fear of the texture and smell of fruit. You know in Star Wars Part IV when Luke, Leia and Han Solo are stuck in the garbage compactor, I think of that as my worst nightmare only with it being packed with fruit.

Now, I know that for you the reader this revelation will hold some element of disbelief even sound completely laughable, but to me it has been debilitating to an extent. Most phobias have a backstory I don’t know mine because for as long as I can remember I’ve had it, as a child I remember crying and – drama queen that I am – threatening to jump over the balcony on being told I had to eat a piece of fruit. I’m not entirely sure there is a moment in time that started it all because as I got older I came to know that two other family members (one of whom is my brother) suffer their own food phobias.

I grew up with this ‘secret’ and it was a secret in that I never told anyone not even family, obviously they knew I wouldn’t eat it but they attributed that to me not liking it. No one has ever known that for me to touch fruit gives me great anxiety and leads me to washing make that scrubbing my hands immediately. Even the smell or being in the same room as it could cause panic in my mind. To make it more bizarre not all fruits were equal. Some I am even okay to eat – as long as I never touched it with my hands – I could happily eat diced watermelon or apple pie with a fork. I won’t go into a breakdown of every fruit and the degree with which it freaked me out but the absolutely worst for me (still) is an orange, I am unable to look at it, smell it let alone touch it or put it in my mouth (the colour has only recently become bearable to look at). But lemons are totally fine in fact they are my favourite fruit. Not making sense – welcome to my world.

With eating being such a social activity, my phobia has restricted me when it came to cooking for others, eating out and even food conversations. Of course I never admitted my problem, for admitting would for all intents and purposes make me the object of ridicule, saying I was scared of spiders (which I’m not) is more preferable than saying I am scared of fruit but also how could I admit to something I didn’t understand myself; so to make life easier on occasion I would say I was allergic but mostly especially with my close friends and family I was just known as a fussy eater. One of my oldest friends told me recently I was always a nightmare to eat out with. Not the nicest thing to hear even if it is true.

So I continued to live with this in silence until a few years ago, when late one night at work I heard a kerfuffle at the other end of the office and upon investigation I learnt that some co-workers were playing a trick on a colleague due to her phobia of fruit. Seeing the panic in her face was all I needed, to know that I had found a kindred spirit. That night for the first time ever I was able to speak freely about my fear. Until this night this person and I barely knew each other but since that night we have become friends, whenever we meet up we joke about our connection and I have to say she is one of my best eating out buddies. Knowing that there was someone else in this world like me made me braver at broaching it with others in my life. It was like ‘I’m not such a freak, there are others like me too’ and yet it still never occurred to me to seek help or even consult the internet until the opportunity fell into my lap when I was in therapy last year.

During my time in therapy I was introduced to an nutritionist and together we worked on helping me to conquer¹ my food aversion phobia – because that is what it is called. Many people suffer from a degree of food aversion phobia; I used to go out with someone who detested coriander, I know many people who won’t eat peas – sometimes these will be fads or like mine last a lifetime. It is when it affects the quality of life that it becomes a problem. I haven’t gone into health implications because it is only since I’ve understood my phobia that I have been able to start living a more healthier lifestyle. Before just hearing how I must eat five a day would make me cringe now I’m planning meals to include my five a day.

I have worked and am still working very hard to overcome this phobia, I must have I just wrote about it; and while I’m not ready to drink a glass of OJ just yet, I will quite happily dig into a bowl of cherries and that my friends is what you call progress.

Sat Nam

¹the programme I am on was especially designed for me (it involved goal setting, reprogramming my brain, visualisation and working to achieve those goals in a comfortable environment). It is on going.


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be the light

bethelight.jpg

I originally starting writing a post on how angry I was over Ferguson, over New York, over Cleveland. I went on to say how when we are young we are taught to respect the police. They make school visits telling us it is their job to make us feel safe and protected and to catch the bad guys; but what happens when they are the bad guys. The more I wrote of their prejudice the more pissed I got so I decided to take a break to calm down.

During this break – which ended up being four days long – I participated in a workshop held by one of my teachers (Gabrielle Bernstein) during which I brought up how angry and upset I felt not only about the events over in the US but also of my own treatment by police earlier this year. I went on to conclude that this experience when I needed their help, had devoided any shred of respect I had for them (not that there had been much to begin with).

She replied and I’m paraphrasing here ‘the riots, the casualties and the overall chaotic energy in the world right now is why we must meditate. This is why we must choose a higher perception in every moment. We have a responsibility to be the light in order to balance out the darkness’

As she said this, I had this light bulb moment – my being angry and committing this anger to paper Word – was keeping me focused on the darkness. The world can be a scary place if you let it be, but it doesn’t have to be; at this time of year (and indeed any time of year) the best way to be in the highest service to the world is to celebrate your commitment to love. At times I find it really hard stay committed to the spiritual path I have chosen to be on, but I know if I continue to lean on joy I am choosing to be the light which is where I want to be.

….AND even though I am now somewhat subdued after my initial anger, I do not want to dim the memory of those who have lost their lives needlessly. Lost their lives because officers of the law believed they were a law unto themselves – this is not right, this is not okay as Martin Luther King, Jr said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ 

Sat Nam


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good morning beautiful people

morning

My favourite time of day is first thing in the morning. I love waking to the idea of a new day with no mistakes on it yet and in order to start the day off on a positive vibe this what I do before I get out of bed:

My guru once told me if you have forgotten the language of gratitude you will never be on speaking terms with happiness. accordingly I have made an attitude of gratitude a focal point in my life. I start expressing gratitude the second I am conscious, I go through a mental dump of all the things I am grateful for. It’s a fun exercise I’m always finding the most peculiar things to be grateful for.

Forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes. Through self forgiveness (and I’m all about forgiveness these days) I find I cleanse myself of any regret and/or baggage and hence forth set myself up to start the new day with just a focus on the present.

For no particular reason other than to flex the muscle I like to smile for about a minute.

To wake up my body up and for mental clarity I take five long deep saturating breaths in and out (the in through your nose, feel it in your lungs  and out through your mouth kind).

I like to give my eyes a bit of a workout so I do a little yoga for my eyes this involves blinking, near and far viewing, side to side viewing. I know this sounds a little woo woo but we live in the age of smart devices, and I already wear glasses for seeing long distances so I’m trying to limit further damage to my eyesight.

You know that saying start as you mean to go on that is why I like to set my intention for the day first thing in the morning, it helps to focus my mind.

And then it is time to meditate as the sun rises.

Tell me about your mornings: Are you a morning person? Do you have any kind of early morning routine?

Sat Nam


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the art of letting go

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I found myself singing ‘Let it go’ today, on account of spending time with a five year old who is obsessed with the movie Frozen (is there any little girl who isn’t?) I have these words stuck in my head ‘Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go let it go. Turn away and slam the door.’

Letting go, if only it was as easy as turning away and slamming the door. The first sutra of the Aquarian Age is to recognize that the Other Person is You and I have struggled with this because I allowed negative energy to live in me. For years I held resentment towards a family member for perceived wrongs I felt had been done; this resentment affected my relationship with my family, the way they interacted with each other and it affected me personally in that this negative energy seeped through all aspects of my life – how I thought, how I felt, how I expressed myself. I can’t remember the last time I attended an extended family Christmas and I have been known to coordinate trips to visit my family with this person’s trips abroad so there could never be any danger of bumping into them. Carrying this bitterness never sat well with me but I continually ignored that inner voice that kept on trying to steer me to let it go. Even when mindfulness entered my life, and I had started to recognise that this resentment was only hurting me, I stubbornly stuck to my resolve. I was right, everyone else was wrong.

“Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind.” Buddha

Then a miracle happened. I had a breakthrough in therapy. Through therapy I learnt the art of letting go, which began with forgiveness. For me, the forgiveness bit happened the second I decided to forgive – long before I actually saw this person again. In that moment of deciding, it was like a huge weight lifted and in its place I was left with an overwhelming feeling of love. When I finally saw this person I found that I didn’t hold any bitterness at all – the past was firmly in the past. I enjoyed my time getting to know them again – and recognizing how similar we are. I would even go as far as saying that it saddened me that I had wasted so many years not being present in this person’s life, still no point in dwelling on that  – regret is a useless emotion.

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” Ajahn Chah

It is easier said than done, this letting go business, that is why I call it the art of letting go. My particular story may come across as though it was relatively easy but I had spent years – decades – angry and bitter and in the end I think I was just tired, tired of carrying that extra burden. Situations can be challenging, people can be challenging – we are all guilty of  carrying some baggage  – I truly believe if you want to live happy and mindfully and in peace – you have to let go of any bitterness. Although in some circumstances it may take a lifetime to truly let go, here are some tried and tested (by me) techniques that may help with the process:

Forgive   forgive and then forgive some more – forgive yourself, forgive the other person, forgive the situation – whatever it is forgive it. Recognize that the Other Person is You and as such treat them with kindness. Wish that person well and, if possible, send them your feelings of love. What started me on my journey to letting go were some words my counsellor said. He said ‘forgiveness is for you, not the person you are forgiving – it is a gift you give yourself.’ It’s not a new thought but something in those words and the timing in which he said them vibrated in my soul and I knew in that moment I was ready.

Write it out. I’m have become a great proponent of the idea ‘better out than in’ and I find writing a cathartic outlet to do this. Whether you journal your thoughts OR blog OR write a poem OR write all your stresses down and then throw them away/burn them OR write a song OR write a letter/email to the person who has upset you (which you may or may not want to send) – whichever mode – clarifying your feelings will help you come to terms with your reality as it is now.

Cry it out. I have always thought there is nothing like a good cry but then I would seeing as I am a cry baby. It now appears science agrees with me for it has been proven that crying away your negative feelings releases the harmful chemicals that build up in your body when you are stressed, so cry like there is no tomorrow I say.

Rant Window. Set aside some time, a window, where you allow yourself to let it all out – a day and hour whatever is required but be strict about the time once that time is over move on. If you need to confront someone who is troubling you ranting first may diffuse the hostility and give you time to plan a rational confrontation.

It can be hard to let go of something when that negative thought/feeling is constantly in your head. Try wearing a rubber band on your wrist and flick it when that thought/feeling is upon you. This action will train your mind to associate that type of persistent negativity with something unpleasant and in time that thought/feeling will become less dominant. I also used this technique when I felt I was swearing a lot and it worked, swearing is practically non existent for me now.

Engage in a physical activity. My favourite one size fits all remedy. Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins ergo it improves your state of mind. This one is a no brainer for me.  

Throw it away. One method I learnt in therapy was to hit (or toss) tennis balls (always remembering to retrieve them afterwards). Another just as effective way is to throw pebbles in water. Whether its balls or pebbles  – label each one as a part of your anger then as you offload them feel the tension subside.

There will never be a time when life is simple but if how you choose to respond to life is all that matters, then surely it is worth letting go any negative baggage. ‘Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door.’ 

Sat Nam


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Let’s talk about the F Word, no not that one… the other one

A scantily clad Beyoncé standing in front of a brightly lit sign that reads feminist at the recent MTV awards. Chanel’s spring/summer 2015 collection presented amongst banner-waving models shouting feminist slogans. Were these two acts meant to further the feminist cause? Or were they PR stunts staged for personal gain? I’m inclined to believe the latter for they reek of token feminism to me.

Still feminism has become the buzzword du jour. Everyone seems to need to have a stance on it and as such I find myself wondering if I am a feminist? I can honestly say I have never thought about it before. As someone who was born in the 70s I grew up familiar with the works of Simone de Beauvoir, Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem, for a time when I was at school Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister of India and Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I think because I stand on the shoulders of these women and countless other people, who have challenged stereotypes and worked tirelessly for me to live the privileged life I do – I take my liberties for granted. I don’t know what it is like to not be able to vote or have access to an education nor was I ever in any danger of having to experience FGM but I am acutely aware that there is much inequality in the world we live in today.

A memory comes to mind of when I was about ten years old. I’m out running with my dad and at some point trying to race him. He beats me of course but instead of feeling defeated I say something to the effect of ‘I will beat you one day.’ In that moment and for a long time afterwards I truly believed that I lost because I was little. I didn’t have the foggiest that it could also be down to the fact that men and women are different. And we are different. So while I absolutely do believe in equal rights for men and women on all levels, where I would hesitate on calling myself a feminist is that a part of me thinks women are different to men and we should celebrate these differences.

♀ Do I think a woman should change her last name after she is married? Only if she wants to.

♀ Would I watch a movie where the male lead is a superhero and the only significant female character is desperate and needy, can’t do anything for herself and who incidentally happens to have her chest plopping out of her shirt? Yes, if it was a movie that was of interest to me.

♀Do I mind participating in traditionally female tasks at home? No.

♀Would I like to see more female leaders in politics and in the workplace? Yes but only if they are best candidates for the job.

♀Do I like dressing sexy for my man? Yes.

♀Would I pay to watch a female comedian perform? Mostly likely no, I’m one of the lucky ones I reached the zenith in comedy when I saw the genius that was Robin Williams live and I doubt anyone will top that for me.

♀Is it disappointing that in this celebrity culture world we live in, when the word feminist is mentioned actual heroes like Arundhati Roy, Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Thompson, Hilary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Annie Lennox, (or the many others who actually walk the talk) are bypassed as examples for a more popular Beyoncé? Yes.

♀Are gender roles important to society? I think traditional gender roles are more or less defunct but as mentioned before men and women are different and sometimes it is appropriate to embrace this difference so to me the concept of gender roles is still relevant just in a less black and white way.

♀Does every single women deserve equal pay, equal rights, same access to education and healthcare as their male counterparts? Absolutely yes.

♀Is there more work to be done globally to change general stereotypes, government policies, restrictions on reproductive rights and to end FGM? Unfortunately yes.

♀Am I a feminist? As one of my heroes Maya Angelou so eloquently said ‘I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side,’ and who am I argue with that.

Sat Nam