Lifestyle

The Nature of Inspiration

October 11, 2021

In Colombo, Sri Lanka, eons ago, experimenting with new photography techniques.

I spent all day yesterday reading ‘The Exorcist’, and looking ruefully at what I intend to be the first draft my next book.  This book has a silent, sullen, intractable quality, the kind only books-that-are-yet-to-be-written and mouth ulcers have. Try as I might, I couldn’t will myself to continue my research or even just refine the chapter outline.

What is the nature of inspiration?  How are some of us inspired to bound out of bed and write blogs and books, start new business ventures, work out and even plan events?

I realise now that inspiration doesn’t choose to randomly inhabit the persons of the chosen few whilst denying itself to others.  Inspiration, instead, comes to those who are willing to create an atmosphere for it to thrive.  Much like providing a safe and healthy environment for children, pets or plants to grow in, inspiration also needs a certain fecundity of environment.  Innocuous social media trends, consumerist mouse clicks, ‘news’ in 280 characters or less….all these are inspiration vampires.  Reading a real newspaper, or even an entire book (whole and unabridged!), a Bharatnatyam or pottery class or even going on a trip with your friends can kneed the cool balm of inspiration on our frazzled minds and insipid lives.

In speaking to many people my age, I realise that the biggest inspiration sponge is a strange, inexplicable fixation on who we think we are and what we think we like.  A definition of us, if you will, and one that is cast in stone.  So whether its refusal to simply experiment with a new fashion trend, a new genre or even just a different color, the quickest way to kill creativity (excuse the alliteration) is to sigh with pleasure in our comfort zones.  The sigh that stifled a million brea(d)ths of experience.

So I wonder then, perhaps spending all day reading wasn’t really a waste of time?  It might have instead refuelled my inspiration reserves so that I can now look at my research from a different angle, get rid of the blinkers that build up even as we’re looking at the same word, closet, living room and city for the umpteenth time.

 

 

Yoga

Assembling a Chair – A Yoga Blog

June 15, 2021

A Gift is Always Welcome

It’s always great to receive presents. My husband gave me a desk a couple of months ago to put at this beautiful window we have in our bedroom. As I type this out I can hear the birds chirping. At least one of the birds is a nightingale! Outside the window are trees of various kinds.

What I was missing though was a comfortable chair to go along with the desk. For months I’ve been using an Iyengar Chair, so when my friend Medha said she wanted to give me a chair I gladly accepted.

Yoga & Chair Assembly

The chair is an Astrix gaming chair and super comfortable. While my husband assembled the chair I couldn’t help but notice that humans have an unconscious tendency to sit in postures resembling yogasasanas. I was inspired now just like I was with my Freddy Mercury blog and promptly started taking photos.

This is how the chair came to us. We took an inventory of the screws and other bits that

He started with assembling the wheels:

Reminds me a bit of Baddhakonasana.

Carefully reading the manual to make sure we don’t make any mistakes:

Sort of like Janu Sirsasana.

The backrest is comfortable and sturdy.

Marichyasana.

Making sure we don’t miss a screw.

Bhardwajasana.

Putting the armrests together.

Ardhauttanasana.

Ensuring the wheels fit.

Malasana.

Always happy about building things. 🙂

Sukhasana.

What do you think? Do you also find yourself seeing what you love everywhere?

Lifestyle

What About the Healing?

May 20, 2021

I took a class the other day for a student who zooms in from Singapore. Just as we were about to start class she got a WhatsApp message. She (uncharacteristically) excused herself and checked it. Looking up she said, “My mom’s brother just passed away.”

I’m not sure what the ‘right’ reaction to this news is given the circumstances. The night before I heard that two of my husband’s friends have lost their mothers. During dinner my in-laws told us of a family friend, a doctor, who also succumbed. The week before that I got news that a family friend whom we’ve known since our days in Bangladesh, passed away in the hospital. Friends and well-wishers tried to frantically get in touch with her son. But in these times, the tone and timbre of our grieving has also changed. We are all going through collective trauma, ironically in isolation.

So I asked her if she wanted to take some time, call someone, perhaps even postpone the class. We ended up continuing with the class.

I woke up this morning feeling like I need a week off to clear my head. It’s perhaps a symptom of being under long term stress. We managed the first lock down by going online, catching up with friends over wine on zoom, baking banana bread and having it with dalgona coffee. This second wave has brought with it tragic news on a daily basis. So tragic in fact that we no longer check the news for numbers. So tragic that most of us have actively started to do whatever we can to help – donating, amplifying voices on social media, and even just staying in and balancing our chores with work.

Stress over a sustained period of time starts to change people. What we are living through is not only stress, but also trauma. No wonder many of us have started complaining about fatigue and a sense of disconnect from our surroundings. We feel like we’re on auto-mode, robotically marking the beginning and end of days; the beginning and end of weeks. Half of 2021 will be over next month, and many of us can’t tell the difference between this year and the last.

I’ve bought bed-sheets, new flip flops, changed the arrangement of my yoga room, joined a yoga sutras chanting class, even set up WhatsApp for Business and included that on my Facebook page. Only to realize that these aren’t the changes I need.

Resilience is a way of coping with trauma, and many of us continue to be brave. What about the healing from this trauma? Psychotherapist and counselor Simi Mathew says sometimes just hanging in there and going through the trauma is also a healing process. “But the actual healing,” she says, “which is about letting go and healing the actual scar, that happens when we are aware of it and we actively seek help for it.”

Perhaps even as we trudge through another meeting; as we look wistfully at the beautiful weather in Bangalore these days; as we stay up late doom-scrolling and wake up groggy; even then our healing is happening.

Scenes from our Liguria Yoga Retreat two years ago. Soon we shall all emerge from this time, ready to move, dine and practice together again.

Blog Lifestyle Yoga

A Note of Thanks

April 29, 2021

We’re living in unprecedented times right now.  None of us actually thought we would end up in a situation where the roads in our overcrowded cities would be painfully empty again.  In March 2020 I looked out at the busy junction outside my apartment and tried to digest the surrealness of it all.  A year later I live in an apartment that doesn’t face a loud busy road but wonderful neem and bougainvillea trees.  If I crane my neck just so I get a peek at Ulsoor Road.  These days I find myself craning my neck a bit too often, incredulous that today things are so much worse than a year ago.

At this moment my work gives me lots of solace, and I am grateful for that.  I realize few people can claim that, and that makes me more grateful for the choices and decisions I’ve made.

My first online class during the pandemic was in March last year.  It was a forty minute call because Zoom only allows forty minutes for free users.  It was a mix of my private and group students.  I am grateful I had an old MacBook that I could use because my Lenovo has a malfunctioning camera (I am looking to replace said Lenovo).  I am grateful that my living room at the time was rectangular and clean, which made it easy to position the laptop at an optimum angle for teaching.  I am grateful to those students who gave it a go.  That support has kept me going financially, emotionally, intellectually and also spiritually.  At a time when many yoga teachers were turning up their noses at teaching online, I was able to jump on the bandwagon fairly quickly because of the acceptance and encouragement I received.  None of us knew this would become a way of life, and in retrospect most of us are thankful that we went online sooner than later.

I’m thankful also to all those teachers who collaborated with me, bridged boundaries to connect, learn and grow virtually.  Our sangha or community has grown in ways we never thought possible.

We are in the middle of one of the greatest challenges we have faced as a country, and I can only hope that things get back to normal soon.  But until then, we must keep doing what we can, with the song of gratitude in our hearts.

From two years ago at Rainbow falls in Nagaland. Happy, carefree and amidst nature.