Public apology

Hi everyone.

I recently wrote a post called ‘the lifelong student; deconstructing my racial biases’. It was a post that was intended to address a lot of the anti-blackness that is propagated within the south Asian community. In this post, I took ownership over some of the things that I said and did during a time where I was really poorly informed of how inherent some of the racism can be within this diaspora. I wanted to bring these things to light so that more south Asians could be aware of their own such biases. I wanted to inspire others to start their own introspection. Shortly after it was uploaded I received a message from a friend who advised that there was a great deal wrong with this blog post. Sharing some of the things I had previously said or more importantly not said and then repeating them on a public platform did spark some inspiration from others entrenched in the Asian culture who have begun to question these massive constructs we’ve been complicit in… but it came at a huge cost. And that cost was, effectively, how damaging that post was and how hurtful it is for black people to be reminded of what I and others have said and done in our collective past to fuel the absolute trauma that black people have been facing for centuries.

I want to publicly apologise now to anyone whom I may have hurt with the post that I wrote. I am SO sorry. I also know apology isn’t enough. I’ll never understand your pain or the extent of your collective trauma. I should have known better and it should absolutely NOT be the job of a black person to educate me on how this isn’t actually activism or allying with my black brothers and sisters. It just perpetuates something painful that black people don’t need to be reminded of.

On a personal level, being made aware of this has been triggered so many emotions, bringing them to the surface for me to examine. But that’s not something I’m going to do on a public platform anymore as far as the issue surrounding race is concerned. This is for me to do alone, in my journal or in a safe space held by people whom I trust and whose own traumas don’t risk being triggered by my words.

I will leave my fellow south Asians with this note; however, so as not to lose the flavour of my last post entirely.

Guys: together we need to start doing the following things:

1. Challenging our aunties and uncles on our deeply held racial biases.

2. Putting an end to microaggressive statements towards our black friends. This is so fucking damaging; it needs to END.

3. Educating ourselves better, overall, in general and NEVER relying on the black people in our lives to educate us. That’s not their job.

4. Challenging colourism on every level and embracing our own dark skin and those with skin even darker for how absolutely beautiful we all are. Whiteness being equal to beauty is something that just has to be deconstructed because of how oppressive it actually is

5. Don’t use and challenge anyone who uses the words ‘kaali’ or ‘kaala’ and for that matter even ‘gori’ or ‘gora’. It’s just not excusable.

6. Striking a well informed balance between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.

I hope that I’ve articulated the above in a way that is safe, trauma informed and resonates. And once again, I am truly sorry for my last post.

With love,

Gowri xxx

Joy

Here is a list of things that have been bringing me absolute joy as of late.

  1. Absolutely perfect evenings in England; cloaked in liquid sunshine, like honey trickling through leafy canopies, saturating the air with warmth.
  2. Feeling really stressed and pent up, then going for a run (preferably on one such aforementioned evening) and experiencing the euphoria that slides one’s mood from a 3 to a 9.
  3. Waking up early in the morning and queueing up in the line for a bakery, the smell of fresh bread and just-baked cakes milling in the air in anticipation of the almond croissant that awaits. I’m going to do this tomorrow and I can’t contain my excitement.
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch.
  5. The first coffee of the morning… and on weekends, the absolute indulgence of the second.
  6. Having fresh flowers at home. Flowers that are bright orange and pink against the rich green of their leaves. Flowers planted on lovingly tended borders. Flowers whose fragrance gets you kinda high. Flowers because have no purpose but to be beautiful. The fact that supermarkets still regarded flowers as ‘essential items’ (they are essential to my wellbeing, TYVM).
  7. When amazon delivers a new book in the post and you rip the seal, open it up and flick through the pages and cry in delight.
  8. Doing admin and feeling really self satisfied at the end of it.
  9. @risingwoman- Thankyou for your wisdom, material, courses, insight and for being my therapy.
  10. Spontaneity.
  11. Learning what it is to have boundaries and the feel good-ness of maintaining them.
  12. Declining an invitation to be social when you’re feeling antisocial, simply because you like yourself enough to do that.
  13. Having Whatsapp banter wars with Rath even when we’re both at work.
  14. Feeling okay with not feeling okay; reaching out to others, going for walks, stress baking, ranting, writing and validating whatever may rise.
  15. Choosing the colour of uniball fineliner with which I’m going to write my gratitudes each morning.
  16. Giving my internalised trauma a name (I call her Storm) and watching her hold over me ease, integrating her into my life and accepting her in her total imperfection.
  17. Seeing 11:11 on the clock.
  18. Cutting the line in the Sainsbury’s queue by showing my NHS ID (I know it’s wrong but I’m shamelessly milking the perks.)
  19. Barista Edition Oat Milk (Recently discovered Califia Farms and boy does she whip like a dream).
  20. My absolute brown, middle class, privileged existence. Not worrying about being shot for the colour of my skin. Not being at the centre of police brutality. Not having to worry constantly about making ends meet and being able to afford things like therapy and self help courses. Not being treated as a second class citizen for being a woman of colour (most of the time). The privilege of being both heterosexual and cis-gender. Having ticked society’s boxes (homeowner, engaged to be married, job) on my own actual terms and because it’s what I wanted… but the privilege of not being questioned over it because I’ve followed the path they wanted me to, regardless.

Embracing Sobriety

My latest nose-dive into a book has been ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’, by Catherine Gray (absolutely recommend). I bought it, half on impulse, half because it called to me.

I’ve been alcohol free for about 6 weeks now. I drank my last can of beer with the rest of the quarantine crew in our hostel in Sri Lanka, the night before COVID forced us to cut our 8 week trip short and head home to join the rest of the medical workforce before the peak. There’s no single reason why I decided, imperatively, to give up liquor. It was more of a gut feeling. A quiet, intuitive voice that whispered that it’s time to stop for a while. Listening to said voice has been one of the major changes in my overall spiritual awakening. She’s a little louder, a little clearer and much harder to ignore.

One year ago, the notion of giving up alcohol would have been unthinkable. It’s a social lubricant, after all and almost authoritatively normalised in western culture. Binge drinking to go out clubbing is seen as standard weekend practice. It’s acceptable and normal to stumble face-first into a greasy kebab at 3am on a Sunday morning. It’s okay to black out and forget how you got home and perfectly ordinary to wake up in the bed of someone you don’t know. Blame it on the alcohol.

The sober curiosity started when I realised that I’m not sure my drinking is coming from a conscious place. If a glass of wine is put in front of me, I always seem to pick it up and start drinking, without really asking myself whether I actually, truly want it or not. I’m drinking…. because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing and I want to join in the fun. Now, there’s no denying, with hoardes of scientific evidence to prove that alcohol is addictive. And when you drink one… it’s so much easier to reach for another. Furthermore, on a personal level, as each year has gone by since the age of about 21, my hangovers have gathered more rage and stamina which means they’re fucking debilitating, last longer and make me feel like complete shit. Every time I woke up in that state, I’d be reminded rudely of one thing: our bodies aren’t really designed for the consumption of alcohol. The liver recognises it as a toxin that it chemically excretes and the hangover is the body’s way of making you stop everything, just so it can recover.

It’s also not that I plan on never drinking again either (although if that ends up happening, I’m unashamedly okay with it). Like the majority of us, I have used alcohol to decrease awkwardness, lessen inhibitions and to relieve stress in the past. The fact is, however, that this wasn’t coming from a place of awareness; rather it was born of the fear- of looking like a loser in front of people or from the fact that female-wine-culture is overtly glamorised everywhere I go.

Embracing sobriety has prised my eyes open to a number of things I was previously in the dark about. The things I intend on weaving into the fabric of awareness before I decide to pick up another drink.

The first sip placebo
You know where you take your first sip of drink and you feel a bit woozy even though surely it can’t have it hit you yet? Well, I got the first-sip-placebo when I poured slimline lemonade into a gin glass and adorned it with a few cut up strawberries and a couple of mint leaves. Am I tipsy?! Definitely not. My brain just thinks it knows what’s about to happen after this drink… and the next and the one after that. Well, brain. You were wrong. Three skinny lemonades later, I slipped into bed and fell into a booze-free, headache free, well hydrated, uninhibited slumber and woke up fresh as daisies the following morning. Now I know it’s a placebo because when I take a sip of my non-alcoholic vino, six weeks of sobriety means I don’t expect the mini pleasure wave. And I don’t get it. And I don’t even miss it.

Alcohol is not accountable. You are.
I recently took an online self help course, called ‘Becoming The One’ by a movement called ‘Rising Woman’ a team of two amazing, trauma informed women who provide the most invaluable teaching materials to those looking to have more conscious relationships; with themselves and others. This course was hugely beneficial to helping me identify where many of my core wounds come from and how they play out in my relationship with Rath. As part of this, I realised that, when drinking, some of my boundaries were so blurred that I had become a doormat having let a very drunken Rath say and do things around a moderately drunk me that I’d otherwise be pissed off at if we were sober. This wasn’t self honouring or fair on either of us. I feel like this is really common in relationships when couples find themselves chucked into an alcohol fuelled state of conflict, mid night out, fighting on the street, mascara streaking mercilessly down faces, our partners perching on the cold, harsh, plastic bus stop stool, head buried deep in their hands. We’ve seen it and I’d take my bets that we’ve also been it. Once the drinking session is over, it’s easier to blame the alcohol and not face the problems that the alcohol was actually exacerbating. But the fact is that the drink didn’t cause the argument. Your psychological wounds did and you held the alcohol accountable instead. It was easier. A target. A scapegoat. But honey, what you did when you were drunk was still you doing it. It wasn’t alcohol’s fault. The harsh truth: it’s yours. Sobriety has opened my eyes to just how much shit we blame on alcohol and made me challenge the delicious allure of drinking culture. Our egos love a scapegoat. Our egos also operate from our fear based wounds and not our love based best-interests. I’ve learnt that consciousness is a gift and we can only evolve spiritually if we begin to own our shadows rather than masking them in tequila and hoping they go away.

OMG am I a closet introvert?!
Like the author of the book I mentioned… I’ve always considered myself an extrovert. I’ve been told I’m the life of the party more than once; having no trouble relaying a funny story with ease and confidence, being able to relate to anyone and adjust my level of conversation to the subject in question and thereby form connections that leave the other person feeling good. However, the more inner work I’ve done and the more I’ve grown up, the more I’ve begun to realise that actually, this is a very unique grey area for me. As a child, I was actually really shy and always felt wired with anxiety in social settings. Extroversion evolved as a social mask that I put on, having perfected the art of low-key working people and being ‘likeable’ as a coping mechanism for not ‘fitting in’. And drinking lubed up my social gears until they moved with impeccable smoothness; such that by the end of the party, everyone loved me. If I strip away the alcohol I actually find the exact same social settings remarkably draining. As if I need a full day of being alone to recover from an evening out. This is called introversion, darling. And it is exciting as fuck. I am so excited to embrace this going forward.

My head just feels clear.
There is a haze. Like a fog in which my brain was permanently suspended whilst I was drinking, even when it was only in small amounts each week, like a glass of wine here or a gin there. The fog has now lifted and I feel remarkable. I understand increasingly why some religious texts deem alcohol a sin because it kind of is one to cloud our consciousness like that. It’s this tempting elixir that keeps us stuck in the matrix, inhibiting the evolution of consciousness and keeping the planet’s vibration low. I would roll my eyes at people who said this and now I see it. I get it. I’ve officially joined the conspiracy club and I’m alarmingly okay with it.

So what next?

I’m at this bizarre point in life where I genuinely don’t know if and when I will drink again. My own internal speculation has suggested that I become one of those really occasional drinkers. Like an elusive rare bird that sips mulled wine on Christmas day or raises a single glass of champagne at a wedding toast. Or I may go back to enjoying one glass of red every Friday night. Or someone who even gets drunk from time to time but just doesn’t blame stuff on alcohol anymore. I really, honestly don’t know.

In any case the only thing that I am promising myself that I will only do so when the time is right and the place is woke. That operates out of consciousness and not ego.

‘Till next time,

Gowri xxx

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Reclaiming my period

My period is my favourite time of the month.

Things have shifted since the early 2000s where the period was that frustrating, confusing time that rendered my back to groan and my soul to fill with dread. Such was the pull of internalised patriarchy of matrilineal lines of several generations past. Such was the tendency of modern society; to feed young women those messages. Telling me my cycle is a painful and slightly disgusting inconvenience from daily living. Showing me advertisements detachedly illustrating blue coloured water dropping mercilessly into pads as if the red colour of blood is something to be ashamed of. Being warned from my first bleed that I shouldn’t set foot in a temple because it’s neither clean nor pure to do so. Periods hurt, they said. It’s just one of those things women have to deal with, they said.

I took a discourse. A deep dive into my ongoing study of the divine feminine. And with it has come a delighted reclamation of my moon-time. And for the first time since that first bleed, my womb whispers “thankyou”.

In a time before the mass wave of organised religion swept the West, humanity worshipped the earth, the sun and the moon. The feminine form was revered for her wisdom, her connection to the divine and the moon-time was seen as sacred. Groups of women, all bleeding at the same time and most often with the new moon would temporarily leave their homes and families and reside in the red tent, a common space where women circled once a month to share stories and wisdom in a safe space, held by the feminine. Here: spirits rested, wombs shed, space was held and new beginnings created.

And now, in 2020, I have willed the beauty of this back into my own life.

Now, my period represents something totally different. It celebrates what it means, for me, to be female. It’s the time where my yang, feminine energy can be unleashed from her usual state of balance with the yin and empower my energetic body for a four day period. It’s a time of spiritual rest. Characterised by the feminine archetype of the wise, wild woman this is the time where I can retreat, to enjoy being intuitive, connected to a wisdom greater than my own. A period, far from being dirty is a monthly cleanse. A monthly purge. A monthly spring clean. Where my body quite literally gets rid of what no longer serves her only to be reborn every twenty eight days.

This cycle, I’ve been lucky enough to be quarantined at home with a slightly sick fiancé from whom I have to social distance, even when passing him a bowl of soup and homemade egg mayo on garlicky potatoes. Although I’m sharing this space with Rath, I’m currently spending the rest of my time alone. This isn’t so different to how the two of us usually live: quietly, comfortably tending to ourselves in our own spaces and coming out occasionally for chat and a cuddle. Only this time, cuddles are strictly forbidden. Anyway, this brings me to the melting centre of today’s blog.

I’ve had the best period in so long.

I’ve journalled. I’ve watched feminist movies (Wild, Erin Brochovich, Ocean’s 8, Legally Blonde…). I’ve read feminist literature (Intuitive Living, Women who run with the wolves). I’ve done workouts in the fresh air. I’ve sage smudged my room each night and surrendered to the sleep of the monthly cycle: potent and full of dreams. I’ve cooked all my meals from scratch… from homemade granola and kefir for breakfast, to butter chicken and roti for dinner to the hot cacao-maca-turmeric-cinammon-honey-oat drink that I sip in my garden as I write. I’ve massaged coconut oil into my hair and tended to my roots. I’ve rubbed mud masks into my pores and scrubbed out my insecurities. I’ve engulfed whole flasks of warmed water and flushed out pain and hurt.

This has been a time of the most epic rest I could dream of. With each moment that passes, a little more healing seeps into my cells and anxiety shifts to another realm that exists at a lower vibration than the one I’m in. I live slowly. Intentionally. In the Now.

In this beautiful time of the month, I fill my home and lace my womb with fresh flowers that drip all over my essence and leave behind a cave drowned in pure light.

Love,

Gowri x

Brain Dirt

Rupi Kaur once said in an interview with Emma Watson that she needs to write a lot before the good stuff comes out. I really understand that. It’s like washing out a giant container filled with dirt and water with a high powered hose, vigorously attacking it until the dirt and silt and sand and mud has been washed out onto a journal somewhere you might tuck away in a nightstand or a shelf, otherwise gathering dust. The clear water that’s left is the thing of beauty that pours itself gracefully into blogs and books and poetry.

So today, in my usual fashion, I picked up my morning journal where the accumulated dirt is quickly and haphazardly deposited each day to allow for something better. A better mood, a better piece, a better day. Only this time, basking in the pleasure of two full days off, I took all my paraphernalia into our garden from where the early morning sun and birdsong teased me awake. I stepped out with a small table, pen, journal, coffee with a spoonful of honey in it and my E-reader and started my day with the outpouring of brain dirt. A practice I have adopted since late last year which has contributed huge amounts to my mental health which is seeing better days. My pen. My eternal saviour. My rock. My channel to the universe’s wisdom that resides quietly within.

A frenzy of white flowers drips over our garden fence and fills the small, enclosed Eden with a fragrance so dizzying, it renders me heady and activated. An owl makes his wise presence known and all the other winged inhabitants in our small claim of land chat hurriedly between themselves with such aliveness that I can’t help but lift my head from the pages before me where the pen has already begun its outcry. I want to stop and surrender to this. Make me alive, too.

Right there. There. That’s when I feel the resistance.

I want to give myself to the present moment but something intense holds me back. I try to feel peace and happiness but I can’t because the good stuff isn’t ready to come out yet, stodgily blocked by hoardes of brain dirt. Only this time, dumping it all in the usual morning journal isn’t feeling right. So I nip back inside and bring out my laptop. What you’re about to read is neither sophisticated nor blog-worthy. Welcome to the world of brain dirt.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t go on anymore. Quarantine is having her benefits. I don’t have to go out and be triggered by social situations or certain people in my life, thus keeping my anxiety at bay. Not that avoidance is the way forward- obviously. But I’ve done so much work, you know. Therapy and more therapy and a bit more therapy and praying and therapy and journalling and therapy and pretending to meditate when actually focusing on the breath is the last thing I could ever do. I even went to a shamanic healing ceremony in Glastonbury last full moon where I purged all of this shit and yelled and screamed at a fire in a circle surrounded by women ‘holding space’ and my body shook violently and a European woman who was apparently staring at me intently the whole time came up to me later and said she saw grey smoke leaving my body. Fuck knows what that was. Then I go through phases of feeling spiritually upgraded as a result of it and connected to all sorts of energy and phases immediately afterwards where I dismiss it as new age bullshit. All this quarantining brings about an impeccable simplicity there whom I welcome with open arms but then I actually have times where I feel annoyed that social distancing is going to be over at some point and I’m going to have to venture back out into the world and face the fear again. Can’t I reside here a little longer?

Then, equally, quarantine is frustrating the daylights out of me. I want to see my family. My dad was sick with COVID-19 and it was hell not being able to be there for him. I miss my in-laws. I’m dying to cuddle my neighbours’ kids and play ‘Crack the egg’ with them on their new trampoline but I can’t go near them. Instead, they leave little letters on our doorstep and I leave Easter eggs on theirs. They sit at the window and read to me whilst I sit on my drive and listen. We take off the fence panel and they barbecue chicken and put the plate on a little bench in the middle and move a couple of metres away. Then Rath walks over, picks up the plate and we sit, eating it. We wash the plate at 60 degrees and back it goes… on the doorstep. So close, yet so far. The definition of bittersweet.

Work is killing me. We are so short staffed on the COVID positive ward that I’m leaving hours late every day. Three people died in my arms in the space of 48 hours. The deaths are so thick and fast that I can’t process one by the time the next one comes. Last night I lay on my sofa and wept into my pillow for a man named Tom, whose oxygen mask I took off, face shielded by goggles and a mask so he couldn’t even see my humanness. I told his family over the phone that he was dying and I took my mobile to his ear (breaking all the rules of infection control) and I stood by his side as he said goodbye to his daughter over the phone. He cried. I cried. The nurse in charge cried. I put the oxygen mask back on and he took my latex-gloved hand and he held it tight, kissing it through the plastic mask. He thanked me. I fetched him a cup of tea and let him drink it through a straw. I asked him if I made a good brew and he nodded even though I burnt his tongue a little. By then, he was so weak, his already overworked lungs were almost entirely consumed by the coronavirus. I hoped he would live until morning because I wanted to see him one more time before he left the physical world but one hour later, probably just as I’d stepped inside my house exhausted and numb, heaven greeted another angel. Why did you thank me, Tom? It angers me. I can’t accept your thanks. Even in my position., I’m helpless and that one word has triggered such enormous guilt that nothing can shake off. I can’t do enough for you or for anyone else. My willingness alone can’t make you better. I can’t even give you a good death. Your wife, who has dementia might not even understand that you’re gone. I told you that your daughter wanted you to know she’s being taken care of and you said “that’s all that matters”. When I asked you if you’d had enough, your entire body sighed in relief. You were just waiting for someone to ask that question,. weren’t you Tom? And that someone had to be me. I’m angry, Tom. I’m angry that I’m carrying your burden. And sad. Sad that you left me, just as you left your family. The thought of you puts my throat in a chokehold and my eyes fill with small waterfalls. I knew you for a mere eight hours but I feel such love for you. I grieve for you like I’ve never grieved for a patient before. Maybe I’ve taken on the role of your daughter or your granddaughter. What do they call that? Countertransference? Maybe the grief I feel is the grief of your family who weren’t able to be by your side, the way I was. Why did I get that privilege? It’s so unfair. So endlessly unfair Tom. Are you hearing this? My angel? Will you stay with me and give me the strength to do it again and again and again until all this is over, for hundreds of other Toms? Tom… I’ll have you know that I wake up every single day not wanting to go to work but if I didn’t, who would? And so I don my black trousers and my green scrub top with ‘Doctor’ sewn on. And the world claps for me on a Thursday night when I’m at the chippy because I’m far too tired to cook. There are fireworks and cheers for the NHS and for me; a local hero and there I am not feeling heroic at all. Like a stupid little slave to a hand that’s bigger than mine and I’m too angry to make peace with it. Save it, Tom. Save your thanks for someone else- your real family, your beautiful wife and daughter. Not for me. I don’t deserve it and I can’t accept it. I hope one day I can, Tom. The day I make peace with the fact that you left me will be the day I take your ‘Thankyou’ and press it against my heart from which flowers will bloom. I long for that day.

Duality. Polarity. Contrast. Some spiritual teachers say that’s why we come to Earth. Sitting in my garden surrounded by so much life when my day-to-day is surrounded by so much death. Tuesday marks the mayalalam celebration of Vishu- the harvest festival of fertility and springtime and new beginnings. Life. I would go to my puja room and adorn a statue of Krishna with velakkus and bright yellow flowers. The table would groan with simple and delicious vegetarian food served on banana leaves. I would dress myself in a white cotton sari and feel all the feelings of newness and freshness and love, surrounded by my family. I’d secretly rejoice at twenty pound notes being stuffed into my closed fist, knowing I should really be above that considering I earn enough to pay a mortgage but it still feels so good that I’d touch my parents feet and pray. All in another world, free of this shitty quarantine. I’m stuck between the feeling of wanting to do all of this, just for me and Rath in our home and an overwhelming sense of… yeah but what’s the point? There’s no point is there? Will it even be appreciated? It’s only the two of us. Is there any point if it’s only the two of us? I don’t have any parents or kids of my own to please with such delights. Rath… is Rath. Sensible and rational and balanced, the yin to my energetic, passionate yang that comes with its lows as well as its highs.

In a fit of corona fuelled madness, I ordered my wedding dress. I don’t even know what’s going to be happening with my wedding and I have friends in similar positions whose weddings are even sooner than my own. I have been so excited planning and preparing and it’s as if my whole life has ground to a halt. I don’t want to let bits of it go. I built up an image in my mind as to what it was all going to be like and it would sadden me to lose that. Even though really, loss is a total illusion in the first place. It’s complicated.

I’m almost out of energy to write about the next one but for the first time yesterday, a racist comment was made to me at work and it deeply affected me. Another doctor, slightly older with children though technically at the same level as me, spoke to one of my patients’ families advising that the bad news “might be better coming from a middle aged white man than a young, pretty doctor like you”. I felt professionally undermined, mortified and attacked all at once. I took some time to process it but shortly he came back and apologised to me. I was so fucking angry. I looked at him, face flushed with hurt and said “That was incredibly hurtful and upsetting. A person’s ability and confidence comes out of their skills, experience and self awareness. The fact that you said you’d do that better because you’re a white man is so upsetting…”, he interrupts “because it’s something you’ll never be” (?! something I never want to be, thanks). I went on “As a young asian woman, I’ve never felt professionally held back by my sex or the colour of my skin. In fact; I’m actually an excellent communicator but your comment really put me off. I’m not going to report you but I need a bit more time to really sit with this”. This has really been the cherry on top of the corona-cake. My dad will tell me to let it go but I can’t and I won’t. I need to sit with it. Be angry a little longer. I still feel violated. Behind closed doors, I came home and cried a little.

I can’t honestly tell if I feel better or worse. Its warm now and a thin film of sweat is clinging to my skin. My hair has taken on the scent of the white flowers. The sound of birds is accompanied by the happy cries of joyful children fuelled by bellies full of chocolate easter eggs. The sun has almost reached his highest point. The first owl is joined by a second. Mysterious little creatures; always speaking. Never seen. Back I arrive at the present moment.

The rest of the day sits endlessly before me. There’s folded clothes to wash, a dishwasher to empty and, no doubt, more feelings to feel.

I take a deep breath and run my fingers through my hair. I feel a pang of hunger. The water hasn’t cleared entirely. A small layer of sediment has settled to the bottom where it will either stagnate for a while or move as I move the energy around a little. Perhaps a long, government sanctioned walk. Throwing myself into cooking. A half read book waiting to be finished. If I’m lucky, by the end of the day, it might even clear up completely.

Until next time,

Gowri x

Three things to which I have stopped subscribing

Another Saturday morning in isolation. I’m two coffees and a flask of hot water in. It’s kind of lovely. I spent quite some time preparing for these very moments. Yesterday, after I got home from another day in Coronaville (the hospital I’m currently working in, excuse my flair for the dramatic) I threw my blue scrubs in the washing basket, put my leggings on and proceeded to clean the house from top to toe, fuelled by an energy that had been evading me all week. I hoovered, wiped, tidied, scrubbed, dusted and organised. I plumped cushions, put birthday cards in boxes and rearranged my shelves. I moved my tray of candles and journals and oracle cards back into my meditation room, where they had temporarily been evicted in a quest for simplicity. I even fearlessly tidied the shit that had accumulated on Rath’s bedside table. I threw open the windows and welcomed the freshness of seven p.m. with new delights of springtime sauntering in to wash the house with its clean, vibrant energy.

All so that I could sit here, this very Saturday morning, in my tidy living room, hair in a top knot, adorned in Harry Potter pyjamas and a fleeced blanket, two coffees and a flask of hot water in; ready to write this very post.

A long introduction for what is quite a simple blog. A blog about retreating, resting and self care. A blog that is the result of three years of therapy, a great deal of pain and the ultimate pursuit of inner peace, inner revolution and inner balance. As within; so without. As above; so below.

The first thing I had to give up was something I only recently found words for. And that is Hustle culture. Defined, roughly as the societal standard that you can only succeed by exerting yourself at maximum capacity. The culture that justifies years of telling myself I had to work hard to get what I wanted and working hard meant sacrificing everything. The culture that gave rise hustle porn, with ‘inspiring’ quotes like “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”, “Eat, sleep, slay, repeat”, and “Rise and grind”. Hustle culture consumed me ever since I was a small child searching desperately for something to hold onto that would tell me I was good enough. And that fact is; it reeks of the patriarchy. As a woman, there’s such pressure to “have it all”: the home, the family, the perfect post pregnancy body that show no signs of ever having been pregnant along with the thriving career. It renders this endless quest to keep churning. Workaholism is a lifestyle; it’s sexy on men and “empowering” to women. If I gave that up to devote my life to a home and family ~I wouldn’t be a strong, independent woman anymore~ and said empowerment would cease to exist That’s because ‘hustling’ isn’t really empowering at all. It is born out of the need for a woman to adopt ruthlessness in the workplace in the effort to be equal to her male counterpart. The other thing is that being a woman is different to being a man. Doesn’t true feminism lie in our ability to respect and respond to that? Isn’t empowerment about making choices for ourselves and not for anyone else? Isn’t equality recognising and respecting our differences and working towards balance rather than expecting us to be exactly the same? Women are cyclical beings. Our bodies demand so much from us, physiologically. Our wombs tend to life. They shed and we bleed with the moon. This is sacred. Hustle culture makes us see pregnancy and periods as an inconvenience to our work rather than a beautiful celebration of fertility, womanhood and connection to divinity herself. I’ve walked away and turned my back on this. I love being a woman. I love my cyclical nature. I love my complexity. I love the striving, dedicated conscientiousness that my masculine, yang energy adds to my work and the beauty, empathy and compassion that my stunning, feminine, yin energy yields. I’m not interested in cutting one of these parts of me out to favour another in the name of Hustle culture.

The next thing I’ve had to give up is Toxic positivity. My initial introduction to spirituality, amongst other things involved learning about a concept called the Law of Attraction. In basic terms, this is a new age belief system which advises that your mindset dictates the things that you ‘attract’ into your life. Subscribing to the Law of Attraction without context turned into a dangerous practice for me. Books like ‘The Secret’ and the teachings of Abraham Hicks were black and white, failing in all aspects to account for the complexity of the human experience. When I was clinically depressed for the first time in 2017, I became aware of the fact that my thoughts were creating my reality, as dictated by The Secret. So I pushed down anything that felt vaguely ‘negative’ in attempt to ‘stay positive’ with ‘good vibes only’. This was one of the worse things I could have ever done. I wound up in a cycle of shaming myself for feeling anything negative. The fact is that all experiences are valid. Sometimes it’s not possible to ‘see the positives’ in something and that’s okay. It is possible to feel total and complete sadness, to cry from deep pain and to validate one’s trauma and still attract one’s desires into their existence. With inner work comes healing. With healing comes stillness. With stillness, comes the ability to view our human experience for what it is, feel emotions for what they are and still cultivate an overall positive mindset. Unfortunately, the self help industry does a terrible job at addressing that, leading innocent people to fall into the trap of toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing. I have walked away from toxic positivity because I understood that I was using it as a way to avoid feeling the scary, triggering, complex emotions that lay beneath the surface. Consider this: to feel one’s pain and go through the process of surrender and acceptance is an act of sheer self love. In law of attraction terms, does this not put one on frequency of love, the highest possible vibration, attracting the greatest possible outcome?

The third thing I’ve stopped subscribing to is Social media. I’ve talked about that enough so I’m not going to go into it again but the long and short of it is that it’s been killing my energy and wasting my time. 2015 saw the disappearance of snapchat and twitter. 2018 saw the demise of Instagram. And 2020’s wind brought with her, the deletion of Facebook. And that’s it. Completely social media free. Photos and memories in a dropbox file so nothing precious has been lost. I can explore Pinterest and Blinkist and still follow all my Instagram accounts without caring about likes or filters or subscribing to a fake world of Kardashians and fitness models and friends whose highlight reels I inevitably wind up comparing to my bloopers.

With these three things eradicated, my mental health, above all has improved drastically. I am journeying closer to self love each day. I see my body and respect her. I acknowledge my trauma and respect it. I see the human experience for the complex and beautiful thing that it is and I vow to stop wasting this one precious life with the things that just don’t matter.

Until next time,

Gowri xxx

Tropical storm

Admittedly I can’t complain about the surroundings. In a world that seems to be engulfed by the mass hysteria of covid, I find myself a far cry away in the south coast of Sri Lanka where subdued solemnity of the outbreak still rings in the air, though with less chaos and more calculus.

I’ve had really bad PMS today. I was meant to hang out with Rath and his friend on a beach in the next town over but we went our separate ways this morning. I’ve spent the day leaning into my own company. Like I say, I can hardly complain. The hostel has an open area with a Yoga Shala (currently occupied by a beautiful tanned girl meditating and pressing on her third eye. The pressure is changing and it feels like there’s a tropical rainstorm brewing and a part of me is wondering whether she’s controlling it) and a widened expanse of greenery that I’ve stared into all day, in between bouts of writing, reading and meditating myself (though no weather control for me).

Over the last several months, my menstrual cycle has synchronised itself with the lunar one, so as she wanes to a crescent and disappears into the fabric of the night sky my womb starts its ‘moon’thly shed. I see increasing significance in the cyclical nature of this and today I’ve chosen to honour her and rest. There is a Buddhist temple somewhere behind the hostel and there’s chanting coming from it. It mingles splendidly with the sea breeze and hits some part of my brain that knows and loves India in the same way and I feel strangely at home though strangely misplaced. Duly observed.

Earlier today I found myself wandering to the beach with a book in one hand and my Birkenstocks in the other. In a place where nature is so…. just… everywhere; is it normal to find oneself more activated? More aware of the way the mind drones and the absence from the present becomes so potently observable?

I was, anyway. And these last few days I’ve noticed a certain discord.

I have everything I want and need to be happy. In anyone else’s mind I’m ‘settled’, nicely. Got the home, the man, the career, the ring and the promise of nice holidays like this one around every other corner. And I’m not even putting on a show for Instagram anymore. I’ve genuinely got it all. So where is it? The gratitude? The sense of accomplishment? Contentment? Self love? Peace?

Recovering from depression is weird. Today, as the waves lapped against my ankles and the salt precipitated on my skin I found myself pondering over the last time I felt really and truly content. Happy. Not in fear of what was round the corner or coming next. Without fear. The last sustained period during which I thought I was truly happy was instantly preceding my three year long dark night of the soul. And after that, there were perhaps days and sometimes even weeks but it was all so fleeting.

It’s darker. More rustling. More chanting. A text off Rath. “Just at Salt Mirissa. Having a beer. Where do you want to have dinner?”

Will I ever be happy like that again? I was once an optimist. I once looked at life and saw all the bits where the sun danced so they’d sparkle with light. Not that it was a good thing because I pushed down all the shadows until they came back and engulfed me. I’ve come out of all that but this isn’t balance, Gowri. There’s an underlying tone of sadness at this critical point where we have hauled our gears out of depression but where anxiety still looms, where self love just seems to escape me and where it could go up again or down again. But which way? Will the sunlight dancer ever come back?

Darker yet. The breeze has picked up into a wind. It feels cool against my sticky skin. Maybe I should join Rath for a beer.

Contentment and peace. I’ve written about you endlessly but heavens do I just long for you. I long to be somewhere and think to myself “There is nowhere I would rather be than right here, right now”.

Rain. She definitely summoned it. Its glorious by the way; pass on my gratitude to your third eye.

The thing is, if I can’t think that here; can I think it at all?

Friends who read this; don’t worry. This too shall pass. It’s just nice with all the tropical storm to catch the one inside and let her spill over onto the pages of the web once in a while.

Love Gowri x

Sometimes I look at myself and wonder if I can ever be fixed or whether I passed the point of no return long ago. I don’t want to listen to sad songs because it’s sad enough in my head. They paint a picture? I’ll paint a picture. I’ll lay down words thick like brush strokes that crack your mind open. You want to feel something? I beg you, feel it for me. Give me relief.

Maybe

Maybe this moment is actually about savouring spiritual lessons like morning coffee. Maybe it exists to serve as a reminder of my own inherent value. Whilst I called it out and said it’s your shit, maybe it moves me closer to my own liberation. Maybe it’s all perfectly timed.

I have never had a doubt in my mind that we are meant to be together and even now, I don’t. And I suppose I could either rise to the occasion or back down. I relish the sweetness of space.

I’ve been reminded of my own unwavering strength. Your unwavering integrity. And our unwavering love.

I’ll come home tonight. We can take it from there.

Recently, the yoga studio has been the only place I fit in

It’s been two days short of two months since I moved to Sutton Coldfield. The foliage takes on a burnt orange hue, the rain is unrelenting and the morning air is thick with October chill.

I’m no stranger to the idea that settling into a new place takes time. But flip me, is it taking time. Towards the last six months of my time in Lancaster, I was feeling really, genuinely happy. I felt comfortable in my skin, I had friends around me and I spent time with them often, I relished my job and I was in my family home which was a personal safehaven during a rough time. In those months, I was sheltered and my surroundings held the space for me to mature like a Friday-night-malbec and deepen the into myself. I emerged, a changed person. Suddenly I’ve been tossed into a new environment and I’m trying to figure out where I fit in. It’s been sort of lonely here. Hence the title. Recently, the yoga studio has been the only place where I fit in.

Ever since I left school and started university, I felt like the odd one out. Changing so much whilst I was living with my parents again compounded it as I grew into my own and now I’ve come back here, more awakened, aware and just different. I feel different. Life feels different.

I started Yoga basics on Tuesday nights two months ago and have been going back every week. I can’t cross my legs or touch my toes. But connecting to my body once a week is slowly sending waves out into the rest of my life and is massively affecting the way I live.

I’ve found myself noticing everything that bit more. From… ‘hang on, am I really still hungry or am I comfortably full?’, to ‘I’m tired, let me honour that and rest’ and more recently to ‘this is an old pattern of behaviour coming up and it’s challenging and emotional and it’s making me cry; perhaps I can sit with that for a while’. My heart knows I’ve stumbled upon something quite beautiful.

Connecting with myself helps me to remember that there is deep wisdom with in me which just requires a little stillness to access. I’m sincerely doing my best to honour her because the changes that are happening on the outside feel so relentless. One obstacle after another. Facing past trauma. Shadow work. Healing. Crying. It ain’t pretty.

I’ll share more later,

Gowri xxx