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Category: Healing

Seeking help for mental health therapy is not a stigma

Seeking help for mental health therapy is not a stigma

Counseling

“Pain can be a catalyst to look inside; to dig deep and heal wounds from the past, to create more vibrantly, love more whole-heartedly, and to be an integrity with your highest self.” – Kelley Kosow

“Dear ‘Dear Zindagi’ – Thank you for showing us so beautifully that therapy helps!”

In the wake of this heartwarming movie, I find it a great time to write about the benefits of seeing a professional counsellor for all our mental health related problems.

Science has progressed multifold over the years with advancement in medicines and treatments, thereby increasing our average life span. While physical health has been given due emphasis, mental health awareness is gradually evolving in India.

Actor Shah Rukh Khan who plays psychologist Dr. Jehangir Khan in the movie, states it just the way it is –going for therapy and counselling is still a taboo, a subject of shame in our society! People are afraid to speak openly about their problems here. Visiting a shrink is considered a western concept. Ours is a very society-driven mindset. ‘Log kya kahenge?’ is always playing at the back of our minds.

Dear ZindagiMental health related issues are usually brushed under the carpet. ‘Are you mad to see a psychologist?’ is what holds back many people. The film’s protagonist Alia Bhatt is initially reluctant to reveal her story to the psychologist, pretending to have come to resolve her friend’s issues. It is only when she acknowledges the presence of her problems as being hers, that she fully opens up to therapy.

Any form of healing begins with asking for help. When we need not suffer in physical pain, why should we suffer in mental agony?

Seeking a therapist during my challenging times has always led to positive outcomes. I needed to get over the initial inhibition of speaking my heart out to a complete stranger. The first step was to accept that I’m dealing with situations far beyond me. That I’m unable to comprehend and find solutions on my own. I had to decide that seeing a professional would mean giving myself an opportunity to move ahead in the healthy direction. I care about me a lot to take the effort to steer my life positively.

Very often, we stuff feelings inside of us until they choke up and we require an outburst. Until expressed, they tend to even harm our bodies. Having a release during therapy sessions was extremely beneficial to me. In the light of my own experience of counselling sessions, I list below the benefits of seeing a therapist.

Advantages of therapy:

  • A good therapist listens without judging you
  • It is safe to reveal our stories in complete confidentiality
  • Therapy helps us look under the surface, deeper into our feelings, emotions and inner demons
  • It initiates the process of soul-searching, which is vital to our growth
  • The therapist can recognise our characteristics which we tend to oversee
  • Therapy helps to resolve our problems before they pile up into bigger issues
  • We get an objective perspective to our situation
  • Therapist provides a platform to say it like it is, without any fear of hurting anyone
  • It is reassuring to know that we are not the only ones that need help
  • Therapy helps us weed through our pain enabling us to process our emotions
  • It empowers us to cope with difficult challenges ahead

Seeking professional therapy for our mental health is not a sign of weakness, instead it is that of strength. Strength to have acknowledged that there is a problem that needs attention. Strength to face it and resolve it.

The initiative of healing is with us; the therapist only facilitates our healing. We no longer need to remain in denial. We need not be embarrassed to see a therapist. There are psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, mental health institutes – a dime a dozen. We need to reach out to that one good therapist who we can bare our soul to.

If you think you need one, just go find one!

 

8 simple ways to de-clutter our minds of negative thinking

8 simple ways to de-clutter our minds of negative thinking

Lantern

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” ~Elbert Hubbard

It’s the season of Diwali, a festival celebrated with fervour by Indians all over the world. One of the customs of this festival is the ritual of spring-cleaning wherein a lot of time and effort is dedicated to thorough cleaning of the houses. Every nook and corner of the home is scrubbed hard to shine and look anew. It’s also that time of the year when we remove clutter from home – discarding things we do not need, giving it away to those who do and creating space for the new.

Having an obsession for all things neat and tidy (do not read OCD), this season strongly fuels my need for order. In true festive spirit, I have exhaustively indulged myself in the cleaning and de-cluttering traditions very seriously over the last few days. Organising things in their rightful place and packing off heaps and heaps of useless stuff into bags to give away. While spending all my energy into this tedious process, I’m amused at how things just get accumulated in our homes! And it sets me thinking…just the way a lot of unnecessary stuff gets accumulated in our minds too. Negative thinking for instance…

Negative thinking is alarmingly prevalent all around us, almost like an epidemic of sorts in today’s world. It seems easier to get into a whirlpool of negative thoughts and to remain stuck there. Negative thinking can sap our energies and before we realise, it can harm our bodies, mind and everything around us. In many ways, organising our physical space is making way to imbibe the positive elements into our minds and spirits too. This can then also be the time to de-clutter our minds with all the negativity and unnecessary trash we can do without. After all, there is a choice we can exercise, if we make a conscious effort to be aware.

Here are simple daily practices I have learnt over the years to bring in more positivity into our lives:

1. Positive thoughts – Catch yourself while thinking negatively and replace your negative thought with positive ones instantaneously.

2. Positive people – Surround yourself with people who do not put you down, whom you can learn from and exude a lot of positive energy.

3. Smile – It’s amazing how this one small curve on our face sets so many things straight. Even if you don’t feel like it completely, simply smile and feel the difference.

4. Inspirational reading – Reading books, quotes, articles, etc. that is motivating and encouraging is a helpful way to replace negative thinking.

5. Exercise – When you get moving, your endorphins get going. So quit the couch and do any form of fitness that suits you, daily.

6. Switch Off – Stay away from screen time and all gadgets that bombard you with negative information, thereby sapping your energy.

7. Music –Good music is therapeutic. Listen to the kind of music that you enjoy and see your mood change instantly.

8. Gratitude – Be thankful for everything you already have in life, sincerely from your heart.

It’s that time of the year when we must attempt to do away with darkness and light up – our homes, hearts and minds.

Morning Dose of Inspiration

Morning Dose of Inspiration

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“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~Buddha

In life’s most painful moments, the nights seem darker than ever before. Anxieties and fear grip you so hard that uninterrupted sleep becomes a rarity. And you dread waking up to the mornings that seem to have nothing to offer.

I had spent several sleepless nights turning and tossing with worries. And rose to the mornings, clouded with a sense of hopelessness.

Then one fine day, I happened to visit our family friend and philosopher guide, as well as an acclaimed author, Mr. Russi Lala. During our profound conversation, he gifted a magical book to me – ‘Opening Doors Within’ by Eileen Caddy. He asked me in his hoarse and subtly compelling voice to read it every morning, unfailingly, along with my practice of Quiet Time that he sincerely advocated. Read here: Quiet Time

Since that day, my mornings did not change. But the way I looked at my mornings had started to change.

img_2152‘Opening Doors Within’ is a divine journal that offers an inspirational message for every day of the year. The author Eileen Caddy received personal guidance from a still voice within her, a source she calls the God within. These celestial messages are like your meditations for each day – simple and practical teachings that bring hope, faith and inner peace.

It is amazing how every time when I read the message for the day, every word is just so relevant to my state of mind. As if God is reading my mind and churning out just the words needed to lift my spirits. It feels as though my own inner voice is talking to me, prompting me with some action steps in a particular direction. Guiding me, filling me with optimism and subtly nudging me to make the right choices. Thanks to this book, I now believe in small miracles.

img_2132Just while I was enjoying these daily teachings, comes along another similar gift, this time from my Dad – ‘Each Day a New Beginning’ by Karen Casey, Hazelden Meditations. It consisted of daily meditations especially meant for women. This book too had a message offered for every day, along with a quote from well-known women.

I begin my day reading the messages from these books. They are my morning dose of inspiration filling my day with renewed motivation. They serve as a daily reminder that yesterday is gone, and with each sunrise comes new hopes, new aspirations and new actions.

The way we start our mornings surely sets the tone for the entire day. So do whatever it takes for you to get inspired. So that you rise beautifully, ready to shine anew every single day!

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Yoga and Me

Yoga and Me

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” ~ The Bhagavad Gita

I am fortunate to have had an inclination towards Yoga from early days. For when I look back at my most difficult and challenging periods, one significant thing that helped keep my sanity was my regular yoga practice. This morning routine was the only thing I looked forward to when there was nothing really going for me during the difficult days.

Yoga is aptly known as a union of mind, body and soul. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve a healthy body and a peaceful mind. The yoga practice is a holistic combination of specific postures(asanas), breathing (pranayama), meditation(dhyana) and relaxation (dharna). What began as a fitness drill to tone my body, gradually evolved with time to becoming a channel connecting me with the mind and spirit. This ancient Indian science of exercise and healing has now become a way of life.

Yoga and its many rewards
The benefits of doing yoga are immense and renowned the world over. However, I believe each one of us can have a unique experience with this marvellous practice. For me, it is a communion with the self that continues to nurture me in all three realms:

On the physical front, yoga has always had a rejuvenating effect on my body. It recharges every inch of the body like no other workout. The energy that is emanated during the session feels cosmic, almost divine. To an uninterested onlooker, yoga may seem like a slow and boring stretching routine. But it does a lot more than what meets the eye. It plays a vital role in removing the toxins and releasing the tension from every part of the body. It enhances respiration and results in improved vitality. I feel increased flexibility and agility in my body, with significant muscle strength and body tone as the apparent results of dedicated yoga practice.

Mentally, yoga has empowered me to take control of my mind. With augmented self-awareness, it has tremendously helped in keeping my stress and anxiety at bay. I have learned to maintain a balance in my thoughts and emotions. It has taught me composure, especially during times when it is imminent to become reactive and flare up. It is the most natural way to attain perfect harmony and equilibrium. It has boosted my self-confidence.

On the spiritual front, it is positively about my individual consciousness being in unison with the universal consciousness. Having a deeper understanding of my body and mind, I feel ready to connect with the higher spirit. Yoga brought to me a sense of victory by calming an agitated mind and helping me rise above the negative accumulations of my life. I feel joy and contentment at a deeper level during and after the practice. I recognise new levels of inner strength that prevent me from crumbling, when everything around me is falling apart.

I recall a game we had played amongst friends, wherein we had to designate the first adjective that comes to mind for everyone and write it discreetly on a paper. All of us wrote down the words that best described our friends in one word. During revelation, the word that was most commonly used to label me turned out to be ‘calm’. And this, at the time when I was already in the gruelling separation period in the midst of my acrimonious divorce.

Did Yoga do that to me? I wonder….

The practice of ‘Quiet Time’

The practice of ‘Quiet Time’

Quiet Time

“Often the best gift you can give yourself is time alone- time to ask your questions and listen quietly for answers.” ~ Katrina Mayer.

As a child, I was privileged to have been introduced to an organisation called Moral Re-Armament (MRA), currently known as Initiatives of Change (IofC). Talking about this worldwide movement, its philosophy and the people behind it deserve a separate blog post. But for now, I want to highlight the one thing (out of many) that I learnt here – the practice of Quiet Time.

There is a little tiny voice within each of us that is always available to talk to us. Some call it God, some call it the spirit; some prefer calling it an angel guide and some call it our inner conscience or inner voice. It’s not so important how you label it, as long as we care to listen to it. The practice of Quiet time is to consciously dedicate certain time of our day to sit down without any distraction and listen intently to our inner voice. It is an effective exercise to seek inner guidance and clarity.

When there is darkness all around us and we tend to lose it all, this little voice shines like our beacon of hope. When you are flustered with the many questions that face you and you know not what to do, it is this divine time that helps you seek the answers from within. It gives your mind a chance to restore itself and bring order. So listen. Just listen.

This practice of Quiet Time has been my rock solid anchor in troubled waters. Amidst the chaos of many voices that surrounded me during turbulent times, the soothing sound that came from inside of me acted like a balm to all my wounds. Being in Quiet Time brings clarity when the mind is confused and stuck. Listening intently just puts things in perspective. Anytime a problem arises, I find it very helpful to become quiet and turn inward. And the voice that comes from within is aligned with your true self!

Recommended Practice Tips:

The early morning hours as soon as we rise is the best time of the day to be in silence. But that’s only a preference and should not restrict you to not do it at all. You must set aside at least 15 minutes (ideal is 30 minutes) in your daily schedule. It would be nice to practice this outdoor in a place close to nature. Maybe a quiet spot in a park close to your home, or by the seaside or on your terrace. Any place which is peaceful and non-crowded. It’s perfectly okay to even observe quiet time in your peaceful corner at home, be it in a balcony or your bedroom. As long as it’s quiet enough for you to be by yourself, undisturbed, to enable you to listen.

Be away from the cell phones, tablets and electronic gadgets that keep shouting for attention all day. Switch off from everything and everyone completely during this time. Write down your thoughts if you desire. Stay away from all voices so you can hear your very own from within.

Enjoy every moment of silence in your Quiet Time!

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