Gift : The Beginning of a Deep Journey

Gift : The Beginning of a Deep Journey

In 2013 I was invited to Giftival, a gathering of 40 people from around the world engaging in gift culture or gift economy or giftivism as it is often called. This was in Istanbul and my LO was not yet 2 years old.
I had only recently heard of gift culture at the Learning Societies UnConference at United Mahindra World College in Pune and something about it just took hold of me. I cannot say what or why, but it was some kind of tug. I didn’t however feel worthy of being in the company of people who had been practicing gift culture as a way of life for years. It didn’t seem fair to others. What could I have to contribute I thought, besides sharing and facilitating world folk dances which are such a beautiful energy sharing experience.  Yet I trusted there was something in this call that was beyond me and made the trip.
Giftival opened with a story told by the deeply talented Judith Liberman, with the accompaniment of the most magical sounding musical instrument I’ve heard.

The story of  two identical tables laden with food of the most delightful and desirable kind.  Around it were hungry people. However they all had no elbows, and at the end of their stick like arms were spoons. In one place there was anger and frustration and resentment, because they could not eat. By the other table, there was joy and delight. The reason was simple, the people on the happy table were feeding each other.
The impact of this story on me will last a lifetime. It would not have been the same had there been an announcement of what gift culture is and what important work we have gathered to do etc etc etc… This story and meeting Judith also started me on my journey as a storyteller. It was so seamless actually, just like meeting my husband. No fuss, just a smooth flow of feeling at home.
There were lots of books and discussions and experiments and experiences of people and i just soaked them in, thinking, absorbing, processing.  We discussed gift as both being able to give and being able to receive and many of us realized while we are comfortable with giving, we aren’t comfortable with receiving. We discussed the creation of money, the purpose, our relationship with it, whether it was something the world could do away with. There was an american anthropologist who had been studying gift culture in ancient cultures. She spoke of motherhood as a gift, in fact parent-hood as a gift and how patriarchy had robbed men of their instinct to nurture, focussing only as providing as their gift. There were 2 of us who were mums with our babies around.
As someone who had lost all contact with my pre-motherhood world, no moonlight group meditations, no salsa dancing with kids not welcome in most social settings, this was really a gift. The other lady was from Tamera in Portugal, where they were a conscious community working with healing water and other amazing inner growth stuff. We were both nursing mothers and nursed our babies on demand through the 6 hour a day unconference. It felt so good to just be accepted for whatever your role is in that moment.
There was Munir Fasheh from Palestine who spoke of the word gift in Arabic and its many meanings and contexts. There was Shammi Nanda who spoke of Non-Violent Communication and gift from that perspective. There were people building eco-friendly homes and offering to be paid in gift and living like that. It was really tough, but they had the courage to do this. There was Manish Jain from Swaraj University, where you could study even if you couldn’t give fees. There was Charles Eisenstein who wrote Sacred Economics.  There was Aysegul who had set up Zumbara, a time bank. These were amazing people and many times in the day I wondered why I was there, but I was also very grateful I was there.

One day we had people from the local community come visit and interact. It was rather crowded and Sivaanaa was a bit overwhelmed I took her into a little room where she napped and when she woke, we joined the discussions.  She climbed a chair and leaned back. I had the inclination that she might fall, but I wanted her to learn to take risks and find a space of trust in herself, so I watched carefully but didn’t give her any warnings.  Suddenly the chair toppled over and she fell down. She hurt her head and began to cry. I walked to her and carried her in my arms, hugged her tight and just held her.  It seems this sparked a big discussion in Turkish. I couldn’t understand what was being said, but I knew it was about us. I took Sivaanaa to the other room and hugged and chanted her to serenity. Later I found out the discussion was about how a Turkish mum (and their culture is so similar to ours) would have panicked and said said a lot of words. They were suddenly discussing motherhood as a gift it seems. They were amazed at what they saw. For me it was obvious. The child is hurt. Its ok to cry. I just need to witness her emotion and let her know I’m there for her. Really simple acknowledgement.
I hadn’t seen motherhood as a gift, till now, but I realized in the end, so much of who we are is because of how we were raised. It shapes our relationship with ourself and others and so how we raise our kids is really a big gift to them, to ourselves and the world. As Swami Vishnu, the founder of the Sivananda tradition says, all we need for peace in the world is to find peace within ourselves.
At the end, I just felt gift was not something to strive towards. It was to be who you are. Some flowers are fragrant, some are beautiful, some are creepers, theres a gift in their existence because they are who they are….true to what they are.
I moved on to London and later to Mumbai. Giftival had been beautiful but it wasn’t life altering like yoga or vipassana. There was still that feeling that it was a preparation for something. I let it be.
Back in India, many months later, after having time to ponder this gift stuff, I decided to offer a yoga class in the spirit of gift. This was at a beautiful studio of a beautiful fellow yogi Sheetal and his wife Khushi, who had converted their home into an Urban Ashram, a space that was always hosting wonderful facilitators and learning experiences. So I offered a 2 hour workshop on Surya Namaskaar, covering the alignment, the breathing, the philosophical aspect and the surya mantras.  At the end there was a box where people could put their gift offerings.
When I sat to meditate before facilitating the yoga class, as I always do, so I can empty myself and be a channel for the higher energies, I found myself wondering about money.How much would we charge for this workshop were it a paid one, given my experience etc etc. I wondered how much people would contribute and how that total would feel to me.  I thought of my friends at giftival who travelled and created eco-friendly homes for people, thats hard manual work and not knowing  what they would receive as remuneration (and this was out of choice.) I realized somewhere I was pegging my self worth to money. I decided I didn’t want to contaminate my giving experience. I would not keep the money. Futhermore, I didn’t want to know how much money there was in the box at the end of the class. I just wanted to give and thats what i would do.
The class was full of gurus grace. I must write another post on the beauty of the Sivananda practice and how it changed me from sceptic left brained to flowing in grace. I gave the money to my friends to use for any cause and it felt amazing. This class was offered in gift, not as social work, not as charity…..and there is much to ponder in these words and acts.
There is something sacred about gift and the journey had only just begun.
A Silent Retreat With My Kid Around

A Silent Retreat With My Kid Around



There was a raging storm inside of me. So many thoughts, so many possibilities, so many questions, so much churning. It seemed that my home, my temple, my sanctuary was blasted with gusts of outbursts and drama. I was battling enough my confusion, the fog that the physical location of my life brought to the project through which i felt most need to manifest my life purpose of facilitating joy and love. I felt spent having talked about, debated, sought advice and meditated and then my vain attempts at surrender.

Having just returned from India, having a house guest, missing my space, the joy of seeing the ocean and missing the happy buzz of Halla Gulla, setting up home again, getting back to routine it was all a bit too overwhelming and disorienting.Then everyday watching messages and e-mails of opportunities we couldn’t take up because I wasn’t in Mumbai. After a while my heart grew heavy. I missed the joy of giving  that comes to me from live interaction.

The day after Christmas, I woke up feeling the desire to be quiet. It was just natural, not planned. If I could have planned I would have gone to the Sivananda Ashram in the nearby Bahamas, but I could not, and I really didn’t feel up to traveling after a hectic India trip, so I just sent my husband at text explaining I wished to be in silence for a few days and could he support me please. He said yes and things flowed.

Our daughter is 5 and very expressive and with a strong need for communication and she couldn’t quite get it. I saw that it was challenging for her, yet I felt strongly to honor the call of my soul. So i communicated in sign language. I was still accessing e-mails and whats app in a disciplined manner.  Our LO did ok, meditating with me and us sharing lots of intimate hugs and eye gazing that ended in smiles or giggles. Inside I continued to be a witness to my thoughts, watching them without the colors of anyones opinion or advice.

Still it was intense for the LO.I hadn’t decided how long I was gng to remain silent, I was just going with the flow of my souls need. I arranged playdates for her via text with friends who would understand my silence.

Addressing a meltdown in silence
One day however, her swimming teacher didn’t come. S loves her swimming class and her swimming teacher, who is the most positive encouraging person. The two of them share a lovely bond and greet each other and thank each other in Swahili and Hindi respectively. I love watching them and give thanks for the gift of such a lovely teacher. S burst into tears. With all this silence she was looking forward to the swimming to have fun and let go and so she just let the floodgate of tears open. I hugged her and kissed her and acknowledged her feelings with my eyes and sign language? It was not enough.

I wondered if i should speak. But what point. My mind raced…and I knew nature would solve this for us. So I managed to get her into the car. Taking a packet of bread along we drove to a pond nearby. She was crying  inconsolably. I carried her from the car to the pond and took a piece of bread and threw it in the water. Soon there was life . The hickatees (like turtles) came in , few first then a whole bunch of them.  She suddenly got excited about who was going to get the bread and forgot to cry. Then there were the baby tadpole like fish that create designs as they reach for crumbs and make the water jump sometimes. there are the carps and there are the red beaked ducks who glide past indifferent to the buzz the bread has created and leave a V shaped wake of water behind. She fed the tickets, shooed the roosters and hens away and was enraptured  by nature. We stayed there for 20 minutes or so in silence, each of us watching what most appealed in any given moment. There were large flying stalk like birds that came and went and reflections in the water and the sun changing position. Suddenly there was a drizzle of rain, refreshing and beautiful. We smiled, hugged and went home.


Hickatees popping their heads up for food[/caption]

Hickatees Close up

Nature and play to heal myself and my child
While I was honoring my own need for silence and clarity, I also wanted to honor S need for play and togetherness. I had recently chanced upon the most beautiful swing in the world. A tree that dies, gives life after death. The picture will say all there is to say!

So I took S to this beautiful swing by the sea and I my husband came along too. Me in silence, them chatting.  She was thrilled with the swing. Her heart needed more and after a while, she was not happy with swinging alone.  She craved intimate play. So we gathered some beachy treasures and created a world. Its amazing communicating in silence, understanding what the other is saying, where they want to place an object and how we communicate our creative vision.

Kind of clues you in on  a deeper level. But she wanted play, like physically I looked on the wet sand and began to make different types of footprints. Walking like a penguin, a duck, walking zig jag, jumping, drew a line with a stick and jumping on either side. This was so much fun for her. She made some of those up and I followed along. It was really the  most creative time on the beach. We began to notice doggie paw prints on the sand and bird claw prints ….just a world out there! Jumping facing one way and then another footprints[/caption]

Criss cross, zig zag walk footprints

Heel walk footprints

How I procured a wooden crate in a liquor store without talking
Some asked how I went about the business of the day without talking. I went to buy S a wetsuit at the diving store. I smiled, pointed, indicated her age with my fingers and communicated entirely in sign language. Its amazing how nice people are and even more when they think you have a disability. The saleswoman was just so helpful.
Another day I went to a liquor store to ask for a wooden wine crate I wanted to repurpose into a Kabaad Se Jugaad bookshelf. I typed on my phone. I walked in with a big smile and showed the cashier my request. the whole store came to help. They didn’t have one, but one guy said his mother worked at another store and she would arrange it. He wrote a note for me to give his mother. I went to her store and got the crate.
All along it was beautiful…..really deeply beautiful in a way you don’t experience in the normal world. This beauty you can’t experience in a retreat, a vipassana, an ashram, because there you know most who come re coming to seek, are positive. here in the real world, experiencing the welcome giving of a liquor store salesperson is just such a gift.  the Divine Intelligence shines through all levels of consciousness. Truly! I rust that one day I can keep this in sight through my interactions with the one or two people that challenge me!

“Mamma, I miss hearing your voice”
One day S said to me , “Mamma, I miss hearing your voice”…so from that day on, every night when we give thanks to the universe, I would give thanks aloud. I also told her I’d  read her a story everyday with no conversation before or after.
And did I mention a moonlight walk on the beach with my husband where I wasn’t talking. Must have been bliss for him! lol!

Mindfulness walk to bring in the new year
I’ve been hosting a stone soup gathering once a month in my home. For the 1st of January i sent out a mail inviting people to a darkness into sunrise mindfulness walk at 7 mile Beach, which is such a beautiful beach.  We went at 6 a.m when it was dark and walked in silence until 7 when the sun rose. We had 2 kids among us, who found their own silent communication and play. The dark water turned to its beautiful blue as the sun rose and it felt like time to speak again. I came to, feeling rejuvenated and with such amazement at the gifts that a silent retreat  while living in the heart of life can bring.

I didn’t find the answers to the questions i had, but in silence, I found the most unexpected beautiful gifts and such deep connection with my LO.

Is this something you would do with your child? I’d love to know.

Mommy Madness & Mandalas

Mommy Madness & Mandalas

Chanting while coloring a mandala

Mandalas are geometrical patterns that are contained within a circle and bring great balance and harmony.They exist everywhere in nature, in the trunk of a tree, in starfish in the sea, in snowflakes and in cells.
Colouring mandalas with your child or having your child color mandalas are great motor exercise that bring deep harmony and an inner sense of accomplishment and contentment.
I don’t believe in forcing a child to colour. However, there is a time when kids are obsessed with coloring. It is what they call in Montessori education, a “sensitive period”, a time when learning of that topic will be most welcome as interest is at peak and persistent. At such a time, having mandalas available with easy access to the child can be helpful. I’m not too sure about boys, but my little girl cannot but help be attracted by the designs.
We have a community silent hour every month, where people of all ages sit together, doing whatever they want in silence. Some read, some nap, some colour, some journal. Being only 4 and having attended these gatherings since she was 2, the little one likes to busy herself coloring. Little hands must do and this is something she loves.

Though I have worked with children in the space of dance education and storytelling for over 12 years, I’m no expert on education, but I am a keen observer. These are a few things I noticed about mandala coloring:
Coloring from inside to out or outside to in, whichever way the child chooses, brings a sense of focus and inwardness.
There is a natural silence that this harbors, the symmetry and balance bring peace and the face looks focussed yet serene.
Since coloring is a precursor for developing the fine motor skills needed to write, coloring mandalas, with their intricate patterning helps develop this in a very organic way. Whoever enjoyed drawing straight, slanting and curved lines on blue and red lined paper anyway!
My daughter and I more often than not chant while coloring. We often colour together, on the same mandala maneuvering space and her indicating the colors she wishes me to use silently. Its such a great experience. Often after long periods of togetherness, we get on each others nerves. At times like this, we are both glad to quietly colour mandalas and avoid saying impulsive and possibly hurtful things to each other.
As an extension, we observe mandalas in nature, someday we will make mandalas with leaves and flowers and kolam/rangoli and when she is old enough and interested, we will learn to draw yantras.
For now, we enjoy our mandala meditations. Do try it and share your experience in the comments.

Is your Water ALIVE?

Is your Water ALIVE?

“Hail water, ye bring health and bliss, ye help us to energy, that we may look on great delight!”

-Sama Veda 9:2:10

Water is the only element that has the power to store, receive and transmit energy.  Yet, it is one of the resources we most take for granted. Our bodies are 75% water, the earth is 75% water, the energy in water is very potent. My post is just to touch upon and create awareness on this elixir of life.

Most of us are unaware of the kind of water we drink. What is its composition? What is its source? What is its composition? How is the water stored and transported? What are the methods used to purify or rather make water potable or drinkable? What do different kinds of water purifiers do? The list of questions can be quite endless.

Many years ago, when I was doing my yoga teacher training at the Sivananda Ashram in Uttarkashi, india, I heard about the experiments of Dr. Masaru Emoto with water. Swami Govindananda Saraswati, our guru, was citing this experiment as a modern validation of why mantras are chanted over water and given to people, specially children to drink. Also why there is the presence of water to anoint and holy water in churches. 


What Dr. Emoto did was figure a way to freeze water and observe the crystals it formed. What he found was that water from taps, bottles, and rivers and lakes near big cities did not produce beautiful crystals. However water from sources in the midst of nature and quite untouched by human contamination produced beautiful crystals. He also studied the effect of words on water crystals. He found that water that had been exposed to mantras and words such as love, gratitude and other kind words produced beautiful crystals and water that had been labelled with words such as hate produced crystals that were distorted. This free book version for children, is a fabulous read.

This information facilitated a big shift in me. I have little or no control over the source of the water i consume, but i do have control over how I can activate it. So what i do is label my water source and try to keep water storage as plastic free as i can.

  My parenting guru Effath Yasmin took this experiment a step     ahead. In her daughter’s class, where some children seemed to be bullying and/or ignoring others, she took three identical closed containers partially filled with cooked rice. She labelled one Love, the second Hate and the third was unlabelled and ignored. Children watched on and off and after a month, it was noticed that the rice in the container that said love looked almost unspoilt. The one that said hate looked pinkish and the one that was ignored was full of fungus and blackness. Infering from this, one could see that a person, composed mostly of water treated with love would thrive. Conversely a person ignored or alone or lonely, would experience the worst state of be-ing and a person hated would experience negative effects of hate, but still be better off engaged with an energy than being ignored. Now think about what our relationships with the multiple people in our lives and our physical environment can do to the water in our bodies.

Blue-Bottle-Love-Blue-Solar-Water-BottlesI also charge water with sun rays….part of surya chikitsa in India and Ho’ pono pono in Hawaian culture and part of several other traditional cultures worldwide. This has the effect of adding praana or life force to water that is otherwise dull and “life-less”. For this I use glass bottles in blue and green. Other colors of the rainbow spectrum may also be used.

A few weeks ago, our family went on a bioluminiscence tour with CaymanKayaks and the experince was one of the most incredible of our life. Our 4 year old says it is the best thing she saw in her life. The bioluminiscent organisms absorb sunlight in the day and glow in the night. Words are utterly useless to try and describe this phenomenon. Interestingly, most marine bioluminescene is blue and green in colour.

I have also been pondering on the effect of salt and salt water. Living near the ocean is making me think about this often. I know that salt is used to absorb negative energies. It is used in the process of removing “nazar” in many cultures. Every time I live in a new home and there have been many, I use sea salt to clear the energy. Even in the west bath salts are used for relaxing. Himalayan salt lamps are a craze to remove negative ions from the air. Isn’t it amazing that the most water on the earth is salty and also that we feel so super energized after a dip in the salty ocean water. It feels so different from a dip in chlorine water from a pool isn’t it.

The function of water in the cells and muscles has been studied extensively by Dr. Pollack. His findings are an interesting read. A book that made a big impact on me with regards to water and cells is Cellular Awakening by Barbara Wren. I bought this book in a spiritual book store in Bermuda and refer to it several times, when i need to re-orient myself to health when i’ve gone off the path. This is one book you must read!

Now for some great music to do with water. One of the most beautiful songs for healing i have heard in modern times is Magnificence by Deva Premal. Its a great song to listen to on repeat, to cry to and let go to. Really captures the healing of water. 

….its time for your water to come A-LIVE…..

Heritage Swap

Heritage Swap

I woke up this morning, feeling very blessed and grateful….last evening was truly magical, more than I could ever have imagined it to be. Such power in intention and non expectation. I walked into the living room, and looked upon the beautiful gift circle that was handmade by my dear neighbour Nitya and embellished with little dots and squiggles by 5 enthusiastic kids ranging from age 2 to 12.  I couldn’t help but smile.
A beautiful gathering of like hearted people we had.  Each story was so powerful.
A mother who had miscarriages offered the jeans her precious little daughter wore the first time she said ta-ta (bye bye).
A new mother shared a stuffed rabbit that had been gifted to her on impulse by a lttile boy she met while working in London. The boy had said to her ” Take this rabbit and when you have a little boy you must give it to him.”  She shared that she had no intention of even having a child at the time she received the gift. Now she has a little son and he had really played with it a lot and she had washed it and even blow dried it to bring it to heritage swap.
A friend brought her wedding jewellery to let go of the attachment. It was picked up by a 7 year old who promptly wore it and beamed smiles all around the room.
A guy brought a keychain he had got for his no ex-girlfriend on a trip abroad. When they broke up, she returned it. It hung in his cupboard till it came to the swap, a reminder each morning of a love lost. It was hard to let go, but when it was done, it was so transforming.
Another beautiful soul brought a set of hand painted coasters with the seasons(ritu) in the Indian tradition. They had been given to her by her mothers friend and  her mentor, who had passed on last year. This was what she was holding on  to. She said they were hand painted and so beautiful that she never had the heart to put a wet glass on them and so she was holding the memory of the hand painted coasters and passing them on to someone who would really use them.
A 12 year old brought a truck eraser that her favourite teacher had given her when she moved from Delhi to Mumbai. She shared that she had been struggling to find a gift for the swap. Since her teacher has given her 3 erasers, she held on to 2 and put this one into the heritage swap circle. Her sister put in her favourite bedtime book that her mother had read her every night when she was 2.
The stories are so many, this post could go on forever.
What was poignant and unexpected for me is that more than the swap, it was the intention of finding something truly meaningful to share and the letting-go that all of us experienced. Truly its easier to let go of money than something with heart-value. It also came home to me, that when you struggle to let go of money, its usually because of being in a space of  fear of scarcity. When you struggle to let go of something with heart value, its because of the abundance of trust and love that you want to hold on to forever.
This was also my experiment with having kids in the same space as adults. I have always been a social person, curious about things and wanting to share and experience. After becoming a mother, I felt sort of ostracised. No one wants people with kids at their events except other mums ofcourse.  This did not feel cool.
I struggled many a time with the thought of putting Sivaanaa in daycare so I could go for something, but I didn’t. My mentor on the parenting journey, Yasmin understood my lament and she said to me, that children weren’t meant to not be part of society. In the good old days, mothers would take their kids to work on the fields, slinging them and singing to them while they worked. This stayed with me, and as I resumed working, I picked projects that had to do with children Sivaanaa’s age. I sling-ed her and took her to work with me. When it was meetings with adults, she served chai from her toy set that she carried with her. People sensed that we were comfortable being the mother-baby package and were very accommodating of us.
In 2013, we took Sivaanaa to a gathering on gift culture in Istanbul. That was the first time, she was accepted and cherished in a purely adult setting. There was one other baby, an 18 month old from Tamera, an intentional community in Portugal. This was a dream space. Babies played and quietly so in the space that was held for them by the group. Babies nursed and slept while we brainstormed and heart-warmed on how we could shift gradually from a culture of money to a culture of gift. I sat there wondering how I could facilitate gift culture in my own small way while still keeping house and beng present for baby. At the end of the 3 day all day long gathering, I was of the feeling that being a mother and trying to be a conscious one (though I know theres miles to go) is the gift for me.
And yes the idea of heritage swap, was gifted to me by my little one. I have many friends who have older kids and share the toys, clothes and books their children have outgrown with so much love. Often there is a story of how much their child loved a particular book or the memory of something to do with the object. My little one always asks me who gave her something and what its story is. That has taught me that when there is love and a story attached to an object, it flips from a perception of hand-me-down to heritage. Infact the other day, S was wearing a new dress gifted to her when she was one and that just fits her. I metioned who had given it to her and she asked  ” Mumma when D’s mum was little was this her dress”. I just smiled at the joy this little kid experiences in these things. Its priceless!
Its amazing what this was like for the kids. I was both excited and nervous about having them. I packed away all the breakable stuff. I shut the toyroom— I didn’t want kids fighting over a toy/s while we were sharing stories. I bought 1 kg of shelled green peas for them to clean  while we were sharing. (the kids were mostly 3-7 years old and they are in the age of industry and doing….no chance they were gng to sit through a whole hour of sharing) And then I surrenedered to the universe. They shelled green peas and listened, some  coming into the circle when their mum shared about their toys that they were swapping. Everyone understood that the attractive things being placed into the circle could not be touched until everyone was done sharing.
The peas were shelled faster than you can imagine and we did have to invite them into the playroom eventually….but it was ok…quite manageable.
They enjoyed swapping stuff…. it was a treat for them to pick what they wanted.
To me the integration of motherhood and life was completed. Mothers, kids, men, college students were all complete in the circle of life.

The funny thing is, S picked up a pair of pretty pink sneakers that squeak at the swap last night. They just about fit her. After a while, she asked to take them off. I said ” These seem a little tight for you…… ” She knew what was coming, so she promptly said ” no, I want to take them out so the squakey battery doesn’t die”….. ha ha. I take off the shoes and she goes off to play. In less than a minute she is back. She says ” Mumma, when I become 7 years na, these shoes wont fit me na….then can I swap them again!”
I’m still laughing….
Offbeat Rhythm: Solace for mother and babys soul

Offbeat Rhythm: Solace for mother and babys soul

In my previous post Rhythm for your child’s soul, I extolled the virtues of keeping routine and schedule, of the breathing in phases of concentration and the breathing our phases of exploration, discovery and letting go. To be brutally honest, the last 3 months have been very offbeat for us.
It started with the LO starting school, a new place, new personalities, staying away from each other for the first time…..a recipe for being overwhelmed! Once she seemed to “settle” into school, my inner self went on an over drive. Suddenly I had “me” time! WOW! I had planned to go to the spa, catch up with friends over chai and what not! So much for pre-school day dreams. Instead the ideas that had been floating in my mind decided to demand to be manifest. Add to that tons of pending paperwork, mundane but essential things like correcting my parents names on my birth certificate! In India this meant 5 trips to the local BMC office (thank God I stay close to where I was born) between 2-4 in the afternoon, bang in the  middle of the LO’s siesta time. Co-ordinate with my mum, cos that particular BMC office administers meds to TB patients so not too safe to take the LO there. LO is still insecure from us leaving her at school, so insists on coming along and waiting in the car  with my mum while I get my work done). I’m not going to type more about just how offbeat the last 3 months have been!
What I am going to share though are what gets me through them, simple stuff in no order of importance. Its a tool kit, to pick what one feels is calling at that moment in time.
Bach Flower Remedies: I had heard of these years ago, but I resisted. Why do I need flower essences to help ‘cope’. Meditation is all one needs, staying with the breath till it feels better and clarity appears. The most elusive of all needs, since having a baby, to me has been meditation. I’m not talking the 1 hour pranayama and chanting I used to do. I’m just talking about a small and humble need to sit and watch my breath as it deepens! It was a cold rainy day in London. It was dark outside. The LO was cutting her back molars. Nothing could soothe her. I don’t do well in dreary weather, it gets my sinuses acting up and that can shake the core of my patience. All she wants to do is nurse. All I want to do is sleep and have some physical space. So I cry and she cries cos im crying and she says please don’t cry and I can’t hold back the tears because I get all dramatic and wonder when this kid is ever going to stop nursing etc etc. I check the time. My lovely homeopath in  India will not be available right away. I recall a conversation with my parenting mentor  Effath Yasmin about Rescue remedy. There’s a Boots pharmacy just across the street and my husbands office is 2 blocks away. So I call him and ask if he could pick up Rescue remedy. 10 minutes later we have both taken a dose. I still feel pushed to my limit, but not physically overwhelmed by it. She calms down too. We both sleep. I now carry a rescue remedy spray with me. Its useful in a state of sudden shock, overwhelming physical or emotional times etc. There are a number of remedies for different situations, so it would be worthwhile to consult with a bach flower specialist to find out which remedy would best suit your needs. When the LO started school, my LC and parenting mentor Yasmin recommended Walnut to deal with change. We both took it, since mother-child are treated as one entity at this age. It was immensely helpful. Did we not miss each other? Did it take the anxiety away? My daughter was still missing me, but the physical manifestations of that were minimised. She was clearly expressing through words and actions that she missed me immensely. However there was a peacefulness, like we were in the process and watching it. We were watching it happen within us and between us, knowing that it would pass. Rescue cream is great for treating mosquito bites, cuts, burns and any minor physical injuries.
Lavender Essentail Oil and Massage : I have always found Lavender essential oil to be soothing. It is also great for treating pimples etc. Beats raw garlic anyday and smells better than tea tree oil. I read and experienced adding lavender to baby’s bath water  helped a lot. Even now, we sometimes massage her during prolonged periods of ‘offbeat” rhythm. Massaging the soles of the feet is very relaxing, as is the back of the ear. See Triple Warmer Meredian for increasing energy and Third eye point for relaxing and inducing sleep when you or your LO is over tired and unable to sleep.
Comfort food: Yes, we all have comfort foods. For me its khichdi. For the LO I set it early as cinnamon oats. It can be made in 5 minutes, is healthy and comforting. All I do is cook oats in water and when its done, add a good helping of cinnamon powder. Anyone who has lived in a cold country knows how soothing cinnamon buns or cinnamon on hot chocolate can be. Cinnamon also has lots of therapeutic qualities. Dr Sears of attachment parenting fame, recommends giving either raw cinnamon or turmeric or both to increase immunity. Though the LO is still nursing, which is the best immunity builder, introducing cinnamon earlier was my way of ensuring that once she weans, she finds cinnamon palatable and enjoyable. We did the same with tulsi leaves, introducing them raw early on. I’m hoping to have another post on food sometime.
Repetitive Music: Yes music is soothing, but repetitive music adds rhythm to an offbeat day. If you look at the science behind chanting or hymns, in addition to the  vibration of the sounds, it is the rhythm that ensues from repetition that is calming. You will find that even people who chant without being completely present are not easily able to stop chanting. Its that repetitive rhythm. That’s also a reason why people like trance, it gets you into a rhythmic funk. We play at lot of chants at home, but a few have been regularly used for the rhythmic purpose. When we are at loggerheads with each other, which happens often, because both the LO and I have similar personalities and are ticked off by the same things, I stop talking, reasoning, shouting….whatever…drop, breathe and put on a chant. If its evening, its always over mood lighting and incense. Our favourite tracks are Om by Nadaka, Govinda Hare by Krishna Das and Tulsi’s Bliss by David Newman.
Kangaroo Care, Skin to Skin & Nursing: This is not only for an infant. Baby wearing is soothing to a toddler as well. And skin to skin as well. As for nursing, I’m always being told off for still nursing, and though I’m very convinced abut baby led weaning, I have had some very strong moments and phases of wanting my body to myself. I finally decided to stop any attempts at weaning when I had the experience I am about to share. One night before sleeping (The LO only nurses to fall asleep and any additional feeds are limited to intense periods of offbeat rhythm.) I asked her why she likes du-du (a baby name for milk)  so much. She unhesitatingly looked into my eyes and said “Mama, because it gives me lots of peace”. My eyes moistened and I know it can only be baby led weaning. Just imagine, she doesn’t want toys or whatever else kids want at this age. All she wants for peace is free and truly divine nectar. That said, I totally understand each woman’s personal decision to nurse or wean, however with the pace of my life I think it would be incredibly difficult for me without the “peace” nursing provides to us both. As a funny aside, its the easiest way to help them quieten up!
I would love to hear from you how you find solace with your baby too! Do leave a message/comment and if you enjoyed it do share the post with family and friends.