Mandira Srivastava talks about mental health

Mandira Srivastava is a transactional analyst and mediator at Awaken The Dance Within.

How did you remain centered during the pandemic? Did your spiritual practice anchor you through these trying times?

Saadiya, I view the Pandemic as a reset in the world.

I have been living off the grid and in my rhythm for many years now. Yes my spiritual practices, which I also teach, helped me stay centered and energised, as they always do. In fact, because I could not move out much  I ended up working with lots more people and furthering my own educational qualifications. I also learned Spanish. The idea is to make the best of everything.

I celebrated through these times. The traffic stopped. The skies cleared up. More birds sang. People caught in the automaticity of life, were forced to rest and reconsider their existence.

Stops/ Resets are good to return to Consciousness.

I think dance is your main practice-whether it’s the sufi whirl, the Gurdfieff movements or Belly dancing. How do you think it helps in releasing angst?

Movement helps to shift and release energy. Done consciously, dance, or any other movement can support catharsis, including breathing exercises. I also practice Reiki, and counsel with Transactional Analysis. I am also a trained Trauma Release Therapist. All these methods allow for release of trauma.

I remember meeting you two decades ago and then having the privilege of meeting your spiritual guide. I find a lot of people being skeptical about not just religion these days but all kinds of spiritual healers. What are your thoughts on the importance of appropriate guidance?

I think when the Teacher is ready, the Learners will appear.  We each attract the experiences we have chosen for ourselves. Accordingly, we experience who and what we do. I am blessed to have found wise guidance at a time I needed it, and privileged to offer it to others in my turn.

People often want quick fixes. To transform requires perseverance, effort and most importantly the wish to change. It means self discipline and the ability to leave the known behind. It takes courage.

Sometimes the Teacher is not ready  sometimes the Learner!

As a single woman how do you navigate through Indian society, so cheerfully? What advice would you give people who get bogged down by expectations?

That would require a book! I think being self sufficient is crucial to navigating through any society. Self sufficiency, for me includes, having the courage to live my life on my terms, and in my rhythm and not letting others opinion of me matter, as much as my own opinion of myself.

‘ What others think of me is none of my business. ‘ My life is mine to co – create and celebrate. And as long as I am not disturbing others, I think I can do as I wish!

Favourite quotes or a song, you read or listen to on a hard day?

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am not for others, then what am I?

If not now, WHEN?

Rabbi Hillel

Passing Through….. Leonard Cohen

‘We are spiritual beings, having the occasional physical experience

Not the other way around’

( Not sure who all have said that)

To connect-Check out her Page on Fb- Awaken The Dance Within

Depression in teens

This month we’ll be sharing the opinions of people who help others to deal with their angst. Since, one went through a period of masochism as a teenager-when one would just leave the house in the middle of the night, cut oneself and be totally erratic, one feels parents should be aware of children who act out and get them the necessary help, before it gets out of hand. Melancholy, is not the only symptom. What may come across as puberty or rebellion, may be something far more serious, which left unresolved can create lasting issues for any individual.

This is from an article which was published in Manorma-

‘If a child is sad, it doesn’t mean he has depression. It’s when that sadness stays with him day after day, when depression may be an issue. Other than this if the child has disruptive behaviour that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork or family life. These can also be signs of a problem.’

Please pay attention to these warning signs-

1) Sadness that lasts an extended period of time.

2) Aggressive behaviour and impulsiveness.

3) Thoughts or talk of self harm.

4) Thought or talk of harming another.

5) Thoughts or talk of death or suicide.

6) Thoughts or talk of perpetual guilt or worthlessness, almost everyday.

7) Lack of sleep or excessive sleep.

8) Restlessness or a slowing down of bodily movement.

9) Overeating or a loss of appetite.

10) Aches and pains, fatigue, headaches or digestive problems.

11) No pleasure in activities that were enjoyed, otherwise.

12) Social withdrawal- limited interactions with others or turning excessively argumentative.

There are various kinds of depression and not everyone has the same symptoms. Please pay attention to unusual behaviour, that can only be figured out by someone extremely close and get the teen, the help they require.

Did I Go Mad…

Did I Go Mad- Elise Cowen

A couple of days ago, a friend rang to find out if everything was alright. ‘You’ve not been ranting on your blog, when you’re quiet I worry about what is going on in your head, much more!’ she sounded concerned. Sometimes, I forget this is not one of my random notebooks lying around the house with all kinds of arbitrary information jotted in it but a blog that some, albeit a few people read.

What is going on in my head? Melancholy has come to embrace me, like it does…twice a year by the clock, a couple of weeks are harder but nothing to fret over, one bounces back like one invariably does. All kinds of inanimate objects ( that seem more real than most actual people do) surround one. The advantages of being a bibliophile with a terrible memory, I sometimes find poems and prose from a decade ago, that have vanished from my memory. My lack of recollection is no ways implies that the words aren’t par excellence, I invariably forget most of what I did and read, even a day before (The main purpose of maintaining this blog, is to help me remember).

How could I forget this brilliant, Jewish, suicidal woman who slept all day and used black slang? If you know me, you would know why I would like her.

Check her out. This is the last poem she ever wrote-

No love

No compassion

No intelligence

No beauty

No humility

Twenty seven years is enough.

Mother- too late- years of meanness- I’m sorry.

Daddy- What happened?

Allen-I’m sorry

Peter-Holy Rose Youth

Betty-Such womanly bravery

Keith- Thank you

Joyce- So girl beautiful

Howard-Baby take care

Leo- Open the windows and Shalom

Carol-Let it happen

Let me out now please-

Please let me in.

Versions

It’s one of those days, when the fear of living, just grips my gut and makes me absolutely useless. So, I lie under the covers, staring at the shiny disco ball that hangs from my ceiling. Hours pass by, it’s mid afternoon and even the morning Zumba session, hasn’t helped. ‘Ma’am energy kahaan he?’ screamed the instructor. ‘ Not well, let’s just do something slow, today,’ I replied.

The pre menstrual days are the worst. From hysteria to hopelessness, the moods fluctuate like a pendulum. ‘Pregnancy will turn you into your mum,’ they had warned. I think, her not being around will make me forget, just how scary this place is. ‘ Don’t think about your conversations. I know you, you talk to people and then think for hours- why? what? how? Just concentrate on your work, that keeps you fine,’ the Wall, tried to calm me down, last night. He tries so hard, to stop me from falling down this rabbit hole.

I know you! Isn’t it a strange sentence? I wonder which version of one, do people actually know. The one that smiles and says, yes, I’m fine? The one that lies in bed crying for hours, staring at nothing, paralysed by the fear of tomorrow? The one that falls repeatedly and picks herself each time or the one that wonders if it’s better to just remain on the ground?

Then there are the Phd holders, who claim to be an authority on the subject of moi. Their claim to fame, having known me the longest. Having no man around, means that no one can question, ask, manipulate, anyone else to get to know or pass on messages to me. If it’s about forewarning me, convincing me about calming down, not writing about my feelings, definitely not talking about them, (anything that shows anyone in a bad light) basically, these are the ones who are contacted. Then, randomly in an oh so subtle way, things are said.

Normally, you would say, time is of consequence. But how much can you know about someone who is like a chameleon? Between SB and SC, even I get confused. What you know, about anybody, at anytime, is just their past-their past actions, reactions etc. In fact, that’s all we know about ourselves and yes, there are things about a person, that remain the same, there’s no denying that. But which one do you claim to know and have become an authority on? I sometimes want to ask, the gossipmongers.

Do they refer to the one year old, who loved her dad so much, that she would clap when he would see him, coming on his scooter? The two year old, who apparently loved to eat so much, that she would end up eating breakfast, multiple times, with all her relatives? ‘Khaa’, she would say and stick her tiny hand out, asking for food, I’m told. The six year old who did kathak, even performed on stage, but was so painfully shy, that she had one friend in school and one friend in the colony? The seven year old who got burnt and till date is afraid anything hot? The nine year old who came home to her mother’s burnt clothes? The ten year old who stabbed a servant in his hand, when he tried to touch her or the twelve year old whose tutor, actually managed to get his hand into her shirt?

No, these are not the versions, anyone, will talk about. These make them very uncomfortable. So, let me tell you about the ones, they like to talk about. Lets remove the sword that people, think they hold over my neck. The salacious, Bollywood type scandal of my life, from the age of fourteen to thirty five is what, they all love. This is of course full of men and drama. I wish my love life, was anyone’s concern but considering I am unmarried, nothing in the world, including my father, can stop me from being with however many men I want to. Though my Dad, thinks all this is just society’s hypocrisy. I come from a slightly different family- he very honestly did put up on FB, even when my mum was alive, that he was in an open relationship. Though, somethings one will never talk about, none of those have anything to do with my own life.

As far as my men and then later boys are concerned, other than the one, I would probably never get over, who too is about to, everybody is married, happily or not, the jury is out on that. So, just for the sake of that, one refrains from discussing the exes, in detail which gives people the impression, that it’s something that they hold over me. I digress but let me tell you, a secret about men. A woman’s apparent ‘loose character’ never, ever, makes her less appealing to a man. It is only when he wants to get married, that he wants the angel and even then, a lot of them don’t remain faithful to these women. So, my reputation, that people keep talking about, actually helps me. Anyone who gets involved with me, already know, what he’s getting into.

You must be wondering, why this whining? There’s just so much drama, around me right now. Back and forth phone calls, discussions, that now have started affecting my work and psyche. I never, ever want to go through loosing a parent and having my love life, being discussed with her dead body in the room, again. It’s a really tough year and I can’t keep this sword on my neck and this baggage on my back. So, just bear with me.

Of course, there’s other stuff too- running away in the middle of the night, just walking in the dark for hours and returning after blowing off steam, the cut addiction, suicide attempts, shifting from one school to the other at sixteen because I was so depressed, I locked myself up, didn’t clear my exams and had to move to another school. No one will tell you, how many things I aced at after that, there’s no fun in telling those stories. Honestly, these days, I forget too. But thankfully, I have people who remind me, repeatedly. They tell me, this is also something, I will look back at and say, I dealt with but I keep feeling, SB won’t be able to handle it, with just her anger. The other one, will send the system spiralling out of control.

P.S- I should send this post out to prospective suitors and employers. 🤭 Thankfully, the art world is a good place for broken people. Like the Japanese, they put gold on the cracks and admire them.