On Salvaging the Spirit.

Namaskaram.

COVID-19 has been an undeniable catastrophe. I was inspired to create this post by witnessing the country I live in attempting to adopt the sense of normality we all knew before the entire world was halted by a virus invisible to even the naked eye. In addition to this, my personal experience during lockdown and returning to normalcy, along with the experience of my friends from around the world.

During lockdown, like many others, I was unable to physically see my family and friends which over time, I began to notice had a gradual effect on me. As a solitary soul by innate nature, I would have thought having human interaction limited for an extremely extended period of time would be manageable. However, I yearned the company of my loved ones and truly realised the depth of the love my being contains for them.

Lockdown also emphasised one true purpose in the life I am living: imparting my linguistic knowledge so others can unlock doors in their lives to which the English language is the key. Due to COVID-19, I stopped work for an elongated period of time. The result of not teaching was a feeling of constant restlessness and demotivation. I missed interacting with my learners and I empathised with their worry of progressing with their English learning.

The usual sense of routine was wholly disrupted and I know I, along with countless others lost sense of time and would simply watch and feel the days go by. My spirit was struggling and in turn, my mind was not performing at its optimal level.

I attempted to seek the goodness in it all. This is what I discovered:

  • I am thankful for our Sun. She rises each morning to bask us in all Her warmth and light. Never does She fail to watch over us until we retreat to our beds.
  • The birds refuse to remain silent. We are blessed with their singing from dawn until dusk. Only when the silence spilled out into the streets during lockdown did I really sit and listen to them. Their chirps were not drowned out by noisy vehicles. Their melodies were a reminder that not everything has ceased.
  • “Your body is a temple.” Prior to lockdown, I was overworking myself. Less sleeping hours, less energy to cook fresh meals, and less energy to engage in physical exercise meant my body, this vessel, was not receiving the love and care that is necessary for it to perform and feel at its highest. During lockdown, I realised that prioritising one’s health – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional – is something one should never fail to make time for, regardless of how much one is occupied with work and other happenings. Our health is never worth jeopardising. There is no justification for overworking our body or our mind. We owe them rest. Stress is disease and illness causing.
    Engrossing myself in activities and rituals that only served to enhance my vessel’s experience, nourishing it with natural and fresh foods, and giving it the rest it was owed is what I gradually made into a habit during lockdown, one that I am grateful has accompanied me through the slow exit out of lockdown also.
  • The physical space around us holds great importance with regards to influencing our mood. Transform your abode into a safe sanctuary. I finally found the time to decorate my home in ways I liked. I gave many plants a new home with me, lit different incense everyday, turned on the dim lights more often, cleaned with safe and non toxic products, played music at the required hertz for the different chakras, made sure the temperature was not too hot or too cold, softened textures, and introduced more colours. The results have looked and felt heavenly. I am content with my safe space.
  • Nobody is more important than those who are mindful of respecting us and treating us with the love we deserve. Any individual who communicates with us in a way that makes evident their lack of awareness of our existence as a fellow human being with all our needs, emotions, and thoughts, does not deserve our attention, time, or energy. Setting boundaries and saying ‘no’ more really assisted me in gaining strength in relationships I had let engulf me in unhealthy ways. I believe I rediscovered the ability to stand up for myself more due to the increased methods of self care I was executing in all the spare time I was blessed with in lockdown.
  • It is not necessary for us to physically meet our loved ones on a regular basis in order to maintain and sustain the relationship. Being unable to physically be present in the company of my family and friends during the lockdown period was a difficult pill to swallow at first. Initially I felt lonely but with the regular video calls and phone calls, I was left with a feeling of gratitude for even being blessed with such stellar individuals in my life. I realised it is completely okay to not speak to or see our chosen people everyday, rather we should find comfort in knowing these special individuals shall be ever present in our lives.
  • My solitude embraced me once more and we had (and currently still have) a wonderful relationship. I am content with spending time alone more than I have ever been okay with it previously in my life. I believe this profound feeling has come about as a result of being more self aware and self sufficient, concepts I sought clarity on, adopted, and now regularly exercise only due to being granted the freedom to do so with the time and space gifted to me by lockdown.

All this and more has aided me in observing this world, and its residents, with a newly adopted perspective. My being is not what it was when lockdown began, and for that I give gratitude.

The discoveries of others:
“The ‘lockdown’ made me realise a lot of things. For one thing, we take it for granted that we can see our friends and family and go out wherever we want to. We also take it for granted that the people in our lives will always be there – COVID has taken thousands of lives and irreversibly changed countless families, and that’s just in the UK. Even my own granddad got taken to hospital, although it thankfully wasn’t because of the disease.
The pandemic has exposed contemporary society, which is divided into those who are selfish and those who are selfless. Some people complain about having to wear a mask, saying that it limits their freedom. They fail to realise that for some, freedom is the difference between living and dying. Freedom is being able to live your life without having it taken by disease.
The pandemic has also highlighted the class divide in Britain, and I will be blunt: the country is governed by upper-class, unmerited individuals who drain society with their incompetency and callous disregard to those they are supposed to protect. And yet, many of the latter still support them from one blundering mistake to another. The country has got a lot to learn.
In terms of positives, staying at home has given me more time to compose. In fact, it has been an incredibly productive period. I am happier staying at home to work without having to travel in, and I’m glad to be playing my part during this time. Still, I can’t wait to travel once more when it finally winds down. I miss my friends more than ever.”

– Ciaran, Manchester, UK.

“I don’t need external things or people to make me happy. I am content with what I already have. I am a survivor and I can cook for myself.”
– Raihana, Connecticut, USA.

“I experimented with and explored my skills in the kitchen. I realised I really like limes, halloumi, and chilli jam (not together though). I attempted to eat healthier and live better within my means and succeeded. I tried new recipes, including vegetarian ones. I got into a good routine for exercise. I cut down on my online shopping, reduced the carbon footprint and now do a lot more shopping instore because I yearn to be out more. Also, Marks and Spencer’s sell really good cookies.”
– Daniel, Preston, UK.

“The lockdown seems like a “big surprise” to all people in the world. Suddenly we have a lot of time to spend with our families at home. It gives us time to look at what we have and what we need to cherish. Be nice to ourselves and also the people around us. The world changes so rapidly, but why not slow down a little bit?”
– Lisa, Linfen, China.

“Lockdown gave me a chance to assess my relationships. I realised that I was being a doormat to everyone. At work, in friendships, with my family, etc. Since then, I’ve been asserting myself more and creating clear boundaries. I’m not as bitter anymore, since I only allow what I will allow.”
– Tasnim, Coventry, UK.

“I am thankful for my garden, attending 8 am lectures in bed and feeling completely confident leaving my house ugly as heck because of face masks. I also learned that society is dumb as fuck and don’t know anything at all about Science.”
– Gazal, North Carolina, USA.

“The positive things I noticed about myself is how much my family meant to me. I never realised how much time we don’t spend together even though we live in one house. Being conscious of one another and being patient around each other. The other thing I positively changed was my diet and how to eat healthily and be responsible for myself. I switched from non vegan to veganism and put on 10 lbs which is a good thing for me since it’s been a lifetime of being incredibly slim and underweight for me.
Listening to my body and spending time with my mum too. We’d cook and clean and do things together which was fun and nice. Going outdoors wasn’t the only way we could connect.”

– Anonymous, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.

“Physical distancing from friends and colleagues made me spin a new web of friends, certainly those closest to me physically. Mutually, we forged a new passion, hiking – which made me appreciate the touristic beauty of my environment. I read more, I discussed more, I learnt more. Lock-down actually made me realize how fast I can create a new social circle. Most importantly, I saw the motionless earth from the mountain top and realised that after our jobs and busy schedules come to a halt, we have no salvation in any inanimate object but ourselves. Humans derive joy, satisfaction and a sense of purpose from other humans.”
– Pam, Jos, Nigeria.

“My diet. I fully changed my diet to a healthier one. That was the main thing, and working out. I used to walk to the café everyday. When it closed due to lockdown, I wasn’t moving so I realised I needed to start moving and stay active. I realised how important movement is to everything.”
– Anonymous, Preston, UK.

“Some companies were reluctant to avoid people working from home but in this new normality, most of them had to change their politics which presented the opportunity to work from any place if you have internet. From my personal experience, I had the opportunity to move to a beach city and try new experiences. I work normally but at the same time, I’m able to visit new places and meet people. Before the pandemic reached Colombia, we had a bad situation in Bogota relating to Co2 emissions. We clearly noticed that the pollution diminished during the lockdown. We had beautiful days and we even saw big snowy mountains located 234 km away.”
– Steven, Bogota, Colombia.

“Lockdown made me slow down, and nothing could have been more positive.
It was already quite a transitional time in my life – I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out the next step, beating myself up about not having the motivation or drive to make that first step. Being forced to stay at home and really reflect and live with myself made me understand myself better than ever. I realised I am a creature of habit – I got up everyday at the same time and exercised, I perfected my daily skin care routine, I made the same meals every week. I realised that there will never be a time where I won’t be anxious or negative about myself, but the way I let it affect my choices and self-worth is minimal now.
It’s bizarre that I barely remember the time I spent in lockdown, but the impact it has had on how I treat myself will give me unexplainable strength.”

– Darcy, Manchester, UK.

I truly hope these revelations and realisations about ourselves and the world around us transcend time and space and remain with us for eternity. I hope we are granted more epiphanies like these (under better circumstances) and we gather and maintain the strength to cultivate them.

More than anything, I am grateful that so many of us chose to (and still continuously choose to) turn inward during this confusing time, reconnected with our creative hobbies, recognised the worth of our loved ones, questioned the morals and principles of our governments, contemplated the minutiae of our lives typically overlooked, understood the value our bodies hold, thoroughly educated ourselves on concepts we did not have the time to prior, and truly fathomed the importance and significance of things, along with people, we previously may have taken for granted.

To conclude this post, I have gathered some photographs from my time in lockdown that I feel captured the beauty in stillness, the gifts from our Mother Nature, my relationship with solitude, and the importance of time spent with my loved ones.

photographs outside/with other individuals were taken when specific lockdown rules were lifted.

I am curious. Where in the world did you spend/are you spending lockdown? What is something you learnt or realised about yourself, the people around you, or even the world we live in? How did you salvage your spirit?

Thank you for reading. I truly appreciate the time you have spent here.

Namaste.

Resurrection.

Namaskaram.

It has been 8 long months since I last posted on here. This makes me feel sad as consistent posting on my own online space, I would do with great joy. I loved the creative process of taking photographs for my posts, sharing my opinions and thoughts with others and engaging in discussion which would always leave me feeling gratitude for having at my fingertips, the means to interact with likeminded individuals.

It seems that when life happens, it happens all at once and we can easily lose ourselves in the happenings. It began with changing my living environment which resulted in trouble adapting to and settling into a new routine. I began working at a job which I disliked very much as I felt I was not achieving my mission statement. I would rise before the sun and my workload rid me of any time for myself. I was not seeing my family or friends as much as I once did and this made me feel very isolated. I lost touch with maintaining my health and many a time, reality. Other heart wrenching issues exacerbated my state of being. I truly felt as though I had stepped foot into a completely different life and I felt very conflicted as a result. This all took a horrific toll on my spirit and mind as my dysthymia resurfaced which threw me into a relapse. I have never contemplated suicide in my life as much as I did towards the last half of 2019.

However, through consistent reminding of my worth and my purpose in this life, from myself, my family and my friends, I fought to gradually come back to a place where I could attempt to begin healing.

I worked past the guilt of rejecting my old job’s wish for me to stay on, but the act of leaving aided in regaining my sanity. I relentlessly worked on transforming my new abode into a safe space for me, mentally and physically, even though many times I would be very close to giving up on it all. I weened myself off medication I had been prescribed and switched to natural remedies. I chopped off more than half of my hair to encourage and enforce change in my life and to signify an elimination of the gruelling past. I returned to working at a job where I felt I was fulfilling the call of Spirit. I visited 4 different countries! After over a year of being a pescatarian, I made the decision to consume chicken again, with the support of my family, to regain strength after falling alarmingly sick. I graduated with my Master’s degree, marking the end of a gratifying journey I shall always cherish. I began consulting recipes and opting more for fresh, home cooked meals and to my utter surprise, am a semi good cook??? I have reached the point where I am now confident enough to cook some meals without referring to a method and try my own hand at it by eye. However, I am yet to still revel in the culinary arts. I returned to learning a new language and I also fell back into the habit of regular journaling which enables my headspace to remain light.

Wow. I truly did not realise how much I had accomplished and achieved until I listed it all whilst writing this post. I am convinced I am living on prayers because I truly cannot fathom how my little, feeble self was capable of executing and attaining all that I have whilst feeling all that I did.

I hope we all recognise the undeniable strength that dwells deep within us and utilise it when we must. Surround yourself with love, human beings that encourage you to continue living because they see how stellar you are, even if you do not see it yourself… yet. Work to give yourself some sense of purpose. Do what you love, make an uplifting difference. Taking your own life would be an insult to this universe as you are here to make a difference somewhere and somehow. You are here to love and to be loved.

I look forward to posting regularly on here once more now that the dust has somewhat settled. I hope my regular readers have been well and if you are a new reader, welcome and thank you. {:

I would like to leave you with a short saying that I hope stirs something – “do good and good will come.” – Source Unknown.

Namaste.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Body Image.

13th May to 19th May marked Mental Health Awareness week in the UK. The progress regarding the discourse of mental health that has been undertaken over the last few years, worldwide, has been immensely profound. I have never witnessed so much exposure and awareness encouraging wellness and mindfulness than I have done in recent years.

Progression
As an individual who has battled with problems relating to my mental health for a very large portion of my little life, I can recall feeling very isolated during the periods where the state of my mind was not at its best and was negatively impacting and jeopardising numerous aspects of my life. This was because the internal state of one’s mind simply was not a topic to be conversed about. It was a taboo subject that I felt very apprehensive opening up about to others as I feared their reactions towards me would be dismissive, ignorant and misunderstanding.

We can only give gratitude to how we, as an evolving society, have collectively seemed to gradually learn about, understand and accept that individuals exist among us whose thought processes are not obscured, but unique.

Establishment and Findings
2001 was the year which celebrated the first ever Mental Health Awareness week in the UK, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. Since then, the second week of May is the national week of the UK to inspire against the stigma that is placed upon the topic of mental health, and to encourage more awareness regarding it. Each year, different themes are the focal points of the week. Body Image: How We Think and Feel About Our Bodies was the theme appointed for 2019. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation:

  • 20% of adults in the UK have felt ashamed of their body image in the last year.
  • 34% of adults in the UK have felt anxious or depressed due to body image concerns.
  • 13% of adults in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts due to body image concerns.
  • 40% of teenagers in the UK stated that images on social media caused them to feel an incessant sense of worry regarding their body image.

Why?
I shall not delve into the concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) in this post as that strays away from the given theme of body image, but it most definitely is a contribution of the damage delivered by social media. We live in a very technological era where the use of social media is rife. Every waking day, we are exposing our psyche to how other individuals are leading and living their lives (Instagram). Google delivers 394,000,000 results upon searching “effects of social media on body image” and that itself speaks volume. Every individual I have spoken to regarding Instagram has spoken more about the negatives of it than the positives. When asked to elaborate, I have gotten responses such as:

  • “It makes me feel shit about myself.”
  • “Nothing on it is real, everyone and everything’s fake.”
  • “I keep comparing myself to people.”
  • “It’s a waste of time.”
  • “It makes me care about what people think of me.”
  • “It makes me focus on what I don’t have, rather than what I do have.”
  • “I seem to pay more attention to others than I do to myself.”

These are all responses from adults aged 21-33. A common reoccurring answer apparent in the conversations had regarding Instagram, and social media platforms like it, was that it ultimately did not make users feel good about themselves – whether it was in terms of what stage in life they were at or how they looked. When asked if there were any other factors in their lives which contributed to them not feeling satisfied, the majority could not answer in the affirmative. Due to the nature of this post and the theme of Mental Health Awareness week, the focal point shall be on how the interpretation of our appearances can be morphed into one that does not allow us to feel content, and how a consistent use of social media could be (or is) a contributing factor to this.

Photoshop and Surgery
A quick search of “Photoshop on Instagram” in YouTube will grant you access to videos with titles such as, “BEFORE AND AFTER FACETUNE PHOTOS,” “I photoshopped my Instagram pictures for a week!!!” “Instagram models aren’t real,” “Celebrity Photoshop fails!” A quick search of the hashtag #nonsurgical on to Instagram will display a plethora of results such as #nonsurgicalbuttllift #nonsurgicalnosejob #nonesurgicaleyelift #nonsurgicalnecklift #nonsurgicalbbl #nonsurgicalbreastlift etc. etc.. Non surgical procedures have become immensely popular across social media as they are the somewhat affordable alternative to pricey surgical procedures.

We are constantly looking at individuals who have features and body types which collectively deliver a standard of beauty that would (in most cases) be absolutely impossible to achieve without some form of Photoshop and/or surgery. Exposing ourselves to these images every single day damages our consciousness and affects our ability to practice self love. Our self acceptance disappears as we find ourselves comparing our face and body to faces and bodies that in absolute reality, do not look the way they do. Nothing is real, but constant exposure to these images tricks us into believing that it is the norm and a true reality – people really must look like this. We begin to feel insecure and “ugly” as more and more individuals with unrealistic standards of beauty become apparent.

I am not in any way against cosmetic surgery. Heck, I have considered it myself. However, our reasons for wanting to change something about our bodies should never be influenced by other people. It should never be because we are made to feel dissatisfied with our bodies because of constant comparison to others. Neither should it be because we want to reach the “social media standards of beauty” that everyone now seems to be wanting to attain. Study your body. Study your face. If social media did not exist, would you feel an incessant want to change your body or face in some way? Or would you be satisfied with how you look? Do you think you would possess enough self love to not consider changing something about yourself?

The correlation between social media and plastic surgery is undeniable and it is also worrying because we have adults stating that their viewpoint of their appearance is affected, ultimately due to what their psyche is exposed to on a daily basis. If the effects of social media are enough to penetrate an adult’s brain to such an extent, what must they be doing to the brains of young individuals, whose thought processes and mindframes have not yet fully developed? How will this younger generation grow up to view themselves physically? How will their outlook affect them mentally?

Upon deleting my Instagram almost a year ago, I Google searched “I deleted Instagram” just to see if and why others may have done the same thing. Every single link described how individuals upon ridding their lives of the social media platform, felt better. They had titles such as “I deleted Instagram and feel better,” “Why I deleted Instagram and you should think about it too,” “I felt free after deleting my Instagram,” “Deleting my Instagram was the most fulfilling thing” and “I deleted Instagram and it changed my life.” The common points in these articles described how positive changes after the absence of social media slowly became apparent as a result of no exposure to FOMO or comparison to others.

Self Image and Self Love
I was bulimic for an extensive period of my teenage years. Every meal I ate, I would vomit out. Instagram did not exist then and social media definitely was not used how it is today. My lack of care for my body was not formed as a result of comparison to others or wanting to look like others. It was apparent due to a deprivation of self love. I only realised this 3 years ago when I began to research the concept of self love in detail as the topic of my thesis revolved around it. I have never looked at myself the same since. My perspective of my self image was very distorted and I only began to fix it once I truly understood the value of self love and the worth I possess, as a female human being.

I have never been 100% satisfied with my appearance, I don’t think anyone is, but I am constantly working on loving myself, regardless of what I look like. Sometimes it works to an extent where I convince myself that I am in need of no cosmetic surgery, but on some days, it doesn’t have much of a positive effect. However, my journey and experience with self love has been effective enough to allow me to have more good days than bad and I can only hope this continues for me.

The relationship you have with yourself inevitably affects the way you view yourself. When I think of an individual I love unconditionally, I see no flaws. I am in awe when they disclose to me something about themselves they are not satisfied with because my love for them is so much that it simply does not allow me to see any “imperfections.” This is the relationship we must have with our very own being. We must hold ourselves in such high regard with so much love that if we were to see someone beautiful, we appreciate their beauty and say, “they are beautiful and so am I,” not “they are beautiful and I wish I looked like them.” There are numerous ways to practice self love and I encourage you to embark on a journey of self discovery and love if you have not yet already.

How We Think and Feel About Our Bodies
I am aware that there exists, other factors other than social media that affect the way we view ourselves. We have advertisements, magazines, catwalks, billboards, even our own friends and family members. Ultimately, it depends upon our internal monologue which either tells us, “I am affected by this negatively because it is making me focus on what I do not possess” or “I am not affected by this at all because I value and love myself enough to not to let it phase me in a way that will prove to be unhealthy for me.” This internal monologue we possess is transformed through our numerous life experiences to be a voice that is either uplifting or one that is not. Lev Vygotsky, a psychologist, referred to this as “inner speech” and described how it is an internal dialogue that is self directed. It is thought connected with word. According to Vygotsky, inner speech first begins to develop in childhood from “private speech” which is a result of social dialogues with the child’s parents or with oneself when playing with toys. It later on is internalised as inner speech. This internal monologue is a result of our lived experiences and has been nurtured through what we subconsciously take heed of. We have either nurtured it well or we have not and this affects whether it is one of encouragement or whether it demotivates.

Consciously working on our inner monologue can aid in manouvering our thought processes to uplift us and to view our body, as well as many other aspects of our life, in a manner that brings fulfillment. Working to think well about ourselves can encourage us to feel more empathetic with our bodies. This can slowly encourage a healthy self image and a sense of self love.

What Can You Do?
Some things I would suggest from experience and from what I have learnt during conversing with others about how we view ourselves are:

  • on social media, follow people who inspire you to be better in different ways.
  • limit the time you spend scrolling through social media.
  • do little things to look after your body such as a face mask, having a bubble bath or going for a massage.
  • dress in clothes that make you feel good and do not be afraid to experiment.
  • do not weigh yourself every morning and every night.
  • have fun cooking your food and become a mindful eater.
  • make your workouts fun and try Zumba.
  • have fun with make up.
  • put together a skincare regimen for your body and face and try your best to stick to it.
  • partake in yoga to ease your mind and to also stretch your body.
  • work on feeling proud of everything about your body in whatever way you can.
  • buy sexy lingerie just to feel sexy.
  • surround yourself with individuals who are uplifting and encouraging.

Happy Mental Health Awareness week. (: I hope you found this post insightful and helpful. Please refer to my previous post regarding social media and my other previous post on the topic of mental health as a whole.

May the spirit be with you and thank you for reading.
Namaste.

Relentless.

I truly believe nothing motivates us quite like our past accomplishments do. In the state of retrospection, we are reminded of the strength and courage we had to infuse into our past projects in order to succeed. We think to ourselves, ‘if I could do it then, surely I can do it now.’

Keep going. Work until the break of dawn if you must. Rest. Begin again. Persevere. Accomplish.

Edification.

Consistently be wary of the manner in which you speak to and act with all human beings whilst journeying through this life. Not only because you cannot predict who you may come to be in need of in the future, but because we were made with love from love (this universe/God) and thus, love is what we must embody. You and nobody else are on a pedestal. We are all on one plain. Be conscious of remaining civil and at peace with all. Enhance your being to be full of love and light and emit only these.

Social Media.

Just because you may not continuously or excessively post your life on social media, does not mean you do not have a life. A quote by the street artist Banksy comes to mind: “I do not know why people are so keen to put the details of their private lives in public – they forget that invisibility is a superpower.”

Post only with the true intent to inspire, to educate and to uplift. Share your knowledge not to display how far your intellect may have the ability to reach, but to enlighten. Share your feats not to boast of your acquirements, but to encourage and to motivate. Share your talents not to vaunt, but to influence and impact.

Do not place your validation and approval in the hands of beings who are facing complications in validating and approving their very own selves. Social media is a complicated web of narcissism, deception and egotism. Remain humble and authentic. Keep your integrity intact and be mindful and aware to not give into self adulation.

Remain wary of what you expose your consciousness to. It is the most integral aspect of your being. Protect it.