Archive for spirituality

A Letter To All Parents

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2018 by tivaniam

When I became a mother 16 years ago, by my own admission, I fucked up a lot. Like most people, I subscribed to deep-rooted cultural beliefs that defined how I parented which closely resembled what I had seen and experienced growing up. In the Indian community especially, there is a prescribed way of parenting and that involves control and enforced discipline, unquestioning uniformity with religious beliefs and an unhealthy affliction toward academic excellence and career aspirations that fit into parents’ unequivocal instruction.

Thankfully, I woke up four years ago, and managed to change my belief system before it caused serious damage to both my children. It is very easy to fall into the trap of becoming puppets to a cultured way of thinking that decides for us what being “good” or “bad” means. We have unconsciously bought into this parity to the detriment of our children. I was lucky enough to start questioning whether I wanted to conform to this ideology of what was taught to me and began empowering myself as a parent. Culture has taught us that disciplining our children is what is required in order to turn them from “bad” kids to “good” kids. Culture has taught us that we need to control our children and that they need to be busy every day. But do we really understand that the culture we’ve bought into only exists in our mind? We’ve created this mandate that if our kids are “bad” we have the right to punish. We have the right to push them to succeed and constantly achieve. We have the right to threaten them and constantly compare them to others or compete with others. Do we understand that this methodology means placing our kids at the bottom, and us, as parents, on top?

I am here to tell you that this way of thinking is the reason that suicide levels amongst the youth are so high.

I am here to tell you that this is why depression amongst pre-teens turns into drug and alcohol abuse later.

I am here to tell you that this is how stress, anxiety and fear take over the joy and aliveness our children are born with.

I am here to tell you that this begins and ends with you, parents.

I have chosen to separate from culture and not give a fuck about who will judge me. I’ve chosen to allow my kids to figure out what is uniquely their own talent and not what I want for them. I want them to discover their own spirit and essence. This is my role as a mother. To take their soul into wholeness and not disintegrate it, as some parents do. This can only be done if you separate from the indoctrinations that govern your parenting style.

If you really love your children, and want to do better, it’s time to think about the way you parent and the destruction that is caused by your behaviour. We do not own our children. We do not live vicariously through them. Our children are here to teach us. We need to pay attention.

 

 

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Being Still: An End To 2017

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2017 by tivaniam

For the first time in many years, I will be spending this Christmas and New Year all alone, without my family, friends or kids; purely by choice. It may seem like an odd concept for those who fall prey to the hype of what society has conditioned us to believe December ought to be – a time of partying, holidays, celebration, festivities and frivolity. And yes, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t buy into the hype too at one point, but for me, this year has been a shift, an ‘unbecoming’ of sorts. So, in that vein, I wanted to end the year differently; alone.

I have done no shopping for Christmas, bought no presents, and have minimised my life for the next few weeks in order to find out what is real and true for me. And the only way to do that is to get really still. It’s an emotional clearing that only solitude can bring. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in this world that teaches us to keep moving and never stop. This is how ‘dis-ease’ creeps in, where we make ourselves sick and miserable believing we are missing out if we don’t join the race. Yet oftentimes, we are like hamsters on a wheel, never making progress toward anything meaningful, trying to strive for a dream that may not even be ours.

I want to find the rapture of living that makes my heart leap, without the pomp and fancy. This is where true transformation takes place, where only my heart speaks and the imperious voices in my head become still. In silence, there is certainty and it introduces you to the secrets of yourself. Water derives lucidity from stillness, imagine how much more profound it can be with the human mind. I want my life to be a reflection of my heart, and that involves a spiritual stillness that takes root in my soul.

Everything gets created through an idea and a thought, and those moments of creative spark can only come through from the nothingness of silence.

So while I am trying to find this expansive spaciousness, I wish you and yours a happy and prosperous 2018. And if, like me, you’re alone this festive season – by choice or circumstance – I wish for you, the gift of clarity and beauty that may be found in the ordinary things. Where we can savour whatever we have, wherever we find ourselves.

I will see you on the other side.

With much love, aliveness and peace xoxo

 

 

A Return to Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2017 by tivaniam

The dominant theme of my life for this year was Love. Love within and without.

It began in February when my soul merged with another. To use the word merge is mild in itself. It was a combustion; a fire so powerful that I couldn’t come out unscathed. It was the stuff dreams were made of, except this was so far ahead of my own dreams that I battled to keep up. I melted into him, his arms were home. He was my doorway to another world. It was the most intense spiritual connection that made me believe in all of the things I’ve only ever read about. For the first time in my life, I learnt the TRUE meaning of love and it made every other interaction pale in comparison.

Notwithstanding that connection, we were never in a relationship. We hardly saw each other. It was unorthodox and unconventional by societal standards, but it was real and true for me. It taught me about the value of truth, where I got to decide the truth about things for myself and not adopt someone else’s biased view. This love taught me patience, something I’ve always lacked. It taught me about the value of time and how precious one hour can be. It taught me about loving someone unconditionally, through their light and their darkness. It taught me about the expansiveness of my own heart. It taught me that “forgiveness” is love’s other name. It taught me that I am so much braver than I ever imagined myself to be. It taught me how to be more awake, more conscious, and more present as the universe gave us such big synchronicities that were more than simply romantic; it was the presence of a divine spark. It taught me about how love is a mirror. He made me face my deepest and darkest fears of insecurity and inadequacy. It taught me how to be my essence of peace and it revealed to me when I was deficient. This spiritual love changed my life forever and changed the very foundations of everything I’ve known to be true and real. It pushed the boundaries of convention and it made me a true believer of magic and divinity.

Through all this beauty, came the proverbial white elephant. And suddenly I had to face certain realities. It wasn’t about giving up; it was actually about REFUSING to give up on me. You see, sometimes a woman has to make a choice to say goodbye to what is even the best thing in her life, because it just doesn’t serve her.  The truth is often painfully clear and goodbye is necessary to remain in the light. It’s the difference between taking the short view, or the long view. There is a chasm wide gulf between co-dependence and love and my very role as a mother is teaching my kids what love truly looks like. And sometimes love is leaving what you think you need.

Each of us has inherent strengths. Mine is listening to my own truth and following the directions, even what that voice of truth sounds terrifying as fuck. My dream was to teach women that strength, women who woke up and found themselves in the middle of their own nightmare. I am here to teach women, through my truth, how to not sit inside that nightmare. That means I have to ACTUALLY live my truth. And my truth has always been about what works and doesn’t work for me and me alone.

I am showing up daily and working to remain strong and not give up even when the wind pries with stiff fingers to rip apart my very foundation. I try and bravely put one foot in front of the other in an effort to stay in the light, because it’s so easy to get back into the dark. The dark is a safe space for someone like me, it’s familiar and I can abdicate all responsibility. But I’ve worked too fucking hard to be that small. I have to do whatever it takes to stay in the light. This means saving myself and returning to love, in order to show others how it’s done.

I’ve believed that in order to find your life, you need to lose it. I have felt like I lost my life again. My hopes, dreams and wishes. But with it gone, I know my life is emerging. Exactly how it’s meant to. That is the way of the Phoenix, rising higher and higher each time, determined to save the only life I could save. Mine.

It is still a love story. Love always wins. It just comes in different shades. My wish for every one of you is that you get to experience this kind of love, even once, because it will teach you how to live. If the invitation comes, take it with arms wide open.

I am grateful for it and grateful for now returning back to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Judgment 

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2017 by tivaniam

I’ve been hearing recently about people who speak about the so-called ‘contradictory’ life I lead. Where I profess one thing, and presumably live another. I’ve also been hearing criticism around the way I look with statements like “I am ten times prettier than her”; or statements like “I am decent, she is twice divorced with two kids from two different fathers”. Now, anyone who truly knows me would know that I care a toss about commentary like these because I am aware enough to know that, living in the public eye, sharing my life in all its hideousness and glory makes me susceptible to judgment and criticism all the time. I have come to understand that most often; this judgment is passed by people who sit on the wayside of their lives, with self-righteous indignation, pointing fingers instead of taking a cold, hard look internally. (Sounds harsh but believe me, I am using artistic licence very minimally here).

But this is what bothered me slightly about these recent judgments: they were from women. I am not about bashing another woman. I don’t need to see another woman beaten down in order to feel better about myself. And I guess this is where awareness comes in. And this post is to that end, to try and create a level of awareness for why judgment should never be passed if you are someone who has little insight into who YOU truly are.

I’ve spent many years learning about who I am. I have spent years doing the very hard work to get to a level of understanding about why I’ve made certain decisions in my life. Being a woman isn’t binary. It’s not an easy feat. I’ve stumbled in the dark more times than I can count, breaking my heart and back in an effort to be everything this world required of me. For years, I tried to be the so-called epitome of a ‘decent Indian woman’ by society’s definition and forced myself to be in a marriage that didn’t serve the beat of my own heart. I smiled externally and remained silent, while my insides were screaming and my soul was dying. It took an enormous amount of courage, strength, tenacity and bravery to forge ahead and leave my second marriage because I knew I wanted and deserved more. The flaming spirit that is truly me was literally dying to emerge. And that was a good enough reason to leave. Facing death is sobering. It puts everything into perspective and that is why I have made it my mission in life to always and forever put my happiness first. Nothing else is more important than being happy and at peace.

I have paid my dues and earned the right to put my middle finger up high. I’ve worked myself to the bone to own the bad-ass that I’ve become. I never relied on anyone else to save me; I had to fight until my skin was bare to get to this point. Which is why I am extremely proud to own and embrace every facet of my past experiences: from the two divorces, to the failed relationships to having two kids with two different fathers. I have walked through fire to get to be who I am now and I am unapologetic about it. The reason I make reference to this here, is simply to reveal that not everyone knows my story, so why do people feel like they get a narrative regarding my choices?

Let’s cut to the chase here. This kind of judgment from women to women is a nascent act of violence done in the most sinister and divisive way. It keeps us from stepping into the power we own as women. It also unfairly places the blame on men for sexist behaviour, when women are actually the culprits. Why does speaking about the way I look matter when it’s far more important to focus on what I am looking AT?

It may appear contradictory, if my choices are scrutinised. But, being true means owning MY TRUTH. It doesn’t have to be accepted or approved by anyone else. If it’s true for me, if my intention is only about love and peace and not set to hurt another, then I am not a contradiction, I am still fully in my authentic power. This truth of mine may be terribly inconvenient for others but again, it’s only ever right for me.

Judgment is easy. It’s very easy to point fingers, apportion blame, use slandering words like “whore” or “slut” or “bitch” liberally. It’s easy to criticise a path you’ve not taken, or choices you’ve not made out of fear because then it is far simpler to remain a victim of circumstance. For those of us actually doing the work, we don’t need the judgment. You can turn that mirror inwards, you may not like what you see. 

#MeToo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by tivaniam

I recently shared a #MeToo post on my Facebook profile, because obviously, #MeToo.

For those who aren’t aware, the recent #MeToo social media campaign invited women from across the world to use the hashtag as a way to increase the scope of visibility of those who’ve experienced sexual harassment; from your everyday woman, to celebrities, to politicians. This only serves to highlight the prominence of what is endured silently. And now, women are choosing to banish the shame and fear, and speak out.

This has absolutely nothing to do with victimisation or creating propaganda or more divisiveness. This is about creating awareness and highlighting the change that needs to happen. This is about treating the cause with the reverence it deserves.

I’ve been sexually harassed more times than I can count over the years from men who chose to contact me, unsolicited and uninvited, commenting on everything from my legs; to my ass; to my hair; to my breasts; bartering first, then more insistently explaining why I need to have sex with them. This has not gotten better as I’ve gotten older – it’s become worse.

Today, I received a few of these messages on my public business Facebook page, of which two stood out. Man #1 commented on my legs saying he simply loved the fact that I “showed them off”. When his comment received no response, he messaged me back to say that “I’ve disrespected him by ignoring him”. Man #2 sent me a message saying “Hi honey, I want to get to know you because I like you and you are sexy and I am lonely”. I didn’t respond so he publicly posted his displeasure on my wall: “fucking moron bitch, you are an asshole”.

So this is the thing. It’s easy to harass and abuse power, exert control and dominance or physically intimidate women into silence about these things. I know that I’ve been very afraid to speak about my incidents over the years because a lot of these men were physically overwhelming and scary. Now with social media, virtual harassment is the common practice but not less scary. The bottom line is, hurt people hurt people and it’s about time we get to the real issues, of what’s behind the abuse – pain and fear – and start addressing these social evils that keep us all as sick as our secrets.

The psychology and sociology of these patterns of behaviour need to be looked at, individually first, because from there it has a ripple effect on the collective humanity. We cannot possibly move forward and make the shifts we need consciously if we see ourselves as separate from each other. To those men who choose to dishonour women: understand that by such behaviour, you prevent yourself from levelling up and you perpetuate these vicious cycles onto the next generation and the next generation. Your actions demonstrate your internal inefficiencies and that holds us back from progressing, if it’s left festering in filth.

Immediately, we can start to do better. This starts with being aware.

‘No’ means no.

‘No’ does not mean ‘try harder’.

Single does not mean available.

How a woman dresses is not an invitation for you to pursue her.

Respect boundaries.

Watch your language. There is a fine line between a compliment and sexual objectification or obscenity. 

Hear us. See us. Pay attention.

#MeToo

 

Ellyphantshoe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2017 by tivaniam

I’ve always known that nothing worth having comes without some sort of fight. The same can be said for awareness; it tends to be cultivated during those moments of utter despair, usually when you’re face-down in the gutter and everything you’ve known to be true gets questioned.

I’ve spent the last three days immersed in the poignancy that came with the book Ellyphantshoe – a modern-day love story by author Asheen Dayal, who recounts his heart-breaking journey of losing the woman he loved together with the complete and utter degradation of his entire life. Through daily love letters written to her, he speaks of his depression and coming to terms with his life falling apart. Now this is a story I am all-too familiar with.

For 72-hours straight, I looked at life through the lens of Ash, and it was a book that spoke my own personal truth in uncanny ways. Many times during certain chapters I would message him aggressively, asking what sort of wizardry was he up to, and how did he get into the very crevice of my locked away internal and very personal dialogue. His words were always: “keep reading”. I took moments to wipe away hot tears, and at other times laughed at his unpacking of certain things – which closely resonated with my own beliefs. It is raw, unadulterated, sometimes seditious, sometimes ostentatious and sometimes laden with aspersions that made me cringe – all of which were regaled in truth and authenticity.

Ash lays his heart on the line and speaks his truth in all its hideousness. When I playfully critiqued his spelling mistakes he told me that the letters were never meant to be published and when he decided to turn those private letters into a book, he wanted to make it as authentic and real as possible. I respected that immensely and dropped my editor and writer’s hat. I read the book as a woman and it spoke to the very core of me.

More than being voyeurs into the life and heart of a man, this book is an invitation. Very often I have expressed that sentiment in my work, saying that people don’t need to agree or disagree with what my thoughts are, they simply need to sit with the possibility of what merit can be found in my words. The same rings true for Ash. And I’ve said it a million times over that truth is like a boomerang, it comes back to you. And when one person speaks their truth, it gives other people permission to do the same. So when I read Ash’s words, I was so grateful that someone else in this world felt as I did. That you simply cannot exchange goodness for immunity from life’s challenges. All of us get bludgeoned by life and even if we don’t understand it now, these happenings are all meant for our highest good that we’ve attracted into our consciousness, so that we can learn something that will propel us to where we need to go in order to grow. People don’t remember easy. People remember the blood and the bones and the long agonising fight when we claw our way back from rock-bottom. And that is how we become legendary.

People like Ash and I – the proverbial truth-tellers, become that way because of devastation and when you’re faced with it, you develop an aversion for lies. The lies we tell ourselves daily. It is when you learn the hard lessons that you realise that not a moment can be wasted on half-truths. So many of us have been where faith and hope couldn’t find us and we stare blindly into the darkness. At the end, everything does eventually become quiet and all that’s left is the beat of your own heart. You better like the sound of it. All the battles we wage are with ourselves.

Ellyphantshoe – an invitation to be stunningly unusual instead of perfectly fake. Thank you Ash. I honour you.

 

 

Follow Your Bliss: A Journey Inward

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2017 by tivaniam

For many years my idea of ‘following my bliss’ was very singular – becoming a writer. I spent two decades immersed in fear and wondering if I will be accepted because in my mind, there were countless writers who came before me, doing the same thing. I eventually got tired of my own shit and persistent internal longings and chose to live in my truth, because the idea to be a writer had nothing to do with recognition and everything to do with the sound of my own heart. So I did an excavation of my soul and actualised that longing, removed from ego.  And so I thought I had arrived. I followed my bliss and I am living it daily.

Then, over the last six months, I had a revelation that the concept of bliss is incredibly multifaceted and not exclusive to what I do, but rather about how I want to spend the rest of my days. And this is the biggest thing because it means that my authenticity has to be absolute and consistent.  For the last few years I felt like I could pride myself on my authenticity until recent events showed me how inconsistent I’ve been. Lessons are still repeating itself because of a deep-rooted belief that I’ve held on to and evidently NOT released  – the need for approval and acceptance, the desire to be LIKED because I’M A NICE PERSON.  Meaning, I am sort of ashamed of some truths because of how I may be received. Therefore, I am not completely and fully authentic. Well, fuck.

So, this is the thing. Until we learn, the lessons never end. And, they get harder. And when you learn the lessons, even more gets revealed – sort of like peeling an onion. Layers and layers of stuff get revealed that we are forced to look at – if we want to – or ignore and cause suffering to ourselves.

This was the biggest lesson for me in recent weeks. Letting go of the need to be chosen, the need to be accepted and liked, the need to be revered and validated – all of that stuff is the opposite of following my bliss. Following my bliss means being true to me. Only me. My own heart, my own dreams, my own passions, desires and happiness. It sounds selfish but it’s actually the biggest act of love. Love emanates from self-love first.

I wrote this piece because I felt like we all need to be freer. We could all use the release of this heavy pressure we place on ourselves where we hook our worth from our performances in this world. We need to learn how to re-centre our lives on grace for ourselves first without the desire to prove anything to anyone. I am learning with each new day what it means to be truly present. And that for me starts with being absolutely true to myself, without the fear of how that is perceived to others or whether I am liked. Now, following my bliss means doing whatever it takes to be well and truly happy. Imagine if all of us chose to live that way? A humanity that loves freely and fully and lives their lives to the beat of their own drum, the sound of their own heart…That for me is the divine spark we all need to intertwine our hearts – making us all that much more grateful and gracious. That is how we shift collective consciousness. THAT is the bliss we need more of. And yes, it starts with me.

 

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