Like an ordinary girl with simple dreams, I was following the normal course of life. After a few years of working hard in an MNC in the buzzing city of Mumbai, I noticed the futility of many things around me and began to question my very existence on planet earth.
This led me to take part in a series of self-help seminars, books, and training programs. After attending a few of them, I observed a significant change in my life. I had found the formula to happiness and was ready to share it with others. At that moment, that was my reality. With my family’s support and encouragement, I stepped out of the rat race and bid goodbye to my decade-long corporate career.
For 8 years, I shared all that I had learnt in the professional training programs (Counselling, Hypnotherapy, Heal Your Life Trainings and Workshops in the philosophy of Louise Hay etc). There were many breakthroughs and many more aha moments. It was extremely satisfying to witness the transformations of people who attended the workshops, coaching and therapy sessions. Watch the video with sound
But something was missing and I was still searching…….
Walk of Hope
In 2015, I got an opportunity to join the Walk of Hope, led by Sri M, 7500 kms, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir (Jan 2015 to April 2016). The objective of the Walk was to spread the message of Peace and Harmony. Till then I had known of only the Dandi March of Mahatma Gandhi and heard about the yatras of the ancient mystics of India.
With so much happening in our country, joining the walk felt right. In the beginning, I had no idea about the impact that this Walk was going to have on me. In my heart, I knew that it was special.
I wasn’t as fortunate as those who walked from beginning to end. However, I did join the walk as much as I could. Every day we would walk for 15-20 km and stay the night wherever we would reach. The accommodation would be in a School, Temple, Gurudwara, Dharamshala or a simple lodge.
Was it a Walk within or without?
For the first time, I saw our country through a different lens. Believe me, we miss most of the things when we travel in our air-conditioned cars or airlines. It was a literal all senses-opener for me, for I witnessed the diversity of cultures, religions, languages, food, attire, art, architecture, terrain, climate and the economic disparity. It was heartwarming to meet simple, kind and generous people on the roads, in villages, small towns, and big cities. They all believed in the cause of the Walk and wanted Peace and Harmony in the country, their neighborhood, their families and within themselves.
Challenges & Learnings
I was extremely happy to be there. After the initial euphoria settled, I realized that it was an inward journey for me, challenging me at all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. One had to be mentally strong to cover the daily walking distance physically, be it hot, rainy or cold weather. Every day was new with different emotions surfacing up.
Growing up in cities gives you a very bookish understanding of our country. It was exhilarating to see so many places that I had only heard of and some that I had not even known. The reality of the contrast in the economic status of the people in villages and cities hit me hard. People in villages and smaller towns appeared to be happy with where they were and what they had. At times I felt so small for thinking otherwise. It was humbling to learn gratitude for the little and bigger things that we end up taking for granted or feel entitled to.
Words are falling short for me to describe my entire experience. I continue to harness the Gifts of the Walk and cannot measure them tangibly. My heart brims with gratitude for Sri M for selflessly undertaking this humongous and noble project.
The Walk ended in Srinagar, on 29th April 2016, touching millions of people on the way.
It was for Peace and Harmony. Internal and external.
It is said,
Slowly and gradually I began to realize that something within me had shifted. I felt I needed to give myself space and time to just Be, allowing things to emerge on its own, without any hurry or pressure.
I felt like being in a cocoon.
Changes in my plan
I couldn’t have returned to my earlier profession as it required constant external presence and lot of administrative work. I needed time for myself. Deep introspection also resulted in the understanding that it wasn’t fulfilling the intention anymore with which I had started out. It was a difficult decision to make as I truly love the philosophy and the wonderful work the group is doing worldwide. This also meant there will be no income. But it felt right. At that time it wasn’t easy to explain this to both my families (Home and Heal your Life).
Nevertheless, once free of the responsibilities of the Heal Your Life Teacher Trainer, I found myself gravitating towards various art forms probably because it felt easier to express myself through them and gave me the me time and space. I learnt pottery for some time, took painting classes, learnt music for a while, enjoyed taking care of my home, formed a loving relationship with the plants in my balcony and stumbled upon Story Telling.
Around the same time, I attended a workshop on Hand Block printing by a rural artist. The simplicity of the artist, the rich history of the craft and the sheer joy of creating something new motivated me to dive deeper into this art form. I traveled to various block printing hubs of the country (Bagru, Sanganer, Ajrakhpur, Bhuj, Dhamadka etc) and learnt from the experts.
It was very enriching and again very humbling to learn from the artists. They did not want anything in return except something that could be done to preserve this ancient art form. They need work so that they can continue to do what they have been doing for generations. The natural form of printing is not practiced actively. As a country, we are losing our heritage due to the commercialization of the art. Many organizations like Dastkar, Avani, Khamir, Aranya etc are doing enough and more to promote many such art forms. And so, even though a lot of work is already being done in this area, I decided to do whatever I could (in my own limited way), to sustain the natural way of hand printing and dyeing.
This is very different from what I have done earlier, I don’t have an educational qualification in textiles or fashion. I get so many doubts in my head. At that time I remind myself of what the experts in the field have told me – it is better to be free of the baggage of the degrees and create from the heart space and that makes it very exciting for me.
And so I have set up a small studio where I have been experimenting with various hand-carved blocks, motifs and fabrics, eco-friendly colors and natural dyes. It requires me to work slowly and patiently, almost like in a meditation. Perfect for me!
The quest is still on. Like everyone, I too am work in progress and very excited to see what the universe wants to unfold…..
You are most welcome to visit my studio, chat with me over nice adrak wali chai and/or even try your hand at block printing.
Feel free to leave a message for me or comment below. Would love to hear from you.