Drama Therapy

Last week, I did the unthinkable! I went in to attended a Intro to Drama Therapy by Living Arts Counseling It was a tough day, Friday evening, I couldn’t get out of work till late, didn’t get a chance to eat dinner before I went in, had a kinda busy day. I had every reason to NOT go! Apart from my palpitating heart as I walked in – I had to just block out the fear and show up. And super glad I did it.

Drama Therapy is unique in a sense – that it’s based on the fact that our bodies record and store every emotion we feel. Be it good or bad – our body keeps the score. And we live in a world of action – doing things and experiencing emotions. The concept is by acting out the actions and replaying the events of past in our heads – we can re-visit those emotions we felt and thereby maybe get a second chance to look at them objectively. The idea is grand, but the process is work! Since it’s a intro class – I get to witness and participate in some of the core activities of it. The instructor was amazing – she made me realize how some people can live life fully!

In 3 hours, my heart got unraveled. I was cut open up like a fruit and on came those emotions. In that span I went through some nostalgic emotions (remembering about my visit to my grandparent’s place during my summers), falling in love (with Sangita & again with my daughter) to fear & anger (about not being accepted as I am by my father and how in one instance I missed to get one more mark, to make the cut, in a test I took when I was 12). It was raw and intense. I couldn’t feel anything for a day.

Sangita has been asking me to go for a long time. She did it long time ago and it changed her life. I always thought being an introvert and how scary it is for me to act out my feelings, let alone talk about them – would be very difficult. It was difficult but the outcome was totally worth it! It’s like a language – which gives access to all locked up emotions and trauma in our bodies. This mask we wear day in and day out is shed among a group of equally trauma inflicted people and in a very safe environment. There were moments where I wanted to leave halfway through, but being an adamant asshole I am I stuck to it and refused. There was this one act – which is called “I want it, you can’t have it” – that rattled my heart out! I wanted the facilitator to call timeout, as those 3 minutes felt like aeons.

It was very insightful – kinda assured me of my own belief that all the answers that I seek lie within me. More and more in my body locked up as emotions. I am not sure if I will do a full course, because it would mean opening up past wounds and feeling completely lost and raw. A part of me thinks I can and a part of me is scared as hell.

Food is Memory, Music is Emotion

I have been thinking about this for some time. A long drive today kinda tied up all the loose ends in my head. I strongly believe food is all about re-creating memories. When I cook, every time I cook – I am basically trying to recreate the great memory I had eating that food in the past. Even when I go out to eat at some special place it’s all about recreating memories or reinforcing them. Similarly, music is about invoking emotion. I believe we associate our emotions to music. Re-living them through various strums and hums – beyond time and space. Basically tell me your Spotify playlists and I can pretty much guess the kind of feelings and emotions you like to experience.

sadness

Speaking of emotions – Inside Out movie is one the smartest and well done representation of our emotions. I loved it and I think every adult should watch it. The biggest surprise was (now on hindsight it makes it kinda dumb) Sadness is a key emotion for us to feel. Because happiness does not exist on it own. It needs a standing ground to sprout. Sadness provides that and this daily trauma of life has ample opportunities for us to experience sadness. And if we don’t resist it or ignore it or deny it and accept it we might actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And so speaking of accepting things that make us sad. There are 2 songs that I feel that strongly make me sad. I have never figured out why they make me sad so far, I don’t honestly know. One reminds me of Home – far far away. One reminds me of my teen years.

Parenting through Incentives

Off late, I have noticed a weird behavior on my behalf. It is with respect to my daughter who is 2.5 years old. I have noticed 3 dominant reactive patterns of behavior in me. When I am trying to get something done by my daughter or make her to do something I usually do one of the 3 following things.

  1. I try to scare her by saying that I will withhold love. For example, I would say – “Ok, you don’t seem to be interested in getting ready for school – so I am leaving you here and going to my work”
  2. I try to compare or show preference to something/someone else. For example, I would say – “Ok, if you don’t get ready soon I will take Tina (her toy) to school and you will be at home”
  3. I try to cajole her with incentives. For example, I would say – “Ok, you can watch one show or you can eat one yogurt squisher if you get ready for school”

I know all those sound very brutal, but I have been so implicitly using them that it took me a while to catch myself doing it. I spent some time trying to understand where this stems from. I mean, these are learned behaviors which I am modelling for my child and she is going to learn them too. If you think about it – the above list can be easily modified and applied to how we do our jobs. A employer would basically make you work by –

  1. Scare – If you don’t do your job – you will be fired.
  2. Compare – The others are doing a better job than you.
  3. Compensate – If you finish this in half the time, you will get a bonus.

These methods involved in getting someone from point A to point B – seems universal. Upon digging a little deeper I realized there already exists a Strategy of Persuasion in Indian philosophy called – Saama, Dana, Bheda, Danda. Saama is Persuasion, Dana is bribing, Bheda is threat, Danda is punishment. There are 3 more in that list – Maya – deceit, Upeksha – ignoring, Indrajala – jugglery.

Not matter what other connections I find – in the moment I don’t feel right about this. I don’t think parenting can be done with above techniques. It’s easy to follow those techniques but I think it’s creating a bad model for your child. Unfortunately I don’t know (at this moment) what my alternatives are. I mean I don’t have any other ways to get my daughter inspired to do something. I am in a dilemma.

My Worst Fears

Couple of days back I had a great realization. I realized what my greatest fears are (and have been). I mean I kinda knew some – but this time I came across the core of them. We all have our own dark corners and I nurtured mine with complete denial and ignorance. It was culmination of what I have been reading and that one amazing video watched the night before. Here is the book –

tamingA simple and amazing book which talks a lot about how internal chatter creates these seemingly uncontrollable gremlins that we carry around and believe the picture they paint as true. It’s really hard to identify them as they usually become part of our identity and severely limit our scope to catch them in action.

The books premise is – there is a core in everyone of us. The pure core and then there are these gremlins. We are kinda slaves to these gremlins (if you watched Cloud Atlas, there is a perfect example of it in that movie. The “Old Georgie” is nothing but a personification of Gremlin). Gremlins control us based on a pattern. They keep us anywhere except the present and now. Obsess about past, fear the future – that’s gremlin talking.

I think that book needs to be re-read and re-read till we can clearly identify and sort out those gremlins. So, here are my worst fears.

1. The Fear of not fitting in : This is so much part of me that it was really, really hard to dislocate and watch it. Basically not fitting in for me means anything from clothing, accent, pronunciation, culture, politics, knowledge, humor, sports, finances, habits and everything else. I am so dreaded by the fact that I won’t fit into something that I will totally avoid anything if I have a slightest hint of not fitting in well. It’s a painful truth and probably has kept me off of many astounding opportunities in my life but yeah that is my fear and it’s part of me.

2. The Fear of not being nice : This is nuts as well. I hate to be one with conflicts. I mean internal conflicts I seed and grow a many but outer conflicts I can’t take it. I am so scared of not turning out to be nice to other people that I will actually avoid them rather be angry at them or even show even a hint of discontent. Once again this fear is part of me and defines me.

3. The Fear of not being smart enough : This is the most craziest and the more I dwelled into it the more I realized that this is a double edge sword. I hate to be not smart enough among a peer group. If I am among a bunch of smart people, I strive really really hard to act and do smart things. But on the other hand if I come across someone who is not as smart as I think they are – then I drop, I completely drop and “act” stupid to accommodate me. So, I act more smart and more dumb when required to fit into the above two fears.

Remember the question here is NOT “why am I this way?” Doing that encourages another gremlin and you lost your battle already. It’s just to put the fears out. Pull out these grotesque creatures I have nurtured and created since my childhood and just watch them. Just be aware of them and do nothing. As simple as it sounds, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. Just writing this blog post makes me think that I am publicly shaming myself and making vulnerable to outside world.

The video I talked about which helped me to figure out the above process is by Alan Watts. Here it is.

I created this blog to actually post stuff that surfaces in my psyche and in the past there have been many books and stuff I read that have helped me to identify these. Here are some of them that come to mind.

I just came across this gem – The Blerch is nothing but a Gremlin – http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

 

 

 

practicingmind artofwar mastery

 

 

 

Being Aware and Clear

As I journaled away my thoughts and complaints today I realized something good. I usually address my letter to Swami and pour out whatever is coming through. I think and treat him as if he is listening to me and sympathising with what I am saying. As I complained away – I realized or rather remembered that the point of power is within me and my complaints are actually shaping my very mindset about issues at hand.

I have always felt like that there is some secret mantra to life. I mean some kind of blueprint and pathway directing me every moment about what I should do next. But I don’t think there is any now. But how do I proceed through this jigsaw? I think there is only one way to it – As we are told about how being aware of our breath is a form of meditation (Thich Nhat Hanh talks a lot about this) so do I believe being aware of what I want in every moment is the only way of having a clarity in this life.

I know both aren’t easy and sound like they need a lot of work. I agree, but that is the only way to step back from our lives’ autopilot. You can think of 2 thoughts entwined – like when you become aware of your breath also ask – what do I want? Like in this specific moment. I may not have answer for all the moments and I may not remember to be aware of my breath all the time.

Again, it’s one way of living and passing through life’s various curved paths.

Permission

Every night sometime after 10pm – I get into this (if I am not watching TV) mental mode where my mind is ripe with ideas and I extend my thinking with new things and thought and dreams. Then I go to sleep – still thinking about some of those things and sometimes I don’t sleep and end up thinking about those ideas. Then when I wake up, the monotone banality sets in – as I walk to work – like everyone around me in this part of the world does – this so called reality tries to mess with my mind saying that – the past night thoughts were fluke and I need to get real.

This literally happens like almost regularly. As regularly as I get a Latte at Starbucks.

Last night as I was getting into my dreamy mode – I was able to stop myself and and then I realized that this critic has infiltrated into my most amazing kid like dreamy state and was trying to stop it at its root. I was surprised and as I was thinking about it – I realized that I really don’t need to ask for *permission* from my own critic. I mean it dominates the rest of day and tells me what I am supposed to do but this time was my exploration time.

As that thought settled in – I also realized that this critic no matter how useful it is for me to do day to day jobs – needn’t run my life the way he runs it. And as I saw the bigger picture – all my life has been one long list of permission list from this critic. Can I do that? Can I participate in it? Am I capable? Do I have the skills? Am I good enough? And on and on…

It also made me realize that how futile fighting this critic is. The more you fight, the more you make him stronger. The only way to escape him is to ignore him. I know it’s impossible to change my behavior over night (that statement was sponsored by my critic) but ignoring him works like a charm. If I see something painful or start to feel anxious about something I don’t know of – I just need to become aware that it’s one of those tactics of this critic.

The way to drain the critic out of you is to stop asking for his permission. Stop empowering him. You can do whatever you want to do. It doesn’t matter if you are good or suck at it. What matters is – whether we are all man enough to overcome this fake critic which got installed into our psyche when we were like kids. This hero worshipping culture enables the latent critic. Makes it stronger. But I don’t have to play by it’s rules.

I am going to to drain him by stopping to ask for permission.

Incomplete Me

This post has been stewing for quite sometime and I think if I don’t just write it up as it exists in my mind, I would never come around to it. So, here it goes.

Recently my boss mentioned a very dear book to my heart – GEB and it kinda triggered the thought that I need to write this up sooner.

Ok, so Godel is my hero. For some unknown reasons I stumbled upon GEB couple of years back and since then I am a big fan of Godel. Recently while we were on vacation in Hawaii I read the novel – “Mad man dreams of Turing Machines“. A fascinating book. The writing style is filled with metaphors and it will be an extra twist every para you read. It also show cases how *crazy* like literally Godel was. I don’t care about it. I think all Geniuses are kinda crazy and all successful people are kinda psychopathic. That’s fine.

Here is what Godel’s theorem says – in very basic terms. Geometry arose based on certain assumptions which are called ‘axioms’ in mathematical lingo. Theorems are proved axioms. So, geometry has this set of axioms which were crafted some 2000 years back and based on those axioms there have been further Theorems proved and accepted. This is an exception to Mathematics. Nothing in mathematics is based on pure axioms.

So, a lot of people took a look at it and said, Oh that works well for Geometry and I wonder if we can do something similar with another part of mathematics – say Logic. So, a lot of work has been going on either to prove the basic axioms to be true or to transfer this methodology to other areas of math in 1930s. Whitehead and Russell just wrote an epitome on Mathematics and basically tried to apply the Geometry’s method to Logic.

Godel comes around and proves that any system built on assumptions/axioms will never be complete. In other words – screw you Geometry and Bertrand Russell. This was phenomenal.  A lot of people were pissed because this means that it’s useless for them to try to perceive their ideas and make the system complete.

So, where do I come into picture here? All my life, I have been striving for something. That something is “Perfection”. In every aspect of my life, I have always wanted to be perfect. I know, I know – it has it’s roots in my childhood. My dad wasn’t happy with my education. If I close my eyes, I can see that day crystal clear where I was in my 2nd grade and we were doing some kind of show at school. I was part of this show we were doing. I think we were showcasing the animals. I was dressed up as some animal, I don’t recall. But we were supposed to go up on the stage and say something and stand back. I was nervous probably or confused – heck I was just 6 years old. They gave these soda drinks to us to drink before we went on stage. I still had mine in my hand and I wanted to drink it. My turn came in and I walked on stage with my soda and froze and forgot what I had to say. Someone stepped in and pulled me back and the next kid came up.

That night – my dad, mom and sisters were in the crowd along with all other kids’ parents. I am sure my dad was disappointed. I knew something was off and I know he would be mad. As we walked back home that night. I can still recall the path we took to walk home. My dad walked in front of me and talked to me how disappointed he was to see me froze and how unhappy he was about it. It went on and on. I know there have been many other put downs throughout my life but this incident is still fresh in my heart.

What happened after that was and is much more painful than that actual incident. I have always felt this gap, this incompleteness within me. I am never happy with myself. I am always thinking that there is more to do and more to achieve. I always talk to myself that I am not good enough – just like my dad used to. This is the prime chatter that goes on in my mind. I am never enough or perfect. I know it sound terrible, but believe me I have pushed myself to do some crazy things only because of that talk. Even still I don’t think I am perfect or complete.

Recently I started to notice the other effect of this. I would have normally lived the rest of my life with this chatter but I have noticed that my chatter is expanding to the most dearest thing of my life – my daughter. I have observed that I am using the same critical lens which I inherited from my dad and use it on me, onto my daughter. I was shocked. She is 16 months old!

I had to think really hard and shrug that scary moment off. I am becoming my dad to my daughter. I was shocked. I put it on a back burner and let it on and have been thinking. So, this is where Godel steps in. I think Godel’s theorem not only applies to Mathematics but to any system in the world. This system of ME. If you think about it, my self-image is based on the perception I have about myself. This is subjective and highly volatile. Which means that I have to assume somethings to be true to just live. Which in my case is – I am not perfect. And all the rest of my life has been setup in such a way that I am trying to prove that I am perfect. But if I apply what Godel said, I can never be COMPLETE.

This made me realize the fallacy of my logic. This shattered my illusion. Today I drop this assumption. I know it’s going to be very hard since I live with this every moment but I am bringing in awareness that I am not perfect and I can never be complete in a sense I want it to be. I am human and I will be a mix of success and failures from my point of view. And that’s fucking OK.

It’s like all my life I have been trying to be something like ‘Sri Chakra‘, but now I realize that it’s actually a ‘Mandelbrot‘. Oh if you think beauty is in the eye, then perfection is in the mind.

Today is Father’s day and I have been thinking of my dad too. I know I just portrayed my dad as the villain but he was the best. He is the sole reason why I am what I am – in all ways. The open mindedness he brought to me, the learning he encouraged in me and the faith he put in me are all allowing me to be the person I am. I am proud of myself and I am proud of my dad. His only thing was  – restraint love – which he believed to be good for various silly reasons.

I am thankful for you dad. I accept the way you were to me. I release all negative emotions tied up with that day and every day onwards. I need to let go of it to become the person I am to be to my daughter. I need to step out of that perfect circle I have been trying to built around me.

I am what I am and I love every part of it. I will be the best dad to my daughter because of all I am and because of all I am not.

Happy Father’s Day People.