Young Mascots of Mental Health

Young Mascots of Mental Health

These are my young mascots from school doing a street play  on stigmas attached to mental health.

‘We live in a world that is oblivious to this matter of dire concern. Sometimes, one ignores the simplest of signs and symptoms and sometimes the society forces you to maintain a mask of a perfectionist human being. The world needs a revolution so that mental health gets an equitable status as mental health. Talking to a confidante is good enough to let your vulnerabilities be addressed in a non judgmental way. You would only get more strong and confident’.

This was the  message reiterated by my 16 year olds. 

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Diyas and livelihood 

Diyas and livelihood 

Pottery has always made a historical mark telling us a lot about any civilisation.

Modernisation has resulted in an extinction of indigenous potters of India. Before urbanisation takes a complete sweep and such communities decide to end their ancestral legacy of pottery. Let’s make a small difference. Buy diyas made of earthen clay and make your festival special. 

I just got 100 diyas for just ₹100. Only 1.3 USD. It’s worthy of getting a smile from the seller. And yes, they are biodegradable!

Happy Diwali…

Eleven good reasons to travel

  1. You meet new people.
  2. The routine conversations change and they stimulate new neural pathways.
  3. You get a different environment to address the chatter inside your head.
  4. Relaxed mind gives you a perspective to understand yourself better.
  5. You feel grateful to have a life that is letting you travel.
  6. Even when you shell some coins to a local hawker to purchase something you realize the worth of money.
  7. My favorite ‘L’ word is livelihood. When you travel you see that people put in a lot of blood and sweat to earn a living. You are better off than so many around you.
  8. Travel of any duration tests your physical and mental endurance.
  9. You get fresh ideas for your work.
  10. Memories stay in the lens of your camera and in your mind.
  11. Tiring travel plans let you sleep peacefully.

These are my favorite lines from Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen song. It summarizes it all.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard;
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

 

A small tribute to the Indian Army

A small tribute to the Indian Army

I remember a conversation with an elderly kashmiri man who owned a café and a bookshop in Ladakh. He talked about the uncovered mountains (without a green cover) and low oxygen levels in Ladakh. Of course, he was comparing Kashmir with Ladakh. As a tourist, I somehow managed to get quickly acclimatized with just two sleepless nights. I was extremely lucky! Ladakh is a cold desert & can essentially test one’s physical and mental endurance. So, I could somewhat relate to what the elderly shared.

Ladakh is geographically quite close to China. You can see Indian soldiers patrol the dry- rugged terrain, dig communication lines and build roads on an elevation of 5000 feet and above the sea level.

 

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Dry patched mountains, the Indus and a clear blue sky are all that defines Ladakh’s landscape. Human life? Yes, a few nomadic families who rear cattle and lot of military stations. You won’t get signboards while driving but the soldiers would give directions with a smile.

 

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It’s a feeling of gratitude that one develops after seeing this side of the world. I am living a peaceful and a contented life and this is an acknowledgment for the Indian army who marvel at safeguarding our frontiers.

Travel and explore Ladakh!

Memories of Childhood Play (part 2)

Memories of Childhood Play (part 2)

I teach Psychology at 10+2 level. When I begin a chapter on Group Dynamics (that’s one of my favorites) by asking the students to recall their kindergarten experience of making friends.

Students share that in very little time they got playmates. To their amazement, groups began to get formed. Apparently, these groups had leaders (predominantly authoritarian) who decided the game and precious few who could be part it. There were hard-core followers in the group and few were outrightly denied entry. There were gossips in and around the group by the kindergarteners in their own little but important ways. Remember, the shy and the ignored ones of your class?

I’ll do a short personal sharing that resonates with the class discussion on group dynamics.

This was primary school and I was a follower in a girl’s group. Most of the girls in the class were keen on being connected to this group. A girl who was obviously a teacher’s favorite, named Kanishka was unanimously chosen as a captain of the girl’s group. (We learned this term ‘captain’ quite early in life to sort human hierarchical structures in our head) Kanishka decided the games to be played during the sports period. She also decided the rules of the game. Everyone preferred to follow her rules or one would experience refusal to play.

And yes, if it’s my birthday, I would give the honor to Kanishka (as a special friend) and take her along to distribute sweets to teachers. On the way, I would give her few extra sweets.

You see, she is popular and in return, she would give me a better treatment when the girl gang is at play.

Quite occasionally someone would break away from the group.  There was conformity and high need for affiliation amongst us. Deep inside, everyone preferred to be with Kanishka.

Solitude play evokes different thoughts and emotions than when a child plays with others. Both are significant in the personality development of an individual. 

Recall your days of childhood while you were at play. And I am sure that a number of emotions and thoughts would upsurge…You’ll be able to determine your relationship with yourself and of course others.

My next article would be a personal sharing of playing with neighborhood friends and this experience is in complete contrast to my role as a ‘follower’ in girl’s group at school.

Memories of Childhood Play

Memories of Childhood Play

I was in primary school. I loved to set up my doll house in one small corner of our drawing-room and play in solitude for days. The play would go on hours till an adult would interject and ask me to do something productive.

As I grew up, my love for my dolls also grew stronger. I would have been 9, when my parents did get a little concerned over my overindulgence with dolls. They were now get a little impatient with my occupancy in that little corner of our drawing-room.

I began to feel that they are unhappy with my play. 

Well, my love to play with my doll house was beyond measure. I decided to take my doll house to one little corner of our huge terrace. I could again play for hours with my dolls. Any approaching adult from family would threaten by asking me to stop the play and get back to studies.

Guilt of playing with dolls also started to settle in me as the adults repeatedly reiterated that my play is age inappropriate. 

Soon, with onset of adolescence, the nature of play changed and obsession with dolls resolved too. 

When I reflect back, there were other forms of play in school and in the neighbourhood. And each bit of play did influence my thoughts and emotions. I would soon be sharing more such experiences. And thereby built ideas on play therapy and ways to engage our children when they play.

 

Readers, share your childhood experiences of play. Significant or insignificant, don’t worry!

Did you receive medals for being a mediocre student?

Did you receive medals for being a mediocre student?

The trend of awarding kids with trophies or medals for their outstanding achievement in academics and co-scholastic areas started in 1970s. This came to be known as ‘self-esteem movement’. Idea was to boost the child’s self-image.

Parents would soon join the race to appreciate their talented child. Relatives in blood relation or otherwise would also be a part of appreciating the child for a unique talent seen during the formative years of life. This would be more so in collectivistic cultures like India. It would be an ulterior motive of these important stakeholders in the child’s life to fulfil the prophecy of making him/her an engineer or a doctor or a footballer or an artist…

Well, life always has something else to offer. How often were we surrounded by a bed of roses?

The child is going to have a stress-free life and the accolades earned during the school would really secure him/her. Who can guarantee? Apparently, no one! Even a genius like Albert Einstein had to experience his share of hardship. He died being a Nobel laureate but not for his contribution of theory of relativity.

The harder truth is that no amount of accolades, achievement certificates or trophies or verbal praise would develop a child as a ‘resilient’ being.

I wonder if the self-esteem movement churned out people with really high self-esteem? How about those performers who never managed to bag trophies and they were to be identified in the ‘average cadre’?

The self-esteem movement has creeped in institutes of higher education and not only kindergarten. I am confident to say this for my subcontinent India.

In our lifetime, sometimes we have all been appreciated for our efforts and sometimes rejected or criticised. Sometimes, we didn’t really deserve an appreciation but still received it and sometimes we deserved to be appreciated but someone else bagged it.

We had all such experiences as a child. Wouldn’t you agree? It all seems to be a muddled approach to boost our self-esteem as a child.

Don’t you think it is time to re-evaluate our approach? Pour-in your ideas readers..

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.

― Anne Frank