THE YEAR I UN-BRAINWASHED MYSELF

After a lifetime of swallowing the societal pills of so-called security, 2017 was the year Sushma Sagar officially “un-brainwashed” herself and began living straight from her radical core …

Sushma starts to see the light

It was pretty much drilled into my generation that the path to success and happiness was getting a secure job, getting married, and having kids. For a long time, it didn’t even occur to me that there was an alternative way to live. But when I found myself coming out of the spiritual closet in my corporate career, it started a chain reaction that led to me starting a full-time healing business last year.

And beyond my working life, reassessing my professional priorities also found me re-thinking my personal goals. Did I need to be married with a family to be happy? Did the people “in charge” know what was best for me? Do I want to be motivated by fear, as at seems some of our leaders would prefer? What do I actually think, need, dream of, once familial, societal and social conditioning is removed?

Seeking to learn the answers made 2017 the year I officially un-brainwashed myself … 

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I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions … 

I attended a private girl’s school in the 80s, whose mission was to prepare their students to be strong independent females who would make it in a man’s world. We were educated to be career motivated, and highly successful, be it in law, finance, medicine etc. As I was a daughter in a high achieving Indian family, it was an ethos that was also echoed at home.

It was a challenge for somebody creative like me, as I didn’t see where I “fit” into this model. And anyone who didn’t fit was very much on their own. 

I found a way to smooth the edges of my artistic leanings, studying textiles instead of dance and fine art, for example. Then working in marketing instead of designing. My need for approval and acceptance was so strong, that I gradually convinced myself to become someone else entirely. Eventually, I forgot who I was underneath.

For years, I remained blissfully ignorant. But in 2016, with the country divide on Brexit, I was galvanised to think about politics and how it affected our everyday lives. I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions. I began questioning what I was being told in the media. I became aware of a world order at play, and found myself dismayed by the lies and corruption being unveiled.

This “awakening” spilled into my own life, as I began questioning if I was living my truth. Was I living with integrity for myself? 

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I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling … 

Our education system drills us to follow those in charge, and not question authority. But when it becomes clear that those who lead us often don’t have the answers themselves, it’s like realizing that your parents are only humans after all. A sign of maturity, that brings with it the freedom and the duty of taking responsibility for your own choices.

At times this transition felt good, my creative juices started flowing after so many years of being frozen. But at other times it was disorientating and extremely uncomfortable. The eggs had been broken, but the omelette wasn’t quite coming together yet—as I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling.  

The biggest belief to crumble, was do with identity and purpose, and my definition of “success.”

If I’m not a superwoman in a highflying career, married with four adorable children, then who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What will my legacy be? My self-worth was tied up with a traditional viewpoint, but I felt alienated from the values I’d grown up with. It was on me to rewrite a definition of success that felt congruent with my inner knowing. 

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There were two milestones along the way … 

In 2012 I fell head over heels for someone who was everything I ever dreamed of. Handsome, intelligent, devastatingly charming. Finally marriage, children, and the life I hoped for seemed to be rolling out just like in the story books. Then after a close death in the family, the relationship deteriorated, and I fell into a grief spiral. The dream plan went awry. 

A few years later, I found myself working as a resident healer at the Obonjan festival, doing intensive healing sessions in a pine forest. During one session, I had an incredible spiritual experience where, among other things, the trees began communicating with me. It broke me down and I found myself weeping tears of joy. Life suddenly felt very different, and I was aware of my soul evolving. I had tasted something profound that my current existence had not been giving me. I suddenly understood that success to me involved service and connection.

I have continued with this very deep, personal healing work. Shamanism, sound healing, meditations, acupuncture, family constellations, womb work, goddess work, inner child … you name it, I’ve done it! The need to connect with Spirit became all consuming, leading me to live a higher vibrational lifestyle. 

I became very sensitive to the things that affected my connection, such as meat and alcohol, and naturally reduced them. Of course, my own reiki practice has supported me from the beginning, and I’ve used this to navigate life and heal.

I’m lucky in that my family and friends have always been supportive of my healing work, in spite of them never fully understanding what I do. However, the more work I do on myself, the more I am able to understand what makes us all tick, and the more my relationships with others have improved.

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How to undertake your own “un-brainwashing” … 

In order to unlearn deeply ingrained patters, I believe you have to:

1// Examine your beliefs. 
Identify and becomes aware of your beliefs about key areas of life. For example: self, love, sex, family, religion, faith, society, culture, right and wrong, how life and the universe actually work etc.

Then go back and consider how you learned that belief, where it originated from. Was it from a teacher at school, or a family member for example?

Now ask yourself: if that origin were removed, and there was no judgement from anywhere, would you still feel the same way? Consider whether the belief makes you feel happy or obligated. 

Physical sensations will often occur when an idea resonates with you: goosebumps, chills or even a prickly feeling. Your body knows what is true for you and what is not, so look for the signs. How do different concepts, and beliefs about how to live your life, make you feel?

For example, after the breakdown of my relationship, I realized that part of my grief was to do with the loss of a life path I thought I wanted. I had blindly trusted that I needed to be married with children to be happy. However, under deep scrutiny, I realized this idea originated from my culture and society in general, and I hadn’t really thought about my needs as an individual and a healer.

I concluded that being a parent might bring satisfaction, but may not actually make me “happier.” Besides, wallowing in mother-fomo was bringing me down. So I determined that it wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker and have felt a lot better since.

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2// Find new teachers.  
Trying to unlearn everything, pick it all apart and work out who I was under all the conditioning, has been incredibly challenging. Listening to teachers, in particular Shaman Durek, has helped and continues to help me navigate this process.

However, my biggest teachers have actually been my personal spirit guides, accessed through deep Shamanic work. I learn and continue to learn more from them more than anyone else, and they have helped me to discern what “I” think and want.

Finding your teachers is about using your intuition. Ask around for recommendations, Google subjects of interest, and see what authors you’re attracted to. Be guided by synchronicity. Whose face, voice and attitude resonates with you, or charges you up? Find people who challenge your status quo and make you think twice. 

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3// Honor your natural talents.
You were given your talents for a reason, and it’s your duty to nurture them—and, when you have mastered them, to share them with others. In the sentiment of Oprah Winfrey, speaking and living your truth is the most important thing you can do!

I launched my own healing brand, The Calmery, so that I could create something in my own vision, and not be answerable to anyone, but I’m still sometimes plagued with a “be nice, be liked, head down” corporate hangover.

There is certainly more work for me to do, to be living in my full wattage power. But my un-brainwashing is well underway, and I’ll get there soon enough.

 

Sushma Sagar is a former global fashion brand director turned Reiki Master Teacher, and is the founder of London based healing practice The Calmery. She offers private reiki sessions, tuition, and workshops by appointment. Join her for Reiki Level One Training on Sunday, February 18th in London. 

HOW I AM COMMITTING TO RAISING A CONSCIOUS MAN

In a climate of deeply wounded masculinity, Nina Endrst was dismayed to discover she was having a boy. But she soon realized this was a calling to declare her credo for raising a conscious man …

Photo by Dru Nadler

I consider myself pretty intuitive. It’s been my work, especially in recent years, to release doubt and follow my heart in whatever direction I’m led.

Shortly after I became pregnant, I felt I “knew” I was going to have a little girl. I felt it in my bones. Saw visions of her during deep meditation and healing sessions. We were going to raise a little feminist.

Wrong. Well, sort of. My 22-week ultrasound revealed that I was in fact having a boy. A BOY?! Of course my only hope is and was to have a healthy baby—but I’ll admit I was knocked off my intuitive pedestal in that moment.

When we got in the car, I looked at my husband and said, “UGH! He is going to watch porn?!” I was totally freaked out for a good few minutes, going over all the things he definitely couldn’t do or be.

How the hell am I going to raise a man? Despite having strong relationships with good men, something about being responsible for ensuring that mine wouldn’t grow up to be a chauvinist asshole was daunting. It is impossible for me not to be enraged daily by the toxic masculinity that exists in our society, and around the world.

As I pondered what it would meant to raise a conscious man, I asked myself, where do I begin?

Then, I remembered a dream I’d had about an old boss (privileged, white, good looking by most people’s standards, probably rarely hears or understands the word “no”). This dream triggered a real memory of the sexual harassment I experienced while I was an employee and had “forgotten” about.

Because I, like most women, experience sexual harassment ALL the time. Many of us have also been victims of assault (I was age 9, and wrote about it here). The recent #Metoo shed some light on the epidemic, but this is not and cannot be perceived as “normal.”

So how do we heal such a deep and devastating wound? The conversation feels bigger than I can possibly wrap my head and heart around. And it raises serious doubts about how I will raise a conscious, sensitive, compassionate, FEMINIST man today.

Below is my individual process to tending to this wound daily—for myself, my son, and the whole. It’s where I am beginning my commitment to raise a conscious man …

Photo by Matthew Johnson

1// I commit to regularly sharing with the men in my life how I am and have been mistreated as a woman.
Practice: I will not assume that everyone is awake, watching, and listening. This does not mean I will excuse sexist behavior or abuse—this means I will educate men around me through my personal experience. I will share how it made me feel when I was cat-called earlier that day, when I do feel safe, and discuss the long-lasting emotional and energetic damage that I and most women have to continually work to undo.

2// I commit to teaching my son that women are not things to be “had.” We are human beings to be respected.
Practice: I will surround him with strong females, both in real life as well as through literature and media. From the time he is born, I will introduce him to men that speak to and about women with love and respect, and will continue to work with my husband to show him what a healthy and equal partnership looks like.

3// I commit to helping my son understand that silence is unacceptable.
Practice: I will speak up in his presence and explain to him that with privilege comes responsibility. That we are put on this earth to protect each other and it is not OK to sit quietly on the sidelines if and when we witness injustice or abuse.

4// I commit to speaking honestly to my son about dangerous and unhealthy body standards placed on women.
Practice: I’ll raise him to look for intelligence, kindness, and humor in women, and people in general, before beauty. I will show him that beauty exists in many forms and do my best to limit his exposure to messaging that is damaging to women.

5// I commit to teaching my son how to show emotion—that sensitivity and compassion are part of what make him “a man.”
Practice: I will ask him how he feels and listen to him with an open heart. I will allow him to express himself and his emotions fully and praise him for it.

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My son will be born in a few weeks. I feel mostly at peace and a little clueless and naive. I do not know how our lives will unfold from here, and am very aware that much of it is out of my control. But I do know that I will try every day to be the strongest, softest, version of myself, both for my son, and for our collective healing of the wounded masculine as it unfolds.

Nina lives her yoga and is inspired by traveling to places outside her comfort zone, both physically and emotionally. Currently based in Hudson, NY, she leads retreats around the world and welcomes students of all levels. Connect with her at ninaendrstyoga.com and on Instagram.

WHAT YOUR PERIOD BLOOD IS TRYING TO TELL YOU

When energy psychologist Alexia Traverse-Healy started her cycle one night, a flood of emotions came with it. She soon discovered what her period blood was actually trying to tell her …

Photo: Christal Yuen

Feeling a movement, a shift of tides, I tense a little and then spring up from the bed. My partner looks bewildered. Mid gallop to the bathroom I shout over my shoulder: “I’m bleeding.” He relaxes. Her period.

I run to the bathroom but we are out of loo paper upstairs. I turn back on my self to head to the downstairs bathroom, covering the light switch in menstrual blood as I flick it on, having tried to hold the blood in with my hand. I won’t make it down and back.

“I’ll get it,”says my boyfriend, coming from the bedroom. Gratefully, I sit on the loo upstairs, door open. And just as I am pulling my Mooncup out of my vagina, full of not just free-flowing red blood, but also strings of mucous and matter, he bounds back up and freezes for a moment. Hand outstretched but face away, he mutters something about “mystery” and walks off.

I recognise the wounded feeling straight away. Mystery? I know what he means. He means how I ask him not to poop with the door open or fart in our bed. “I know it’s not the same,”he has already muttered as he heads off back down the corridor, in preparation no doubt for what happens next. He knows me well.

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Because it IS my mystery … 
Then comes my Leonine anger. The years of hearing “Are you having your period?” when I am fired up and passionate. I want him to understand what rages through me when my blood is denied or demands to be hidden, to be cleaner, to be prettier.

Because, to me, it IS my mystery. It is my essence and my strength, my sexiness, my womanhood, my core. The smell. The blood. The mess. It is me. And to be turned off by it, turned away from it, is painful and personal.

I didn’t always feel this way. After growing up learning to conceal and apologize for it, it has taken me until 38 years old to be proud of it. The Mooncup has been a big part of the transition. Now I handle my blood. There’s no hiding with a Mooncup.

I cut back to this moment and tune into the love I feel for this man.

His reaction is to the sight of the blood all over my hands, down the inside of my thighs, dripping from my vagina into the loo, pouring from the full Mooncup into the sink. It is slightly shocking, if it’s not yours. If it’s not beloved to you.

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When your daughter wants to paint with it … 
But I want him to be fascinated by it. I want him to come over with wonder and be interested and slightly awed. Like my five-year-old daughter is: “Mummy can you not take your Mooncup out until I get back from school? I want to see.”

At first, her deep, deep interest freaked me out. What? Really? Is that even appropriate parenting? But she was insistent and so purely intrigued. It was her right, as a woman in the making. I’ve been raising her to question, to take interest, to be fearless – so why not here too? With minimal fuss or pomp, I showed her this everyday occurrence infused with a little wonderment. And she was joyful. Fascinated.

I wanted to give her the choice of always being easy with her body. A wild, artistic child, she’d ask if she could paint with it. Even I have my limits, but god I love her for wanting to.

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I will continue to worship my blood … 
My boyfriend is in the kitchen making us Sunday breakfast. And as I come down off my adrenaline high, I see what he means when he compares seeing me in full flow to farting in bed. Though to me, it’s not the same. With the blood of my monthly moon comes the possibilities of life and death, the magic of future and past, and I doubt anyone can say that about a fart.

But what he means is that, to him, it is a bodily function, and he sees them all the same. In a way, it may be his version of equality.

As I drop down from my orbit of emotions, I remember him falling asleep last night, with his cool hand on my too-hot belly, holding the pain for me and with me, asking me if I wanted an ice pack from the kitchen. And I feel grateful. I breathe. I’m here

If he holds me through the pain of my bleeding, then maybe for now I am happy to leave the blood paintings, the roars of grace and gut, the dancing and the revelry, to my sisters, my daughters, and to the mothers.

Every time we are triggered, it is an invitation to learn and to go deeper. To peel off an onion layer. I love that this morning’s little wounding helped me to deepen my trust for my partner, helped me to articulate silent shadow feelings that I’d never even thought to express.

I will continue to worship my blood, to feel proud and stand strong in my SHEness – but I won’t blame my man for running from it. It is powerful after all.

He asks me, before I send this in, to change “he bolts” to “he heads off down the corridor.” “I know it doesn’t sound as good,” he says, “but it’s more like what happened.”

I concede, erase, replace, and eat my delicious breakfast, bleeding quietly.

Alexia Traverse-Healy is a London-based energy psychologist who works with clients on anxiety, stress, phobias, sexual issues, relationship crisis, family, fertility, finances, patterns of stuck behavior, and existential questions. To book a free 20 minute phone consultation go to www.sheworkswellness.com, where you can also find a free SHEness Audio visualisation.