Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The October Update + Arushi's sharing!

On Sunday, the 11th of October, 2015, the PfP Pratiti family got together for one of their penultimate workshops to celebrate what has been an eventful and memorable journey over the last 4 months. The day began with the usual gupshup and catching up between all the fellows before they gathered together in a circle to individually share about their journeys with each other.

Aditya (right) introduces the group to the day's sessions

Beginning with an energizer session which saw everyone refresh themselves through a fun, relaxing exercise, the day moved on to include processes that facilitated deeper interactions and engagements with fellows sharing in larger and smaller groups alike.

Ms. Aqeela Datoo, representing the Aga Khan Development Network was also invited to join the space in one of the sessions. Aqeela was able to gain insights into PfP and Pratiti’s processes by herself actively participating with the fellows in a discussion on understanding sexuality. 

Megha (left extreme) shares about her journey

Like always, the workshop was interspersed with laughter and conversations during breaks for tea and lunch, as well as for the in-demand Secret Angel presentations, where loving, personal gifts were secretly bestowed and joyously received within the entire group.

An intense session on conflict resolution was followed by the eagerly awaited icing on the workshop cake - the visit of Vasu Primlani. Vasu, an internationally renowned stand-up comic, acclaimed environmentalist, athlete, openly gay feminist and healer introduced the Pratiti fellows to somatic healing, a practise she held deep personal faith in and wished to share with those seeking healing in the PfP family (more on that below!).

Arushi (right extreme) facilitates a session

The day concluded with a quick review of each group’s projects and a sharing of individual experiences within them, with the fellows looking forward to presenting their work at the Pratiti Delhi journey’s upcoming closure event.

Below we have Arushi Mittal, the PfP co-founder, sharing a beautiful personal account of Vasu’s visit:

Finding Boundaries with Vasu Primlani

"The physical human form interests me as much as the mental one, if not more. My curiosity about the body and mind connect and the relation of self to these two often leads me to unexplored territories. Interacting with Vasu Primlani at a People for Parity community meet-up was one such experience.

Early evening on a Sunday, as I sat in a typical PfP circle with Pratiti fellows, Vasu began her session by explaining to us how our bodies store trauma, and how different bones protect our vital organs not only from physical injuries but also from mental trauma. This seemed plausible. But what happens to these protective shields then, I thought? I was to find my answer soon as Vasu went about “auditing” each of us in the room for how much trauma do the bones in our upper body store. She seemed to be gentle in her approach (though serious in her demeanor), and it was interesting to observe that people reacted quite diversely to her audit. But what was even more intriguing was her comments on each person’s personality and approach towards dealing with the outside world, which seemed to fit uncannily for most of us. As she moved form one person to another, the atmosphere grew more focused towards her, and people anticipated what would their results be, at least I did.

Vasu Primlani (seated center) conducts her session with the group

Vasu shared her experiences with GBV survivors and asked all of us to rate the pain we felt on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the maximum pain we have ever experienced during the audit. When my turn came, and she reached for my bones and applied pressure with her fingers at a few specific points, my face distorted. I had to try hard to not let out a scream, as the pain I was experiencing was 8-9 for me discounting just a few instances of physical injury in my life. 

Vasu had mentioned that sometimes people don’t even know that this pain exists, but I felt that I knew about it, albeit without knowing why it does. And this mystery remained (and remains) even after I volunteered to understand my inability to say ‘no’ in the next part of the session with Vasu. She invited me to the center and to help me understand and define my boundaries, she asked me to raise my arms parallel to the ground and gesture “NO” in her direction with my palms facing towards her. As it turns out, it was difficult for me to do so, as I tried to bring my arms up, my entire body (and being) trembled, and it was quite a stretch to even stand still in that position. Then she walked towards me and asked me to accompany this with a verbal no – define my boundary – and as I attempted this, I broke down – in the moment because I could not believe I was establishing a boundary beyond which another human will not be able to reach me and harm me if I do not want. 

I couldn’t believe I was creating this safe perimeter for myself, and I was doing it on my own. As she tried to help me dig out what has made this so difficult for me, I could not find the reason from my past experiences but I could imagine that I am afraid of not being able to give people what they need, of disappointing them. Afterwards, while thinking about all of this I have also been postulating, if it is because I do not know how to take no for an answer myself, or can I not take no as I don’t feel I enjoy the same freedom!

Later, I was also asked to go around in the circle and say no to each person and observe their reactions which made me both happy and somber depending on my connect with these people. I feel it has been one of my most publically vulnerable times where I didn’t really have much in my power to restrict myself from being in the flow and this short experience has shaken me quite a bit. I was amazed by the warmth and kindness that Vasu and other participants offered to me during the exercise, and feel that the knowledge that I can set my own boundaries, that I can protect myself, that I can be my own hero has brought me face to face with a power I didn’t know I possessed.

The fellows and facilitators with Vasu

I understand it is a long uphill run ahead of me – of letting go of the pain that my body holds so close to my heart, of understanding my limitations, stating them (and without the angst, without turning them into thick walls or a glass house for that matter!), building respect and empathy for other’s limitations and appreciating the support (or the denial of it) they are able to offer to me in a moment. So, keeping my fingers crossed, and requesting you to do so too :) ..."

As the Pratiti Delhi journey winds to a close, the Pratiti blog will continue to send out updates about the fellows and the beautiful work they have been engaging in. Stay tuned!

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