This year on the 26th of December Inner Space turns four.
This post is always my favorite post of the year because I ritually sit down with a nice cup of tea and I can indulge myself in reminiscing about all the wonderful people I saw in therapy, about their movement and growth, about all the work we put in as a team, the activities we did and all the articles we wrote thinking of all of you who read this space regularly.
This time however, I do this with a heavy heart. The deaths of so many children in Peshawar leaves me feeling completely uneasy. It is often easy to judge, find someone or something to blame and then move on but I am finding it difficult to do any of this. This time as I write to you I need to stay with this dissonance of holding within me simultaneously, the gaiety of the ending year, the joy of completing four years and the agony of a world where the death of children is the price we have to pay to live.
As therapists, we get to see firsthand the strife that society is going through: overworked people, struggles that relationships are facing, aging parents that feel lonely, children that feel burdened with their parent’s expectations and anxieties and people who feel lost just going through day to day life. We get to see those who are made out to be culprits and those who feel like victims. In the last 14 years of my practice, I have only seen the populace at large get unhappier. And a lot of this unhappiness seems motivated by the fear of not surviving well enough and the fear of losing out.
Perhaps, we have been involved in the struggle for our own survival for too long. Maybe it’s time to widen that circle of loved ones. Maybe it’s time to see that everyone survives, even those with whom we may have ideological differences or disagreements.
And the smallest way in which we can do it is to not judge, to freely allow ourselves to feel and care for fellow human beings and to unconditionally love. With more rapes in our neighborhood and more terrorism in the world, I am more convinced than ever before that the more guarded we get the more we isolate others. We have a hurt, wounded world and it is up to us to have a more compassionate response towards it.
If survival of the fittest is the policy we will live by, then 132 children will never be fit enough to survive armed terrorists. This is the world we are choosing to create in our struggle for survival and this is the world we can change in our own small way.
This year let’s decide to fear less- even if we may be in the way of harm- and love more, even if it doesn’t get reciprocated.
As a ritual I’m sharing with you some of the work we did this year:
Expert Articles by the Team:
Every month, we meet for team meetings. We realized during our discussions that each psychologist in the team has a different but equally insightful perspective on topics. So, we decided to start writing articles as a team, picking topics that we felt were relevant and helpful. The team discussions were very thought-provoking for us as well. These expert articles cover a wider range and aim to give you a detailed understanding of the topic:
Coping with the Psychological Effects of Traumatic News: Almost every day, we come across news of murder, assault, rape, and thievery, whether it is in the newspaper, on news channels or through various online media websites. Some people seem to cope with these news reports, some find it difficult to assimilate it. Through this article we explained the psychological effects of traumatic news and how we can build healthy coping strategies to deal with these effects.
Extramarital Affairs: As therapists, we often work with people who are either themselves involved in an extramarital affair or have spouses who are involved. No matter what the situation, a common underpinning is a great deal of stress in both partners. Through a 3-part series, we shared our insights about extramarital affairs:
Mindful Spring Facebook Page:
Making mindfulness practices more accessible has been the cornerstone of our work at Inner Space. In the same flow, we started a Facebook group this year called “Mindful Spring” dedicated to Mindfulness and the discovery of this ‘inner’ wisdom. The idea of this group is to bring together Psychology, Philosophy, Mindfulness as they relate to us in the here and now. With over 100 members strong, this group has become a great space for people to connect, share musings, links and photos and discuss their inner journey.
(Click on the link to join the group: Mindful Spring)
Activities & Workshops: In the Mindfulness Space
This year, we tried earnestly to reach out to as many people as possible and share the concept and practice of Mindfulness. We continued holding Basic and Advanced Mindfulness Workshops, just like in 2013. Additionally, 2014 has also been a year of some new endeavors.
– Basic and Advanced Mindfulness Workshops These workshops are part of the Integrated Mindfulness Program:
‘Feel Centered with Mindfulness” is our basic mindfulness training program that encourages a mindful perspective for dealing with thoughts , emotions, struggles and in general for better mental health and overall well being. We started these sessions in May 2013 and they have been a regular feature ever since. The Advanced Mindfulness Workshop is Level II of this program. This workshop focuses on thoughts and mindfulness of thoughts, deeper work with the mind-body connection and emotions.
– Art and Mindfulness Mindfulness is all about being in the present. Tuning out the intellectual judgmental left brain to see what we really are about. What we really feel. Art is also all about right brain functioning and therefore deeply connected to our creativity, daydreaming and emotions. Art therefore is a wonderful doorway through which one can mindfully enter the realm of their existence at this moment to feel connected with oneself. We explored this doorway through a workshop:-
Mindful Art Workshop We conducted a workshop based on art and mindfulness, where the focus was on connecting with oneself, in the moment, and intuitively expressing oneself through doodles, drawings and colors. This was a novel and refreshing experience for all of us!
We also got together as a team and did a beautiful team art therapy exercise, lead by our therapist Kunjal Shah. Sharing some snippets with you – Group Art Therapy: Our Team Activity
The Meditation Class We started a bi-monthly meditation class September 2014 onwards. We felt that an ongoing class would help people stay in touch with the practice and understand different nuances of mindfulness and meditation better.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2014
Inner Space celebrates World Mental Health Awareness Week each year by posting articles on a special theme all week. This year our theme was “Looking Within”. We strongly feel that Mental Health is not just about dealing with problems that come up but it is also about forming a connection with yourself- a compassionate connection that perpetuates a healthy mind and body relationship. And “looking within” is the first step towards this. So, we posted a different blog by a different psychologist from our team every day for this week which provided a framework for looking within and discovering:
Blogs of 2014
Finally, we are also sharing with you our blog posts in 2014. As always, this is a mix of articles on children, adolescents, mental health, and not to forget – mindfulness!
This has been quite a trip down memory lane! It makes us very happy to do our best to serve, reach out, and not to mention, learn. Every year, or for that matter, every day brings about so much learning, it keeps us going!
We thank each and every one of you for being a part of our journey – through your enquiries, questions, sharings and support
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year!
Image Credit: Kathryn Rotondo