By Anita Anand
My search for a life that made sense started early. As a child, I took pleasure in the natural elements – reflections in puddles of water, the movements of stars, the moon and clouds – and more down-to-earth issues such as why my family seemed more privileged than others. I was loved and protected by my parents and siblings.
The first major challenge came as a teenager when – two years away from graduating from school – my father suddenly changed jobs, and moved to another town. I was unhappy because I had to move into the school hostel, and then into my aunt’s home. I was angry at the adjustments I had to make, missing the comfort of being with my parents and at home. After college, dissatisfied with work and social life in Calcutta, I moved to a rural area in Madhya Pradesh to work with an NGO, setting up science education programmes for rural children. This stretched me in more ways than I could imagine, and I learned a great deal about myself, others, and that helping others gave me great satisfaction.
Choosing to study and work in the United States was new and challenging. I taught yoga and designed a course on world hunger. I joined the local food co-operative where wholesome and organic produce was sold, and volunteered four hours a week.
I learned to meditate. I travelled to local schools speaking about India, cooking Indian food and sharing stories about India. It gave me a perspective of myself and my culture.
The decision to understand myself better started in the early 1980s when I lived and worked in Washington DC. Finding it difficult to cope with the contradictions of being away from India and my family, and yet wanting to be in the US, I sought a therapist and continued therapy in Italy and in India. I also built upon my knowledge and practice of yoga and meditation, adding EFT, hypnotherapy, crystal healing, Art of Living, and Vipassana.
I believe all these techniques have helped me in my search to be a better person as well as help others. My training in hypnotherapy opened up a special world for me – in which I am directly face-to-face helping others. My age, life experience in the various countries I lived in and travelled to, and the many challenging situations I faced over the years, help me enormously to work with the people who come to me.
My circle of friends includes people who share my value system in work and personal life. For the 22 years that I worked full-time, I couldn’t spend as much time as I wanted to with family and friends. In 1999 I broke my leg on a trip to Thailand. Laid up for months, I began to think about my life, relationships and work. Seeing them in a new light, I re-created my preferences. I moved towards improving the old, and cultivating new and meaningful relationships, starting with my immediate and extended family and then friends – putting aside time and energy by being in touch, visiting, sharing, listening, engaging and making myself available.
In my personal preferences and environment, I have held steadfast. I wear clothes that are comfortable, and not dictated by fashion – usually, of natural materials. Conscious of my work and home environment, I surround myself with objects and handicrafts I collected in my travels around the world – of earth colours and materials. When I look at or am around beautiful things, I feel enriched and inspired. I take pride in my quality of life – welcoming family and friends into my beautiful home, cooking wholesome food and sharing it with them. I balance my day with work and play which keeps me mentally and physically fit.
My spiritual practice is manifested in reading, writing, spending quiet time with myself, walking (with and without my dog), cooking, painting, and listening to music. Along the way I have become more compassionate, patient, deliberate and initiating. By opening my heart to others – in love and forgiveness – I bring peace into my life. And, I continue to seek.
Anita Anand is a Delhi-based hypnotherapist and crystal healer. Contact: email@example.com
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