Retreating within helped illuminate the learnings which decades of external noise had effectively dimmed.

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The first week of January brings a flurry of reflections about the preceding year. But, when that preceding year is 2020, you need more than your regular arsenal of retrospective understanding to achieve ‘annual closure’!

There’s just no way to say this with finesse: 2020 was a crapfest of epic proportions. It blindsided us, messed with our hearts and heads, and dashed just about every expectation of normalcy we had from it.

What does 2021 hold? Some believe this will be the year to redeem 2020’s havoc, others feel it just might be a continuation of the same. Me? I’m…

Like me, you might be doing it wrong.

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Every time I hear the word ‘meditation’, my mind conjures up a tranquil setting, all neutrals and whites, a silhouette framed against the dewy morning light, sitting up tall in a restful meditative stance, eyes closed in blissful harmony, the whole image radiating serenity.

My own meditation practice couldn’t be more different.

It typically goes like this:

I sit cross-legged on my bed. Not straight enough, I think. So I sit up taller. My back protests. I try ignore it.

I focus on nothingness. My mind laughs in response, and throws a quick thought at me.

I forgot to add…

Acknowledging self-doubt and moving beyond its clutches.

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I started this year with a sense of purpose.

For far too long, I’d been selling a story to myself — that I can only become a writer if I write something truly transformative. What this fallacy did not take into account was the yawning gap between effort and result. I did not associate creating a work of art with such plebeian tasks as writing daily, editing meticulously and publishing often.

No more, I told myself in January of this year.

This would be the year my writing would become something beyond a mere figment of my overstimulated imagination, into…

Choose momentum over idealization.

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I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to my work.

I’m not proud of it.

I visualize my goals as idealized dreams. I place these dreams on gilded pedestals and worship them reverentially as divine indicators of a self-articulated success.

Trouble is, raising dreams to this lofty status moves them out of reach for me. All I’m left with, then, is a hazy vision that has no immediate manifestation in the real world.

Let me give you an example. I have always wanted to be a writer. A prolifically published and (somewhat) successful writer.

So far, I have…

The question I no longer have an answer for.

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I logged on to a work call yesterday.

How are you, I was asked.

Pretty simple question, requiring a one word response.

That expected one-word response felt strangely blasphemous to me. A single word utterance that would effectively camouflage a highly convoluted state of mind.

I was clearly overthinking this.

It had been a particularly taxing day. I was worn out soothing the toddler, sorting loads of laundry (marveling at the ever-growing pile of ‘orphan’ socks), and wearing down the keyboard trying to get that elusive grocery delivery slot while planning a meal with five mismatched ingredients.

I was frazzled.

A collection of dog-eared memories, to celebrate you.

My phone buzzes at 5 pm sharp. A WhatsApp message from my mother, who’s just waking up at 530 am in India.

Mom: Hi… all okay?

Me: Yes. There?

Mom: Okay here too. Going to make tea. Talk in a bit.

In these seemingly terse words is hidden an ocean of fathomless love and concern.

As our opposite time zones lead us in different directions (she makes breakfast while I get dinner ready), this twice-a-day ritual is a lifeline that keeps us going through our respective days.

Sometimes we get to chat for longer. Many days, these hurried messages are…

There’s a reason everyone’s telling you to do it.

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You want to be a writer, you need to write every day.

Pretty straightforward advice, right?

But, it just didn’t seem like something I could manage.

Sure, I wrote daily when I was working on my PhD or way back, when I had an advertising job. But that was different. I knew what to write about, it was my job to write and I had deadlines to meet.

Writing, in fact, has been an integral part of every job I‘ve ever had but never before had I experimented with making it a full-time endeavor external to my work life.


A meditation on hope.

Image credit: Priyanka Raina

On a particularly stifling summer day last August, I lay on my bed, propped up by pillows, staring out the window. I had just returned home from a wisdom tooth surgery and was still foggy from the anasthesia.

The first siren didn’t faze me, even though it sounded ominously close. But when, sirens shrieking and tires screeching, fire engines began whizzing past my front door after what seemed like every couple minutes, I couldn’t hold back my curiosity (or concern) any longer. …

Perhaps it’s time to press pause and acknowledge our heartbreak.

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It felt alien in the beginning, having to stay at home. Strange and uncomfortable.

We switched to working remotely, taught ourselves how to teach our children at home, started online fitness classes and virtually clinked wine glasses with friends over the weekend.

It felt a little more doable now.

We knew it was needed, this absolute lockdown. Flatten the curve, we resolved. It felt good to be collectively committed to the same cause.

So we soldiered on with unvocalized vows to stay positive and productive.

DIY projects were dusted off and tackled with renewed gusto. Long dormant cooking skills were…

They may be more affected by external events than we realize.

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As we transition our children to a world radically altered by the pandemic, prioritizing their mental wellbeing is top of mind for most parents, along with keeping them safe and productively occupied. Confinement of any sort is hardly appealing, yet our children are especially vulnerable to the emotional downsides of being stuck at home, days and weeks on end.

For children in the age group of 2–6, there is the additional challenge of helping them understand exactly what is happening while ensuring that the level of information being given…

Sangeeta Marwah, PhD

Mom. Writer. Designer. Professional day-dreamer.

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