The 6 Pillars of a Healthy Relationship

As a child, I actually preferred to spend time alone. I did not understand why I was bullied for wanting to spend time by myself. I was called ‘saddo’, ‘loner’ and ‘boring’. Of course it hurt, but I look back on those days and pat myself on the back for being so comfortable to be on my own. Why? Because I believe, at such a tender age, I spent a lot of time building a relationship with myself and getting accustomed to my own company. Therefore when I started to choose and form my own long-terms relationships in the form of friends and family, I felt more comfortable and it happened a lot easier than we all make it out to be.

I am not a relationship guru, but I have been through my fair share of experiences in different kinds of relationships to know what works and what does not. Now when I talk about relationships, it is not just isolated to romantic ones. When I talk about relationships, I mean every single relationship we form with every human being we encounter and bond with. This includes friendships, romantic partners, business partners, family, and work colleagues, to name a few.

Maintaining a positive and healthy relationship is just as much a test of you as it is the other person, so I want to talk about how we can and should be in a relationship to ensure it is beautiful, healthy and long-lasting.

1. Honesty, openness & trust. I never understand how any bond can form without being honest and open about yourself. The more honest and open we are, the more trust we will be able to build with the other party. I am a firm believer of being honest and open about our past experiences as much as our future; we need to know that the other party knows enough about us to understand where we come from and why we are the way we are, and exploring those past experiences is crucial in understanding each other. Let’s not dwell on the past however, but use it as a foundation to build the relationship.

2. Communication & intimacy. When I mean intimacy, I mean emotional and mental intimacy. Just knowing that we can comfortably drop our guard really does strengthen the relationship. It makes us value and appreciate how comfortable the other person makes us feel – this kind of intimacy is precious, and no amount of physical intimacy can replace that. To have that level of intimacy, we need to be able to communicate comfortably. If there is anything on our mind, we need to be able to communicate it in a respectful manner. If something bothers us, we need to voice it. If we feel judged by the other party, we know they are no longer worth being in our life. Period.

3. Kindness, love & respect. I think this is a basic human quality. It surprises me how little I see of this in society. Every relationship is built on genuine kindness, and a love for someone or something. From this kindness and love comes respect. When someone is kind, loving and respectful to themselves, they will naturally be able to shower those around them with the same kindness, love and respect.

4. Understanding, loyalty & humility. We are in no position to change the other person. Instead we need to invest our time into understanding them to their fullest. Let them be free and live their best life. We need to be humble and give space for each other to grow. When we understand an individual and why they are who they are, we are able to appreciate them better and love them even more for who they are. Yet none of this is worth it if we are not loyal. Our loyalty should always remain with that relationship; to go outside of that relationship and talk negatively about the other person makes us less of the humans we were born to be.

5. Friendship & laughter. No matter what kind of relationship you are working on, there needs to be a lot of friendship and laughter. Being a person who makes others laugh, or being around people who make us laugh, really elevates our frequency. We are driven to have even more fun, which in turn strengthens our relationship.

6. Having an identity of your own. We should not be defined by the relationship. We need to ensure we have an identity that goes beyond that relationship. This is how we can boost our self-confidence and therefore be the best version of ourselves for that relationship. Just knowing that we have our own life and goals, makes the relationship stronger because of how much more value and wisdom is added to that relationship.

Ultimately we need to feel comfortable being our true self. If we are not valued and cherished for the person we are, it is a sign that we need to bid that relationship farewell.

Mental Well-being During Lockdown

I wish there was less negativity around lockdown. I am so happy at the moment. I have so much control over my life, and I feel so in touch with my inner self. I really want more people to feel this way. This feeling is truly addictive, and the moment we figure out ways to feel so, there is no turning back.

I’m going to get straight to the point and describe ways in which we can help improve our mental well-being during lockdown.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. I have been reading about having a gratitude journal for years, but I only started practicing it one month ago. Every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes writing about what I am grateful for. There is no better way to start my day and I am so happy to have finally got into the habit of doing so. (If you do not like writing, then voice note it to yourself and listen back to it at the end of the day!).

2. Learn to breathe. As a human beings we are terrible at breathing in a nourishing way. This only worsens our states of anxiety. I personally have been focusing on breathing more regularly throughout the day. Every time I feel my mind wonder, I try and focus it back on my breathing. It is making me realise that our breath is the only real thing at any moment in time. By taking control of our breathing we are claiming control over how we respond to the external situations.

3. Be present. Being sat at home is apparently ‘brain numbing’ and ‘boring’. I think the complete opposite. We can add value to every moment of our life if we are present. We need to focus on what is. We need to focus on the now. We may never get such an opportunity to spend again with our family. We need to relish it and use it to reconnect with our loved ones. We need to learn to be present in each of our endeavors big or small, throughout our day.

4. Learn to do things on your own. Workout alone. Dance alone. Cook alone. Clean alone. Sing alone. Enjoy your own company. Enjoy getting to know yourself. The reality is, not many of us know who we really are. Our understanding of ourself has unfortunately become what we think society thinks we are. This is the prime time to change that. When we get comfortable being alone, we are unstoppable.

5. Take a break from social media. This is potentially the hardest. Everyone is bored at home and using social media to entertain themselves (thanks Instagram and TikTok). It is just proving how much we are seeking for external validation to define our happiness. Such happiness is short-lived. This applies to any distractions we may have. We need to break free from this escapism culture and face our real self. Take a few days off, maybe a few weeks – I took a month off! I stripped away everything I thought I was, to find out I am just a human like anyone else.

I have said this before and I say it again. I honestly believe we have been blessed with lockdown. We have come to realise how much our excitement and joy has always relied on external factors/events, rather than from within. This is the time for us to make peace with our inner selves and just enjoy being, instead of complaining about everything that we could have been doing if lockdown was not in place.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn about yourself.

Take off your social mask

We all have a social mask. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all do. Most of us even have our social mask so well defined so we can rally it out on our CVs, LinkedIn profiles, social media bios, or when someone asks the golden ‘Tell me about yourself’ question.

Want to hear mine?

‘I am a 26 year old Sri Lankan Tamil girl, born and brought up in the UK. I am currently working as a junior doctor for the NHS. I am also a Bharathanatyam and Bhangra dancer. I am a dance choreographer, events organiser and blogger. Above all, I am a daughter, sister, lover and friend.’

Fancy right?!

In the last 2 weeks that I have had to self-isolate, I have reflected a lot. During these two weeks, I was not any of what I described above. I was a human being in bed, confined to one room, taking regular paracetamol to bring my fever down, rubbing Vicks onto my chest and nose to aid my breathing; I hadn’t showered in days; I was not eating. Ultimately I was an unwell human being. That’s all.

I looked at myself as a human being. That is what I am. I am a human being. We all are the same. We are all human beings, trying to survive in a world that so desperately wants us to have a definition for ourselves.

This desperation is what pushes us to make decisions, say things, build stories that may not be hundred percent true to who we truly are, and what we have achieved. Why? Because we want to fit in. We want to feel validated. We want to feel like we have a purpose.

This forms part of the reason that I bid Instagram farewell. We are all so tuned into to thinking so two-dimensionally. We are all looking at ourselves through social masks, rather than as human beings. I found it all so fake and untrue. I found myself moulding into this 2D person. I saw people lie about their lives so openly, for attention. I was scared I was falling into this trap. The funny thing is, if we all used such technology as mere human beings, it probably would not be as exciting as it is. I needed a break from such superficiality. I needed a break from mindless scrolling. I need a break from creating dance content just to create a ‘buzz’.

It was a really hard decision. I have been going back and forth on this decision for at least a year now. I was scared of deactivating my Instagram accounts because I was scared that I would no longer be defined as a dancer, because I did not have an Instagram page that said I was one. It made me realise how much I was relying on social masks to define myself. That is when I told myself, enough is enough.

Socially I am living a life that every girl/boy my age could only dream of. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally, I was losing myself to social conditioning. I decided to snap out of it and here I am. Thank you to social distancing, self-isolation and self-reflection.

Self-Isolation AKA Self-Reflection

Last week I came down with a very nasty flu. I was feverish, lost my appetite, could not talk, had a runny nose, terrible cough and did not shower for days on end.

You can imagine how run-down and helpless I felt. I spent months working so hard to balance medicine, dance, travel, dance competition preparation, family and friends. I was ready to go back to work when I became bed-ridden. My boyfriend had to come and pick me up from Shrewsbury and drive me back to my parents house in London, because they were scared of what would happen to me if I stayed alone with no one to look after me and feed me food in a timely manner.

With the recent Corona Virus pandemic, my work place told me very firmly that I had to self-isolate for 14 days! 14 days!! When I found this out, I was overwhelmed. I was grateful to be at home but I started becoming so anxious about not going into work. I felt purposeless. I got so scared. I started overthinking what would happen with my medical training if I took this much time off. I started worrying about being bored at home. I was having an emotional and mental breakdown.

I started to spend more time procrastinating on social media, aimlessly browsing through Instagram, much more frequently than normal. This led to me becoming more and more anxious about the lack of activity I was doing. I felt like everyone was accomplishing things, and I was merely lying in bed, isolated from the world, and recovering from a basic flu.

Corona Virus (Covid-19) is what the whole world is talking about at the moment. Within the last two weeks, circumstances have changed from focusing on self-hygiene advice to quarantine/national exams being cancelled/schools and businesses closing. Therefore, when I was told to stay indoors, as a doctor I completely understood why I had to isolate. Nonetheless I felt guilty. I felt guilty for staying indoors isolating myself, when I felt obliged to help out the NHS and just do my job.

To think that the whole world population, known for our ‘busy’ lives, is now forced to stay at home and stay connected to our family during such vulnerable times, baffles me.

The world works in mysterious ways.

Everything happens for a reason.

I started to realise that reason when during the last two weeks. I deactivated my Instagram account. I started journaling again. I started reading again. I started engaging in positive actions which helped my overall physical and mental well-being. During this time of self-isolation, I started to self-reflect. I also started to reflect on worldly and spiritual matters.

Every single measure taken by us is to protect humanity. We may be divided by our faiths, cultures, social classes, but we are all living one common purpose right now – I do not how many of us actually realise it. For the first time since the day I remember, we as a world population are living as one. We are all living so purposefully to protect and save humanity. It is amazing what we are all accomplishing as humanity. I wish for such unity and love in all our decisions for our future, even after corona virus has died down (which I firmly believe it will).

Maybe there is a hidden message with such a pandemic. Maybe God is trying to tell us something. Maybe God is telling us to focus on what is so important. Unity. Love. Happiness.

One hard good-bye

So this weekend, after ages, I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I got drunk to an extent that I was vomiting and passed out. I can’t remember the last part of the night. All I remember next was waking up in my friend’s flat.

I honestly have not got that drunk in ages! I have actively been staying away from alcohol for some time. I drink small amounts when I go out for meals, but that is about it.

Honestly, this experience has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). I feel embarrassed, and that feeling of what could’ve happened when I was completely out of it, gives me anxiety. I’m getting mini-panics every time I think about what others would’ve thought about me. I know these thoughts of what others think do not define the person I am, but I cannot help it can I?

I just thought to write about my thoughts and feelings. In the past 2 days, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about what I want out of life. Alcohol is not on that list anymore. Having fun with alcohol is definitely not a priority for me. I have realized that I have so much to achieve and accomplish, and alcohol is proving to be a hindrance to that. It is slowing me down. Most importantly, it is the biggest barrier to my current spiritual growth.

I am not against alcohol at all and I will definitely have a glass of wine socially with a meal. However, drinking to get drunk and have fun is definitely not me. I’ve been there, done that. I’m turning into a different person, and I’m proud of this self-reflection and awareness of my spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

Him & I

My boyfriend and I went through a rough patch recently. Living 200 miles apart, working so hard on our individual goals and ambitions, working on completely different shift patterns, on top of trying to schedule in some social time for ourselves and each other. IT IS SO DAMN HARD.

I’m grateful that we never let our difficulties get the best of us. We always try to work as a team on our problems. It’s never me against him. It is us against the problem.

Recently I taught him about Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. We discussed what we wanted. The conversation was such a spiritually enlightening and eye-opening experience . It is crazy that what we both want is ‘Quality Time’ with each other, more than anything else. The irony is that we are so busy building our individual dreams we do not have the time to spend quality time together. We talked about this and I’m glad we are always able to have such conversations and come up with solutions. The world truly does work in mysterious ways and I’m grateful that I have chosen him to experience life with.

I feel motivated to be a better version of myself every moment I spend with him. Yes it is going to be tough, but when we both know we are working so hard for our future, it makes it all the more worth it.

No one told me it would be this hard

It is so difficult to focus on this present moment when I was programmed all my life to think about the: ‘what if’, ‘what next’, ‘how will it’.

I sat down to meditate today and I really struggled to hone in on the Now. I had a flood of thoughts about what I had to do next, and what I had to do tomorrow. I felt like I was physically fighting my way against thinking these thoughts which drained more of my energy.

Accept it. Don’t resist it. What I had learnt today is my thoughts do not define me. I cannot start judging myself for not being present. Actually thinking those thoughts was my present. The more I resisted, the more I hated myself for resisting. I just have to accept that that is what my mind is thinking of at this moment, be at peace with it and continue. I believe that slowly that will help to calm my mind down.

I can see that this journey to awareness and presence is going to be a long one, but I know I will get there eventually.

Distracted by the ‘Ping’

I was sat in ten minutes of silent meditation, before heading off to my night shift. I forgot to put my phone on silent. Although at the time I was annoyed at myself for this, I was glad that it happened the way it did.

My phone ‘pinged’ four times during the ten minutes. I did not once open my eyes. I tried my level best to consciously ignore it (the irony!). However, every time my phone pinged, I noticed a shift in my spiritual energy. My concentration diminished. My focus wavered. I mean, I have already been fighting against my uncontrollable series of thoughts, which is why I have started practicing silent meditation; but the phone going off every few minutes made me realise how my brain is programmed to respond to notifications. A small portion of my concentration is taken away from me every time this happens.

We do not realise how toxic our gadgets can be to our mental and spiritual growth. A simple thing like receiving notifications actually has a massive impact on our ability to be present and focus on the activity at hand. This explains why we struggle so much with mental health – we are unable to align ourselves to one state of being at any one time.

What have I learnt? Well, my mental health is important to me. For me to remain focused and present, I need to actively shut down all possible distractions. I need to learn to ‘Say No To The Ping’. This is going to be tough journey for me because I am physically attached to my phone and I have been using it as a way of diverting my mind away from my present moment negative thoughts, without realizing I am only making my situation worse. I do not know how I am going to break free from the distractions, but I know I am, and that thought alone is enough to make a start.

Silence

Today I decided to embark on the next stage of spiritual practice. The practice of silence.

I had one hour left until my night shift started. I therefore decided to sit down for 15 minutes in silence. After years of reading spiritual texts, today I decided to practice the first of many principles.

Remaining in silence was scary. I had to face all my thoughts. I became aware of how crowded my mind is with thoughts, predominantly about the future. Within the first minute of sitting in silence, I started crying. I became aware of my pent-up negative energy breaking down in the form tears. I focused on that one tear drop which rolled out of my right eye, down my right cheek, all the way down my neck, finally being soaked up by my jumper.

After the initial bout of crying, I started to calm down. I was still overwhelmed by how much I thought about the future. All my thoughts were about the ‘what ifs’, ‘what next’. I tried to calm my mind down by focusing on deep inhalation and exhalation. I managed to achieve around 20 to 30 percent stillness overall. Still got a long way to go!

What amazed me was how I got into the hang of sitting with myself in complete silence. I did not realize time fly by. I have gained the awareness that my state of constant anxiety is because of my thoughts about the future. By constantly practicing silence, and eventually meditation, I hope to calm those thoughts down, in order to create a space of stillness – the canvas for my creative growth and spiritual enlightenment.

Behind this smile…

This smile holds so many secrets. Behind this smile, is endless days of exhaustion and tears; the number of days I have gone to sleep crying. I force myself to be a lot stronger than I actually am, for the fear that if I start to expose my tears, everyone/everything around me will crumble.

I always tell myself, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have any sort of emotion so long as we know how to process it safely and appropriately. Why do we judge ourselves so soon for any emotion we feel? Why are we so keen to label every emotion we experience? I can feel any emotion I want. After all, I am a human.

I just pray we are all kinder to each other. Judge less. Love more. Live more.