Updated: Feb 14, 2022
I had a short trip out of the Mayanagari Mumbai. As much as I appreciate the city, I feel a sense of overwhelm about living in Mumbai and the same sense clouds my other senses at the end of any trip.
And now as I sit here at a small town's railway station waiting for the train that will take me home, back to the maximum city, I am wondering at the cocktail of my feelings and trying to apply what I learnt from 'Nonviolent Communication' (NVC) ( You could read more about it on CNVC.org and I would be more than happy to share my mentor's details if you would like to explore this approach to life).
Coming back to the present, I am so full of a spirit of celebration. My short family trip filled my heart by meeting my needs of space, quiet, quality family time, relief from household responsibilities, a break from the routine and rush, beauty of nature, play, great food, a new place to explore, adventures to try and I can list a few more.
Simultaneously, as I am thinking of being back in Mumbai, I notice that I love home, going back to the comfort of my bed, homemade food, tea with ginger and the view of jackfruit trees with many birds and their nests from my balcony are all welcoming.
Then my focus zooms out and I think of the spread of books and clothes in the childrens' rooms, the pending office work, the coordination with domestic helpers and so on. A few minutes more and I zoom out further and now I see the rush to work, the roads filled with potholes, people and vehicles, the traffic, the never-ending din, the crowded buses and train!! Aagh!
The coexistence of towering buildings with the sprawling slums, the fast and slow vehicles, the rich and the poor all seem akin to the paradoxical existence of the 'rush to do' and the 'wish to be' within me. Also, my sense of judgment over not sticking to gratitude for all that I have and focusing on what I don't, build on my sense of overwhelm and make me feel powerless, frustrated and even irritable.
Now that I have learnt some NVC, I recognise the 'either-or or ' orientation in me. So how could I translate my overwhelm into something simple and workable, something that can serve the flow of life?
As a zero-step, I set my intention, a curious inquiry into my sense of overwhelm and a deeper understanding of what lies beneath this sense? What do I need and why do I need it?
Now at the first step, I sit back to observe my judgments; I usually rant about the crowd and cost of living in Mumbai, the cramped up houses and noises and how I miss the quiet, space and ease of other cities or towns. I notice how I fall into my own trap of being the damsel in distress when I say "Oh my husband works here, my children study here and I couldn't disturb them."
So now at the second step, I translate these rants to my feelings and needs, ( I started from my feeling of overwhelm which has further layers of feelings). So I saw I was feeling conflicted, helpless, dissatisfied, frustrated, sad and also angry at times.
My needs were connection, family, space, ease, choice, ease, quiet, peace, wellbeing and maybe more.
Then at the third step, I am offering myself some empathy and saying to myself wow I have this beautiful need for ..... I am saying each need that is not met in my routine life in this metro city.
Now after connecting to my longings, things that I value or my needs, I feel more spacious and am willing to zone into the gifts of living in this city. It took me less than a minute to list out all that I appreciate this city for; safety, diversity, inclusion, opportunities to pursue our careers, education and hobbies, live as a family, climate, acceptance, freedom to dress as one likes, availability of reliable and affordable domestic support etc.
I notice that these simple steps helped me move up the abundance ladder to a place where I could connect to my choice. This is a very empowered and joyful space compared to my earlier position of being powerless and being forced to live in this city.
Now I look back to my impressionable years, to take a relook at the quote by G B Shaw which influenced me much: "take care to get what you like else you will be forced to like what you get".
Now I think, It's not about liking what we get but it's about getting in touch with our core values and longings, to choose as per our priorities. It further means staying with the energy of gratitude for the gifts of our choice and a sweet longing for the other things that we value and desire.
'Loving what is' is not about a false sense of joy but a graceful connection to a choice we made. I sense my body resonates when I feel gratitude and think about the blessing; to live in this city allows each of us in my family to pursue our careers, education and ambition while still being able to sit together to have dinner, chat and share our day's happenings with each other and bond as a family.
Yes, I do long for more space, time and quiet and I can have them on such vacations and I can also embody all that frequency of those met needs at any point of time by just recollecting those lovely moments.
I see that gratitude and longing are not antitheses to each other and I can still long for life to be even more wonderful while feeling grateful for the gifts offered by life.
I now hold on to the faith that the universe resonates to the frequency of my longings and gratitude and it participates in fulfilling them by creating and matching me with all that I deeply desire and value.