PAIN IS GOOD

Pain is good. Pain has the power to transform us- if only we allow it and not fight it and resist it. I’m grateful to my pain. And to each and every one who is supporting me through it.

One night in April 2019 I was struck by this intense pain in my right neck, shoulder and arm. The intensity was way more than both the labour pains I had been through.

It was diagnosed as “prolapsed disc” but I know otherwise now.

When we are struck by an illness or crisis, we tend to ask, “why me!”

I think it’s a valid question that we need to ask ourselves and our illness…why me? Why now? Why this?

In theory I knew that pain gives us an opportunity to evolve. But this time I had a direct experience.

What I have learnt from this whole ‘so called’ cervical slipped disc saga is this….

Pain and suffering have a purpose. They come into our lives when we stray from our destiny paths. We take birth on earth to learn and evolve. Our destiny helps us with that. But sometimes the pains and pleasures of Samsara take us away from that.

Hence we ‘need’ crises, illness and hard times in our lives to remind us of our higher purpose which is, to evolve to the next stage in spiritual development.

We need to ‘not suppress’ the pain but we need to connect with it- get in touch with it. Breathe into it (Thanks Cameron). Talk to it, listen to it and ask why its here. What it wants from us…what is it that I need to learn…..

My attention was drawn to the possibility that I was carrying a lot of emotional pain from the past that I had not dealt with. It had probably manifested into the physical. I had a huge catharsis one day. I cried for one whole hour….loudly. I let everything go.

I learnt that I had no right over the outcome of my actions. That relieved me of a huge burden of guilt and shame that I was carrying.

Another message that was coming in – from many quarters- was that I need to “look within”. Stay in the present moment. Not be carried away by external impressions.

To not think about ‘what I have to do’….that will come in it’s own course- it will find me- when I’m ready.

Now I just need to focus on “being”- not doing.

My job until then, is to work on building myself physically, emotionally and spiritually so that I am ready for whatever it is that the universe wants of me.

I found a wonderful doctor and therapist who helped me through my pain and who are helping me to get stronger than ever!

Dr Kannan and Megha from Sparrc Institute

I surrender to the will of the universe. The only thing that I need to be concerned right now is about how I can try to be the best version of myself!!

I can say that even as I set that intention, wonderful new beginnings are already unfolding, peeping around the corner….I don’t let self doubts stop me anymore this time. It’s the universe manifesting its will through me. I am merely an instrument and the instrument needs some servicing 😄.

I don’t let myself feel guilty for focusing on myself and my well being. I can’t give until I receive.

Receiving with gratitude

This time I promise myself that I shall not overstretch myself, I shall strengthen myself and find my balance. I shall increase my Qi/Prana quotient. And guess what! I have found a Taichi Master!

GRATITUDE

Nirupama Rao

ABOUT NIRUPAMA RAO

Dear friends,

My name is Nirupama Rao. I’m a psychologist with 24 years of experience in the field of Special Needs and Child Development. I am a mother of 2 girls, 22 and 12.

I have previously run my own Waldorf kindergarten/ Centre for children for special needs called Niraamayaa for five years. I have worked in various school, hospital and NGO settings.

Have authored and published two books:

Parenting- The Art and Science of Nurturing with Dr Shekhar Seshadri, NIMHANS

The Autism Story. A little illustrated fictional booklet.

I love writing and post articles on this blog whenever inspiration strikes on various topics.

I currently work with preschools and with parents of young children with autism, attention, emotional and behavioral issues.

I also conduct awareness workshops for parents, teachers and general public on Autism, Special Needs, Child Development, Waldorf Education, on Conscious, Simplicity and Slow Parenting Styles.

There are many factors that exacerbate attention, sensory and behavioural issues in sensitive children. I educate the parents about these factors and help them to understand how conducive diet, rhythms, lifestyle and environment (physical and emotional), will maximise the potential of their children.

I work with the mothers closely and help them with their anxiety. I handhold the parents and guide and support them through various stages of the child’s development by leading them to the right resources. I believe in long term support.

I help parents see the gifts in their children and together work out ways of strengthening them; to celebrate the uniqueness of the child; to respect and accept differences in the child; and to eventually become their advocates.

I work from my home office at Hiranandani Powai, Mumbai.

I consult by appointment.

Thanks and regards,

Nirupama Rao

Contact:

raonino@gmail.com,

blog: http://www.wordpress.niraamayaa.com

ARISE, AWAKE AND QUESTION

(Especially written keeping in mind the young adults, people who are contemplating marriage and parenthood and parents of young children. This is not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear)

The world has changed a lot more in the last 5 years than it has in the last century.

Ola, Uber, flipkart, Amazon, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Google maps and numerous other apps have significantly changed our lives. Life is going to become increasingly impossible to live without our ubiquitous cell phones that can, incidentally also be used to make calls.

Technology has definitely improved the quality of our lives. It has helped save a lot of money, energy and time. It’s like any other invention like the knife or the atom bomb. It all depends on how we use it.

Netflix has a series called Black Mirror (the ipad, laptop or tablet screen that’s turned off) which projects into the future where technology takes stranger turns and transforms humanity in unimaginable ways. Many works of science fiction have been prophetic and that thought is quite scary!

In fact, even infants have their eyes glued to their gadgets that are stuck to their prams, as mom is busy shopping. Six month old babies don’t eat anymore without watching their favourite cartoon/nursery rhymes on YouTube or listening to their favourite Bollywood number.

My now adult nephew’s friend is earning in Crores by making nursery rhyme animations of questionable quality.

Ten year olds want have their own Youtube channels. Children are not going down to play as much as they used to earlier.

Parents in restaurants are feeding their babies but not before handing them their smart phones to keep them distracted.

You go to any social get together and you find children and adults alike busy with their screens, even relatives who get together after a long, long time. Couples in restaurants are busy looking into their own smart phones instead of looking into each other’s eyes.

Parents are not able to set limits as they are themselves hooked on to it as the IDEA 4G AD says “Look look, India hua hook”

Social networking apps have several people employed only to make sure people are always hooked.

I wonder if there’s an app to measure the number of hours people spend with their phones….(update: yes there are many)

HOW ARE OUR LIFESTYLES AFFECTING US

Given this situation, young children who are affected the most, are speaking less, moving less, playing less. This is giving rise to many issues like speech delay, poor muscle tone, coordination and many sensori-motor disturbances. It’s hard to imagine the repercussions this is going to have in the future.

Just as cardiac problems, hypertension, BP, infertility, cancer and diabetes are called lifestyle diseases among the adult population, children are also exhibiting various lifestyle related symptoms like hyperactivity, low muscle tone, sensory processing disorders, autism like features, speech delay, aggression and so on.

There are 4-5 children with issues in a class of 20 children at a playschool I visit. Since it was too time consuming to talk about the same causes and effects to each parent individually, we decided to address the parents of the whole school regarding these modern challenges faced by today’s children, and in turn, parents and teachers. The talk was surprisingly very well received by the parents who were being swept by the wave of technology and lifestyle. But when this was brought to their awareness, it was like an awakening.

Most of us adults are sleep walking through life, flowing with the current and doing what everybody is doing. As humans, we have individual egos that help us to think independently for ourselves unlike animals that are governed by a group ego and herd mentality. ‘Normal’ is no longer most healthy.

We need to think for ourselves and consciously question our choices, especially when it comes to our children. Is this the best that I can give my child? At every step, we need to question ourselves about the choices we are making. Is this what is good? Will this calm my child or excite him? Do I satiate him immediately or do I deal with the tantrum? Do I spend time with him or do I hand him the I pad?

HOW LIFESTYLES ARE CHANGING

Technology is only one part if the lifestyle changes we are witnessing. The world we live in and how we are living is changing in many different ways. Now let us look at what are the lifestyle aspects that are impacting the true potential of the future generation.

What are we doing differently from the previous generation that is giving rise to issues that they did not face?

  • Increase in the number of vaccinations and antibiotic As we are developing resistance, we need to look for stronger doses! The body is no longer allowed to fight infections on its own. We are reducing natural immunity by resorting to unnatural prevention.
  • The missing family physician that used to listen more, diagnose simply by checking the pulse, and not immediately order a battery of tests. Counseling was part of his job profile. Today there is no time for that. There is no time to lose. We need to get better immediately even if we have to suppress the symptoms- child or grown up.
  • A surge of packaged, instant, refined, fast and processed food in the market. As far from real food as it is possible.
  • Increased use of GMO in agriculture.
  • A sudden flooding of technology into our lives which is becoming increasingly indispensible. Children and adults are equally glued to gadgets, no matter where they are. Some schools have started using gadgets too. Movement and physical activity is reducing.
  • Early start in school and academics: Children are packed off to schools even before they are two (a mistake I admit to making with my elder one and am not proud of it). Children take about 6 years to get ready for school in terms of developing the necessary skills like sitting, focussing, pencil grip and so on. I realised the hard way that feeding young children information too early is detrimental to their physical health and well being. Early start leads to fatigue and burn out. Learning is a lifelong process. Even the elderly people learn. What children under six need to do is play, run, get messy and explore.
  • Lack of regularity in eating and sleeping times and in the rhythms of the day. Even children under 5 are not getting their sleep needs met. It is now normal for children to go to bed anywhere between 10.30 to 12. I have seen children who can’t sleep before 1 am!! Children need to eat early and sleep early.
  • Pollution: all kinds of pollution. Air, water, food, noise, wifi radiation, electro-magnetic waves, you name it.
  • Excesses: there is excess of stimulation- noise, visuals, entertainment, material abundance, food, flavors, sugar, excess of everything. We don’t know where to draw a line and say this is enough. Over-stimulation makes children Hyperactive. Once the stimulants are removed, children calm down. They will not need shadow teachers or go for therapies if healthy practices are adopted right from the word go. we do not need to be entertained all the time. Sometimes it is important to do nothing!
  • Consumerism: businesses go to any extent to make people want to buy their product. It doesn’t matter how the product may affect the gullible people- their body image, their self esteem, their self worth. As long as the product sells, everything is OK.
  • Media boom: Media is everywhere…it constantly keeps telling us who we are, how to think, what to eat, what to wear and gives us information that they want us to have. We are at their mercy completely and we have created these ourselves.
  • Role reversal: Children being only children and the recipients of the abundant resources, they are no doubt the centre of our existence. However unfortunately, the children have been given the control and parents listen to children instead of it being the other way around. Experts say “be their friend” and this has been completely misunderstood. Children need parents who will set the limits for them and handle them with firmness instead of becoming putty at their hands. There is a simple reason for this. We are adults, hopefully with the experience and they are children with apparently no experience to take decisions and make judgments. We have taken up the role and responsibility of being parents and we are not here to relinquish control to the little ones who don’t have the experience to weigh what is good for them and what is not. It is difficult for us to see them cry. We need to learn that sometimes a ‘no’ expresses much more love and concern than a ‘yes’. This is especially true in parenting. Having said that it needs to be balanced with a good measure of love and presence to make it work!!

THE AWAKENING

We need not wait until things go to such a head that we cannot reverse it anymore. I’m not sure how much of it can be reversed even today, but as free thinking independent individuals, we still have our capacity to think for ourselves and make conscious choices wherever it is possible.

People are doing that…and they may be judged for it, but that does not stop anyone from breaking the mould, seeking an alternate way of life. They are awakening in their own unique ways.

People are seeking out alternative medical practices, alternative schools, home births, water births, saying no to vaccinations, going in for veganism and organic food, taking to farming, minimalism, slow food movements, supporting sustainable and humane businesses, breaking gender stereotypes, going for yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices and so on and so forth. People are finding their own individual path and have started believing in natural and holistic lifestyles.

People are truly awakening and are refusing to follow so called ‘normal’ currents.

WHAT CHILDREN NEED

Children need to grow up in calm, simple, uncluttered homes with less toys, with good healthy routines, minimum entertainment, lots of physical activity and maximum time out in nature. They need parents who are warm, loving, playful, in the here and now, who believe that less is more and slow is good and are conscious, ecologically aware and most importantly, trusting. Children who grow up in such homes have better stamina, better resistance to diseases, recover faster from illnesses, are much more calm, grounded, balanced and happy, there is more resilience and are able to bounce back sooner from situations.

Even a child with autism who is brought up in the above-mentioned manner may experience reduced aggression, hyperactivity, sensory issues and will be able to realize his true potential using the gifts that autism brings with it.

Our lifestyle has changed, but the archetypal human nature remains the same across time and space. We are still a product of nature. We are still made of the same elements that makes the rest of the natural world. The more we are in harmony with nature and its rhythms, the more we are in good health- physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Human evolution is not over yet. We are still evolving. The human being is now peaking in terms of intelligence. There’s much more to be achieved intellectually. But what lies beyond human intellect? What direction is our next step in evolution going to take?

It will be interesting to see….until then, let us arise, awake, ask questions and think as the conscious beings that we are! We may still not be perfect and yet to do things the way they need to be done but what is more important is that we are aware and conscious of our actions.

This can be our practical, everyday, living and individualized spirituality.

NIRUPAMA RAO

(Psychologist, Parent Counsellor),

Co Author: Parenting-The Art and Science of Nurturing ( with Dr Shekhar Seshadri, NIMHANS)

Contact: 9987653780, raonino@gmail.com

On Sensory Processing Issues

My elder daughter had many sensory issues. With eating, clothing and so on. She would start fretting over the uniform in the last minute after the bus came or she would remove her shoes and socks. She would feel the clothes for softness before buying them! She was a poor eater, anaemic and underweight. She had attention issues at school.
She also had severe asthma. She would have coughing spells in the middle of the night and we would have to rush to the hospital. But now it’s all changed.

I’d like to share what worked for me. I’m sharing so that others may benefit from my experience.

When she was 10 years old and her younger sister was just born, I met Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner.
This is a holistic philosophy that takes into consideration all aspects of a human being. Physical, Etheric, astral and spiritual.
I understood that many aspects were contributing to my daughter’s problems.
I understood that some children need a pure environment to thrive.
These were the mistakes I was making:
– Giving her packaged junk food like chips, chocolates and cookies.
– Allowing her to watch hours of TV
– Pumping her with unnecessary information and knowledge through CDs and books and ignoring physical activities
– Letting her stay up late (11-11.30 PM) and watch TV with us and complaining that she troubled us to wake up in the morning!!
– Not being aware of healthy Rhythms and routines
– not doing enough work with hands and Obsession with intellectual knowledge (on my part)
Just to name a few and to sum it up, I was an unconscious parent.

But all this changed when I went to the Anthroposophic conference. She was already 10 and I thought it was too late to change. But my increasing conviction gave me the inner strength I needed to bring about healthy changes in our family.
I learnt that children need to be fed with natural, fresh, home made food,

have healthy routines and regular Rhythms of the day,

Avoid TV and technology, especially ipads and mobile phones. They are not toys.

Encourage outdoor activities,
Encourage sensory stimulation,
Avoid malls, arcades and other loud environments,

Eat and sleep at around the same time everyday,

Avoid too much focus on intellectual stimulation,

Adopt alternative medical practice like homeopathy,

As parents, let the children watch us doing real work, engage our hands,

And to do inner work ourselves to gain control over our own anxieties and emotions,

These were a few changes I could bring about.
My daughter has now blossoned into a healthy teenager, studying in one of the best colleges. She is as healthy as she can be, given her erratic college and hostel life/style. But she’s free of sensory issues and asthma. That is a lot for me!
Once children leave home, we have no control over their food, lifestyle or environment. But if we are able to lay a healthy foundation in childhood, they are equipped to handle irregularities in a better way.
Probably her sensory issues were not so severe, but I do hope this sharing about a holistic approach helps other parents and children with similar issues.
Love to all,
Nirupama

NIRAAMAYAA- Nurturing Children Naturally

First posted on 30 December, 2010

NIRAAMAYAA

Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha

Sarve santu Niraamayaaha

This verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad means:

“May everyone be happy, may everyone be well (without disease)”

But what does Niraamayaa actually mean?

One of our parents told me the true meaning of the Sanskrit word Niraamayaa. Although I did know that broadly it meant freedom from illness and a state of complete wellness, the actual meaning of the word is clearer when we break it up into nir+aamay. ‘Ama’ in sanskrit means ‘toxins’ or ‘impurity’. So nir-amay means a ‘toxin free state of purity’. This was such a revelation for me as this is exactly what we are striving for at Niraamayaa…..the children who come to us from the spiritual world are so pure, that they cannot take in anything that is not pure- like synthetic food, electromagnetic radiation, vaccines, antibiotics, allopathic medication, etc. We need to instead, try and purify their environment for them, serve fresh, home made food and last but not the least, purify our own heart and mind spaces for them so that everything that is fed to them as food and through the environment (that includes us) is ‘digestible’ to them….then they can reach the state of ‘niraamaya’…..

Everywhere we look these days; there is talk about wellness- Wellness spas, wellness stores, wellness foods, and so on. Why this sudden need for wellness? Perhaps we have realized that in our struggle to survive in this pressure-filled competitive world, we are compromising on our well being. Perhaps we are also realizing that as we are getting sucked in by the hypnotizing realm of technology, gadgetry and modern day living, we are somehow losing out on the human touch and are losing touch with Mother Nature.

The further we move from the comforting and harmonious rhythms of nature and rely on synthetic, unnatural products and ways of living, the further away we move from feeling well. This lack of well being manifests itself as physical, emotional and mental symptoms and syndromes. We wait for something drastic to happen before we awaken and realize how far away we have moved from being really well.

Especially when Mother Earth chooses to express her anguish through our children….whom we value more than anything else in the world.

There is increasing incidence today of children with various special needs- learning difficulties, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity and so on.

Increasing number of studies seems to be pointing to a deep connection between unhealthy lifestyles and habits to Child Mental Health issues. For instance there was an article in the Times recently linking speech delay in toddlers to homes where the child does not get enough language stimulation. There are also issues because children do not play enough. Parents say: “what can we do? We don’t have a choice! This is what everyone’s doing. It’s the norm today.” But is this norm the healthy for our children? Is there a better way to live? Don’t we want our children to lead healthy, productive, balanced lives not just for themselves, but also so that they can contribute to the community? And most importantly, are we willing to come out of our comfort zones for the sake of our children? Are we ready to make aware and conscious parenting choices?

This is the objective behind Niraamayaa, a “Centre for the well being of children and parents”- to help parents make the right choices. To provide them with healthy options for the well being of their children, irrespective of whether they have special needs or not.

In her experience of 15 years with children needing special care, Nirupama Rao the co-founder of Niraamayaa, a psychologist by qualification, has learnt that doing therapy directly with children is only one part of the job. Of equal importance is the home environment, lifestyles, dietary and sleep habits and last but not the least, the physical and emotional well-being of the parents themselves.

Hence, at Niraamayaa we believe in spending as much time with parents as is possible, through counselling and guidance as to the healthiest possible ways of raising children in today’s time and age, along with creative and rejuvenating activities which leave them feeling refreshed and cared for. This is done by way of workshops as well as individual counselling sessions.

Very often what we ‘want’ for our children is not the same as what they really ‘need’. What we ‘want’ is that they fulfil our expectations and perform to ease our anxiety; but what they really ‘need’ is for us to slow down, understand them, observe them and accept them for who they really are.

Our main purpose at Niraamayaa is to

  • help parents understand children and their needs,
  • to create awareness about the connection between child mental health and healthy life styles and

WP_001303                      IMG_20150212_102508145

  • to sensitize the society about the true needs of growing children- that children, at least in the first five or six years need to play, connect to nature,  need good role models and need to really remain children for as long as they can, without the cares and pressures of adult life which they will have to face as adults anyway.
  • To help children and even us adults to actually try at reach that state of ‘Niraamayaa’- the state of freedom from toxicity and the state of purity in body, mind, soul and spirit!!

Nirupama Rao,