Ritual & Resilience

#MySankalpa is I am exploring that which remains.
#MySankalpa is I am the trace of a new beginning.
Sankalpa is transitioning through a rebirth, a restructuring and redefinition on many levels. The dream which was clear to me in a meditative vision in 2008 has materialized, and it is a mystery to understand the details of the path ahead. I continue to receive extraordinary support and positive feedback from a worldwide network, but struggle in a small community as a pioneer to make the effort sustainable without me as the sole driving force. While out for a month, traveling in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, the team of Sankalpa went through challenges and miscommunications which led to two people (of the core four) leaving, and everything being shut down for a month of reevaluation.

As with all difficulties, a spiritual approach of seeking the positive and lessons in the circumstances was present for me, but also a mourning of all that had been built over many years. But my mind and any mental rationale failed to explain how so much effort could lead to this moment. For a short period, I felt quite abandoned and alone, wondering and questioning everything about the future. I dove deep into personal shadow material which was trigged through this experience, and found that it was rich and worthwhile to spend time in the discomfort. Most of us welcome distraction, escape, addiction, procrastination and any easier route of hiding or not meeting these parts of ourselves.

In this space which made me question my purpose for the first time in years, I found solace in the most embodied way: through art. I had no more excuses for not taking time for my own personal art process, and began to dive deep into   investigation of art as a ritual, on a larger path of resilience. To bring accountability in my self-discipline, I decided to maintain a daily art piece with photographs and an affirmation (or sankalpa) to post through Sankalpa's various social media channels.

.MySankalpa is I am origin#
.MySankalpa is I am en route to the root#

The repetitive act of using materials from my surroundings to create a small world, to help make sense of my experience, has been incredibly therapeutic. I found and returned to a sense of stability within myself which I could not find in my external reality otherwise. I remembered that as a child facing significant trauma, it was the small arrangements of treasures on a makeshift altar that helped me feel a sense of control and power, to see glimpses of beauty, hope, awe and to begin to fathom the scale of my pain amidst the chaos and negativity surrounding me. So I remembered the essence and value of my life's work as an art therapist by experiencing it in a new way. I found meaning in the creation of microcosmic and impermanent installations. Sharing these images and the resonance with others has only been a secondary validation and source of connection.

In India, I surmise that many ritual arts evolved to exist as a coping mechanism for the challenges of surviving daily life. The metaphor in religious offerings is fascinating and layered, and I now recognize the loss I feel in seeing empty commercial adaptations of traditional understanding. The wisdom embedded in mandalas in all forms, kolams (ground drawings), henna patterns, embroidery, the painted markings on doorways and altars, is all infinitely rich in symbolism. The deeper meaning in these designs is one that provides a map for understanding reality and our small place within it. To remain in a sensitive space of wonder and be able to see beyond the surface can be both a burden and a blessing.

#MySankalpa is I am held.
Today I am grateful for fully and deeply experiencing loss, pain and the challenges of my pioneer effort which extracted me from the privileges of life in NYC and catapulted me back to the motherland, and most importantly, into the core of my being. It is a rare opportunity to dive willingly, sit with, and pass through such pain, to discover an incredibly fulfilling sense of resilience as well. To give myself permission to be vulnerable, humble and be present with not knowing is a practice in itself. As the art therapy gypsy, even if I am sitting still, I now see that I am always moving through something. Thanks for reading about my journey!

Follow the daily sankalpas and share your own with the tag #MySankalpa on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, along with seeing our daily posts about our ongoing work and news about expressive arts therapy, gender issues, traditional art forms, and much more!