Thursday, 11 August 2016

Dialogue of Touch




By
   Marina D’Costa and Romero D’Souza


After the breath taking cultural night, they walked down the street hand in hand. He pulled her towards himself, their foreheads pressed moving down to the tip of their noses and as she was about to kiss him, he stepped back and said, “It is hongi”. Hongi !! she reacted being disappointed. “I thought it was a romantic moment for both of us” she exclaimed. But it was not, it was hongi and he was a Maori. “Hongi”[1] is a traditional greeting of the Maori indigenous community in New Zealand, which is done by pressing one's nose and forehead at the same time to another person at an encounter. In the “hongi”, the ha (or breath of life), is exchanged and intermingled, it is also interpreted as sharing the soul of each other and is considered as to have come directly from god. Through the exchange of this physical greeting, one is no longer considered manuhiri (visitor) but rather “tangata whenua”  i.e. one of the people of the land. We were moved with this touch, which got us curious to know other aspects of touch that would really help us dialogue in this world of emotions where words fail.
Touch can be symbolic and non - symbolic.  However, symbolic touch can bring power to this abstract concept, which can also be a universal language across cultures. We often write about dialogue in the context of language and words, where one was obliged to talk face to face to the other person to express emotions and concerns. How did we not see this aspect of touch that would be equally powerful to dialogue in silence, especially to explore emotions that are not easy to be expressed in words. Which most of the times are results of no clarity or one can say just a matter of human instinct which has no justification. Viola found that children understand this dialogue of touch. Viola Brody is the originator of the development play therapy approach and also a psychologist, who in her book the dialogue of touch[2] calls capable touching as the core of developmental play therapy, building both the self of the hurt child and his or her appreciation of the nurturing other. It thus makes way for dialogue between them and as the dialogue becomes an organizing force for the child's behaving and relating which in return facilitates healing and maturation.
Let us get as bizarre as we can to explore this idea of touch in dialogue. We have seen nannies talk to babies while massaging them and the baby smiling and responding as if they understood what was conveyed. We can also replace nanny with mothers and see the same response. Are they experiencing dialogue of touch? What about petting a dog, does that also become a dialogue of touch? Giving condolences at funerals with a hug or a kiss is dialogue of touch? Is holding someone close to you when they are in tears is dialogue of touch? Or is making love with someone is dialogue of touch? These questions are certainly going to be an access for us to get into deep dialogue of touch, which may generate uncomforting zones for emotions and experiences that has left us with an impression of many kinds, this can make us feel good or bad or absolutely nothing. There is just no reasoning at times, it is just a feeling and one has to stay with it forever. Should we then call dialogue of touch, a mysterious or magical touch?
When painting the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo chose not to depict the creation of Adam through breath, he chose touch, however, by painting the fingers of God and Adam and leaving a small space between the two, Michelangelo creates a tingling tension, an anticipation of that wonderous moment, as we all wait for God to complete his Creation of Adam[3]. Would that touch complete the god’s love for humanity? The bollywood movie ‘Black’ revolves around a blind and deaf girl Michelle McNally (name of the character), and her relationship with her teacher Debraj Sahai (name of the character)  who is instrumental in her education and teaching her words and expressions of music and dance of the outer world through touch since she was eight. One of the lyrics of the song from the movie in Hindi says, “meine chukar dekha hai” which means “I have seen through touch”. When Debraj supports Michelle who is now in her late twenties to understand the happening at her sister Sara’s wedding, he tells her about the couple kissing. The next thing Michelle unreasonably expresses that she would want to experience how it feels to be kissed on her lips and begins to wonder about love which she has not experienced. The teacher kisses her to fulfill her request and moves away from her forever knowing what he has done. What was this touch? Silently it had a message for all of us, a mysterious feeling that touch generates, that can never be expressed in words.
Touch is an essential element of life. It gives one a sense of the presence of the other. It is an experience of the inner understanding, perhaps we can even call it a gift. In dialogue of touch we experience the gift of giving, of sharing, of oneness. Think of a very practical reality when two bodies become one in the act of making love. It is trust, openness, confidence, mutual giving, it is an increasing and growing necessity, we would even call it an exodus of life. The world today depends on touch – smartphones, touch laptops, touch TV, touch companies and products and marketing. It is through the touch on our phone we think we dialogue with someone across oceans, is that really a dialogue of touch? When travelling via public transport one experiences the sense of touch knowingly – unknowingly, consciously – unconsciously, wantingly – unwantingly. The touch of someone waking you up in the morning to someone patting your back to put you to sleep, kissing you good night. Those living in the modern world can experience touch in a negative way like that of those oppressed, suppressed, abused and raped. A society experiences touch when one is struggling, surviving, and feeling insecure. The dialogue of touch leads us to shifting paradigms and confronted paradoxes of life and reality. We know that the “rule of touch” is sensual and sensitive. Thus, it is important to considered cultural and social norms. Let our sharing on touch be an invitation to each one of us as persons, community, nation to discern and determine the approach we have in Dialogue of Touch. It is a phenomenon  we still need to explore, for now it is a search manifested in words.




[2] Viola Brody. 1993. Dialogue of Touch: Development Play Therapy (Master Work Series). Originally published: Treasure island, Fla : Developmental Play Therapy Associates, c 1993.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Tree Appreciation Walk






Theologian Teilard De Chardin says, "We are spiritual beings, having human experience". This is what I experienced this morning walking in the forest appreciating nature. It felt like moving in the womb of mother nature, time and again thanking a divine presence which I experienced in my each breath. Indigenous communities have always been my inspiration, as they truly understand the symbiosis of human beings and nature. They have taught me to love nature, to respect nature and to let nature take it's course. Learning about trees through stories, poems and other sharings, I felt like a kid curious to know more about this mysterious circle of nature, to understand the alpha and omega. It just made me fall in love with life and appreciate the depth of nature's beauty. Indigenous people say have faith in nature, trust that they will protect you and I did experience that today. Well I can write further to criticize how we humans have done this and that to nature. However, today I choose to just make my commitment to nature, to love and protect it in all possible ways to the best of my ability. I am transformed today and I love this new being within me, who wants to get more closer to nature, get more closer to the divine.

Vulnerable - AM I ?




And every time I take the courage to walk on the path of emotions, I feel vulnerable. How does this path of emotions look like? This pic is something I can connect to...it is unexplored, it is filled with surprises, it is tempting, it is promising, it is attractive, it just makes me vulnerable every time I experience these emotions. Do I really need them? Should I ignore them? What is the source of these emotions?. Questions arise each time I sense them, each time I get close to them. And then finally he walked into my life, he affirmed....held my hand, kissed me on my lips and said....."your beautiful", yes being in your arms is being vulnerable and it's makes me beautiful.

'A DIALOGUE' : HEARD YET UNHEARD




My curiosity for dialogue helped me reflect on this intimate dialogue between a mother and a child, Nature and us... during my tree appreciation walk. I call it ....Heard...as when the mother speaks and the baby responds through smile or gestures and Unheard....when the emotions or the unspoken words are ignored by the world outside. Walking in the forest early morning helped me dialogue with nature, i said something in my heart and the natureresponded in unique ways...that i can't express in words. There was a sense of give and take as i walked through the narrow paths. This is how may be a mother and a new born communicate. There is so much that she must have experienced and felt during those nine months and when she holds that little one in her arms, she just dialogues a world of emotions, sometimes through her words, sometimes through her breasts and sometimes through her gentle hands and most often through her eyes that make her feel so blessed every time she sees the fruit of her womb. I wonder now, there must be so many dialogues within this realm of nature that we have not heard. Take a walk into the wilderness some day , you never know you may hear that dialogue which is unheard.

Nature Protects


We are spiritual beings having human experience, and nature is the best place to experience this.
Cherishing my dialogue with Fr. Niphot who is from Thailand, a person who is so humble and down to earth. He has a strong base in Anthropology, Theology and Ecology. He is a perfect picture for Panikkar's Cosmotheandric vision. Since we were going to stay in the indigenous villages for few days, I expressed my fear being in the nature at times due to animals, reptiles and other creatures that tagged along. He then said something so powerful, that my whole being was transformed. He said, " Surrender yourself to nature, take every step in faith knowing that nature protects you, dialogue with nature as you walk. You will connect to the divine, to your spirituality"

Our Lady of Lourdes




My miraculous experience of Our Lady of Lourdes as a child which got connected as a youth-The touch of the grotto outside St. Michael's Church, Mahim in the city of Mumbai.
And I had liking for Wednesdays when my mom dragged me for novenas of Mother of Perpetual Succour. Perhaps the liking was not for the crowded novena services, but for the market outside set only on Wednesdays, where I enjoyed the perks of accompanying my mother. The only place I liked in the church was the grotto in the church premises.
My mom used to give me a garland to put around the neck of a girl knelt before the grotto. As a child I considered her as Mother Mary, vividly remembering holding her tight around my arms, perfect for my height. What I loved was the cold feeling of the marble. I remember touching her face, I loved the little girl knelt before the grotto.
As the queue was long and people moved slowly solemnly towards the grotto. I remember touching the stones of the grotto as I slowly walked by, which again gave a sense of relaxation to my little palms.
Years later in August 2015, when I was in Lourdes, France. I had no reflection of this experience. I was on the surface of my thoughts, just being a sincere pilgrim and trying to know more about this devotion. Until again I stood in the queue, moving solemnly, touching the stones of the grotto, touching moist surface, just the way I did as a child.
It is in this queue that I was moved and in no time the dots connected. My love for that little girl St. Bernadette had manifested into a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes and it felt like I was there to meet her, in her own hometown. The experience at this divine place is something I can't forget till the end of my last breath, the dip in the water and the devotion to this mysterious woman in my life, has given me a moment to cherish.
I thank my mom for all the efforts she made in building my spirituality and devotion to our mother. And my return gift to her was, the water of Lourdes which I carried safely all the way from France.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sustainable Goals Post 2015 in Parixs





It is not only UN or the Government - It is you too who are responsible in making a contribution to achieve these 17 Goals in the next 15 years, you can pick one goal and make that your mission for 2016 and the journey can continue. Here are 5 steaps that i wish to share after my reflection:
1. Read the document on SDGs Post 2015 (get to know the history of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which has been the base to SDGs Post 2015.
2. Read the 17 goals and reflect on the situation of the same at your local, national and global level.
3. Reflect on your strength in terms of your profession or Passion or Your skills - are you an artist, doctor, teacher, engineer etc. What is that one talent that you have.
4. After studying the 17 Goals, pick one let's say you pick up EDUCATION -(Goal 4). Find out all that you can about education situation, education policies, have dialogues with NGOs that work in the area of education and get to know as much as you can.
5. Determine to promote that one goal in your own unique way, be in network and solidarity with all these activist, institutions or people who are connected for this cause (that goal) and you yourself must get into action in your voluntary work on field.
ThIS is one path that i have to offer at the moment for you to make your contributions towards SDGs Post 2015. I am sure you will find more creative ways to get there.

Resilience Keeps Dialogues Going....


The word 'Resilience' is the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape, the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Diasaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) in his peace proposal 2014 to the United Nations talks about the importance of enhancing the resilience of human societies. Resilience is crucial in today's world where we face end number of challenges, right from our individuality to global crisis. We often break down and give up on these situations. Thus, resilience is vital to keep our dialogues going to come back on track again if we have derailed from our activism. It is important not to give up and rise back to life making contributions to build a better world in our own unique ways. It is indeed a process to build resilience, once we have encountered the spirit of this act we can bring about a revolution.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Why they...


During my college days i used to have a world map facing my study table, that world map always reminded me that i was not the only product of evolution of homo sapiens....hahaha!! In other words it reminded me that i was not the only one who had problems in life nor i was the only one who had solutions to world's problems. At the same time i was always aware of the power of one individual who could be instrumental in changing lives of many through her dialogues. In this course of life i have encountered many personalities right from the ones in politics to midwives in remote villages, people in the field of music, dance, theatre and so many in the world of business, medicine, sports etc. As i mentioned the world map is overwhelming helping me find meaning in life now and then. I often asked myself , Why they....?? Why these personalities and there are so many i can't even recall... it is a never ending saga of people who are victors in their lives in their own unique ways, in different fields and in different hearts and minds.It is unfortunate, however, that they don't know me and i don't know them. Yet, they have influenced my way of being.

Now lets ask, Why me... what is my personality like, how close i am to them. After all the wisdom and knowledge that i have been trying to gain, the only end i see is ME...Just ME. And there i learn that all these personalities have a different story to share, then what is my story? Since i know that i am the author of my life, how can i ever expect someone else to narrate my story or for that matter why I should be giving explanations for my story, no one has the right to judge me. It is amusing to see that all these personalities have become a figure for reference after they have accomplished something significant, however, their struggles have been recorded and have truly been inspirational.So life is simple when you see it through your lenses.When you see your life through the eyes of others, you see just perspectives that can either make you or break you. So Why they...Why not You...Why not ME. This is a question for all philosophers. Anyways the fun of life is to let life happen and at times make life happen. Play with this a little more and then when you are confused and lost. Look at the world map...close your eyes and see all the people in your life who have smiled at you, who have loved you, who have shared the best moments with you...see people who live in abundance, with immense joy and happiness, see those children with innocence smiling at you, see the sun that rises, see the birds that fly, see the rivers that flow...open your eyes and then close your eyes again... see your grave.... open your eyes and just ask this question..."What difference I have made in the lives of others?" and you will know all the people in your life who have raised you up... and you see that is Why personalities matter.







Sunday, 20 September 2015

World of Emotions

And it happened and i don't know why......and then it felt like it was a world of emotions. Yes, it is a world of emotions and the beauty of these emotions is that they are not the same for too long. There is immense feeling than thinking in the process though. For me it has been a moment to cherish for life and the emotions sweep off here and there, and i let my heart flirt with these emotions when they want to. Every day there are end number of thoughts that we have in our busy minds, i have a way out to help me understand and it is how i feel. Feelings help us understand what is really happening with us and it is the heart that has all the answers to your questions. And i also experience this world of emotions when i dance. While i meet people who are focused and sorted with life, i also meet people, whom i call as "People of Passionate Hearts" these are people who take risk, who dance like sufis, who live life to the deepest philosophical understanding and they truly unique to understand this world of emotions. Nothing is right or wrong for them, it is just an emotion. The rest i leave it up to you, as life is not to be taught, it is to be lived and experienced.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Life Unfolds

There is always an opportunity that life brings at your doorstep and you wonder, "Is this for me?". Life always puts you in this sea of question marks and you have to click - yes or no as you swim across the currents. The purpose of life is well defined in one's philosophy, as there is no one reason for life. For me it has come to an understanding of life and action. A beautiful combination ever life could have. Life = Action, purely a matter of karma. Waiting for life to unfold is the most dramatic thing i have ever experienced and have learnt that it takes immense courage to see it unfold, as no one knows what it brings next. However, it has also made me feel the beauty of nature in this process of living. There are so many things in our life that we want to take control of, here, comes a point where i open my arms and embrace life with no conditions, such a feeling one could have, simply call it Freedom. So here i am with no questions, with no doubt, with no worries, just experiencing being human, fully aware that i am a spiritual being having a human experience. Powerful it is..... go out there and push yourself into some mess, and life will unfold.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Enlightened Generation


I always questioned myself, " Am I part of an Enlightened Generation?". Took sometime and i affirmed yes indeed i am part of an enlightened generation. However, i feel there is more that one can do to make this world a better place. Keeping aside the political and economic conditions, at times also the social conditions. I am trying to think if  it is possible to say that we are an enlightened generation. After all that our world has gone through, we are awakened to make this world a better place. We want to ensure that love exists, respect for human beings and environment becomes part of our spirituality. We don't want our children and elderly people go through such hardships. When we find technology as a boon that makes it so easy for our world to connect. It also has its drawbacks, which can harm humans. However , we have risen to life and so many amazing things on this planet. So lets slow down a bit and reflect am i really contributing to this enlightened generation? Oh let me question this again....Are we living in an enlightened generation?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Learn Unlearn Learn


That one last thing....


Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Power of Vulnerability in Dialogue


By
Marina D’Costa


The word vulnerability is often used powerfully to refer to the powerless, to show inability of an individual or community to withstand a situation or an emotion. The word vulnerability to me seems resigned, where one kills the possibility of creation of a new alternative or experiencing a new emotion. It was an eye opener when I came across Brene Brown[1] speaking about the power of vulnerability; it gave me an opportunity to reflect further on how this power would be channelized through dialogue. We all have our good and bad sides, and we often enjoy expressing the good and hold back the bad because of guilt and shame, only because we know that make us vulnerable. When I am convinced that dialogue is about sharing authentically about one’s life, the question remains how far will I go to keep it authentic? Is it really important to make that relationship stronger to an extent when I am aware that I am vulnerable? Here is where my inspiration for this article lies, with a title “The Power of Vulnerability in Dialogue”.

Paulo Coelho in his novel ‘Eleven Minutes’ embarks the journey of Maria - a beautiful young Brazilian girl who is vulnerable in a relationship and is convinced after her breakup that true love is a myth and eventually drifts away from love and gives into prostitution developing fascination for sex. Convinced that love only brings suffering, she makes her state of vulnerability comfortable for herself by engaging in relationship with many on bed. We all are vulnerable in any relationship, mostly prone to physical or emotional vulnerability, sometimes with consent and sometimes without consent. I have referred the word ‘vulnerability’ in this article in a positive context, which creates a platform for one’s spiritual and emotional growth eventually gaining some insights into dialogue.

In my initial stages of exploring this world of dialogue I would fear my sharing, finding myself vulnerable especially with people who were strangers, the emotion which Maria went through in Paulo’s novel, I can partially connect to such an experience. There was always this question, “Would sharing this part of my story help?”, every time I raised this question I either shared fully to feel complete and authentic, or I never engaged to that level of intense sharing. However, when I shared fully, I was complete, whole and perfect. Nothing really mattered as I knew already that I had made myself vulnerable. Here is where I would like to integrate Brene’s research findings, something that moved me at first go. Brene highlights that people who have fully embraced vulnerability have immense potential for love and a sense of belonging, they believe that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They believe that being vulnerable is necessary, they were willing to say, “I love you” first, willingness to do something where there is no guarantee, ready to invest in a relationship that may or may not work. They did this only because they thought this was fundamental. I would add the word ‘unconditional love’, which gave me immense power to dialogue and launch a venture that would awaken people to the power of dialogue. Brene in her research found that people who embraced vulnerability have a sense of courage. Courage comes from the Latin word, ‘cor’ meaning ‘heart’ and so courage was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart, knowing that one is imperfect. Leonard Swidler[2], mentions about ‘Dialogue of heart’, in the Buddhist philosophy heart matters. Thus, heart becomes the source of dialogue where vulnerability thrives. Then why we lack expression in dialogue after having been through a roller coaster of emotions. Dr. Brene writes, ‘We live in a vulnerable world and one of the ways we deal with it is, we numb vulnerability’. In other words we numb our emotions and then someday we search for meaning and purpose in life landing up in the same cycle of numbed emotions, where there is absolutely no growth and thus, our dialogues fail. It is very essential for one to find their context right for dialogue. One cannot effectively initiate a dialogue or participate in a dialogue, when the context for that dialogue is not clear. It is also essential for them to be at a same wave length in the process of dialoguing.  

Every dialogue has its roots in human emotions and Brene has truly inspired me to connect to these emotions that makes us vulnerable, yet make us beautiful. An emotion is like a river, you cannot block it and when you do, the water is stagnated. Being vulnerable supports the authenticity of our dialogue and also encourages the other person to powerfully enroll in the conversation. Identifying our flaws in expression and authenticity, we can put forward any emotion crystal clear across the heart of the other, without any expectations. Dialogue is not about strategizing; it is about being who you are and taking a stand in what you believe. It is only when you have completely embraced your vulnerability, you will fully share the vulnerable zone of others, entrusting your heart to work towards a strong relationship. And I know when I do this, I will have immense power to dialogue, only because I have experienced the power of vulnerability and this in return makes my dialogues powerful.

******

1] Dr. BrenĂ© Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past twelve years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Her ideas on vulnerability is taken from her TED x Houston talk talk in December 2010.

[2] Leonard Swidler is a professor of Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia

Monday, 1 September 2014

The look


A life unexplored


In Divyadaan i came across these word by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience".  Thanks to Fr. Felix Fernandes, sdb, who helped me introspect on these words by Chardin.  I encountered these words 5-6 months back, but have understood what it meant recently. 

This comes down to my experience at Walwanda, with the Warli Indigenous community. When i landed in the forest area there , the first thing i did was built harmony with nature and asked mother nature to protect me. I could feel a spirit of mother nature uniting with my spirit. I just told myself, i am a spiritual being having a human experience and that is how i will encounter these villages and the lives of people here. 

When i started exploring the place and life of the Warlis, i truly had a spiritual experience, where it was certain that there is 80% of us which is spiritual and just 20% of human experience. And this human experience is so basic. That is all we need to live a good life. But how unfortunate are we, who go into the wilderness searching for spirituality thinking we are humans. When the ideas remains of , we being spiritual beings having human experience. I felt amazing having this experience and learnt so much about this simplicity of life. 

You truly are a spiritual being who is having an human experience. If you really want to explore a life which is unexplored, go ahead and visit this place. 

Faith like a Stone




It's Financial Inclusion


Cosmic Energy