Do you exercse ‘No’ enough?

Just as we have lost sacredness around body, sexuality, yoni, sex, lust and are conflicted about its expression and embodiment in our lives, we are also, conflicted in the expression and utterance of the powerful word ‘No’ when it comes to embodying and expressing our body and sexuality boundaries to others.

“No” is a more powerful utterance than “Yes”, and there are places that we need to reinforce its usage especially when it comes to the personal space of body and sexuality!

I feel that we have some distorted notion that it is disrespectful and “unspiritual” to say ‘No’. Maybe it h


as something to do with the notion of not being in the YES Mind when saying No! What people don’t understand is that all ‘No’s are not conflicting with the YES! mind, and all ‘Yes’ are not rooted in the ‘YES’ mind.

We can say ‘No’ with a YES in the mind, and we can say ‘Yes’ with a NO in the mind.  The YES in the m

ind is responding from a state that is rooted in a deep space of love, synchron

icity, compassion, and human values! Sometimes the only way to sustain that state of our mind is by saying a ‘No’. Otherwise, that very space that we intended to foster is deeply violated.


The feminine in the bodies of women and men, girls and boys go through sexual abuse everywhere – in  families, in  neighborhood, in workplaces without every uttering the word ‘No’, and when it is uttered the masculine other doesn’t hear it, value it, acknowledge it or even, know how to hold space for it. In the Suryanelli rape case in Kerala, where this young 16 year old girl was rapped by over 40 well-reputed men from the community as she was moved from one place to the other, the question that came up in the court was  “Why couldn’t the girl say No through all this? Why didnt she get up and run away.” 20 years later she is still waiting for justice! As sickening as it may sound, it is the judgement projected by men and women alike. But anyone who has ever been in a victim state of abuse knows that ‘No’ is the most difficult word to say sometimes when the abusers are people you are taught to trust, value and feel safe with!

In my own experience, I learned that it was easy to say “No” and stand up for my personal body when it came to the matters of  strangers, classmates, college mates but when it came to the matter of love and the one I would most trust, there was immense guilt involved in saying “No”. As I engage in gloriaimagesmore conversations, I realize that most women in intimate relationships with another, find it difficult to say “No” when it comes to matters of their own body without feeling guilty.

In India especially, I find that generally women (and girls) go through all kinds of discomforts, body touching, leaning, and every possible violation of personal space by just going through it or physically moving away from it but never responding with “Please donot lean on me”, “Please could you go back a little”, “Please stand a little aside”, “Please do not touch me” or “I am uncomfortable”, or “No, I do not want to do that.”All these are powerful “NO” statements.

Girls grow up listening to ‘No’ all the time everywhere on the planet.
No, you cant do that. You are a girl.
No, give it to him. You learn to give.
No, you cant play with boys.
No, you cant stay out late.
No, cover yourself up.
No, you cant drink because you are a girl.
No, you cant smoke because you are a girl.
You never say ‘No’ to your husband.
And if you say ‘No’ to an older person because they make you uncomfortable, you will be the one seen as the problem. I remember when I first returned to India, my experience with saying ‘NO’. I was at a bank teller counter. It was my turn and there were all these men literally crowding around me so close trying to get the tellers attention when it was my turn. I was the only woman. I turned around and said, “Could you please go back a little?” I was looked at like I was the accused. Of course, it has not deterred my No but I realize that it is so painful in India to exercise No as a woman or girl.

Somehow through all these negative reinforcements, as women, we learn to associate guilt, and  the feeling of being the accused with the word “No”.

Now let us look at our sons.
Do  our sons hear the word said ‘No’ enough times in their growing up (of course, as long as the sons pursuits are masculine in nature. Sons who are drawn towards feminine traits, hear No enough times.).
Do our sons know to honor the ‘No’ said to them?

Now Reflect upon this:

When Women donot know to say ‘No’ when it comes to the matter of their personal body space; and When Men donot know how to hold space for the word ‘No’ when it comes to personal body space of the other – We have a disastrous situation!

Definitely, Women being the one who takes things into her, she needs to have the freedom to exercise her ‘No’ when it comes to her body and sexuality space in all its aspects – from touch to penetration.

Men on the other hand, need to understand to honor the ‘No’ when it comes to a woman’s body space. Her ‘No’ needs to be heard, acknowledged and honored!


So I leave you today with these words.

Have we taught our sons to hold space, acknowledge, understand and respond to the ‘No’ of our many daughters, women and girls?

Have we taught our daughters, our girls, our women, to say ‘No’ whenever their personal space is violated without feeling guilty?

Do we as parents honor the ‘No’ of our daughters and sons when it comes to matters of personal body space?

Do husbands know to acknowledge and honor the ‘No’ of their wives and daughters when it comes to the matter of personal space?

Maybe it is time to look at mythology, folk tales, movies, novels and other spaces which deeply violate and cloud the meaning of the word ‘No’ when a girls says it by romanticizing it.

When force of any kind is the response to a girl’s “No”, it is Rape in every form or shape or color – be it in a marriage or in a relationship or anywhere! It is not romantic even if the doer is a tall dark handsome guy!








Stand By Your Child – No Matter What!

This blog is inspired by something my sister shared like couple of years back that all a child wants to hear from his or her parent are just two words, “Its Ok.”

Those two words make every difficult experience become “ok” in the mind for a child. Sometimes parents are so absorbed in the drama of their own ego that they separate themselves from the child and stand by the world! Even a brief moment of that response from the parent has a life lasting impact on the child’s sense of feeling a deep rooted groundedness from within. Otherwise the child never really feels ‘its ok’ inside and keeps looking for that acknowledge through his or her own life.

However, if you choose to stand by your child whatever maybe the situation – even if the child was the wrong doer – if you begin from the point of saying to the child -“Its Ok”, you will get the cooperation of the child. Because in that moment, the child feels seen, acknowledged and supported and will be more willing to listen.

I feel that till the age of 16 years if parents can create that kind of conscious empathy, love and protection for the child it can have long lasting impression on the child’s response in the world – within and without. However, most children are victims of their parent’s stress, prejudice, hurt, fears, emotional turmoils, and their own wounding by their parents.

Do not equate Stand By your child to mean Side your child‘s behavior! When you Stand By Your Child, you send the message to the child that no matter what I am with you and together we can improve this situation. It creates the space for your child to listen to you.

When a child exhibits a behavior that is seen as wrong (or destructive to self and others), there are only two perspectives:

  • the child knew that it was  wrong and still did it, or
  • the child did not know it was wrong

Either ways it is a learning moment for the child. But how do you make that a teaching moment without projecting your own insecurities on the child. For example, Say your child’s teacher or a neighbor or a relative or someone else brings to your notice something about your child that is seen as socially embarrassing, rude, destructive, what will you do?

Most parents that I have seen immediately start blasting their child – shouting, screaming, punishing, taking away incentives, time-outs! Sometimes parents start screaming at the child in-front of the messenger and sometimes they start screaming at the messenger for saying such things about their child! Both ways you are not Standing By your child.

Importantly – Never scold or ridicule your child in front of others! Definitely, do not let the  messenger scold or abuse your child in front of you! That doesn’t work either!

Now how do you make the teaching moment.

First, you have to hear your child out! Meaning you have to give your child the opportunity to explain the situation to you. The only way your child is going to come through with truth is if your child knows that he or she is going to be ok inspite of sharing it. That is when your child needs to know that you will stand by him or her whatever happens! Your love is not going to diminish! Sometimes children do not know that and hence, they will say all kinds of things to avoid telling you the truth.

Secondly, if your child’s story conflicts completely from what you have been told, then you have to share what you were told with your child, and inquire about the discrepancies – What does the child have to say about it!  You will know if your child is lying or not if you are tuned in and also, as you observe their stories over 1 or 2 such incidents.

You have to learn the skill to stand by your child without siding their behavior!

It is not easy to do because you have to put yourself aside, and be present for the child. It requires time and patience but it is worth it.

You have to start indulging in speaking to your child calmly and lovingly versus reacting in anger and punishment, and projecting your own insecurities, fear and embarrassment on the child. The more relaxed and listening you are, the more the child feels that you are standing by them, the more chances of them exploring into telling the truth! Then you can together explore the consequences of the behavior.

Don’t just say “You should not do that”, “it is the wrong thing to do”, “You have to behave properly”, “what will people say”, “you are embarrassing us” – these are vague sounding sentences which do not explain anything to the child about the consequences of their behavior – why was their behavior not socially supportive! Speak the truth. Bring real world examples Even from your own life! If you haven’t mastered that behavior yourself, then share it with your child and maybe even say to the child that together you can explore it further.

Step out of right or wrong mindset! Instead speak to the child about what serves or does not serve the child in the long run.

Children are deep compassionate beings naturally. They usually do not respond or behave in any situation without a reason unless of course, that is what they have seen you mirror for them.

Do not make a mountain out of a mole hill!

In most normal situations, your Standing By your child and talking about his or her behavior in a conscious compassionate non-judgemental way will shift your child’s behavior. It will hold space for them to come forth with truth. If that does not happen, then maybe there are deeper issues that your child or sometimes you yourself are dealing with. At that point you can choose external help maybe a good Child Therapist in your city could help.






Comfort-Ability : Pathway to Inner Power & Authentic Self!!

What I do is no longer as important as Knowing Who I am!
Even more important than Knowing Who I am is my ability to Express and Embody Who I am! The more I work on my Comfort-Ability, the more I am able to Express and Embody Who I am – the infinitely flavorful, colorful, beautiful, powerful aspects of my being!

If I were to look at my life’s journey it has been about becoming more and more Comfort-Able with myself – irrespective of the external and internal environment; recognizing my boundaries of comfort,  meeting myself at the boundary, interacting with that boundary from the inside out, expressing it and then, transforming that boundary into a growth moment – Learning and Growing and forever expanding my Comfort-Able-ity! For me that is the essence of my life – every moment, every day!


Comfort-Ability is key to Inner Power and Authentic Self. The more we learn to expand our Comfort-Ability, the more access we have to different aspects, different flavors of our Inner Power; and our Authentic Self begins to emerge in expression and embodiment!

I feel that there are six core aspects to developing our comfort-ability namely physical, emotional, mental or psychological, social, creative and spiritual! Every aspect of our life  can fit under one of these categories. The quality of our life is deeply connected to our comfort-ability in these different aspects!

If we are not consciously growing, developing these six core aspects of who we are – then life is zest-less, passion-less, un-inspiring – Something deep within us is not nourished or kindled! So question is how do we develop or nourish these aspects of who we are – actively!The more comfort-able we are, the more access we have to our inner power and the more we are able to express and show up int he world authentically!

Happiness, Joy, Bliss – all flow naturally when you are in your Authentic Self! Even emotions like Anger, Sadness become moments of powerful transformation when you are engaged in developing your comfort-ability!

I am sharing Four Tools or Engagements that have deepened my own comfort-ability!.

TOOL 1: Knowledge

Yearning for knowledge of who I am

The yearning for knowledge of who I am – discovering my Self, my truth in relationship to all of life and death, and knowing about all of this existence and its purpose related to my life – has been one of the primary inspiration to explore my comfort -ability! Any knowledge – written, spoken, visual, experienced, religious, embodied – that expands my awareness of Who I am – I have never missed it in my life if it has crossed mypath!So many people, so many experiences – I am so grateful for that and it has only been because I have stayed open – always – irrespective of my discomfort! I have listened to my heart – my intuition and have never regretted listening! In fact, the yearning or longing is so strong that the universe itself bring those opportunities my way without any effort!

TOOL 2: Meditation

This is the core according to me.

Just meditating was never easy as the mind plays many games and with the kind of exposure we have around us through social media, TV, books, people, family  – the mind needs some hard-core ruffling down before meditating can even happen. For me Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and Yoga is that tool which brings me to the doorstep of meditation – every day! Of course, I have also discovered other tools that bring me to that doorway but it only comes secondary to my committed practice of Sudarshan Kriya everyday – period.

TOOL 3: Recovering Your Creative Self

Just look around us at this infinitely creative universe!

I feel exploring one’s infinite Creative Impulse is not just a path to Wholeness but it gives us a glimpse into the Creator for Creativity is Divinity’s Expression.

In Julia Cameron’s many words or quotes the power of creativity is beautifully in-sighted:

“When we open ourselves to  our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives”

“Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God”

The tools of creativity are infinite: drawing, painting, movement or dance, drama or role playing, story telling – story making, collage work, sculpting, ritual making, poetry, sound or music or singing.

Our creativity gives us the ability to explore  Comfort-Ability in our body, in our emotions, in our intellectual-psychological processing, in our social interactions and in deepening our spirituality!

TOOL 4: Self-Awareness (Responsibility+Accountability+Growth Mindset)

Self-Awareness for me is acknowledgement of this truth that what is out there is what is in here and what is in here is a reflection of what is out there – there is no outer reality separate from me.

This is the most difficult for me to explain because it is so vast in itself, and I have used these words together for a lack of a Single word. It is a happening in itself. One can try to cultivate it or make an effort but then it takes away the comfort-ability! The more we stand rooted in the three tools above, the more we begin to relax and the more Self-Awarness grows.

Self-Awareness for me is acknowledgement of this truth that what is out there is what is in here and what is in here is a reflection of what is out there – there is no outer reality separate from me.

Blaming the other, complaining makes no sense any more!

Taking  responsibility and being accountable for one’s actions, experiences and responses is key to deciphering and developing one’s comfort-ability. The more we take active responsibility and engage with life in every way, the more we get opportunity to explore our comfort-ability!

Self-Awareness is the best navigator or magnifying lens for understanding one’s comfort-ability and actively working on it through the growth mindset.

This is a constant every moment journey from the inside out. It is also a journey you have t undertake on your own. Others can walk with you but it is your LONE journey! Meditation and Knowledge complement it.

The greatest gift is the presence and companionship of a Living Spiritual Guru  that one can fully surrender to – the experience of that is unlike anything that I have ever experienced – no comparison to anything else!  When you have it – you know – that’s all I can say about that!

In the last decade, meditation, knowledge and creativity has deepened my self-awareness! It has redefined my definition of spirituality to mean a conscious grounded awareness of who I am.

Sadly, neither at home nor at school, are we ever taught to explore meditation, knowledge and creativity as a tool to deepen who we are! Although to a great extent, knowledge, meditation as prayer, and self awareness was nurtured in my home, creativity was something that was never emphasized for my development. Creativity was only explored in schools within a boxed, judgemental container that soon I became scared to explore. All it did was develop my inner critic to becoming a BOOMING LOUD VOICE that shut down my creative self!

I had to rediscover and recover my Creative self.
In that re-discovering and re-covering, I got an opportunity to get up, close and personal with the physical, emotional, mental, social, creative  and spiritual aspects of who I am.
As I grew more and more Comfort-Able in these six aspects of my self, I also began to re-discover and re-cover my inner power, and step into my authentic self more clearly and wholly!

Reclaiming my Creative Self has empowered me to refine my expression and embodiment in the world! In that sense, the whole avenue of expressive arts has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I first discovered it at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, Califonria where it was held within the container of spirituality. Then within my Women’s Spirituality M.A at the same school, I discovered that it is my natural ability as a woman to explore and embody the Arts as a reflective gateway to my inner power and authentic self! WHY WAS I NEVER TOLD ABOUT IT – I began to Wonder!

Today I am exploring the Expressive Arts, Mindfulness, Meditation, Knowledge – within the container of Therapy.

I feel that we need all of it – Meditation, Knowledge, Self-awareness and Creativity to fully know ourselves, be ourselves and express ourselves in the world!

FYI: If you are inspired to explore your Comfort-Ability through the expressive arts then,  I will be facilitating a 20-Week Expressive Art Therapy container for women to re-discover and re-cover  inner power and authentic self in Bangalore, India. More information is available here:—june-through-november.html







She is Coming – Are you ready!


She who knows
Her ways
Her sways
Her slumber
Her lumber
Her grace
Her praise.

She who is not
looking out
to live in.
She who lives in
looking out

She who fears not to
her face in the mirror
day after day
looking back

She who walks alone and
leads a caravan
of many makings
of all ages
shapes and sizes.

She who greys with grace
is true to her age
wise are her ways
for she fears none.
truth speaks her
death walks her
life celebrates her.

She who doesn’t choose the ordinary
just a little extra-ordinary-ly
magical are her ways
phenomenal is her grace
she listens without ears
to the whispers of the unheard rumbles
she sees with no eyes
the colors of the invisible mandalas
she walks without a ground
beyond the end of time
she tastes without the tongue
the deliciousness of heaven
she touches without her hands
her heart feels every smudge life’s cloak

she who is ‘ok’ with her falls
she knows its a must
she gathers – gets up and walks again.

Have you heard her howl?
in the deepest darkest of the nights!
Have you heard her sing?
on the onset of spring!
Have you heard her cry?
screeching screams of the unsaid pain!
Have you heard her breathe?
in the swoosh-swaash-swishash of the wind!

She is everywhere
The Shakti Woman – unseen, unheard, unrecognized
She is everywhere
The Shakti Woman – veiled, hidden, hushed, hurried
She is everywhere
The Shakti Woman – forgotten, forbidden, forsaken

She is emerging out
from the shadows
in great counts
with loud sounds
Calling in are the drum beats. Can you hear!
Calling in are the drum beats. Can you hear!
She is emerging out
from the shadows
in great counts
with loud sounds

Wont be easy to see her now
for you have not seen her somehow
for so long.
Recognize her – Learn.
Stand by her – Show-up.
Speak for her – Love.
Walk with her – Companion.
She is emerging out
from the shadows
in great counts
with loud sounds.

Be Ready!

When Lust was Remembered & Re-membered in Ritual!

Today, Lust as a word, bodily sensation, and embodiment is one of the most condoned, shunned, shamed, silenced, unspoken, salivated, perverted, artificialized, materialized, sexualized and objectified experience of human life and at the same time, the most visibly marketed, sold, manipulated, fashioned, sanctioned expression in the world! In many ways, Lust as an entity and energy has lost its body and it lurks in the dark, dingy, desolate, depressed, repressed, regressed, frustrated, fallen, lonely alleys of human mind in the companionship of fantasy, greed, aggression, anger, betrayal, deceit –  suffering without a name, voice, expression and love!

As I reflect and hold space for the power of these words that have flowed through me in one uninterrupted flow today, March 22nd – I also grapple with the disappearing reality of a beautiful sacred ritual of North Malabar (Kannur area – where I come from) that held in its enactment the revival of Lust as an energy, entity and physical body within a sacred, open, earth-based container. I am talking about the North Malabar Pooram that falls in resonance with the onset of Spring in the North Malabar region.

Today is the 7th day of the 9 day long North Malabar Pooram festival.

It ritually celebrated the revival of Bodily Lust and Sexual Passion in the bringing back to life the masculine energy of Kamadevan by the young unmarried maidens of the land in the form of dolls made of cowdung and mud – decorated, celebrated, and prayed to for the sustenance of creation. I first researched and documented this earth-based indigenous festival and ritual from the matrilineal descent of North Malabar as part of my research study on ‘Female Sexuality within the matrilineal Nayar family structure of North Malabar’ that later got published into the book, ‘Rising Daughter, Silent Mother, Fading Grandmothers’. The Pooram Ritual offers many deep insights into the earth-based spirituality of the land of India that over thousands of years has undergone intense shifts and changes bringing in the more puritan ideologies, narratives of shame, masculine takeover and negation of natural bodily transitions and hence, making way for sexual abuse, violence, rape, and many such incidents.

The story of Kama-devan has been of particular interest to me and the meanings have shifted as I have gone deeper into the research. In my interpretation – Kama is the masculine energy of lust and the other half of this energy is Rathi –  feminine energy of intense love, passion. Together these energies move creation into its many unfolding as they hold space and invoke lust and love in  life for the sustenance of creation. In the old earth-based spirituality of India, Kama was celebrated, revived and acknowledged in springtime as the energy in nature that moved life into consummation at the physical plane and new life sprung forth sustaining the uninterrupted flow of life on planet earth. For Example: Holi was one such festival in the older folk tradition of India directly connected to Kama and celebration of Lust and Passion.

In a normal worldly flow of  life, creation of new life is a natural step forward. Just pure experience of Love without any traces of lust is incapable of bringing bodies together in consummation. Lust plays a vital role in nature and is a close companion and aids Prakruthi or Shakti in the execution and sustenance of that Organic Circle of Life.Today Lust is plastered as bad -sinful experience and is just not discussed openly anywhere in our homes, schools, spirituality. It is the most repressed, supressed sensation of human body, and hence, most agitated and prominent as well.

Many raised as Indian might be familiar with the mythology of Shakti and Shiva, and the burning of Kamadevan to ashes by SHiva. That mythology holds in itself some of the deepest wisest unveiling of natural flow of life in its wholeness, and is of particular interest to us in today’s world as once again Lust stands burnt to ashes but for different reasons than represented in the mythology.

Shiva, Shakti and Annihilation of Kama from the Physical Body

First, I would like to share my particular interpretation of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is not the Masculine or Male but the Super Spacious Consciousness that is devoid of gender and at the same time holds both male and female as a gender within its expansiveness as Shakti or the Great Mother  or Prakruthi – She who nurtures the Illusion of form and its many diversities and also, the one who can snap you out of it. All life unfolds in Shiva as a pure witness and space holder – not a participant. That is why this quote of Yoga Vashista makes so much sense to me now – “When the apparently transformed becoming resorts to or rests on that being which has not undergone any modification, the former is freed from sorrow.” That being is Shiva!

Parvathy the mortal body form of Shakti sought her deepest wakeful-Self or Shiva, and in her awakening – the physical body of Lust got destroyed as is a natural happening! Anyone who has experienced the state of pure Bliss or Shiva – even for a few seconds – knows that no sexual experience can come anyway close to it, and in many ways that experience also, burns to ashes Lust – sometimes for good and sometimes temporarily. Now that really puts a pause on creation in every way if everyone where to burn to ashes Lust and be awakened. See now that is also, the drama of life!

However, life needs to go one and thus Shakti cognizes a way for Kama to be remembered and re-membered in the hands of young unmarried maidens and at the same time, transfer Kama into their bodies (as the bodies of Rathi – maybe) for the sustenance of life again. This act revived the circle of life and life continued once again! Of course, you may find these as my own interpretation and to me it makes more sense than every other interpretation I have read or been told. Even more so, this is more healing,  natural and apt in many ways!

How did the Young Maidens Revive the Body-less Kama?

For nine days towards the onset of spring, the young maidens of marriageable age made physical dolls of Kamadevan using the mixture of cow-dung, ashes and mud. All the body parts of Kamadeven were represented using fresh blooming sweet-smelling flowers of spring. I am sure in the olden days when body was not remembered with shame – the sexual parts must have also been made consciously. In fact, different flowers were specifically designated in their role for different parts of the body.

“In the first 3 days, the dolls are made and placed next to the taravad well or pond, symbolizing the outside; the next 3 days they are prepared and placed at the far end of the courtyard; and the last 3 days the dolls are made and placed inside the courtyard, making it seem as if Kamadevan is slowly walking toward the house.” – Excerpt from Rising Daugher, Silent Mother, Fading Grandmothers

On the 10th day or even the 9th day, one Big Kamadevan doll was made primarily of Mud.All the dolls were placed on banana leaves.

Everyday of the 9 to 10 days- at Dawn and Dusk – the young girls bathed, dressed in fresh clothes and offered – “water, freshly plucked spring flowers and special steamed dumplings made of rice, jaggery and freshly desiccated coconut wrapped in jackfruit leaves”- to the dolls in the companionship and guidance of the older women folk – mothers, grandmothers, aunts and more. In fact, only the leaves of milk-secreting tree’s (Jackfruit, Pala tree) were  used; a conscious emphasis on milk-secreting tree – one of the most significant expressions of life-bearing in mammals. Traditional Nillvillaku or Lamp of Kerala was lit. Then women ululated loudly – their voices  echoing across the landscape of North Malabar – bringing in a sense of grounded-ness and remembrance of the revival of Kamadevan!

On the last day all the dolls were placed on traditional Indian village sieves carried by several women folk of the household and a procession was taken around the house led by the matriarch of the family – celebrating, ululating, bells sounding, singing. Three Circumbulations were made around the house and finally, all the items were placed under a Milk-Secreting Tree be it Jackfruit or Pala and the women sang out loud to the Kamadevan in local tongue expressing sadness on his departure and asking him to come back again the following year – faster and sooner – with remembrance! With that the ritual of Pooram came to a close and life in its most beautiful expression bloomed across the landscape of North Malabar.

Note: This particular Pooram festival in North Malabar was akin to the celebrations and symbolism associated with the Thiruvathira ritual in South Kerala. Also documented in the book.

It is my thought that, in those days that these rituals were enacted in its wholeness on the land of North Malabar, nature itself would have invoked longing, love and lust in the physical bodies of lovers – many consummations might have happened then.

Sharing with you some pictures I found on the net – thanks to some North Malabar enthusiasts. I am hoping that in the coming years we do more conscious revival of the ritual in Kerala with conversations around body, sexuality, lust, love and intimacy!

What Meaning do these Rituals Hold in our Modern Times

In the busy-ness of our rushed global existence, these rituals are fading away, disappearing and more puritan versions of these festivals are emerging as we ourselves as a human race are getting more and more disembodied, disconnected and displaced around our relationship with body and sexuality as a natural feeling versus those we see, read, hear, learn from around us. The body-less Kama is unseen, un-celebrated, un-revered and the way it moves is through the never-ending unsatisfied fantasies of the mind – like a wrath on life. We have lost our language around lust. We have even lost our natural embodiment of lust.

Can these rituals be re-enacted with more conscious meanings, reverence and sacredness! Can these rituals re-create space for our conversations around lust, the body and physical sensations!

I leave you with these thoughts.Also, encourage you to follow my work at (Facebook page: The She Stands Tall Project)

For more detailed descriptions of the various flavours of this ritual as narrated by the Nair Grandmothers of North Malabar, get a copy of the book: Rising Daughter, Silent Mother, Fading Grandmothers


12799356_1337306242964685_4487028475035161128_nRekha Govindan Kurup is a social artivist, spiritual feminist and co-director and founder of She Stands Tall Project LLP. She has a M.A in Women’s Spirituality from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California (one of the only two schools in the world that offers a academic pedagogy in women’s spirituality and both are located in Northern California).

Website:, FB:

Shakti Women Gather in Bangalore – Part 2

So let us continue from where we left off in the previous blog!

Every workshop, event, training of The She Stands Tall Project happens within the container of sacredness that is invoked in journeying through the five stages of the qualitative research methodology of Organic Inquiry. This conference was even more special because co-founders of Organic Inquiry, Dr Dianne Jenett, was one of our special guest and presenter at the conference (extreme right in picture above, in the center is founder of The She Stands Tall Project – Rekha Kurup, on her right is Luisa Spagna – our special guest and presenter). IMG_4858

The conference space was specially held for mothers with children as two boys of age 6 and  10 months accompanied their mothers and stayed thru the conference.

The first step of Organic is Sacred or Preparing the Ground for whatever needs to be sowed, planted, nurtured to follow! The Sacred space at the conference was held and nurtured through a series of activities!

So the Shaktiship sisters ushered all the guests out into the lounge area so that the conference space could be prepared for welcoming them in. The sage was lit, candles were lit, and all the musical instruments including the drums, the rattles, the bell, the tambourine moved into the hands of the sisters and with echoing sounds of drums sounding to the rhythm of calling in (single beat) – all the shaktiship sisters started moving around the room as the doors were opened and attendees welcomed in, and the founder of The She Stands Tall Project moved them through a centering activity using Milling – Mindful Walking and Navigating the space – tuning in! That was followed by an elaborate invocation to the four directions plus the center (as in the logo of The She Stands Tall Project) representing the five elements, five doshas, five Dakinis (The invocation was slight modified from its original form that was often led by Vicki Noble in the Womens Spirituality program). Invocation to Each direction was led by a Shaktiship sister to the sound of drums, rattles, ullulation, shout-outs, voices! (Picture shows  sisters getting oriented – from left to right in the order of East, South, West, North and Center).


The invocation brought a resounding silence into the room – like a powerful presence had descended into the space. Then one of the Shaktiship Sisters – Arundhati Roy stood in front of her Body Map and sang a beautiful Rabindra Sangeeth bringing a deep intimacy and heart into the room.

Now was the time to invoke the Sacred Feminine in her Wildness, Craziness, and Gentleness – what better way than Baul singing! The space was honored by the Arangetram of Arpita Gaidhane (student of Parvati Baul) as she invoked and called out to Kali (below). In that moment the heart was wholly entered and held! Many Eyes were moist – vulnerability loomed in the air – words transcended!

The Sacred Was contained!

Now it was time to move into Stage 2: Personal – Planting the Seed – Whats your deepest intention for your Awakening – the Awakening of the Shakti Woman! This part of the conference was led by Dr Dianne Jenett through a powerful Guided Visualization process! Women engaged in an art-writing-sharing activity following the meditation. Many women shared about powerful journeys and remembrance that happened to them in the process. The word that resonated in the room was – Surrender!

With the seed planted deep into the sacredness of the soil of spirits, it was now time to enter Stage 3: Chthonic – The Roots Emerge. The Unknown darkness, and surrender to what may happen beneath the soil! This part of the conference was led by Luisa Spagna by invoking the Yoginis of Hirapur through her oracle deck. Luisa presented her work and research on the Hirapur Yoginis and took the entire room on a  journey through the temple, the yoginis and the birth of Hirapur Yogini Oracle Deck. She invoked the Yogini through a short movement piece and then led the entire room of participants on a flying Yogini journey of movement, motion, energy, flight and dynamism! The journey concluded with every woman picking a oracle card reading for herself and sharing it with the group. The resonance and entrainment of the reading left everyone in the room speechless!

Now was time to move into Stage 4: Relational – The Tree Grows. Witnessing and being moved , held, supported, connected to and by the story of another. Shaktiship Sister Pratibha Kujur from Mauritius Walked Confidently yet gently towards her Body Map and beheld the entire room of women with her Her-Story piece in Poetry – as she shared the ups and downs of her life’s flow and the emergence of her Standing Tall in all her Truth – everyone in the room was connected to her – with her. She was them! They were Her.

Now It was  past 8 PM. Closing on Time at 8:30 PM was of utmost importance as women had to head back home to cover long distances, so the last segment on menstruation as personal source of power was kept aside for another day and conference moved into Stage 4: Transformative – Harvesting the Fruits.

The closing was led by Rekha Kurup – through a red-thread ceremony followed by closing in on personal intention, sisterhood and spreading the waves of love to the entire universe – hands and fingers and arms and bodies came together into the tightest squeeze as a circle was re-created, intentions held, strengths exchanged, and love splashed across the universe!

A phenomenal evening concluded with hearts united and hugs exchanged! The space was filled with such deep Feminine Power of being seen, acknowledged and held. As sisters moved out and away, there was a promise to stay connected and bringing more sisters into the fold of this knowing.

The Next Biennial SHakti Woman Conference will happen March 2018 in Mauritius.

For those wishing to dive deeper into the journey of Women-Centered Spirituality, Join us for the next Cycle of  21-Weeks of Shaktiship (July – December 2016) as more women will come together globally for yet another beautiful powerful journey of awakening.

Stay Tuned! Like our facebook page The She Stands Tall Project and walk with us through this journey. Our website:


Rekha Govindan Kurup is a social artivist, spiritual feminist and co-director and founder of She Stands Tall Project LLP. She has a M.A in Women’s Spirituality from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California (one of the only two schools in the world that offers a academic pedagogy in women’s spirituality and both are located in Northern California).

Shakti Women Gather in Bangalore – Part 1

On 5th of March 2016, The She Stands Tall Project facilitated an open, safe, and sacred sisterhood container that supported, nurtured and witnessed the personal, relational and transpersonal experiences of  36 Women from 5 countries (India, USA, Mauritius, Israel, Italy) embodying the whole range of feminine life cycle from Maiden, Mother, Queen and Crone (youngest 17 years and oldest 69 years) at Shoonya Center for Art and Movement in Bangalore.


As all these women stood together in re-informing, reclaiming,  renewing, restarting, rejuvenating the various aspects of their feminine wisdom – magical intimate moments were interwoven, hearts connected & echoed voices of love, intimacy was felt and contained in the sisterhood and there was deep resonance of the Wild Woman looming in her entirety in the room – ready to live, express and engage! What a phenomenal beginning! We bring you few glimpses from the conference!

The Shaktiship Sisters Hold Space

The She Stands Tall Project Shakti Sisters (Graduates of the 21-weeks of Shaktiship Program) arrived from the four corners of the world to participate, support, and hold the Sacred container for the conference for themselves and for all the other women who were to arrive. Some of them arrived a week in advance to help with the various logistics of the conference – making sign boards, preparing magical ritual altar ingredients, drumming, singing, rejoicing, creating powerful intentions and brewing wisdom, love, laughter and intensity! Some of them brought friends along to engage and connect from the beginning!

The Shakti Woman Conference Altar

The Ritual Altar of the Conference was the anchor that held, and wove all the aspects of the conference in its pure wild intensity. The “Red bloodline wisdom chandelier” (carrying innumerable messages) and the Central Shakti Woman altar arrested your attention as soon as you entered the Conference Room. The contrast to the usual ‘Nice’ ‘Goody’ ‘Pure’ ‘White’ ‘Light’ aspects of the feminine were held within the ‘bloody’, ‘dark’, ‘colorful’, ‘dynamic’, ‘fiery yet calm’, ‘Kali-embodied’ imagery – definitely a shocker and yet, expands one’s knowing in leaps and bounds!

Gallery of Life Size Sacred Women’s Bodies

And then as you looked up and around, you became aware of the life-size women’s bodies hanging from the ceiling holding within its folds many stories, narratives, images, writings – that radiate such deep intensity, rawness and wildness! Each body map is an experience in itself that was birthed by each sister participant of the 21-Weeks of Shaktiship. It reflected her journey, her musings, her awakenings,  her reclamation, her ancestry, her-story (ies)! As you held them within you had to  breathe in and breathe out – deeply as somewhere within your own self got stirred! Sharing some of the pictures below. Soon we will share them all with you on The She Stands Tall Project FB page.

The conference space opened around 4:30 PM to welcome women from Bangalore to network, connect, eat, mingle and then move around through the Body Map Exhibit and the sacred marketplace. Sisters were invited to stand in-front of their body map and hold space for their journeys.

The Sacred Marketplace showcased

i) Tanzeb (Check out Facebook page with similar name) – An initiative Founded in January 2015 by Nidhi Bala in an attempt to bring about social and economical changes in the lives of the ‘Chikankari’ artisans through their authentic products. Nidhi shared her journey, her inspiration, her passion with the gathered women. Another sacred

ii) 64-Yogini of Hirapur Oracle Deck – The Yogini of Hirapur Oracle is a set of round oracle cards inspired by the famous 64 Yoginis temple at Hirapur (Orissa, India) that are cognized and created by Luisa Spagna, one of our amazing Presenters at the conference. 

As women gathered in listening, exchanging their love in the form of money to purchase at the marketplace, we were moving into that pivotal moment of unveiling the conference itself – it was 5:30 PM!

The Shaktiship sisters ushered all the women outside so the conference space could be prepared, candles lit, sage smoked, rattles, drums, voices and intention gathered, so that when the doors re-opened the women were called in through the sounds of drums, rattles, sage smoke, hums, voices and the spirit of the feminine – echoing in the air!

What happened next! Stay Tuned for the part 2!

12003230_1362823650412944_2517677649592281119_nRekha Govindan Kurup is a social artivist, spiritual feminist and co-director and founder of She Stands Tall Project LLP. She has a M.A in Women’s Spirituality from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California (one of the only two schools in the world that offers a academic pedagogy in women’s spirituality and both are located in Northern California).

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