This year, honor your healing journey and redefine what love means
As a writer, trauma-informed yoga teacher, and Ayurvedic practitioner, using words and movement to heal has been part of my practice for years. I am intrigued by what healing means to people. I have a few artist friends who exhibit at galleries around the world. Each has a different reason for why they paint. But one thing they all say is, “Creating art is healing.”
I teach yoga to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and incarcerated men and women. We all have our own baggage. There are triggers and triumphs. Most of us are trying to find ways to heal those scars. That’s why healing might mean different things to different people. Healing is a process and comes in waves, like grief. It is almost never linear. What inspires me are stories of people who aren’t shy to pursue new and improved ways to continue healing. Wouldn’t the world be safer if we all took intentional steps to work on our broken parts?
A Role Model
In my quest to find inspiring stories, I stumbled upon Pragati Adhikari’s work and social shares on Instagram. I was blown away. Her words, her art, her humor, her sarcasm … They felt so on point. Adhikari shared that she uses art as a form of therapy for her clients. Up until I met her, I knew artists, musicians, and writer friends who found their creativity therapeutic. But Adhikari brings in art as mental health therapy in her counseling session. It gets even richer: Adhikari also used it for her own emotional and physical healing when she was ill.
I was curious. What inspired Adhikari to start experimenting with art? Turns out that when Adhikari was on a sabbatical to look after her daughters and support her husband, whose work involved extensive travel, she started painting.
“My counseling sessions always had art in them as an ice-breaker activity,” she said. “I knew that art therapy existed as a profession, and I wanted to be an art therapist. That was way back in 2014,” says Adhikari.
A Multi-Faceted Personality
Adhikari is a multi-talented woman: a designer, artist, and art therapy practitioner. She used to work as a full-time editor of an online women’s magazine. This incredible lady is simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree while being a mom and wife. Adhikari, who lives in Bengaluru, India, said, “As a PKD warrior and a kidney transplant survivor, I explored art as a reflective tool for myself. It helped me regulate myself during the most crucial time of my life.” She explored a few certifications and experiential workshops. Once she had the skills and had collected the right amount of experience, she started to bring art as a de-stressing tool to her clients. This was personal for Adhikari.
Art therapy as a master’s level program was not available in India at that time Adhikari was looking. Given her family was in India, she couldn’t go abroad for training. She had some good art therapists as her mentors who guided Adhikari and many like her online. So, when the opportunity presented itself and Adhikari got the chance to train herself, she took it up!
She added excitedly, “So, here I am, almost 49 and in my third semester as a first batch student of master’s in art therapy at MIT Pune. I am so grateful to my mentors and MIT, Pune, for bringing this program to India. Forever in gratitude!” Adhikari continued, “Once you step into this profession, you become a student for life! So, my master’s program in art therapy is a continuation of the purpose that got me into the field of counseling in the first place.”
The Road to Self-Repair
What does it mean to heal your mind, body, and soul? How exactly do you undergo that process? When is a good time to start your healing? Different things work for different people. Truth is that healing takes courage, and no one can do it for you. What is stopping you from embarking on your healing journey?
Adhikari says, “If you are planning to take up counseling sessions for yourself, then look for good counselors/therapists in your area and choose the one with whom you feel the most connected. There are trained therapists to suit different needs. So please find the one that works best for you!”
This Valentine’s Day, honor your healing journey and redefine what love means. It doesn’t have to be a gift from someone else. Valentine’s Day needn’t be about expensive dinners and external validation. If you can’t truly love yourself, how can you show up in a relationship with anybody else? What if you showed your own self-love and worked on your healing journey? When we heal ourselves or at least start the process, we heal our families, networks, and communities in the process.
“Healing is embracing what is most feared; healing is opening what has been closed, softening what has hardened into obstruction, healing is learning to trust life.” – Jeanne Achterberg