The day started like any other. The alarm goes off at 4 am. The pattern of taking the phone back with me to bed and cuddling with it for another fifteen minutes kept its date. Lazing out of bed minutes later, I pick up my Dhyan (easier than saying meditation) clothes after a few stretches and pranayama. I had promised my yoga teacher I would do this reset, which was a precursor to the morning routine. The kurta (a long Indian top) is gently pulled out from its place, white, crisp, and fresh. I put on the heater for the water to warm up for the shower.

Twenty-three degrees- I stare at the remote of the air conditioning unit in my hand. I have enough time to decide whether to put it at 22 degrees centigrade at a two-fan level or 23 degrees at a three-fan level. I choose 23 degrees. It has been cooler days in Singapore with an unusual bout of rain for ten days incessantly without a pause. A 23-degree coolness should be enough to manage the body temperature changes during meditation, I decide and hit the power-on button.

The Stress pressure develops tight and strong.

After a quick shower five minutes later, I was seated on the meditation chair. I could feel the pressure developing at the top of my head. I had felt it as I had adjusted the shower head. What had caused this tension at the surface of the head- the kind I noted that came from overthinking or a profound unaddressed stressful question? What was I thinking? Was it about the house that I was undecided about whether to sell or the work I was pursuing professionally and wondering whether it was fulfilling? Shaking off the thoughts, I completed the shower quickly. Unusual, I say- I don’t get these thought this early.

Sitting down after the pranams, the prayer of gratefulness to the universe, the guru, and the lord, I do another round of pranayama to steady my breath and mind. Closing my eyes is difficult, for the pounding has increased. The various mudras and Dhyan seem to manage the pain. My breathing eases, and I can sit for a good fifty-five minutes. That barrier is 55 minutes- I have to cross. Maybe the day I stop trying and become one with the breath.

A walk in the park and some deep inhalations of the moist rain-filled air have me breathing easily for the next hour. Yet the head seems adamant- it wants to hold on to the ache. We all love being masochists! I trudge back home, deciding to sleep it off. The questions of my future, the wooziness of the pain, and the disturbed thoughts of an abandoned meditation have me getting up minutes later- for how does the restless mind sleep? I decided to call off my yoga class. That is the easiest thing to do in this situation, for she is very understanding and has always advised me to listen to the body.

However, this was the mind playing havoc. Knowing it is easy to slack off, I roll out the yoga mat and wait for the zoom invite.

“How are you, madam?” a voice sleepily and softly reverberates in my ear. My instructor, who lovingly calls me madam, is staring at the screen. It has been a few classes since I strained my back, and she is checking in. Her soft, comforting voice breaks the last emotional barrier I was holding on to. She doesn’t see the tears I fight back as we start our asanas- yogic postures. As we chant the Om- the mystical sound of the universe, she announces that after some Asanas and Pranayama, we will do deep meditation that day. Did she just read my mind? I had wished for a more leisurely class with some reflection and meditation to get my lungs to breathe and hopefully calm my head, which is now dancing in the room. We have never done a deep meditation session before.

My eyes are glazing now. I decide to take a Dart- a potent combination of medicines that magically, albeit medically, hold pain in its grasp and squeeze the last life out of it. Mentally noting where it was and having it after lunch, I refocused on what my teacher was saying.

We get onto the deep meditation session and create lightness.

I lie on the yoga mat, face up, in Savasana. Savasana- a posture of relaxation and sleep, allowing the mat to take the body’s weight. Even the touch of the mat is like a rock against my head by now. A voice asks me to focus on the left side of my body, asking to tighten the muscles of each part on the left- feet, calf, knees, thighs- oh, and the internal muscles too. And then we move to the right. The calm, gentle voice guides me to tighten and release the muscles. Pulled nerves now tighten around my head, and the blood rushing in makes it throb harder. Suddenly, I notice the pain from the top of my head dissipates, flowing out from the edges of my body. Now a little smile, for I know she has started weaving magic.

Twenty-one grams, I hear- 21 grams? That’s the weight of our soul, she says. Here we are, moving around with our frames of 50, 55, and 60 kgs with a burden of a ton, and the soul, all of 21 grams, moves its energy and makes us live- through every glorious moment of our life. Why do we worry for ourselves? Our Atma drives us with our without. I am asked to snip off and shake out all the things in the past that is toxic and don’t serve me. I wait for the calm tone to take me to another place. “Think of where you want to be,” asking me to visualize a future, a future that starts right now, right here.

The mountains! Me and mountains? I had always thought of myself as a warm place person, imagining sitting by the sea in a flowing white dress with a sun hat and a pina colada in my hand. Add a wide-brimmed beach hat to boot. A chance conversation with a friend who had planned a retirement home in the country’s northern hills had probably steered me in that direction a few weeks back, and it had been playing on my mind. The beach was replaced by the vibrant sway of the pine trees and a small cottage, and imagination ran riot. The Drift was clear.

“How are you feeling now?”- I shake out of my reverie and take a while to respond. I slowly walk down the mountain path, open the heavy lid of my eyes, and return to reality. The pain is now centered in the little hollow between the brows, moving down from its ornate throne in the square plate of the head. It has lost its hold and strength. A soft smile breaks at the corner of my lips -it had alluded me since morning. All my attention had been on the headache, acutely making me aware of how our lives and minds can focus on what is not working. Here were all the functional parts of my body, but six hours had gone by, the tiny tickle on my head growing with undivided attention from my negative energy.

It’s gone, Namrata- I tell her. She smiles. I had expected a quizzical smile, but she knew. She knows. That’s why she suggested what she did. Doesn’t surprise me anymore. I explain. I didn’t need to.

The lightness, the smile, the weight lifting off was magic enough.

The Mindful nudge that propels the lightness forward.

There are messages everywhere. Later that day, after the deep meditation session, I came across this mindful nudge. Sent from the Black Lotus meditation app, it reminds us of our true nature and how we should be. The mindful nudge of that third day in February 2023 said- “Step out, my friend. Figuratively and otherwise. New friends, new places, new ways, new thinking, say yes”.

This reinforces the message that the deep meditation gave. Nudging my thought further and asking me to embrace the world out there- not to be afraid of what is to come, but to see it as a path to growth and newness. I am taken back to my Amsterdam days. The challenge of a new city far away, settling into a new culture and way of living. It changed me in innumerable ways—new thinking, new friends, and, most importantly, a new set of attitudes to life.