Mindfulness and Mental Health

Mindfulness and Mental Health

Learning to Get Through Holiday Season Blues

A peculiar reality many of us experience at different periods in our life, this time of the year can make us feel paralysed and despondent. A feeling state that can arrive at its own accord or be occasioned by our complex life circumstances, it is one that requires more care and concern to traverse, than we may be able to foresee. We’re sharing with you here our thoughts on what we hope can soften the pervasive form of holiday blues and extend to you support through its experience. 

1.Listening to our mind and body

The experience of the holiday season can be different for all of us, such that we may or may not share comparable needs or emotions as someone else who may be going through it as well. When experiencing the difficulties that come with feeling low, we urge you to try to spend some time with yourself and ask two questions – ‘what’ am i feeling?, and ‘what’ do I feel I need or would like, in this moment? The former allows us to identify, understand and acknowledge our feelings, as well as to sit with ourselves in honesty about where we are at. We, at IKKIVI, like to engage in this process by journaling or writing in a notebook, as writing feels personalising and cathartic to us, and creates a semi visual lens to go back to. The latter is a step further in recognising what our feelings can tell, or are telling us about our needs, and thinking through and moving toward meeting them.

  • Do you feel that at this time, you need to slow down and rest?

  • Do you want to say no to doing certain things and yes to doing some others?

  • Do you feel called to move your body, or read about and explore a particular subject?

  • Do you feel you need to grieve, or that you are grieving?

  • Do you think you would like someone to help you understand and navigate through what you are experiencing?

  • Is there something you need to, or want to, express?

  • Do you feel you need to, or would like to, be alone or have someone be with you for some time?

We think that asking ourselves these questions can prompt us in taking steps in a way that regards our individual experience for what it is, and become a reflective and viable tool through such a period.

2.Letting Ourselves Be

We think it is as valuable to let ourselves take a breather, consciously let go of any perfectionistic ideals of performance we may hold, grieve, rest, go deeply into our pain, do nothing and let ourselves wholly feel as we are feeling, as it is to try to ‘do’ what we feel (or know) can bring us ease. And often in the midst of our experience, it is possible that we may be unable to identify or understand our feelings and needs with clarity, or even know what we want. Giving ourselves a break and leaving our experiences of pain undefined and unanalysed for some time can inspire us to slow down, let things fall apart (if they naturally are), positively surrender to the polarities of life, perceive the inexplicability and randomness of some events, be gentle with ourselves and watch life unfold in its own ways, without appending any mental meanings to them for the time.

3.Asking for help 

A lot of times we are met with a feeling of hesitance or embarrassment when it comes to asking for help. But as initially discomforting as it can be, we think it’s important to ask for help, if we need it or would like another’s support. While our pain or past experiences can mistake us into believing that we would be burdening others or be rejected by them upon sharing our feelings, most often, our loved ones and friends will wholeheartedly want to be there for us in whatever ways they can and provide us comfort. At the same time, prolonged feelings of loneliness or melancholy may be a sign of depression. Meeting with a mental health professional who is committed to our well being and experienced with the many manifestations of depression can offer us insights, constructive inputs and resources that can help us work through our difficult feelings in a safe way when we find ourselves feeling persistently low, anxious or troubled. Leaning on others and letting them take care of us in a time of pain can open our hearts to new ways of doing things and ask fresh questions about what may be right and healthy for us to take up, as well as to leave. Going for talk therapy and counselling may also be a good step for any of us when we may be trying to get a little bit of guidance in working through our lives. We are hoping for this to be normalised and something that anybody feels comfortable and safe to opt for.

4.Cultivating a lifestyle suited to our values

Advertising, media, cultural norms, social practices, and idealistic systems can instill in us a feeling that we need to live by particular and pre-decided merits to be seen as a worthy, prosperous and useful member of society. We invite you to reflect on the values that align with and feel authentic to who you are, genuinely re-think if the desires you hold are yours or someone else’s, mindfully consume and question media content, create new traditions and routines for yourself, work at a pace that is harmonious with your natural energy and build an environment that nurtures your unique talents and desires. In our podcast Daily Routines to Inspire an Intentional Lifestyle, with artist and creative director Rhea Gupte, we further reimagine with her what building our own identity can look like, and how we can let go of things that don’t feel fulfilling, if you would like to listen to it.

NOTE: You can find here some worldwide and Indian mental health helplines, if you or someone you know may need some support.


Reclaiming Leisure Time

Reclaiming Leisure Time

A Call to Relax and Connect with Ourselves

A characteristic feature of our modern societies is the constant state of urgency and restlessness that permeates everything we do. Because of the fast-paced and result-oriented nature of most occupations, any attempt to savor the process itself becomes nearly impossible, while work often gradually comes to be experienced as mechanical and distasteful. Consequently, when we are not working (and are ‘free’), we are plagued with a compulsive internal mandate to ‘enjoy’ ourselves, lest we miss out on happiness entirely. While this may seem positive enough, it is complicated by the cultural frameworks that dictate our methods of enjoyment and shape our patterns of consumption by stimulating us with unfiltered content, frequently laced with agenda.

The entertainment industry also routinely manufactures desires – for products, services, and templates for whole lifestyles that are presented to us as necessities for a life well lived – which owing to their frequency and excess are internalized and accepted as essential. So while we work, we fret and obsess over what we can generate, do and deliver, and as we ‘rest’ we seem to challenge ourselves to see how much we can get, what can happen to us, and what we can consume. We are never really able to relax and merely nurse the illusion that we do.

In the rare moments when we are privy to this clarity, we find ourselves so steeped in these narratives of work, production, enjoyment, and consumption that any endeavour at a radical departure is only a tangential pull back into this intentionally constructed, circular and self-perpetuating system. It is so enticing to surrender to it as the desires it convinces us of tug on our very real and human needs for connection, growth, novelty, and expansion. But it habitually promises us their fulfillment while only widening our feelings of lack and longing. The desire for more has become the backbone of our modern consumerist societies, where we, the subjects of this ideology, are systematically trained to constantly desire. Further, these wants are rather insatiable, (like fast food that manipulates precise quantities of certain flavors to keep us consuming yet never feeling fulfilled). Unbeknownst to ourselves, we start demanding a perpetuation of our desires, and eventually, we not only have an excess of things but also an excess of mental clutter. The leisure time that could have nourished us with deep relaxation, time after time leaves us depleted, empty, uncomfortably chaotic, and alienated from ourselves.

A holistic and more considerate society would reflexively imbue us with meaning, peace, and contentment. In the meanwhile, it may be healing for us to reclaim our leisure time and ground ourselves in the present. Chasing away our restlessness and anxiety (that stems from not knowing ourselves and being out of alignment with our innermost needs) with distractions, rather than being with it to understand it, means we will never really know the depths of our personality but only its contours. Much of the stimuli and the emotions it generates in us is simply the residue of what we allow ourselves to absorb unconsciously through the day but is of no real personal value. As these emotions are not arrived at through contemplation, the stake that they have in our lives is too large for what they contribute in return. (Those of us who have ever found ourselves staring exasperatedly at a cupboard full of fast-fashion garments, feeling like we have nothing to wear and wondering how we got here, would be familiar with this quandary). Rather than personalizing and identifying with this passively consumed stimulus, we could take out time for activities that truly help us unwind, make us happy, and alight with joy.

This paves the way for self-awareness and insight into our values, sense of meaning, the kind of work we resonate with (so we feel ‘free’ most of the time), and the things we need in order to feel truly rested and relaxed to reconnect with ourselves and the world. At the same time, we don’t have to continually engage in self-work and enjoy ourselves minimally. Instead, cultivating these conscious practices shows us how to enjoy ourselves (mind)fully. By meeting ourselves anew through introspection and gentle inquiry, we can know sincerely the life we want to live and let it guide what we allow into, and spend, our energy (time, money, emotions) on. In a world where the demand and desire to perform is woven into the very tapestry of our lives, living authentically must become one of our quietest yet boldest acts of self-love.




Mindful Ways to Cultivate our Relationship with Fashion

For our friends who wish to recreate their wardrobes as part of their conscious lifestyle, or who would like to transition into a mindful lifestyle through the insightful and creative space of ethical fashion, we have noted below some maxims to support you initiate and continue the practice. In our intention to live meaningfully, one of the foremost domains that many of us now feel naturally called to modify, are our wardrobes. And being so elementally attached to our body, our clothes connect viscerally with our being and human experience and hold an inexplicable influence in our everyday lives.

1. Reflecting on what a conscious wardrobe means or would mean for ‘you’

If you feel you would like to build a conscious wardrobe, we’d like to encourage you to think about what having or creating a ‘conscious wardrobe’ means for ‘you’ personally and how you feel connected with the idea. Is it that you would like to be more environmentally and socially just, or that you would like to make more informed decisions about (buying) clothes, or you would like to treat your clothes more mindfully, or that you would like to learn an alternative way to your existing practice? (Maybe all of them, and more). Deciphering our underlying inspirations for making a shift in our way of being with (our) clothes and fashion can guide us in adopting ways that would be authentic to who we are and to our own intentions. It also allows us to start viewing and thinking about how we would like to re-organise our wardrobe hereafter.

2. Beginning where we are

We feel that going through what we have in our existing wardrobes is a good place to begin the journey. Looking at our less sustainably and ethically made clothes, and thinking about how we can treat them ethically and with care can be an insightful step in the process. We would not want you to feel that you should do away with your present clothes and replace them with new mindfully made clothes. In place of solely buying sustainable clothing, we think being ethical with our current clothes can give a lot of room for creativity, learning and engaging with our clothes. Learning to make mends and small fixes (such as sewing buttons or patching a tear), washing with care, wearing clothes till their shelf life, repurposing them, cleaning our shoes in the right way and passing on clothes that may bring comfort to another are all small, yet vital ways in which we can begin having ethical interactions with our clothes, accessories and shoes.

3. Understanding the role fashion and dress play in our lives

Fashion and dress can mean different things and carry different influences upon us. They can be a medium through which we express ourselves and our individuality, a space of creative exploration, a recreational or formal occupation, a political and social tool, an art form – and more. Understanding in which ways we dominantly relate to them, would support us in visualising what kind of designs we would like to assimilate into our ethical wardrobe and the role they (would) play in our quotidian sphere.


4. Budgeting

Whenever you feel that you need to or would want to buy new clothing, it would be valuable to think about the funds you would like to allocate to it. We feel that some good ways of making budgeting decisions for our clothing are to think in terms of the price we would be paying for a particular fabric, silhouette, or item and in terms of the purpose the garments may serve for us (What occasion do we need them for? Everyday, work, gatherings, formal events and the like). This way, when you begin looking at clothes and shopping, you could have clarity on what you want to spend where, and keep with your intentions and concerns. A further thing we can be mindful of is the cost-per-wear of each garment we may purchase. Cost-per-value considers the value of a piece in relation to the number of times it can be, or is, worn. An instance is if we buy a dress for Rs. 4,000 and wear it 4 times a year, it’s cost-per-wear is Rs. 1,000 per wear. If we wear it 10 times a year, it’s Rs. 400, and so on. The price we pay for an item should be reflective of its functional value.

5. Researching for conscious and ethical fashion brands mindfully 

When building a conscious wardrobe, it is constructive to keep researching and studying different ethical brands, and understand who they are, what their notion of fashion is, what kind of packaging they use, their aspirations with their brand and work, their materials and their story. These processes help to see and select whether their values align with ours and how we envision our wardrobe to be. They can also be very educational and offer inputs on how we can transition not only to ethical fashion practices, but also to ethical and mindful living. This would also give us the agency to observe the level of transparency, inclusion and diversity a brand offers, and to hold them accountable as consumers to make reforms – using the power we have through the internet and its multiple communication channels.

6. Balancing our present wardrobe with a vision of creating a conscious one

As you add new and conscious selections to your wardrobe, it can be meaningful to keep revisiting your existing and older pieces. Taking out our clothes, seeing what we like, what fits us well, why we purchased them and from where, can stir past memories that highlight our process of purchasing and the emotional connections we have created with them till now. This gives us the chance to integrate our collections, style varying silhouettes, and curate a holistic relationship with our clothes (and possibly with ourselves).


Our wardrobes evolve as we do, and we’d like to encourage you to build your conscious wardrobe one step at a time. Read from reliable sources, magazines and journals as your interests develop and try to incorporate practices that resonate with you. And as you make individual changes, it would be rewarding to also try to be involved in larger organisational changes at a pace which you are able to go at.