Is there a limit of possibilities which we can use during our lifetime? Are our limitations associated with ourselves, our mind or maybe a particular situation? A world of pandemic is the world in which we can still grow and develop our passions and related to them skills. You’ll probably ask me how it is possible since our reality is ruled by uncertainty, and the thing we mainly focus on is the way how to survive and how to lead a more or less normal life. Exactly, more or less normal… What does it really mean? No more, no less than taking care of our physical and mental health, as these two aspects are inseparably associated with who we are. It has been known for centuries that people look for the ways of soothing their souls in all kinds of arts, as they allow them to detach themselves from everyday reality and to focus on something which can result in their inner growth. And what’s the most beautiful in it? Various forms of arts can be freely combined, so that one can gain a perfect blend, the one which will meet our requirements.
Today, I’m truly pleased to introduce you to two amazing women – Surabhi Kaushik and Jyotsna Srikant, who decided to combine their strengths and passions to create unique Move to Write – Write to Move workshops, whose aim is to connect the art of writing with other expressive arts, which don’t only allow us to get to know ourselves a little bit better, but also to spread our wings in the previously unknown for us directions. During this conversation Surabhi and Jyotsna will tell you a little bit more about their new project.
Passion Piece: Surabhi, my readers have already had the opportunity to get to know you a little bit better during our last conversation. Today, you and your friend Jyotsna are my guests again! Could you please tell a few words about yourselves?
Surabhi: It’s great to be on your blog again. As you already know, I am a writer. I volunteer with public libraries in Charlotte. Words have always been my best friends, allowing me to find comfort and joy in playing the role of a copywriter, storyteller, poet or essayist, not necessarily in that order. My blog WRITERSMIND.SURABHI has links to my work published in several websites in India and the United States. As a community support initiative during COVID-19, I conduct Move to Write – Write to Move workshops.
Jyotsna: Hello, thank you for the opportunity Natalie. I am a Therapeutic Movement Facilitator based out of New Delhi, India. I conduct experiential sessions and workshops, and work with different populations using dance and movement as a medium to explore universal themes like self-awareness, body awareness and self-discovery, among others. Why dance, if you ask me? Because I have always been passionate about dance. I am a trained Bharathanatyam, a South Indian classical dance form, so I was thoroughly drawn to this work which is based on the concept of the body-mind nexus. I love the fact that dance and art know no boundaries and can transform a person’s life beyond imagination. Besides this, I have a Master’s degree in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai (India).
Like Surabhi said, Move to Write – Write to Move was born out of our love for writing and expressive arts. So far, we have conducted ten sessions and they have been wonderful.
Passion Piece: What brings you back to me and the readers of my blog?
Surabhi: My experience of being interviewed by you was wonderful, based on the heart warming responses that I got from your readers. I also liked that your research on my work was thorough and the questions were well thought out.
Jyotsna: This is my first time here. All I can say is that I am pretty excited about the work that we are doing and would like to reach as many people as we can. And then some more. 🙂
Passion Piece: Move to write – Write to move sounds really intriguing to me! What is this project all about?
Surabhi: Move to Write – Write to Move is a unique workshop, where movement enhances creativity and writing enhances expression. This is a safe space where you move to connect with yourself and write to pour your heart out. We are right now 10 sessions old and have covered some versatile themes such as possibilities, grounding, self-compassion, self-love, Thingamajig and creative exploration.
We have had an overwhelming response so far, with participants from all over the globe and not just India and the US.
Jyotsna: To be very frank, the first time we spoke about bringing writing and movement together in a format of some kind was about two or three years back. And then it sort of got lost in other things that we were individually pursuing; Surabhi with her writing workshops and me with my therapeutic movement sessions. Suddenly, about two months back, Surabhi called me one day and proposed this idea. Interestingly, Covid played a pivotal role in this. We couldn’t have done it together, had it not been the virtual platform. One thing led to another and here we are, one month down the lane.
Passion Piece: What inspired you to organize something like that? Do you think that this workshop will be met with a great interest of the aspiring writers? Can people who have never tried themselves in writing participate in such a project, too?
Surabhi: I am a local author, who is actively involved in the writing community of Charlotte. When the pandemic took over our lives, I found myself writing a lot more than I usually do and finding comfort and release by doing so. Instantly, I knew that I had to design a project that could offer community support for writers or people who are looking for something to distract them or use it as a coping mechanism. We have done 10 successful workshops until now and we have mostly had experienced writers as our participants.
Yes, if people who do not consider themselves writers are welcome to try it. Honestly, I believe that all of us are writers, since we all have a story to tell.
Jyotsna: Many years ago, I read somewhere that the best stories are those that are about your own life. I strongly believe that. Surabhi and I have always been passionate about writing. And the need for a space for people to explore and express themselves freely during this global pandemic has been felt across the world. We did what we knew best; to do our bit in these challenging times.
The pandemic had pushed people inside their homes and it was such an unnatural thing for us humans to do. We thrive through our interactions with each other. And that had been grossly affected. Our workshops opened up safe spaces for people to connect through movement and writing. The connection was to oneself and to the group.
We have conceptualised this workshop for anybody, writer or non-writer. Surabhi says it so beautifully that we all have stories to tell. I would like to add that you can choose to write or “move” these stories. Or both!
Passion Piece: What have the participants experienced from taking part in such a unique workshop?
Surabhi: Participants have mentioned in their feedback that they felt relaxed and lighter after attending the workshop. It has also allowed them to explore unseen possibilities in their own personal growth and development.
Jyotsna: Going by people’s feedback, I would like to believe that the workshops have proven to be therapeutic and almost cathartic in these tough times. They are excited by this new concept and want to come back to it. We have participants who have attended more than one session and join us almost every week.
Passion Piece: Is it important to find the right passions in life? How does it help to cope with stress, trauma and negative emotions?
Surabhi: I think it is extremely important to find the right passion in life. The reason being that they not just bring us happiness but also act as a coping mechanism, especially in critical times like this. Being a writer all my life, it is the single, most powerful way for me to maintain my mental balance, gain insight and perspective during my struggles.
Jyotsna: Aren’t we all in this never-ending quest to seek our passions and pursue them whole-heartedly? Yes, finding the right passions is quite important. I feel it helps to mould us as mindful and meaningful individuals. It adds that spark in people’s lives. Since I have been engaging in the arts for many years now, I would vouch for the fact that they are essentially therapeutic, inculcate discipline and teach us to cope with difficult situations. Hobbies and passions ultimately enrich our lives.
Passion Piece: How did you discover that writing and movement can have such a therapeutic influence on people no matter what kind of background they represent? How do these two activities combine and help to overcome one’s own weaknesses?
Surabhi: One of my friends, Cordelia Williams, an artist, once said, “People do not realize how much they need art.” Therefore, I think it is easy for anyone to connect with this concept and overcome certain psychological hurdles, irrespective of their backgrounds. That’s the power of art.
During our workshops, we encourage participants to enjoy the experience of movement and draw inspiration from their own experience to write about it. We have found that this process works wonderfully well to nourish, empower, motivate and surprise them in ways that lead them to elevate their own path to self- discovery and self-expression.
Jyotsna: The beauty about the arts is that it is universal. People can relate to them no matter what their backgrounds. The therapeutic effect of arts is what has been holding us all through this pandemic.
During my sessions, I give the participants some time to work with the arts so as to enable them to express their feelings and thoughts. They draw or paint and more often than not, writing is an integral part of this process. Journaling and poetry can be cathartic for people. What they cannot speak out, they very easily pen it down. And when you acknowledge and hold that space for yourself to authentically express, that moment is truly therapeutic.
Passion Piece: Have you ever witnessed how someone’s life changed thanks to similar workshops? Is it important to give people a chance to experience a completely different world?
Surabhi: I have heard participants describe how positive and meaningful these sessions have been for them. I am not sure if their lives have changed, but through their feedback, I know that their time in the session has added more value and meaning to their lives in some way.
It is definitely important for each one of us to experience a completely different world, and pick out what works best for us.
Jyotsna: My own life changed when I experienced dance/movement therapy sessions as part of my training to become a facilitator. The experience was so surreal and I gained so much insight about myself, that I knew I had to take this to people. I have become so aware of myself and I know I have changed for the better. Each and every workshop of this kind, that I have attended so far, has been empowering and I definitely want others to experience it too.
Passion Piece: I guess that you both have huge plans for the future! What would you like to work on after completing Move to write – Write to Move workshops? Are you going to work on new projects together? Or maybe you’ll focus more on your own agenda?
Surabhi:. We love what we do and are humbled by the response that it has generated. There’s definitely more in store. We are constantly looking for avenues and more ways to connect with a diverse audience.
Jyotsna: I would definitely want to do many more such workshops with Surabhi. We are so passionate about our work that I am sure we will come up with other such meaningful ideas in future. Maybe, even look at taking this offline, once things settle down. But that’s a long way to go. The groundwork has definitely begun.
As for my individual practice, I am working on creating safe spaces for as many people as I can; where they can explore, express without any inhibitions. There is this preconceived notion that my kind of work would only be relevant to dancers. I want to create a world of movers. Mental wellbeing for all! That’s my overall vision.
Passion Piece: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Of course, apart from inspiring others to change their lives for the better!
Surabhi: I am a trained vocalist in Indian classical music. So I love to sing. I also enjoy reading and learning new languages.
Jyotsna: I learn dance, I teach dance and I write. I spend time with my boys, reading to my younger one and talking to my pre-teen son. And I love reading, but it came to a stop for some years. My partner inspired me to begin reading all over again. For now, I am immersed into Indian author, Amitav Ghosh’s novels.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Surabhi: Never give up. There is light at the end of every tunnel.
Jyotsna: “The body benefits from movement and the mind benefits from stillness.”
Life transitions between movement and stillness, experience both and acknowledge both. And then witness the difference!
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I wish you continued success during accomplishing your next projects!
Our body and mind are an indivisible whole, their bond and the way they depend one on another is really fascinating. We often don’t remember to take care of these two aspects of our being at the same time. It’s worth trying out new forms of expression and getting to know oneself, as only if we know ourselves and the things which truly fascinate us, we can get to know the world in a totally new dimension – completely different from the world we have initially perceived, the dimension which will turn our lives upside down… Are you ready for that?
See you around!
Photos by: Surabhi Kaushik and Jyotsna Srikant