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An Unplanned Trip To McLeodganj Led Me To Exactly What All Millennials Need

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Meditation.

The word itself used to give me a feeling of complacency, or that one was under the illusion of everything moving slowly around me. I was not someone who was interested in meditation and the like.

One fine evening last summer, I found myself just killing time as I had nothing better to do. I received a call from one of my school friends. I want to specify that before this phone call, I was, in no way, prepared for that 30-minute conversation that was waiting to happen. While I was complaining about how I didn’t have anything to kill my boredom with, my friend told me that he was going to the hills for the next several days. Now even though I was already sitting on the terrace of my nani‘s (maternal grandmother) house situated in the Kumaon hills, the mere thought of traveling charged up all my happy hormones. Even without knowing why he was going to McLeodGanj, I abruptly asked him if I could join him and that’s when the proposition came.

You can definitely join me, but I am going there for a meditation course. Are you interested?

Even now, I wonder what made me give an affirmative reply to his question. Was it just the thought of travelling to see the beauty of McLeodganj’s hills? Or was it the level of intense boredom that had overtaken me the past couple of days? Whichever it was, I ended up going to the beautiful Dhauladhar ranges for a 10-day meditation course.

Now, I could go on about my struggle with the mediation sessions but that’s not what I want to write about. Instead, I want you, especially all the millennials out there, to know how mediation is an elixir to the brain and how you can change a lot in your life by taking out at least five minutes a day for it.

Benefits Of Meditation

All day, our brains function continuously that it and never gets time to filter the thoughts which keep coming in. We keep feeding our brain with so much information that we don’t even consider giving it a chance to filter and process the data it stores. We do give our body time to filter and flush out all the waste on a regular basis. But even while taking a dump we continue using our phones and keep inserting things in our brain! Even when we are sleeping, our brain keeps working—oh God, what a workaholic organ! Folks, we need to understand that even the brain needs its time and process to detox itself and this detox can be provided to your brain only through meditation.

Today we all are so absorbed by our own hustling that we don’t give due time to our health, be it physical or mental. You can improve your physical health through exercises but working on mental health is altogether an internal process. Meditation helps you keep your mental health on point. Practicing meditation will make you more connected to yourself and will keep your mental health in peace. I personally realised that practicing mediation changed the way I dealt with situations, made me more compassionate, and also developed better reasoning habits. Meditation will help you to understand your emotions and also help you deal with them better.

Not only this, we millennials have so many options for everything these days that most of the time, we stay confused. We find reasonable decision-making a hard nut to crack. Setting aside some time for mediation will help you out in getting clarity about things and situations. It will also help you stay focused on your goals and aims in life. Practicing meditation makes you more at peace with yourself and the world. It helps you stay calm and also increases your resilience against unfavorable circumstances. Meditation is such a holy and pure practice that I can’t possibly count all its benefits in one article.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kahala/2745591631/
A woman takes part in a yoga class to learn meditation. For representation only. Image source: Katherine Hala/Flickr.

How To Begin Meditating

If you find it hard to meditate and keep your mind concentrated at one place, there is no need to worry. Everyone finds it a bit difficult in the beginning. So just after your first counter with meditation, you need not to jump to the direct conclusion that it’s not your cup of tea.

My meditation course teacher once told us that “Meditation is not about the elimination of thoughts from the mind; it’s more about observing the thoughts coming up in your mind.” The more you observe your thoughts, the closer you are getting towards mindfulness. It’s a good idea to start with guided meditation, and that too slowly. Keep your practice daily and relish every moment of your practice.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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