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Amisha Ghadiali sees a beautiful future
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Amisha Ghadiali sees a beautiful future
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Amisha Ghadiali sees a beautiful future
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Conversations
2 September 2020

Amisha Ghadiali sees a beautiful future

Interview by Nathan Scolaro
Photography by Anouska Beckwith

Few podcasts reach the emotional and spiritual depths of Amisha Ghadiali’s “The Future if Beautiful.” It’s also rare to find a media platform brave enough to sit in the complexity of this moment – to weave what have been reduced to “silos” in mainstream life: politics, spirituality, culture, ecology, business and creativity. Amisha’s work is an honouring of all that makes life beautiful – the messy and difficult parts included. Her conversations have explored such topics as “allies of joy in a systemically racist world,” “Indigenous food systems and sacred knowledge” and “privilege, resilience and marine biology,” highlighting the wisdom and vision needed for these times. Based in London with roots to India, Amisha is also a jewellery designer, meditation teacher and intuitive therapy practitioner. We spoke on the eve of launching her latest book, Intuition, which she wrote through lockdown, an incredibly potent time that also saw the passing of her beloved father, Dr Himanshu Ghadiali.

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

I want to start with what you’re feeling into at the moment. What’s coming up for you at this big moment in time?

So yesterday my book on intuition went to the printers.

Oh congratulations! Oh my gosh!

Yeah, I received the offer at the end of November to write it. And then we signed the contract at the beginning of February. I’ve been writing most of it through lockdown. I took myself out of my regular environment and into a treehouse in the forest to write it. In this time my father passed away. So that’s been a really big initiation for me. I’ve been told that writing a book is often like that. But to be writing a book about the theme of intuition during a global pandemic and also during the death of my father has been a really profound experience that has made it very clear to me that intuition is the most important skill that this time is calling forth in us. I’ve been feeling into the history of why we’ve lost our trust with intuition, which correlates to the themes that are all very alive right now, from colonialism to capitalism to misinformation. It’s quite incredible, how in the mainstream, intuition has been painted as something so woo woo and weird. Unless it’s in very specific framings, like “mother’s intuition.” Intuition is trusting that there’s wisdom inside of yourself that knows truth, and so it’s phenomenal that something that important has become so marginalised in the way that we live. We’ve become so obsessed with this thing called logic. But I don’t see how the logic and the reason that has created the world is this thing that’s free from emotion or agenda. I see that actually it has a very clear agenda. So that has been very prevalent through this time for me, as my kind of mission! And I wouldn’t have ever said I’m going to write a book on intuition. I didn’t pitch this book. It was just offered to me out of the blue.

Wow. So someone invited you to tackle this theme?

Yeah. The publishers had decided they wanted a book on intuition. And it’s still a mystery to me how they chose me [laughs]. So it was really a beautiful gift because it’s not something I would have suggested to write about.

Ah that’s interesting. Because in some ways it makes so much sense that you would write a book on intuition. If I think about your podcast and the kind of expansiveness you dwell in. There’s not a lot of content out there that speaks to that deeper place within us. And I feel like every time I listen to a conversation with you it’s an invitation to enter a deeper, more contemplative space that is coming from that wisdom within oneself. So it feels like your work is very much coming from that intuitive place. Would you have described it that way?

I suppose I wouldn’t have before I started to write this book. I just felt that so many podcasts or interviews I was listening to were staged and shallow. Offering the same kind of questions. Or the same answers. And I was curious as to what would happen if we just had space to be. And to explore and to also embrace the complexity of this time. So I never really thought about it as being an intuitive project. But maybe this is just my own conditioning [laughs], around the fear of intuition that’s stopped me from seeing that. In my other work, with meditation and yoga teaching I do one-on-one intuitive therapy sessions, which are working with people to clear subconscious patterning and awaken qualities that are dormant within – that’s all very intuitive. But I would never have labelled myself in that way. And actually my father was a psychiatrist, also a Jungian analyst. And he made all of his big decisions through his intuition. And small ones as well. He taught me to do the same but I suppose I never quite realised that. When somebody leaves their body, their whole ego story dissolves, leaving you with the essence. And in that truth I was able to really understand so much more about the dynamics of our relationship and what he had shown me and given me. And I was really blessed actually to receive a lot of transmissions from him just in the 24 hours after he left his body. So as I’ve been assimilating all that information it’s making me laugh that like, “Oh of course!”

Aha! I want to talk a bit about your dad because I was listening to your honouring of him on your podcast. And you said that he was living in a world that wasn’t quite ready for what he had to offer. And it’s possibly exactly the material that we’re exploring now. That he was a man of deep intuition that perhaps the world wasn’t quite ready for?

Yeah. He was the man that could weave. He could join the dots between different kind of aspects of the psyche and the way that we live. He was working as a psychiatrist but he had the initiative to train as a psychotherapist as well. So that he was able to offer an extra dimension to his patients. I’ve never really shared this publicly because it feels like it was his story rather than mine. He had to endure false allegations and he went through a long process around that. Which eventually meant that he stopped working. And I feel it was the persecution that can happen when somebody is offering real healing. A lot of people fighting the good fight do get persecuted in this world. And there’s such a deep fear of that power that we all have. So if somebody is having amazing results and actually patients are healing themselves and coming off the drugs, or not needing to take the drugs or whatever, those kind of things should be really celebrated in our culture. Often they create jealousy and fear. We see a direct comparison to that is what’s happening to indigenous tribes who are protecting the land for all of us. Who have medicines and herbal knowledge and ways of understanding the trauma that we have in our psyches. And instead of embracing that knowledge, these people are severely marginalised.

Mm. And I think that’s the gift of your work as well, you’ve brought those voices onto your platform. And you’ve normalised those stories. And as we know it’s story that shapes culture. Has it been a conscious project for you to find the people who are speaking from the fringes?

I don’t know if I set out with such a big vision. I think I just felt that there wasn’t space for a lot of voices. And often when the voices were given a platform, that they weren’t then given respect or real space to share fully. And so that’s what I wanted to offer. There was also that feeling of living in the schism of what you know to be true and then what you’re surrounded by all the time. So seeing the stories on the news or in the newspapers or the messages that I was hearing of what’s constructed as the world being so different from what was actually happening in conversations that I was part of. There was a part of me that wanted to create media that was very authentic. Where nothing was weird to say. And where we could embrace the beauty of who we are, not filter it through this fake construct of culture. I felt like we needed spaces of permission to really live in the heart.

Mm. I want to hear a bit more about the experience in the treehouse. What learnings you had in that time, that period of living very simply. For many of us in lockdown, there was an experience of assumptions being challenged and the cracks within our systems becoming more apparent to us, understanding what’s essential. I mean I imagine you’ve done a lot of that work already. But what was your particularly special experience of lockdown like? What emerged?

Well in the end I spent 11 weeks in the treehouse. It was a very beautiful treehouse. Like it had a shower and a toilet in it. So there was no roughing it! (Laughs). But it was incredible to be in this wooden structure, with a tree. And actually I went to the retreat centre just before lockdown was announced. So then nobody else came because then we were in lockdown. So it was very, very quiet being in that space. My first 10 days in the treehouse was also Navaratri. So I went into complete silence and also completely offline as well.

Tell me about that? Navaratri?

Navaratri is a celebration of the goddess in Hindu culture. A celebration of this nine night battle that the goddess Durga fights. And it’s about courage and the triumph of what’s good. In the myth, the king has got very arrogant. And has basically decimated the land to the point where the sun doesn’t shine anymore. And he’s enslaved everyone into his army. The way that the king was able to do this is because he was doing his spiritual practices. So the gods had to give him a boon, like a gift. And he asked to be indestructible to all men. So the gods had to give it to him. But they said to him, “You have to have one weakness.” And he said, “Oh that’s easy. Women. No woman could ever slay me!” And so when he takes over the entire world they call on the goddess Durga to come. And she’s the warrior goddess, she rides a lion or a tiger. She represents the power of love. The courage that we have that can fight any battle through our love. And so the myth is really about how the power of love trumps over the love of power.

What a great analogy for our time as well.

Exactly yeah. For me Durga is the sacred activist. A lot of the story speaks to right timing. To being prepared on a spiritual level. She doesn’t just rush into the fight. She actually goes first to her cave and she does her practices. And then the sun starts to shine around her cave. And that’s how the king notices her. And there’s a whole other part where he then decides he wants to marry her. Own her. And when she says no, you’re not really my type, then he says, “well then I’ll kill you,” which, unfortunately is also a story of something that’s very present in this world as well. And so what’s beautiful about this battle is that Durga doesn’t just slay him right away. She wants him to understand where he’s got sick. Where that love of power has taken over and distorted him. And so the moment that she actually kills him is the moment that he looks into her eyes and he says, “Ma,” like, “great mother,” he realises what she is. And he realises what he’s done. So by also waiting for that moment it changes the karma of the future. That means that he realises. There’s that essence of this time that we’re in now where, we want behaviour to be different, we want to live in a world that is more inclusive and loving and respectful and community orientated, but there’s a shift in consciousness and understanding that we need in order for that to be possible.

And also what I’m hearing is that that which needs to be destroyed also has to understand what it’s done. So that consciousness shifts and the mistakes are never repeated.

Yeah because it comes back to these cycles of death and rebirth. And the more consciously you can die the more consciously something else can be birthed. That was very much in my experience in walking my father home. I was seeing him clear his karma, so that he could go as liberated as possible. And then feeling energetically the power of that. How beautiful that was. But in those deaths and rebirths that we’re all going through continually, individually and collectively, if we can understand what’s dying and let it die consciously then that energy is so much freer to be rebirthed into what we want it to be. And when I say, “what we want it to be,” I mean, from that place of soul essence rather than ego.

And it’s such a big change in the way we think about death as well. You’re talking about death as transference, not as the end.

Yeah, we’re always changing form. Even in that I’m different to how I was yesterday and I had to let something die to let that something else open up in me. We’re constantly in that process. But especially around actual death and obviously with a pandemic death is really brought to the surface. What we’re seeing on the news is how many people have died and that’s the metric the impact of this pandemic is being measured by. Whereas of course there are so many ways that this pandemic has affected people that aren’t about actual death. I think our grief is always collective. Because even when we’re grieving something very personal, it is part of our collective. We had a Zoom memorial for my father with relatives in India and in the US and friends and all around the UK. And to be together and to share in that ritual and ceremony is so healing. When we have those rituals taken away from us, which many of us have, like in India you would have friends and family come to the house every day for the first 15 days to just be together. Then of course there’s an understanding that it doesn’t stop then. We still have our lives to live and people are still adjusting. I feel like there’s a lot around our understanding of death. And for me it was actually very beautiful. You know, I miss my father and I’m going to miss him a lot at different moments in my life. But I really felt his liberation. And it was beautiful and I am happy for him. I was able to really allow him to change forms. To not try and hold him back from that or make it different to how it was. 

Yeah. I’m really intrigued by the idea of letting go in order to change forms, especially in the context of our collective right now. I think what we have to do is really live into the uncertainty of what comes after. I think that’s so important. And actually moving in that direction without knowing what it exactly looks like.

I do feel like we do know what the world is that we want to live in. I feel like that that has been talked about and experienced in waves. And even during this time period one of the things that I’ve heard a lot is that as governments and systems have been failing, community has been rising. So we’ve had all of these mutual aid groups pop up all over the world in local community where people have been taking care of the elderly, sharing food around and looking out for each other. And all of these acts of kindness and care where people would often rely on the system and the system wasn’t there, others showed up. I feel like that is a big story of this pandemic as well. That a lot of people have rallied together. And of course a lot of people have fended for themselves and, you know, we’ve seen the scarcity that has arisen as well. But I also feel like that was a story at the beginning when something really unknown came in. That most of the stories I’ve heard throughout the pandemic are ones of connection and a reassessing of values. People experiencing what it’s like to be at home. I heard that there’s a statistic that the number of premature babies being born has dramatically decreased and although no one can exactly say it’s because of this, but the understanding is that it very much could be that families have been home together. And so having that presence of both parents around during the pregnancy in the same house, not going to work for 10 hours a day, has effected the baby’s development. We still have no idea how it’s transforming us. And also how it’s shifting what we’ll be prepared to welcome back from the system.

So what was incredible about the treehouse was being in this space in nature and I had no curtains in my treehouse. So I was very much with the light as the light was. And I was climbing up a little ladder into a little loft bed with a nice triangular window that I could often see the moon through. And I was on private land so I was really safe. And as a woman on my own it meant that I could really be outside as much as I wanted at whatever time of day or night. And that was a really wonderful experience for me. What often happened was I would get into bed and I’d be tired. Then as soon as I laid down I would be wide awake. And I understood that that meant “go outside.” So I would walk out into the darkness. One night I saw a comet. Other nights I was just there under the stars or under the full moon. It was like I’d walk around under the night sky and it would just settle everything in me. And I would sit and I would meditate or pray or chant mantras. And then I would go back to bed and sleep like a baby.

Your body was in that cycle. Your nervous system was regulated.

Absolutely. And there was a lake so I was swimming in a cold fresh lake. Laying in the grass and being with the trees. I’ve never really been a big forager in the UK. So to be in this space of deep connection with the land learning to forage. And learning really about what’s there. One of the things that I found was that the way that our culture is, there is always so much beauty hiding in plain sight. That really came to me through the foraging. So being in a space like that for such a long period of time without commitments, I had a book to write and I have podcasts and Future is Beautiful live events I was doing on Zoom. But nowhere to go. I found that time with myself to be deeply, deeply healing. I really set an intention with it to go very deep with some ancestral trauma and some other aspects of healing. And I felt that I emerged out in a completely different way of being. Then I went straight from that into my parents’ house and my father died within three weeks. So it was very fast. But I felt like whatever had happened for me in the treehouse had prepared me to be there. And now I’ve offered to just live with my mum for as long as feels good for both of us. So a lot has shifted around worldly ambition. I love how it feels to be in India, how it feels to be in Bali and the community that I have there. And yet I actually feel like I have all of it inside of myself right now. Like I don’t feel that I need to be anywhere. In fact I feel I can be in my mum’s house for a while. I felt a real shift in addictions. I haven’t had like, “Oh, I just can’t wait ’til I can go and do that again! Go and do that again!” Not to say that I won’t enjoy them when I do if I do. The only thing that I had a slight kind of, “Ooh, I want to do that again” is I watched a movie that had a dance troupe in it. And it reminded me of this thing that I was part of for three years called The Spiritual Playground which was at a festival in the UK. We all dressed up as different deities or belief systems. It was an adventure of the relationship between the sacred and the profane. We had these dance routines and it was full on physical kind of togetherness. So for sure that’s one thing that has been missing during this time that people have been isolated. That real sense of community togetherness and celebration that humans are so good at and have always been doing. Gathering and telling stories and dancing. Singing.

That’s what I felt like after that first period of lockdown when we were out and allowed to come out of our homes for that week that I mentioned earlier. And we were having people around the house again and fires going and wood fire pizzas and all of that beautiful kind of connection that we experienced. And I was like, oh, you know, this is really beautiful. These connections are really special. You know. I’ve been saying how wonderful it was to be in the home and the domestic space and to kind of be going more local and just with my immediate surroundings. And then there was this glorious reminder of, oh, connection. Friendship. And then to have that kind of leave again, that was really mentally challenging. So it’s been a great reminder of what’s important. Community, as you said. And speaking to the loving, courageous parts of one another.

Yeah, we affect each other so much. And if we can speak to that part in each other that is fearless, that is courageous, that is visionary, that is love then I believe so much is possible from here and we have no idea. And so much of our culture, our global culture, is around actually speaking to the part of us that is insecure, that is fearful, that is traumatised. That is addictive. And so for me that’s a big part of how I have chosen to be in the world, having at different times been quite affected, as a sensitive person, by the way that culture wants to pry on your insecurities and what’s not possible. For me that’s really what I want to offer with everything that I do, whether that’s just having a cup of tea with a friend or the podcast or my private sessions or writing a book, I want to be a liberating current in this world that reflects back the possibility that we all carry inside of ourselves. That we all have all of this incredible information. And with it honours the challenges of the journey. For me a lot of courage comes from being able to grieve, being able to be angry, being able to be frustrated. Being okay with admitting that sometimes life can feel a bit vacuous. Especially if you’re doing what you’re being told to do. Like, Netflix and chill! Oh, I did it! And now I feel really like spaced out and disconnected! So it’s how can we keep reminding each other that we’re so much more than that? And igniting those parts of each other where our soul guides us and that beauty of our soul is really present. And through that kind of nurturing and that attentiveness to the processes and the challenges. Because we do live in a time where there is so much depression, suicide and addiction. And we need everybody here. We need everyone present in order to be able to create the kinds of changes that we would like for our future generations. I feel like one way of making space for presence is to be very real about the difficulties of this time. And they can feel very personal. But they are collective. And to really listen to that beauty that we all have from our souls, from our intuition, from that sense of possibility. And not dismiss it as idealistic or unrealistic as culture has done.

What you’re saying is reminding me so much of the importance of why we do the inner work. Why we have spiritual practice. I hear you saying it’s about fixing ourselves first. We need to start with the inner. ‘Cause the inner is what is reflected in the outer and so we can’t come to these systems with the same conquering mindset that created them, with the same tools.

Yeah absolutely. I would even say like we don’t need to fix ourselves. We can deconstruct. In the same way that we have these systems that need deconstructing, we can deconstruct the ways in which these systems have separated us from our true selves. And also if we can understand that this is a world that has been built by trauma and understand how that trauma lives in us. We carry memory from 14 generations before us in our subconscious. And at the same time as that, our subconscious is affected by our beliefs. And so when we are able to transform our beliefs, we’re also able to free ourselves up. So it’s both that we’re carrying so much information and that can really affect us. But at the same time we have the power to completely transform our inner world because of the way that epigenetics works and because of the neuroplasticity in our brains. And the way that energy affects our cells. It’s really something how we can affect the future through our relationship with ourself. And that for me is why the inner healing work is so important. However both the inner work and the outer are life long, there is no perfect finish line, and so I believe we need to pay attention to both simultaneously, so we don’t end up bypassing what is needed from us.

www.amisha.co.uk
www.thefutureisbeautiful.co

Amisha is launching The Beautiful Leadership Immersion through September 2020 online. Read more here. 

Nathan Scolaro

Nathan is the editor of Dumbo Feather magazine, and a great lover of language, poetry and storytelling.

Photography by Anouska Beckwith

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