“Most individuals are born into families; I was adopted into the heart of the family that gave me a name. My parents and paternal grandparents, along with entire social culturally diverse global family, accepted my being in this unconditional source of positive regard and universal love. My struggle was first surviving being born and then growing into the bosom of this omnipresent love — the dark shadow of not being accepted and emotionally abused by my maternal family. And then actually began my conflict of the mind-body and spirit,” says Aarti Ahuja.
Aarti was a highly sensitive child and grew up with adults primarily who encouraged her different learning and supported her questioning spirit. The educational challenges of the Indian system and social discrimination from her mother’s side of the family and peers at school impacted her psyche to a large extent. This impact made adjustment issues along with emotional discomforts along with diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia in adolescence.
“The duality of growing up brought me to engage in introspection and imbibing virtues of thinking even before I could reach out to society. My formal schooling began in an institution that today is celebrating 100 years of being rooted in the same unconditional positive regard my home environment was providing. Making social interaction with peers was a challenge and also a source of great disharmony to my highly sensitive side. As a person being ridiculed for my weight and academic under-achievement by my mother’s side of the family made me a reluctant participant in the education process,” she continues. “Only because I was blessed with grandparents and a far-sighted father who understood my other abilities, they encouraged my understanding of the world evolving through my own introspection and adding intuitive meaning that I could take on the diagnosis of being labelled ADHD & Dsylexic in adolescence. The spiritual evolution in my loneliness and the status of being an outsider yet an insider among-st friends led me to have a conviction to help others as a profession. Passing high school was clouded by losing my grandparents — that void of emotional and spiritual support was a big hit though certain teachers and friends came along to support, it never was the same again.”
With being overweight, challenged in social interactions, and always made to feel inferior in scholastic ability, she battled her relationship with her mother and her inner self to start learning psychology in a government institution. Challenges were faced again, and this time it was more like quicksand engulfing her highly sensitive spirit in the mental and emotional abuse the government college and students of various Indian ethnicity made her endured. A struggling body image issue became a binge eating episodic depressive and self-harming behaviour — that was an outcome of her psychology teachers degrading her scholastic ability and labelling her privilege as her fault and mentally torturing her for being who she had evolved into despite the challenges.
“Moving away from this environment had incurred upon me the most lonely phase of my life — depressive eating, obesity and various medical co-morbid diseases but at the same time, the spiritual evolution that was underway was the most divine occurrence in the plan,” by experiencing grief and the mental trauma tapped into her creativity and started expressing through art and poetry. The gender identity of a fluid identity yet feminine driven gave Aarti a chance to take the decision to change her higher education institute to a private college.
The challenges of society didn’t change as Aarti wasn’t ever socially accepted and the outsider being the insider identity latched to her again. The difference scholastically/ educationally was the acceptance of her seeking spirit, and the full support of the administration in accommodating to her learning style within the overall education system constraints was the little breath of fresh air that kept her trying to scale the mighty mountain of Indian education.
Her body went through a process of physical change with the help of weight loss surgery. The entire process was supported by the family across the globe and few good souls. The love, acceptance, and positive regard of good parenting and open-minded thinking society Aarti grew up in was the source of the resilience and never giving up attitude. Though being able to take an academic leave was also a blessing by the private college administration to undergo her biggest transformation in her gratitude towards them, she has rooted elements of their philosophy already similar to her upbringing in creating her counselling and healing space Tatava: The Lifestyle Studio.
As education ended, learning and seeking never stopped opportunities that came to her because society appreciated the thinner body and interacted with her worth of being few kilos lighter as the actual self. As again, the duality of being blessed with deeply supportive individuals who still despite the present COVID challenges stand by her and society stood shoulder to shoulder. People viewed the ability of the mind of that being of the body, and the hypocrisy of this phase again triggered a relentless body image challenge. The present closest equations manifested themselves in her life with the same unconditional positive love and regard that allowed to expand her abilities into the lifestyle consultant she masquerades as today.
“My body image issue continues as I have gained weight again and also experienced society’s hypocrisy and challenged depression, insomnia, and self-harm to be that person who continues to give. As the gratitude of what my body has received from family and those who have recognized my disabilities of shape and comprehension as the ability of spirit and beyond that one oneness with the universe, I bloom in being a psychologist/ counsellor with empathy and a businesswoman with the goal to create value in society through all my endeavour with the truest creative integrity of my authenticity,” she says.
While a challenge of being her authentic self was experienced, she has created her own modality of therapy that uses in counselling today. She combines the psycho-spiritual dimensions along with an understanding that everyone is in the mud, but the fight is to co-exist with the mud because the value of authenticity blooms in the spirit before the glow of life can be determined.
Aarti Ahuja is an alumnus of Modern School Barakhamba Road, and she completed her MA in Applied Psychology from Amity University Noida. In the past decade, she has diversified her professional skills by training herself as NLP practitioner, Health and Wellness Coach, and gaining knowledge in Family and Relationship along with Expressive Art therapy. She calls herself a lifestyle consultant combining her acumen in the field of Psychology with her interest in food art and wellness domains, having established Adiaa Simplified Livings Solutions, a Pvt Ltd company with business interest in health, wellness, and entertainment domain.