Raageshwari is still on a roll

Richa Mishra | Updated on May 22, 2020 Published on May 22, 2020

Taking life as it comes: Raageshwari was struck by facial paralysis at the peak of her music career   -  THE HINDU/ K ANANTHAN

Raageshwari Loomba Swaroop, whose songs topped the charts in the ’90s, discusses her new book, embracing messes, and thriving after being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy

At 42, ’90s pop sensation Raageshwari Loomba (now Raageshwari Loomba Swaroop) seems to have been there and done it all — from being a singer, an actor, a Tibetan Rites guru to a mindfulness speaker. At the peak of her career, she was struck by Bell’s palsy, which causes a sudden weakening or even paralysis of facial muscles. According to her, she recovered with the help of yoga and the power of the mind.

At first glance, the title of her new book, Building a Happy Family: 11 practices of mindful parenting, may make you shrug it off as yet another book on spirituality. But though her book touches on spirituality, it focuses on motivation. Raageshwari, who is based in London, spoke to BLink on her journey so far, her book and how she finds great depth in being messy. Excerpts from a phone interview:

In which genre would you place your book — spiritual, parental guidebook or self-help?

I would say this book is definitely on self-help. My definition on parenting is very different, but definitely not modern, as I’m talking about honouring the little minds, which the Panchatantra talked about in 1200 BCE. We are constantly asking parents to look after children, make them happy by disciplining them. But I am requesting them not to discipline their kids, as disciplining never works. It never works with adults either. We seek motivation and guidance, not punishments and reprimands. We thrive when people love us — be it our bosses or colleagues or spouses. We feel insecure when we see someone richer or prettier, according to our social definitions. We have to look inwards and build our own self-worth, independent of social definitions. If we have to change and create true happiness, we have to honour ourselves the way we are. The more we value ourselves, the more we value our children and our family. So, in that sense, my book is squarely in the self-help genre.

Building a Happy Family: 11 practices of mindful parenting; Raageshwari Loomba Swaroop; Self-help; Non-fiction; ₹299


Has the Covid-19 lockdown led more people to the mindfulness path?

It is fascinating to observe how, even at this time, people still want distractions — how can I learn to make bread, what can I watch on Netflix. We have never been taught the art of loving solitude. Quarantine is exactly what our parents would ask us to do when we erred — go into a corner, don’t talk to anyone. Then we saw it as a punishment but it had a spiritual meaning as well — to make us go onwards and think about what we did.

A chapter in the book, titled Mess is mental floss, says being messy is pretty okay...

I say in the book, “I don’t want parents, carers and educationists to think I’m promoting uncleanliness. I’m just requesting reflection. What cleanliness are you losing your sleep over?” I grew up in a convent school which was so strict about cleanliness and hygiene. Even at home, everything was structured and had its own place. This trained me into being pristinely clean. And then I got married. My beloved Sudhanshu is messy, but there is a method to his madness. I would allow it at his workplace, but in the house I would like everything to be perfect. I did not realise that this obsession was a burden I was carrying. Then came my daughter with her 10 hands and 10 feet. I observed that children are so creative because there is great depth in being messy. Kids don’t bother about roles. As Einstein said, “A messy table equates to a messy mind, so then an empty table equates to...”

Which chapter of the book was the toughest to write?

The chapter where I talk about my facial paralysis. My intention was for people to understand the power of negativity of emotions. Our elders have always told us to think positive, forgive and forget. But we didn’t know the science behind it. I talk about facial paralysis and rewinding (to) the year before that, of an intense break-up I went through. I have talked about what happened to my mind after my break-up, what happened to my body due to that negativity.

Did you face financial constraints when your career came to an abrupt end after the illness?

Yes, there were challenges. [After the paralysis] I wasn’t working for movies where you get fat paycheques. I did TV. You work and make money. I had to return the contracts during the paralysis period. I managed to stand tall because my upbringing was such where money was never the key. If I worked hard, money would come to me. It was all about bringing expenses down and moving ahead with motivation. We must all learn to turn the clock back to zero. Start with nothing — and then create everything. We as babies did it. How? Because we were not conditioned with fear. That’s all I want people to remember, especially during Covid times. You can adapt, you will win again, you will create everything again. Remain positive, loving and kind — to yourself first, and then everyone around you.

Published on May 22, 2020

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