An accident left me with no memory of my movie-star past

Dropped-out-of-sight Anu ‘Aashiqui’ Aggarwal returns to the public eye with a veracious memoir ‘Anusual’ that zips between multiple personas punctured by 29 days of coma. Exclusive extracts

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Anu Aggarwal: Her life as a recluse

An unusual status update on Facebook caught my attention.

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Sex Symbol, Monk, Yogi. My Journey

It would take anybody by surprise how my life has unfolded in front of my astonished eyes. Wilder than a Bollywood blockbuster. Yes, Mahesh Bhatt was right in exclaiming “Expect the Unexpected” after he proudly had me sign Aashiqui. I was then a little lass, uninterested in the over emotional ‘ma’ wrap and the degenerate fashion, taste and style of Hindi cinema. It made me weep – in despair.

Free spirited, “bohemian”, I didn’t match any known language of colour, beauty, or perhaps even the fake idea of morality then. That believed in show it like they want to see it and not necessarily like it is. Worker for women empowerment, helping in the UNHCR expatriation of the Afghan refugees being my grounding, I was led to say it like it is. That didn’t go in my favour. They called me “bold”, “sex bomb” – well, a sex bomb is definitely better than a nuclear bomb don’t you think? Sex bomb dropped.

The fresh, long legged, tan skinned, single Anu was certainly not the false-breasted, shake the booby and booty kind of ‘heroine’ in navel-revealing dresses then in vogue. And still me, not the liposuction etc. kind of belle.  

Till then, before my debut film Aashiqui, I was called one of India’s first international models – Schweppes Indian Tonic in Paris, shooting with the best fashion photographers in New York City, cat-walking on a cruise on the Norway Sea, and sashaying in fashion shows in castles in London.

Then Aashiqui. Stardom overnight. Anu Aggarwal, a household name, barely had a chance to develop vain pride. The debacle of fame was just about thrashing my solo living peaceful thus far. Uncomfortable. Stardom had hit me with the intensity of a volcano. Would leave me both dazzled, stunned, and amazed. Excessive fame. Millions of people held me in adulation. Brand endorsements and the candy called money.   

Believe me – had it not been for my “care for the people” social work background, I, the “one-film wonder,” would have gone crazy.  

I looked around. I saw a bizarre, warped and a weird way of looking at our own deepest instinct. In an interview I lamented: WHO WANTS A VIRGIN TODAY? It was a part of a long interview where I talked of social patterns and the changing Indian mindset. My replies were not personal, it was not about me it was about we, the people.

And before they could even say smile “Anu cheese” with ease, I had somehow managed to break every known rule in the book. Hardly a confirmed rebel, this happened in an ode to “Be Me”.

Sheltered by the umbrella of fame, I would shout slogans of safe sex. Help population control in a country bursting at its seams with people. Endorse a condom – Kamasutra, here I come. Raise awareness about “hidden” issues like sex.

We love sex, don’t we? Lets talk about sex, baby. Launch Music Television (MTV) in India, coo “Oye”  instead of a “Namaste” and lo! many NRIs would confess to suddenly feeling proud of a country they hadn’t wanted to associate with so far.

Far from being shunned in the early 1990s, even a condom endorsement would promote me as a “Style Icon”. I now think it was the honesty I did it with that helped.

You’ve got to take me how I am. I am with you. I am for you. I am of you.

Suddenly everything I did was “wow”. She did it. The same people who had shunned me raised me up. Style Icon 1993 – “Inspite of her dark skin, Anu has made it”.

It was a time my love relationship ducked in a phase of gloom. Press accusations of the “thinking man’s sex symbol, Anu” and her (imagined!) sexual conduct didn’t fare well with the private delicacy of a man-woman bonding. I lost the love-game. Defeated.

“Anu makes it on her own terms,” Mid-Day would take a large page to confirm. And pass by people to become a benchmark in years to come. Erotica opened in Cannes festival, rave reviews in The New York Times and Variety, the bible of film trade in Hollywood. Holy crap! I am Big. Funnily enough this was the time – I felt done.

I found the monkey is the loneliest on top of a tree. I was the unhappiest I had been in my life. Ironically, when I had everything I felt empty within, I had nothing. The poorest time of my life was when I was the richest.

“Who am I” quest would lead me to shun the glam, glitz, the glory.

Jimmy Choo high heels left behind. Along with Victoria’s Secret lingerie and Gucci bags. Started my renunciation. Meagre needs and frugal wants, a lifestyle. Yoga. Dhyan. Sanyas. There came the thrashing needed to turn metal into gold. Mental abuse, harsh living, humiliation became a part of everyday monkhood. I wouldn’t know when the next abuse would come when I would be insulted in public – all these practices to dilute the ego, the “I”. Who are you? Surrender. If not to a God, then the hills of the forest.

Near-death experience was as unexpected as the biggest changes/challenges in life are. Merge with Source. Acute trauma, immense pain, and my body beaten till it was pulped down led me to understanding the real truth, of life – I am not the body. When nothing of “me” was left, I was Love.  When I was acutely helpless is when I was full of hope. Not just for me but for Humanity. Here came the Bhagavad Gita kind of Bliss. Love is all there is. Let go. That’s what it is all about. “Serve, love, give” was a cry I heard, and as my physical condition improved, started to live by.

The only thing left for me to do now, like Zen believes, was to help another.  

A do-it-yourself case, I healed myself. Forgiveness. Compassion. Acceptance. Empathy. Tools of recovery. Positive Psychology. Holistic or Wholistic healing. Yoga therapy started here.   

My research metamorphosed into AnuFunYoga, laughter, joy and happiness important components of it. Neuroscience believes in it too. Maximize human potential. To see despondent slum kids spring up in joy has been immensely satisfying. Compassion-in-action. Spread it. Luckily, I got chosen to talk in an American yoga therapy and research association. In Austin, Texas other Yoga therapists heard and got inspired. In Ixtapa, Mexico, on the beach, I saw myself teach yoga Nidra to some American CEOs working for poverty alleviation. Inner poverty alleviation is what I lectured on. AAF (Anu Aggarwal Foundation) came in the process of forming. Help yourself, Help the world. Respect. Honor. Reverence.

Miracles happen. Catastrophes cut. Nobody knows why. Happened to me. We just need to be open. Let go. Each life has a suffering, mine did, yours does; how can we have anything but compassion for each other?

(Anu Aggarwal, former actor, is the author of “Anusual: Memoir of a Girl Who Came Back from the Dead“.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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About Pursuing Dreams and Imagination Relentlessly

Carol (name changed) has experienced profundity of the great and noble virtue, Kindness, at a different level that most of us may not even sense.

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One who Didn’t Give up but Fought back to Win

Purvi (name changed) has been a resident of Bapnu Ghar for nearly a year. She came to Baapnu Ghar when she could no longer endure harassment her husband and in-laws subjected her to for years.

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Little one Setting an Example Despite all Odds

Eight-year-old Meena (name changed) who has been residing at DESIRE Society’s Goregaon centre, hails from Kolkata. She lost her mother when she was an infant and her father,

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How to survive the tough path of life

Vestibulum quam nisi, pretium a nibh sit amet, consectetur hendrerit mi. Aenean imperdiet lacus sit amet elit porta, et malesuada erat bibendum.

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Can joy be your birthright ?

Happiness is something we all look for but what really is happiness? Is it having your dream come true? You may think yes but my own pertinence shows otherwise.

In 1991 I accidentally turned a massive star after being the lead actor in a huge blockbuster movie. Overnight my life had changed,  Awards were showered on me, I got millions of fans, I became a Bollywood queen at 21 years of would think WOW! But believe me, a happy child,  it left me the unhappiest I ever have been. My mind wandered, I was chased by fans in public and secretly by 5e paparazzi.

Soon I would see myself in a yogi, spiritual rehabilitation.

A wandering mind is an unhappy mind,

I sought refuge in vipassana meditation and believe you me,  pledged ten days of silence following 5 precepts of no meals after 13 noon, no thoughts of sexual misconduct, no negativity I trained for 10 days. I cam back a different person I was not the star agitated girl who had started the course.

 

Attention-deficit. 47% of Americans cannot or do not pay attention to what goes on in their day.

Back after monkhood, I was living Zen pondering over how best I could put compassion in action. after understanding the relentless nature of the mind and how to use it to one’s best advantage.

I had.an experience of watching 60 kids in a class with 90% paying zero attention to the teacher. I started to study the power of the mind. I came across neuroplasticity the belief you can change qualities in mind, planting positive affirmations.

 

Suicide – steep rise 1

Meaning and purpose in life not a subjective quality but a toll on our health and other aspects of our well-being.

So  there are intimate connections between our psychological well-being and our systemic health Each of these challenges affects the brain

How do you develop attention?

Resin for no attention

 

4 pillars to develop healthy Minds:

Ways to keep our attention and resist distraction. Psychologists and neuroscientist call meta-awareness. Meta awareness is knowing what our mind is doing.

I am having meta-awareness today on coming back to the thought of

 

Connectivity

Interpersonal relationships

Activate tent qualities.

Kindness, compassion etc.

 

Insights

The narrative we have about ourselves, of yourself, it is not about necessarily changing how e narrative but becoming aware of it. What do I think of myself? Awareness. Even in yoga we watch our body like a witness. This heals.,

 

Purpose

Having a sense our lives are moving in a direction. Doing housework as laundry or cleaning helps.

Neuroscience 2 kinds of learning:- 1.  ValUe learning like just hearing about like eating a Satsang about kindness does not mean you will go home and be kind to others, so the second kind of learning 2. Behavioural learning to produce real transformation, our brain is not plastic so we can harness the neuroplasticity to change our brain. E.g. Compassion training

 

Mechanisms to change the brain

Start your day with gratitude, positive thinking

Have a bath, make your bed.

WIle brushing teeth

Having tea

Walking

 

 

Practice

Loving-kindness. You could start with this:

Bring a loved one in your mind. Be kind.   May you be happy

#happiness #joy #lifestyle #mindfulness #mental #health #awareness #dress #anuaggarwal #neuroscience #psychology #yoga

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The new normal: How life has changed due to COVID-19?

THE NEW NORMAL: HOW LIFE HAS CHANGED DUE TO COVID-19

Tips for coping with mental health during coronavirus covid-19 anxiety worry, unpredictability.

Change is difficult to adjust to and especially when it rips apart all our lifestyles, belief systems and any kind of certainty we could have had about the way we live and the place we live in.

Over the past few months, we’ve experienced an unprecedented shift in our way of life due to COVID-19. Pre-pandemic, where a trip to do a weekly grocery shop, seems like an adventure of its own! Before we know it, we’ve (reluctantly) let go of our old normal and now settling into what seems to be our new normal. And who knows if this has come to stay.

With the fundamental shifts in our life here are some tips of how to adjust to the anew Normal.

 

THE WAY WE LIVE IS DIFFERENT

Masks and gloves may be commonplace, depending on where in the world you live.

Queuing is now the norm, be it when visiting health professionals, going to the shops, or even getting in a lift.

Public transport looks very different, with social distancing in place and commuters wearing masks and gloves.

We do a double-take when we hear someone cough, sneeze, or sniffle. We’ve been conditioned these past few months to be hypervigilant for these symptoms, but hopefully, this might also mean that higher standards of hand and personal hygiene will continue.

We’ll start to holiday more in our own backyards due to travel restrictions, which can only be a good thing for local economies as they cope with the decline in overseas and interstate tourist numbers. Wanderlust for overseas exotic locations will also be on the rise, and Instagram will no doubt fuel those desires.

The small things that make up our community have changed. No more sausage sizzles at Bunnings, no community sports, no lingering over brunch with friends at the local cafe, and salons have closed due to the pandemic. We’re hoping our local small businesses – our hairdressers, barbers, cafes, restaurants, health professionals, newsagents, boutiques – make it through the other end (so be sure to support your local small business!)

The larger sporting landscape has also changed. Sporting leagues have paused but are cautiously eyeing a return, and national and international meets are near impossible given travel restrictions. Sport has also been hit particularly hard by a coronavirus in the year of the Summer Olympic Games, which have now been postponed to 2021.

 

THE WAY WE WORK OR STUDY HAS CHANGED

Education as we know it has changed. Schools and universities have moved online, some blending face-to-face with online lectures. Universities around the world are feeling the impact of the absence of International Students. Conferences will be paused, and international collaborations and sabbaticals now look very different from previous years.

 

Work has also changed due to social distancing. So many of us shifted to working from home to minimise travelling on public transport and gathering in groups at the office. Zoom meetings even became our New Normal. With restrictions easing, we may cautiously rotate back into working at the office in shifts or embrace working from home on a more regular basis.

 

THE WAY WE SOCIALISE AND CONNECT LOOKS VERY DIFFERENTLY

 

Social distancing, social distancing, social distancing. No more packing in large crowds when we all have to have a personal bubble of over a metre. We have said goodbye (for now) to attending concerts, plays, movies, festivals, museums, etc., but hopefully, they are able to return soon.

Not seeing loved ones…for their benefit. Elderly parents and grandparents, pregnant friends or new parents, or those with health conditions that render them more vulnerable to coronavirus – we’re staying away to keep them safe. In a time when it’s more important than ever to stay connected, this can be particularly challenging for all.

No visits from loved ones from interstate or overseas. With travel restrictions in place and unlikely to lift for the foreseeable future (particularly international travel), families and loved ones are being kept apart and having to make do with online catch-ups.

Social greetings have morphed. Gone are the days of greeting friends and extended relatives with handshakes, hugs, and cheek-kisses. Friendly gestures like these are now being curbed, to be replaced by elbow bumps and foot-shakes, or waves from a (social) distance.

The way we ‘dine out’ has changed. Many restaurants and cafes may only be serving takeaways at the moment, but even when they reopen for us to dine-in there will likely be restrictions around how many are able to dine-in, social distancing will be in place, and shared plates may disappear for quite some time.

So how can we ease into this new way of living? Read on for tips to help you adjust to the New Normal.

  1. ALLOW YOURSELF TO GRIEVE THE “OLD” NORMAL

It is very human to miss the old ways, and as with any change (at the best of times!), it’s easy to feel a sense of loss.

Throw in a pandemic, along with changes to routines and plans for the weeks and months ahead in 2020, and it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the challenges and difficulties that we face in light of COVID-19. 

Yes, there will be denial, anger, maybe even depression and acceptance, as we pivot and adjust to our new normal (whatever form it may take). But it’s important to give yourself time to grieve what you have lost.

Once you’ve allowed yourself to grieve, there will be more space to start embracing your New Normal.

  1. CREATE A NEW ROUTINE

Having a routine can help create some sense of normalcy during a time of chaos, so get creative so that you can continue on in some way:

No longer able to go to the gym? Go online with home-based programs that can be done with little or no equipment.

Missing your ritual of a morning coffee to kick off a workday? Make your own at home (latte art optional), and be sure to enjoy it mindfully before checking your emails.

Unable to have regular brunch catch-ups at your local with friends? Order takeaway and connect via Zoom.

Above all, be flexible when it comes to finding your new routine…let’s remember that these are challenging times!

  1. JOURNAL YOUR EXPERIENCE

Writing about your experience – be it your thoughts, feelings, what you’ve done, anything! – can be quite therapeutic and a great chronicle to look back on long after COVID-19 has passed.

Whilst a default during these times may be to focus on the coronavirus chaos, don’t forget to record things that make you feel better by taking a gratitude approach (see the prompts in Point 1 in this article). 

  1. CREATE A SPACE INSIDE YOUR SPACE

With much of your life now happening between four walls, having a designated space at home to work or study (or to journal!) can help maintain boundaries between work and play.

Take it one step further and dress to get into the right frame of mind…it can be challenging to whip up the motivation to meet a deadline when you’re in your pyjamas the entire day. 

  1. STAY CONNECTED IN NEW WAYS

Social distancing does not mean social disconnecting (even if it feels easier to hibernate until this is all over). In the new normal you can still connect with family and friends – just in different ways!

It does take a bit of creativity though when we can’t do a lot of the things that we previously did, so if you’re looking for ways to make social connections happen in your New Normal we’ve got a great article here on how to stay connected in time of pandemic both online and offline.

  1. CREATE AND FIND POCKETS OF JOY

The New Normal can be challenging at times, so celebrate anything that puts a smile on your face, large or small. Made a nice cup of tea this morning? Great! Walked your dog today? Awesome! Saw a funny meme on social media? Go ahead and chuckle!

We don’t always need “major” events to happen to make us feel happy (for example, winning the lottery). Smaller moments of joy all add up! If you’re finding you’re focusing on negatives, why not look at how Positive Psychology can help you find the feel-good factor during these challenging times?

  1. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

You are allowed to take things one moment at a time! We may not know what the next minute, or even the next hour, will bring.

Set yourself a realistic goal and allow yourself to adjust it when you need to. Remind yourself that we’re currently living in extraordinary times, so give yourself some grace during moments like these:

With everyone at home now it may be more difficult to keep the house tidy, so adjusting expectations about housekeeping may be more helpful rather than stressing out about having to clean every minute.

Between working from home, homeschooling the kids, and doing continuous food preparation throughout the day, there may be days when you have no energy left to cook dinner. So consider ordering takeaway (and support your local café or restaurant!) or reheating some frozen food. Now is the time to be human and to ask for help.

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Navaratri- the 9 Nights – How do they help us?

If you are born, educated in an Indo-west culture then your religion and your health are two different subjects.

You perhaps believe Indian festivities to be a part of a Hindu familial-social milieu, a background we grew up in.

You participate in observing it as a habitual routine. Hardly with a personal significance, connect and definitely not a cosmic one that can shift your life to a glorious one.

In this non-knowledge the loss is ours.

The powerful, universal nature of Navaratri, is way more than where men don’t shave, women fast, a period of austerity rather than that of a celebration.

An amazing time when the ozone formerly, powerful, auspicious cosmic rays penetrate the density of earth to reach us.

For free.

The only catch is we connected to get them.

To enable these 9 nights to prepare us to handle the hardships of the rest of the year, with grace.

This special time showers on us  excellent harmony at the planetary level, a blessing for us to proliferate abundance in our work, relationships and grant us solutions to such that would eventually increase chances of our  #innerpeace

Ready?

   #Meditation  #happiness  #healing  #peaceofmind #yoga #anufunyoga #anuaggarwalfoundation

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