Capt. Sumisha Shankar shares with us her story of how she overcame a debilitating back injury and depression to waltz back to wellness and help others to do it too and it is just so awe-inspiring
Born to Excel
I was born in a simple middle class family to extraordinarily talented parents who had themselves taken the less traveled path in life. My father is a scientist and my mother is a renowned folk singer and the founder of Surangama Kala Kendra.
They bequeathed my siblings and me a highly disciplined life of both academics and performing arts in a state like Bihar. Our ethics and freedom came encoded with the right ethos of life.
As a child artiste in my mother’s troupe (more than 1200 shows till date), I traveled far and wide, soaking in the aesthetics of art & cultural traditions. I excelled in both dance and academics: Graduation with Honors from Miranda House; Indian classical Kathak from the National Institute – gold medalist and scholarship holder.
Unknowingly, I set myself such high standards of achievements that I began suffering from performance pressure.
The Army Experience
Life took a different turn when I became one of the 50 women from all India who were chosen to serve in the Indian Army. It was a brilliant move by Life. It was a challenge I took head-on, in my default over-achieving mode. And the result was a back injury during training. I was out on my back, literally. Even after regular treatments and medications, my back did not regain its full fitness.
I was in the army for 5 years but soon the adventurous and challenging nature of being in uniform could not satisfy a growing internal need to express and fulfill myself creatively.
It was a tough decision to leave the Indian Army but I finally chose what my soul was craving for. I landed in Mumbai.
I was an onstage person – I pursued my dream run with a reality show, dancing, theater.
Plunged into Depression
But life was not all hunky dory. Societal pressures were mounting – I was nearing 30 and my parents were getting nervous about my non-marital status. Fending off unwanted propositions, suffering heartbreak, practicing dance and acting which meant I was on my feet for almost 8 hours a day – was taking its toll. My siblings had also left to pursue higher education, leaving me alone.
I had never seen such a string of failures in my life. LONELY. That is what I felt, and one day my back too gave up.
I collapsed and couldn’t breathe. Doctors said it was a panic attack. I had gone into depression.
During this time I cooked and danced a lot. I was in a sort of house arrest; I’d stopped going out or meeting friends. Cooking was my act of self-validation. Dance helped me to reflect and shake out my fear.
I suffered it for a year before I had a breakthrough with myself: after 15 years of searching for a solution for my injured back, Iyengar yoga revived it. My dance had found yoga. My soul found its soulmate.
I started Antardhwani to inspire people to simplify their life to the basics and find their authentic self to rediscover and refuel their vitality because real empowerment begins from real self.
As a Wellness Coach and artistic director of Antardhwani, I create and implement multidimensional training programs for self and team development through a mix and match of science, military ethics, dance, music, theater and painting.
I bring my dad’s scientific temper and my mother’s artistry to this endeavor. The audience has responded with a BIG YES!!
I live an organic life in an urban space. I reflect and communicate in my relationship too. Being with Mumma Nature is the practice I love the most.
Deeper truths felt and shared
My journey has been and continues to be about looking beyond the sharpness of the intelligence to find the center where the head and the heart meet. Stumbling blocks are part and parcel of the pursuit of the authentic self. Being aware of these can make the journey easier:
- Avoid getting trapped in your own bloated ego.
- Being a creative human/artistic is the only way one can feel the divinity of life.
- Pursue originality and develop it beyond stereotypes.
- The world of yoga is not just about asanas. It’s about a mindset which wants to be in harmony with the forces of nature.
- Emotions make us human and we need to know how to express ourselves from a space of authenticity and self-power.
We are proud to have Capt. Sumisha Shankar on board as a Thriive-verified Holistic Wellness Coach & an International Dance Meditation Healer. You can connect with her here:https://tinyurl.com/y2yo8huf