Embodied Presence with Kirat Randhawa
Kirat Randhawa knows how to be present. Using her backgrounds in yoga, meditation and traditional psychotherapy, she founded A Kind Rupture: a space to guide clients through the practice of contemplative therapeutic work. This convergence of both eastern and western tradition offers a developmental and spiritually expansive experience, helping one feel independent and connected to the world around them; a presence that not only catalyzes a more joyful life, but better ZZZs.
You have merged your studies of contemplative practices with traditional psychology to inspire individual development and growth. Can you explain what contemplative therapeutic work is and how you have used it to find inner alignment?
Contemplative therapeutic work is the collaboration of introspective, contemplative-focused practices with traditional values of western psychotherapy to facilitate a flourishing in everyday life. This framework offers the client a unique perspective on their experience from both the developmental view of psychotherapy and the expansive view of Buddhism. I’ve found the use of both approaches to be immensely helpful in becoming more authentically independent and more connected to those I love and the world around me.
In addition to creating change at the individual level, you have used your studies to explore change at the societal level. What do you find is most often the root cause of prohibited human flourishing in underserved communities? How do you use your knowledge to try and alleviate these roadblocks?
This is a tricky question because I don’t think that the root can be deduced to a single cause. From a Buddhist perspective, I would say that ignorance, or as more commonly understood in Buddhist literature, confusion, is the state in which this suffering stems from. It resembles the basic misperception that we are separate from other people and from the environments in which we reside. This leads to structures which have been institutionalized to reinforce this misunderstanding of ‘otherness’ and that results in certain communities being oppressed. Over time, these same communities have been systematically denied access to equal human rights and access to resources that those in the advantageous groups have.
My previous work has been to provide access to mental and emotional health support for those who may not have otherwise had access. My role predominately is to offer a container for communities to befriend themselves and develop a more compassionate approach to their inner experience. Going back to school to become a therapist was motivated by my work in these communities in order to gain a much more knowledgeable, trauma-informed perspective and toolkit.
Beyond the work you are doing around the city, you are a meditation instructor. Do you partake in a specific yoga or meditation routine before bed?
Before bed, I practice yoga nidra to support my body in cultivating a safe and restful state. It supports me in attaining deep sleep and finding comfort in my own body.
Oftentimes anxiety prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep. In your experience, what are some mindful ways we can try and alleviate this stress?
Compassionate presence. The more we try to control or push the anxiety away, the stronger the experience becomes. Developing compassionate awareness of what we’re fearful of is a helpful way to integrate that experience by allowing it to feel seen and truly understood. Journaling can be a useful tool in processing fear, although sometimes thinking about the ‘fear’ can actually make it worse, so that’s where stepping into our bodies is important. Identifying where it manifests in the body is a supportive way to approach the anxiety in a digestible and less overwhelming way. Sometimes going for a walk, moving your body, or making a comforting meal can foster this sense of embodied presence. Activating the rest and digest system by taking a warm bath or getting a massage (even self-massage) is nourishing, too. It signals to the body that we are safe and free to rest.
What role do you feel sleep plays in our ability to live a joyful life?
Presence! With sleep comes energy (from rest) and with energy comes presence. It provides us with the ability to think creatively, show up fully, and immerse ourselves into the flow of the day. A joyful life, to me, is one where we’re able to digest the actual experience of being alive, and that requires the development of a receptive, embodied presence.
RAPID FIRE ROUND:
Do you have a bedtime ritual?
I take a hot shower and dry brush beforehand and exfoliate my body with Pursoma coffee scrub. I apply my skincare routine with Tata Harper and Osea products, and same for my body (Osea). I may work with some face tool like a rose quartz roller or gua sha while I listen to a lecture or read in bed. Ending my night with literature is a must.
What do you wear to bed?
Either a silk pajama set (white is my favourite) or comfy shorts and a light crop that makes me feel pretty and comfortable.
What is on your bedside table?
Incense (from all over, thanks to my loved ones!) and books (currently The Magdalene Manuscript and First Thought: Conversations with Allen Ginsberg).
Do you have any recurring dreams?
No, but I used to when I was younger! Of going on an adventure in my childhood home and always being confronted with something challenging. Very interesting.
Are you reading or watching anything good at the moment?
I’m reading the above books on my bedside and also Suicide by Emile Durkehim to learn more about his social theory on mental illness. I’m also watching The Crown, season 3. I love the elegance of the show.
Which scent makes you think of bedtime?
The blend of oatstraw, rose, and vervain; a tea blend I like to drink in the evenings.
What are some nighttime items you cannot live without?
My eye mask, my silk pillows, and journal.
What is your guilty pleasure?!
Almond butter, mezcal, and spending all day in bed drinking tea.
How do you engage in self-care?
Self care for me is the choice to respect myself in all that I do, therefore I try to ensure it’s an extension of all I do: what I put into my body, what media I consume, who I spend my time with, etc.
What do you consider the single most important thing for a good night’s sleep?
Safety. We must feel safe in order to fully unwind and cultivate restoration. If we’re feeling fearful or threatened (even emotionally/psychologically), it can be very difficult to fall asleep.
Did you have a bedtime routine growing up?
Bath time with my sisters, reading, and praying with my dad.
What was your favourite childhood bedtime story?
Many religious stories from the Sikh tradition.
What is your skincare and beauty routine like? Do you have any holy grail products?
Products I loooooove: RMS concealer, Tata Harper Illuminating Eye Cream, Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil, Osea Hyaluronic Sea Serum.
Morning: Osea Hyaluronic Sea Serum, Hyper Clear Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum, Ulta MD Sunscreen with Sahajan Radiance Face serum, Tata Harper Illuminating Eye Cream.
Evening: Wash my face with water, Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum with Osea Malibu Vitamin Sea Serum, Tata Harper Illuminating Eye Cream .
How would you choose to spend one hour of free time?
Drinking a cup of tea with my partner overlooking the mountains or a body of water, or laying with my partner in bed listening to music.
If you could choose a song to wake up to every morning, what would it be?
Homesickness Part 2 by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou.