Shivali Bhammer is a recording artist of The Bhajan Project and Urban Temple, she is a public speaker and Kathak dancer. This year, in the first week of February she performed in the theatre production ‘Many Faces of Love’ , produced by DesiYUP, at De Doelen Rotterdam. This was Shivali’s last performance pre-lockdown, and in her isolation she released soulful music video’s.
“As an artist it means the show has stopped literally. Every performer finds their home on the stage and their delight in the reflection of their audience. None of this has happened since March. Projects that I had invested time and effort in over 2019 which were to come into fruition this year, have been indefinitely stalled”.
The Bhajan vocalist did perform on Zoom or showcased her arts through social media, which gave her some satisfaction, but it is hardly a replacement for what has been lost she says. “Most of all, artists are expected to do this for free, and so that has taken income away. I have re directed my efforts, I have focused again on longer term projects and have created discipline in my everyday life to practice the arts and I firmly believe that dedication won’t go wasted”.
Flow with the universe
Isolation takes a heavy toll on mental health, especially if you are living alone.
“It was incredibly lonely at times, I lived alone without parents around nor any siblings, and the isolation was palpable. But I found a resilience within myself and structured my day to give me little spoonfuls of joy. I have never worked so hard on my mental health, it was a great time to battle insecurities and weaknesses. I learnt to be actively grateful about the simple pleasures, I realized how little I really need in life and what I truly value.
I understand the limitations of relationships both with family and friends, and that you truly have to rely upon your own self and you can! But I also received kindness, love, and time, and came to understand how much I am loved by those who truly and wholeheartedly care for me. I felt my circle become much smaller, but there was a real groundedness in the way everyone communicated with one another. No matter what background, race, religion, wealth bracket we came from, this pandemic was something that we all lived through and are continuing to live through together. I learnt that life is unpredictable and we have very little control and power. We have to flow with the universe and that is incredibly difficult. We are here for a short amount of time and we are but a tiny speck in this universe, we need not get so caught up”.
Vakratunda & Jana Gana Mana
To give kindness back to the world Shivali released a Shlokas video, during the lockdown. This soulful rendition will brighten your day, inspire and empower you in these tough times. “I put out two music videos that were shot during Covid, one shlokas video to really help mental anxiety and take us back to our soulful core.” During her isolation Shivali also released a soulful rendition of India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’.
To connect with her followers Shivali started to share stories about her spirituality. “I started sharing my spiritual and mindfulness journey with others, like 30 days Meditation and Removing expectations, with my followers. I found it really helped them and me. It helped me because by ‘teaching’ I reinforced habits within myself and learned to hold myself accountable. It also allowed my followers to open up about their wounds and hardships“. Shivali believes that if artists are accessible and give back in a meaningful way to those who support them, it can do a world of good.
Overthinking is a killer
When asked what she would leave behind in 2020, Shivali’s answer was crystal clear, “I would leave behind my thoughts, overthinking is a killer, and we do more of it because we live with far less stimulation on a daily basis. If I can learn to leave my thoughts behind that would be great. I would love to leave behind expectations, none of my expectations were met in 2020, it would be a more peaceful life to have less of them”.
Books, Music, Meditation & Dance
“I am grateful to the arts, I am grateful that I can read a book and learn something new or get swept away in a story. I am grateful I can tie ghungrus around my ankles and meditate on taal. I am grateful I can sit with a tanpura and sing without any company. I am grateful that I can create. I am grateful because the arts gave me freedom to survive alone, I owe Goddess Saraswati my life”.