Priya Rao recently left a decade long corporate career to try her hands at things that she loves and finds meaningful. It was around this time that she came in touch with the children at Snehadhara. 
Since then she has been working with our senior students doing what they all love – cooking. In this heartfelt piece Priya describes her journey with the children over the last few months and how she has started to look at life differently.

Where the mind is without fear

During one of our Sunday evening visits to her place, over a cup of steaming tea, when Lakshmi casually mentioned ‘Snehadhara Foundation’, little did I realize that six months later I would be sitting here writing about my own journey at Snehadhara. Our ten minute conversation that day had me leaving her place expressing my interest in ‘being a part’ of the place. Soon I met the team and the children. A memorable, short but honest conversation marked the beginning of my journey here.My inherent interest in cooking and my own experiments in the kitchen could not have had a better opportunity ( or found a better meaning?) than ‘Oota Thota’ – the center’s flagship program in cultivating and encouraging ‘cooking’ for independent living amongst the children. Six months into the program and we have together enjoyed our various chopping, grating, peeling, boiling, kneading and mixing sessions in the kitchen. From writing a recipe, measuring out ingredients to making last minute impromptu changes in the recipe while in the kitchen has been truly fun as well as most enriching. Through our kitchen experiments together, I have learnt to unlearn, let go of rigidities and most importantly, overcome the fear of outcome – and to experiment.  All this has been most reflective in my journey of my own life. 

Priya (right) works with a child in a session on dyeing
Each child has and continues to contribute towards teaching aspects of living life in ways that one typically either overlooks or assumes the presence of it already.
I knew ‘Origami’ was about folding paper into ‘shapes’ of what we see as animals/birds and the flowers – however, I did not know that the art of folding paper in itself was beautiful! I knew weaving as coordinating colors and patterned weaves, but I did not realize that randomly matched colors and patterns woven spontaneously could result in a tapestry so colorful and lively. I know tie-dye is used to create patterns on fabric but did not understand that tying a piece of fabric in itself can create wonderful patterns! I have understood spontaneity, understood random and understood involvement – and what they actually mean and their outcomes – thanks to the children.
To let go of attachment and thereby the fear of losing, has been an important lesson that the children teach me. I see an Ahan, Naman and Nihal most involved in baking a loaf of bread – in recalling the recipe, writing the recipe, reading it aloud, gathering the ingredients, measuring them out, then kneading, mixing, chopping, grating and finally till it goes into the oven. But once out of the oven, they are not there anywhere around! They would have gone back to their routine and their space – with no complexities of unnecessary ownership.
Detachment is divine indeed. It is then no wonder that the mind is indeed without fear. And a mind without fear is a mind that truly lives LIFE.


Source: SnehadharaBlog