Shivangi Ashok Bhatt
I was born and raised in Illinois, the daughter of a Hindu priest and a Balavihar teacher. Raised in an orthodox Hindu Brahmin household, I received a deep education on Hindu mythology, Vedantic philosophy, Indian classical dance and music, Gujarati, Hindi and Sanskrit. I also quickly learned to be a “good girl” - to stay quiet and modest, get good grades, excel at music and dance, and be pleasant and smiling as much as possible. In my understanding, this is what I needed to do to be loved.
In my late teens and early twenties, I embraced the religion of my upbringing and the beautiful community I grew up in. Connecting with the God of my upbringing offered relief from a sometimes painful family life and my own mental illness which was never far from the surface. I also turned increasingly to excess food and alcohol as a way to soothe myself, especially as I started to come to the painful realization that I wasn’t actually the “good girl” I thought I should be - but that I had opinions and a big personality and maybe even darkness within me.
As my twenties unfolded, life came crashing down. I suffered disappointment and tragedy, as we all do. Major depression, anxiety and addiction took over my life. I turned away from religion and God, thinking that if God existed, he would never allow me to suffer the kind of pain I was going through. If I was really a child of God, why wouldn’t he protect me? Around this time, my facade of “good girl” also came crumbling down. I was in too much pain to fake it anymore, and I increasingly withdrew from community and suffered in isolation.
Thankfully, with my thirties came recovery. I sought treatment for depression and anxiety, which brought me back to level ground, and started down the road of recovery from addiction through the 12 steps. Along that road, I was blessed to discover a new relationship with my Higher Power.
It turned out that God had never forsaken me; but rather, until that point, I had never understood God. I had never before opened my mind and heart and allowed God to be everything I needed. I had also never understood before that God loved me exactly as I was. That God wasn’t some unapproachable man in the sky that I had to be “good” in order to impress. I learned that God was my mother and my father, my friend and my beloved, my constant support and guide. And that I was loved and imperfectly perfect, just as I was.
I was blessed around this time to learn embodiment meditation, which connected me with my body, opened my heart, and helped me understand the sacred nature of my sensuality and sexuality. And through embodiment meditation, I came home to Hinduism in a totally different and authentic way, relating fully as my adult self and finding bliss in God’s warm embrace.
Today, as a result of the path I continue to walk, I feel whole and happy and thriving in every way. I want to share the blessings of my journey in an effort to help members of my community live their very best lives.
There is so much love in the world. Let me help you see and experience it.
Press & Mentions
Coming soon :-)