Stardust and Stories: A Paradigm Shift Into Motherhood

A series of conversations with Miss World 1999, Yukta Mookhey
Stardust and Stories: A Paradigm Shift Into Motherhood
Ms Mookhey with her sonTimes of India

The journey of motherhood brings about a paradigm shift in one’s life; there is the initial excitement, marvel at the thought of bringing another life into the world, and a flurry of doubts that are never far from mind. Exhilarating, exhausting, enriching, motherhood is many things. Ms Mookhey, whose journey into motherhood brought about a major transformation in her lifestyle and thoughts, shares with us some very pivotal moments of her life.

MS MOOKHEY:

When I found out I was to become a mother, I was hit with a barrage of questions which previously hadn’t come up in my mind. What is happiness? What is the right way to educate a child? How does one take care of their child’s health? What exactly is parenting? Will I be following similar parenting methods which I grew up under or will I do things differently? The last thought is something very common with each passing generation, and it should remain that way too.

My first step into the journey explored how education can make a difference to a child’s overall development, which required understanding basic child psychology as well. With this in mind, I want to the United States for two years where I completed a course in teacher training, under the philosophy of Waldorf Education. Although this philosophy stems from the West, it is very similar to the Indian Gurukul system, I realized. Both systems focus greatly on the spirit and spiritual development of a child, about reincarnation and its impact on a child, and development from the womb into the first year, along with the kinds of nurturing environments that would contribute to the child’s well-being.

Upon completing the course I could understand the various issues faced by children that may first seem insignificant to adults. Especially regarding learning difficulties like dyslexia or autism – although autism can occur due to other reasons as well. Again, I cannot emphasize enough on the connection between the remedial techniques I was learning and ones that were taught thousands of years ago, it really shaped my perspectives. I will give a simple example to elaborate on my thought.

In early childhood, it is vital for the left and right hemispheres of the brain to cross-talk. Since this is a pre-literacy skill, children won’t be able to read or write properly if the cross-talk doesn’t happen. For example, the muscles of our hands, responsible for motor skills, send a message to the brain through a neural pathway, the pathways become ‘stronger’ in a sense every time the skill is put to practice. As a result, activities like knitting are encouraged for children to develop motor skills. This is something our grandmothers would do while telling us stories and maybe singing a song or two! We were taught to engage in such activities from a young age and helped us develop as we grew.

Knowledge like this interested me and I wanted to return to India and share my experiences with not only more parents but also teachers who were willing to allow a child to grow in a natural and organic way, obtain an education without pressure on academics and studying too early. I believe that when each child is ready, their mind and body will be able to quickly adapt to their different surroundings.

My connection to my Indian roots was strengthened when I returned home, along with my new passion for nutrition. I realized that children also face difficulties with allergies, temptations to gorge on junk food, lack of dietary discipline, etc. And these habits are hard to change, even with the efforts of many parents. These aspects not only affect a child’s physical health but also their mental and emotional well-being, which needs to be optimum throughout their growing days. Luckily, I found a wonderful acharya (traditional food expert) in Mumbai and studied Ayurveda under him. Till date, I practice Ayurveda at home in terms of what we eat, drink, our lifestyle, everything.

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