Those who grew up in India in the 80’s & 90’s are aware of the ‘sport’ involving discarded bicycle tires powered by kids running after them, walloping the tires with short sticks. I’m talking about the game of “Tire & stick”. Sounds like a simple enough premise, until you try it. Little nuances come into play. It’s one thing to rumble down the street in a straight line, that’s the easy bit. It gets really interesting when you’re trying to maneuver around potholes, dogs, the occasional scooter, and of course, twists & turns around the block. My little brother patiently taught me to guide this human powered mono-wheel with nothing more than a gentle nudge by a steady hand. And I took away one of life’s profound lessons – it’s not always about raw power pushing things forward, it’s more about a gentle push here, a subtle nudge there, a little guidance in the right direction to keep things balanced & focused. It can lead to new roads and help make the right turns and is often life changing.
This little memory from a childhood far behind in my rear-view mirror came flooding back to me when I was asked to be a coach for the Stanford Mana Maali project. I knew I had to be the rudder, able to nudge ever so slightly, to help students find their balance. I work as a counsellor at the Hyderabad Academy of Psychology and at Nalsar National Law University at Hyderabad, working with students who have come from different walks of life. I imagined that being a coach would be somehow different but in practice, I realised that it was a natural extension of what I was doing already. I had to build rapport, form trusting relationships and create an environment safe enough for students to share as much as they felt comfortable. As a counsellor I encourage my students, and so, I did as a coach as well; encourage them to empower themselves with the resources available, allowing them to better handle their day-to-day struggles. The Lantern platform provided the students with the necessary psycho education, tools and strategies required to manage their anxiety (this project helps students with Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and a Coach to guide them through this journey of forming new behaviours, to take on anxiety instead of letting anxiety rule their lives and leaving them inept of enjoying life to the fullest. Today, this very moment as I write, one of my students diligently completed the first phase of this project, 40 sessions in all. (A proud coach!) This is what she had to say, “When I signed up for this program I was very disturbed. But today I feel much more confident than I’ve ever felt before! Now I don’t feel fear in facing new situations. I feel I can face anything! Thanks to some of the techniques which have really helped me approach issues with calm.”
The Lantern platform enabled me as a coach to connect with students who otherwise would not have sought help, or, who would have thought that they were alone in the situation that they are in and there was no way out of it. Anxiety can sometimes manifest itself in different forms and while students may seek help for more obvious mental health issues, anxiety is something that they usually ignore so ‘Lantern’ shines its light on this situation and enables students to understand what they are going through and empowers them to manage their anxiety on their own. Put the tire back in balance so that it can roll down powered by its fullest potential. Steady, and in perfect balance. I am thrilled that I took on this role and served as a coach. I am happy that today this student feels much more confident than she was and knows more about how to tackle her anxiety. I am thrilled that I had a part to play in helping her through this journey. I am thrilled that I could give her that gentle nudge when required.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I awoke and saw that life was service
I acted and behold, service was joy”
Many thanks, Dr. Diana Monteiro (for introducing me to this project), Nitya Kanuri, Dr. Barr, Dr. Michelle, Sarah Forsberg, Jeffrey Cohen and my fellow coaches. Let’s keep ‘em rolling J
– Coach Lorraine