As a former academic researcher, I spent years reading dense research articles and attending conferences where scholars spoke about their work exposing inequalities in society – class, caste, religion, disability, race, sexual orientation, age and others. Their work showcased how it affected the way we viewed ourselves and others and predetermined futures.

My question always was – okay, so how do we triumph such social states? How can the individual be empowered to resist these structures?

I initially explored this question through activism and community work. For years, I participated in various protest movements in United States and India. And followed it closely by ensuring my professional work was directly related to decreasing divides in the society.

I discovered that although the protest movements were well-intentioned and had passionate members, it was based on the assumption that if social structures are removed then everyone will be free. It failed to account for the individual who consumes and continues those structures in their mind.

Nor did it have processes to eliminate those structures in the mind.

Again and again, I recalled Audre Lorde’s words, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

When we learn a new skill or express ourselves, are we expressing our voice or did we merely replicate and strengthen Master’s house?

The first shift happened when I attended a writing workshop by Cherríe Moraga, the co-author of the groundbreaking book for women of colour, This Bridge Called My Back. In the workshop, she spoke about how what is considered as “good writing” was based on colonial dominant power structures and how the writing processes are ways by which we are encultured to think in the ways of the Master.

What she did instead, was to get us participants to examine our inner sense of where our thoughts were moving, to spiral into our core message using non-linear forms of writing explorations. This method disrupted the rules around how to write and made us, instead, to trust ourselves.

I studied Gloria Anzaldua’s many works, on how she disrupted thought through her writing. That daredevil way in which she would bring in a complete para or two in Spanish, and without offering a translation, switch to English and then back again to Spanish. Of how she would disrupt sense of time by slipping to centuries back in one section and then move to few decades back, and then to future. Or how she would move geographies around. And how she would switch from mythology to history to local current politics to human mind.

Reading her meant one was going to uncomfortable all the way. Reading her meant being able to be okay with uncertainty, of not being able to predict what she would talk about next. And through that her works eluded easy categorisation and easy lineages.

Over the years, I interrogated what creativity was. The second shift happened when I studied Neuro Linguistic Programming which introduced me to neuroscience – the wonders of the human brain and body.

In the process of resisting structures, most scholars have neglected the fundamental seat where structures are perceived, set up and preserved – the human brain. Understanding brain shows us how we receive inputs, the filters we use to process information, and the method by which we connect experiences to form unresourceful stories.

Therein lies the importance of enabling creativity. Creativity is simply this – Deviate.

Disrupt preset default ways of seeing and knowing. Disrupt it at the level of sensory input and coding. Disrupt the process in which experiences are linked together. Disrupt it before memory is triggered. Chance focus. Reframe. Unstory.

Or in other words, unmake society, one neuron connection at a time.

NLP had tools to disrupt thinking which because of the way we have compartmentalised and labelled knowledge, had not been integrated into humanities. [A wonderful exception in this regard has been the book by Dr Richard Bolstad, The NLP Activist].

If you see /hear/feel differently, if you think differently, the structures cease to have power over the individual.

[Are there not social realities that impact our functioning? Yes, they do. But at least our mind is free and resourceful to navigate it creatively. At least in our minds, we have created more options. Is this not what being empowered means?]

Lightweaver workshops (whether writing, oral communication or any other form of creative communication) are based on this fundamental objective – to help eliminate structures in our mind – whether social/cultural or familial and provide an opportunity to participant to explore their voice.

Instead of reading great authors or learning how-to-write, participants first explore their beliefs and issues around writing. After engaging with these patterns, they delve into recovering their voice – their personal way of processing and storing information, and ways of expression that is aligned to who they are.

Then they begin advanced explorations of unconscious knowledge and how to tap it in non-linear ways to make new connections.

Which is why I refer to my workshops as healing workshops – they enable the process of healing – personally and socially.

Is a two-day or three-day workshop enough to heal? No. It is the start of a journey. It is the start of an important journey to be free and be.

#weaveyourlights with me. Let us unmake society together.