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Mallika Sarabhai’s lifelong search for holistic well-being has exposed her to myriad alternative healing practices such as chromotherapy, mud therapy, transcendental meditation, panchakarma, and oil pulling, all of which have helped her heal over the years. In her new book, she writes about them all and more.
The daughter of celebrated space scientist Vikram Sarabhai and dance exponent Mrinalini Sarabhai, Mallika Sarabhai is out with her first book In Free Fall.
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Part memoir and part a treatise on alternate healing, it is a detailed account of her lifelong quest of trying to maintain equilibrium between her mind, body, and spirit. Her relentless search for holistic well-being exposed her to myriad practices such as chromotherapy, mud therapy, transcendental meditation, panchakarma, and oil pulling, all of which, she writes, have helped her heal over the years.
Since it’s her first book, one would expect her to write about her illustrious personal and professional life, but she says she had never intended In Free Fall to be that. Here, the 69-year-old dancer-actor discusses why she chose to dedicate it to wellness and how her life found space in it.
Q. Why the title In Free Fall?
A. One can plan everything in life meticulously but the outcome is really a toss in the air. For me, life is a free fall. Read the book and you will understand.
Q. What motivated you to write this book?
A. For many years I have been asked questions like how do you stay fit? How do you have so much energy? How do you look unchanged after so many years? When the lockdown began and all things stopped, I thought why not put it all down? It started as a book about wellness but all my ailments are related to life events so all of that came in as well.
Q. Since you’ve had such a prolific life, you could have written about a lot of other things—dance, your acting career, your stint in politics, activism, and your travels. What prompted you to focus on alternate healing instead?
A. We are an unwell world. We are a race being poisoned by the Allopathic medicines that are being given liberally. There is a desperate need for alternatives that treat us like one whole being and not as a knee or a kidney. I personally do not know another person who has so consciously tried and evaluated so many different therapies and documented the results. I felt this might help people take control of their own bodies and minds.
Q. You write in great detail about spending the first 30 years of your life consumed with the desire to be thin. As someone who has experienced both anorexia and bulimia and overcome it, what would you like to advise girls and women who are obsessed with thinness or struggle with body image?
A. Being well and healthy and feeling ready to take on each day with a smile and feeling good are the most important things to work towards. Losing weight to become healthier is valid as is wanting to look good to feel good. Do it for yourself and not for the blue ticks of approval. Health is paramount. Everything else can be replaced or traded in.
Q. One dietary practice, exercise, and lifestyle habit that you’d recommend to people wanting to lose weight?
A. Eat small meals and chew. Overeating usually happens because one loves the taste of a particular food and we tend to gobble it. But food only tastes good in the mouth. So don’t gobble. Savor the taste, the texture, and the fragrance before swallowing. You will eat less and enjoy it more.
Q. In one chapter, you write about using magnetic bracelets to boost energy and stamina. Although you mention that they are easily available online, it’d be great if you could tell which one you use or prefer.
They are just called health or wellness bracelets and I use a metal one that has titanium on the inside touching the skin.
Q. What was the most difficult bit about writing this memoir?
It was not difficult at all. The pain and sorrows I talk about have been dealt with and grieving for them has been dealt with.