In the latest episode of Psychiatria, I chat with Free Range’s own Dr. Ruta Nene. We discuss practices that have evolved with her through life, and how they influenced her journey into psychiatry and eventually holistic psychiatry. She shares her experiences as an empathic child of Indian immigrants, early exposure to an integrative mindset, and how these have shaped her. Both long-standing and new-found practices have found a place in her life, and we make some fun and meaningful connections amongst them. 

Perhaps my favorite part of this episode was talking with her about her family’s relationship with holistic practices, and yoga in particular. She told me about how her grandmother, her Aaji, would make a special morning concoction for the family designed to cleanse the body for the day. Her dad had told her stories of waking up when he was young and finding his father, Ruta’s grandfather, doing head stands each morning. Ruta’s own yoga practice started with her father teaching her sun salutations and continued by practicing these each morning under supervision of her grandmother. Childhood experiences like this tend to stay with a person, and it was clear to me how this is true for Ruta.

Ruta and I also spoke about her highly empathic nature as a child. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, an empath is typically understood as someone who is acutely aware of the emotions of those around them to the point of unintentionally taking those feelings on themselves. This was difficult for Ruta to understand for most of her early years. I don’t consider myself an empath, but I do know how difficult it can be to be young and not have the words to express what you’re experiencing. Kids so often don’t speak about these more intense experiences because they simply don’t have the words.

This made me think about how little we talk about empathy in our lives and in our culture. Many of us feel empathy and have had that experience, but didn’t recognize it as such. We know what it feels like to be around someone who’s having a bad day and feel our own mood brought down as well – That’s empathy! Why is it that we don’t talk about this as such? It seems that we are much more likely to blame the other person for having emotions rather than recognizing our own response as our innate human ability, and desire, for connection with others.

There is so much more in this episode, including questions on identity and fitting in, integrating practices, and human curiosity. If you want to hear this conversation and gather your own insight on these topics and many more, check out this episode of Psychiatria linked below! You can find us on Instagram (@PsychiatriaPodcast) and on your podcatcher of choice. Give us a follow and let me know what you think in the comments and reviews. Stay curious, dear friends.

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