February 8, 2013

Dear Friends of The Storydancer Project,

I am writing to you from Delhi, India, where it has been the coldest winter in about 40 years. Today the sun is out and there is hope for a beautiful day. Since arriving in Delhi the work has been unfolding at a non-stop pace. I had the great honor to teach at the CanSupport 12th Annual Foundation Course for Palliative Care Nurses. This took place at the All Indian Institute of Medical Services, and was attended by over 100 nurses, as well as doctors taking part in this work. We had a lively session based on the Take A Minute For Your Life™ Core Wellness Exercises, as well as some surprise moments of skipping, jumping, and moving across the floor accompanied by beautiful world music.

“Thank you for your valuable contribution to our Annual Foundation Course. It is always the most anticipated part of the programme.” – Harmala Gupta, Founder of CanSupport

Photo: TSP’s Core Wellness Trainings at the CanSupport 12th Annual Foundation Course for Palliative Care Nurses
CanSupport, one of our remarkable partnering organizations, visits palliative cancer patients all around Delhi, free of charge, with their many Home Care Teams, each consisting of a doctor, nurse and counselor. Thanks to the help of CanSupport’s Director, Dr. Ambika Rajvanshi, I was invited to create and develop what is now being called RTHEP© or Relaxation Therapeutic Health Exercise Program, an Initiative for Palliative Cancer Patients and Family Caregivers.
Photo: CanSupport health professionals learning the Relaxation Therapeutic Health Exercises[line-sep]
I work personally with the Home Care Teams. This involves many hours of TSP training sessions for the counselors, including visiting the patients and their families. We have now started a training program for new counselors, as well as reviewing sessions with the trained counselors. Our days are long, and involve many hours of “car-waiting.” We laugh, and have our lunches, and practice “car versions” of the Core Wellness Exercises.[line-sep]
These wonderful Home Care team members experience a lot of stress from all the work they do. Imagine working with people suffering from terminal disease every day. Many of the patients live in very tough conditions. As we visit the homes of those in difficult circumstances, the TSP self-care exercises offer relief to the family caregivers as well as the patients.

Photo: Zuleikha in action training caregivers in RTHEP
[line-sep]Then there is the CanSupport Day Care Center, where I have been working with parents of children with cancer, as well as with adult patients who frequent the center. We learn simple ways to relieve tension, through stretches that can be done in waiting rooms, homes, and standing around. Smiles abound, and laughter often fills in the gaps of silence.[line-sep]

I go out with Home Care Teams in every kind of weather. Here is a picture of an area we visited a few days ago. This photo was taken inside the car during pouring rain. At noon, it got so dark we thought it was night! The driver had to dodge from lane to lane in the blinding downpour, so the car wouldn’t be caught in the flash flood.


Photo: Zuleikha conducting a session in the Master Trainer Program at The Hope Project[line-sep]

TSP’s longtime partnership in India is with the Hope Project Charitable Trust. We have been offering informal trainings with the girl students, women, and staff for some time. This year, with an enthusiastic invitation from the Executive Director, Samiur Rahman, we have begun the Master Trainer Training Program.

The Hope Project is situated in the Nizamuddin basti, an area surrounded by the beautiful tombs of several Sufi saints. It is primarily a poor area, where the Hope Project works to regenerate the community through micro-finance programs, a girls’ and children’s school and support classes, a health clinic, a mobile health unit, and other wonderful projects. TSP is in active partnership with the Hope Project in the work of Core Wellness.

After many years of learning the cultural and religious traditions of this primarily Muslim community and adapting TSP programs to serve their needs, it is wonderful to have the support of this community in greater health and wellness for girls, women, and families. In accordance with the way of the Hope Project, we had a morning training for women, followed by a fantastic home-cooked lunch for everyone by the Home Science team, and then an afternoon training session for men. The laughter and surprise everyone felt during the training brought us all closer together.

In the women’s course, we discussed the difficulties women have in daily life, and how simple exercises can reduce some of the built-up tension. From my travels, I was able to share that this is true for women around the world. We also spoke about the way women are treated, and many women in the training felt it is important to feel better about ourselves in our bodies and to be able to walk in a good way in the world.


Photo: Practicing Core Wellness Exercises with women trainees at the Hope Project

[line-sep]Since arriving in Delhi, I seem to be wearing about 5 layers of clothing each day, since my work is mostly outside. Chai (Indian tea) is served everywhere here, which helps with the cold, and luckily I love the work!I hope you are all keeping warm and well, and remembering to “Take a Minute™” to stretch into the greater space of being alive in the midst of life’s “busy-ness.”Thank you for your continued support in this work that touches the lives of many and makes a difference. Seeing suffering become a smile is indeed a work of art. Be very well,


©2013 Swan Lake Publishing LLC