Dr Asha Rani is a practicing periodontist in NYC. She received her dental degree from the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine in 2003 and completed her periodontal residency training at the Manhattan VA Hospital. Her book, Who Is She?, was a #1 Best Seller on Amazon in addition to ranking #1 New Release in four categories. As a career woman and mother of three children, Dr. Asha Rani strongly believes in the importance of self care and prioritizes her daily life with a complete mind body soul approach to wellness!
Asha, can you talk about what you mean when you say prison?
When we live our lives based on limiting beliefs, childhood conditioning, and societal norms, we stay stuck in the pattern of that learned behavior. Our thoughts, perspectives and the decisions we make are based on old stories, trauma and fear. We essentially create an internal prison and yet attempt to function freely. Living authentically and surrendering to the unknown requires unlocking that prison. Allowing room for growth gives us the opportunity to explore and a chance at truly learning who we are, what feels good, and where we want to go. Stepping out of our comfort zone is filled with fear but it reconnects us back to the parts of us we kept hidden and now ready to embrace. There is great peace, joy, and love to be had when we believe that we deserve to live our best life. You don’t know what you don’t know and when you do, there’s no going back.
What were the steps you took to first identify the external factors that led to you feeling imprisoned?
We often get caught up in the hamster wheel of life and the to-do lists that have to get done. As a career woman with three children, my life was busy and I often told myself that I don’t have time to do the “other” things I want to. However as the kids grew older and needed me less for their daily functional needs, I began to have more time. The biggest red flag that I was living within my own prison was that in that time and space, I didn’t know what to do. I had been so used to doing so many things for everyone around me that I forgot myself. I was so disconnected from my own personal desires and joys for so long that it felt uncomfortable to tap back into that. I sacrificed a lot of myself for the greater good of the family and kept myself in that mold because it’s all I knew. As women, we’re conditioned to believe that it’s our job to be the nurturer, the giver, and to put everyone’s priorities first. There’s such an imbalance in that way of being and at some point, that doesn’t feel like living; it feels like surviving and waiting for the one day that it will be your turn. The fact that I had everything I thought I wanted; the career, the family, the house, and the money, and yet still felt so unfulfilled was soul crushing. I realized I needed help. I needed to pause and reflect in that space to begin to understand how I had created everything that happened within those walls.
Why is it difficult for women to ask for what they desire?
The concept of choosing your happiness, letting go of guilt, and stepping out of the box is very uncomfortable for many women to hear and do. We’re not raised to do that. We often give up our aspirations or put it on a long hold to be able to fulfill the roles society expects of us. When it comes to having a career, we often decide on those that give us flexibility with work hours, are close to home, and even take a lower salary if it allows us to be the working mom that is handling a million other things with the family. As difficult as it might be to hear this, I think it’s very important for women to have a job, have financial security, and find joy in something they can call their own. This gives us the power to make important decisions and opens the door to the unknown. We never know what the future can hold. At the age of twenty five I never knew that twenty years later I was going to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Choosing to end my marriage, a twenty-five-year relationship, was painful but a decision that had to be made. There were many reasons, however I know that having a career and financial independence helped me to move forward with my life choices. I was raised by traditional Indian parents who came from a small village. My mother, as conservative as she was raised, had very progressive thoughts when it came to me. As a teenager, she would often tell me to study hard and get a good job. She said never depend on anyone for money and be able to support yourself. I never truly understood those profound words until much later. There are so many factors that keep us locked in that prison, and lack of financial freedom is one of them. It’s time for us to change our perspective on women in the workforce and homelife balance. It is our birthright to empower ourselves and choose the life path we desire, not one handed down by generational conditioning.
What gave you the courage to unlock yourself from your life?
To unlock myself, I first had to sit in and feel through that dark space that I was so eager to get out of. I had to face things that I had kept hidden and within the confines of socially acceptable norms. I had to allow myself to understand why I wanted out before actually unlocking that door. Inner self work and self love was the key to my freedom. I worked with spiritual teachers and shamans to go back in time and heal the little girl that faced childhood trauma and the one that used every part of her life to convince herself she was unloveable. Breaking patterns of programming required deep soul surgery and a transformation of the mind, body, and soul. Asking for help was key to unlocking myself from the prison. It is very difficult to be vulnerable and share your pain. However, I needed to do that in order to move forward. Reaching out for help and guidance from the ones who have been in those dark spaces first was life changing.
How did you face this kind of challenge and the pain that you knew was inevitable?
I gave myself time and space to feel it. Healing takes time and is not always pretty. It’s a natural process that cannot be rushed. I slowed down, went in, and gave myself the grace to go through a mourning process. It would have been easy to fill up my time with distractions but that would be taking me back to old patterns. I reached for things that gave me peace and joy and made me feel good. Meditation, nature walks, and dancing were the greatest medicines. Sharing my pain with a very small and close tribe of people gave me the release to open up and not carry the burdens I was so used to. This period taught me self-love. I had to keep coming back to myself and to a new center. In that alignment, I learned to love myself while facing the judgment of others and while being misunderstood. The slowing down process to heal rebirthed the woman that could finally live her most authentic life.
How did you share this decision with your children?
Making the decision of ending my marriage was difficult. That one decision was not only going to affect me, but everyone in my life. It was painful and heartbreaking to share with my children that the only family unit they have ever known was never going to look and feel the same. As a family, the father of my children and I shared our story with them together. We told them the backstory of our lives as a couple, our friendship, our desires in life, and how we have grown as individual people. We opened up a conversation about how it’s natural for two people to grow and learn together and evolve over time. In that space, we gave ourselves permission to accept that we had also outgrown each other but still support and love each other as human beings. We assured them that the family unit of love for them is life long and that the bond we share will always be held with gratitude. Two parents can still be friends and co-parent with peace. Yes it takes time and a commitment to inner growth to move forward in that way, but it’s possible. In that family moment, there were tears and hearts filled with pain, but there was also a path to a beautiful new beginning. We went on a nature walk to let Mother Earth continue to do her healing for us and we allowed each other the space to feel and share. From that day forward, it has been a mission for all of us to step into our authenticity, share our fears, talk about things we never used to, and create a new family story.
Your book is called, “Who is She?” Tell us about this journey in writing this memoir and your desired outcome for the reader.
Writing this book began as a personal healing journey. There were things that needed to be said and a story that needed to be told. I wanted my children to one day read my words and feel into who their mother was in this lifetime. I wanted them to see me as a woman, beyond their mother and the many roles I was playing. Every woman has a backstory, but it was time to bring that story to the forefront and shed light on the dark spaces we're afraid to go. I knew that there were things I needed to learn and grow from as I shared some really deep and vulnerable parts of my life. However, I also realized that there are things my children may one day need some guidance on and it was my hope that this book would serve that purpose and be passed onto future generations.
As I shared my personal struggles with women, I began to realize that this journey was not just mine, but that of many. I was giving a voice to those who thought they were alone and opened up a conversation for how they too can unlock themselves out of their own prison. I hope this book inspires others to let go of fear, choose the life that feels authentic, and to feel their love and joy again.
What would you say to other women or men who are not living their truth?
We have this one lifetime to live and the biggest risk in life is not taking one. There are no rules or checklists of what’s considered a successful life. Everyone's journey is different and the pace at which they unlock themselves is unique to them. Don’t look over your shoulder and compare your life to theirs, because they are here to learn and explore something different than you. There is no wrong or right, so let go of the fear of failing because we get to evolve from those experiences. When something feels good, that’s the greatest green light of authenticity. Tune into the magical child you once were and look at the world from that perspective. What did that little soul love doing? Start doing those things again as an adult. You will be pleasantly surprised at how freeing and beautiful life can feel again. The inner truth of who you are then has no way to hide again and will never be hostage to anyone else’s norms. The key to unlocking the prison and feeling freedom is the self-love you’ve been waiting to feel this entire lifetime.
WRITTEN BYTricia Brouk