For Ashish Paul, community is companionship, togetherness, and relatedness. Community for her is to connect. It is where the heart is.

What is community for you?

It scares and perplexes me. I never thought of this word before. It seems as if I have no relationship with this word. Community to me, is conservative, and a boundary on an existence. Community also reminds me of ‘communal’, which again has very negative connotation for me. I grew up in India.

I cannot remember myself being part of a community. I always felt special or different from others. So I never related to any group. I never fully related to any caste, religion, sect or class. The only group I vaguely related to was being a woman. I knew that but I also knew I was not a woman like others. So even there I didn’t really fit well. This is the first time I have been asked this question and I had to think deeply what it meant for me. And I am still not sure.

My idea of community would be to relate with each other, learn from each other, and evolve with each other without losing the individualism.

I always felt I belong to this whole world. I would say that the world is my community. I would say that the world with various people is my community. With my own personal growth and my connection to my spirit I feel we are all one. There are no others. So, this idea of dividing ourselves into various groups or communities does not settle well with me. My idea of community would be to relate with each other, learn from each other, and evolve with each other without losing the individualism. My idea of community is a safe and flexible space of relatedness.

How do you engage with your community?

Engaging with people for me is to have a conversation with them and to have a dialogue. Engaging with the community also means to understand each other. I engage with various people by challenging each other too. It helps all of us to shed our conditioning and grow to eventually evolve.

I use all possible media platforms to connect with all the people. I use social media for my work purposes and I use it to maintain contact with everyone I belong to. I attend a lot of networking platforms to engage with everyone. I love to personally meet people and listen to their amazing stories.

I am booked to attend Migrant Woman Conference on 02 May because I feel I relate to many of the speakers. These are all businesswomen who are passionate about their work and life. I would love to listen to them and perhaps share with them. This is my way of engaging with like-minded businesswomen.

What are the advantages of being part of a community for you?

The advantages of belonging to a particular group or community of likeminded people are multi-fold. It gives me a sense of being supported. It gives me a sense of being appreciated. I feel recognised. I learn from them. I can depend on them.

I work as a self-employed CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) practitioner and sometimes it can make one feel lonely. It’s wonderful to keep referring back to some people to ask for their advice and help. I love the interactions with like-minded individuals. I am part of Athena Networking where lots of women are connected from various walks of business and life. We are always available for each other whenever one of us needs advice. These are the women I can trust now and feel helped by even if it is only a friendly chat.

Perhaps this idea of reducing ourselves to communities is as reductionist as everything else is within our modern living. We are ignoring the idea of whole or holistic world.

I can say I belong to these communities: Mums, herbalists, Ayurvedic doctors, women, humanists, spiritualists. For me the topmost community out of these is to be a human being. I fluidly move in and out of these communities or groups on a day-to-day basis. I still wouldn’t say I am a member of any of these communities.

Perhaps this idea of reducing ourselves to communities is as reductionist as everything else is within our modern living. We are ignoring the idea of whole or holistic world. I vision an all-inclusive world where we relate to each other and connect with each other on certain levels to learn from each other and to evolve as better human beings.

You are a qualified Ayurvedic doctor and Medical Herbalist, how does this help the community?

I help everyone I am connected to with Ayurveda. My knowledge of Ayurveda and herbal medicine helps me to advise and make suggestions to everyone I come in contact with and also my patients.

I help everyone associated with me in my personal way as a friend or in a professional way as a practitioner. One of my friends from yoga community asked my advice about immunisation before she went on her three-month holiday in India. She trusted me both as being a practitioner and an Indian.

I do various events to talk about Ayurveda, health, herbal medicine, natural medicine and women’s health issues and many more hot topics. This is to raise awareness about healthy living. So I get inquiries from everyone related to me. I love to be in this position of helping others with all the skills that I have to improve their standards of health.

 We need to empathetically listen and hear each other to understand. We don’t know when and who will be a torchbearer amongst us.

How do you deal with the people in the community who we don’t especially like, or feel drawn to be with?

I have always known that everyone has their own perspective to look at things. And we are all correct depending from where we are looking. We all look at things in our own unique way and that subjectivity makes this world an interesting place.

Hence, I am always keen to listen to people with a different viewpoint. Not only just listen but to hear them, to understand them and to comprehend what they are saying. I keep an open mind to the various possibilities when all of us come together. A rainbow wouldn’t be a rainbow if all the colours looked red!

So all those people with their individualistic voices must be heard and engaged in a dialogue. We need to empathetically listen and hear each other to understand. We don’t know when and who will be a torchbearer amongst us.

Who is Ashish Paul?

Ashish is a qualified Ayurvedic doctor and Medical Herbalist. She studied Ayurveda in India. She studied BSc MSc Herbal Medicine in England and Scotland. Ashish is one of the very few qualified practitioners in two distinct systems of complementary and alternative medicine. She is part of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association’s executive committee involved with the education of Ayurveda in UK. Ashish has worked in India, UK, and Switzerland. Currently Ashisha practices from her home clinic and Harley Street. She work with people to take them on a holistic journey of health. Recently she been working with people with infertility.

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