We portray ourselves in different forms to different people. Masks define us in these moments, in which we must adjust and accommodate to meet the perceptions of others. But when the doors are closed, the lights are off, we are left with our pure, subconscious mind. We are left with nothing but ourselves, the absolute truth. And we get to choose who we share this with. Depth is based on vulnerability: it facilitates greater meaning. But, depth does not have to be serious, it can be cathartic. To be free to speak one’s mind, without fear, thoughts are undiluted and have the capacity to elicit progressive movement. This is an uncomfortable process, but change is never stable or static. We need to feel the bumps, the silence, all sides of the argument, in order to consider ourselves fully informed individuals. And this “uncomfortableness” must be cherished as it is the only way society can progress in its cohesive goals, priorities, and mindsets.
In Games for Seva, mentors, peers, and friends are able to play games such as Dharma Dilemmas and Vice2Virtue, in which they are prompted to use metacognition: they must truly reflect upon their thinking in order to draw connections within and between complex topics. An example card is “Freedom from Delusion” which is a broad topic. The players must define this, and there must be overlap in these definitions in order for the game to work. Already, deep involvement through thoughts is present, but perhaps not at the conversational level yet. The next step involves players pondering their own set of cards in regards to the topic at hand. If one player views ‘Freedom from Delusion’ as being in tune with reality, they will have a more positive mindset, which is a reflection of their own thinking. Contrastingly, if one believes some delusions are necessary for satisfaction, they would view this topic in a harsh light. And there are those in the grey area, who do not strictly define a topic as purely good or bad, rather they adjust what cards they have to fit the category. This variation in opinions comes into light when the judge picks the winning card and the team listens to what their peers have selected, facilitating active listening. Thus, with only 1 round of a game, we receive glimpses into the minds of peers and become more aware of our own mindsets. This back and forth allows us to be more aware and empathetic individuals, and later on, we are able to discuss difficult topics without being prompted to.
Mental health falls under this “uncomfortable” spectrum, in which we, as a Desi community, understand there is an issue, but we are unable to collectively move forward. Being a group that prioritizes academic excellence, the struggles of adolescents in the Desi community are overlooked and their emotions are not validated and this is perpetrated by parental expectations, peer perception, and one’s own flawed idealistic perfectionism. But even mothers, fathers, adults feel the struggles of mental health, yet they are not able to communicate these feelings. As a community, we fear ostracization. We need everything to be fine so we can continue to play our role as the socialite, academically gifted, spicy food-loving ethnic group society has boxed us into.
So the next question is: How do we free ourselves from delusion? And this is something the games can facilitate. Just as the cards are rooted in larger themes that we can subgroup and analyze, mental health requires this same level of deep conversations. We are all struggling, but in this struggle, we are all together. Games for Seva is breaking borders between difficult topics by relating them to themes like ‘Some things never change’. Using Fatal Flaws(another deck to help us dive deep), Mahabharatha characters, and understanding the value of Point of View, we may grow as a culture, face disappointments together, and ultimately love each other a little more. But most importantly, we will learn to love ourselves despite our flaws, and we will grow. In doing so, we can finally achieve liberation from delusion.