Friday, 31 July 2015

The Value of Mentors


Change is a fundamental principle of life and so is learning.

From the wisest of Mentors I have been learning what to learn and how to learn.
And of course, implement the learning effectively!

In recent times,
one of my earlier Gurus was, Jigish Bhatt​. Beyond our professional relationship, he remains one of my most trusted friends. Always there when needed, last to seek credit. After having been a book worm until my early twenties, Jigish reintroduced me to the habit of reading after a long hiatus. What a wise and valuable gift that was!

Dale Carnegie, The Secret and such books were part of that period. The timing was just right for me to take inspiration from these fine books and for sure, they had a profound impact on me at a time when when I my progress had stalled.  
I assumed these books encompassed all the knowledge that the other books from the 'Self Help' genre had.

Then The Bhagavad Gita came my way and transformed my life. I have now read it five times.As I read glimpses from it each day, a new revelation inspires me each time. I thought this was the the epitome of knowledge and wisdom.

The Gita seemed to say to me,
'Life is your greatest teacher. Through it you'll learn from people, books and circumstances~ both joyful and tragic, walk on, taking all that comes in your stride, with equanimity.'
Thus my journey continues..I keep reading, yes, I have had to deal with cataclysmic events as well as cherish moments that brought great joy. Each is a teacher in its own way.

And on this explorative journey, I met some people who helped shape my life.

"You are born for writing. You have the ability to change people's lives" said
Puneet Bhatnagar when I was a green behind the ears Blogger. An Innovation Coach, man on a mission, Puneet  has vast experience in the Advertising industry where he was involved in highly acclaimed campaigns. He has the knack of instantly sizing up a person's strong area and then developing it. 
By setting up BipolarIndia, he set me free. He actively mentors me in my Book project as well as other initiatives.

DrAmit Nagpal, is a vibrant, kind and highly evolved Business Storyteller and Keynote speaker. He made me believe I could be a fine storyteller and also a personal branding coach, a career which was not on my radar at all. With great dexterity of a masterly coach he has given life to my writing. A person of ready wit and radiant positive energy, it easily rubs off on me! Having a thought leader like him as a mentor in my Personal Branding and Storytelling career is a blessing.

Amitji's largesse did not stop there..he introduced me to someone whose generosity is difficult to put into words. Many kilometres separate India and the US, our cultures differ, however how well she has understood me, is testimony to her coaching abilities.

Jennifer Sertl, Business Strategist, Keynote speaker and Global Social Media Influencer, has been a huge influence on my journey over the last year or so. Since she supports the mental health awareness cause, she relished coaching me on my pioneering and challenging path~ that of a Bipolar who sought to reach out to his community through his website and Book.

She pours in all her energy, insights and wisdom to light up my path~ my word, it caught fire! Jennifer, Soul Sis, your selfless, wholehearted commitment is worth its weight in gold.
The impact you have had on my journey cannot be described.

All I can say is that 'A Bipolar's Journey~ From Torment to Fulfillment' has your soul involved in it. Our community as a whole owes so much to you!

Deepest Gratitude to all my Gurus, also to those I have not named.

Let's Walk Together..Onward, with purpose and zest!



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Life is Beautiful



Life is beautiful
Fall in love with it.

Life flows in a rhythm
Flow along with it.
Life is full of colour
Bask in the spectacle.
Life is a miracle
Trust its magic.
Life has its own cadence
Breathe along rhythmically.
Life has plans for you
Have faith in its intentions.
Life is joy
Enjoy it!
Life is generous
Live in abundance.
Life is selfless 
Express gratitude to it.

Life is lived in this moment
Cherish it in the now.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Yoga and Me


My Yoga journey began sometime in the late nineties. My induction into Yoga practice happened more out of necessity than choice. I was a chronic, acute Asthmatic all my adult life and the asthma attacks were assuming life threatening proportions (I had been hostipalised in emergencies in intensive care twice.) It was then that my Doctor, Late Pramod Niphadkar virtually forced me to adopt Yoga and other breathing exercises to supplement my medical treatment.

It then began as a daily ten minute routine and along with my other regimen, it turned my life around. Even after Asthma was well under control, I maintained my routine since it had become a part of my system.

In May 2003 something more dramatic happened and life was never the same again. Bipolar Disorder struck and it made me dig deeper, explore all resources available to me in order to regain normalcy. I learnt a few more specific yoga asanas and breathing techniques to alleviate my new set of problems.

Serendipity brought a new twist in this journey. I was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita in circumstances strongly suggesting it was meant to be~ it had a profound impact on me and I realised that what I believed was Yoga all these years was not the real thing at all! The physical asanas which have become hugely popular in many parts of the world are erroneously termed as Yoga, instead of Ashtanga Yoga. No doubt, it does help balance the mind and body and has proven health benefits.

The other elements are Karma Yoga (doing one's duty  without any expectation), Dhyan Yoga (Meditation), Gyan Yoga (Knowledge) and finally Bhakti Yoga (Devotion and surrender to God).

Yoga is not just about asanas, it is a way of life. I would add, joyful living.

I had learnt to meditate almost two decades ago. My practice of it, however, was infrequent. Reading the Gita changed all that. Even meditation got a new purpose, a new meaning. I began introspecting a lot more, asking myself questions, seeking answers to them. I now began to understand why Yoga is described as a way of living rather than a physical practice.

As for Ashtanga Yoga, my health challenges motivated me to reach higher on the fitness scale. Last year my wife and I took our Yoga practice a step further. We engaged a trainer who taught us a whole range of new asanas. Being in our 50's, some were challenging, however with regular practice, we have mastered them all. The body's ability to adapt and regain flexibility is amazing!

My day begins with half an hour of meditation followed by fifty minutes of ashtanga yoga

mixed with a few exercises. A day without this feels incomplete. While this might sound repetitive and boring, it is not~ I can meditate for hours without feeling the need to come out of the blissful state it takes me to! As for asthanga yoga, the asanas we have learnt are so many that not all can be fitted in a session. Each day we schedule different asanas which also means that we go through the whole gamut of what's been taught to us on a rotation basis.

Ashtanga yoga and meditation are the foundation of one's path to self discovery. One can hardly go on a spiritual quest without a calm, balanced body and mind. Meditation stills the mind and prepares it for advancement to the next level. It gives us access to an infinite reservoir of wisdom and bliss.

My moment in my journey came with the realistion that there was a higher being than me seated in my Soul.

And bowing down to Him.

Surrendering to Him.

This is what truly freed me.

Touch this moment, set yourself free.



(Me in Meditative stance~ Photo Credit: Meenal Jaiswal Photography)



 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

And Then She Smiled

It was a pleasant evening as an old lady walked aimlessly in park, all by herself, lost in thoughts..eyes tracing the ground, not having the energy to take in the surroundings.
Oblivious of the hustle bustle of the kids at play.

All of a sudden, she was jolted out of her reverie by a softball that hit her on her back. As she stooped to pick it up, a five year old boy ran to her and apologised profusely.
"I am so sorry! I hope I have not hurt you, Aunty?"

"No you haven't, dear."

"May I have my ball back then?"


"You can have it back only if you sit down with me for a while and speak to me for a few minutes. Then I promise to give it to you."

"I am Rohan, I live in a bungalow nearby, my Mom is a teacher at a school. Papa is a doctor who fixes bones..I love drawing and playing in the mud..Who do you live with, Aunty? Do you come here every day? My School reopens  next week..."

The old lady was amused by the cute little boy's innocent and endearing mannerisms. He so easily opened up to a complete stranger! His implicit trust in her, in the goodness that life holds for him.
This is what childhood is about, she mused.

He spoke animatedly until the lady ran her fingers through his curly mop of hair and told him,
"Thank you for brightening up my evening, Rohan. May God bless you."
She then handed back his ball to him.

"Thank you Aunty. Shall we meet again tomorrow?"
He said before he ran away to continue playing.

When she had walked into the park she had come with a heavy heart.
There was every reason for her to grieve. It was the death anniversary of her grandson, who had been tragically killed in an accident when very young.

Her spirit had now been lifted and there was a purpose in her gait. She also noticed the soft green grass beneath her feet, the colourful blooms around her, the beauty of it all..

The little boy had taught her such a wonderful lesson, on a day normally spent in mourning all by herself.

Life is about moving on..
Life is about embracing the new..
Life is about living it..


She actually managed a smile on her wrinkled face.

Friday, 22 May 2015

3i's of an Icon

She calls me the 'lighthouse of hope'. Guess who is the light?

Some people have the ability to light up a room by their mere presence. The rarest of rare have the precious gift of lighting up a soul and setting it free.
Yes, some mentors have that kind of impact. Without being overbearing, she makes each step of mine easier. Mine was a cathartic journey. What an inspiring influence to have to light up the path! It was an important juncture of life when I had begun writing my first book, a book that has considerable social significance. She too is committed to the cause and graciously volunteered to coach me during this crucial period.

Jennifer Sertl is an internationally reputed Author, Keynote Speaker and business strategist.


She is a thought leader in the emerging field of corporate 
consciousness and a recognised influencer in social media.Jennifer is President and Founder of Agility 3R which helps leaders become more resilient, responsive and reflective.

If she focuses on the 
3R's in course of her coaching, what do I make of her as a person? I have the great fortunate of being coached, cajoled and lovingly coerced too, at times in course of video conferencing sessions. These sessions are worth their weight in gold- at a time when the mind is tentative, this brilliant soul has stood by my side to guide me.
It is her coaching that germinated the three magical mantras of 'Authenticity','Vitality' and 'Compassion' for my path forward. She is nothing short of an icon to me, and shall remain so well after the mentoring is officially done with. Well, wisdom gained is a long term asset which appreciates over time, isn't it? I attempt here to describe what I find so special about her as a mentor.

I would replace the '3R's' with '3i's' for my 'i'con.

intellect: rarely does one come across a woman (no I am not being sexist) of such intellect. Her capacity to incisively analyse like a surgeon operating with a laser, cut through the confounding fuzz of facts and get to the essence is remarkable! I found that to be her single most amazing quality. As in a surgery, this happens in real time during the sessions, not after much deliberation. She also has the uncanny 'dual focus' ability, so rarely found in leaders. This rare gift helps her to scan the horizon as well as take in the smaller details almost simultaneously. I have benefited immensely from insights: truly path-breaking thoughts and ideas. 
"Sometimes, it is better to be wise than to be nice."
This gem of advice by her was when I was torn between choices I had to make and it nudged me into taking that troublesome decision.
'Navigating Complexity- Hold onto your Core'
integrity: a mentor's integrity must be beyond reproach. Only then can one fully trust the advice and guidance received as well as intentions behind them. That kind of person has to be herself sure of her identity and be in alignment with her authenticity. Adhering to one's pure, authentic self and to one's chosen path unaffected by the alluring distractions of the manipulative world calls for an inner conviction of the highest caliber. 

I benefit hugely from these sterling attributes of hers. Her reflective nature has also empowered her with the wisdom of thinking beyond herself, of realising that she has so much to offer to causes dear to her. Being a private person, to my knowledge, she hasn't publicised these contributions. She does all this with staggering humility and grace, so rare in today's times.I had first hand glimpses of her sensitive and empathetic side too. 
'All Hallow's Eve & Identity'
intensity: I wonder how she juggles around with time to get so much out of it! I say this because her speaking and coaching assignments entail globetrotting and if those were not challenging enough she is well connected with thought leaders spread across the world and actively engages in collaborative initiatives. It could well be that she is so well sorted out 'within' that she puts in everything in her interactions..it appears as if there are no doubts tugging at her, so sure she is of herself! This is why probably, her enthusiastic brainwaves rubbed off on me and had me so committed to them. With her sharp focus and sense of priorities, Jennifer manages to balance personal and professional calling beautifully. I am myself privy to insights on this front in course of my coaching. 
'Ode to Teachers & Celebration of Learning'
As I write this, I cannot help but wonder how much of the Book, which is now ready for publishing, is written by me and how much have you contributed to it with your insights! I would not sully our friendship by saying that I shall forever be in debt, Jennifer, but grateful, yes, to have experienced the magic. I end this with a small gift for my soul sis. 


I owe our friendship to a common friend and equally noble soul,
Dr. Amit Nagpal
: Gratitude!

Yes, God has been kind to me!

(This was first published by me on Linkedin and has been modified)
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