I’m basically this ordinary guy who discovered that meditation is not something you do, but it is a state you are in. I discovered that as you learn to spend more and more time in that state (I’ve easily spent over 10,000 hours there), remarkable things start to happen. Both to you and around you! The power of presence awakens the self and makes you come truly alive. And I’m super lucky to have actually been able to teach this on five of the seven continents.
A large part of my discovery (that meditation is not just something you do) probably has to do with the fact that I have very little formal schooling.
I was born as the 3rd child (after a gap of almost 9 years) to writer teacher parents. And while they never openly acknowledged that I was a mistake, they decided to make me a guinea pig by home schooling me (not sure how much they regret it now). But I got my revenge later in life as I confused them with my study choices. First by trying my hand at an Engineering course (where I barely survived for a month), a Bachelors in Science (which I realized after 3 years that I was not cut out for), a Bachelor in Arts (just to see if I could use the other side of my brain) and then an MBA (in marketing because that was one place where confused souls could look cool). And then in 2007, I decided that I had never really studied anything all along and so I went back to school to do another MBA (and was delighted when INSEAD, one of the world’s best business schools said they would have me ).
Along the way, I have also gone door to door selling bean bags, launched my own brand of t-shirts, worked for large multinational corporations, started my own companies and amazingly even managed to sell one of them for a little money. Somewhere on the journey, a really cool company called IDEO asked me to join them as a Managing Director (I think they really liked the red sneakers I wore to the interview).
Sometime in my late 20s leading into my early 30s I also started formally dabbling in matters of the mind (Informally, I had started the process soon after I was born). So I learnt the Silva method of Mindcontrol, a bit of hypnotism, going on into zen, yoga and meditation. I cant explain zen to you (because if I did, it would stop being zen) and I loved yoga (not just the asanas) but I couldn’t really meditate. I couldn’t really sit in one place with my eyes closed and concentrate on one thing. Then one day, I came across a book by an old and wise Zen master in which he says wash the dishes for the sake of washing the dishes and when I did that, something happened to me. Along with the food and oil stains, my stress, worries, anxiety and unnecessary thinking also washed away. I felt new, fresh and clean and I thought to myself, ‘Aha! I must go deeper into this thing called mindfulness!’
Many moons, many mountains and many masters later, I could actually sit still without letting my monkey mind play continuously with me. So one day, I decided to go to the Zen master who had written the book that had inspired me to wash the dishes. His name was Thich Nhat Hanh and his monastery was called The Plum Village. He and the monks there were very kind (they didn’t throw me out). On the day I arrived at the monastery, there was a light shower and a double rainbow appeared. I had never seen one before and as I stood and gazed at it in amazement, an old monk appeared beside me. After standing with me for a while, he turned to me and said, “It is a sign my son. You have come here today and then this rainbow appears. You should become a teacher.”
Which to a very very large extent, is why I now do what I do.