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Hit the pause button

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and it’s getting worse as the economy missteps and stumbles. But while you’re busy battling it out to stay on top of it all, do you make time for yourself at all? How about some introspection? Never even considered it? Hit the pause button.

Enter the New Age gurus. Be it spiritual teachers like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or ‘life coaches’ like Robin Sharma, modern day motivators urge people to stop and look within. Says Canada-based Sharma, author of the bestseller The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: “It’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important in life and get caught up in all of the distracting noise.”

But even if all is crashing to earth around you, remember the words of Deepak Chopra, the global mind, body and soul guru. Chopra, who’s the managing director, chairman and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California, sums it all succinctly: “All fulfilment comes from within.”

But it’s tougher to pay heed to such wisdom in these times of financial, social, cultural and emotional unrest. Inevitably, however, the New Age gurus insist that it’s crucial to hang on to the best things in life and practise introspection, peace and tolerance. Before you push play again and zip back into your daily frenzy, mull over their words of wisdom. It may not only change your life but could also make it simpler.

Robin Sharma

Motivational teacher

We must remember that the most successful and resilient people are able to transform challenges into opportunities. Each distraction or challenging situation that life throws our way must be interpreted as a learning point and as an opportunity to improve as human beings. This is the time to shed our old ways, to create and be remarkably innovative, and remake the old business model. A simple way to deal with stress is to focus on the positive and distance yourself from the overwhelming negative news in the world right now.”

High five

Take time out every day to introspect.

Establish clear goals and never lose sight of them. Write them down in a journal or post them somewhere you’ll be able to see them everyday.

Wake up early. You’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead.

Find your one true cause in life that’s bigger than yourself, and act on it with extraordinary passion.

Make the most of your relationships with your loved ones. Your best assets are the people you care about most and can count on for support.

A truly healthy mind will only come with a healthy body. Eat right, exercise, and enjoy nature.

Rupinder Sharma

Deepak Chopra

Doctor and spiritual writer

Chaos, uncertainty and unpredictability are fertile ground for creative transformation. During periods of punctuated dis-equilibrium, the society has the opportunity to reinvent itself. It happened during the French revolution; it happened when the Berlin Wall came down and it happened after the chaos of World War II with the Marshall Plan.

The current situation in the world is showing us that we are one global economy and, also, one planetary ecology. Soon, we will hopefully realise that we are one humanity too.

If you want to remain centred in the midst of chaos, learn to be independent of the good and bad opinions of others. You must feel beneath no one, and you must trust that your inner self is intuitive, imaginative and creative.”

High five

Listen to your body’s wisdom — its signals of comfort and discomfort. If your body signals physical or emotional distress, watch out. If it sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.

Live in the present for it is the only moment you have. Accept what comes to you totally so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go.

Take time to be silent and to meditate. In moments of silence, realise that you are re-contacting your source of pure awareness.

When you find yourself reacting with anger, realise that you are only struggling with yourself.

Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or bad emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It’s the vehicle that will carry you through on the journey of your evolution.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Spiritual teacher, founder of the Art of Living movement

The biggest challenge in today’s world is unfortunately not one. We face multiple challenges in many fronts. If it is ethnic violence and starvation in Africa, in the US it’s the economic slowdown. There’s guerrilla warfare in Central and South America, corruption and terrorism in India, suppression of democratic values in Burma.

Overall, there’s erosion of human values. What we lack today is leadership with a mission and vision — leadership with a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment. However, we can make up for this by reforming our education and by secularising religion, socialising business and spiritualising politics.”

High five

Look at life from a broader perspective. Ask yourself: Who am I? How am I on this planet? Once awareness dawns, you will stop worrying about little things. If you review the context of your life, the quality of your life improves.

Commit to make this world a better place. Do acts of kindness without expecting anything in return.

Reflect on what is true and what is not and what you have learned from both. Be aware of the impermanence of life. Nothing is permanent. Change is the only constant.

Give yourself the freedom to dream, and dream big. Have the courage and determination to achieve the dreams that are dear to you.

Prayer is the essence of life. Don’t let it die. The feeling of ‘being blessed’ can help you overcome any insecurity or failure.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnamese Zen master and peace crusader, author of the about-to-be- released Calming the Fearful Mind

Every summer, Plum Village, a meditation community in France, hosts a group of Palestinians and Israelis. At the beginning of each retreat, many of the participants are unable to even look at each other. But by the end of two weeks, they interact like family. This is made possible by practising mindfulness together, listening to each other, eating and walking together and using loving speech.

If we can create a setting where we use the tools of mindfulness, where people can learn to walk with awareness, to breathe, to practise total relaxation, and to embrace their fears and strong emotions, there will be a chance for peace. If you do not know how to handle your fear, anger, and despair, if you do not know how to calm yourself, how can you negotiate peace?”

High five

A simple conversation can either lead you to despair or it can give you hope and confidence. So speak and listen in mindfulness.

Some people spend their whole life trying to avenge themselves. This can only cause suffering.

Help each other water the wholesome seeds in your consciousness. Say to those close to you, “Dear one, let’s be careful not to water the unwholesome seeds in each other.”

Ask yourself, “What is my deepest desire in life?” Our desire can either take us in the direction of happiness or towards suffering.

Deep and compassionate listening restores communication. Once communication is restored everything is possible.

Shiv Khera

Motivational speaker, author of You Can Win

Financially, emotionally and socially we are in a bad situation today. We must evaluate what has caused this. The quality of citizenship is deteriorating. Crime, drinking and drug abuse, single parenting and teenage pregnancy have increased. Homosexuality and gay marriage have been legalised. If this is the concept of liberalisation and modernisation, then I am against it. In the institution of marriage, people are looking for compatibility without understanding its meaning. There is no such thing as compatibility. Our ability to cope with incompatibility in life is what makes us compatible. Values ought to be adhered to. Beyond that there is no compatibility.”

High five

Try to turn setbacks into comebacks. Every setback hides an opportunity for a comeback.

Success is not the absence of failure. It’s about overcoming failure. It means you become aware of problems but focus on solutions. It only means you have to try even harder.

Rupinder Sharma

It’s easy to lose focus. Losing focus means losing energy, which means it will require an extra effort to do even a simple task.

Winners recognise their limitations but focus on their strengths. They put in the extra effort even when it hurts.

Whenever you have a problem, write it down. Putting it down on paper helps you understand what exactly is ailing you.

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