Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wellness Retreat 15-17 December 09

This is the first `Wellness’ retreat offered by one. The idea was to combine `Wellbeing’ with Emotional freedom and Letting Go of the Past to create an event focused on Wellness. The event was organized in the Integral Learning Centre of Verite. I love this venue; its beauty and simplicity appeal to me and it is a very quiet place – ideal for a gathering intent on inner work.

I am very happy that Shirley participated in this retreat. At 79, she is the oldest person in any of the full day (or more) programs I facilitated. She has a special place in my heart – in February 2008, she opened up a new path in my spiritual journey by asking me to read the draft of her book ‘White Heart’. I am celebrating the first copy of this book with a beautiful cover came out during this retreat. It is a privilege to have Shirley’s presence and participation in the workshop and I feel amazed and inspired by her enthusiastic and energetic participation. I am grateful to each and every one of the participants for the opportunity of offering this retreat.

I have an insight in facilitating this event. Wellness is not only natural but it is the birthright of all living beings- the experience of being whole, complete and perfect. And gateway to ONENESS. I am inspired by a world of Wellness leading to Oneness.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Compassionate Communication Workshop for WAN at CISCO

This was an event with many ‘first-ever’. First Compassionate Communication workshop in a Company and I used a lap top for the first time to facilitate a program. It was also the first ‘all women event’, for the core group of Women’s Action Network (WAN) at CISCO. WAN’s vision is “to contribute to the strategic effort to enhance Cisco's success in attracting, developing and retaining talented women employees”. When I heard that part form professional initiatives, WAN also has started many community initiatives such as girls in technology, adopting charities focused on education, I felt very enthused and happy because my needs for inspiration and meaning have been met.
I was very excited about this workshop rights from the word go. At the same time I felt apprehensive, mostly about the short time and my need to make the program useful for the participants. I was trying to condense the workshop into 5 hours and in reality we had less that 4 and a half hours. I felt extremely pleased that we could establish the basic concepts and bring clarity to the purpose of NVC and how it can be applied to all aspects of life. I feel gratitude to the participants for their cooperation and active participation in accomplishing this goal within the precious time available. My need to share and spread NVC consciousness has been fully met.  I also mourn the lack of time to do more exercises/ease for more discussions and sharing to deepen NVC consciousness.
The synchronicity behind this event is quite amazing to me. I met Tracy in Auroville in a workshop facilitated by Tewa and Jivan. Radhika attended one of the workshops in Bangalore facilitated by me and she told me that Tracy shared about NVC and she was inspired to attend the workshop. Radhika coordinated this event and made it happen in collaboration with Vidhya and Priyanaka. I really enjoyed meeting Radhika after a long time and reconnecting with her.
I am grateful to Radhika, Vidhya, Priyanka and Tracy and the core team of WAN for the opportunity to plant NVC seeds. I can visualize these seeds germinating, growing, blooming and bearing fruits not only within WAN and CISCO but also spreading to the many communities outside through the outreach initiatives. What a gift this event is for me in my mission to spread awareness in individuals, communities, organizations and societies.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stress Management at Locuz Networks, Hyderabad

Another event in Hyderabad, the popular Stress Management workshop. Stress appears to be pervasive and I am grateful to the opportunity to offer ways and means of dealing with stress. The Telangana Bandh (strike) was not very helpful. I do wish those who want their goals to be known more widely would find other ways to express them than disrupting public transportation system, schooling and commerce, causing an enormous amount of hardship to many people. I feel irritated and sad as my need for respecting the choice of other people and their convenience is not met.
Based on Swaitha’s inputs, I agreed to do a two hour workshop. My experience is that two hours is inadequate and I feel disappointed that I could not convey all that I would have liked to. I am celebrating the event, but also mourn the shortage of time.
I am grateful to Mr. Uttam Majumdar and Ms. Sawitha for the opportunity to share stress management with a group who were keen on managing  stress in their lives. It was also wonderful to meet the top management team consisting of Mr. Vijay and Mr. Durga part from Mr. Uttam to discuss ICITI project

Stress Management Workshop at NIC, Hyderabad

This event has many, many first-ever: Hyderabad, Government Organization, Video conference with many other locations, my niece, her husband and their son present –spanning three generations of my family!
I enjoyed every bit of it. The imposing building, the well laid out interiors, the pleasant ambiance and some great infrastructure to link the 24 districts of Andhra Pradesh using video conference. The workshop, in my experience, went very well and I am celebrating the wonderful energy I sensed in the participants not only in Hyderabad, but also those linked via video conference. It is a very delightful experience to conduct a guided mediation over video conference! The questions were very, very interesting and challenging. I am grateful to Dr. Prakasa Rao for making this event happen and Sri BV Sarma, DDG & SIO for the opportunity and all those present for their participation. I am excited about the request for a full day workshop and I keenly look forward to more such opportunities.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Relaxation and Meditation at Chengalpattu

Well, it happened. The event in Chengalpattu was arranged by Sri Prabhakar Rao, whom I and Syamala met on the way to Chennai in October. It almost did not happen due to the severe depression in the Bay of Bengal. But when Mr.Prabhakara Rao understood that apart from Syamala and Varadharajan, six more from Arulzazhi Education Institution of Auroville are also participating in the even, he decided to risk it.
From the moment I got into the taxi at 6:45 am, there was a spirit of celebration and the mood was festive. It was like a picnic, with 8 people and Arvind, the 12 years old son of Dhanalakshmi. We had breakfast at one of those old, charming South Indian eateries, called Ganesh Bhavan in Achrapakkam. Syamala has been a patron of this restaurant since she came to Auroville in 1968. It has black granite tables, well lit space and the aromas of idly, chutney and sambar welcome you. It is now run by Iyer, Jr and they mean to feed you here. They plunk a plantain leaf in front of you and serve food like they do in South Indian marriages; till you say ‘no’. I enjoyed the authentic idlis, the accompaniments and South Indian coffee.
The weather was beastly with rain beating down incessantly but it added to the scenic beauty; especially as we approached Madhurantakam. It was captivatingly beautiful and you can have a sense of it from the pictures.

On arrival,  I was pleasantly surprised with the warm welcome and the gathering of more than 35 people ready for the event. The festive spirit was very much palpable. It was a pleasure to watch  the devotees of Mother in Chengalpattu do the arrangements for seating, sound etc with such enthusiasm.
The event itself was nothing less than magical best. I enjoyed it and feel immensely satisfied and fulfilled. It was a gathering of immense richness: people from all walks of life and ages, from the youngest Vijayakumar, 12 to the eldest – about 80. I am grateful for the time, attention, participation and the questions from the gathering and it is a gift for me to share this day with this gathering. What an event! 9 of us going from Auroville to ‘take Auroville outside Auroivlle’ and on a rainy Sunday, more than 40 devotees of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother congregating to participate in an ‘Adventure of consciousness’. It is indeed a great celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Tamil Nadu. I am grateful to Syamala for creating this event inside of those celebrations. I have no words to convey how my heart is full to be part of this expansion of awareness and consciousness. A memory to cherish, experience to revel in, a ‘boon to keep within’.
We briefly visited the small but extremely well organized, center of Sri Aurobindo and I experienced peace and serenity in that wonderful space!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Well Being Workshop at SAWCHU, Auroville

This workshop is the foundation of my work and I offer it in the inspiring building of SAWCHU in the serene campus of Bharat Nivas, surrounded by the glorious nature, to the orchestra of birds singing. On the first day and the fourth day, it was raining so heavily and Auroville was so waterlogged that it is a miracle that we held the sessions at all: It is more than a miracle that we held the session on time. I ma grateful to the participants for making it happen.

Four of the participants from Being Well workshop attended this workshop too: Dominic, Mathias and one of the partner pairs, Joan and Emily. I feel very happy when I see participants from the earlier workshops come to another workshop because it reinforces my need to spread this work and my need for sharing and making a difference. I am grateful that Laila and Varadharajan were present for some of the sessions. There was also a young lady from Cuba – first time ever, not only in my workshop but also, the first Cuban I ever met! Human Unity is already manifesting in Auroville. Where else would you have people of 45 nationalities living together, inspired by the Auroville Charter.
This is also the first time that I hold a full day workshop during the Well Being workshop. I went to “Chengalpattu on Sunday for an event that was so full of inspiration and celebration! What an unforgettable 10 days, starting with the two days workshop at Savitri Bhavan on 7th of November.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Being Well Retreat at Savitri Bhavan

Being Well Retreat is the program I enjoy most and Savitri Bhavan is the ultimate venue! This combination makes this retreat very, very special for me and I always look forward to it with heightened sense of excitement and anticipation.  It was no different this time; the excitement and anticipation were further heightened. I enjoyed that.
It was raining quite hard on both the days of the workshop. What better place to be than Savitri Bhavan, doing a two day retreat? The rain added a background music that had its own random rhythm with light effects. The weather and the space were just magical and made the event extraordinary.
I prefer to start this workshop with emotional freedom as it helps to deal with the inevitable emotions that come up while dealing with the baggage of the past. We start each session with a meditation and much of the retreat gets done through guided mediations. The creative visualization part has a lot of fun!
Tomas , who attended a Being Well retreat last year and a Well being workshop recently, was again in this retreat. I felt very happy to see him. One of the very interesting things about this retreat was that there were three pairs of ?partners?. I felt very happy to see people in intimate relationships in the retreat as the joint participation creates a new kind of energy. A very special aspect for me was the participation of Smt. & Sri madhavi Rao. They are devotees of the Mother and have been in the Ashram since 1973. Sri Madhava Rao is a very erudite scholarly person with awe-inspiring knowledge of Mother and Sri Aurobindo?s works as well the ancient scriptures. What a gift to have their participation! They stayed in Atithi Griha guest house to attend the retreat and it gave me an opportunity to talk to them in the evenings.
What can I say about the retreat itself? It was two days of joy and a journey shared by the entire group. At the end of the two days, my heart was full with joy and gratitude for the opportunity of sharing the time and space.
To know more about Savitri Bhavan, please click on http://www.auroville.org/education/edu_centres/savitribhavan_main.htm

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rains, at last!

Day break at Atithi Griha (where I stay in Auroville)
My posts so far are program linked. This is my first post about my personal growth, not linked with a program. In some sense, my growth during the inter-program gap; in fact one of the longest inter-programs gaps after May 09; intentionally kept to do some of the other things I do.
I started a concept called Integrated Communication and Information Technology Infrastructure (ICITI) for Auroville. I have been working on this now for 18 months and it has taken a concrete and firm shape. The concept and proposed architecture are validated by experts and is gathering community interest and support. We had a meeting in Auroville on 28th October and I feel very satisfied! BTW, it would be the world?s first integrated, converged (data/voice/video as well as mobile/fixed) state of the art, city-wide community infrastructure in the world! Working on this project keeps the other side of my brain occupied. What I discovered recently was that there is a subtle interaction and interdependence of the two sides of the rain. I also think that this is my offering of gratitude for the world to have trained and educated me as an Engineer.
I was also working on web site to share information on the personal growth programs. I will soon share the URL.
At last, rains came to Auroville! Auroville is incredibly beautiful after a rain. I enjoyed some of my most wonderful early morning walks in the last 4 days. A rare, first time ever gift for me was to meet peacock in the Matrimandir garden. I am sensing a new capability to appreciate natural beauty. I want to share some of the beauty with you through the pictures. I am grateful for living in Auroville and grateful for the beauty and serenity it provides me.
Next week-end (7&8th November) is Being Well Program. It is my favorite program and Savitri Bhavan is the ultimate venue. Look forward to sharing about it in the next post.
BTW, someone asked me why do you share? Interesting.... Self expression, connect, share,  contribute, get contributed, need to make my own experiences more vivid and real for myself and bring clarity to the source of my being, doing and having?..
I am grateful for the web medium. What a medium to share, connect and communicate! I just love it and feel lucky to be borne in this era and use the web.

View from my window

 View form my work place

See the map of India in nature. I took this picture from the terrace  of Atithi Griha. The interesting part is that Atithi Griha is located in Bharat Nivas (Home of India) Campus!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Well Being Workshop 7th to 13th October 2009

This venue as well as this workshop are very special for me. It is an amazing space! Open on all sides, with a striking beauty in simplicity, birds chirruping, gentle breeze blowing, the sun playing hide and seek…. And, there is something very wonderful in this space of Sri Aurobindo World Center for Human Unity (SAWCHU). I like to face the pictures of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The painting by Astreji adds to the ambience and reminds me of the aim of Auroville. All in all, it is a privilege and pleasure to have been offering Well being Workshops here since Feb 2008.

I started the workshops initially as Pranayama. As time went by added some more components and now it is called Well Being. My love for this workshop is rooted in my gratitude for Pranayama as the savior from ‘incurable’ IHD. Evrytime that I am in this workshop, The satisfaction and fulfillment I experience every time I share it. I also get to know the participants better as they come for 7 consecutive days. I enjoy the last two sessions those who did the workshop drop in. First, I get to reconnect with them. Second, I get to know how Pranayama is helping them in their life. Their presence gives me energy, enthusiasm and I feel a nurturing support. Finally, when they share the benefits they experience, it inspires one and all to take on practicing it, every day!
Well Being is a seven day workshop. One of the highlights of this workshop for me was the presence of Jangshup (means Enlightenment) on Saturday and Sunday, when she had no school. She is the youngest ever participant in any of the programs facilitated by me and I am delighted and charmed with her presence, smile and that special energy that children create. I was glad to see Tomas in this workshop. He was in a Being Well workshop least year and I enjoyed reconnecting with him. Selvam did the workshop earlier but again attended this one to re-start his practice. I feel exhilarated and grateful.
The international nature of any event in Auroville is another source of joy and inspiration for me. I find that any event in Auroville is more international than many other international events I attended. Each event is a step towards Human Unity and it is immensely interesting and inspiring for me to be part of any event in Auroville.
I normally offer this workshop at least once a month. I am finding it a challenge to schedule it in the month of November as other commitments are mounting. I would like to just make it happen as I would not like to miss offering it, no matter what! After all, this is the purpose of my life and when I don’t serve that purpose, I am losing an opportunity to experience fulfillment and exultation!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Program at Sri Aurobindo Relics Center, Chennai

This event was made possible by Syamala, my Auroville Akka (elder sister). In 1969, she was chosen by the Mother to work at Auroville. One of her current projects is Arulvazhi Education Center. This is the centenary year of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Puducherry. To celebrate the centenary year, Syamala started an initiative, under the aegis of Arulvazhi, to reach out to places in Tamil Nadu and offer some events. I fondly think of this as ‘Taking Auroville outside Auroville’.

We stopped on the way at Chengalpat, a quaint town about 60 km short of Chennai. You turn off the highway at a beautiful lake and go on a road with a reserved forest on your right to get to the town. We went to the residence of Mr. Prabhakararao, who gives a lot of his time and energy to run the Sri Aurobindo Center in Chengalpattu. They call their home ‘The Mother’s Home’. I enjoyed the hospitality and the tasty, nutritious lunch. I felt a lot of love and affection from both Mr and Mrs Rao and they invited me to facilitate a Deep Relaxation and Meditation workshop at Chengalpattu. We need to work out the date and venue. He told that he expects more than 40 people to participate. However, when I communicated my need to have people who can follow spoken English, the estimate came down to 15!

We reached the Center around 4pm on 10th October and I felt very happy to meet Bhavatarini Amma again. I had the fortune of facilitating a two day Well Being workshop at a School in Ginge, where Ms. Uma (Amma’s daughter) is the Principal. When I recall that three generations of Amma’s family participated in that event, I relive my exultance and inspiration! That evening, in that special space of the Center, I enjoyed offering a meditation session for Amma and her daughter, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

The topic of the event was Stress Management. It was the first time that I was doing a workshop in a Center like this and for a gathering of devotees. It was a unique opportunity for my own Personal Growth (I would like to post another blog on this rather than squeezing it in here). I have been following a strategy to move away from any interaction where translation is needed and leave it inconclusive. When this happened again in this event, I made a choice to create value for all on the point raised (as translated to me). I am not happy with the result. However, I am celebrating my own victory over my conditioning and actually trying out an unfamiliar and riskier option. I need clarity on this for myself.

Pandy, one of the participants, came all the way from Bangalore to attend this event traveling by overnight bus both ways. I felt very enchanted as my need for inspiration has been met. In the break, he connected with me and recalled that he attended my Landmark seminar series in 2000! I am grateful for this reconnection and actually experiencing ‘It is a small world’.

NVC session for Students of ‘Living Routes’ at Fraternity

Let me first elaborate some of the words in the title. NVC stands for Nonviolent Communication and I am passionate about it because it is helping me to remain connected to my inner self and others in a compassionate way even in trying situations. ‘Living Routes’ believes that we must learn to live sustainably and offers programs that are academic as well as experiential to help you grow on academic, professional and personal levels. Fraternity is a charming, green community in Auroville.

When Martin requested me to do an introductory session on NVC for the students of the Living Routes program, I was very excited with the opportunity to share NVC. Besides, I value the ideals and goals of Living Routes. But, the time is one and a half hours; yes, 1.5 hrs. I remember it was Pascal who said “If I had more time I would write a shorter letter’. I did not have more time, but I saw it as an opportunity to grow and decided to give it a try. Then, Bindu told me that the session is organized immediately after screening of the NVC Basic video of Marshall. That made it simpler to prepare and I thought that I would give a little time for any questions etc and then work on forms on life-alienating communication (4-D in NVC parlance) and do an exercise to deepen the understanding.
I was very happy when I met the young group of 14 students from US and one Indian, Karthik. Karthik attended an earlier NVC program facilitated by me and I celebrated the re-connection. The students could not watch the video fully because it got stuck after about 30 minutes and were waiting for me. This gave me an additional 10 minutes but I felt shaky about my plan. But, the students responded with enthusiasm to my approach and after a brief over view, we jumped into the four types of life- alienating communication i.e Diagnoses, Deserve Oriented language, Denial of Responsibility, Demand Language. When I recall the questions and comments from the students, I feel delighted because my need for sharing NVC and mutual learning was met. It was the first time I went inside Fraternity and I liked the greenery and the beauty of this place. After the session, I had the joyful opportunity to chat with Priya, one of the students for US.
After the program, I used a rest room with the sign ‘ BOYS’….. after a long, long time.
I am inspired by Living Routes and look forward to more opportunities to participate and contribute in the Living Routes programs

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fusion at PEC/EIE Department

Pondicherry Engineering College (PEC) is one of the few campuses (that I know) with a glimpse of the sea. On 08 October, the Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering (EIE) Department of PEC celebrated ‘Fusion’ to launch the Student Council, aimed at developing the all-round capabilities of students with systematic organization of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. I had the honor of inaugurating the EIE Council and addressing the students on this joyous occasion. When Prof. Anandnatarjan, HoD personally came to Auroville to drive me in his car, I was astonished! I enjoyed the pleasant drive in the company of Prof. Ananadnatarjan and Mr. Tamil Selvam. It is more than eighteen months since I last visited the campus as one of the judges in a Technical Paper Contest. I felt happy see the campus greener and cleaner than what I remembered! It was a pleasure to meet my old friend Prof. Prithiviraj. Our connection dates back to IIT, Kharagpur in 1975-77. I feel very inspired by the initiatives PEC is taking to improve the curriculum, all-round development of the students and the campus.
We were received very traditionally at the venue of the function, flowers, scented water, beautiful flower arrangement, the brilliant smiles of the silk-saree clad young lady students and the General Secretary of the Student Council, Mr. Ramsivalinga. I was impressed with the way the function adhered to the time line, which is a rarity.
I chose the topic ‘Awareness of your inner resources to fulfill your dreams’ for this occasion. I was pretty pleased with this topic and wanted to do a few exercises that enable the gathering to experience awareness and have a sense of the inner resources. I have conducted such exercises a number of times. But, this was the first time (in my new avatar) I was talking to a gathering of 200 people and I felt nervous and apprehensive. There was a strong internal dialogue telling me that it is risky to attempt Deep Relaxation for such a large, young gathering. It took a lot on my part to remain ‘present’ and focused on talking about concepts like awareness and internal resources and actually conduct the deep relaxation process. There were the giggles, chatting and puzzlement during the initial steps of chanting. However, when we finally did the process, I was amazed with the stillness and the energy of deep relaxation in the room. In a sense, I could ‘walk my talk’, while I was talking! This is an extraordinary experience in my personal growth and I am grateful! I am also very happy with the questions at the end of the talk and I was dazzled by some of them because I was not expecting questions that I had after several years of practice. This is a reconfirmation for me that the younger you are, the less baggage you have and you don’t have to wait to start awareness practices.
I felt very happy with the EIE Department’s practice of presenting saplings instead of flower bouquets. I do wish more and more of us emulate this principle for greener earth. I intend to nurture this sapling I received as a growing memento of this event. I invoke the universal energy to nurture the seedlings of awareness in all of us who were part of this exciting and extraordinary event!
Prof. Anandnatarjan is a Yoga practitioner and I am bowled over with his suggestion that I could offer a Well Being Course based on Pranayama in the campus. When I was getting back to Auroville, I reflected on the day, my heart was filled with happiness and gratitude!
It was also a pleasure to meet Vignesh. His sister, Priya is my ‘Auroville daughter’ and works from the seat next to mine in Town Planning office. When I tried to click some pictures, I found that the battery ran down. I requested Vignesh to send me some pictures he took so that I can add one or two to this blog.
24th October 09: Atlast, I put the pictures! Thank you, Vignesh.
For more details, click on http://www.eiecouncil.com/

3 Dec 2012
Here is a picture of the sapling planted 3 years ago

The veranda has been converted to a room and the tree is now taller than the building! 

I am grateful to Prof Anandanatarjan for giving me this sapling.

JV, 3 Dec 12

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A delightful experience at IIIT, Bangalore

As far as I can recall, the last time I was at IIITB was in 2006 when Prof. Das asked me give a talk on ‘Voice over Wireless’ in a Conference on Wireless Technologies. On 1st October 2009, I was again in this beautiful campus to conduct a workshop on “Stress Management’. It was a pleasure meeting old friends like Prof. Sadagopan and Mr. Murugan and making new friends like Prof. Chandrashekar. In Prof. Sadagopan’s room, I met Dr. (Raja) KRV Subramanian, who incubated Radix Learning in IIITB. I was very pleasantly surprised when Raja said ‘you were my Seminar Leader in Landmark’ and went on to talk about how the seminar made a difference in his life. I cherish the moment as I experienced a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Reconnecting with Raja was an unexpected bonus!
The workshop began with an introduction by Prof. Sadagopan. I was very touched by the way he introduced me, in his inimitable, informal style. I felt at home and the students started listening to me with interest right from the word ‘go’. When I recall the keen participation and response of the students, I feel delighted as my need to share and make a difference was more than met! In my experience, this was one of the best ever events I facilitated and I am grateful to the students of IIIT for their active listening and participation. I look forward to more such opportunities!
I have no doubts that I found the purpose of my life. For, I felt what Deepak Chopra must have meant when he said “Everyone has a purpose in life…. a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.”