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

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.”