That’s the message I was given as a girl growing up in Ohio in the 70’s.
I resigned to this which led to two divorces with people who utilized my “I’m not important” story.
Perplexed by a silent emptiness and unhappiness, inside I knew something wasn’t right. I decided to do something about it.
I got my references in order, did the homework, and sent in the application. I was accepted and off I went to study at an Ashram. I arrived not knowing what to expect.
Immediately, I thought this place needs some work. They need a landscaper. They should update the buildings, the tile is creaky, etc. What had I gotten myself into? I was uncomfortable, and when out of our comfort zone, we tend to judge things, not accept things. It’s a stress response.
On the 3rd day, I walked around the same place with a very different perspective. I was looking at the same plants, the same hallways, the same buildings, but I thought I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life.
I realized my perception had changed. I did not know how, but something inside me was different. I saw beauty all around me. The love I felt overwhelmed me.
On a sunny Monday afternoon, the 4th day of the program, I leaned over to the total stranger on my right, while the guru was talking to us and I asked him, “Do you buy this (what the guru is saying)?” He said, “Yes, do you”? I said, “yes, this is the first thing in my life that makes sense to me.”
At that very moment, I thought — I don’t know how to do this thing called “life”. But I do know that what I am doing isn’t working. This is crystal clear to me. I needed to try something different. I might as well try this. So I did.
18 months later, I found myself on a pilgrimage in India. I felt a pull in my chest which told me to go. I had never really felt anything like this. This pull didn’t go away. I didn’t understand this… so I signed up, not having any idea what to expect.
Standing on stage at Kumbh Mela with my guru and 20 of my friends, Swami Chidinand Saraswati (known as one of the most revered Saints in India) turned around and “chose me”. He handed me the fire, stepped aside and asked me to bless the 50 million gathered at the river for the Arti ceremony. Something inside me said, “I accept”.
I had no idea what I accepted, but I had wished to be like my teacher Bapuji (Endless Love). I wished to use my life to spread love to everyone I meet, everywhere I go. I knew this is what changed me, and I wanted to use my life to be this for others.
I knew I needed to teach this. I needed to develop a scientific framework to explain how to help others to reduce their pain and suffering. I knew I needed to teach this in corporations.
In my work at Harvard in neuroscience, leadership and coaching, I worked with others to understand different aspects of behavior, psychology and communication. My connections with UMASS Medical Harvard Teaching Hospital, The American Institute of Stress, and CU Denver helped me build and test my frameworks in corporate settings. CEOs of the Fortune 100 and former Black-Ops who were once suspect of using mindfulness and neuroscience for things like conflict resolution and leadership development found record-breaking attendance and results. Testimonials flew in on how profoundly these classes quickly changed lives.
I have worked with leaders, teams and individuals for over 20 years across federal and state agencies including; FEMA, US Forest Service, IRS, US Treasury, Bureau of Prisons, Dept of Interior, GSA and more. In the private sector, I have worked with Microsoft, CNN, NBC, UC Health, Holland & Hart, Pinnacol, Shell Oil, Texaco, The Mayo Clinic, among others.
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