A guiding light for many, Rajita Bagga is an Art of Living faculty member dedicated to helping people explore their full potential.
Rajita has worked as a banker for 18 years with a pan Asia responsibility. In September 2010, Rajita quit her banking career and connected herself with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of creating a beautiful world. Today, she is the president of the World Forum for Ethics and Business, on the board of directors at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir (SSRVM) schools, and on the board of governors at Sri Sri University, Orissa.
And she owes her impressive profile to the power of meditation which has helped her evolve into a strong leader. Here, she chats with Divya Sachdev.
How have you evolved as a manager? What role has meditation played in your life?
I did my first Art of Living program in 1996. Since then I have been regularly practicing Sudarshan Kriya. What was amazing was that over a period of time, my responsibilities at work kept increasing.
I have always been a very good performer. Every two years I would get promoted and a bigger responsibility would come. My involvement with The Art of Living also steadily kept on increasing so did my responsibility.
Despite all this, it was all effortless for me; all the credit goes to meditation, Sudarshan Kriya, and Sri Sri’s knowledge. When you really integrate meditation and pranayama in your life, life becomes effortless and that itself is liberating.
Over a period of time, I realized it was important to be sensitive and yet get work done, you are accountable for those people. It can be quite a daunting task but I felt there was so much openness in my heart and there was so much naturalness in my conduct. I did not do it, it just happened.
It really became easy for people to relate to me and to confide in me and then sense of connection increased. Then there was such a strong bond of trust and on the basis of trust, no matter how difficult your task is, the journey towards the goal becomes easier. Sometimes my colleagues who had a similar responsibly for the region for another function would actually say, ‘We do not know how you got this done’. I only credit this ability to meditation and Sudarshan Kriya.
And on the practical side, I sometimes had to travel two weeks a month and sometimes three weeks a month. But even with so much travelling, with the long flights and with the jet lag, it was meditation and Sudarshan Kriya that kept me productive, creative, enthusiastic and fresh.
Personally for me, many things changed. I am a sensitive person so earlier I would get affected by different opinions from people or if someone would say something that I would not think is right. It would affect me as an individual, it would affect my work. It has just reduced. Even now conflicts happen, differences of opinion happen, but now I do not get affected much and if I do, it is 1/20th of how it was earlier.
As a corporate, this is one of the major challenges that you have to take care of conflicting priorities, which might result in a lot of stress. So how does meditation help you cope with that stress?
I used to ask my colleagues how they lived without meditating. For me, meditation has really sharpened my intellect. There are things that earlier used to take me an hour and now I am able to do that same thing in half an hour. Even now when something is not working out, I just leave it aside and take a break for 10 minutes. I go meditate and when I go back to work there is a difference.
I have experienced an incredible change in my creativity. Even when there was so much going on all over the place, I knew I needed to drop and take a break and be quiet. And when I would go back to it, the focus was there.
You mentioned that you actually take lesser time to do things but you know there are times when you have to prioritize between things that are equally important and yet make everything happen in the end?
A lot of that can be attributed to your skill in planning and also the team that you have, the people who work with you. I definitely plan a lot. And with the teams I feel the communication is very important. Because a lot of what I do is remote, I am at one place and I have to manage something that is at another place. Meditation has helped me in planning, effective communication and has given me a lot of clarity of thought.
As a corporate you have to take care of a lot of trade-offs. How does meditation help you take decisions and helps you be satisfied with it in the end?
90 percent of leadership is about making choices and taking decisions. It is not necessary that everything you do is appreciated or liked by others. What is very important is the actions that you take and the space of purity those actions are taken from. But if you are sure that you are coming from a space of purity for a bigger good then it is good in the long run and people would appreciate it.
With trade-offs, dissatisfaction of the choice is linked. With meditation, your mind beautifully gets cultured over a period of time that you do not even realize sometimes how you have entered a space of contentment. So once you have made a decision, you stand by it and you are contented with the result. Normally, why a decision is difficult is because you are fearful of the result. For me, my experience has been that meditation has allowed me to be really satisfied.
Can you share with us some specific instances where meditation has really helped you?
Another aspect that has really sharpened with meditation is intuition. And I believe it is through meditation that your intuition gets developed. For me the biggest example is that I was with my husband unfortunately in The Taj, Mumbai during the terror attack. At that time, no profession example matches with the kind of odds that we were dealing with.
Lack of information and just lack of resources, lack of preparedness and complete lack of clarity that you are even going to come out alive or not. At that time all I could do was to go with my gut feeling, whether to go right or go left, whether to hide here or there. So every move that we made was only on our intuition. For me, that is the most paramount example.
Another thing that personally happened for me, I have developed a proficiency in various languages. Whenever I travel around the world, I have to deal with people who speak different languages. I cannot translate word to word, but I can understand what is being said. That skill, I do not know from where it came.
That was my next question to you, how has meditation helped you in discovering your new talents?
Actually I never discovered them, they were just revealed to me! The one of the biggest gifts has been that my mind came in a state of YES! I am easily able to accept new challenges and take up new opportunities that come up.
How do you manage to do so much of multi-tasking?
I just do! Am I able to do everything 100 percent? No, but am I satisfied with whatever I do? Yes, definitely 100 percent satisfied.
You mentioned that you work with large teams all over the world, so how does meditation help you motivate them to bring out their best?
I do not lose my enthusiasm so easily and I do not lose my optimism. So I am always like, ‘So what if this month it did not work. Doesn’t matter, maybe next month it will’. As a leader I feel I need to be enthusiastic so that I can inspire others. Sometimes people get tired of saying no. So if you do not give up, somehow, somewhere it falls.
Sri Sri says that when you meditate, it reflects all around, your state of mind affects others too. How do you think when you meditate, it reflects in the people that you work with?
Now I am very lucky because most of the people I work with are meditators. But earlier it was different. I had a special permission for a bio-detecter in my room because it was so important to light aggarbatti (incense sticks) every morning and I used to meditate. People used to say that when they would pass by my area, they would feel so good. It used to happen sometimes that they used to have a bad day, something did not work out and people would actually come and say, ‘Can we please sit in your room for five minutes?’ Some people also came to know that there is something called blessing and healing and people would call from absolutely anywhere for blessings.
10-15 years down the line, how had you seen your life to shape up? How is it different from what it is now? What role has meditation played in this?
Ohh it’s glorious now, much more than my expectation, It is vast and so huge, it is beautiful! Truly, the world is my home. Today I can go to any part of the world and I know I have a family. It has been very different, earlier I used to think normal as - just get married, have children and things move on, but my life has been beautifully guided and meditation gives me the contentment that whatever is happening is the best for me.
What message would you give out to inspire corporates to meditate?
Really, you have no idea what secrets can meditation unfold. Meditation is no longer a luxury, it had become a necessity. We owe it to ourselves as individuals, we owe it to our organization and we owe it to our family. All the running around, the challenge of completing targets and all the erratic work hours is going to be easy.
So what else do you like to do?
I love to watch movies! I recently watched HUGO, it was such a wonderful movie. I make sure I watch some movies when I am in flights. I like to sing to myself. I like to travel. I write a lot - I have a blog.