A meditation teacher passionate about women projects, the chairperson of International Women’s Conference, a gifted singer and the sister of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Bhanumathi Narasimhan is a versatile lady wearing many hats, effortlessly. Here, she speaks about how meditation can help women at work.
Q 1. Most Indian women are conditioned to give their 100 percent both at home and at work, and this pressure sometimes creates a feeling of guilt in them. How does meditation help strike a balance between personal and work life, especially for married working women?
Bhanumathi Narasimhan: When you realize that you are multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, you can multi-task. When you realize your capacity to multi-task, that is when the guilt goes; and how to recognize this? When you are in a calm and serene state of mind, which is achieved through meditation.
When you meditate, the same work that you normally perform in four hours, you can do in two hours. So two hours more are given to you to balance between work and family. It is necessary that you give prime time to yourself, to relax yourself, to realize your potential to do better. Otherwise you limit your capabilities. And when you meditate, you realize the expansion within you, that limitlessness within you. Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) says that meditation helps you to reveal your potential.
Q 2. How would meditation help achieve a perfect relationship with each person at the workplace so that neither do we overstep anyone nor are overstepped by anybody?
Bhanumathi Narasimhan: Meditation takes you beyond conditioning and judgement. So do not go with the idea that you will be subordinate. Let us not put that Vikalpa (seed of wrong intention) in our memory.
Most of the time, when faced with challenging situations, the difficulty is in thinking what will I do and comparing it with the past experiences or comparing it with other’s experiences. These are the hindrances or hurdles.
Meditation, relaxation - all these things help - and the right answers will come to you at the right time.
With breathing techniques and meditation, creativity blossoms and gives the ability to tackle people and situations as they come. You do not have to create/pre-empt anything, you will be 100 percent in the present moment and you realize that the present moment is so beautiful and deep. And whatever happens at that time you will get the necessary answers. Most of the time the best answers are spontaneous and have come without any effort.
Q3. Working women usually find it hard to pursue their interests and hobbies. How can meditation keep the creative side of the woman alive?
Bhanumathi Narasimhan: When you say working women hardly find time for personal interests, already you are accepting defeat. In fact, we are our own boss. We can definitely find time if we want to. There is a very famous proverb that says ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. Just because you are working does not mean that you do not have a will. Strengthen your will through meditation and you will definitely find ways where you can be more creative.
I have come across many women who are very creative in their job or the workplace. They will have meetings like a get-together. Like Rajita Bagga (an Art of Living faculty), she will call for a bangle party, she will get gifts for everyone or some new type of food, there will be some dosa (an Indian dish) camps and people would be there. People would have fun along with having the meeting. So there will be party spirit also and yet there will be participation. There will also be some creative games.
Creativity becomes a part of whatever you do. I have seen this in people; after taking the Art of Living leadership programs in places like the World Bank, so much of joy and creativity enhances in them. The workplace becomes a joyful scenario. When you have ownership, then even your workplace becomes like your own place. Problems arise when you distinguish between your home and workplace and feel the division. When you come for work, take full responsibility for the workplace. All this is definitely there in our capacity. It is possible for us.
I also believe when you keep yourself happy, when you keep your mind happy, then the same energy can be spread outside. In that way, even the workplace can be made happier. When you meditate, you are so peaceful, you are in harmony with yourself, you do not wish bad for others. It may sound like a very ideal situation but it is possible with meditation.
Q4. For working women, there is an implicit pressure of looking well-groomed at the workplace. Sometimes this creates a feeling of comparison with colleagues, even leading to low self-esteem. How can meditation play a role here?
Bhanumathi Narasimhan: Meditation is respecting oneself - recognizing that you are the best. So there is no need to crave for somebody else to respect you. Then the whole problem is solved. When you think that somebody is not respecting you, then you feel depressed, you feel dependent on others, you want to convince or impress people. When you are in that state, you definitely make mistakes. And there is a stress factor involved.
Meditation is honoring oneself. The stress is eliminated. When you are in harmony with yourself, people automatically start respecting you. It comes to you naturally. There is no craving, without craving it comes to you.
In fact, it is not only women who are facing discrimination. Even among men there is competition. Women have the quality to nurture, to harmonize and to bring people together. This is natural for you. When you do something that is not natural for you then you do not succeed. These are the small little details that you have to attend to.
Q5. An aggressive attitude is the trend and armor these days for working women to be able to achieve and compete in a man’s world. However, as a woman, this does not seem natural. Where should a woman strike a balance?
Bhanumathi Narasimhan: When you realize your strength, then you also understand the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. You realize that aggressiveness is not your nature. When you see some irregularities or need for improvement, you need to be able to express yourself very well. Spirituality enables expressing things the right way, at the right time. It makes a lot of difference. If you go to the right person, you will get the right solution. Of course, you cannot correct everything overnight; there are many influencing factors.
The skill you get out of meditation is the ability to observe properly - proper observation, perception and expression. Most of our problems are due to lack of proper expression and proper communication. When you know yourself and when you know what you want in life, then you are able to put the two together and are able to express yourself better. When you are agitated, you cannot know what you want. When you can understand the situation, you can bring everything under control. That is why, it is very necessary for people who are facing many problems at workplace or at home to meditate.