In conversation With Ami Patel ...
Celebrity Stylist, former Fashion Director, L’Officiel India, and Creative Director, Harper’s Bazaar India, Ami is experienced in all aspects of fashion styling, her work spanning from editorial, print, and TV, to celebrity styling. She is out there to prove that styles change but style doesn’t. Ami has the gift of transforming people and giving them the best look. This love and passion for fashion has made her one of India’s best known stylists today.
But Ami doesn’t stop at that. Along with styling celebrities with great finesse, she has a knack for bringing out the inner beauty in people too. A regular meditator for 14 years now and a Sahaj Meditation Teacher, Ami Patel in her interview tells us why it is important to be beautiful inside out.
Meditation has become an indispensable part of Ami’s daily routine and she believes it is as important to fashion stylists as it is to anybody else.
Q1. As a fashion stylist, how much importance do you give to inner beauty and transformation over outer beauty and makeovers?
I believe outer beauty and makeovers are very important because in today’s materialistic world, when people look at you, especially if you are in the fashion business, they take you by your appearance. They notice your clothes, your shoes, your hair, your perfume, everything. However, being well groomed from the inside in the fashion business is also equally important. No matter how well presented you are, if you are a nasty person, if you backbite, or are somebody who is not pleasant to hang out with, all your outer appearances fall short. So, we need a combination, a balance of both outer and inner beauty. I believe they go hand in hand and are equally important in the fashion industry.
Q2. Can meditation make people look beautiful inside out?
Yes. Meditation makes you worry less. It makes you live in the present moment. You stop worrying about the future or regretting the past. You start living in the now.
Aging is when you are stressed and are constantly thinking and worrying what’s going to happen, or regretting the past. Meditation is the opposite of all that, it slows down aging. It is scientifically proven. When we meditate, chemical changes happen in our body that act as anti-aging agents.
Q3. Mostly, those who enter the fashion world are overwhelmed by its glamour. How do you manage this overwhelming glamour?
Well, if you are overwhelmed by glamour, it means you are living a superficial life. When you are overwhelmed, it means you don’t know that there is something more in life than glamour. When you are more founded within yourself, you don’t get overwhelmed by glamour. And you don’t get swept away by the good and the bad that happens to you, and meditation helps with this.
Meditation makes you centered. Being centered is important because when you get overwhelmed by glamour, it can make you happy quickly and unhappy just as quickly. It is not a very good place to be in. I would say, be more rooted in yourself so that you can be glamorous all the time.
Q4. You are a very busy person. How then do you get time to meditate?
Meditation is actually for people who are busy. If you are busy and you don’t have time, you need to meditate all the more because meditation will actually enhance the quality of your life and will give you more time. It will aid you to work in a much more efficient manner, and this way you will be able to take time out for meditation.
It is very possible to take twenty minutes out for yourself. And if you take that time out, it will actually improve the quality of your work. So, first, meditation adds hours to your day; second, it improves the quality of the work you do; and third, if you don’t have the time to meditate and you think that you are too busy, that is when you need to meditate.
Q5. How does meditation add hours to your day?
Meditation is equal to a lot of rest. 20 minutes of meditation is equal to the rest that 5 or 6 hours of deep sleep can give you. Meditation adds hours to your day.
Q6. What qualities keep you anchored amidst the feats you achieve and the challenges you face?
Meditation stops my mind from being swayed in different directions, and getting flipped around by the good and the bad that happens in life. Life is full of opposites. It has success as well as failures. Life can turn you into a ping-pong ball. At such times, meditation makes you more grounded, or centered. It makes you rise above good and bad and gives you the realization that there is something beyond these.
Q7. How do you manage the passion to succeed in a way that doesn't cause burnout?
Silence is my secret. Spending a few minutes in silence and meditation improves the quality of my work, increases creativity. There are many things that can be fashioned in silence. Keeping some time aside to be silent is the best way to refresh yourself and maintain professionalism in your work.
Q8. Have you witnessed a change in your performance and in the way you manage stress after you started meditating regularly?
Yes, absolutely! Meditation makes you a happier and more likeable person and enhances your presence. Your presence is the unspoken communication that people can sense. When you have a disturbed person in the room, you can sense that. When you have somebody who is genuinely happy from inside, you can sense that too. Meditation makes you a more positive person—someone who people like having around, and that becomes visible in your work as well.
Humility is another important quality or asset that meditation has nurtured in me. The minute you become arrogant, nature takes care of that by giving you some kind of lesson or another. Being humble will make your rise to success smoother. You have no choice but to be humble.
Q9. How does meditation improve the quality of your work?
Meditation cools your brain. It stops you from taking rash decisions. It improves the quality of your decisions and communication. It is like taking a dip into infinity, and that sharpens your intuition. All this obviously helps your work.
Q10. What message would you like to convey to your fellow fashion stylists and to those who have been following you?
To fellow artists, I’d say "the more, the merrier". I think it is nice to have more people in this field. That actually creates and increases the market for everyone out there.
To those aspiring to be fashion stylists, I'd say "go for it". It is a profession that is very valid now, while 10 years ago nobody would have thought of taking it up to earn a living. You have to be prepared to work harder than sitting in an office. There is lot of legwork, a lot of effort, but it is all worth it. Work hard, work smart, and get lucky with meditation.
Q11. In the last International Women's Conference (IWC), you spoke about inner and outer beauty, where you mentioned about making happiness fashionable. Could you elaborate on that?
Fashion is about trends that are seasonal and keep changing, but happiness is timeless and fashionable. All of us in the fashion business work with extreme deadlines and pressure, and this can actually take away the happiness quotient from our life. As fashion designers and stylists, it’s our responsibility to not only make seasonal trends fashionable, but also make timeless aspects of life, like happiness and joy, fashionable.
The International Women’s Conference is hosting a special panel discussion in February 2014 where fashion designers can come together and brainstorm on how to make this happen. It is something different, very exciting, and has never happened before and I am really looking forward to it.
Q12. For most people, happiness is defined by procuring objects and wanting a certain list of things, whether it’s fashionable clothes, a home, or a name. While it isn't wrong, how can one go beyond that definition and experience a deeper, everlasting happiness?
No matter what we want to do in life, the bottom line is that we want to be happy, whether it is material pleasures or spiritual pursuits. We do these things for happiness. However, what we don’t realize is that all the wonderful material objects give happiness that is transient. It is not well founded and can quickly change into unhappiness if something unpleasant happens to us.
Spirituality, on the other hand, gives you happiness that is more stable, steady, and long lasting. I'd say pursue both, because the happiness spirituality can give you is ever lasting. You’ll not lose it even if your material objects are taken from you.
I learned this from Bhanumathi Narasimhan, who is a renowned meditation teacher and has trained many others to spread this practice. She is somebody who has an innate sense of joy and a contagious laughter, and I have been privileged to interact with her on innumerable occasions.
Having her at the helm of the International Women’s Conference is one of the reasons I am connected with IWC. She is the one person responsible for making happiness fashionable, and I would like to invite fashion designers to come forth and make the people they meet and dress not only fashionable, but also happier.