Global pandemic, mass protests calling for social justice, California wildfires, political unrest, clashes with police — the list of 2020 stressors goes on and on, with no real ending in sight. Still, people are looking for ways to be resilient and at their best.
For some wisdom and guidance, Verizon Media (parent company of Yahoo Life), looked to world renowned humanitarian, spiritual leader and The Art of Living Foundation founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He spoke with Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan and CTO Rathi Murthy about how to be your best self as it relates to the workplace — where creativity and innovation are necessary to thrive.
When something blocks you from being your best self
Gowrappan: One of the themes that you talk about is the importance of being best self. The beginning of the pandemic, there was the sentiment that we had to make the most of this time. Now, fast forward to today, many months later, many of us are finding that it wasn't that simple. From your view, what is preventing us from being our best self?
Sri Sri: First of all, you should know your best self is always inside of you or with you. Your best skills doesn't have to be expressed all the time, but when there is a need. When we are stressed, what happens [is] the skill that is wanting to manifest goes back to sleep. So in order for our skill to manifest, we need to check the fellow called stress.
When we have too much to do, too little time and no energy, that's when we get stressed. Now you can't change the time. Time is limited and you can't reduce your workload... You have to increase your energy level. And for increasing energy level, I would recommend people to look into their diet. Eat light fruit, more greens and more vegetables. Second is good rest. And third thing is to understand that this is a temporary phenomenon. This crisis is not permanent. It's not going to last forever.
How to get going in the morning to be your best self all day
Gowrappan: In your view, what practice is the right practice to start your day?
Sri Sri: Like you have dental hygiene — morning everyone brushes their teeth — we also should take care of mental hygiene, do a few minutes of breathing exercise in the morning, so that we feel vibrant and we start our work with more enthusiasm and energy.
On projecting calmness during stressful times
Murthy: Guruji, you're able to bring that dynamism, that action, that peace, that calm and that thoughtfulness in every place where you are. How do we bring that same calmness in our actions and thoughts at work?
Sri Sri: When we practice meditation... It's very natural for us to exuberate that peace around us. If we are happy, we spread happiness around us, and if we are miserable, we definitely, ,you know, spread such vibes around us.
The importance of connection and community to being your best self
Gowrappan: Can you talk about some of the amazing work you've done to bridge people from different cultures and perspectives and how to create more inclusive communities and environments?
Sri Sri: We must have more cultural festivals, which would bring in people from all different communities. And instead of being afraid of the “other,” or the diversity, we should start celebrating the diversity. Somehow, unfortunately, in the world, people like to make everybody like them. So we need to create more awareness, whether it's religion, race, gender… this sort of discrimination happens because of fear.
On finding the balance needed to be your best self
Gowrappan: In my organization I have about 11,000 employees and a lot of them are families. So, you have work at home, schooling at home, then your life at home — everything is in kind of, you know, in a box, in a way. What suggestions have you given to parents? How can they be more balanced?
Sri Sri: One thing that COVID has done is it has brought families more together, when people are able to spend more time with the kids, which earlier they were not doing. Here you have to really be cautious, so that you don't strangle anyone's freedom or step in each other's boundaries a lot. A gentle guidance for kids is essential...little break from virtual world is also essential. You know, kids that are buried in the internet the whole day, it's not good for the nervous system. So they should have some real time… We are going to be on this planet for a short period of time. Let's make the best use of our time and do whatever best we can with conviction — and that can take us a long way.
Join Sri Sri here to experience a guided meditation.
Video produced by Stacy Jackman.
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