World-renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares how to be your best self during stressful times

Verizon Media’s CEO Guru Gowrappan and CTO Rathi Murthy sat down with world renowned humanitarian, spiritual leader and Art of Living founder The Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to discuss how to be your best self during stressful times.

Video Transcript

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: 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. That can take us the long way.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RATHI MURTHY: Hi. I'm Rathi Murthy. I'm the CTO at Verizon Media. And I'm really excited to be here today. I'm joined by Guru, who is our CEO of Verizon Media. I'm also really humbled to welcome another guru, my guruji, as I call him, Sri Sri. He's a humanitarian, spiritual leader, and peacemaker, and has touched so many lives, over 450 million people around the world.

And today, we are here to talk about how to be our best self during these uncertain and stressful times. And when we talk about our best selves, maybe we can connect this today to how this impacts our ability to innovate. So very happy to hand over the floor to both of you.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: Thank you, Rathi. And Sri Sri, I'm excited to be here. And it's such an honor to have you.

One of the terms that you talk about is the importance of being best selves. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was the sentiment that we have to make the most of this time. Now, fast forward 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 RAVI SHANKAR: First of all, you should know your best self is always inside of your or with you. Your best skills doesn't have to be expressed all the time. But there is a need. When we are stressed, what happens, the skill that is wanting to manifest goes back to sleep. So in order for those skills to manifest, we need to check the fellow called stress.

See, 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 also. What is it that you can do you? You have to increase your energy level.

And for increasing energy level, I would recommend people to look into their diet. Eat light food, more greens and more vegetables. And 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.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: In your view, what practice is the right practice to start to your day, in terms of motivation?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: I would rather go for inspiration rather than motivation. Motivation, I feel, is short-lived, whereas the inspiration, if we are inspired from within, that would be the biggest driving force for us for the whole life.

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.

By the lunchtime, usually people have this fatigue that comes up. Here, also, I would recommend a few minutes of meditation. I often say, M&M for all the workers and employees, meals and meditation together. That creates a sense of bonding. And it brings a sense of rejuvenation from morning fatigue.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: Can you talk a bit more about the some of the amazing work you've done to bridge people from different cultures and perspectives, and how you can create more open and inclusive communities and environments?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: We must have more cultural festivals, which would bring in people from all different communities. Instead of being afraid of all 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.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: Rathi, you manage a big team. And innovation and creativity, a lot of that is part of what you guys do. What do your teams feel, Rathi? And what would you like to ask Sri Sri from that?

- Guruji, I would love to ask you-- you're able to bring that dynamism, that action, that peace, that calm, and thoughtfulness in every place where you are. How do we bring that same calmness in our actions and thoughts?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: When we practice meditation, it is normal, it's very natural for us to exude that peace around that. If we are happy, we spread happiness around us. And if we are miserable, we definitely spend such vibes around us.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: In my organization, I have around 11,000 employees. And a lot of them are families. So you have work at home, schooling at home, and your life at home. Everything is kind of in a box in a way. What suggestions have you given to parents? How can they be more balanced?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: Yeah, 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 little break from what's your world is also essential. Also, this is the time to sit and write something, or learn something new. For creative thinking and writing, this could be the best time.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: So with that, I want to do a little bit of fun stuff. You talked about food earlier. What's your favorite food?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: I like any food that comes on my plate if it's vegetarian.

[LAUGHTER]

GURU GOWRAPPAN: What's your favorite city that you have visited so far?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: My favorite city is the city I am in at that moment. I really love it.

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: If you had a quote or a statement on a billboard that can reach billions of people, what would that be?

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: Be happy and selfless.

GURU GOWRAPPAN: Thank you so much, Sri Sri. You've been generous with your time and all the thoughts in what we can do going forward. Really, really massive gratitude. Thank you so much.