Hyderabad: On turning 43 in May two year ago, Pushpak, a highly successful senior executive with a global fin-tech firm located in the Financial District, made several changes in his lifestyle. These included getting a farm house in the town, buying a new SUV and promising to block his calendar for a family holiday abroad.
His fitness goals included joining a gym, cycling and running. His life revolved around the stress of managing his own wealth portfolio as also his financial goals and ambitions.
Two years later, the SUV means far less to him. His farmhouse seems a trifle less important.
He has lost two members in his extended family, a close friend and several friends. He has failed at least in one case; despite all the money, he failed to get an ICU bed for a close relative in another city.
He now has a new priority; having peace of mind. After many trials, he has chosen an unlikely route – meditation – to achieve his goal.
Speaking on the eve of World Meditation Day, Pushpak says, “I knew it but missed the significance of such an elementary truth in life. Life is all about breathing. We breathe, we are alive. For all my life, I took it for granted. Today, anxiety and stress, fear and worry are all taking a toll on my life. Corona has raised questions on what we thought was our success. The calm of being aware of my own breath has been the greatest learning.”
He’s alone now. Hordes of people have been forced by the pandemic and its continuing challenges to seek and find mental peace through meditation.
Kamala Chirravuri, one of the top-notch yoga meditation teachers in Hyderabad, has celebrities -- those with serious mental issues and corporate executives -- seeking her help. She offers them counseling and personalized yoga-meditation solutions.
“Meditation as defined by Patanjali comprises dharana and dhyana. Dharana is singularly focusing all our conscious attention on one object, the starting point of meditation. Dhyana is the highest level we can achieve, wherein we are immersed and become one with the flow,” she says.
When asked about her heightened interest in meditation, Kamala replies, “It feels like we are in the midst of a mythological pralaya. To face the unrest outside, we must find strength, peace and calm within. Once we learn to focus our attention within, and become aware of our breath, we find a center and we reduce the imbalance that causes stress, anxiety and unrest.”
A trainer in the Krishnamacharya tradition, Kamala is comfortable with the diversity of meditation techniques. “There are many techniques from Vipassana, the focus on breath and sensations, to chanting of ‘Om’ to visualizations. Anything that works for you! But the one constant in life is our breathing.”
Sanjay Sehgal, a US-based master and guide of Heartfulness meditation, says, “In our technique, we begin with thought as a focal point and dive deeper into the heart. This is a 76-years-old technique of diving deeper and achieving a higher level of consciousness.”
He says, “People may reach out for various reasons. Relieving your stress or finding peace is easy. I often say, you can find peace with a peg of good whiskey or if you can avoid fighting with your spouse. But finding sustainable inner peace, to be a better person, is harder, which is where we take you to.”
The heart-centred meditation, which has millions of practitioners, over 14,000 trainers and over 260 ashrams in 130 nations, renders its service all free.
When quizzed about the recent spurt in interest, Sehgal says, “Even a basic practice of pranayamam will help you at a physical level. It expands your lungs and eases the flow of air from your nose to inside. It can most certainly help during Covid times. Bad things can happen to anyone. But a great gift of meditation is that it helps you alter and find a better sense of control over your own reactions and responses. I have seen in my own family that those who meditate had a distinctly different and qualitatively better response to the emergencies arising out of the Covid pandemic than to those who don’t meditate.”
Trainers have adopted technology in the Covid season to ensure that meditation can be taught in the virtual mode. From an institutional meditation like Heartfulness, whose global headquarters is in Hyderabad and whose spiritual leader Daaji has held remote virtual sessions to individual trainers like Kamala, to those who are doing sessions through Zoom or Google Meets, technology is helping bring together the agitated with those who guide you to inner peace.