In November 2018, I participated in Sadhguru’s program again: Isha Insight – The DNA of Success in Coimbatore / India.
The program was attended mainly by Indians. I was one of the few westeners. The 4-day intense curriculum was accompanied largely by Sadhguru.
The Isha Yoga Center lies in the outskirts of Coimbatore, about a 1.5 hour ride from the airport. On our way to the Isha Yoga Center, we made a few stops to buy me a SIM card and to enjoy a road side masala chai.
The Isha Yoga Center is located in King Cobra land. The immense bust of Adiyogi was visible from far away. The Center is protected by security fences and personell.
I finally arrived after a long travel at the Isha Yoga Center and the friendly welcome desk was helping me with my formalities. I got a map of the place, badge and instructions about my accomodation and the program. I quickly settled down in my little combo and started to explore the place. The Isha Meditation Center is massive in size.
I also signed up for Isha Yoga classes, but I dropped out after 15 minutes. I felt that I dont have much to learn in that aspect since the Yoga teacher was introducing Upa Yoga. Upa Yoga is a very basic form of Yoga for everybody compiled by Sadhguru.
Mr. B. S. Nagesh, former CEO Shoppers Stop and President of the National Retail Association India opened the Isha Insight Program and introduced himself as the moderator. Now time has come to see the vastness and depth of elite Indian business people. And everybody came with an as open mind as possible to the best of their abilities, including me. So, everybody was really excited, because India has a deep culture and tradition of spirituality which goes back to Gautama the Buddha and possibly way further. All participants were in awe of Sadhguru. Since the program has now officially started, everybody was anxious to see Sadhguru.
The DNA of Success
Not a shark in a suit
Not a corporate wolf.
In business, all you need to be
is a human being with insight.
And with that, he introduced Sadhguru and welcomed him on stage. Sadhguru began the program with a chant and a subsequent meditation. He then summarized the essential message of this years program as following: It’s about insight, integrity and inspiration. He further summed up what leadership truly means.
Leadership in essence is about moving from personal ambition to a larger vision.
After Sadhguru, Mr. Nagesh introduced one of the next speakers, Mr. Amitabh Kant, former Tourism Director of Kerala and currently the CEO of NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Indian government.
His main message is: Think big, think large! To him, it was important that India follows its own path, its own original path. A sort of antidote to the Western way of unsustainability. Mr. Kant was very energetic and fearless, a truly self-driven man with the constant hunger of learning and developing. It was very interesting to see the diversity and strength of Indian charisma.
One of the next speakers was Mr. Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO of Ola cabs, the Indian equivalent of Uber. He was outlining how they created the company with an evolving vision of being more caring for taxi drivers compared to competitors such as Uber. With incentives and insurance packages, Ola cabs were able to capture large parts of the large Indian market before Uber could establish themselves.
Another speaker was Mr. Kishore Biyani, Founder and CEO of the Future Group. He was a humble man and gave insights into life and business experiences.
Mr. Deepak Garg, Founder and CEO of Rivigo, shared his company story how he started off in the consulting business and felt, that he had to do something larger than his personal ambition. He came up with the idea of a truck sharing logistics company. He went around and pitched the idea to friends and colleagues. Everybody discouraged him of pursuing a risky startup rather than staying in his steady and safe consulting job. He finally pushed through and started the company which became very successful. He solved the problem of the truck industry in such a way, that before, there was a lack of truck driver due to the fact that Indian men do want to be able to build a family. But as a truck driver, being away for so long from family, was very disincentivizing for many. His solution; he created a system where drivers would drive only a shorter distance, hand over the truck to another driver and pick up another truck to drive back home. Thus, the truck drivers would be always home for the night. This approach proved to be a huge success.
Another speaker was P. C. Musthafa, CEO and and Co-Founder of iD Fresh Food. He is a young man, entrepreneur and a celebrity in India, a sort of slumdog millionaire. His story was authentic and driven by an ideology to help people and provide them with healthy and fresh food.
On the last day, we were all sitting outside on the ground of the Spanda Hall Pavillon, and Sadhguru was presenting his closing session. At the end, I had the opportunity to stand up and ask him a question. My question to Sadhguru was: As you are saying, your greatest gift is to create a space and energize it. In order to bring maximum change and benefit to the world, why are you not running to become the next Prime Minister of India… Everybody clapped and Sadhguru interrupted my question.
He quickly called for order. He asked me a question back: Where are you from? I normally would have pulled the Socrates quote; I am neither Athenian nor Greek, I am a citizen of the world. But humbly I bowed down and said, I am from Switzerland (technically, I have 100% turkish blood kinda Asien, but was born in Switzerland and lived most of my life here). Back to the story, he rhetorically said maybe I can become President in your country, Switzerland (lol). He further outlined, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing a very good job and very good initiatives have been onboarded with the central government and they are looking into that.
After the 4-day intensive DNA of Success program, I was left with a profound sensation of humbleness.
A powerful spiritual speech for inclusion, peace and love.
Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Mr. David Choquehuanca and gave a powerful speech at his inauguration in La Paz / Bolivia. His main message was about inclusion, peace and love. His speech was conciliatory and emphasized balance between the left and right after tumultuous years of uncertainty since the ousting of then President Evo Morales.
Below, are Mr. Choquehuanca’s spiritual speech highlights. The spiritual-political framework presented are:
Pachamama, Mother Earth.
Achachilas, spiritual entities in the mountain that protect the villages.
Coca leaf, holy coca plant from Bolivia.
Pensasiento means feeling and thinking.
Aruskipt’asipxañanakasakipunirakispawa means duty to communicate with each other, duty to converse with each other, a principle to live well.
Ayni – Minka – Tama – Tumpa – Colka, Work, Cooperation, Solidarity, Mutual Productivity are old laws of ancient Bolivia.
Ayllu, is a system of organization of life across all all beings.
Larama means rebellion with wisdom.
The Bolivian Identity, we are from Tihuanaco (Bolivia), we are Kataris, we are Ainus (Japanese), Maori’s (New Zealand), Komantsche’s (North America), Mayas (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras), Guaranies (Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Brasil), Mojeños (Bolivia), Aymaras (Bolivia, Perú, Chile, Argentina), Quechuas (Perú, Boliva, Argentina, Chile, Colombia), Hopis (North America), We are all people from all folks who awakens their Larama.
2000 year super cycle, today (December 1st, 2020) the world is witnessing a new time epoque which is repeated every 2000 years or as part of a cyclical concept of time.
Packakuti, transformation and change with a new sun.
Jiwasa, is the death of egocentrism. The you and me, the we.
Iyambae means a free human being without an owner. A law which is protected the Guaranies (Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Brasil).
Taypi, planet Earth as a meeting center, a harmonic co-existence.
Pacha means time and space.
Suma Qamaña, Life in abundance.
Allin Kawsay, Wellbeing and health.
Suma Jakaña, Living together in peace and evolutionary cycles.
Saphi, Roots / Origin.
Pachacamac, Soul of the Earth that revives the world.
Chacha Warmi means the principle of polarity.
Ayllu, Families of a commune.
Qhapaq Nan, Inca path(s) that connect the 6 countries.
The transcript in English can be found here.
Isha Insight 2019 – The DNA of Success
The 8th edition and last in-person program of Isha Insight
In November 2019, I participated in Sadhguru’s program again: Isha Insight – The DNA of Success in Coimbatore / India. Read here more about my first participation in 2018.
Mr. B. S. Nagesh, former CEO Shoppers Stop and President of the National Retail Association India opened the Isha Insight Program and introduced himself as the moderator. Everybody enjoyed Nagesh very much for his humour and professionalism. He moderated the leadership program as well in 2018.
The DNA of Success
Not a shark in a suit
Not a corporate wolf.
In business, all you need to be
is a human being with insight.
And with that, he introduced Sadhguru and welcomed him on stage. Sadhguru began the program with a chant and a subsequent meditation. He then summarized the essential message of the program as following: It’s about insight, integrity and inspiration. You have to decide whether human boredom or human excitement is what you aspire. His answers was clear: Strive for a full fledged life. Sharpen your axe and upgrade yourself before taking on large scale activities.
1. Leadership has many layers. The challenge is often that you got a strong leader, but the lower layers of leadership are lacking leadership qualities. Make sure to propagate leadership across various levels.
2. Upgrade yourself before you take on new big tasks, so you can do it more joyfully.
3. If you have fear, rethink. There might be a reason for it.
As a next speaker, Mr. Synjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor of the Ministry of Finance of the Government of India was presenting. He talked about the history of India and that Indian oceans shaped thousand of years the commerce of the world. From a maritime perspective, India was constantly taking risks and hence, the economy was at the forefront of activities. With this type of risk taking attitude, India was for long periods of time the richest country on earth.
Indian history, he said, started in the bronze age. Civilization was created at the banks of the 7 rivers around 3500 – 4000 BC. Mercantiles created temples across the nation that acted as banks. They had lots of gold stored in the temples. The downturn came around 400 years ago when India was not taking risks anymore and subsequently, the rebuilding and renewal of India was not successful.
After his presentation, I went up to him to ask him what he thinks of Bitcoin. His answer was surprising to me: He vehemently stated that India will never, absolutely never accept Bitcoin as a currency! I was surprised about his strong emotional response.
The next speaker was Lavanya Nalli, Vice Chairman of Lalli Silk Sarees Pvt. Ltd. She shared her personal realizations and insights with the audience:
- Be authentic: Any advice you follow must feel true to you
- Manage your energy, not your time
- Focus on intent, outcome will follow
- Seek purpose, not happiness
Nalli had a very positive aura, her voice was gentle and one could realize quickly that she was true to what she was saying. I personally enjoyed her insights.
Now, the Yogi, Mystic and Founder of the Isha Foundation, Sadhguru was back on stage with his first keynote speak. He raised an open question to the audience: 25 years ago, what did you aspire for? A certain emptiness was in the air. He basically went on to say that the infinite (the number 0) was invented in India. Attention is far more important than thought. Attention -> Thought -> Realisations, thats how it works.
Organize your energies: From a limited sense to an infinite sense of life. The question is what is the seize of intelligence you are deploying over the course of your life? Intellect is not equal intelligence, but make your intellect as sharp as possible. And note, intellect is loaded with memory. There are 8 dimensions of memories:
- Elemental memory
- Atomic memory
- Genetic memory
- Evolutionary memory
- Karmic memory
- Conscious memory
- Inarticulated memory
- Articulated memory
Human intelligence has 12 parts as known by Yogis which can be categorized in 4 groups:
- Buddhi = Intellect -> It’s a survival tool
- Ahankara = Identity
- Manas = Memory
- Chitta = True intelligence
Buddhi -> Ahankara -> Manas; that is the way human intelligence operates in its basic form.
Back to infinity, 99.9x% is nothing, it has lots of room to expand. There are 13 zeros and then the 1 in nothingness. The manifestation is hence 0.00000000000001. Shiva means that which is not, emptiness.
So, everything you do has super-significance!
I took the chance now to ask a question to Sadhguru. I asked, why don’t we learn more tools on how to translate spirituality in business? As an example, at last year’s program, there was a keynote speaker who mapped the 5 earth elements with enterprise functions i.e. “Sky = purpose; Earth = organisational structure; Water = systems and processes; Fire = passion; and Air = culture. Sadhguru answered:
1. Create a picture
2. Infuse it with energy
3. Transport it to every cell of your body
4. Bring it to your thought and emotional processes
I found the answer remarkable and profound.
Sadhguru continued on saying that indviduals constitute an organism (Isha talks not of human resource but human possibility because it opens up new horizons in your thought process). Whatever you do in your business, do both on both sides and pebble it. As a last note, without playfulness there is no celebration.
Another speaker was the former Vice Chairman of Tata Steel, Mr. Balasubramanian Muthuraman. He began his presentation with the statement, that the prime purpose of a corporation is to improve the life of a society. A single pointed purpose helps achieving these goals. And you have a denominator and numerator, both can be increased or decreased. Understand to single point your purpose. In difficult times, consult and care for people, get into dialogue rather than dictating top-down.
Mr. Muthuraman went on to talk about the power of vision and gave some personal advices: Visualize the second ball before you hit the first ball. Your vision must be clear, stretched, shared and co-created. A vision has to be lead by leaders, but co-created.
As a personal growth hack, for 25 years, Mr. Muthuraman spent 4 – 5 hours at the end of the calendar year to review his last year and make plans for the new, upcoming year. The difference between what one thinks and what one writes is that mistakes are not easily accepted when writing down.
He continued by saying that financial numbers are just numbers. Culture is what counts – the ethos. Employers are the most important part of a company. And constant communication, walking the talk, reinforcing the message will help shaping these values constantly.
He assured: India is a land of opportunities. It doesn’t matter what you do, do as you choose. But whatever you do, do it well.
“Drive the organism by passion, not business”
Sincere leadership needs vision which has 2 dimensions:
- Visionary (right brain): Encourage, energize, develop -> These are the soft parts
- Architectural (left brain): Formal, education, logical, systematical -> Hard parts like rules, processes, policy, etc.
Leaders lead the effort, searches for consent within the team and create positive energy. The farther you look, the larger you can plan. And while doing that, don’t worry about China, worry about India. Innovation has nothing to do with education, but with passion.
A person from the audience asked him a question about corruption. He answered: Nobody in the country can say that we are free from it.
The next speaker was Founder and Director of Repos Energy India Pvt. Ltd., Mrs. Aditi Bhosale-Walunj. Here is a video of her passionate talk.
The next speaker, RTA Kapur Chishti, Author of Sari Historian and Textile Scholar had one big message.
“Hand / Heart / Head”
She passionately talked of organic cotton and the long tradition of textile craftsmanship and that organic cotton is at the brink of distinction. She also outlined the risks and benefits of organic cotton vs. industrialized cotton harvesting.
And another speaker was Shri. S. Somanath, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) – the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). He started by saying that, to shoot a satellite to the orbit requires a lot of different systems. If there is a failure, the organisation stands behind you. If you have a success, don’t stand there as a boss, send your employees. In such a complex environment, determination, passion, culture and leadership are pivotal. Learn from other people failures and mistakes. Create an atmosphere, you cannot escape. Ability and appreciation is important to understand other peoples work. At VSSC, key people work on core activites that is inspiring, so there is a multiplication effect.
Now, Isha Foundation volunteers were speaking and sharing their experiences with movemens such as Cauvary Calling. They shared their recipe on how they started a big movement:
- Start a movement by creating an image with a message, everybody agrees
- Participate in it
- Touch hearts
- Articulate a simple message for the masses i.e. 50 Indian Rupees per tree planting
- Leading from the front
On an indvidual level based on the Isha Yoga Center, they summarized 4 take aways for the audience:
- Make your body stronger and younger
- Make your energy more intense and stable
- Open up your emotions
- Bring clarity to your mental faculty
The last speakers were a group of Generation Z kids from the nearby Isha School and a group of Isha Resource Leaders. They set up a parent – child / teenager relationship to talk about the challenges, each side shared their experiences. The focus was on criticism. The youngsters said, criticism is good, but the adults need to tell exactly how to improve, what is not good etc., hence it is only valuable when it is constructive criticism.
“The bottleneck of the bottle is always on the top”
That was the joke from the Isha Resource Leaders. They added, if you have problems, talk straight with objective arguments. As a final advice, always deal with repercussions sensitively. Human is not a resource but a possibility.
After the 4-day intensive DNA of Success program, I was left again with a profound sensation of humbleness.
And the magic of cold showers
In April 2018, I attended Wimhof’s workshop in Munich / Germany at Beach38. I was already taking cold showers for a few months or so continuously as I did on that very day. I left central Switzerland early morning with the excitement to have my very first ice bath later the day and to learn new techniques by the Iceman himself.
The personal story behind Wimhof is very touching. You can learn more about it from Wimhof directly. But the way he mastered the cold immersion allowed him to control his mind.
Once I arrived in Munich at Beach38, Wimhof was playing the ukulele and singing songs and people started to flock in. He was simply radiating love and joy, truly a remarkable man. I found my spot and let the atmosphere sink in after a 3.5 hour car drive.
Wimhof’s method is based on 3 main stages before you immerse yourself into the cold. Be aware to consult one of Wimhofs instructors before you try it yourself.
Stage one: Lie on the ground comfortably and inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth for approx. 40 secondes. It resembles to hyperventilating.
Stage two: Retain your breath for 1 – 2 minutes (Seems very long, but your blood is pumped with oxygen from stage one).
Stage three: Inhale deeply and exhale shallow for a few minutes.
You can repeat these stages a few times. But we did it only one time. You will feel very strong sensations in your body. I went straight up to Wimhof to talk to him after the breathing exercises. He spontaneously gave me a hug, a hug I did not forget ever since. It was a hug full of love. The man is amazing.
Sensations of dizziness, energy rush and most importantly, a sensation of the power of now overwhelms you.
Watch, that you don’t pass out from this exercise by overdoing it. At all times, you have to be tuned in with yourself and know your personal limitations. After that, we were ready to take an ice bath for a couple of minutes as we did at Beach38. It was beautiful! Remember to continue to inhale and exhale while you are immersing yourself into the cold.
After the ice-bath, the workshop was over and it was time for me to drive back home.
I felt that the workshop was absolutely worth the experience and to get that knowledge transmission directly from Wimhof. Since ever then till today, almost all of my showers I have taken are between cold to ice-cold. I plan to continue on taking cold showers for the rest of my life. Also in winter at minus temperatures, I do go swimming in the lake. Since I am praticising cold showers consistently for years, I don’t do any intensive breathing exercises when I immerse myself into the cold, but if needed, I know I have a proven plan.
The benefits of cold showers:
- High energy: Your energy is ramped up and you are ready!
- Immune system: Cold immersion greatly enhances your overall immunity and it does that immediately.
- Peace of mind and emotional harmony: The chatter in your mind is greatly reduced and you feel tremendous ease, even by doing nothing.
- Laser focus: The level of attention is greatly enhanced for all your sense organs.
- Sleep: Even before going to bed, the benefits of a cold shower are very soothing and your sleep quality improves.
- Overall health benefits
- Beauty: Cold revitalizes your skin and makes it smooth.