Life begins at 40 or 14? It begins whenever you want it to
Nithya Shanti is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, seminar leader, writer and educator, committed to sharing practical wisdom teachings for happiness and enlightenment in a joyful and transformational way.
Nithya completed an MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur and then worked in the corporate sector. Despite having a promising career, he was drawn to pursue his spiritual quest further. In 2002, he ordained as a Buddhist Monk. With the blessings of his teachers he stepped out of the robes in early 2008 and now shares joyful teachings in happiness joyshops, youth programs, corporate trainings and meditation retreats around the world.
Gopika Kumaran, a Student Reporter of YOCee, who was spoke to this teacher highlights six different questions on things that bother a student’s mind. Go ahead and choose what you want to read or just read it all.
1. How do we (students) tell our parents that we want to pursue a career different from their (parent’s) expectations?
The main thing you have to understand is that everything your parents tell you is because they just want you to be happy. You have to first recognise that. They’re not doing it because they want to control you or because they want to spoil your happiness. The main reason is they want you to be happy and they have a certain perspective and understanding of what it would take for you to be happy. First of all, you should appreciate that they have good intentions and two, you have to take responsibility for your own life. If you are neglecting your duties, however small they may be like cleaning your room or studying at the proper time, other people might try controlling your life, but when you’re fulfilling your own responsibilities, people will trust you and your judgment more and it will be easier to talk.
2. How do we decide our dream career?
There are three things, it’s not just the career. Firstly, the job – Something you do to pay the bills. You could use your hands and pay the bills, for example, a car-wash guy or a Dhobi. Your hands are enough and you often get paid very little for that, because just you don’t use your head and there are a lot of hands in this country.
Secondly, the Career- Hands and head. This is where you have to use your intelligence and your hands and you’re paid a lot more. It’s not just about doing something, it’s about how you do things. So, you get better and better at doing things, it leads to advancement, influence and learning. Job is a chore, career is a climb.
The last one – the Calling. By calling, I mean, using your hand and head and heart. Doing something that you love so much that time disappears because you’re enjoying it. It’s even beyond career. In career, you’re still looking for Outer recognition, fame and pay raises. But, calling is inherently self-satisfying. The important thing to realize is that not all of us will start our journey with the calling, so you may go through a job for a little while, go through a career and it’s not a bad or a wrong thing. It’s the process of your unfolding because unless you experience certain things, you will never actually find out that thing which you really love to do. So, ask yourself, make a list of things you love to do, make a list of things you’re good at. Find interesting ways to connect both the lists, things you love to do and things you’re good at. What is the best way to combine them to add value to other people’s lives? Those people are happy to pay you for it, they love you for it, you love doing it, you’re surprised that you’re being paid for doing something that you love, that’s how you discover your calling. The summary of this is – I choose to love what I do until I can do what I love.
3. How can we reduce exam stress?
One thing that worked for me was Mind maps – instead of linear reading, you create a visual representation of what you’ve learnt, take a chart paper, put the lesson in the Centre, draw further chapters of the sub chapters and you put further branches with the points in each chapter and you do it with colors. Many of us are visual learners and we learn by making connections so, when you draw it like this, it really helps while learning. This is what really helped me with my exams.
Another thing that helps is, visualise the best possible outcome, instead of thinking how bad it will be, sit down and imagine what is the best possible outcome for this exam, not like it will happen, but like its already happened, so, I’m so grateful now that this exam was super easy and fun, when I went in the weather was good, I sat there the question paper came I knew all the answers , and smilingly answered them in time , I reviewed my answers and I handed it in and felt so good. So like this you can visualize and you can see it in your mind and feel it in your heart.
The third thing is called the Pomodoro technique, work for 25 min and take a 5 min break. Those 25 mins , no distractions, no checking your phone, no talking to anybody else. 100% focus and then, take a little break, do whatever you want and then, come back. If you have many of these 25 min periods in a day, you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you are while doing focused work. Exams are a part of life, exams will not finish with school, you’ll have exams all through life, if not these kind of exams, then, different kind of exams. So, how your relationships are with these exams will say a lot about your relationships with life and you’re way of looking at life.
4. Many people are very self-conscious nowadays. How can we be more comfortable with our bodies?
I have to confess I was also very much like that, I was very self-conscious, I also had an inferiority complex and I never felt I was good enough. Doing things selflessly for others actually helps a lot. So, when you start doing things selflessly for others, you feel like you’re a good person and that helps.
The second thing that helped was actively practising gratitude, looking in the mirror and greeting myself, using helpful affirmations, for example, “All I need is within me now”, “I’m a genius and I apply my wisdom” when I say things like that and I say it often enough, I become it and believe it. We have this inner critic that’s always finding fault with ourselves. You want to sack the inner critic and replace it with the inner coach. The inner coach will say-“this is what happened, try it this way next time”. The inner coach is encouraging you, it’s the voice of love and requests as opposed to the voice of anger and fear.
5. How can we be independent of our gadgets and not be controlled by them?
Begin by creating small pockets in your life where you’re brave enough to switch your phone off, for example, in the morning, take some time off, don’t touch your phone, do some affirmations, do some meditation and then, put your phone on because now, you’ve met yourself. Then, when you’re with your family and friends put your phone off and just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. You’ll realise that there’s life beyond that little screen. We all use the gadgets nowadays and the truth is, you can’t just say ‘stop’, it’s not going to happen. Create pockets like this where you can use your phone and instead of being a slave to your phone, make your phone your slave. Ask yourself, “Am I the slave of my phone or is my phone my slave? “. If I’m truly the master I can decide to put it off for a few hours a day and take the time to meet real people.
6. How can we be spiritual and do some soul searching?
Be curious about your life and be willing to ask questions and fearlessly explore your own experiences and to ask yourselves what truly makes you happy? Who are the people that inspire you and why?, What are their good qualities and how can you bring that into your own life? If some of you are inspired by certain inspirational authors or even spiritual books, that’s wonderful. I don’t think it’s necessary for all young people to read spiritual books or go on pilgrimages, but, if you are called for it, keep an open mind, try something different, you might be surprised at the experience you have. If you feel inspired to go to a calm and quiet place or some place where a great person lived, you might be inspired and notice some simple things they say, touch your heart and life and make a very big difference. The Buddha said that, better than a thousand words are a few words spoken that touch your heart. So, sometimes, simple things that a good friend can say or a book can completely transform you, so, always have an open mind.
Gopika is an Economics graduate on the outside, and a writer on the inside. She used to be a student reporter for YOCee which she says, gave her the kickstart to move on to writing with her university magazine – The Context, an online news website called the Bastion, and become a peer tutor at the University Writing Centre, Her post-lockdown plan currently is to do her two-year fellowship with Teach for India