Why Are You Here?

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This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco.  This conference brings together thought leaders in technology, entrepreneurship, and mindfulness, with a goal of creating larger conversations about the ways in which these worlds intersect.

I was blessed to hear a lecture by Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist of brand marketing at Google, and author of the book “The Internet to the Inner-net.”  And the very next day, participate in a powerful and moving yoga class led by him as well (he teaches yoga faithfully every Monday at 5:30 for Google employees).  I was able to meditate live with meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Jon Kabat-Zinn, teachers whose guided meditations, books, and videos I use on a daily basis, and share with many of my patients.  I watched Russell Simmons speak about social responsibility and mindfulness.

This was just the beginning…conscious, successful authors, high level executives from Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Indie-Gogo, and other entrepreneurs gave lecture after lecture full of wisdom and insight.

These were some of the highlights, but overall I felt simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed by the conference.  Individuals whom I had admired for years all shared the message:  we are one and the same.  There is no “other”, there is no distinction, there is no duality, there is no idolization.  What is accessible to them through meditation, stillness, and intentional effort, is accessible to all of us.  I felt at once like I could do and be anything, with only the right mindset and action.  And at the same time, I felt like these speakers, and even many of the attendees, were leagues “ahead” of where I was, had something that I somehow didn’t have, allowing them to lead these extraordinary, impactful lives.

As I write this and reflect more closely on those conflictual emotions within me, I realize that my struggle lies in the wanting, the striving.  That there is somehow more, better even, for us out there in our imaginary future, if we could only escape our current confines and push hard enough to get there.  And yet, this is the very antithesis to what mindfulness is.

Mindfulness requires us to believe that we are complete and whole exactly as we are, and that this moment is complete and whole exactly as it is.  It is easy to type those words, but to believe those words with conviction, wholeheartedness, at the very core of who I am, remains a struggle for me.  Accepting that all we need to do is surrender fully to the moment that is unfolding, relating with ourselves and our world with kindness and presence, is all at once the simplest and hardest thing to actually do.

Such surrender feels like a free-fall.  Letting go of my grasp of the past means letting go of the identity that defines me, and my attachment to my story of how I got here.  Letting go of my future means abandoning control, releasing my death grip on creating every step of my life as I feel it needs to be in order for me to be happy.

As we meditated together with Jon Kabat Zinn, three thousand people with eyes closed, seated, listening to the sound of his melodic, calming voice, we were asked the same question multiple times:  “Why are you here?  Why are you really here?  Why are you really, really, really here?”  The question resonated within me on so many levels, and so many unexpected answers came forth.

Not just the answer to why was I here at Wisdom 2.0, but why was I here in general?  What am I seeking?  What is my purpose?  How can I best serve?  How do I lead the most meaningful life possible?

And the answer that arose was at once honest and terrifying.  I don’t know.  For someone who has prided herself on always having an answer, or knowing how to find one, not knowing throws my internal equilibrium entirely off balance.  And yet there is a small point of freedom, of light, within the chaos.

Because when you don’t know, you are left to embrace what already is.  When you don’t know, you can stop striving so hard.  When you don’t know, you can release into the wisdom of your body and your direct experience of the unfolding moment.

And that is a beautiful thing.

So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in a continued reflection on the question, “Why are you really here?”  What do you know and not know?  How does it feel to not know?

With gratitude, Monisha

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