The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, April 27, 2003

Life Ties

Gravitating towards serenity
Taru Bahl

VARSHA had no clue that she had turned into a monster whose presence rattled every employee's nerves. A love marriage at 19 against her in-law’s wishes had turned them against her. When her husband died of a sudden and mysterious illness a year later, leaving her with a two-month-old son, a battle erupted for the custody of the child.

All of a sudden, the in-laws wanted to assert their rights. The ensuing battle killed whatever softness Varsha had, leaving in its wake a tough-as-nails woman, who could take good care of herself. A self-made entrepreneur, she took immense pride in the export house she had built singlehanded. She had not delegated decision-making to anybody in the company. This would not have been a bad idea had she not displayed erratic behaviour. Her working hours were never fixed, her mood swings were severe and her expectations from employees never very clear. No one knew when she entered office what her mood would be.

Managers joined with the hope of building a career in her fast-growing company and left disillusioned with her behaviour. Her temper tantrums were unpredictable. She was known to scream at the first person in sight. Often, she flew off the handle without verifying facts. It was only her die-hard family faithfuls who stuck to her.

Over the years, she had cultivated a lifestyle which was fragmented but on the surface, it looked glamorous. It gave the impression that she was a sociable and multi-dimensional person but scrutiny revealed a haunting emptiness. Her business stemmed from a craving for attention and company. Everything she did was fast-paced, leaving her neither opportunity nor time for introspection, thinking or getting in touch with her inner self. What she did to fill the 24 hours of her day were not things she enjoyed doing but compulsive robotic activities which satisfied the body or made sense to the mind but rarely touched the soul.


Her travel schedule was unpredictable. Most of the time, she was juggling appointments and rescheduling meetings. Then she spent two hours doing aerobics and exercising at the gym. It was an obsession and she was convinced that she loved the feel of the music, the agility of the body and the buoyancy of the spirit. After working out, she would be desperate to plan her evening and a get-together with friends or business associates. On a few daring occasions, she tried her hand at online dating and/or meeting a person after a long chat in the Internet chat room. None of these things left her feeling satisfied or serene. She was always on edge but could not pinpoint her finger to it. Initially, she did not realise that there was anything the matter with her. There was always a reason for her obnoxious behaviour in office : "The employees are good for nothing"; "they are ungrateful wretches, used to free lunches, earning bonuses and demanding off days without deserving it"; "if you want to run a business, you have to be like Hitler, yield a whip and keep them in their place"; "they only understand the language of anger, responding only when stinkers are issued or they are hauled up" Some of her business decisions regarding partnerships backfired as she got taken in by people who did not have a good track record. On the personal front too none of her relationships were working out since she was unable to set clear priorities or devote the right amount of time and effort to them.

Being a single woman and one who lived by her own rules, she had distanced herself from the family which meant that there were that many less people to tell her how difficult she had become. She yielded her superiority and got away with bad behaviour without taking responsibility for her actions or making amends for any hurt feelings that she had generated. A chance encounter with a yoga guru at a party made her curious about this ancient Indian holistic healing technique. She was drawn to the way he spoke in measured and deep tones, articulating philosophical pearls of wisdom simply and succinctly. Her journey into yoga and meditation began that night. For the next two years she went through various forms of yoga. Her pride was shattered when the guru told her that her stamina levels, inspite of doing exercise and aerobics for two decades, was nothing much to talk about.

She realised how little she actually knew. Her body, despite looking supple, was not ready to hold a yogic posture for a few minutes. Her movements were flighty and whimsical not solid and unwavering and her mind was in a mad turmoil. How had she carried on all these years in such an unaware state of being ? She became conscious of the amount of negativity in her and the change, when it happened, was gradual and smooth. Her life changed. An inner calmness descended as if it was always there waiting in the wings, awaiting an invitation from her. She gained a better insight. Overnight, her intuitive abilities and judgement of people became better. She was now making lesser professional and personal mistakes. As she cut down on the non-essentials in her life, like empty socialising, she found her body and mind better rested. Yoga and meditation increased her concentration. She was more focused and clear-headed. If earlier she had her fingers in many pies she could now find the courage to say ‘no’ to things she did not want to do and especially those which she saw were headed nowhere. Her risk-taking abilities increased and at 45 she found herself venturing into new, unchartered terrain by combining enthusiasm and wisdom in the right proportion.

The biggest learning was that she no longer felt like talking endlessly, barking orders or chatting incessantly on the phone or clicking furiously on the keyboard, sending unending mails to strangers on the Net. She befriended silence.

The serenity was showing on her face. If earlier her body looked fit, now her face exuded a glow which came from an inner beauty. Body and mind were finally moving in tandem with each other. There was balance and harmony in what she did and felt. Yoga had turned out to be the right facilitator, coming to her at a time when the monster within could be ousted, leaving in its place a gentler, more angelic person.