Bhisham Mansukhani is a Freelance journalist who volunteers at diverse conferences at Asia Plateau.
Finding myself again in December. My experience of attending the LMAD December Workshop for the first time was a thoroughly moving exercise towards finding myself and reconnecting with Asia Plateau and IOFC.
I had gathered enough from what I had heard about the LMAD December workshop from some of the privileged, previous participants, to look forward to a deep, introspective experience. I could however, never have realised its intensity and sheer depth until I attended it myself. I was grateful and fortunate to be part of a group of earnest and focussed individuals from whose reflections and insights, I learnt a lot. Their collective discipline and dedication towards observing long hours of Quiet Time, immersed in their thoughts and then sharing it candidly with the larger group was awe inspiring and set a fine example for me to follow. The positive intent and energy of the group and the sacred vibe of Asia Plateau, allowed me to go deep within my consciousness and look, unscrupulously at who I really was and where I stood in my life with respect to my values, my family, my profession, my country and my purpose. Initially, I was overwhelmed and almost incapacitated, mentally, by the infinite flow of unmerciful insight that my inner voice was letting out. But slowly and surely, a clear perspective began to form and I was receiving answers to my where I had gone so wrong in every aspect of my life, especially my relationship with my family and my mediocre career and personal life. I was struck by my own innate capacity for unconditional honesty with myself and every one I shared the space with, in the Australia Room. Right from the workshop’s first morning, Viral Bhai set the tone for the day, giving us a very clear question we needed to reflect on and when I connected with the question during Quiet Time, the reflections were telling. The reflections were significant. I was truly surprised by how much of myself, those few days revealed to me. In a way, I was rediscovering myself, knowing where I stood and feeling better about myself. The structure and flow of this workshop is so thoroughly effective – like an immaculate art instalment that is fascinating in an abstract sort of way and yet, each element plays a vital role in creating a collective, great human character. And that is testament to the staggering effort and commitment of Viral Bhai. It’s conspicuous how everyday of the workshop has raised the bar in terms of the conscious realisations, we have about ourselves and each other as a group and the sheer quantum of personal growth, we together experienced in a matter of seven days – on an academic, intellectual and spiritual level. Thanks to Viral Bhai’s conviction and belief in the power of the workshop, we came to know ourselves, our relationships, our goals and our vision for ourselves and the society at large, with astonishing clarity, having chased out confusion and uncertainty from our conscious selves like pale clouds out of a clear blue sky. It’s been a great and rare privilege for me to have been part of a journey of introspection, self discovery and a family of beautiful people with big hearts. This journey was spread literally over the two years of 2014 and 2015 and has been the gift of an experience of a lifetime. The December workshop has led me to pursue my authentic self and an authentic life. I wish it were longer. I wish it were life itself.
The fool they praised
It’s almost impossible to believe that’s it’s been nearly 17 years to the day that I first lugged my untidy luggage through the gates up the sunlit asphalt slope to the heart of Asia Plateau for the 1998 LMAD youth conference. It’s hard because every time I go back, it seems like time has stood entirely still. Every time, I go back, it reminds me of that first June day that Asia Plateau took me in unconditionally and set me on a remarkable journey of change. I was struck by the bliss and serenity that filled its beautiful spaces. When I came to Asia Plateau for the LMAD youth conference, I was a diffident, ignorant, self-involved and furthest emotionally from my family and without direction. The people I met didn’t just embrace me unconditionally as a long lost friend but someone they almost knew intuitively, needed to climb back into the light. Amongst, these remarkable people I learnt so much about values, family and myself.
I still remember the first time Viral Bhai spoke about Quiet Time and how it has impacted his life and when used the jar exercise to share his deeply personal relationships and incidents and how learning about the four values, changed him so completely. In that moment, I saw myself for who I really was and how far I had drifted from who I wanted to be. I realised how badly I had treated my mother, disrespected her and been ungrateful and how much I had disappointed my father. My relationship with my brother was filled with hate and acrimony. But I never felt until I observed my first morning quiet time at the youth conference, that I had done anything wrong or that it was important rebuild my relationship with my family and be completely honest to them and to love unconditionally. The morning hours of quiet time during the youth conference were filled with powerful and profound reflections about my life and my purpose which I had never experienced even once throughout my several years of academic life. Over the course of the next 17 years, I was able to rebuild my relationship with my family, especially my mother from whom I had been most distant and hurt deeply. I built great friendships with individuals from the LMAD family and pursued my career with sustained vigour and a foundation of moral values that held me in good stead. I still stumble and fall on the journey frequently and am from the perfect son, brother or friend, but I know I have come a long way since June 1998, as an individual and a part of the remarkable LMAD family. They praised a fool and he’s been better for it.