What I learned from a yogi

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- By Stephane Leblanc

I recently has the privilege to interview Bhaskar Goswami on our Conscious Leadership podcast.  Bhaskar was born in India, studied in the UK and now lives in Montreal.  He holds a Masters of Electrical Engineering.  10 years ago, he left the Engineering world to become a yogipreneur and he created an organization called Bodhi with the mission to bring wellness into workplaces.  He has since founded another organization called daana, a contribution based wellness organization.

Bhaskar and I met 5 years ago when he was teaching yoga at the aerospace company I was working at and we have since become close friends. I was struggling as a leader then as there was no longer a match between my values as a leader and the company i worked at through yoga, he helped me gain peace and clarity. 

Bhaskar was born in a small town in India an grew up in an upper middle class family. His father was an Engineer and his mother a school teacher and he had a classic indian upbringing where he did yoga every morning in school.

He was involved in a war situation as his family lived in Kuwait during the war.  This had a big effect on his life as he ended up moving to England as a refugee at the age of 15 and he learned a lot about life through that experience, living in war torn country and moving to a country he had never been to before starting life from scratch at a young age.

Engineering and yoga stayed in his life as he went on to get a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Nottingham University as he kept practicing yoga.  Bhaskar feels he was blessed in his life to meet two yoga masters they both changed his life dramatically.

Another very significant point in his life happened in life when his father passed away. It was a very profound experience for him and he believes there was a profound shift in his maturity during the funeral ceremony when he was 21.

He has since moved to Montreal and has been here for 16 years and he is grateful to be able to serve people through his two organizations that focus on wellness in communities and companies.  He also feels blessed to have a new baby girl with his life partner Caroline in addition to his two other children. 

I tried to find our exactly how he shifted from the engineering work to the wellness work. He said that they were both always in his life as he has practiced yoga since he was young and kept on practicing throughout his studies and career.  One day he moved in the yoga centre where his teacher was teaching and this had a profound influence in his life.  He used to wake up at 5 am  to practice yoga with his teacher and he remembers showing up at work feeling in optimum state while he saw his colleagues showing up for work tired, struggling up the stairs, drinking 5-6 cups of coffee to wake up, suffering from physical and psychological pains. 

At that moment, he realized that yoga could help so many people by helping them access wellness in their day to day life. .s an engineer being on the inside, he could not influence them very much, he started to create a hobby on the side to bring wellness into workplaces.  The real shift occurred when his son was born.  There is one incident that created a huge difference for him. He remembers holding his baby in his hands as a friend mentioned to him:" Bhaskar, always remember that children only learn from who you are, not from what you say."

This was a transformational moment for him as he realized he needed to embody who he really was and it was now time to embrace his calling.  This is how he started his first company called Bodhi and in his first year, he acquired many noteworthy clients and won two major awards.  So this allowed him to start his journey from an engineer to a yogipreneur.

Another significant transformation event happened to Bhaskar a few years ago.  His business was thriving and in addition to bringing wellness into companies, he was also running two yoga studios.  He was so busy that life got overwhelming for him. To the point where he literally burned out and he ended up critically sick. He was so sick that his consciousness was coming and going and he almost did not make it. 

He feels very blessed and grateful to still be alive and i great shape now and he does not take life for granted.  He recognizes that life is very precious and that we must make best use of our short time here. Out of that place of overcoming deep suffering and, he created his second organization called daana.

He feels  his soul mission is to play a part in uplifting the health and happiness of humanity with yoga and meditation, the best way he knows how and also to make it accessible to all humans.  Internally his mission is about presence, which he calls his moment to moment mission.

He shared with me his thoughts on Conscious Leadership.  Consciousness is a quality of presence. Like the luminosity of light, it can be bright or dim. And it is something that can be enhanced with practice. Similarly, the capacity to be fully present can be cultivated and the more we can perceive, the more information we have, and the more information we have, the more options we have.  Conscious Leadership allows leaders to enhance their leadership by being present and having more options. He also mentions that equanimity is another important characteristic for Conscious Leaders, the ability to remain calm and centered no matter what goes on around them. 

I asked him how yoga and meditation could help leaders become better leaders. He mentioned that his teacher used to say that yoga and meditation are the one good for all good.  Everyone is a leader, and as a minimum, we are all leading ourselves and our family and the best we can do as a leader is to give every situation our full-on presence. Language is so powerful as being present is the best gift we can give to anyone.  Yoga and meditation are fundamentally tools and techniques to cultivate presence. In the old tradition, yoga literally means to calm the mind and when you can calm the mind, you can see things as they really are.

In his opinion, truly embodied Conscious Leaders are hard to find in our society. You have to go back to someone like Ghandi. There are many leaders who are on the path of becoming Conscious Leaders, but most leaders can go much further on the path. I know I certainly can. 

On his major life challenges that allowed him to become the Bhaskar of today.  He quoted Bob Dilan: "There is no success like failure".  He says he now believes there is no such things as failure as you are either thriving or learning.  This has allowed him to reframes his failures not as failures but as profound opportunities to learn. He added that there is a perfection to the "isness" of life. That there is an overarching intelligence to life and that we are all part of that fabric. We can all see that perfection of life when can create a state change and be fully immersed in the present.

Like all of us, he also had to overcome some limiting beliefs. His had to do with the cultural contexts he grew up in.  In his thirties, he did a lot of work to unlearn several of the beliefs about materiality being the path to happiness that he learned from his culture.

He feels that the "I" is a passenger on the life journey of Bhaskar and his life mission is to fully show up for life and to get out of the way to let the story of his life unfold.

In Bhaskar words, this state of complete presence feels absolutely blissful. 

Developing presence is my own intention as I have spent the most of my life in a state of non presence which has caused a lot of pain for me and others. 

How synchronistic is it that earlier today, I was writing my intention of embodying presence for 2018 and I am now writing this article.

Bhaskar is a great friend of mine and I feel so blessed to be able to soak up all his wisdom.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

Bhaskar certainly is a great teacher for me.