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What Happens When You Learn To Let Go At Work

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Mindfulness

The mind is the most volatile part of the human anatomy. It is more susceptible to influence than even the wind and  water. But, it also happens to be the most powerful organ of a human being – in terms of its ability to understand, discriminate, respond, invent and so on. Humans have been able to dominate this planet because of their brains.

They may not be as strong as an elephant or as ferocious as a tiger, but they are intellectually superior to them. The intelligent creation of humans – the world’s nuclear arsenal – can now destroy all forms of life, including their own, over and over again.

Thus, it is the mind again which can be abused or misused to cause rampant destruction. And it can happen, simply because we haven’t disciplined it.

My Retreat

It had been a while since I had last stretched myself to change what I believed in, strongly. Everything I had been working on – addressing human trafficking, applying the Impulse Model, leading my team and stakeholders – had become a routine. A lot of things had started happening, both professionally and personally. I had graduated from being a newbie to becoming a social entrepreneur and a changemaker.

Talk To Your Mind

I was unconsciously getting sucked into the whirlpool, which was slowing down my tempo and was leaving me breathless. I felt like I had to get away from this busy schedule and introspect.

Around this time, Supriya Sankaran, from the Ashoka Innovators For The Public India Office, called a few other Fellows and me to take feedback on what an Ashoka alumnus wanted in their pursuit of being a changemaker. The goal was to engage in an exploration of the visual, kinaesthetic and collective wisdom to crystallise our insights on ‘shifting the social field’ to address everyday and big problems. Most Ashoka Fellows were facing similar challenges in their lives and their work – and we were too spent on planning and executing to think about how it was taking a toll on our mind and body.

After getting our feedback, Supriya and her team designed a retreat for the Ashoka alumni of the previous decade at the Marari Beach Resort, Kochi, from August 23-26, 2016, as a yearly initiative to support Ashoka Fellows who were getting burned out. While the team effort was definitely an emotional boost, it also gave us the collective comfort to empty our minds.

What I Did

I asked myself:

“What would I like my future as a changemaker to be?”

“What would balance me personally as well?”

This is what I realised. The practice of mindfulness is like a scalpel that uncovers layers of habit, ingrained prejudice, denial, self-doubt, fear, anxiety and unwanted reactions at personal and professional spaces. It is often difficult to empty your mind of the thoughts that have accumulated for so long.

Talk To Your Mind

I had meditated many times before, especially while making decisions – but nothing quite like this. I had to practise very hard. For someone who’s always on a roll, it was difficult to let go. Because of its enormous simplicity, it was unlike any other challenge I have faced.

Bringing my attention to what was happening in the present and preventing my mind from wandering was stressful. Thinking about people I cared for and reactions to things I don’t like, played on my mind – pretending to decrease stress, but actually worsening it. I was afraid of it. It even felt like something weirdos would do.

But, I convinced myself that it’s never too late to begin this journey – that it is a life skill, which would make me a better person and help me go to the next level. That once I brought these states of mind to the surface, mindfulness would become a powerful tool.

Unlike the sense of accomplishment on conquering great obstacles, the rewards of sitting quietly are quite subtle. The effects began showing. I started working with complete focus, patience, energy and determination. By the time it ended, I came back with a positive mind – ready to move ahead of all the challenges with more strength and courage.

My Takeaway

The miseries of humans are often the creations of their own minds. Macbeth is a prime example of this. Under the evil spell of ambition, his mind behaved mysteriously. To cover up one murder, he committed some more.

We may not be as devious as Macbeth was, but most of us do suffer from anticipation – or rather, apprehension. The more sensitive the mind, the more fragile its disposition! Our feeble power of reasoning does advise us against getting carried away, but most often, it fails.

A wailing mother once went to seek Buddha’s advice to cure her sorrow at her son’s death. Buddha told her to fetch some mustard seeds from a family that has not known death. She went around and found none. That is when she realised that death is, after all, universal. It was her mind, which was letting the sorrow of her son’s passing destroy her.

The Bhagvad Gita says that we must remain unaffected in both happiness and misery. But the human mind easily gives way and becomes restless. Hence, it does not know what peace is. It appreciates rest and philosophises about it, but it does not experience it. That is why it is mandatory to discipline it by letting go.

Talk To Your Mind

If we can let the mind off the hook, and get it to concentrate on things outside itself – we’d be at a much happier place. Poets, painters, sculptors, intellectuals, etc. generally lead a more restful life, because their minds meditate over things outside themselves. This is the most difficult, but important, way of disciplining the mind. Once achieved, you can pull the shutters down on the devil’s workshop, and concentrate on experiencing sheer bliss through your creative work.

So, gear your mind towards a goal, work hard for it, and watch out for the result. You will be surprised how productive a simple, mindful act can be. It is what can recharge your soul and render you the focus that can make you one of the most noted people of your generation.


Visit my website: http://www.hasinakharbhih.com/


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Featured image source: Liberallifestyles.com
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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