Sunday July 21, 2019

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)

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By Nithin Sridhar

mirabai
Mirabai Bush

During a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 5 (Concluding part)

Mirabai Bush and Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba was the root-teacher of Mirabai Bush and others like Larry Brilliant, Ram Dass, and Krishna Das who were with her. Speaking about her time with Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings, Mirabai Bush said that Neem Karoli Baba never taught them any practices. Whenever any of them wanted to learn meditation from S.N. Goenka who was their Buddhist teacher, he used to say “of course, of course. Go to the course.” She further said that, he did not teach them Kirtan (chanting) as well. But, Maharajji would have kirtan done when he came in (to give Darshan) at different times. So, they kind of figured out that they could practice Kirtan as well.

neem karoli baba2
Neem Karoli Baba

She gave the example of Krishna Das, who was one among Maharajji’s western disciples who had a very good voice and whose Kirtans are now played in many of the Yoga studios in the US. She added that Krishna Das’s album was also nominated in 2013 for the Grammy Award.

Returning back to the topic, she said: “So mostly we just sat and we drank tea. When people came to him, occasionally he would give them some advice. He really did not talk about philosophy but only gave simple advices. He is most famous for telling three things: love everyone, Serve everyone, and remember God.

“One time, Maharajji said to me: ‘Never go where there is no love.’ So, when I came back to the United States, I thought that ‘never go where there is no love’ meant just staying with people who are loving. So, I did that at first. But when I started working with Seva Foundation I thought that the message must have been bigger than that. I felt that if I am loving, then I can go anywhere, because I will bring love with me. So I started trying to create loving situations like the work in Guatemala. Then, in the recent years, the message has changed for me. Now it means that I should just be there and be aware of or be able to discover love that is in everyone.

She said that in the last 20 years she has been working on The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and it aims to bring these contemplative practices into mainstream secular settings so that common people are benefited. She has been working with corporates, judges, lawyers, academic professors, ex-gang leaders, and with the army. She said: “I found that it’s always just us. If you can be present enough to be here and see the purity in any human being, then it is always there.” It may be people in the army or those who are in the corporates, but beneath all the outer stuff, there is always a heart. She described this ability to see the inner heart in others as the “greatest gift that Neem Karoli Baba gave to me.”

Mirabai Bush about her name

When asked about how she got the name “Mirabai”, Bush cheerfully stated that she got that name from Neem Karoli Baba. She continued: “It’s a tradition with a Guru, to be given a name, a name that acts as a practice for life. You reflect on ways in which you can embody what that name stands for. And Mirabai philosophically stands as an embodiment for loving God as a lover. I was young when I was given that name and I felt it was great. The day Maharajji gave me my name, he asked-‘Do you know who Mirabai was?’ But, I did not know.

“So, from another devotee who was present there, I got to know about the story of Mirabai, how she was a queen but gave up all worldly goods to sing for Krishna and love Krishna. I also came to know how her in-laws did not wanted her to worship Krishna and when they could not stop her, how they tried to get rid of her. I was also told about how a snake sent by her in-laws turned into rose petals when she opened the basket. I started admiring all these stories and I just felt that it was a very wonderful name.”

And she laughingly recounted how, after she got her name, her then husband John got up and ran out of the temple. She said: “Maharajji sent Ram Dass to bring him back and when they both returned, Maharajji asked John ‘What’s the matter?’ John replied that he did not wanted to be the husband who keeps his wife from God! To this, Maharajji replied: ‘No. You are Krishna. You are the one she loves!’ So, it’s been a great name for me and people love to say it.”

She mischievously added: “If you Google Mirabai Bush, then there is only one name and that’s mine!”

Mirabai Bush about her current project

At the end of the interview, when asked about the projects she is currently handling Mirabai Bush shared about her teaching programs and how she teaches various groups of people including students in the Amherst College. She said that she is also working with Ram Dass on a book titled “I am Dying” that attempts to give a contrast between the culture surrounding death in India and the West.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on Mindfulness and its application in Google (Part 1)

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

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What’s Common in Several Bollywood Divas? Find it out Here

Deepika Padukone: If you want to have a svelte figure like Deepika Padukone, then the formula is a mix of cardio, gym, dance and yoga

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What ties Kareena Kapoor Khan, Deepika Padukone, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Jacqueline Fernandez and Alia Bhatt together? Their love for yoga.

The Bollywood divas credit their fitness level to their yoga routine. IANS takes a look at the stars who took to yoga and inspired many others to follow suit.

* Kareena Kapoor Khan: It is known that Kareena’s fitness journey is a result of yoga, exercise and a strict meal plan. She first stunned one and all with her ‘size-zero’ look in “Tashan”, and continues to set fitness goals with her workout regime. The actress might not be on social media, but images and videos giving a glimpse into how she adds yoga to her regime have surfaced on the social media making one thing clear — she is super-focused on getting fitter each day.

* Shilpa Shetty Kundra: For many, she is the poster girl for yoga. She has yoga DVDs, a YouTube channel of her yoga clips, and a fitness app, where she has a #MindItYogaProgram.

On her love for yoga, Shilpa had told IANS: “One of the very important things that yoga has taught me is to be emotionally secure and stay centered and connected to myself… Yoga helps to align our body’s chakras and strengthen our inner confidence. Once you are emotionally strong, how people perceive you, does not affect your personality. Yoga is the need of the hour.”

* Bipasha Basu: She is a yoga freak, and has several yoga DVDs and videos to prove it. In fact, Bipasha along with husband and actor Karan Singh Grover, gives couple goals by doing couple yoga. She says “he is a true Yogi. My inspiration everyday”.

* Alia Bhatt: She is another celebrity who practices yoga regularly. It is believed that she practices ‘Ashtanga yoga’ at least two times in a week, and also credits yoga for her glowing skin and toned physique.

* Malaika Arora: She has been inspiring everyone for long to add yoga into their lifestyle — and her social media is a testimony to it. “Yoga is a way of life that motivates you, grounds you, tones you mentally and physically, makes you mindful and invokes a feeling of happiness in you,” said Malaika, who co-founded Diva Yoga, and has invested in yoga and wellness startup SARVA.

* Jacqueline Fernandez: She likes to call herself ‘Yogini’, and says yoga is an integral part of her life. The actress holds yoga sessions and uses her social media to share images doing yoga, especially pole yoga.

Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut
Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut. (IANS)

“In the past couple of years, yoga has slowly become an integral part of me, and I am so proud of how far I have come… It has been 10 years in Bollywood and million points to yoga, for being my ultimate stress-buster,” Jacqueline said.

* Kangana Ranaut: Yoga is the secret behind Kangana’s toned figure. The “Queen” star has been practicing yoga for a while now and expressed her love for the ancient Indian art in an interview to a magazine. She said: “Yoga is a gift and I actually think that I have survived due to it. Through meditation, pranayam and yoga postures, I could vent out a lot of restless energy.”

* Deepika Padukone: If you want to have a svelte figure like Deepika Padukone, then the formula is a mix of cardio, gym, dance and yoga.

* Sonam Kapoor: Her fitness mantras include yoga, work out and pilate. Opening up about her struggle to lose weight, Sonam had shared that yoga helped her achieve the goal.

“I pushed myself too hard at spin classes, did power yoga for hours at a stretch, and developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Some weeks, desperate to drop a couple of kilos, I would simply not eat,” she said.

* Mouni Roy: She became an Internet sensation — thanks to her yoga poses. Recently, she posted a series of yoga videos of her trying out various asanas of the fitness regime — setting fitness goals for many.

Other stars who practice yoga regularly include names like Lara Dutta and Bhagyashree.

Also Read- Actor Arjun Kapoor Discusses About Pros, Cons of Stardom

Deepika Mehta, who has trained Alia, Jacqueline, Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Deepika, and is associated with Tata Sky’s value added service – Tata Sky Fitness, says yoga makes one’s quality of life better.

Mehta said: “In today’s world finding a mindful practice is very important for people because we have so much distraction, technology and stress. The technique of yoga gives you distance from the stress of your life and helps to calm your body and mind. Yoga is extremely important for a healthy life as it gives you a great sense of health and fitness.” (IANS)