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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maximising Your Inner Potential

This post is written by my guest writer, Christiana.

Talk held at 19:30 on Wednesday, April 22 2009

At The Peninsula-Excelsior Hotel, Singapore

By Sister BK Shivani

Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre


About Sister Shivani

BK Shivani (Sister Shivani) is a popular motivational instructor and lecturer whose regular television programmes and lectures have inspired thousands of professionals, youth, and even children to change their perception of religion, spirituality, and way of life. After graduating as an electronics engineer, she went on to start up her own software companies including one to teach children robotics. Her practice of meditation for the past 12 years has enabled her to explain to her audiences how values and spirituality can be used naturally in daily life. Shivani is also a regular presenter on Aastha Channel with a viewership of over 200 million. She also appears regularly on Sony TV, Sanskar and Zee Jagran Channels which are socio-spiritual-cultural networks.


Sister Shivani: Good Evening!

Audience: …good evening…

Sister Shivani: Eh, Singapore is a bit weak eh? GOOD EVENING!!!

Audience: Good Evening!



Sister Shivani: Thank you so much for the greeting. The reason why I repeated it was because I noticed in the first time round it was quite weak. When we greet we must do it with intention. Allow me to share something with you: in Brahma Kumaris, we always greet each other with “Om-Shanti”, which means?

Audience: Peace.

Sister Shivani: Indeed. This is a constant self-reminder that I am a peaceful being, instead of reminding that I’m an angry, hot tempered, or nervous being.



The reason for this self-reminder is because for the mind, the way it works is: “As I think, so I become.” Peace/love/satisfaction are just words; the most important in the end is the experience. Therefore, we need to prepare the mind. We often forget to switch the tasks of the mind. It so happens that oftentimes for a sharing event, the sisters prepare the venue, the programme, the invitations, the cookies… we prepare everything, but the most important thing: the mind of the audience. The mind of the audience is not always prepared. I believe many of us this evening came straight from work. How many of us are still thinking about our day-time work at this very moment?

Audience: about 2 dozens raise their hands, most of them in a “half-way” manner.

Sister Shivani: Indeed, oftentimes we are not in the present, we are somehow in the past or the future. Either the past or the future are not controllable.



To try to control our thoughts, do a simple exercise now: sit back, relax… yes, that’s right. You might like to uncross your legs as this might create a little tension on the muscles. Oh, there’s no need to close your eyes, this is not yoga!

(Laughter from the audience.)

Now, feel for a few moments. What are the thoughts coming to your mind?

Now, prioritise them. Some thoughts, you’ll find out, are just not important at all.



Why can’t we give instructions to our own minds?

Lady 1: We’re not aware of our mind.

Sister Shivani: Anyone else?

Lady 2: We’re not used to giving instructions to our own mind.

Sister Shivani: Brilliant! Exactly, because we are not used to giving instructions to our own mind; instead, we are very used to instructing others. (Pointing to the right and to the left) “Do this, do that!”




So you see, there are so many useless thoughts. Do you still remember about a particular insult that happened last year? 5 years ago? 10?


Ask the thought to leave. There’s so much baggage we carry with ourselves; 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, 20 years… we somehow allow these negative lines from others to stay; thus creating such heavy burden to ourselves, and filling up all the boxes in our hearts! In this way, there’s no more room for pure and powerful thoughts!


In Brahma Kumaris, we do a little exercise: every hour, we take one minute to clear the thoughts; just like anti-virus scan!


How do you think you would feel if you also did this practice?


Gentleman: Light.

Lady: I think it would be difficult to start.

Sister Shivani: Don’t say it’s difficult without trying! Maybe it will be difficult for the first time, especially if this is the first anti-virus scanning in 20 years! Imagine how many files you would have to scan through!


If we can clean our thoughts every hour, the mind will be spotless.


Gentleman: How do you define “clutter”?

Sister Shivani: Anything that feels uncomfortable to you. Every moment we are creating thoughts. How many thoughts do we create each day?




Lady: About 500?

Another lady: 1,000?

Sister Shivani: Clinically, 20-30 thoughts are created per minute. But this is just when the mind is in a “normal” state. If we are hurt or feeling strong emotions, the number goes up to 45 thoughts per minute. So do the math. How many thoughts do we create each day? Let’s say, about 50,000? Are we aware we are creating 50,000 thoughts per day? Taking a company as an analogy, it’s as if a chairman of a company didn’t know his own product. But allowing all the negative thoughts coming from others to take over our minds would be comparable to having a chairman from another company coming over and running our own company!




These past few days in Singapore we have conducted some workshops. In one such workshop, a brother came up to me and shared: It’s not that I am not happy. I’m perfectly peaceful and happy when I am alone. You see, I wake up in the morning happy, shower, have my breakfast, go to work… all in a happy mood. But the moment I step into the office, I become angry. This guy is making an error, that other guy is committing a mistake, how not to get angry?

We always say: It’s not me. It’s the situation or the people around me that is disturbing me. Somehow, we give away to others the power of control.


How many people in your life have the power to control your life? I.e. How many people do you allow to “annoy” you?


Girl: Everyone else.

Sister Shivani: Oh! Serious case eh?

(Laughter from the audience)

Ha ha, well, actually it’s quite true for many of us. How many of us have been to India? (Some in the audience raise their hands.)

If you have been to India, you certainly know about the road conditions in India. In many places, there are no “real” roads, so everybody can do whatever they want. So people are abusing each other, continuously. When I visited my brother in Mumbai, he was behind the steering wheel. In a period of 1 hour on the road, he cursed at least 10 times. So angry! Next day, I asked him to change. Was it easy?

(Many in the audience shaking their heads.)

Was it easy?

(Less people in the audience shaking their heads.)

Sister Shivani: Was it easy? EASY! Just change one thought. We are the only ones who can make ourselves irritated. We might request or ask others to do something, but if they don’t, we can change our own perspective.



When we are resisting people, what are we trying to do? We are trying to judge: Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Actually, each one is right in one’s own way. Let me give you an example: mobile phones. Have you noticed that in the beginning of this sharing session, we did not ask you to switch off your mobile phones? We used to announce before the start of the talks, but still, there would always be someone who didn’t switch off the mobile and in the middle of the talk, a musical ring tone would set off. I used to be very irritated about this, this is basic courtesy, right? How come people don’t understand? But of course, I was not showing my anger out, especially since I’m giving out these spiritual talks! (Laughter)

So I changed my perspective, and started enjoying these little ring tones as music. And I would tell the owner of the phone: oh! Nice little music you have on your mobile phone, thank you for sharing; can you sms it to me as well? (Laughter)

Another example about changing perspectives, and I believe this is a very common situation amongst all of us: the difference of opinion about parents and children. The son wants to be an artist, but the father insists the son should be a doctor. The attachment to one’s own definition is so strong, that there’s no room allowed to see that the other one’s “right” is also “right”.

No one does anything wrong because there’s always a logical reason behind why they choose to do it. This could come in the form of lying, bribing… and how about the bombings in Mumbai last year (2008)? Do you think the bombers thought they were right in doing so? That they had a reason? We might think it was a horrible tragedy, but for the bombers they had every reason to do so.

However hard it might be for me to see the other party’s perspective, it doesn’t change the fact that the other party has a different perspective. I should have the power to bend and see the other side. Sometimes I may not agree, but at least I can understand that there are differences.



Another common situation in many families: Children go home, and parents tell them: How come you are drinking/smoking/staying out late/not staying home to study hard…etc.??? (you are wrong)! With time, the accumulated result from such consistent negative energy is: resistance. Then again, with time, the resistance evolves into hostility, and this time round, it is the kid who’s going to tell the parent: you are wrong!

My sister’s daughter started smoking, and without trying to understand the reason behind the “misbehavior”, my sister always scolded her for this, until one day my niece shouted back: “I hate you!” Can you imagine how devastating it is for a mother to hear her daughter say that she hates her? I often hear youngsters sharing with me, that they purposely return home only after being completely sure their parents have gone to sleep. (Laughter)

So you see, words don’t matter, but energy does! We are so used to being judgmental or critical towards others; the energy we project is oftentimes very negative. And imagine, we have a weird tendency of projecting this negative energy especially towards the ones we claim to love most!



How many people out there do we love/respect unconditionally?

(Some raise their hands)

Loving unconditionally means loving without trying to change the person you love; in other words, to have complete acceptance. In fact, the closest ones to us are often the ones who are trying to change us the most, and vice-versa. As such, all the negativity accumulates; because by trying to change the person, you are basically saying: “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, do it MY way, which is the right and the only way”. And when it doesn’t work, we feel frustrated and tired, and we think we need to take a break: now I’ll take a cup of coffee, or go to the spa, or go for a holiday; in the hope that these activities will clear the clutter. They don’t!

We’re just so hopeful that we’ll succeed in changing other people. Why? We all hope we’ll be successful in changing the others so they can suit our own needs and make ourselves happy; and when we fail, we feel frustrated.

How many of us are married here?

(Some couples raise their hands) Oh! For how long?

Couple: 24 years.

Sister Shivani: I’ll share with you a story about a couple. The husband never picks up the shoes, the wife insists that the husband should pick up the shoes and the couple starts fighting for this. So if this applied to you, being married for 24 years, would it mean that you’ve been trying to change your husband for the past 24 years? (Laughter)


In the case of the wife who insisted in the husband picking-up the shoes, I asked the wife: “So why didn’t you pick the shoes up yourself instead?” The wife said: 
”Because I’m afraid that once I start doing it, I’ll have to do it forever!” (Laughter)

Such hostility or fear is very common. We tend to think, “it’s not that I cannot stay steady/stable, but if I choose to keep quite or not shout back, people will see me as weak.” Do you see the absurdity in this whole inner dialogue? It’s completely based on assumptions!

It is very easy to shout back, but just because everyone else might be doing it, it should not be seen as natural. We are so used to instantly and automatically reacting to negativities that we think it is natural to be unhappy. When we react every single time negativity hits us, we are actually consuming a lot of negative energy and putting aside the potential to be happy. All emotions that are natural also make us feel comfortable and happy.



We do have a choice on what to create, even when the environment is tough. Taking for example the current financial crisis. Do you realize that now in India, there are not enough psychiatrists? Such a profession was not even important before! This shows how much people are giving up the power of choice that naturally belongs to themselves. So, if I still have a choice, what do I do? When none of my family members are emotionally well, what do I do? Sink with them? No, heal. And healing we certainly are capable of.

Let me share with you another story: I met this couple and was counseling them. The husband beats the wife constantly, and every time the wife cries and cries and cries. The wife says: “I will not stop crying if he does not stop beating me!” So much negativity, so much rejection and hostility, maybe even hatred!

On the surface, it seems like 2 different actions: violence is socially not acceptable, whereas crying is. In fact, they are both the same: they’re both emotional outbursts.

So I talked to them more, and realized that the husband grew up lonely; he was not loved as a kid. So he grows up, and suddenly has someone to control. So he was beating his wife to fill out that vacuum. When the wife understands the emotional vacuum and needs of her husband, she starts seeing him with sympathy, as a little boy who needs love.

So you see, no one else can create good or bad feelings and thoughts, only myself.



To let go of someone who hurts you is not to do a favour for him/her. It is to do a favour for yourself, so that your mind doesn’t create pain to yourself anymore. If we hold that thought, then there’s no need for the so-called forgiveness, because there’s nothing to forgive in the first place.

I remember a woman came to me and told me about her story: she was raped when she was only a little kid, and has grown to be afraid of others since then. She was over 40 years old, not married, no friends. Then, in her heart, she started letting go of the person who raped her, and she was so happy: I have not lived for the past 35 years of my life because I couldn’t let go! She had freed herself from hurt.

Another amazing woman in Orissa who was normally doing charity work for her village, had her young 2 sons murdered mercilessly by the villagers on the grounds of different religions. After the tragedy, she still kept going on with her charity work: “I let go!”

If we allow our hearts to be filled with pain/guilt/negativities… there will be no room for others or for love.

Let’s do this little exercise all together:

From now on, for 24 hours, I will not allow myself to be disturbed. Check your thought for one minute every hour.



In order to maximize our inner potential, we should be consciously creating powerful and positive thoughts:

-Look at our selves as the master of the situation.

-Check our thoughts every hour.

-Just as we do exercise to keep our bodies healthy, we should tune our thoughts first thing in the morning to keep our minds fit.

Thank you. Om-shanti.


At the end of the talk, as we walked out of the fully-packed room, the sisters from Brahama Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre distributed some home-made cookies with the little hand-made note card:

“By practicing the art of forgetting the past, you remember how to fly.”

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BK LAKSHMI said...

u are doing good service by printing these spiritual talks. many would be benefited. it was useful.

POOJA said...

om shanti

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u.i m very depressed.
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