TEDxUGA 2018 Student Idea Showcase | Anjali Sindhuvalli, BBA ‘21
Excerpt from Jessica Hamlin, Staff Writer — The Red and Black
Sophomore business administration major Anjali Sindhuvalli will speak about the benefits of daily meditation and advocate for the implementation of meditation practices in the workplace.
Sindhuvalli said she grew up around mediation. Her parents do an hour of meditation in the morning and night as a part of their daily routine.
“I never realized the full importance of meditation until I came to college,” she said. “Taking what my family has taught me and adapting it to my own lifestyle is something that I have figured out recently.”
In her talk, Sindhuvalli hopes to enlighten listeners to the difference between mindfulness and heartfulness. While mindfulness encourages the practice to be aware of everything, heartfulness encourages the individual to block out external factors.
“You completely blank out everything and just focus on your heart,” she said. “You try not to have any thoughts at all.”
For the past couple of years, Sindhuvalli has helped her father create a program encouraging mediation in the workplace.
“It’s a 10-minute employee program,” she said “We get together and [encourage] employees to mediate during their break.”
Sindhuvalli said larger companies sometimes use mediation programs as way to relax employees. In her talk, she said she hopes to highlight the importance of mediation in stressful environments like the workplace.
“I take it with me wherever I go,” she said. “It’s the way I was raised. I think it’s something especially people in companies can benefit from.”
Sindhuvalli said she hopes her talk helps to normalize meditation for college students.
“I want to make people aware that even though mediation is an abstract concept, there are a lot of apps out there and it’s very doable in your daily life,” she said.
— SCRIPT; TIME: 10:00
Once upon a time amongst the snow-capped peaks and chilling winds of the Himalayas, a little boy became a monk’s apprentice. He observed, studied and worked with the monk so closely that eventually, the two became absolutely inseparable. And every day, the boy asked the monk his most pressing question: What is the secret to your peace? But the monk always gave him the same reply: “When I walk, I walk.” The boy was, understandably, really confused by such a simple answer.
And honestly, when I first heard this story, so was I.
Because when I walk, I don’t just walk. I listen to music. I check my texts. I think about where I’m headed and which dining hall I’m going to eat at next.
But the monk…when he walks, he walks, and he only walks. It’s the key that unlocks his door to constant peace.
We’ve all heard the basic warnings.
Don’t waste time.
Time is money.
Time is precious.
Time is always talked about as something which we have to fear. It’s our personal planner, our toughest competitor, and most often, our very worst enemy.
But really, what is time? Is it just something that’s tracked endlessly by clocks and computers? Are we always bound by the perpetual ticking of the second hand?
According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, this is not the case. He believes that “Our perception of time’s flow depends entirely on our inability to see the world in all its detail.”
In other words, time passes slowly or quickly based on our awareness of details; or our consciousness.
If I asked any one of you about your past year, I can guarantee you won’t be able to provide a month-by-month play of events; we remember our past by the moments that impact us the most — the day you broke your arm, got engaged, or experienced the death of a loved one.
In today’s chaotic world, details pass us by so quickly that minutes blur seamlessly into months. What are our most defining moments? Which events shape us into who we truly are?
The simplest, yet most underestimated tool that I can think of to dramatically expand my time is meditation.
My family has been practicing a form of meditation called Heartfulness for many years now, even before I was born. It’s their diligent practice that has demonstrated to me the benefits of meditation.
Many of you may have heard of Mindfulness; it’s an approach that allows people to focus fully on one specific thing. Heartfulness has a complementary approach. It’s based on sweeping away all your thoughts and focusing solely on your heart. Heartfulness helps us to derive inspirations from the Heart, while regulating the mind.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a national Heartfulness meditation conference where I helped scientists and researchers quantify the benefits of meditation through the measurement of brain waves. Regular practitioners were asked to meditate briefly while their brain waves were being tracked by a system of electrodes.
Participants said that they felt more calm, relaxed, and more aware of their surroundings after these sessions. But the real proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
There are 5 major brain waves that we dealt with: alpha, beta, theta, gamma, and delta waves. Gamma and beta waves are high-frequency — they’re at play when you’re awake, alert, and thinking about a lot of things at once. Delta waves are common when you’re asleep. When people meditated, however, we noticed none of those 3, but instead, alpha and theta waves. These waves signify that a person is in a state of deep relaxation; in other words — total calmness.
These brain waves are the reason behind why meditation can increase our awareness of time and “slow” it down. It also explains why meditation can help those with stress, anxiety, and ADHD (just to name a few things).
But meditation shouldn’t be viewed as just a prescription for problems.
My mother once told me before I set out for college that I should never take even a second of these 4 years for granted, because never again in life will I be surrounded 24/7 by others just like me — all thinkers, dreamers, and doers — all of us trying to make something of ourselves and scribble our signatures on the world.
Needless to say, I’ve found her advice the hardest to follow. Because of all the skills I can possibly fit on my resume, time management really doesn’t top the list. As someone with a lot of different interests that will never really fit together, I struggle every day to find the time to do everything I love and pursue all of my passions. 24 hours is never enough.
But for me, meditation has improved that, little by little, each day. It’s helped me through the stress of moving 7 hours away to a city where I knew no one. It’s improved my ability to focus on only one task before jumping to the next. Having a meditation routine has helped me schedule a time every day to meet up with myself and really make sure that I value what I’m doing.
But what about creating an even bigger impact?
Earlier this year, I attended a networking event through the Terry College of Business where I noticed that the companies that presented all harped on their “work-life balance” and “wellness” initiatives, and the very first thing that popped into my mind was meditation. I ended up talking to a recruiter for a while about the idea of implementing meditation in the workplace, and why it’s so important in reducing stress and increasing productivity.
The thing is, it’s been done successfully, and companies are reaping its benefits.
Companies like Apple, Google, and Nike all have implemented meditation into their company’s core employee programs. Research has shown that meditation can increase employee productivity gains by up to $3,000 per person, so it’s safe to say they haven’t regretted it since.
On a more personal note, my dad is a Heartfulness meditation trainer, and works for a company called Express Scripts. Last year, I helped him create a meditation program in his workplace that’s very similar. Once a month, employees participate in a 10-minute meditation session that’s been proven to decrease stress and improve productivity.
Looking back, it’s crazy to think that my parents’ simple daily practices could be brought to a multi-million dollar company — but what’s even crazier is that the whole thing started with one idea.
Ironically, the most common excuse that people dig up to not meditate is “I don’t have the time.”
Today, all the information and knowledge that we could ever want and need is only a touch of a button away. So I promise you, you don’t need to go find a monk like the little boy in the Himalayas. All you need is an open mind and a few minutes to spare.
Out of all the great apps out there, the Heartfulness Institute has an app that allows you choose what 10-minute meditation you’d like to do. It can be done in the most impossible of situations — in airports, on flights, before exams, and while waiting in the car. Especially as college students, those 10 minutes we take to simply shut off the world, shut off our thoughts, and focus on our hearts can amplify our perception of time by a thousandfold.
We will never get the chance of living each moment twice, so the first time around, let’s use our time for every second it’s worth — to explore our consciousness, to discover the potential of our creativity, and to develop the best possible versions of ourselves.
As someone who aims to work in a corporate setting someday, my goal is to bring meditation to the mainstream.
My hope is that through this, people can expand their time by noticing more of life’s more intricate details — that catchy song someone played on the radio; the colors of the flowers on your patio. In ancient times when we didn’t record every memory on snapchat, people were forced to remember these. They were the only standout links that made memories measure time.
In the end, the little boy in the Himalayas finally understood what the monk meant when he said “When I walk, I walk.” The boy realized that when he walked, rather than enjoying the walk, he picked up rocks, made jokes, and hummed to himself — all simple, harmless things, but all things that made the walk go by just a little bit quicker.
Once we choose we want to only walk while we walk, or be fully aware of what’s happening in the moment, time no longer exists as this menacing limit. Instead, it becomes a comforting companion and our dearest, oldest friend.
Now I will walk you through a sample of my meditation routine.
*[inserted here] Heartfulness Relaxation Session — brief sample
Anjali Sindhuvalli is a second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Terry College of Business. She recently attended a national meditation conference organized by the Heartfulness Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating others on the benefits of meditation, where she worked alongside neuroscientists researching the effects of meditation. She has also lead workshops and open houses about meditation in her community and at local libraries. Sindhuvalli’s goal with this talk is to bring focus to the benefits daily meditation can provide and inspire schools and businesses to implement meditation practices into the workplace.