Seeing & Being Real vs. “Positifying” or “Negatifying” what Is.

There is a tendency in us humans to either decorate/ beautify (“positivify”) or judge/ catasptrophise (“negatify”) reality – or justify what fragment we see – we do this to protect ourselves or some belief structure out of some fear – and hence miss out seeing the simple kindness of Reality. Even the inherent wisdom in what is.

To be able to see what is, simply, nakedly, totally is rare. And perhaps the only place of power and resourcefulness – indeed the only place of love is when we see what is. Just as it is. When we make friends with reality or rather see we are one with it. Instead of continuing to see parts of reality distorted by the mind/ thought and clouded by feeling.

Rajee’s teachings, Sandy’s presence oriented therapy work, Byron Katie’s work, what Sangeeta and GD and Amit do, Core Healing, chats with Biren, my coaching work – any good work – also helps people meet reality as it is. And that is therapeutic, it’s healing. And awakening.

I would also recommend slowly – at the speed of life and your heart –

reading one or more of these books-  Adyashanti’s book, “End of Your world”. And Byron Katie’s “A thousand names for joy” and “Tao of Healing” by Haven Trevino. Many of Sangeeta’s blog posts and some of mine I can also point to. And some of Rajee’s videos and GD’s podcasts. Jeff Brown, Jeff Foster and Matt Licata’s pointings also I have found valuable.

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Design when Change difficult

“Don’t change. Change is impossible, and even if it were possible, it is undesirable. Stay as you are. Love yourself as you are. And change, if it is at all possible, will take place by itself when and if it wants. Leave yourself alone. The only growth-promoting change is that which comes from self-acceptance.”

–Anthony de Mello


This blog post is about relaxing the obsession with changing oneself or another, which consumes and drains so much of human energy. And instead, designing, creating conditions, tending to the soil in which flowering can happen is often more effective. To see how it is not just inside-out but also outside-in. To realize that configuring the “environment” can be as significant, if not more, than focusing on “changing” the individual. Learning together is a vital doorway. Above all, seeing what is changeless, and designing is the deepest leverage for creating what matters.  


I have struggled with change and learning for the longest time. Being a good teacher doesn’t make me a good student. We are often teaching what we most need to learn. I have often felt that perhaps I have a learning disability! Various life experiences including reading a beautiful book, “Delivered from Distraction” by Ed Hallowell on ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) reinforced the idea. Recently, at a gathering in Mumbai at a dear friend, Abhishek’s place who has suffered from Bipolar and masterfully dealt with it

And of course all the well intentioned voices advising … that’s just a thought, it’s a belief, let go and fly etc etc- have some truth in it and yet, the struggle has seemed more real. Until the truth dawns fully, identification with some stories and ‘personas’ seem real. And even after it seems the journey to be human and evolve is very worthwhile.

There has been a certain clarity about this but its time I wrote about it. Many years back the contact with Mike Jay brought for this clarity. As I see it there are four main aspects of this seeing:

  1. Outside-In, not just Inside-Out

The popular narrative is that the outside mirrors the inside. And the real place to focus on for change is inside. Anything, however sublime, that is made into an idea or a ‘should’ reveals a shadow and misses the point. Obsessing about Inside-out misses the point.

Also, for example, the powerful idea of walking the talk tyrannizes many in the healing, coaching profession, Many years ago, I had written a post on “Letting go of walking the talk” ( which inspired a conversation that became a nice podcast, “Dancing the talk” ( by some friends in South Africa doing stellar work in the field of change.

Amongst the many great schools of Yoga, I feel Iyengar Yoga stands out as one who understands design. They use props to enable the body to gradually ease into positions that are difficult.

How beautiful it would be if we could look at change that people struggle with it and enable them in those areas where they are not gifted. In nature, fish swim, eagles fly, squirrels climb and bees gather honey. What would be like for each of us to discover what we were born to be and then effortlessly do that? And not be obsessed by having to “change”.

It is obvious that we need to attend to the roots if we want to nourish the tree. What is less obvious is that what we do to the tree, also affects the roots. The world and work of Barrett & Ken Wilber brought this beautiful metaphor of the Tree (from Get Connected and draw it!)

  1. The Collective/ environment impacts the individual not just the other way round

Just like the narrative of inside-out dominates our consciousness, so does the narrative of the individual affecting the collective. I have seen that my office boy who works at my aunt’s place, my community space and my home has different behaviors in each of these spaces. The same group of facilitators behave differently in McKinsey space and differently in another context.

I have a friend who is a genius, world class holistic health professional. And another who has access to transforming the way we evolve humanity. And both of these geniuses like many others struggle deeply also. And the potential of their work is dwarfed. Each genius is also gifted a wound, a blind spot s/he needs to face and deal with. Perhaps like the metaphorical sand in the oyster which makes the pearl, though it causes a lot of pain.

And my work is to work with these beautifully gifted souls. And how difficult it is. Only next to working with Kiran, my own self who is incredibly gifted and terribly challenged soul. So it occurred to me, can we create a design that impacts the environment that these geniuses work in and hence enable flight instead of a wobble that is obvious currently. So we can continue to be themselves and not be forced to change, for its very difficult, near impossible for many of us. But as the environment shifts, they are likely to also shift because the ‘props’ enable the baby steps or even the leap.

One of my past coaches is a Sufi teacher, whose work is the Heart of Business, to bring love to small entrepreneur’s businesses, Mark Silver. Many years ago, he blessed me by saying something to the effect of. “May you find all the support, resources, people so that you can be free to manifest your purpose effortlessly by simply being yourself.” Easier said than done in a society that is obsessed with self-improvement and personal growth. And yet, this is happening for many of us, as we are discovering that we are not a ‘person’ separated from (or attached with) each other, but we are a ‘Presence’. Indeed each of us is an ecosystem that is connected with precisely what we need to freely to dance and bring forth our song with other beings.

What we do to the brick we do to the house,– equally, what we do to the house, affects the brick, is it not? Emoto’s experiments with water show physically- how our thoughts, feelings and words affect reality. Its all about energy.

So let us pay attention to the design. The most complex things in existence to design are human relationships. Because this design requires both an orchestration and allowing emergence. Blueprint of We is a very powerful tool, process born from the work of 2 beautiful people who have had miraculous shifts by designing relationships.

  1. Learning Together & Hierarchical teaching-learning

One of the deepest needs where design is required in our current stage of evolution is the whole field of learning- which impacts healing, leadership, parenting, coaching, therapy etc. We are discovering that while the hierarchical model of the parent-child, the guru-shishya, the teacher-student, the leader-team, husband-wife member is valid, there is something else that is taking birth and needs to be embraced speedily – else we suffer.

This new way of being, requires us to hold the hierarchy lightly. The teacher needs to now learn from the student also as she teaches, the parent from the child and the team member from the leader. We are all learning to be ‘frentors’ (a friend-mentor) a term coined by my dear friend, Abhishek Thakore. “What does it mean to learn together?” is a very vital question. We came upon/ designed a learning & coaching process (in true and deep design its often not certain if it was created or co-created, ‘received’ or ‘made to happen’!) The process simply has four steps which I will write about someday in detail but for now:

a) Inquiring Silence: The coach uses (and used by) silence, deep listening and gentle questioning to evoke, invoke deeper seeing, intelligence for just 10 minutes approx.

b)  Revealing Insights: The coach and the learner dialogue where what is seen in step a) is seen with more clarity and concreteness. In this there is an authentic speaking along with other aspects.

c)  Mirroring Vulnerably: Often what emerges is also what the coach may be grappling with or has walked to a degree but the depths needs to be plumbed. The coach shares from his/her life and reality how he has dealt/is dealing with something similar.

d) Discerning Helicopter: At this stage, the coach and the learner steps out of the content (what) and looks at the process (how) of coaching and learns at a deeper level from that. Because the how contains the what and vice versa

4. Awakening & Evolution

I had written a blog post, Heal or Awaken? ( exactly 6 years back when I had the realization that awakening is not at the end of evolution. That they are actually both parallel and intertwined “paths”. Traditional awakening makes people rest in the free, non-dual space but there are some who then end the two-ness between the non-dual and the dual- the human and the being. Adyashanti expresses it beautifully,

Yes, we go to this timeless background of consciousness and awareness. Absolutely. Very liberating isn’t it? Very, very freeing; very profound and very beautiful.

And yet, if taken in and of itself, we’ve just switched sides of illusion. We’ve gone from form and time, to formlessness and timelessness, and we say: ‘Well, this one’s more true,’ because it’s more comfortable, it feels better, basically.

But the truth is only when these two collapse together – that this world of form IS the timeless, so what we call form is emptiness, it is consciousness, that’s what it is. Then, there’s no stance anymore, is there? There is no sense of ‘I have to remain as awareness’. We only have to remain as awareness if we don’t really know that this wall is awareness, that your car is awareness – once we know that, then we’re finally free, are we not?”

Rajesh Dalal, one of my dearest friends and teachers had walked intimately with J. Krishnamurti for 10 years (JK has been one of the most exceptionally awake beings who challenged the centrality of a ‘guru’). Rajesh used to share a story which my brother Rohit Sasvehalli made into a short film, ‘The Last Seed’ ( which underlines this whole dance of deep surrender.

The essential point that I am making is that awakening makes us rest in our being and walk as truth and freedom, life must be navigated in our utter human-ness. In this realm of relationships and working together, design becomes vital. There are times when deep conflict comes up with a young friend who has realised the truth, and with whom there has been great co-creation. And we are seeing how we can ‘design’ our way into deeper creations which can come through only when we truly look at workability.

In conclusion, JK talks about ‘the futility of our effort to change’. To me, until we find that effortlessness of our being and even after, design seems to be an elegant way to navigate and bring forth beautiful creations, irrespective of the peculiarities of the person. Especially when change seems to be difficult. Or near impossible.

Paradoxes & Edges in Coaching

I have been coaching people and developing facilitators & leaders for the last 20+ years. In formal and informal ways. There are real questions that are alive in my heart. And how challenging can paradoxes be for many of us- until we see that they can be delicious. I love to explore the edges because they take me into the unknown which has a freshness.

Let me pose some questions for you, dear reader, to reflect on. This post is coming into being as I have been invited by the Association of Mumbai Coaches (AMC) to conduct a session – on the internet (Zoom) and then in-person. I felt it would be good to spark some thinking and even feeling & being.

Have any of these questions crossed your mind? And what would be your response to them?

1. What is the boundary between being a friend and being a coach- we end up learning from each other in a friendship, is there space for coaching here?

2. Does Coaching have anything to do with healing? What is the distinction with Mentoring? Do you see the connections with teaching, loving, with sport?

3. What is the role of the heart, the body and breath in coaching? How about spirit? What are the essential skills, states of being of a Coach?

4. Is Clarity always an ally in coaching? What are its limits and shadows?

I mention some examples from my recent coaching conversations with names modified to honor confidentiality.

Some of the paradoxes I have encountered in coaching that you may like to reflect on are:

The fundamental Paradox:

Learning or Coaching

Needless to say, any coach would agree that we need to learn as we coach. It is not easy to have a beginner’s mind since the title of a coach comes with its baggage and at times an ego also. How comfortable are we, as coaches to be honest and vulnerable? Truly learning together is rare. I remember once I was caught in my tracks when a participant in a program I was facilitating pointed to how I was not listening. I had taught him deep listening. It was a humbling moment. How would you respond? We often teach what we most need to learn, is it not?

Yesterday I was coaching a wonderful lady, Anita who was grappling with a newly recruited senior manager reporting to her delivering much below what she was expected to. 3 to 4 on a scale of 10 is what she said. Anita’s senior and her team said that this new recruit must be asked to leave. Anita, however wanted to give her a chance. As we navigated the territory, what became apparent was that there was a need for Anita to awaken the coach in herself – that was her learning edge – to make her new team member shine. The shift from simply managing to coaching. And my challenge was to enable her to be a coach. To learn to shift in my own life and work to bring in he being of a Coach vs. just a problem solver, quick-fixer etc. Life and relationships are such a mirror to discover ourselves, to learn as we coach. Anita saw the hidden blessing in this adversity and decided to take on the challenge of shifting her new team member from 3 to 8. Even if the shift happened to 6, there would be a precious journey for both and in turn for me as I coach Anita.

I am reminded of an earlier blog post,  The Zen Story of 4 horses- When learning & teaching gets difficult …

Other Paradoxes & Edges:

Witnessing or Engaging

I often ask this question: Do you feel its more important to engage deeply or witness.  I guess we know the “right” answer is ‘both’. And yet, have you noticed if you are able to be engaged in a detached way or do you get caught in the story of the client. I have noticed times when there is a state of flow and the question of witnessing or engaging falls away as it all seems to be unfolding almost on its own. Have you noticed this? And equally noticed the fragmented state when the flow is absent.

Clarity & Vulnerability

On two occasions I coached people who coach others – professionally- they both who held the view that Clarity is vital. And when I asked the question, “Is clarity opposed to confusion? Is confusion inappropriate?” The answer was ‘Yes’ in both cases. As we looked deeper, we discovered that profound clarity welcomes confusion, a sign of being on the edge of the unknown. And great revelations happen only with our willingness to not know. And stay with that difficult uncertain moment which we normally fill up by talking. A good question to reflect on is: How much at ease are you with confusion when it arises not only in the client, but inside you – and can we be vulnerable about our feelings?

Another senior leader I was coaching a few days back, Sunita had this challenge of a team member, Deepali’s capability on the face of it. But as we explored deeper we saw Deepali grapple with low self-worth. And there was clearly a need to make her feel safe. In the course of the conversation, Sunita felt that she could be vulnerable and share some of her challenges in the past.

As we stayed with it, and looked inside the situation and ourselves, it was apparent that there was a vulnerability in the present situation itself. While Deepali needed to learn to perform more effectively, Sunita needed to enable performance. Both were challenged. It was seen that if Sunita gathered clarity and courage to honestly share her own struggle in inspiring Deepali, the two could together look at it. And Deepali may even be able to share ways in which she could be enabled, thus enabling Sunita!

I had once written about Standing on the edge of another’s awkwardness without invading or avoiding. Standing there, truly helpless in a way, we mirror the other’s helplessness and often something beautiful is seen freshly if we can sit there in what may seem like a fire.

Leading or following

The fundamental wisdom of Coaching is to allow the client to take the lead, to not advice but evoke, to not rescue but enable. And I ask, have you tasted a place where the separation between the coach and the client vanishes and sometimes you speak from that oneness- as neither and both. What may appear to be advice may actually be a revelation that is expressing itself through you. Its about timing, presence and letting go of all ‘shoulds’.

Structure or free-flow

Structure always helps to keep the session in track and yet, it can sometimes constrict the flow. Do you tend to follow structure or prefer free flow and honoring what is emerging. How do you decide? I find that holding and embracing this paradox helps me to offer the best to the client and also come away nourished.

With the recent Coach for Life certification that was gifted to me, I am learning to honor and see the beauty of structure so that both flow and structure can be in harmony.

What are the other paradoxes that you have encountered?

Two last questions worth reflecting on are

  1. What has been that one wonderful Coaching-Learning aha! moment that has stayed with you?
  2. What is the one challenge (possibly recurring) that you encounter (it could also be a positive leap that you would like to make, not necessarily a difficulty)?

Fellow-coaches, I would love to hear your reflections that arise and any insights that you have had. Do leave your thoughts, feelings & any questions in the comments on this post (button at top of the post next to the title) – it will help us create the session together. I look forward to our Zoom session today and then the one in-person on 15th April 2017.




The Tao Programs- Our Ordinary & Sacred Journeys

More than 20 years back  (in Aug 1996) I took the plunge from the Corporate world into the world of Human Potential, Learning, Leadership, Consciousness, and more – out of a single insight- we live such a small fraction of the life that we are given. I was reading Autobiography of  a Yogi – Paramhansa Yogananda – the book which was more recently gifted to everyone who came To Steve Jobs funeral. Went through a series of experiences including having the Bach Flower remedy Wild oat which clarifies one’s purpose. I must also thank Naresh Purushottam and the Bullet Proof manager program I attended! And Swami Sukhbodhananda and the Life Program which inspired me to get into this field.

I spoke to my boss then in the ITC Packaging Division, Chittu Dar and he told me about his cousin Arun Wakhlu in Pune who had this organization – Pragati Learning , now Pragati Leadership. I shifted from Chennai to Pune in a few weeks. The first evening Arun asked me to anchor a session since he had to leave for an HRD Network meeting – I enjoyed so much and the participants were touched. I knew I had come home. And very soon the deeper sanctum sanctorum of this home that I discovered was working with facilitators, coaches, healers, fellow-travelers in this field- to learn together with them, to create together with them.

I anchored the program “Empowered Trainer” which we rechristened in Pragati to “Inspiring Facilitator”.  When I moved on from partnering with Pragati in early 2000, to give birth to Eternale Learning with my then wife, Prativa,  I got this name, Tao of facilitation, thanks to Sekhar Chandrasekhar, my dear friend. Inspired by the brilliant book, Tao of Leadership- John Heider from Esalen. A book I must have gifted to at least a 100 people! 😉

The Tao of facilitation touched many lives deeply for more than a decade – starting with my own and in the last few years started morphing into other themes which were announced on Facebook. Here are some of them:

Tao of the heart-song
(Jun 2016)
– with daniel eagles, arjun & rohit
Tao- this loving reality
.. the truth of courage & friendship
(Feb 2016)

– with arjun som, rohit, daniel
Tao of Reality 
… the verge of learning, leadership & loving
(Dec 2015)

– with rohit sasvehalli & arjun som
Tao of Loving 
… the tenderness of real relationships
(Nov 2015)

– with rhea d’souza, arjun
Tao of the Deep Masculine
… the simplicity of being real
(July 2015) 

– with manish srivastava
Tao of facilitation
.. the art of learning & coaching together
(Nov 2014) 

– started with sorabh but he left after first day!
– and this was the toughest one- i was so broken in this! – wish he had been there.. but all participants held me..
Tao of Co-creating
…the joy of learning & coaching community
Tao of Coming Home
.. Learning, Loving & Living Together
(Nov 2013)
Tao of the deep masculine
(Aug 2013) – with abhishek thakore
Tao of Co-coaching
… the joy of learning together 
(Dec 2012) 

– with rohit & shiva!!!


Have had the blessing of co-creating Tao programs many many gifted souls apart from the above- Raj Mali, GD, Anuradha Ramesh (Usha), Sangeeta Bhagwat, Nithya Shanti, Saraswathi Vasudevan, Dola Dasgupta, Pramod Tripahi and others.

The lives of many people- starting with myself have been deeply touched.  Many have requested that we return to the vintage Tao of facilitation. The one that is around the corner – plan to announce it and conduct in June 2017

Tao of Coaching Leadership … the joy of learning & leading together

More as it all unfolds. This had to be shared.







5 Super-Simple Tips to go from Internet Zombie to Internet Zen Dude

Aalif always writes very well.
I love his view of reality. It also comes with a comic twist.
And this is a subject close to my heart.
What addicts us can also release us into Zen.

I have spoken on fb about how wsap can be a new-world sadhana.
Do have a look and also you may want to
check out
6 apps to stop smart phone addiction:


Working on the internet is like being in a crowded bazaar, protected by glass from the noise, but feeling the energy of the busyness and chaos; catching the screaming confusion of others who have been in this bazaar for too long, some who have forgotten the way out.

It’s a fast world, the internet — time here runs faster than seconds, it zips by in clicks. For even a second is sometimes too long to wait for a page to load, or a video to buffer. The internet is the domain of restless fingers and ceaseless thinking and darting eyes. And in losing myself in it, I become another arm of the million-armed monster who is restless, hyper-active mentally and a ghost-like zombie in the real world.

A strong reason for this is the electro-magnetic radiation aka dirty electricity which your body picks up. According to Dr Lance Macleod-Lutchin

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Tools for Empaths

Sangeeta Bhagwat is a very dear friend. At this point in my life, I am seeing how I pick up people’s energies. And felt this blog post of her is useful for me. And perhaps for some of you.


The requests for guidance with managing waves of emotions and sometimes inexplicable overwhelm have been rising in recent times.  Energetically sensitive people feel affected by the collective ener…

Source: Tools for Empaths

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