13 Jul 2021 23:37 IST

Aspiring for ‘pure consciousness’ makes you a better leader

A combination of meditation and yogic science techniques is used by many leaders across cultures

The part one of the article talked about how leadership remains an esoteric subject, largely because the existing theories and models are dominated by Western literature, and lack a common set of attributes that provide insights and offer a template for leadership development. The crucial aspect of self-realisation, so essential for a leader to be able to lead others is missed in the various leadership models.

However, self-knowledge is not apparent and has to be brought out to be realised. The combination of meditation and yogic science is one of the techniques used widely in different cultures all over the world. It is less about faith and more about altering consciousness, finding awareness, and achieving peace. Among the various techniques, mindfulness meditation and focused meditation are generic techniques that are particularly effective.

Both these techniques involve concentration with awareness. The total concentration on one’s breath brings the person closest to the self to generate pure consciousness.

Steps to attaining pure consciousness

Pure consciousness can be attained by regularly practising these three steps:

  1. Mind purification
  2. Brain stilling
  3. Enhancing emotional quotient (EQ)

Mind purification

Pure consciousness is linked to the body through the breath and is reflected on the mind. However, the mind may be polluted due to desires in the previous birth or poor upbringing in current birth. Since thoughts originate from a corrupted mind, it has to be purified.This entails practicing yoga, particularly the exercises connected to the “eight limbs” of which breath control (pranayama) is the most important.This facilitates numbing of the ego, the biggest hindrance to self-realisation and a compassionate outlook, and unites the self with pure consciousness.

Brain stilling

If the mind gets agitated and becomes angry, our breathing becomes rapid and the breath is not normal. Therefore, control of breath is required as a mind full of impurities that is churning will get more confused. Brain stilling, at its simplest, can be accomplished by practising 12-15 rounds of alternate nostril, deep, mindful breathing. Since the entire concentration is on deep breathing, the mind is not wandering and smoothens the agitated nervous system.

Thereafter, while breathing normally and gently, one may persuasively suggest to it: “Let go, without straining.” A serene and calm void begins to be felt inside the head. Pranayama enables control of breath, the mind becomes still and so to say, the mud settles down at the bottom and thinking becomes clear. This enables people to extricate themselves from selfishness to self-fullness and think about others as fellow human-beings.

Enhancing EQ

Human beings do not inhale and exhale through both nostrils with the same intensity. This can be seen by placing the index finger below both nostrils and keenly observing the breath. The outflow in one nostril will be more forceful than the other which will reverse after a few hours. Inhaling through left nostril and exhaling through right nostril energises the right side of the brain. In this cycle, our mind tends to be calm, as it is a feminine or lunar cycle. Women by nature possess a higher EQ because of the predominant occurrence of the lunar cycle of breathing.

On the other hand, inhalation through right nostril and exhalation through the left nostril energises the left side of the brain. This is a masculine or solar cycle that causes agitation. Both of these are medically proven. For leaders who are required to take decisions day in and day out, increasing the duration of the lunar cycle will enable them to be calm. Therefore, male leaders have to make a conscious effort to practice the lunar cycle of pranayama to enhance their EQ.

A study conducted at IIM Bangalore on a sample of 60 managers of a company by dividing them into two teams — the yoga group and the control group (subject to normal physical workout), over six weeks, revealed that the yoga group’s average EQ increased from 5.50 to 5.97 while that of the control group reduced from 5.61 to 5.55.

Once the leader attains self- realisation and imbibes pure consciousness, the attributes that describe the individual will be humility, compassion, egolessness, ethical, positive energy, non-mercenary/non-materialistic, secular, unifier, respect for the environment, person of values with concern for all stakeholders-employees, customers, government, society, universe including people from other nations. Leaders will then be able to motivate and inspire. Communicating pure consciousness to those around will make the person inspirational, and they would not just be leading by virtue of authority or title, but through a magnetic force that attracts followers.

The state of pure consciousness will reflect in the purpose, vision, and strategy, appealing to all the stakeholders. The organisational performance will not be measured in monetary terms alone, but parameters such as stakeholder satisfaction, employee/ people happiness, environment protection quotient, and above all the spread of pure consciousness across the organisation, community, customers, will also be taken into consideration. This does not mean that success is guaranteed or that there will be no problem, pain, or suffering on the way, but through the practice of regular monitoring, problems can be tackled with equanimity. Gradually, since pure consciousness would pervade the ambit of influence of the leader, stakeholders will also emulate him/her. Thus, the pure consciouness model, far from being idealist, is practical and viable.

This is corroborated not necessarily by Indian CEOs such as N Chandrasekharan of Tata Sons; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon; and Naveen Jindal of Jindal Group, but also by Steve Jobs the late iconic CEO of Apple; Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder; Jeff Weiner, the charismatic past CEO of LinkedIn, and Marc Benioff, CEO of Sales Force; who have vouched for self-realisation, creativity, compassionate leadership, and clear thinking, emanating from their practice of yoga. There cannot be a greater endorsement for the pure consciousness model of self-realisation to the path of leadership.

(Dr Jayasankaran was former Vice-Chancellor, Kanchi University, now Advisor, VIT University, Chinmaya Viswa Vidyalaya, and Rajagiri Vidyapeeth. Dr Suresh Mony was former Founder-Director, NMIMS Bangalore, and now Advisor, Rajagiri Vidyapeeth, Kochi.)