Saturday, December 28, 2019

Mindfulness book launch – Bangalore – Q&A

We had a launch event for the book “Mindfulness: Connecting with the real you” in Bangalore on 24th November 2019. The event took place at Higginbothams bookstore near M. G. Road Metro station. At the event, Dr. Kajoli Banerjee Krishnan and I had a conversation followed by Q&A. It was lucky to have Kajoli as the host. She is a medical imaging researcher, poet, blogger (blog: Unfold the wings) and carries a keen interest in the topic of mindfulness. She covered a lot of ground during the interview and also asked some probing questions. Many friends & family members joined the conversation and asked good questions.

The event began with Kajoli and my wife Gauri singing a welcome song – Yei akashe amar mukti – a poem by Tagore. You can listen to their version here (3MB, MP3).

Here are Kajoli’s questions:

00:44 You have three streams of interest: design thinking, innovation and mindfulness. Do you see a connection among all of these?
6:15 If I have a reaction, what should I do? This is a practical question.
8:00 If someone derives pleasure in arguing and does that in a sustained way, and such a person may not see himself as doing anything wrong. Is there a message from the Gabbar story here?
10:00 What is the connection between sustained negative emotion, absolute necessity and self-deception?
13:15 What if I do all of this and feel good. What could be the ways in which I suddenly realize that may be there is something wrong here? I may not ever figure it out in my lifetime, right?
15:20 One of the stories from the book that fascinates me is the “reverse bike”. Do you want to tell the story?
19:15 Could human species survive if we are all mindful?
22:20 Evolutionary biology implies that a large number of tasks we do, we do automatically with certain model in the brain and take quick decisions.
26:10 Do you want to talk about how we define ourselves with respect to culture or a gender, the dance of necessities?
28:50 Why made you call it a “dance of necessities”? Would you call it a “song of necessities”?
32:00 I worked for seventeen years in a multinational organization. The two things HR would say are: perception is reality and actions should be consistent with organization values. I felt perception is not necessarily reality. I felt actions are important but your belief system is somehow fundamental. Do we as humans set up simple models so that we take decisions more easily?

1:40 Have you been asked by organizations to come and do mindfulness workshops?
3:20 Has this idea of investigation something you thought of?
4:30 In the last part of your book, you describe experiments like the dancing droplet. And then on page 114, you say, “The idea is not to understand the science behind these experiments. It is to use them as analogies.”  Isn’t it inconsistent with the spirit of investigation?

Questions from the audience:

10:00 On page x you say, “JK says process of becoming could be the root cause of human suffering” and then later you say that mindfulness is an investigation of the process of becoming. I am not able to connect the two.
12:58 Human beings are supposed to have emotions. And if we are following an engineering approach for understanding the mind and taking the right decisions, we could be taking emotions, happiness away. The second part is, looking at the Padmaavat example, won’t this approach lead to inaction? There has to be a criticism if something wrong is happening. If everybody becomes mindful then people will be expressing less.

0:00 When somebody criticizes Prime Minister Modi, I am upset and I cut his friendship off. I don’t want to see the bad comment at all. Is it right or wrong?
2:19 Would you call mindful person a rational actor the way economics talks about? Isn’t the goal to become a rational person?
5:12 How do you connect mindfulness to meditation?
9:08 The seventh chapter “searching for the real hero” presents concepts similar to existentialism. Is mindfulness similar to existentialism?
11:03 How do I write-off expectations on the go? I realize it only after the event is over.
14:05 You have mentioned “do’s”, but are there any “don’ts” in this practice?
15:55 Have you seen the snake illusion? It is something to do with the rate at which eyelids move.
18:56 You say mindfulness is a journey. So there is no “What next?” right?

I would like to thank Mr. Ananda of Higginbothams for providing the space in the bookstore. Thanks to Mr. Shivendra Singh of HarperCollins for helping with the marketing activity.

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