Not the most exotic destinations, neither luxurious homes, nor that expensive jewellery or the rare work of art, the coveted super yacht, the priced private jet – nothing will give any joy unless the mind is in a calm and peaceful state. But easier said than done! How does one stay calm with work pressure, relationship tangles, health issues and a zillion complications that life throws at us? We sought out the man who has been successfully guiding many on the journey to the elusive ‘peace within’, Apoorva Lochan. Who is he? What is his secret? Meher Castelino posed the right questions in an exclusive interview. This is a MUST READ for all.
By Meher Castelino
A true blue Delhite, Apoorva Lochan learnt about life from his father late Rajiv Lochan an eminent lawyer in the Delhi High Court and mother Dr Kanta Gupta, retired Sanskrit lecturer at the University of Delhi. His brother Sanjiv in the steel trade and sister Divya involved in cultural activities inspired Apoorva, the youngest in the family, who did his hospitality Management in Chennai, went into publishing and then changed tracks to start Cerebral Solutions in 2006 to give value to lives. Even as a child he believed in doing one good deed a day. Meditators from the five continents have attended his 1700 Anapanasati online mindful meditation sessions twice a day since March 2020. Apoorva Lochan reveals his journey on the spiritual path in an exclusive interview.
What made you change tracks from publishing to start Cerebral Solutions?
I realized early, that there was immense joy in adding value to people’s lives and being in a hard core corporate profile, was not really giving me either the sense of eagerness at the start of each day, neither the sense of fulfilment at the end of the day. With that thought, I started Cerebral Solutions in 2006, so that I could add value to lives through various Training sessions. The sessions could range from two hours to two days, depending on what the requirement of the Client is.
Please give a brief insight on them?
Sessions are offered on Energizing Life, Holistic Health, Emotional Management, Handling Stress and Preventing Burnout. Personally, the most satisfying are the one-on-one sessions related to:
- Life Coaching – for those wanting to do more with their life or wanting to overcome certain seemingly insurmountable challenges in their lives;
- Healing sessions – offered to those looking to overcome many of the chronic/incurable ailments by opening up blocked energy in the subtler channels of the body, which modern medicines cannot cure.
What was that one point in life that made you move onto the holistic path?
The seeds were sown when I did my first Ten Days retreat in November 1996; I was able to cure a crippling back problem, which had lead to a terrible case of Sciatica, and a knee condition, which did not allow me to cross my right leg for more than a minute. From March 2000 onwards, I was well on my way with the daily practice, which has not been missed on a single day since then.
You have conducted/organised/designed L&D workshops for various sections of society. Which ones have been most enlightening for you?
Initially, before I setup Cerebral Solutions, I organized and also conducted several day-long sessions for the Visually challenged and got really emotional when I saw how these youngsters would have a smile on their face, even though they were engulfed in darkness. It’s been almost 20 years since I did those sessions, but the Joy that I derived from them, still lingers in my Mind.
Where do you draw your inspirations for the sessions?
I derive joy from seeing someone whose life I have been able to ‘touch’. From childhood, my amazing Role models were:
a) My paternal grandfather – in the late 1940’s, aftermath of the partition, there were thousands of orphans in Delhi; He and his friend, were instrumental in setting up an institution, which today is perhaps the largest orphanage in North India, taking care of almost 3,000 orphans, their educational needs included. b) Late Sh. Ashok Talwar – an Industrialist and great philanthropist, who I met when my Meditation journey commenced, was my closest friend.
Please tell us about the meditation sessions started in March 2020, which you hold online. How did they start, why, who attends them and how many so far?
On returning from a 30-day Silent retreat on the night of the 22nd March 2020, a national lockdown was announced, from 24th March. I knew this would cause misery to countless people, which prompted me to offer these daily online meditation sessions, completely gratis. The participants practice ‘Anapanasati’ Mindfulness of Breath for about 25 minutes, listening to the Audio instructions in the voice of my late teacher Sh. S.N Goenkaji. Thereafter, we have discussions, readings, listening to talks, chantings, etc. There is a lot of emphasis on the applicability of this Practice, in the ordinary moments of everyday life.
What is your advice to people trying to learn meditation from the many guided meditation videos audios online?
These are good for those who may want to dabble with Meditation casually, but for those who are serious about meditation, they should learn live, from an experienced practitioner, so that they are able to understand the technique and clarify their doubts immediately.
What are your thoughts on happiness of the mind and body?
For a serious practitioner, happiness is just another state of mind, when it is not at ‘rest’, i.e. when the Mind is not peaceful. So, the Practice is, to be in a peaceful state of Mind, regardless of the wanted/unwanted events, that maybe unfolding in one’s Life. As far as the Body is concerned, I fully appreciate the importance of keeping it healthy and work out regularly to maintain a basic level of fitness (strength, stamina and flexibility), which I can crank up at short notice whenever required. A reasonably sound understanding about the fundamentals of Ayurveda, enables me to heal others and myself, complements my approach to a healthy body. Having learnt the subtlest technique of Ayurveda viz. Marma, I also use that to heal others and myself who maybe having any chronic ailments.
You are helping marginalised sections of society and the environment; please tell us something about that?
Wanting to add value to the marginalized sections of society, I set up a Charitable Trust with a couple of my classmates. The Trust offers sessions on enhancing English communication skills of the poor kids who go to mainstream schools due to RTE, but are unable to cope with the language, due to negligible support at home.
The Trust has started a Covid relief drive – “Let no one sleep hungry”, wherein we have distributed Ration kits (a week’s supply) to more than 1,300 families, across Delhi and NCR, as of 3rd June. We hope to distribute the same to at least 5,000 families by the end of June. Additionally, we started offering hot food, ordered from a clean kitchen, which has reached 600 people till date. We started doing plantation drives with the EWS students two years ago and hope to resume the same, once the situation stabilizes.
There is severe mental stress in people due to this long drawn pandemic. How does one cope with this unprecedented situation?
The best way to cope with mental stress is to meditate daily. Just as one eats food daily, without missing out despite one’s busy schedule, similarly one should not miss out on a single day of meditation, regardless of what is happening in life.
If the body is unwell, but the Mind is strong, the body shall eventually regain its health, but if the Mind is unwell, then the body can never remain healthy for too long.
One should also internalize the concept of ‘Impermanence’ i.e. ‘nothing is permanent’. Everything in this Creation is in a state of flux, never permanent. The same is true for this ‘unprecedented situation’, which too shall pass, after it has played out its part.
When the concept of ‘impermanence’ is internalized then the ability to ‘accept’ anything that Life throws at us, is that much higher; Greater the ‘acceptance’, lesser is the stress that is experienced.
What type of problems according to you do people have that prevent them from being happy and healthy?
Most people do not appreciate the value of this Human life, which is truly precious. As a result neither do they take care of the physical health and for most the concept of mental health is alien. They do not take care of the body optimally; expose it to a poor life style viz. unhealthy food, insufficient exercise, substance abuse, etc. For some time the body is able to handle this kind of abuse, but eventually it leads to a ‘break down’ – of the Mind or the body and very often both.
What is the most important thing that a person can do to be at peace?
Acquire the ability to be Aware and Equanimous in all situations of life. Anyone who is able to do that, while leading a wholesome life, shall be able to experience peace on a sustainable basis. Learn to forgive all those who have hurt you, so that you are able to get rid of the toxicity that accompanies such feelings of resentment. By forgiving and gradually forgetting (the hurtful incidents), you shall do yourself a great favour and be that much more at peace. Also learn to forgive yourself, so that you don’t carry any regrets, of the unwholesome actions that you did or the wholesome actions that you wish you had done.
Please tell us about Mangal Maitree which you advocate constantly?
Mangal Maitree is the practice of sharing one’s positive vibrations with all beings in this creation. We practice this with the understanding that whatever we send out into this ‘consciousness’, shall come back to us with greater force.
We are compassionate towards all those who have harmed or hurt us, who we consciously keep forgiving whenever we have negative thoughts for them. This enables us to free ourselves of the toxicity that we may harbour within us, when we have negativity towards anyone else. We also turn our compassion towards our own selves and forgive ourselves all those unwholesome actions that we may have done in the past OR the wholesome actions that we feel should have been done, but were not done by us. That frees us from the burden of regrets, which we tend to carry with us. We also send out an assurance of fearlessness to all beings’, which implies that we shall not harm anyone from our side and follow that up with matching actions.
What is your message to the young and old working and retired persons?
Human Life is extremely precious and rather short, hence we need to make the best use of this blessing called a human form.
For the Young:
Understand the preciousness of the time at your disposal and devote it to adding value to your life, which would enable you to add value to the life of others. As the Buddha said that, those in their younger years, who neither worked hard to earn wealth nor enhanced their spirituality, have to lay helpless in their advanced years, just as an arrow shot from the bow lies lifeless on the ground with all its force spent.
For those advanced in years:
Life whizzes past before we know it and many start realizing it, as one advances in age. By now, most start appreciating that a life well lived is one, which has been able to add value to the lives of others. If you are in a position to serve others, then do that as much as you can, while you acquire the ability to commence the ‘journey within, to find the real treasures of life’.