Enlightenment, Bangalore Style!

article Dec 16, 2020

Enlightenment, Bangalore Style!


We all want to lead lives that feel lighter, but we are so busy dealing with the heaviness of trying to solve life's problems that we miss our pathway to enlightenment.

I'm not talking about pie-in-the-sky enlightenment that gets talked about over a cup of coffee at the philosopher's cafe. I am talking about feet-on-the-ground real-world enlightenment that you feel in your bones.

Have you ever felt stressed out, overworked, or pressure in your life? In your neck? In your guts?

Then you know what I'm talking about.

Last year I went to Bangalore, India, for the first time to teach software engineers and agile coaches how to create a safe space in the middle of busyness.

I didn't know it at the time, but I was in for a real treat! Bangalore and San Francisco are within 150,000 square Km of being the same size in landmass. Still, with a population of over 8 million, Bangalore has ten times the people as San Francisco, which has 800,000 by comparison.

Bangalore is busy, overwhelming, and filled with pressure and energy. As soon as you get out of the airport and into traffic, all your senses are filled and on full alert.

I loved going there, and I loved the people I met and worked with.

I also developed a tremendous appreciation and respect for the work people were doing in extremely challenging conditions.

At one of the engagements that I arrived at, it took 20 minutes to get from the parking lot into the building. Cars, trucks, rickshaws, line-ups, security checks, key-cards, phone-calls, text messages, emails, and that was all before I got to the lobby!

When I got into the elevator, it was clear that the level of anxiety, pressure, and reactiveness there was high.

People were running from meeting to meeting, and when they were talking with you, their bodies tensed up, waiting for you to be through so they could get to the next item on their to-do list.

It was like I was talking with a sprinter poised in their starter blocks waiting for the gun to go off. As I was talking, I kept hearing the guy on the loudspeaker in the background yelling: "On Your Marks!"..., "GET READY!"... and then the runner looks up at you as if to say: "You have to get out whatever you want to before that gun goes off, because when it does..."

As soon as you are done talking, you hear, "GO!" and they are off to the next thing.

The question that went through my mind in the elevator was: "How am I going to help these people experience safety when they're so tensed up, and they aren't even breathing?!"

Then my gut kicked in, and I felt connected to my heart, and I immediately knew what to do.

I slowed down, leaned into what I was feeling, took a deep breath, took a step back, and in, to remember why I was there.

The message was clear: "It's time to serve."

We moved into the meeting room, and I watched the group come in.

They were polite but clearly wondering what was happening and why they were there. I realized then the person who organized the meeting hadn't told them anything because they might not have come if she had. Definitely not what I would call an ideal circumstance to be in for training, speaking, and coaching!

Once everyone was in the room and seated, with all the building's busyness still going on behind me, because the room's opening had no doors, we jumped in.

We spent the next 4 hours in experiential exercises. We discovered how simple it is to experience safety in the middle of chaos and busyness and how powerful it is to get more work done when you do.

At the end of the meeting, I asked: What are you learning about safety and working in this way that I just taught you?

A few people shared their learnings and insights, and then one engineer began to say something and then stopped himself. I coaxed him a little by asking him if he wanted to share something. He began to share slowly and a little reluctantly with a puzzled look on his face as if he was still putting together his thoughts as he was sharing them.

"When I create safety like this, it feels...enlightening...because even though the chaos is still there, I feel like I can breathe more lightly, and then the very things that were dark and hard begin to change somehow..."

We all nodded as he caught what the whole room had encountered perfectly. He also expressed exactly what my original experience was with this.

For so many years, I experienced "darkness" in my life and career as well, but I saw that as failure somehow.  Those were the things that I was embarrassed by, and that made me feel deficient somehow.  I tried for years to "fix" them in isolation on my own. 

I discovered the same thing that this group of engineers did, even though our homes were on opposite sides of the planet.  People are designed with internal human technology that will transform problems and the darkness they contain into peace and freedom if we are willing to slow down and work differently than we have been taught.

Even if that's only in moments at first.

He also caught perfectly what happens when we don't use that technology we're born with, and we keep trying to use the same old solutions expecting different results.

Darkness. Darkness in all its forms.

Overwhelm, exhaustion, busyness, stress, and anxiety ALWAYS occur when we try to solve our own problems with that old command and control approach we were taught to use growing up.

So next time that you feel panic or pressure, busyness or urgency, stop and ask yourself:

Am I trapping myself in a "solution" that is old and doesn't serve me anymore?

When you learn to slow down, take a deep breath, and accept yourself and the moment you're in, the pressure begins to release, and you can listen to the technology you were born with. 

Next, you start to naturally begin to create the life you were born to live easily, effortlessly, and without attachment to the way you thought things were going to be.

The never-ending drive for perfection ends.

You stop being so damn hard on yourself.

You finally put yourself at the top of your list, and when you do, the people in your life support you because they begin to notice through your example, the technology inside them!

When we feel safe enough to do this, our whole world immediately changes.

We become enlightened.


Trace Hobson lives in British Columbia, Canada, and spends his time teaching people from all walks of life how to create a safe space in their meetings with each other.

Trace facilitates a Free 5-day Safe-Space Gathering where people can learn the step-by-step process for creating a safe space for themselves and the people they want to serve.

If there is an upcoming Safe Space Gathering look on the margin of this page and there will be a registration for dates this month, but if not...

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