A crazy love affair
By Abhishek Thakore
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
If you find Life Positive in your mail though, read it!
20 years of walking with this beauty, this labour of love, has been a privilege. My relationship with her has been mostly as a Laughing Buddha contributor (save the article on urine therapy that kept getting more popular in spite of my attempts to suppress it). So maybe it is time for us (her and me) to look at our journey and giggle a bit.
When I was young and…well, young, I used to revere Deepak Chopra – the 7 Spiritual Laws was my Bible. Today, I find the Chopra Random Quote Generator quite amusing, and make up nonsense songs about him.
On the other hand, the stock that has really scaled up in my market is J. Krishnamurti, who, on various occasions I had parodied, made fun of and mimicked. Today, he stands as a living and powerful presence in my life. And reminds me to be a light unto myself! Not a bulb or a tubelight or an LED lamp – but a solar-powered light unto myself! Along the way I picked up and dropped and picked up again a laundry (or bucket) list of powerful paths: NLP, gestalt, reiki, pranic healing, merkaba meditations, EFT, appreciative inquiry, ontology, integral theory and channelling (and Shiv Khera too) – yes, I am a true blue, New Age, always-on-the-path Shopaholic!
Life Positive too has grown – she has become more beautiful and the ads are no longer silly. The profound wisdom continues to flow in newer ways, and we, the seekers continue to whisper to each other: “Has your seeking ended?” as we struggle to hide a copy of the magazine!
My own writing has moved from “how-would-each-guru-respond-to-this” kind of stories, to the more recent sharing of what it feels to be suffering from bipolar depression (Bi and I, Life Positive, March 2015). The article brought me in touch with many others grappling with these conditions – and gave me a chance to share my journey. 15 years ago, when I started writing, I felt I might have liked to be featured as a guru someday. There was a recent edition on gurus and I was present there – as an anonymous Laughing Buddha (Oops! There, I gave it away!).
Over the last 15 years, my backpack has become lighter. I laugh more at myself and my earlier attempts at ‘reaching’ enlightenment – as if it was the next cool holiday destination! Slowing down, having time for stillness, being centred in the now have all come with the 30s. As for the much younger Life Positive, I wish her all the gifts for a great 20s – lots of travel around the world, crazy affairs (and maybe finding true love), exploring and more exploring, a connection to her dark side (hmmmm!) and lots of grace from the Universe!
Abhishek Thakore is the founder of Blue Ribbon Movement
A writer is born
By Ambica Gulati
Sometimes I wonder whether Life Positivewas a destined or a gifted path. It truly came into my life as a balm to the soul. It was 1999 and my brother handed me a magazine titled Life Positive. It looked interesting enough with all things positive in it – I had just begun yoga classes. I knew nothing about rituals, gurus, energy healing, New Age! But this could be the beginning of a beautiful journalism career, I vaguely thought. Naïve, ignorant and knowing nothing about the world of careers, I reached its office in Greater Kailash II, Delhi. And till date I don’t know why I was hired by Parveen Chopra.
Looking back, I was pathetic at what I did and wrote. But the magazine never gave up on me. Slowly, I transformed. I left behind a lot of my old self. I learnt the art of reporting and the skill of editing. Suma Varughese was based in Mumbai and we never met, but I read all her articles. Like a sponge I absorbed the technique of weaving a story through her articles. I was like a babe in the woods, but gentle woods, nevertheless. Since then, I have written many articles on many subjects for many magazines, met many journalists, editors and publishers, but nothing would have readied me for this except Life Positive. It was the catalyst I needed to understand the life behind the visible and how it shapes our life and reality. It helped me become who I am today. I understood that someone spent a lot of time on me, to create a new me. I hope Life Positive does that to more people for many more years to come.
Ambica Gulati is deputy editor with B2B magazines, and also has two blogs.
A silent revolution
By Anil Bhatnagar
I have always perceived Life Positive not as a magazine but as a much needed silent spiritual revolution. Lots of great friends and opportunities without which I would not have been what I am today came to me only because of my association with Life Positive. Thanks to Life Positive, today I am a corporate trainer to over 100 leading companies in India, the Middle East and the US, an author of five books and a reiki teacher. As an author, I have been associated with Life Positive since its very birth. I still remember my first visit in 1996 to Life Positive’s office somewhere in Greater Kailash in New Delhi and my meeting with assistant editor, Ritu Khanna. She asked me to write something and that is how my first article, Mind Your Thoughts(an article on Cognitive therapy), was published in Life Positive.
Thereafter, I kept writing for Life Positive at regular intervals. One such article published in December 1997 was noticed by a publisher (before I could see it myself), who asked me to write a book on that topic. That is how my second book, Success 24X7 was born.
Former editor Parveen Chopra gave me generous opportunities to write several lead stories such as Living by the Body Clock (February 1997), How to Use Both Sides of the Brain (July 1997), What’s Right, What’s Wrong (June 2000), Staying on the Path (April 2002), Emotional Evolution (October 2002) and The Joy of living (May, 2004). Often people compliment me for my indepth knowledge in my field. Perhaps the research work I did for these articles was the foundation for this; it became a way of life with me.
The legacy Parveen left behind has continued to take new roots. Suma Varughese has taken the magazine to new heights. I am grateful to Suma who continued to extend similar opportunities to me.
On this occasion of its 20th anniversary, I extend Chairman Aditya Ahluwalia, former editor Parveen Chopra, editor Suma Varughese, former editor of Life Positive Plus, Swati Chopra, former vice-president Venkat, ex-event manager Vijay Dhiman, deputy editor Shivi Verma, and author Jamuna Rangachari, and all its other editors and staff members my heartfelt appreciation and congratulations!
Anil Bhatnagar is a corporate trainer to over 80 leading companies in India and abroad
A whole new world
By Ashish Virmani
Lieeefeee Positive! That’s how I like to say it. Because it’s not just a magazine, it’s the reflection of an altogether different paradigm in life. A paradigm of peace. A paradigm of healing. A paradigm of supportive relationships. A place where people are actually trying to help you access a world that is joyful, vibrant and completely different from anything we’ve ever known.
In a world where there are too many cynical people, a whole bunch of embittered people, and an entire truckload of people on their way to becoming either of the above, Life Positiveis the gateway that leads to a path of happiness for you and me. Actually there are many gateways in the magazine of different philosophies and spiritual practice, so take your pick. As a Buddhist I wrote about Buddhism, other people write about Hinduism and yoga, still others about Christian healing, Zen and Sufism. The magazine’s eclecticism is actually its greatest strength.
People nowadays are generally wary of religion, and rightly so perhaps. But the spirituality offered by Life Positive is life-affirming. I know of people who swear by it and by the vision of its editor, who in the last 20 years, has managed to make a mainstream space for the magazine, which is no mean feat. And what has kept it all together is the behind-the-scenes dedicated work of its subeditors and staff who, month after month, have toiled in order to make this world a better place to live in. So congratulations!
Senior Assistant Editor with DNA, Ashish Virmani’s life’s purpose is Buddhism
Viva Life Positive!
By Ayesha Chopra
January 2011. An issue of Life Positive falls into my hands for the first time and a new journey of personal growth begins for me!
From the first page (Editspeak) to the last, I found the unpretentious, unassuming, honest and humane ethos of the magazine very impressive and arresting. And I am proud to say that the process of enrichment that was set in motion for me then, continues to this day!
First of all, I cannot thank Suma Varughese enough for readily welcoming me into the fold of Life Positive and unhesitatingly providing me with a wonderful channel to express my thoughts. Soon after my initial euphoria at having found something as heartwarming as Life Positive somewhat settled down, I took the liberty of sending her an article I had written on happiness. Suma’s response – immediately warm and accepting –was deeply gratifying. I remember my eyes welling up at the genuinely sincere tone of the initial communications with her. Her spirit –friendly, kind and straightforward – came through clearly and was immensely appealing. Shortly thereafter, I had occasion to meet Life Positive Chairman, Aditya Ahluwalia and some other members of the Life Positive family. I experienced the same openness and genuine interest from each. It didn’t take me long to realise that this rare spirit of bonhomie was a hallmark of Life Positive and everyone associated with it, a feeling that was reinforced at the first Life Positive Expo I attended in Delhi during one of my visits to India. I came out of that Expo feeling grateful for my association with such a noble and spiritually uplifting organisation. It is a feeling I invariably experience every time I meet someone associated with it in any capacity whatsoever. So many sensitive and caring human beings coming together under the common umbrella of a single noble cause is remarkable to say the least!
Today I feel richer and spiritually taller. Not merely because of having met the wonderful people steering the organisation but also – and perhaps equally profoundly – because of the opportunity afforded to me along with hundreds of thousands of others to get acquainted with the lives and work of so many wise and saintly personalities about whom I may never have known otherwise. For example, I might have remained unaware and ignorant of the almost divine presence of Sr. Shivani and the calm and peaceful effect she has on people had I not experienced it first hand at the Delhi Expo. Mine was embarrassingly the only hand raised in the packed hall when Mr. Kaarthikeyan, while introducing Sr. Shivani before her keynote address, rhetorically asked, “Who in this room does not know Sr. Shivani?” There was a surprised pause at the sight of my raised hand before he quickly reassured me that I was in for a memorable experience, which indeed I was!
After that it was a matter of time before I read and learned about several eminent personalities such as the wise Dada Vaswani, the inspiring Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the insightful Anandmurti Gurumaa, the noble Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, or the intriguing Guru Naushir to name just a few, thanks entirely to the painstaking reporting by the team of writers at Life Positive.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention here the sheer joy that Life Positive Jr. has brought to me. What a delightful idea to launch a magazine for pre-teens and adolescents to introduce them to moral and spiritual principles early in life. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part – however small – of its initiation by contributing stories that I’d love my own grandchildren to read when they grow up a little. I wish Life Positive Jr. continued success as it evolves and grows. In our world today where there is widespread violence and fear, Life Positive shines like a beacon of light and hope, offering reassurances of love and spiritual comfort that seem to promise a way out of the burning hatred and anger. There is a quiet but irrepressible suggestion that all may not be lost to humanity after all, reminding us of the subtle but palpable vibrations of love and goodwill that flow silently but surely around us, waiting to be felt, acknowledged and embraced by anyone who may care to do so.
So thank you, Life Positive! May you continue to grow stronger year after year.
Ayesha Chopra is essentially a seeker and a personal life-skill coach based in New York
My Journey with LP
By Chitra Jha
It was October 2007, and I had recently got published in The Times of India. My excitement knew no bounds, as I shared my scanned articles with all my friends. One of these friends – Akila Jaikumar – responded with a scanned copy of her own article published in Life Positive, and that’s how I first heard of this beautiful magazine.
I asked Akila, “How do you contribute to this magazine?”, and she sent me Suma’s official mail id. In December 2007, my first article appeared in LP and in February 2008, I attended two back-to-back LPworkshops at Wardha. Since then I have looked at LP – and everyone associated with it – as my family. And what a family it is! Full of embracing warmth and love. I cannot thank it enough! This association has spanned over eight years, but it feels like a lifetime.
Being a part of LP has been transformative for me. As a writer, it has provided me with a platform to be myself and speak my truth – as I see it. As a reader, it has introduced me to some awesome thoughts, ideas, tools, techniques and processes.
I have been greatly influenced by the soulful writings of Akber Ayub, Poornima Coontoor, Jamuna Rangachari, Megha Bajaj, Faraaz Tanveer, Harshada David Wagner, Maria Wirth, Nandini Sarkar, Sanjiv Ranjan, Parveen Chopra, Rajender Menen, Sukhvinder Sircar, Shameem Akhtar, Swati Chopra, Swami Veda Bharati, Harvinder Kaur, Archana Pai Kulkarni, and Suma Varuguese – besides many many others.
On top of that I’ve had the privilege of befriending many awesome souls – LP Chairman Aditya Ahluwalia, Editor-in-chief, Suma Varuguese, ex-Event Manager Vijay Dhiman, Workshop leaders G L. Sampoorna, the late Vijaya Venkat, Maa Gyaan Suveera, and Sunyogi Umashankar are on top of my mind.
On the 20th anniversary of this young magazine, my best wishes go out to all the people associated with it.
Chitra Jha is a healer, writer and trainer. Her first book, Achieve your highest potential, has been published by Penguin India.
Transformation of a leftist
By Dipankar Das
Life Positive or LP as it is known affectionately in some circles, was my first job. I was a novice with an MPhil from JNU. A leftist orientation and a propensity to doubt (even ridicule) ideas contrary to my beliefs, was the mindset I joined LP with. I was swamped with a welter of novel ideas, indeed mindsets. Spirituality, reiki, Silva Method, NLP, natural birth, all overwhelmed the doubting Thomas in me. And a new world opened up. A world of faith, belief, respect and submission. I had sought a job, and at most a career, but what LP gave me was a worldview, which I am yet to outgrow and I am in no hurry to do so.
What led to my metamorphosis was not just the excitement of a spiritual start-up (however odd that may sound), but the people I met there. Aditya Ahluwalia, the principal investor was clear, business needed profits to survive, but beyond that the world needed hope to evolve. Parveen Chopra, the editor, was ex India Today, former Transcendental Meditation practitioner and closing a book on New Age practises for Penguin; a kind person with an impish sense of humour. Ritu Khanna was a professional editor, who would effortlessly sculpt lugubrious prose into charming articles (including mine). Suma Varughese, already a well known name as the editor of Society joined us at LP because she was not simply a writer, but a practitioner of what LP was all set to unleash, and Kajal Basu, whose skill with words (not to mention thoughts) left one breathless. The other departments were also staffed with go-getters like the effervescent Venkat in Marketing and Sales.
They say your first job has an everlasting impact on the rest of your career. I was blessed to start at LP. It has allowed me to weigh each job and assignment through the prism of its ability to strengthen the human spirit and do good, to a larger whole.
Dipankar Das heads Training and Content at Hero Mindmine, a Hero group company.
By Harvinder Kaur
I still remember. It was a cloudy evening on a hill station where I used to work. I was looking for a gentle read before turning in for the cold night, with the heater on. That’s when I noticed her. She was sitting in a corner alone in the library, perhaps neglected, perhaps content. At first glance she caught me and for the last 20 years has held me ever since. Whoever said don’t judge a book by its cover was not speaking of Life Positive! She was the promise of her cover and more – much more.
To me LP is an expression of the consciousness, a vibe, a hope, a friend and a guide. From that day in the library till now association with LP has been a journey. When I came to Delhi I met the then editor Parveen Chopra and he invited me to write for the magazine – and I haven’t stopped since.
I grew with the magazine. Writing for LP involved introspection, honesty, research and exploration. It was a sadhana of sorts. It introduced me to myself, to worlds unknown, and people unmet.
Yet, what I value the most is the connection with Suma that the magazine catalysed, and what she in turn has done for so many people including me. She has been a force, putting in not just her talent and remarkable gift of expression, but her heart. Some are natural at weaving together strings of Light, she’s definitely one of them. I remember speaking to her when I was undergoing one of the most intense spiritual experiences. Through her I attended some beautiful writing workshops and Expos where I had the chance of connecting with many lovely people. Writing for LP has been a gift and a privilege. For accepting my little drop into this ocean and for the treasures that have come to my shore I cannot thank you enough.
Harvinder Kaur is an educator who has fun working for innovative and holistic education. Her poetry blog:www.teapoetree.blogspot.com
A catalyst of growth
By Maninder Cheema
I first came upon Life Positive when I went with a friend to see a hypnotherapist sometime in 2006. There were copies of it to read as we waited. I was very surprised to see a magazine like this, but then forgot about it. I saw it again a few months later when I attended a talk by Deepak Chopra. LP had put up a stall outside the venue. I picked up an issue, and liked it enough to gift a subscription to my mother. Mom loved it and it was she who finally convinced me to take a subscription for myself too. I took a five-year one, and then, as the magazine grew on me, I gifted the subscription to my close friends.
Life Positive has been like a catalyst in my spiritual journey. An LP workshop I attended in 2008 on nature cure and hypnotherapy was a magical, unforgettable experience, a turning point in my journey of self-discovery. Sometime later, I attended another seminar, the Journey Seminar by Brandon Bays, courtesy LP. The LP Expo in Delhi had a stall on the seminar and a friend who visited the Expo told me that Brandon Bays was here in India. We were both fans, having read her book, The Journey. I jumped at the opportunity and went to Delhi to attend the seminar. I can never be thankful enough for being able to attend that and subsequent Journey Seminars. They gave me the gift of some of my closest friends, and transformational personal growth. And it all started with LP.
Life Positive has also given me the opportunity to write. I always wanted to write, but hadn’t found what I wanted to write about. In response to an email, Suma, editor of LP, encouraged me to write. I’m so grateful to be able to share experiences and insights of my spiritual journey on a platform of like-minded people. That’s the part of LP I like best. It provides a satsang, a bringing together of people on the path to self-discovery. Every month, there are insights, stories of personal growth and healing, words from the wise and an invitation to a healthier lifestyle.
LP is the only magazine I subscribe to. It takes me inwards rather than distracting me outwards towards things and objects. I truly and deeply appreciate the contribution of this magazine in making the world a better place, one person at a time.
Maninder Cheema is based in Mumbai and works with SEBI. Searching for answers to the puzzle of life is her engaging interest
Naturally the best
By Maria Wirth
In the spring of 2002, I came across Life Positive for the first time and was so taken by it that I filled out a subscription form. For the past 20 years I have written for German magazines on India’s spirituality and tradition, yet in my view none of them can compare with Life Positive. This was not surprising: LP was published in India, the centre of spirituality where ‘spirit’ (chaitanya) is a term that even unlettered villagers understand, unlike in the West where the existence of something that cannot be perceived with one’s eyes is in danger of being doubted.
However, before I sent off the cheque for the subscription, I had an idea. What if I were to translate one of my German articles into English? That’s what I did. The article was published and the then editor, Parveen Chopra, asked me to write more. And I got a free subscription!
When I had translated another article titled, God in India, I noticed that the editor had changed. Now there was someone with a Christian name, Suma Varughese. I was a bit apprehensive as I had criticised the zeal with which missionaries convert Hindus, and from experience I knew that Indian Christians tend to be more rigid than their European counterparts. I sent it off, nevertheless.
Suma’s answer was a nice surprise. “It’s good. I will publish it.” From then on, LP felt like home. I was happy to contribute, and also greatly benefitted from the contributions of others. In spite of having been weaned away from their tradition by English education, most Indians still have a natural connection to the underlying truth and a deep faith in the Divine. It shows in the articles in LP. Thank you, Suma, for making me a part of Life Positive.
Maria Wirth is a German who came to India and never left.
Mentored by Life Positive
By Megha Bajaj
Straight out of college, with no experience in formal writing but a true passion for writing – I daringly sent a personal piece to the editor of Life Positive, Suma Varughese. Never in a million years did I expect that she would write back to me, praise me for my words and ask me to join Life Positive. I am so glad she did, as it turned my life around forever. Though I always loved expressing through words, it was in being the assistant editor at Life Positive that I learnt all the finer nuances of writing. A magazine that is so conscientious about every comma, full stop and spelling – it taught me to become an excellent editor to my own pieces. Through Life Positive I met some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. LPchanged my perspective and taught me the importance of focussing on all that is right, well and wonderful. The way people have connected to my words has been a revelation to me. From letters to emails, from gifts, to love, so much has come my way ever since I got associated with Life Positive almost a decade ago. I hold what Suma, my writing mentor, once said, very close to my heart: that I was one of the most original and creative writers she had come across. Whenever in doubt, I re-read that email of hers and I feel, wow. Life Positive is not just a magazine. It is a culture. It is a revolution. It is a humble, sincere effort to create a better world, one article at a time. I wish my Life Positive a very happy twentieth anniversary and pray that it soon becomes a global phenomena.
Megha Bajaj is a writer, a seeker and founder of Miraaya Centre for learning.
By Nandini Sarkar
Writing for Life Positive happened unexpectedly, in May 2011. I had read an LP article on women saints and written to the editor, Suma, that they had missed out some great ones. This was the first time in my life I had ever written to an editor. She promptly wrote back, suggesting that I write a piece on Shree Maa. After the first article was published, I realised that God had lovingly fulfilled a subtle craving in my mind. In my growing years, the desire to be a writer/journalist had met with family resistance, since media jobs were not paying in those times. Then business happened and the thought of writing vanished from my mind. So, when the opportunity to write for LP suddenly manifested, it became very catharthic. My favourite moments were writing about my hero, Gauri Ma, The Kindness of Strangersarticle and a short story, Bobo becomes Buddha. When the President of Gauri Ma’s US mission wrote to me, after reading my article, I felt that Ma herself had stooped down from the heavens to acknowledge my love. When a reader who was depressed and hopeless wrote to me, saying her thinking had been transformed after reading my abundance article, I was moved. When I interviewed Yogi Satyam in Allahabad, saw his dazzling spiritual aura and pioneering work in spreading Kriya Yoga in rural UP, I was inspired. The motivation to
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