“If we were really going to say that if enlightenment meant anything at all, enlightenment is just the soul giving the ego a hug.” – Panache Desai
Mark’s new book about the seven commitments of leadership has just come out. It is called “Staring Down the Wolf: 7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams,” and is available now from Amazon and from staringdownthewolf.com. Commander Divine writes about many of the great leaders he met in SpecOps to give examples of the commitments that one has to make to the 7 key principles of Courage, Trust, Respect, Growth, Excellence, Resiliency and Alignment.
Panache Desai (@panachedesai)has been a guest with Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday and is the author of two books on spiritual development: Discovering Your Soul Signature and his most recent book You Are Enough: Revealing the Soul to Discover Your Power, Potential, and Possibility. He talks with Commander Divine today about spiritual development and finding your essential self.
- What you put out into the world is reciprocated back to you
- Spiritual knowledge and well-being are the foundation for all further development
- You need to remember who your essential self is
Listen to this episode for an in-depth discussion of the essential importance of spiritual development.
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Hi. Welcome back to Mark Divine’s Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today. I appreciate your time and your attention.
And we’ve got a tremendous guest today, Panache Desai. We’re going to talk about finding peace, and presence, and enlightenment. Or at least what we can define as that in our modern world.
And this podcast is being recorded when the entire world is basically shut down. So talk about a great opportunity to turn within and to ask better questions. And maybe to listen to the stillness that we all have inside of us. And to develop some insight. So I’m super-excited to be talking about one of my near and dear topics with Panache today.
Before I get started, if you hadn’t heard, then I also released a book recently on March 2nd – right before this whole COVID-19 swept across America, anyways. And it’s called “Staring Down the Wolf” and it’s about really taking a look at your shadow, and the fears, and the biases. And the conditioned reaction that hold you back from unlocking your authenticity your full potential. And so you can show up fully for your team and your family.
I wrote it for corporate leaders, but it really is applicable to anybody and everybody. The idea is that you if you commit to these things like courage and Trust, respect, perpetual growth, resiliency, and alignment. And you enter into relationships from that perspective of not having to be perfect, because you’ve stared down your own fear, and your own shadow – then you can unlock 20 times potential and we can all together move the world toward a better place.
So that’s “Staring Down the Wolf.” And I have some video training if you want to check that out at staringdownthewolf.com. Otherwise, the book is available pretty much anywhere books are sold. So I appreciate your support.
And it’s timely because we all need to stare down our wolf of fear right now which is consuming the world. So let’s not let it consume us too.
So Panache Desai is a renowned spiritual leader. He’s the best-selling author of… his first book was “Discovering Your Soul Signature.” What a cool freakin’ title. “Discovering Your Soul Signature.” I’ve often believed or said that we have like a soul DNA or a fingerprint.
And he really hit the national consciousness when Oprah invited him to be on her SuperSoul Sunday show. And Desai has then gone on to write a book – we’re gonna talk about today a little bit – called “You Are Enough,” subtitle “Revealing the Soul to Discover your Power, Potential and Possibilities.” Out by Harper. Published literally the week before mine “Staring Down the Wolf.” February 25th.
It’s been a busy time for us, hunh, Panache? Thanks for being here.
Panache: Thank you. It’s great to be with you and great to be there with everyone tuning in.
Mark: Yeah, I really appreciate it. We get to talk… I’m very fortunate because Unbeatable Mind is a program of integration – so I’m a big fan of Ken Wilber‘s, and I integrate East and West – Eastern developmental models, with Western psychology, with kind of Navy SEAL mental toughness – and the five we call them the five mountains – the five areas that we really dive into in our training, and our podcasts are physical, mental, emotional, intuitional, and spiritual development.
So that means I get to go broad and deep. And talk to people like you around the spiritual side of things, which I think… I found more and more people are aligning with and finding interesting. And recognizing finally that it’s not just a Sunday thing or some sort of quasi voodoo or just metaphysical thing.
But it really is something that is incredibly important to everybody, right? And what does that mean? But people don’t really still have a vast difference in understanding of what it means to have a spiritual practice, or to be spiritually aligned…
So super-stoked to get your perspectives on that.
So let me just start by asking you about your earliest childhood influences growing up in London’s East End. A pretty tough neighborhood, I understand. And how you came to kind of like understand or walk this path.
Panache: So, it’s just an honor to have this conversation with you. And I love Ken Wilber and I’m a huge fan of the integrative model. I think that’s ultimately pretty much the only transformational model that actually leads to sustainable growth and development in the individual. So let’s just start there.
For me – the first five years of my life I was raised by my grandmother. And she basically prayed, meditated… we had a Meditation Center in our house, and so I was raised in this environment of this thick smell of incense. And my grandmother was just my best friend. And every day we would pray and chant and meditate.
And now we know – thanks to some of the work that Bruce Lipton has done and some of my other peers and colleagues – that what happens in that first seven-year window of time is the most important. Because for me I was absorbing all of the spirituality, all of this teaching all of this felt kind of presence.
And that for me has become the foundation of everything that I’ve gone through. And yes, I grew up in East London. East London at the time was very working-class. There was a racial tension at that time. It was a time where the dominant energy was one of survival. And so my life has been one of kind of bouncing these energies of harmony and peace, as well as being able to navigate the world and navigate different people in the world and different experiences.
And again, I really credit those first five formative years with my grandmother to being able to have both the depth of spirituality. As well as credit East London for having the street-smarts and having the wherewithal to be able to make it in a world where survival is still, sadly, in the majority of places, the dominant experience.
Mark: Wow. This is fascinating. Like what’s come to me is I had the almost flipped experience – where the first seven years of my life were actually about survival and chaos in a very challenging family environment in a lot of ways. Even though, it was also stable financially and we had a house over our head. But there was a lot of anger and chaos – you know, violence – emotional violence.
But then later, I found stillness through nature and meditation when I was in my teens, and then 20s. And that transformed me. And the two of them together have provided that juxtaposition for my life.
And that sounds to me like you had the opposite experience. That felt experience – you talked about it – of just being in the presence of your grandma, and the prayer, and the meditation. I mean, it had a neuroplastic effect on your brain for sure, but just you embodied it at a very visceral level.
And then when you went out into the rough-and-tumble world, there was a contrast there.
Panache: Yeah, it’s actually the exact opposite of the experience that you had. I found myself leaving the safe comfort of the meditation room and ended up in the jungle. A lot of my friends were in the import-export and distribution business on a wholesale level, and basically I grew up in an environment that was very creative, because I really trended more toward the music side of things. And that really big thriving underground music scene.
Sadly at that point there was a lot of violence that kind of accompanied that music scene, because all of the best music was in the underground clubs. And so guaranteed there would be some kind of an altercation. Somebody’s getting upset with somebody. And it was a very, very kind of hostile environment.
And the blessing for me was that I was always loved by everybody. It’s funny how that feeling of the meditation room – even when I was in this kind of jungle – translated into that experience for me.
Because people just loved me, like they just knew that I didn’t want anything from them. And most of my friends were older than me. They were very well-known.
Through music I was able to cultivate this whole cross-section of a community of people that I loved. That I got to know. I could be with anyone from any walk of life.
And through that time of music, and musical exploration, and creativity I realized that we’re all the same. There’s really not that much that’s different. Music is a shared, common experience where people come together for the primary reason of having a good time.
And so I’ve always been around one form of shared experience or another. And of course I knew that both of those experiences would dovetail perfectly into me being who I am today. And being able to speak in front of thousands of people, and not be nervous at all. And being able to meet with people from all walks of life and support them into really coming into knowing who they are. Beyond the roles, beyond the responsibilities, beyond the expectations… really coming to a place of authenticity. And operating from a place of alignment.
Which is really where our power comes from. You know, I always joke that in the first 21 years of my life I pack every single intense experience that I could into that timeframe. So then I could just spend the rest of my life being of service. And so every single thing that I’ve gone through as a part of that has allowed me to deliver the service that I’m delivering into the world now.
And it just makes my heart happy, because I’m able to connect with everybody. I’m able to relate to everyone. And that’s just the blessing that my grandmother and the streets of London gave me.
Mark: Yeah, I can see that. Just again, how formative those first seven years… I mean the Buddhist talk about the three periods being the most important – the first 7, the second 7, and the third 7. So you’re pretty much – your ego, identity and emotional self – is all formed by 21.
But it’s the first 7 years that are the most important. It’s fascinating that it kind of lines up as a time that you were having that experience of safety and spiritual kind of depth with your grandmother.
And I’m reminded of the yamas and niyamas of the yogic tradition and how you probably were living that. And one of the most powerful ones is non-attachment.
And so one of the reasons I’m thinking people really probably gravitated to you, is because you weren’t seeking to get anything from them. You weren’t needy and you were not attached to you know the outcomes of all the projects you were working on. You were doing it maybe just out of a more pure place.
What do you think of that idea?
Panache: I think that the gift that I had – and again I have to credit grandma for this and just to give you some insight into who she was as a person – literally like any time you came to our house – regardless of what time they came over – she would wake up. Even if it was in the middle of the night, and she would ask him if they’d eaten. And she would feed them.
Mark: That’s a very Indian cultural thing…
Panache: It is, because in that cultural framework when a visitor comes to your house – we believe that God’s come to see you – and so we’re engaging in the care and feeding of the divine.
And so my grandmother was just a real example of service. And so for me when I was in music I just loved it… actually, it’s interesting because a lot of my friends would say, “Panache, you’re like a good luck charm. When you’re with us, nothing happens to us.”
“You know, you’re like a good luck charm.” And they would also just protect me from everything, because I was going to university at the time, I was living my life in the way that was in alignment and harmony. So they would go out of their way to shelter me from some of the other stuff that was going on around us at that time.
And it was a huge experience, because I got to see very clearly that as much as they were making choices out of survival that they had to – for them and their families – that fundamentally they weren’t bad people.
And actually – in some ways – it was honest. It was more honest than most other ways of living, because they were who they were, they were in their authenticity, and being any other way than being who they were and being authentic was a liability.
And so I discovered the power of authenticity. I also learned, very early on, that in order to survive as someone who’s empathic and highly sensitive that the more I learned to match the energy of the person that was coming at me or coming toward me, the more they would immediately get the signal that they needed to get to know who I was.
So survival for me wasn’t even about needing to assert myself physically. I learnt that it was about your energy – just as much as in spirituality, it’s about energy, it’s about your connection. It’s about where you are. Where you’re coming from. The presence. People can feel the presence of who you are.
In that same way, and in the juxtaposition of that life in East London – and London at large – it was also about your energy. But it was a different application of energy.
And so it’s just fascinating how even though these two worlds were so disjointed, there was a commonality that was shared through the whole thing. Which was that my willingness to be who I am authentically was the key that allowed me to access all of these parts of myself. And allowed me to live with this absence of need. To just live with this fullness of heart and fullness of spirit.
Mark: And you didn’t just suddenly wake up to this insight, I think, right? You probably had a series of events that kind of turned you back toward the inner path? I think I read somewhere in your book that you were in a few altercations and it was kind of a wake-up call to you. That that rough-and-tumble life was perhaps heading you down a bad path or a dangerous path.
And then you spent some time in an ashram, right? You went back to your homeland.
Panache: I did. It’s interesting for me, because I had gotten to a point where I almost felt like I was untouchable. It was just music and my friends were my friends and you know I could go anywhere and do anything and nobody was going to bother me. And one night I ended up in the bar and it just so happened at that bar didn’t like people drinking in there who were Indian.
And I’m hanging out there and three people took exception to the fact that I was there. The owner knew who I was, and the bouncers knew who I was, but this group of people just weren’t fans of the fact that I was there having a good time. And decided to start some kind of an argument with me. And somebody hit me from behind and somebody tried to head butt me. There was a physical altercation.
And the bouncers came running in, because they immediately knew who I was and what was happening. And they pulled these people off of me. And the owner of the bar that night apologized to me and said “I’m really sorry. I hope this ends here. We don’t want to see the other version of this.”
And I said, “as far as I’m concerned, it’s over. It’s not your fault. It wasn’t about you. It was just the people who were here.” And I just walked away and let it go.
So I walked out of there with a bruised identity and a bruised face. And I was embarrassed to go home, so I decided to go out to another after-hours spot. This time we end up in Brixton, and before we get there somebody had been shot. And then we roll up, and I’m doing my music and whatever – and we didn’t know all this had happened until we get there.
The next thing there’s another disagreement that happens in there and the guns come out. And at this point I’m like “okay, I don’t need to see the 2×4 version of this lesson. It’s becoming increasingly dangerous for me to be following my passion. And doing the music.”
“It’s becoming increasingly dangerous. You can’t be in these places that I’m in, and something needs to change.”
And so after about a five-hour standoff between people in the club and the police outside – they created a special division just to investigate this particular community that was around the music at the time – and they wouldn’t come in, because there were guns inside the club. And so they had to escort people out one by one by one. They would videotape them, take pictures of them. And then just log whatever notes they had in a book and then release everybody.
And so we had to wait for this whole thing to finish. Five hours later – I end up finally being able to go home.
And I don’t tell my mom and dad – even though the whole thing was on the news. They’re literally watching the thing on the news…
Mark: (laughing) did they see you being escorted out?
Panache: (laughing) yeah, I didn’t say anything. I’m just like, “oh, it wasn’t me.”
So I go to bed, wake up the next day, and I kid you not – I wake up the next day, I look in the mirror and it’s like I’ve been tapped on the shoulder. And it was all done. Like whatever that part of my life was about, it was finished.
And I came downstairs, sat down with my mom who was very vulnerable. And I said “mom, you know what? I’m living a lie. This isn’t really who I’m here to be. I’m not happy.”
“I need to get back to spirituality. I need to get back to the feeling I had in the meditation room with grandma.”
And she said “okay, do you want to go to India or do you want to go to America?”
And I said “I’d like to go to America.” And I chose to come to America because this particular guru who had blessed me in the womb had spent a lot of time there. And he had a room there on the second floor of the building that practically nobody was ever in. And so I would just go there and sit there.
And this is how the remembrance of the spirituality, returned to that feeling of safety which allowed for the evolution to happen again. Which allowed all my gifts to come back again, you know. It all happened in that space.
And so this is how I ended up coming back into the deep immersion of my being and of myself.
Mark: Well, it’s interesting. You describe it as a remembering of who you were in those early years with your grandma. But truly it’s a remembering of who you are in your eternal nature – period. So I mean you were just blessed to have that kind of mental and emotional framework.
But we all can have that experience, if we can slow down enough and turn within. And you use the term essential self. And I’ve used the term essential nature. I don’t know where I picked it up, but it kind of describes that aspect of ourselves that is what you’re talking about, right? That is pure, and good, and knowable. And ever-present, if we’re willing to look for it.
Panache: Yeah, the essential self can really only be defined as the part of us that never changes. So it’s that infinite, eternal aspect of us that is at the present. And how we experience it – the reason why I think most people are having such a hard time navigating this kind of spiritual landscape, is because we don’t have a framework for it at a feeling level. And for me, when I’m experiencing my own enlightened consciousness or my essential self, I’m at peace. I’m feeling peaceful.
When I’m authentically being who I am, I’m at peace. Anything else that I’m feeling, isn’t who I am.
And so I just had this compass of “okay, cool. The more I relax into the peace, and ancient wisdom traditions, they call it the peace that passes all understanding – and they all have some teaching around this peace. But this is the truth of who we are. And the more we embrace that and also the more we – going back to this integrative approach – embrace every aspect of that humanity, the more we return to that. So if we were really going to say that you know enlightenment meant anything at all, then Enlightenment is just the soul giving the ego a hug. It’s just embracing all of the fluctuations that I’m holding in our experience. And accepting them, right?
And ending our resistance to them. And the more we end our resistance to the mind – we end our resistance to our emotions, and our body, and our surroundings and what’s happening – the more we remember ourselves as that peace, as that enlightened consciousness.
Mark: Resistance is futile. Remember the old Star Trek?
Mark: Maybe you can help me with something – this is something I’ve been puzzled over quite a bit a lot of the spiritual traditions and even like modern spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle say that truly our ultimate purpose is to find that essential nature. And at the same time, my life experience has also shown me that there was a unique kind of temporal purpose that I had.
Like my soul said “Mark, you’re meant to be a warrior and not a CPA.” And I went and joined the SEAL Teams and became a warrior. And many of the clients that I’ve taught – and I think you know you address this in your work – like there is a very distinct thing that we’re supposed to do. Or way that we’re supposed to serve.
And yet that’s also distinct from our true essential nature, which doesn’t really need anything. What are your thoughts on this?
Panache: So who you are God expressing uniquely… it is right. And here’s the thing, right? If people actually get that then they would realize the perfection of their design. You know, everyone who’s listening right now you just need to know that you’re not broken. You don’t need healing. You don’t need fixing.
You’ve just been conditioned to believe to believe in conformity. And that conformity has taken you out of your authenticity and separated you from your power, right? So basically – like in your case and my case – we’re fortunate enough to have this awareness of who we are at so many different levels.
But we understand that all of this unfolding is just God revealing more of God through us, right? And the more we love ourselves, and the more we love these parts of ourselves and our resistance to them that allows us then to embrace the world in an even deeper way.
So all of this. This whole play down here, this mire, this illusion… simulation… whatever you want to call it – is you translating infinity uniquely. In only the way that you can. And that’s the gift and blessing of your life, and of everybody’s life that’s listening.
Mark: When I am the most still and I can honestly say that I am in this present moment, then I feel that -what you’re talking about. That presence is the presence of God, or universal intelligence…
But as soon as I start thinking about tomorrow or planning or get out of the present, then all of a sudden I kind of click back into egoic structures. And I think that’s like the biggest challenge for me is literally maintaining presence. And I think that’s where you’ll find that essential nature, right?
Panache: That’s why this time that we’re experiencing right now is so powerful, because we’ve been given the gift of this reset, and the gift of this time to recreate or redefine our lives and how we want to feel.
And so for me, because of that I’m working people in transnational mentoring – some of them are multinational corporations, some of them are celebrities and musicians and creatives… and they all span all different walks of life. But they’re all people who are about making an impact.
And the one thing that I have to continually reinforce with them is that “listen, if you don’t have peace then all of these things that you are generating and creating don’t mean anything.” And so what we’ve done is as a society and as a species is we’ve exhausted every material possibility and potential. And we realize that in exhausting every material possibility and potential, we’re still not happy. You know that we’re still unfulfilled… there’s still something missing.
So this presence that you’re speaking of is what’s real and what’s true. And in order to provide people access to that presence, I’ve discovered they’re just resting on the awareness of our breath and becoming aware profoundly of each inhalation and exhalation transforms our life into a living meditation. The more we can simply come back to the breath and the moment, the more we’re being supported and being anchored in that state of presence.
The other interesting thing about this time is that everyone had a plan for 2020… everybody had goals… everybody had certain milestones that they wanted to hit. Everybody thought they knew what was going to happen this year.
Okay, coronavirus. Boom goes your vision board, right?
So at that point we’re just seeing what’s real, what’s true. Great, it’s nice to have those things but guess what? If I’m not able to be flexible intently, and I’m not able to flow, and I’m not able to pivot, and I’m not able to embrace what is, then that means that everything that I’ve created is built on a foundation that’s unsustainable, right?
And so we’re being given this opportunity to really prioritize living in presence, and living in the moment. And realizing that yeah, all of these things are great that we’re subscribing to and that we are wanting to achieve and accomplish. But it takes nature doing what nature does to show us that ultimately all of this is beyond our control.
Mark: Right, we’re not we’re not in control like we thought we were.
Panache: Exactly and where spirituality really prepares you to be unbeatable is it prepares you to live with uncertainty. Everything else compels you to try and live with a sense of certainty… you know, “here’s my Q1 goals and objectives, here’s my Q2 future goals and objectives. Here’s where I want to be by the end of the year with my fitness.” Blah-blah-blah.
But that’s great. That works in the material manifest world right? But then how do we navigate uncertainty. Because the identity doesn’t thrive in uncertainty. I mean there are so many people who are so challenged by what’s happening right now. Because they’re experiencing powerlessness and loss of control. Because all of the certainty that they had is gone.
And so how we become unbeatable is by mastering uncertainty.
Mark: That’s right it’s fascinating because we use that terminology… we’ve been teaching – for years – leaders how to thrive in VUCA. Now that term is starting to pop up all over the place. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
And first my Zen meditation and then the Navy SEAL training… because we were taught, and we experienced that nothing is certain in warfare. And as horrible as that environment was… it was my duty and my service was to go to war. And so I became comfortable and my teammates became comfortable with the normal of nothing is to be expected to be the way you planned it. Everything’s gonna change and very rapidly. And also violently sometimes.
And so, when I started teaching this first two seals I was like “okay, I want other people to really master this so they don’t take as long as I did to learn it.” And then I had some entrepreneurs and business people come to me and say “hey, that could be valuable.”
And now I recognize that everybody needs to learn how to live this way. And it aligns perfectly with spiritual principles. For the most part.
It’s wild how the principles of being an elite warrior and the principles of being a spiritual practitioner go hand in glove. In my experience.
Panache: Some of the greatest spiritual teachings ever uttered into existence happened on a battlefield. In the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.
Mark: That’s right. It’s what my number one book… the Baghavad Gita… what a great time to break that one out right now…
Panache: I mean, right in the middle of the most intense conflict in human history – where these two aspects of humanity are at war with each other – Krishna delivered the most beautiful insights as to how to live, how to evolve, how to be, how to grow, and how to expand. And elucidated so clearly what the truth of reality is.
Mark: And what I loved about that is it’s helped me and it helps a lot of people really appreciate that aligning with your calling or your Dharma is it’s not a nice-to-have thing – but it’s utterly essential for you to find that peace of mind. Otherwise you’re always going to be searching. And searching takes you out of the present, right?
And so living your duty, Dharma, calling is a spiritual practice in and of itself. That’s the Karma Yoga, right?
Panache: Yeah. It’s the essential foundation from which everything else happens. Because if we put anything above being or connection, then all of a sudden we have a skewed metric for life.
And I think what’s happening again is that right now we’re being asked to simplify. “What is it that I actually need?” You know, like “what is it that I actually require?” Right? Because when we get back to the simplicity of life, all of a sudden we’re in flow and harmony with nature again. Why because that simplicity allows us a depth of connection.
So you know an ashram experience is this kind of renunciation, kind of forgoing of material things and just a simplification. I shave my head and just living this very austere kind of life. And I realize the blessing of that.
But I also realized that it’s not about not having things. It’s about being free of the attachment to this thing, right? Because it’s the attachment that causes the suffering. It’s the identification that causes the suffering.
So when we speak in terms of Karma really karma is just identification or personalization – you know, “this is mine.”
And it’s that sense of ownership collectively that we as a species have to re-evaluate. Because ancient civilizations and cultures had no notion of ownership. They understood that they were just the custodians of the planet. That they were keeping it for the next generation.
And I think that we’re going to have to revert back to some model that is an alignment and harmony with that again. Because it’s from that place that we’re going to be able to have systems and structures that are going to support us in being creative and in bringing through innovation. You know, in bringing through music, and bringing through writing, and bringing through everything…
Mark: Right. In a sense, intellectual property is starting to move in that direction. You know, you and I can write a book, but we don’t expect that our tradeMark or copyright are really gonna mean much anymore, right? Because the Internet and the way people consume information is different now than it was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.
And blockchain and decentralization – all that stuff is seemingly kind of nudging us in that direction.
Panache: I think that what we have to get to as individuals is the fact that nothing that belongs to us.
Mark: Right, it comes through us, but if we grasp and try to hold on to it, then that’s where suffering comes from.
Panache: Exactly. We’re just vessels and conduits through which all of this is happening. We’re just the excuse through which God gets to love his creation.
Mark: You know, you went to an ashram… I had that experience – more for short bursts – I’ve had long weekends, and I’ve done the Vasana style retreats and whatnot – but I’ve never lived in an ashram for many years. And what I’ve… I just want to run this by you, but it seems to me that… I could see how that could be a really valuable experience, but very few people are willing to go that route.
Yet, that’s OK, because it’s equally valuable or maybe even more valuable and harder, but more powerful to just make every moment your practice. Like what the Yogi’s would say the harder path is to be the householder, because in every breath while you’re cooking dinner or while you’re dealing with your rowdy kids is the practice, right?
Panache: That’s right. I think that in the ashram – I loved the experience of being there, primarily because I created it to be the way that I needed to be for myself. But I also realized that I think that sometimes in these environments we are not really dealing with the shadow. We’re not dealing with the disintegrated aspects of self, or the rejected aspects of self, or the abandoned aspects of self.
All we’re doing is cultivating this kind of spiritual identity. And what happens is, we become imbalance and so in India for example – or Eastern traditions – basically everybody wants to be transcendent, right? So everyone focuses on the third eye and the crown chakra. And everybody’s top-heavy.
But self-realization is only the first part of the equation. Then you actually need self-actualization which is the ability to embody that potential. If you can’t embody that potential then it isn’t working.
So it’s the immersion out with that ashram experience and then the integration of that into human life, in general. Like working, and having a family, and doing all of these things and being able to come back to that presence in everyday activities.
Really, in some ways we actually realize that the metric that we have for enlightenment is a completely false metric. This living in transcendence really isn’t enlightenment. It’s a glimpse into who you are beyond the body and the mind and your emotions. But it’s not the totality of the experience…
Mark: Right. It’s more of a state of being as opposed to a stage level of you know consciousness development, I think…
Panache: Exactly. And also, the more we are able to be embodied the more relatable we are, and the more impactful we are.
Mark: Right. When you were talking about that reminds me a little bit of like the Kundalini Yoga movement, and how people are stimulating that energy to rise up, and then they have this unbelievable head explosion of light and energy and epiphany.
And yet they don’t have the capacity to re-integrate. To bring that back down into the root. And so literally, some people have lost their minds. Unfortunately.
So you’re right. It’s got to be a full-on, full embodied experience. And every moment there’s suffering but you just not as attached to the suffering. You don’t feel it any less, you don’t feel pain any less. You feel more acutely, but you’re not attached to it.
Panache: Right, and that’s exactly what’s happening right now. Like there’s a part of me that understands that everything is unfolding in divine order. And there’s also a part of me that my heart is breaking, because I’m on the phone every day with people that are transitioning family members, who are on ventilators. You know, I’m speaking to people who own businesses who are having to shutter their businesses, because they don’t have the solvency… solvency was they’re issue. And then people are having to lay off people. People are being unemployed.
So two of these realities are existing simultaneously. And for me – that’s the integrated model. It’s holding both. You know, the more I’ve observed my own personal journey, and the more I’ve seen it embodied in its full totality – it’s the ability to hold both. The ability to hold spiritual and the manifest equally in one’s self. And balancing out all of these polarities within oneself.
So the more expanded you become, the more you are equipped to hold everything equally inside of yourself. To where there’s no longer a difference between what’s happening. There’s just an embracing and accepting of what’s happening.
And one way to really grasp that – for everyone that’s listening – is to make your definition of the word “love” so inclusive, that it includes everything. So there’s no longer any need to use that word in reference to just one thing. You know, make that definition of that word “love” so inclusive – make your state of being so vast and so inclusive – that it just absorbs everything like the ocean. Everything is absorbed into the ocean, and that’s what this is about.
This is how we remain unshakeable. This is how we are able to transcend these limited parts of who we are. And it’s how we’re able, honestly, to be able to remain completely functional and to remain in service and to be able to make a difference in the world in any environment.
You know, the strange thing about being in an ashram is that I was there in March of 2001 until October of 2001 – so I was actually there for September the 11th. And I remember that I was doing my selfless service and all of a sudden we heard this very surreal, shocking news. And everybody went to the canteen, and we’re watching these TVs and I was actually watching these planes crash into these twin towers.
And it was just surreal. It was completely out of the context of the experience that I was having. It was like a movie.
But in that moment – because we had the foundation of peace – we immediately went into service. Immediately went into “How can we help people? How can we support people? How can we make a difference for people?”
So that was my first real major crisis then in ’08 and ’09, it was the same thing just in a different way. It was on a financial level people were being challenged and people were being kind of shaken at the level of the security.
Then I went through my journey with my daughter, who was born with a congenital heart defect. And so she was hospitalized for 18 months – had five open heart surgeries and then, at 18 months old, had a heart transplant. And went through the powerlessness as a parent of experiencing that with her.
And then I was in Naples for the hurricane. We had a Cat 5 direct hit here. And so when I look at my life and I look at this current environment of COVID-19 – every previous experience of crisis that I had had, had perfectly prepared me for this experience of COVID-19 that I’m living and having right now.
And also it’s allowed me to really discern what’s important now. And what’s important now – above and beyond anything else – is being of service and supporting other people. And this is the gift and the blessing that spirituality gives us. We’re not shaken. We’re able to meet our emotions. We’re able to meet what’s happening outside of us. We are able to meet every scenario that life brings into our lives…
Similar to you, you know. Being in a combat situation, you have to be able to meet everything as it’s unfolding. You don’t have a choice, right?
And so this is where again you become unbeatable. You become unwavering. You become so firmly anchored in who you are, that what’s important is what gets expressed through you into the world.
Transformation and Self
Mark: Wow, I love that. And what’s coming up for me is when you shift into service, you automatically shift your vibrational energy to a higher stage of consciousness. Because you’re shifting out of ego and into maybe channeling God’s energy – like we talked about.
And that doesn’t matter whether you’re on the battlefield. Like I had teammates, who were in ego and wanted to go play whack-a-mole, and they were horrible to work with. And then I had other teammates who were like in service to each other, and the mission… and even the enemy. Which is the highest form of warriorship.
And so you talk about vibrational energy in your work. What is it? How do we sense whether we’re in a high vibration or a low vibration? I mean, I just maybe gave a peek into one way. Like, if we’re in service it feels different than if you’re in some sort of egoic state.
Panache: So I was born into this world where I didn’t just have the understanding of everything, I had the experience of it. And I was able from a very early age to experience everything in everybody.
And as a child I was afraid of it. I didn’t know what to do with that. And then at the weekends we would close gurus and teachers and line up to two hours – because there’s a lot of Indians in London – and I’d typically get bopped on the head with peacock feathers. And had some really good Indian sweets. And then they send you on your way.
And every time I would meet one of these gurus, they’d say “Oh, thank you” and I just thought that was the weirdest thing I’d ever heard. My whole life has been just kind of scattered with these moments where my presence alone was transformative. And so to break that down in a very concrete way, there are fear-based states or survival based states.
And then there are more expanded, loving states. States that are reflective of who we really are. And so let’s just… for the purpose of this description… say that who you naturally are is more those loving States than the fear-based states.
So what that means is, when we’re in gratitude, when we’re in peace, when we’re in joy, when we’re in love – we’re putting out an energy into our lives that’s being reciprocated by creation back to us. And the interesting thing about this is that when I started working with people… I’m about 21 years was deep into working living in a formal capacity… I could see very early on that there was one thing and one thing alone that was getting in the way of everybody. And that was this feeling of not being enough.
And in some cases that conditioning had happened at home in that five year window – first five year window. Or it happened at school. Or it happened through the peer group and through the circle of friends or through relationships.
But somewhere along the line people had been convinced that they weren’t enough. And then the only access that they had was to their ego and to their identity. From that moment on, they lost their access to that till their soul and their essence – the place where all of the power resides.
And so even though they had gone on to build these amazing lives and done all these incredible things for the course of their lives, they weren’t able to experience the peace and connection that they were truly longing for. Which is the reason why they were doing all of these things in the first place.
And so when we speak in terms of energy, what we have to do is first of all recognize that that vibrational scale can be broken down as either we’re in survival or fear-based States, or we’re in loving states. Loving States – empathy, collaboration, compassion… all of these states come natural to us.
Then how our life shows up is based on the dominant energy, the dominant feeling that we’re putting out into the world. So for example now – and science is proving that if we’re in survival based States literally we are informing our neurology and our biology with that fear. And we’re spending time in heightened fight or flight and we’re downgrading our immunity. As well as downgrading our capacity to live at our highest potential. So people that are in survival very rarely can actualize their full potential, because safety is a prerequisite for evolution and development.
And so what’s important is the resolution of whatever the root cause of that lack of safety is – so that through the resolution of that people can then begin to tap into who they are at the level of their authentic self. And literally then shift to the level of feeling to basically becoming addicted to peace, let’s say, or joy, or love.
The more we become addicted to the feeling of peace, the more all of sudden that peace is informing our neurology and biology. And then through extension peace becomes the foundation upon which we build our lives. Until literally a change in energy leads to a change in your life.
And every external circumstance that you’re going through, is a byproduct of how you’re feeling inside. Because we live in a feeling based reality. And so transformation is transforming at the level of feeling.
Mark: And how do thoughts play into that? Do we have to think our way into a new feeling state? Or can we feel our new way into a new thinking state? And then align those two?
Panache: So our thoughts – and what I’m about to say is going to sound somewhat controversial but I’m gonna say it because we need to be kind of broken loose of this notion of the mind being this dominant apparatus of transformation. Transformation doesn’t happen at the level of the mind. So when we examine who people are, who they are at the most essential level is a soul, a being, this individuated universal consciousness.
The layer beyond that is the emotional layer. The layer beyond that is the mind. Then there’s the body.
And so when we speak of transformation, transformation has to happen at that emotional level. And the more there’s an integration of an emotional level, the more the potential of the soul, the potential of the authentic self present yourself can then begin to break free of that. And begin to inform the mind, and then inform the body, and then inform your reality.
And so transformation happens at the level of feeling. So everything that’s happening at the level of mind is in correlation to a level of feeling. So if you don’t feel like you’re enough, then you have all the corresponding thoughts and beliefs around not being enough.
And then you have all of the corresponding experiences in the manifest material world of that feeling of that way of feeling.
But if you feel like you’re enough then all of a sudden you have all the thoughts and the beliefs around being enough. And then that will be your experience.
Mark: Mm-hmm. And the way there is through the heart, right?
Mark: Because that’s where the soul is said to be kind of residing so to speak. If it had a home. It’s not like it’s got a little house down there, but it’s embodied there. Fascinating.
Panache: Yeah. The way there is to first of all recognize humanity’s doorway to divinity. And just start by bringing your love and your acceptance to all that these parts of yourself that you’ve been taught to judge, or criticize, or hide, or in some way conceal. And the more you can welcome the totality of who you are…
My first book, it’s a 33 day journey out of judgment into acceptance. And it begins with fear and it ends with love. And really I started that book, in the first seven chapters, with some of the most challenging things that we have to accept and embrace about ourselves. And I did that because if you’re able to do that, then the rest of it becomes easy.
And so where “Soul Signature,” ended with love, “You Are Enough,” ends with trust and surrender. Because “Soul Signature” facilitated self-realization, “You Are Enough” completes that process of Revelation, and then it supports you in actually embodying that potential. And living from that potential.
And so that’s really the transformative journey is first of all accepting embracing who you are. Realizing that you’re not a mistake and you are not broken.
And then beyond that – being able to evolve into this place where through the inclusion of who you are, and the acceptance of who you are, when everything becomes integrated in yourself – you’re able to hold everything equally in your experience, and then you can embody that potential.
And that’s when you become this limitless being. And literally your life just becomes unbelievable. You experience heightened synchronicity. You’re not too reactive anymore. You see possibilities. You start to navigate the world from this way of just loving and expressing the love that you are.
Mark: Nice. Can we put a bow on this by just summarizing the five commitments that you encourage us to dive into? And to commit to in the book?
Panache: So the blessing is that what we look for, we’ll find. And so what I wanted to kind of lead people with as an entry point into being enough with these five commitments.
And the first is committing to knowing the essential self. Commit to knowing that part of you. Take the time to sit still for three minutes every day, and breathe, and relax, and get in touch with that part of you. Rediscover your peace.
You know, for every sixty minutes of activity, take two minutes out of that sixty just to take a break and to breathe and come back to that peace. And what we’re doing is of course retraining ourselves to function from that platform of peace.
Then, commit to a new past, present and future. The more we start to accept and embrace who we are, the more we start to unwind the past. Because most people right now – even as they’re hearing this – are experiencing themselves through the past, through the memory of themselves.
And memory requires heightened emotion. So the more we take the time to be with everything that’s in the moment, everything that’s being activated or triggered. The more we just welcome it, the more we’re freeing ourselves of these dense and heavy scars or imprints from the past. And that allows us to redefine our past, present and future.
Then the third thing is, commit to inner peace. And the reason why I wanted people to commit to that is because inner peace is our natural state of being. Peace is authentically who we are. Everything else is just a fluctuation or activity that’s happening on top of that peace.
Then the fourth thing is commit to fulfillment. Because when you start from fulfillment you’ll finish with fulfillment. You know people who you know started from pain, built these huge businesses and then they end up having their exit and they’re miserable. Because they didn’t start from fulfillment. They didn’t start from where they wanted to finish. So commit to fulfillment.
And then the last thing is commit to unlimited possibilities. Because literally through this revelation of being enough, we become limitless. And your life just expresses limitless possibilities and potentials. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, all of a sudden information will come to you, guidance will come to you. Opportunities will arise.
Where people are stuck in their fear and survival, you’re being guided through your intuition to move in a certain direction or move in a certain way. Or to reengineer or redefine your real life on every level. Your relationship, your business…everything. The way you parent, the way you’re living, what you’re living for.
And so those five commitments are really powerful and the commitment to them allows for the revelation of the potential that’s available to us when we finally give ourselves over to their exploration wholeheartedly.
Mark: I love it. Well said, my friend. And I love that – there’s actually six commitments – the sixth is the commitment to the five commitments.
Panache: Yeah, exactly.
Mark: And the commitment to serving others in transformation as well, right? Because I think that through example, as well as just by taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on others, then we can help them evolve. And then we can reach a tipping point, right?
Maybe this is the big wake-up call. The 2019 wake-up call and we can hit a tipping point and move humanity forward to a higher consciousness.
Thank you so much for this work in this book, and for everything you’re doing. I really appreciate it.
And thanks for coming on this podcast. It has been a real joy speaking with you, Panache.
Panache: Thank you. What a joy connecting with you. And I hope to meet you in person one day when this whole thing is over. I can’t wait.
Mark: Yeah, that’d be wonderful. So I’m in San Diego. This beautiful place, and enjoying the Dolphins who are cruising up and down looking for the surfers. Like “Where is everyone?” (laughing) “Where are the humans? Is everything okay?”
Really interesting. All right thanks again I really appreciate it.
So, folks that was really powerful. I encourage you to listen to this again and to get Panache Desai’s book “You Are Enough: Revealing the Soul to Discover your Power, Potential and Possibility.”
And guess what? You’ve got a little bit of time, so maybe do his 33 day challenge from his first book. That sounds really cool.
And I’m looking here, what’s that called again, Panache?
Panache: “Discovering Your Soul Signature.”
Mark: When did you put that out? What year?
Panache: Was in April of 2014.
Okay, well on that point… now where else can people find more about you? Do you have a personal website?
Panache: Yeah, you can head over to Panachedesai.com and right on the home page there’s a whole list of things that I’m sharing right now to help people through this crisis. Every morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern there’s a meditation. It’s free to everybody. It’s becoming a global movement.
So come, access the power of calm and be guided through this time. And then there are other ways to participate in things as well. So just go to the website – everything’s there.
Mark: Perfect. Awesome. Well, thank you very much again.
Alright folks. Thanks for listening. Really appreciate your support and yeah let’s support Panache. Let’s all take many moments during our day to connect with our breath and to connect to our essential nature. And I think we’ll be surprised by the outcome. So stay focused and be unbeatable.
See you next time.