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We spoke to Shuddhaanandaa Ji, lovingly known as Baba, the globally acclaimed motivational teacher, author, social advocate and peacemaker from West Bengal, India about mindfulness.

1. What is mindfulness and how can we use it in our everyday lives? 

Mindfulness is internationally accepted as a non-religious tool of inner transformation and attaining the full potential of human excellence. It is also the single most proven technique of transforming negative stress into positive possibilities and opportunities. Research shows mindfulness brings improved mental stability and sleep, increased focus and memory. It enhances creativity, lowers stress levels and a host of other positive health outcomes.

Mindfulness is essentially to develop a non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts and emotions, and also the external circumstances that lead us to clarity and stability of mind. It is a practice of becoming more available to the moment than being caught in the trap of the past memories or future anxieties. It is to just be now and here. It teaches us to pause in between the many things we do so mechanically, and breathe deep breaths, and then just come to the moment, feeling deeply both our inner and our outer world.

Mindfulness also opens the doors to the subconscious mind and helps reprogram it so we begin to see the most positive things manifest in life. It brings the awareness that we are vibrational beings and we are and can be the architects and designers of our own future. It leads us to a life of being conscious of the infinite gifts that each one of us is showered with every moment and the ability to allow the universal flow of energy and intelligence to manifest through us. It is to reach a point of less effort but more productivity, to be an achiever without being continually stressed and drained.

Mindfulness is a self-help tool; there will always be differences of opinions and conflicts of ideas and ideals but Mindfulness helps to resolve any relationship issues better, both at work and in family life.

2. You are coming to the University of Sydney to talk to us about Mindfulness for Academic Excellence. What can we expect to learn? 

Students, parents, and teachers will benefitimmensely. We all agree that just as it takes a village to raise a child (old Native American saying), so also mindful parents, teachers and students will create a wonderful harmonious blend to usher in a society based on values of true love and fellowship.

Participants of Academic Excellence Programs report they learn to: • Cope with stress more effortlessly and focus on the present without being distracted by past suffering and anxieties of the future. • Appreciate the infinite gifts that life offers and be filled with gratitude to their parents, teachers, society and the universal forces and commit give back to the society with love and compassion. • Be more kind and responsive rather than angry and reactive, which is a direct boon to the wellness of humanity at large. • Better master their minds and also be free from excessive addictive attachment to technology. They report starting to use technology rather than be used by it. • Feel more confident and focused on their long-term goals rather than the short-term excesses, thereby optimising their life energy for a higher purpose and performance to excel in every sphere of human life, contributing to peace and harmony of the world.

3. You have been acclaimed internationally as a motivational speaker, author and teacher. Of all your achievements, what do you consider to be your greatest success? 

True success is when we no longer cling to the results of our efforts but all our actions are offered to the Universe or God, whatever you call it, with prayers "May Thy will be done".

All I can lay credit to is that I have put all my heart into my efforts to bring a little happiness and peace to the world. I have been blessed to be able to leave the results of my efforts to the safest hands of the Universe or God and whatever has been accomplished through this instrument has been by Divine Will alone.

4. If you had to choose one phrase to live by, what would it be? 

“I pray that I will live with no regrets and die with no regrets.”

5. What do you think is the key to interfaith harmony? 

In the oneness of spirit, a true Hindu has to be by spirit a devout Christian, a devout Buddhist, a devout Muslim. In the oneness of spirit, we all belong to all religions of the world. Any true religion will always take us toward oneness.

Collective prayer and meditation offer immense potential for global transformation. They trigger and focus the higher powers and energies of our collective consciousness to become a mighty force, one that is irresistible to God.

Who knows what might happen if more of us joined hands and hearts and heads in group meditation and prayer more often, across the boundaries of our faith traditions, to ask for Divine intervention in transforming the human condition and moving our world toward peace and harmony? Come and hear Baba talk at Interfaith Week