Hear how pure contentment is available to all of us, right now
Believe it or not, we’re approaching our 400th podcast. Along the way, I’ve talked with some amazing people: business leaders, entrepreneurs, futurists, anthropologists (like myself), Blue Ocean Strategists® (again, like myself), and on and on. They’ve all been extraordinary, but sometimes I’ve interviewed someone who really made me think and feel in a new, deeper way. One such person is my guest today, Smita Joshi. Born in India and raised in the UK, Smita will challenge you to think about your life’s purpose and what you want to accomplish. She talks about pure awareness, which the ancient Indians called Ātman, and how to experience contentment no matter where you are in life. I dare you to listen to this podcast and not come away unchanged.
Watch and listen to our conversation here
What is your life purpose?
Throughout our conversation, Smita talks about someting that is crucial to each one of us: what do we want to accomplish in this life? And what is the deeper purpose of all of us as human beings? She addresses these questions in her book trilogy, Karma and Diamonds, and also in her work as a yoga teacher and executive coach. Her goal is connect people to pure awareness, or total consciousness, called Ātman, and she has created useful tools—her 6-step Flow Formula—to help us reach this state, which you can find on her YouTube channel.
Let go to find who you really are
On the subject of resistance to change, Smita and I closely agree. She talks about letting go of what we think we know and how this is scary for people (sound familiar?). They don’t know how to do it. We hear an inner voice, that epiphany, but often we’re not paying attention. In the end it comes down to a choice where we have to say, will I or will I not listen, see what is in front of me, and take steps to change and grow?
The Indian teaching is Vedas, that sense of contentment with wherever you are
As Smita tells us, we need to embrace everything we have as being an absolute gift, whatever that might be: our health, our successes in life, our failures, the lessons we’ve learned, the opportunity to be on this journey. We need to be willing to let go and to trust that the answers are there, but often we block them by not being receptive. Much to learn here!
How to connect with Smita
Want more on getting in touch with your purpose? Start here:
- Podcast: Meg Nocero—Can You Feel Joy As You Rethink Your Life?
- Podcast: Maria Lizza Bowen—Do You Feel Stuck? Time To “See, Feel And Think In New Ways”
- Podcast: Dr. Mandeep Rai—Do You Need A New Compass To Direct Your Values
Additional resources for you
- My two award-winning books: Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business and On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights
- Our website: Simon Associates Management Consultants
Read the transcript of our podcast here
Andi Simon: Hi, welcome to On the Brink with Andi Simon. I’m Andi Simon, and as you know, I’m your host and your guide, and you, our audience and listeners, have made us among the top 5% of global podcasts. I can’t thank you enough. My gratitude is extensive. It’s wonderful to share. This is almost our 400th podcast hosting. Pretty impressive. I am always intrigued because my job is to get you off the brink, not to stick and get stuck, but to find ways to help you see, feel, and think in new ways so you can change, and you know that you hate to change. So we’re going to help you do that today.
I have a wonderful woman here from the UK. Now remember, I’ve had people from South Africa and from Africa and from Europe, but this is a very special woman because she’s going to talk to you about something that’s very important to us. Smita, you’ll see, is focused on entertaining interviews and conversations that help people see, feel, and think in new ways like I do. She’s an award-winning author, an avid yogi and teacher, mentor and high performance transformation coach. And she’s written a bestseller called Karma and Diamonds. It’s a trilogy, it’s a journey of self-discovery across continents and lifetimes.
We have a wonderful multifaceted woman with us today. She had a business career spanning 25 years, working with technology giants as well as startups. So she blends that wonderful business side with the personal side. But I think we’re going to focus more on you as a person today, less on the business. And she has a YouTube channel called The Self-Discovery Channel, which is her own YouTube channel for you too. Self-discovery. Thank you so much for joining me.
Smita Joshi: Andi, I’m so happy to be on this podcast. I know you interviewed some amazing people. I’m really, really happy to be on your show.
Andi Simon: Well, I’m happy we’re here too, since we had a few little technical stuff as we started. This is going to be fun. Tell the listener about your own journey, because you haven’t just popped out and arrived here. You’ve gone through some of your own changes and I think every time people tell their personal story, the audience begins to see themselves there and can begin to share their own story. Who are you and how are we together?
Smita Joshi: Who am I? That’s a very good question. If I were to put it in one word, I’d probably say seeker, truly looking to integrate all the various facets of what makes us human. But, at the same time, I like that we are a spark of some sort of divinity consciousness. Rather, I’d like to put it as awareness in a human body. So how do we bring those two things together? And I think that for me, the journey, there’s nothing which I feel is a coincidence in life.
I was born in India and we moved to the UK when I was 10. And ever since, I have found myself looking for ways to integrate the amazing cultures that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of. And both of those offer something really exquisite. If I were to take the Indian culture, the roots of the Indian culture go so far deep and back to perhaps the ancient stages of India. I like to think of them as philosopher scientists or scientist philosophers, because they were the early scientists. Today, we might look at them as philosophers. We may look at them as spiritual adepts or however you may term it today.
But what they brought was incredible, and I believe so far my studies have given me an unrivaled understanding of being human on this planet at this time. But having the majority of who we are, perhaps 90% of our existence is in pure awareness, which is incapable of being housed in a tiny little human body and even a tiny little mind. So to comprehend the vastness of who we are. And so that’s what Indian culture has led me to be intrigued by and explore very deeply in the Western culture, gives opportunities to explore in the material external one.
Now, don’t get me wrong, of course India’s both of those things. And I wouldn’t want somebody who’s listening who’s an Indian to say, Oh yeah, well, we have more than that. Of course we do. But I think the two bring unique things, they bring them in a different way. And so the West calls you into being in the external world. The East calls you into being in the internal world. And for me, it’s not a coincidence that I was born there. And then I came here when I was 10, and then a whole bunch of synchronicities and life experiences took place that brought about more opportunities to explore and become more curious and say, Well, who am I then actually? And what is this about?
And fundamentally, then we kind of come back to that higher essence of who we are. And then, you know, when we look at life purpose, of course you can have life purposes in so many different layers. Life purpose in terms of, what does my material being that the human humanity that I am, what does that want to accomplish? And then what about the deeper essence? And what is the deeper purpose of all of us as human beings being on the planet? And, you know, I really think we’re works in progress and we are like what I call my book, Karma and Diamonds.
The diamond element has multiple meanings in the book. And one of them is that we are indeed that inner essence, that awareness is so multifaceted that it to me occurs like a treasure that is a pure diamond, absolutely pure untainted, untainted experience by anything external. And so for me, that is, you asked me who am I, I think for me that’s a more interesting exploration or an explanation of how I see myself, is somebody who’s constantly looking to one express various facets of my being, both in the material world externally, and to discover more and more facets of who I am internally, so that I can bring expression to those in the external world.
Andi Simon: This is so interesting. As I mentioned to you, I’ve been doing podcasts and I didn’t realize until yours that the whole series of them are around similar themes. It’s almost, you talked about synchronous as well as serendipity. You know, there is no intentionality here for my listeners to bring you different perspectives on this inner voice and the outer experience. But Smita has had a very different presentation of her journey, which is less about things she’s done and more about discovering who she is. And I don’t know much about her book, but I think I’m going to read it. It is probably a little bit about that self-discovery as well.
And as we were talking, what would be the best thing to talk about that trilogy, you tell the gripping story of how to overcome adversity against all odds. Tell us about the book, which is one expression because you have one expression in the book, one in YouTube. And I want to make sure that we allow the listener to really understand the wisdom that you’re bringing them because it’s a beautiful intersection here. So what is the book about?
Smita Joshi: So it’s really a book which is very much rooted in the external world. A young woman who is absolutely enthralled by life. I mean the passion for life kind of led me to join corporate work very early on. In fact, I started working when I was 14 years old on Saturdays. In the UK, we were allowed to do it in those days. It was absolutely fascinating for me to realize that I had skills which I couldn’t otherwise have discovered so easily. So one of them was selling and in another way, just engaging people and having them see a possibility of something that they previously hadn’t done and become so excited by that they were happy to invest in that thing.
So I started out in clothes shops and then moved into shoe shops and so on, and then managed them on my holidays and so on. But very quickly I realized that I wasn’t patient enough to hang around to get a degree. I really wanted to hop in now. So I gave it a go while I was waiting on my year off between what we call a level in this country. That’s advanced levels and we need that in order to qualify to get into university. So I took a year break and while I was figuring out if I should go the way of my grandfather and my mother and my aunt who were all lawyers, and my grandfather was very well recognized in Gujarat and so on. You know, he became quite a figure untill the day he died at 92. I don’t think he stopped practicing.
And my mom and my aunt also in their day, they were well ahead of their time to have done that. So that was one obvious option for me. But I was really deeply interested in psychology and so many things. Bottom line was, I got hooked into management and then I never looked back since. Then joined my first sort of corporate group, which happened to be in sales. And everything that kind of came to me was really about expressing talents that I actually didn’t know that I had. And it was just so much fun to do along the way that I realized that actually that whole world and other things happen in my life. I don’t want to go into that on this podcast in particular because they’re all in the books. Very intense traumatic events in my life that involve, that put in it a nutshell, were around clashes of culture, Eastern and western.
And I was very, very clear about what I had to do in order for me to grow and to learn more about myself. So I chose to follow my path, that inner voice that was so strong and that had me go into work and so on, and I did very well with all of that. You know, I bought my first property very early on, I think I was 21, just before I was 22, and so on. I realized that the more I got rooted into work, the more I had to find some, there was something else. It wasn’t enough for me just to do that.
So that’s when I started to explore like, what else is it? And I happened to come from a background where I saw my dad, since I was a little girl, standing on his head in Sukhasana, doing yoga almost every day and then sitting in meditation for what seemed to me a very, very long time, every single day. So that was kind of in the back of my mind, it was in my imagery. That was where I turned to when I started to explore like, what is missing? What is missing? And that was really just after I turned 25, 26. So it was very early on and I realized that when I did that, incredible things happened. Something was trying to talk to me when I wasn’t talking to myself or being fascinated by my own thoughts. Thinking this is, what this is all real.
And then I realized, what is that? It’s so different. And I’ve had experience up to that point at other times in my life, but always in moments of deep, deep trauma. And this all came out from the yoga and the meditation, but mostly the openness that you had to begin to feel it. I think openness, definitely, but I wonder whether it was more a young woman who was really looking for answers.
I didn’t have anywhere I could go to get those answers for myself immediately in my surroundings because I’d left home and that was already a really major leap and sort of upset a lot of people along the way. So, I had to find my answers for myself. Something said to me to turn within and I was very fortunate to come across the odd individuals who said, Read this book, read that book, go here, go do this. And so I just was like a sponge, and I was a sponge. So that all those little stepping stones led me to going within. I’m very, very grateful for that because that’s why I wrote the books because I realized that if it hadn’t been for, of course today we have social media, we have a lot more content. But back in the day we didn’t have that. Books were lifelines.
Andi Simon: Now you had a journey that has led you to question. You said you’re a seeker. You know, I’ve been told I’m an explorer. So we share this same curiosity about what we don’t know. And we’re not quite sure where it’s going to take us because the future isn’t terribly predictable. But I do like to explore options and see things. I do love to travel. I love to venture beyond my comfort zone. Most people don’t. It sounds like you have had to push yourself through all of that. Now you are doing this today to begin to help other people do the same on their journey. How are you doing this? You’re coaching them, you’re teaching them yoga. What kind of tools do you bring to their lives to help them see and feel with a new freshness?
Smita Joshi: Coaching is a really powerful tool. I think sharing content, online writing, all of these are really, they’re sort of different elements. So I don’t have one thing that I do, of course. I will eventually bring out courses. I’ve got so much content out there right now or have created that I’m putting out there right now. So bringing that together.
Andi, one of my challenges is that the more I learn and the more I explore and the more I understand about life, the universe, the less I feel I know. And I must say I really do feel that and some of that holds me back a little bit because I think I’m just a baby. I said, I’m learning, I feel like it’s never enough. And I think that’s perhaps a real mark of somebody who is genuinely seeking, because I think we’re in an age at the moment where we are so much in a rush to teach other people before we’ve learned things ourselves.
And I’ve spent, like now, 35 years on the journey, traveling, exploring. I’ve been diving, scuba diving for 25 years. That’s been one aspect of me going deep in another business for like 30 years and so on. I’m just looking now what would be an appropriate way to bring it together. What would I want to share? For me, the only thing I think that’s really worth sharing, especially where we are in the information age and internet age and so on, and especially with AI coming, I feel more than ever that the one thing that if I were when I die, perhaps I could make a big impact with in people’s lives is by truly getting them connected to that pure awareness that the ancient Indians called Ātman which is really that awareness, that consciousness that I mentioned earlier, which is untouchable.
It’s pure in the sense that it is unchanging, and yet it’s where everything is generated. Everything is born from that. My focus now is really looking at ways of bringing that to people at all levels where they can get an experience of that because it’s a zone, which I can tell you what it is, but it’s so different for how it occurs for you as it does to me. I want to just give you the tools to be able to access it for yourself. And so, I mean, for example, I do that in a very accessible way.
I’ve just put out one video on my channel. It’s called the Flow Formula. It’s really a six steps to getting in that zone. What sports people call The Zone. It’s getting into the flow and that you access the zone of awareness that we’re accessing when we’re talking about concentrating, when we’re talking about musicians, writers, even anybody that creates anything where they feel at one with what they’re doing. So that’s one way. The other is, I’ve created a whole bunch of meditations, which are guided meditations to go along with the books and otherwise, which give you tiny little snippets of getting into that space. So those are just a few ways that I’m doing it.
Andi Simon: What does it feel like when you’re in that space? Can you describe it for the listener? The viewer?
Smita Joshi: I can tell you, for me, it’s like I’m in love. I’m in love, and that’s all I can say to you. It feels like I’m in love now. I like to think I’m in love with my husband when I have that feeling, that’s what it feels like. It’s so lush and complete and it doesn’t beg for anything extra. I have a smile on my face when I was like, I probably looked crazy to people because I had my headphones on. I was listening to music that got me into that space. And, then I’m just doing what I’m just out of my way, meaning my thoughts are out of my way. And I’m curious as to what will come through if I were not interfering with my mental processes.
Andi Simon: This is so wonderful. You’re talking about something we hear about, but don’t always find someone who can describe it or engage us in wanting to know more about it and begin to see how it could affect us. Because when you wrote up the comments for today, you talked about the inner voice and the life that we’re living, that there’s a disconnect.
One of the questions I had asked you is, how do we get disconnected? And you say, I’m not quite sure, but there’s something going on that needs to be brought back together, perhaps through methods like meditation or yoga. But, there’s something missing that we need to find that inner hope, that silence that gives us pleasure and this disconnect. Why are we disconnected? I don’t think we know.
Smita Joshi: I’m not sure that we are disconnected, to be honest, Andi. I don’t think we are. I think that we like to think we are. My experience is simply that we haven’t really focused enough on other elements of who we are. We’ve been in survival for way too long and now we’re in our evolution, certainly in some parts of the world and not others, yet where we have had that experience of being satiated with, at least materially, we are in a privileged position, many people and others are not, who are still not very much in that survival mode.
So we are chasing. We’re still trying to bring in the money and to pay the bills. We don’t have time for going into the space that I’m talking about because it means letting go a little bit. Letting go of what we think is what we know. And that’s actually a whole other experience. That’s a whole other conversation. It’s like it’s a bit scary for people. They don’t know how to do it. They need to be guided into it and so on. There’s a practice, it needs to be practiced, but when they do it, they don’t ever want to do it. It’s really true.
And I think that’s when we start to feel that conflict within ourselves, or we feel like something’s not right, or we feel annoyed with things. We feel stressed because we have had that experience along the way. Sometimes it’s so powerful that it is an epiphany, and maybe a series of epiphanies, and when we don’t then stay true to ourselves, to expand that experience that altered us and touched us so deeply in some way, then that inner voice, that part of you is always present and you are feeling that conflict. It’s there and you are not going to it. You are there and you’re not paying attention. You’re not hearing it. And that’s where I think we experience that challenge. So it comes down to a choice in the end. You know, at some point we have to say, will I or will I not?
Andi Simon: One of the things that’s a theme among many of the folks that I work with and I know, is, Okay, we’re out of the pandemic period, but not completely. I just finished my third book and I’m asking myself the question of, Congratulations, what’s next? Thank you, what is next? What comes next for us?
And we’re at that important point in our lives where we really need to be intentional about it, purposeful, meaningful, find the kind of inner voice that tells us what’s going to matter. The pandemic showed us. We don’t live forever. And now the reality is, every day is a gift. How do we live it appropriately? Any wisdom to share?
Smita Joshi: Yes. As you say, as you know, if you are asking that question, Andi, you are ready to really explore the depth of who you are in other ways, because you’ve had that experience in the external world and you know, it’s never enough. You can continue to have more experiences. You can continue to amass more money, you can do whatever, all those. And yet that question you’re asking will creep back in. So the question perhaps is maybe a slightly different one. The question is, How am I going to embrace a bigger experience, one which truly makes me feel complete and fulfilled.
Andi Simon: Well, but then that’s a very interesting question. We had to say goodbye to three friends in the last month. And as we watch as they leave us and every day is a gift, we become very reflective. And whether I’m looking for my inner voice or it’s already nagging at me, be careful that you don’t waste your time. Be careful of what gives you pleasure, balance the work and the private life. Your family and your friends make it meaningful. And I have a hunch you are doing the same.
Smita Joshi: Yeah. I think that the one thing that speaks to me so much from the Indian teachings is Vedas. It’s very simple. And yet it’s so incredibly profound. And that is: see if you can bring into yourself that sense of contentment with wherever you are. What else is there? This is it. Then we have nothing else to fight for, everything to play for and nothing to fight for. So that’s when we start to kind of embrace what we have as being an absolute gift and whatever that might be, our health, our successes in life, our failures in life, the lessons in life, the opportunity to be on this journey.
And so I, myself, and in my yoga classes in particular, I really remind people every single class, to come into Savasana, which is the last posture where we lie down and it’s a surrender posture. And why we practice yoga is for two reasons. One is to get into that soma state, which is the highest state of connecting in meditation to this inner realm, into this awareness. The boundaries fall away and you become one with the boundaries of our humanity.
And the other is, when you come into Savasana, you can’t come into Savasana unless you have practiced. The body has had certain detoxifications and so on. But the point of Savasana is really to arrive into that. And, we go to bed every single night and I, myself, go into that state of Savasana. Savasana means a corpse actually. And it is to surrender into what? Surrender into all of everything and into the nothingness of everything but with a contentment in yourself.
Now there’s this whole movement, people talk about gratitude and so on, but that sense of appreciation, deeply appreciative of what has gone before, today, yesterday, the day before, for all of it. And I think that for me, that is a lifelong journey to, it’s a practice and it transforms how everything arises in life and how it occurs in our inner world.
Andi Simon: You know, you said that you are on many podcasts now, and I appreciate you having come today to ours because you’ve opened up my mind and I have a hunch to what our listeners are also paying attention to, which is, how am I hearing myself? Where am I finding that peace? And how do I allow myself to sleep? What’s keeping me from sleeping? Am I wandering around the house all night? There’s so many messages that you have. One or two things that you’d like them not to forget? Very often our audience remembers the end better than the beginning. Anything in particular?
Smita Joshi: No, I come back to that. I think being receptive to what wants to come in, the gifts that want to come into our lives, comes in through our awareness. It comes in through that higher consciousness that we’re talking about, Ātman. And in order to really be open to that, it is to bring ourselves into that state of peace and contentment. And we do have so many responsibilities, family and many others, financial and so on. And they can sometimes disturb our sleep at night because these things are intense. They’re very much real.
And so, the willingness to let go and to trust that the answers are there, but we are blocking them by not being receptive to them. And the sleep state at night is a really crucial state. And to arrive in the way we arrive, we don’t know how to come into our sleep state. And that’s partly why I think we are addicted to a culture across the world. There’s so many people taking medicines and so on, to be able to sleep. But I think to myself, I just have to trust that if I have a challenge in my life, there’s a solution to it.
And if I were only to get out of my own way by bringing myself into a state of contentment and peace and being okay with where everything is right now and where everything is not right now, just that state of acceptance, surrender, and that leads us into peace and contentment. Don’t be content if you don’t want to be, but at least be at peace with the way things are and the way that they’re not. And that’s enough for Ātman, the higher consciousness to start giving us the right way forward, the highest way forward.
Andi Simon: I think this has been wonderful. I can’t thank you enough for coming. I’m so glad that we were able to connect the books that you have. Karma and Diamonds is a trilogy. Where can people buy it?
Smita Joshi: They’re on Amazon and they’re on my website. So on Amazon, we have them in paperback. We have them in additional format and audiobooks on Audible and Amazon, obviously. We have the books through my website. If you’re in the UK and you would like to avail of the books through myself, you can go to my websites, SmitaJoshi.com, and you can buy them there. And I also have a package with meditation. There are 12 guided meditations that people can engage a little bit deeper into the books. So, even if people buy them on Amazon, they can just let me know, send me the order number and I will be happy to share those meditations. They can also get some other free gifts from my website too.
Andi Simon: What are nice free gifts? I’m going to go explore, and I’m also going to thank our audience for joining us today. And we’re just about ready to wrap up. I know you’ve been on many podcasts. I’m honored that you’ve chosen ours, and I’m delighted to listen to your passion. You have found your own place, your purpose, and your heart is full of joy as you want to share this. Am I right?
Smita Joshi: Absolutely. Such a privilege.
Andi Simon: It is truly my honor. For our guests who come, your audience, those who are viewers and those who are listeners, thank you so much for coming. And as you’re thinking about your own experience, you can go exploring a little bit. It’s a time for you to make sure that every day is a gift, how you live it matters. Find that inner peace, sleep well, and enjoy the day because the future is now. It’s all over us, so it’s time for us to enjoy it. Remember that people hate change, so you don’t have to worry about it. And it’s just part of it, but you can actually change for the better. So thanks for coming. I’m going to say goodbye. Take care now. Bye-bye. Thank you.
Smita Joshi: Indeed. Thank you so much.