Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interview: Shivani Singh

Today, I've got on my blog Shivani Singh, the author of Discover Your Dharma, a book on discovering your life's purpose through effective journalling techniques, which I've reviewed here. Welcome, Shivani.

1. I'd like to begin this interview by asking you what kind of books are there on your bookshelf? What books are you reading right now? Which genre of books do you generally read? Which books do you re-read again and again? 

Hi Sakhi – thanks for interviewing me. I love reading your blog! I have all kinds of books on my bookshelf – from art and design to science, history, the classics, and spirituality. I still have books on my bookshelf that I had as a kid – the entire Dr. Seuss Collection, Calvin and Hobbes, Richard Scarry, and Anne of Green Gables. I think I have almost every motivational/new-age bestseller published – from the Celestine Prophecy to Eckart Tolle, the Magic of Thinking BIG, Napoleon Hill, and the Instant Millionnaire. Now, I read a lot of business books, inspiring biographies, and spiritual books – Autobiography of A Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda is a book I enjoy re-reading again and again. I like to read anything that has new innovative ideas, inspires me to be a better person, or that could teach me something useful – like cooking in 5 minutes!

2. Tell us something about your work before "Discover Your Dharma"? 

I had always dreamed of being an astronaut, and by the time I was 17, I had the great fortune to work alongside some of the most brilliant minds on the planet and Nobel Prize Laureates. But somehow, over time, I had become a downtrodden, invisible robot... going day in and day out, without any end in sight! I kept thinking, "There's gotta be something more!" So, instead of going to outer space, I got on a plane, and traveled from the U.S to India! For a couple months, I traveled to many ashrams, meditated under banyan trees, and went to the holiest places. I served food to leper colonies, and visited temples, slums, and bathing ghats, from Calcutta to Delhi. After a LOT of traveling on the trains across India I began to journal about my ideas, experiences, feelings, thoughts, and desires. In the process, I came to realize the power of using various styles of journaling to know what to do next with my life. Over the past decade, I’ve developed and shared these journaling techniques with thousands all over the world – from college students to entrepreneurs, and I’ve created easy-to-follow templates for anybody to discover their dharma now!

3. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get into writing? What inspired you to write "Discover Your Dharma"? 

Yes! I’ve always loved writing, and everything to do with books, writing, paper, pens… the whole works. Writing is an art – an expression of a million things all at once – dreams, thoughts, ideas, fears, fantasy, opinions, reflections, inspirations, and it is share-able across time and space. But to me, I think what got me into writing is this revolutionary concept that I share in Discover Your Dharma – what you write isn’t nearly as powerful as the process of writing. When I first got into university, I was declared as a ‘Graphic Arts and Writing Major.’ After my first semester, before I got a chance to take an art or a writing class, I decided to do physics and Spanish literature instead. I didn’t want anybody telling me that I had to write or create for a grade! And so, that’s how I ended up pursuing another passion of mine - physics at NASA, instead of a writing degree. When I left NASA, not knowing what to do next with my life, I knew there was a book in me. I just didn’t know what I was meant to write at the time. After my own research of amazing people like Gandhi, Picasso, Disney, and Mother Teresa – I realized they all used journaling to figure out their dharma. Through the process, not only did I figure out my own dharma, but also the system that anybody else could too! That’s how I got inspired to write Discover Your Dharma.

4. What kind of people do you think this book will reach out to?

Discover Your Dharma is for savvy urbanites who know they could be successful at anything they are passionate about – if only they know what it is! It’s for the modern dharma seekers between 21 and 51 who are amazing and talented, who have a vision, a fire in their belly, and a deep sense of urgency to figure out what to do next with their lives.

5. What is your favourite thing about books and reading? How have books made an impact on your life?

My favorite thing about books and reading is the opportunity to expose yourself to new ideas, to find new ways to think about the same old things, or to learn new beliefs that could make you expand your own impact as a human being. But perhaps the most influential books in my life – from Dickens to J.K.Rowling – are those that strip you to the bare essentials, that whisk you away out of your own little world, that show you an alternative way of being, and when you’re done reading, you never quite see the world – or your Self – the same way again.

6. Quick take. Answer the following with the first words/phrase that comes to your mind, in five words or less: 
- Dharma – right action to do now
- Life – what you choose to share and experience
- Fate – pre-determined outcomes by choice
- Purpose – action with intention
- Books – world of ideas and knowledge

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