In 2001, I was another victim of the bursting tech bubble. I had spent all the money I made during my Silicon Valley years coaching and investing in the young athletes I worked with, and had put my heart and soul into my tech work and coaching, like I had done in my athletic “career” 10 years before. I worked to give myself money to do what I loved- to see people improve themselves. The result was the same- I was burnt out and disillusioned.
I had always coached in a ‘mentor’ sort of way; spending long periods living with the (very select) athletes I worked with- showing them how to live by my example, rather than handing them a program to follow. Athletes and their families became my family. Only later would I understand that I was doing so in a gurukulam-style manner common to Indian teachers.
By early 2002, I had spent 8 months sullenly playing online RPGs in an apartment with what little money I had left. I was coaching Masters athletes for money now instead of juniors, while refusing to take lower paying jobs than I had previously worked. At the end of 2002, I gave it up and went right back to an entry-level job doing tech support, again on the burnout track.
That same year, I ran into a group who showed me another way to experience life. Second-guessing myself, I got married- and quickly divorced- and then literally RAN to an ashram to live out (so I thought) my years trying to be a Swami. I took my teacher training in October 2005 and never looked back. I hadn’t realized how unhappy I had been trying to live out the fantasy of “American life” and that the cultural conditioning I had inherited wasn’t serving how I thought of myself or my philosophical mindset.
In the steady, disciplined life of the yogi, I found a solace and bent to the tasks given by a very tough spiritual teacher with a real long-awaited devotion I hadn’t known I possessed. I became a student, really for the first time. I learned how to detach myself from my stubborn, arrogant and capricious mind to identify with the immortal Self shared among us all. None of this came naturally to me, and it took a full year to grok the cultural shift that was taking place inside me. Continue reading