Watch the full and inspiring interview with Neha
If you prefer reading, here is the transcribed interview
Ziv: Welcome Neha to the Kai interview. I’m really excited and happy to have you here with us. How are you?
Neha: I’m very well, thank you so much for this opportunity Ziv. I’m very well, thank you. How are you?
Ziv: I’m happy and excited toward our talk. So let’s start from you. Like, tell us a bit about yourself.
Neha: I am someone that often struggles with staying present in my self because of the experiences that I have had. So for me, it has become more and more important to practice emotional well-being for myself and for the people in my life. So I practice that much later in my life when I understood that I don’t know my self because I did not stay present with my self. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn about myself.
So the past twelve years have been my personal development journey. That’s when it started and soon after my son was born, I would practicing staying present. I started to become more present to him and then that was a starting process of becoming more present to myself. This has been a 12 year long journey and eight years of practicing meditation, I profess that, and I’m all about ways to connect how people can connect better with themselves. That’s what I’m teaching, my offers are all about.
Ziv: Wow. So eight years meditation, that’s you know, they say that you need ten thousand hours to become an expert in something. So it sounds like you’re getting there.
Neha: I think so, yes.
So you said that you wanted to know yourself and being present (and) meditating helped you. How so?
Neha: Something happened over 12 years ago where my toddler son was, well, I was in a troubled marriage anyways so there was something like that that one single incident caused that but yes it was like everything happened. And then that took me back to a moment, back when I was 11 years old, when I decided that I would choose to be a different mother.
I had all the possible conditions for me to go against that so, I mean, I’m in a place where I did not choose to be, I’m in a marriage that I did not choose to be, with a person I did not choose to be but I have a child with that person and then my child needs my attention. He is just someone that brought me more present to myself. And then, there was this moment where I got really upset and I was almost about to hit him and I realized, I saw terror in his eyes and that same terror is something I remembered from the childhood. Like that hit me, that thing hit home like nothing else. I remembered how terrorized I was growing up. And I said, I will never do that to anybody else, the least to my child, my own son. So from that moment on, I chose to become more aware about my actions, my my anger, my frustration, all of that. I became very present to how I am reacting. And then I say, okay once you start to notice that you are reacting, you notice that even more.
Meditation didn’t start right then, it just happened more gradually and then more like eight years ago, like four years after that, where I came across the books from Deepak Chopra and Osho. I was reading and practicing those. And then I realized, like you know, my son and I are very similar and I didn’t even know that. Oh, he understands things slightly differently and I can relate to that because I was somewhere there along when I was growing up as well that I need a different kind of explanation for the same thing. I often struggle with making friends and I had some, I wouldn’t say learning disability, but I would say I was socially, not that maybe, but I would say I’m socially challenged. So I didn’t understand those social, normally what people would understand. So for me, it became important to understand myself better. So it was a process of understanding myself better in meditation.I would say meditation is the most important way for you to learn so much about yourself that Google cannot answer. Click To Tweet
So nobody can tell you anything about you that meditation can tell you about yourself. Which means that everything others told you about you and what you are perceiving about yourself may not be the entire truth. And when I become present to my own truth, I invoke that at the very first person I would want to invoke that is in my son. And gradually in others, and they’d like to see in him his potential which is important because when I was growing up, there was nobody around me to show that that I have that potential in me. That’s why it became very important and it’s been something, I think his presence, my son’s presence in my life, he’s 14 now. His presence in my life has brought me to develop my awareness. Yeah, I see the purpose.
Ziv: That’s amazing.
I would love to hear a bit more of how the meditation helps you but before that, you said something really interesting. You said that there was that moment, that moment that you saw in your son’s eyes, the terror in his eyes, and you decided that things are going to change and you started to work on yourself.
And I think for most people it doesn’t work, like most people, we all go through sometimes really powerful moments and we say, that’s it. As of now, I’m going to change myself. As of now, I’m going to behave differently because something very powerful happened. And the day after or a week after, nothing changes.
Although I would say, how come just a week ago that powerful thing happened to me. How come I’m not in the process of change? And for you it was different. Something happened there. And what did you do so gradually you change who you are and how you live?
Neha: The first thing that I remember doing was I read a lot of books. It’s just like you know when you are in that place you just start to attract things that you are mentally working on. And what happened was somebody told me about Paulo Coelho, I had not even heard about this author’s name. He’s very famous, beautiful author from Brazil, Paulo Coelho. I read
each and every one of his books, and I was so inspired by the way he professed and he may not have practiced meditation but he was very present to the magic of whatever is unfolding into staying present. And I will practice whatever he shared in his book. I would just blindly following and believing, just following and believing. And what was coming up for me was a lot of stuff that I had not acknowledged.
I just stuck those emotions in myself and there was a lot of anger, disappointment, resentment, grief. And another thing that I really wanted for myself was to live with a person and be with a person who I chose as my partner. Not just only to make babies and have a family and have a good life but for something higher that I didn’t even know. That’s something that I always wanted to reach out for. It was very subconscious but the more conscious I became to myself, that became more conscious in me. Which is why even though I knew I wanted to leave the marriage, I didn’t have the courage back then to leave. And I knew I wasn’t conscious. I knew my son needed me. I needed to be there and I guess it worked out in the way that I would stay with him for the first seven years of his life.
The process just unfolded gradually and then from Paulo Coelho I graduated into other books, I would say, and more practices and then I read more about Deepak Chopra and then I started practicing meditation and also Osho both of these people, of these authors and speakers, they talk about and profess about meditation but in two very separate ways. And I think there’s some controversy about both of these people, but I see what I can take from these very, very wise people. I tune in to their wisdom and I can know for myself what I need to know for myself because that became the most important thing for me. Because as I learned about my son, to become present to him and understand him and understand myself, and like for all of these years I didn’t even know myself. If I don’t know myself and I have to now show love to this boy, who is born out of me, how am I going to show that when I do not have the experience of living that?
I know what a mother is supposed to be like in my imagination. I did not have that experience, which is why people see it, as you know, I didn’t have that and then that brings a lot of anger and frustration. Yes, that was my frustration. It’s so hard for people to believe that this could be someone who brought them to life, who brought them on earth, you know to relate to that and to come out of that and just see yourself as an individual. I never saw myself as an individual before that. My identity was I am someone’s daughter. I am someone’s wife. I’m someone’s sister. I am a mother.
I don’t have my own identity. Who am I?
Ziv: So like in there, like Paulo Coelho’s books? You went on a journey to find yourself, to learn to discover yourself.
Neha: Yeah. Yeah.
Ziv: So how do you do it practically. OK, what do you do? How?
Neha: What do I do? I practice meditation every day at night before going to bed and in the mornings it’s more about just tuning in with myself and staying present to myself. And over the years, what happened was I became like, when you practice meditation, what you’re doing is you’re connecting with your breath. And it’s completely normal to initially, it’s OK to just go with a guided meditation to keep you on track. I’m someone who does not like to depend on things and I just weaned myself out of it and then started practice on my own. But what’s what’s important is to stay present with yourself. And it’s very normal to fall asleep. It’s normal to get distracted because that’s what your mind does anyways. It’s not some that something is wrong with you. There is no one right way to do it. There are several ways to do it but meditation and practicing it every day is, I would say, one of the most essential things that you need to do to stay. Stick with your practice just five minutes, even if it’s short.
Ziv: Let me jump in, okay. So it sounds very simple but for most people every day, even five minutes, every day, most people after a while just the habit doesn’t stick. How can we make it daily, a daily habit to really do it daily?
Neha: I just wrote an article recently that I published on Tribe Global. The three ways to make it a habit of success.You have to understand that it's OK to fall out of practice. Click To Tweet
And people think what is simple is easy. You know. So it’s not easy
It just comes with practice and there is a very funny quote, I think it’s funny, but it’s very apt. It’s a Zen then saying, which goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes unless you are too busy, then you should sit for one hour.”
Ziv: I love this quote. It’s wonderful
Neha: And it’s funny. It doesn’t say you should meditate. It says you should sit in meditation. Wonder why it’s sitting meditation?
Because when you practice meditation and I did and I realized you just can’t immediately fall into that state. When you are like right now, we are in a very alert where our brains are functioning. We’re in beta brainwaves and then to shift from beta to alpha. It takes time for you to do that. You have to tune into your breath. Slowing down your breath is going to help you to get into alpha.
That’s how you just stay with your breath. It’s OK to get distracted. It’s like watching yourself. It’s like how you watch a movie when you watch a movie you’re completely engrossed and you kind of become a part of the character, but then you’re watching it like you’re watching it from a distance. So it’s like you’re watching yourself. That takes time for that, the separation to happen. So, you know, you need that 20 minutes of time to allow for that to happen. And you have to stay with yourself and not beat yourself up. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to happen. Every single time I’m sitting there and I reach Nirvana, it doesn’t happen. And that’s OK.
Allow yourself to just sit with yourself and let whatever comes up arise. It’s the practice of sitting with yourself. It’s when you’re going to listen to what is arising in you, because it takes time to check out that that was not the noise, the constant distraction, which is why, you know, the world is full of distractions. Our phones, you know, buzzes, things, food. They just want to distract us because they don’t want to sit with our feelings.
Ziv: Just sit with them with yourself, so simple, but not easy. It’s powerful. Now we’re approaching the end of this interview. What I should have asked you and I didn’t.
Neha: Besides, meditation, I guess whatever ways they can be creative.
And I think that allows them anything like being in nature, doing something with their bodies and involving and evoking as many senses. As possible, it’s music and dancing and staying in your body, exercise, whatever it is to you so it doesn’t have to be something very vigorous, can be anything that you fully engrossed in, anything creative. And when you practice that enough times, it brings you to yourself and you just lose all your worries and then you become more present to yourself.
Ziv: Now, thank you very much for this wonderful and inspiring interview and for the practical advice, I really appreciate it. Thank you a lot.
Neha: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure. My pleasure to share.
Who are you?
My name is Neha Sonney. I’m a mom of a teen. I teach meditation and tantra, and coach and train people for public speaking. I love that I have had the courage to stop the damage of trauma at me. Growing up I experienced verbal, emotional and physical abuse from a narcissistic parent.
I have many passions. For me speaking and writing are important because they’re my avenue of expression and may be the legacy I want to leave. I’m a contributing writer for Thrive Global.