How a Former Monk Became One Of the Most Influential Mindfulness Teachers In the World
Pandit Dasa shares his gift with some of the largest companies in the world, connecting with thousands of employees and business leaders every year
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Pandit Dasa did not set out to become a public speaker. As he readily admits, talking in front of groups was initially very challenging for him. It wasn't until he entered the monastery and began teaching that he realized he had a gift for connecting with his audience. Now, as one of the world's foremost speakers on mindfulness and mental health, Dasa shares his gift with some of the largest companies in the world – connecting with thousands of employees and business leaders every year.
"I never imagined that the thing I was most afraid of would become the thing that I do for a living," Dasa says. "But as a monk, I was called to teach. It wasn't something I was comfortable doing at first, but I had to do it over and over again – sometimes six or seven talks in a week."
During his 15 years in the monastery, Dasa gave over one thousand speeches, a practice that not only benefited his students and audiences but helped Dasa develop essential public speaking skills. As he neared the end of his time as a monk, he began receiving speaking requests from companies seeking his unique skill set. Suddenly, Dasa was going from teaching small groups to speaking at the world's largest corporations. It was a learning experience – in more ways than one.
"In the last year of my monastic life, I was called to speak at Google, and I realized that I didn't have a good shirt because I only wore robes," Dasa recalls, laughing. "So, I went to my friend and told him 'I am speaking at Google and I don't think I can go there in robes, can I borrow a shirt?' Fortunately, my mom had kept all of my clothes from before I became a monk. So, I grabbed a 15-year-old pair of pants from my home and walked into Google in an old pair of pants and a borrowed shirt. After leaving the monastery, I bought my first suit."
Whether he was wearing monastic robes or a fresh new suit, Dasa found that he had a story that resonated with his audiences. He also discovered that an increasing number of executives and business leaders were searching for practical, real-world advice to increase mindfulness, reduce stress, and gain greater clarity and peace. Through his personal mindfulness practice as well as his development as a public speaker, Dasa offers clear solutions to help people improve their mental health and become more productive and resilient in the workplace.
He was recently asked to speak to the global division of a large corporation – a group of over 1000 employees. The head of the division contacted him specifically because of a previous talk he had given years earlier.
"She told me that when I spoke at their New York office, I taught the group some mindfulness practices that she still uses seven years later,'" Dasa says. "I am not just entertaining people with my story, but I am also providing them with tools that they keep using for weeks, months, even years later."
Although Dasa often speaks to large groups of corporate employees, one of his sessions that resonates most is his work with leadership. He expertly guides business leaders through exercises designed to improve their mindfulness. It is a message that connects with leaders in all industries, Dasa says, because they are often overlooked when it comes to mental health and mindfulness training.
"For a long time, if a leader has been productive, that is all that matters, but now there is a strong demand for mindful leadership," Dasa says. "I am often invited to speak to leaders and to help them in a gentle and thoughtful way to look in the mirror and really evaluate their leadership style. Leadership is not just about producing and the bottom line – it is about your people. And in most cases, if your people are happy, your company will be successful."
With more companies placing an emphasis on mental health and employee wellness, Dasa's message of mindfulness has become more important than ever. For someone who once struggled with public speaking, he now cannot imagine doing anything else. His talks inspire corporations from top to bottom, empowering workers to achieve greater tranquility in their work and home lives. And that, above all else, continues to drive Dasa to share his unique message with others."It resonates because I am addressing deep needs that are stifling an individual's progress, needs that are stagnating an organization's progress," Dasa says. "It is not a superficial message – it is a message that reaches down inside the soul."