I used to live in Besant nagar, a beautiful suburb of Chennai in India, very close to the beach. Every morning I loved to spend at least 45 minutes walking along the seashore. On the shore, one comes across a number of tidbits… like coconut shells, old bags or dresses, shoes, flowers and garlands, plastic dolls and such other junk, washed by the waves. Many a times I used to wonder how people behave irresponsibly, throwing things into the good old sea, polluting the environs. I was considering these objects simply as nuisance… something to put up with.
Till one day, a flash of thought crossed my mind – “Is this not a charming coincidence, that I am here.. at this moment.. on this beach… when this old hat… with a worn-out garland around it… should wash at my feet?”. After a brief moment of pensive glance, I was struck by the simple truth behind this thought. It was as if there was an age-old connection that existed between us – the trinkets and I – bringing us together at that particular moment. What a different way of looking at things!
As long as I perceived the trash as a menace, I was uncomfortable with them around me. But the moment I started looking at them as if by some primordial design, the trash and I were brought together, my entire perception changed. I started to look at them with genuine and amusing interest…who could have worn that hat…or how old would have been the person who used that slipper…what happened to the other of the pair. The trash, objects of no interest till a little while ago, suddenly became interesting. Next, I realized that I was no longer uncomfortable with them. Further, I was conscious of that particular moment only. All other thoughts of home, office, and work to do etc. were entirely forgotten. With this perspective, I realized that I am more aware of the moment and the constituents. The thought of why these things should be there, didn’t cross my mind. In short, I was conscious of just that moment, and enjoying it.
I am sure, many of you might have experienced similar incidents in your lives. For many, they would have passed without portraying any significance. Well, look out for them keenly. Everyday we all have uncomfortable situations to face, to meet people whom we feel uncomfortable with and many uncomfortable decisions to make. Now, imagine as if this uncomfortable feeling is totally eliminated by some magic. How beautiful our lives will be! Well, we don’t have to go anywhere for this magic. It is all very much within each one of us. That is what this article is about.
Management by Consciousness…. Is it yet another high-sounding jargon? There are any number of management theories that have come out ever since Frederick Winslow Taylor started with management of factory workmen through work measurement, time study etc. In particular, the last 50 years had been a golden era for management theories. Management by Objective. Management by Participation. Business Process Management, and many more. Then there are theories on type of managers, theories on decision making, inventory control, reengineering, benchmarking etc, etc. In fact there is a ‘jungle of management theories’ out there. Then, why one more?
Management by consciousness is all these theories put together and a lot more. It is a holistic approach to managing. It starts with managing your ‘self’ first. To understand this, let us first understand what we mean by management and what we mean by consciousness.
What are the functions of a manager? In any situation, a manager first studies the data, plans a course of action, organizes necessary resources, delegates the work to a set of subordinates, leads them through their actions and finally keeps a control on the outcome of such collective action. If we notice, all the management theories revolve around some specific functions only. Some will talk about decision-making. In fact there are esoteric mathematical models for decision-making. Some will accentuate the leadership and communications part. Some others talk of the art of delegating (or dumping!).
Anyway, books on management subjects haven’t stopped coming. On the contrary they are on the increase. Now, in the last one decade alone, what with the Internet, we are practically deluged by mind-boggling amount of information. It is said that the amount of reading material we come across on a single day now, would have been faced during a whole lifetime of a person 50 years ago. Ultimately, the point we would like to make here is that ‘management’ is a function of the mind and intelligence.
What is the daily routine of today’s manager? Every morning we wake up to the call of the alarm clock. We rush to finish the morning ablutions, push down a mean breakfast, gulp down a cup of coffee and stream out of our home in a jiffy to reach our offices on time. Somebody else fixes breakfast for the kids, shunts them to school and you cannot worry about them all. Once you are in the office, the phone never stops ringing. Your to-do list for the day looks like a death trap. Meetings, reports, deadlines… you are needed somewhere every hour of the day.
Before you downed your second cup of coffee – yes, caffeine is something that keeps you going – you realize that you have 14 hours of work to be done in a space of seven and a half hours. Well, you plod on helplessly. Evenings are no better. You have a Rotary committee meeting to chair, or may be you have to entertain a customer. Weekends are worse. You have to ferry the kids to music or dance classes, or some long pending social calls to make, or your vehicle requiring the healing touch from you. After all these, do we have a genuine sense of accomplishment… even when we have everything? No, we are ever so much left with a feeling of uneasy emptiness.
Well, you don’t require an Einstein to tell you what is wrong. All our activities are directed towards controlling the externals. We try to breakdown the whole into essential parts as categories, priorities, tasks etc. We think we are controlling the time we have, but end up becoming slaves to our concept of time. We are always under pressure to finish a task on a time target set by ourselves. Under pressure we tend to stumble a few times, which leads to dissatisfaction and frustration. We tend to use more of logic and mathematics than intuition and creativity. To be precise, our decisions and actions have become mere mechanical rituals than conscious deeds.
Now let us move on to consciousness. What is it? It is the total awareness of oneself. Who is oneself? Is it this body, brain or my mind, or a combination of all these? If it is a combination, then where is the seat of this consciousness? Well, before this gets into any philosophical overtones, let me give a most agreeable definition.
Consciousness can be defined as an emergent quality or function of the complex arrangement of neurons of the brain. The human brain keeps on collecting various bits of information and experienced feelings, and stores them in its neurons. Our brain has a rich tapestry of some 100 billion neurons. Every single transaction of every single incident in our life is stored in specific locations of our brain. It is our consciousness that gives to all these bits and pieces of info, a coherent meaning and purposeful interpretation, followed by an intellectual action.
The brain is a physical entity; it can be separated into its various parts, like cortex, thalamus, medulla etc. But consciousness is metaphysical and always performs as a single whole entity. It decides our personality or our character. It is the combined effect of our mind and intellect. Lot of research is being carried out in the US and Germany as to how or wherefrom this consciousness emerges. But it is generally agreed that the brain is the seat of our consciousness. It has something to do with the way the brain neurons arrange themselves at every thought process. Anyway that is beyond the scope of current deliberations.
While on the subject of the human brain, let me tell you some interesting details. It is a massive computer of unimaginable proportions. Right from the time of its formation in the womb till the time of death, it keeps storing every bit of information and associated emotions in its vast network of neurons. Canadian researcher Dr. Wilder Penfield, of McGill University, conducted a number of experiments on his patients while they were fully conscious under local anesthesia.
He stimulated various sites around the brain cortex by touching at various points with mild current carrying probes and asked his patients to describe what they felt. The accounts of the patients were astonishing. Astonishing because they were able to recall incidents in their lives, which were supposed to have been forgotten totally, in the minutest of details, including the emotions accompanying these incidents. Dr. Penfield describes it as “word for word playback of long forgotten events”. Different sites on the cortex evoked different memories. But once the probes were removed they went blank.
Similar evidences are available from many doctors who have succeeded in putting their patients through deep hypnosis. For one lady, a particular musical number was making her feel sad, but she was unable to comprehend why. During the experiment it was revealed that this musical number was played regularly in a bakery, when she was about three, and when she used to cross it walking, holding hands with her mother. After her mother’s death a little later, whom she was very much attached to, her mind shut off this memory, since it was painful.
Dr. Penfield surmises that the human brain stores a colossal amount of information including trivial details like number of buttons in a suit on a particular day. So whether we like it or not our brain has everything we need. Even if you have read a book only once or even glanced through it in a hurry it is all recorded there! Still we are told that a human being uses only a fraction, say 5 to 8%, of his brain during his whole lifetime!
Apart from being a huge storehouse of data, the brain has another speciality. It is made up of two distinct hemispheres. Right and left. The left side is what we use during most of our wakeful hours. It is the logical or mathematical brain. Our educational systems unfortunately lay a greater stress on developing the left-brain. The right brain is the creative or artistic brain. It takes care of the imaginative or intuitive side of our personality. The left-brain understands words. The right brain understands pictures. You will notice many times that these two halves are constantly under conflict. What the right brain intuitively suggests as a solution to a problem, the left-brain shoots it down. The left-brain says that such an action can not produce desired results since it does not follow logical reasoning.
The third and the most important aspect of our brain is the recent findings that the brain emits vibrations at a range of frequencies from zero to 22 cycles per second (in certain cases much higher). There are equipments to measure this frequency called electroencephalographs (EEG). The brain frequency depends upon the nature of our thoughts. The calmer you are these frequencies are also low. The more agitated you are, higher this frequency. In our wakeful hours our thoughts work at a feverish pitch, and the frequency ranges between 14 and 22. This state is known as Beta State. Just when we get up from a restful sleep, or are about to go to sleep it ranges between 7 and 14. This is called Alpha state. During sleep the frequency is normally between 4 and 7, and it is called the Theta State. A deep dreamless slumber will lower the frequency below 4, and it is called the Delta State.
Now look what happens to us in these four states. In beta, you are very much of this physical world. It is the world of five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – the world of time and space. At alpha, you are in a different world – a world where the physical senses are left behind and the intuitive sensing, that is sensing without the sensory organs, begins. At this level, time and space barriers are nonexistent, and your psyche, your intuition, your extra-sensory perceptions begin to work. And as we slip into the theta state these sensations become keener. It has been scientifically proved by psycho-biologist Dr. James McGaugh of Children’s Hospital at the University of California at Irvine that under theta state our brains produce vivid memories and creative visions. The western psychologists call this as subconscious state. Whereas, in fact, it is a superconscious state.
Have you heard of the unique meditation techniques introduced by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi? Practically they are a techniques to quieten your mind, to take it to this alpha level. In management by consciousness we tell you to use this sub or super conscious state to actively solve your managerial problems. You would continue to be in the physical beta world, but whenever you have to find an answer to a nagging problem, you naturally slip into alpha level and below, without anybody noticing it. And you will find the right decision to make. Sounds like some magic tale? Well friends it is true.
What actually happens in the dynamic alpha state is that both the brain halves are activated and without conflict of purpose. The left-brain learns to trust the gut feelings expressed by the right half, and the right brain respects the logic of the left half. The result is a balanced verdict.
When you start practicing this, it considerably slows down your usual pace of work in the beginning. You may not meet with success immediately. But one success gives you the faith and confidence to pursue further. And after sufficient practice you will know that you have hit a jackpot. Imagine the day you go to the office without any anxiety of a to-do list or priorities etc. The moment you enter, the whole scenario flashes across your mind’s eye. You are absolutely aware of every bit of decision you have to take that day. Without ever having to refer to your memo book or your personal secretary.