Thought Leadership Essays

My Commencement Speech at Maharishi School

July 26, 2018

Vikas Narula

When you think of your high school or college alma mater, does it conjure up images like this?

If you look up the meaning of “alma mater” you may be surprised to see that the definition is “nourishing mother”.

I was recently invited to address the graduating class at my high school alma mater – Maharishi School.

When I think about all my growth, progress, and success in life it is difficult to deny the truth that much of my good fortune can be traced back to my high school days at Maharishi School – an unusual and unconventional school that has been visited by prominent figures, including Oprah, David Lynch, and Stephen Covey. These visits have come, in large part, because the Maharishi School has been pioneering the infusion of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda into their curriculum since the early 1980s.

Though these practices were certainly part of the “nourishment”, when I think about my days at this school, I experienced other kinds of nourishment I did not fully appreciate at the time. When there was discord and disharmony in my social or home life, teachers, friends, parents of friends, acquaintances, and “random” angels of the Maharishi School community were always there to lift my spirits, shower encouragement, and dare I say – nourish me like a mother.

While I went through a period of rejecting and resenting this school and community, the older I got and the farther I went in life, the clearer it became that this place was a cornerstone to who I am, who I was becoming, and what I wanted to be and do in life.

So, when Mr. Beall – my then (and current standing) principal from the Maharishi School reached out and surprised me with an invitation to address the graduating class of 2018 – I was deeply honored, excited and terrified!

What was I going to say and how was I going to say it?

In mid-March of this year, I wrote a blog post about “Listening to the Whispers of Your Heart”. Shortly after publishing it, I had this thought: “I would like to bring this blog to life in the form of a talk or workshop”.

Within weeks, Mr. Beall’s invitation arrived in my email inbox. Coincidence? I think not. The content was already there in written form – I just needed to bring it to life in a way that would be relevant to high school graduates – relevant to the graduates of Maharishi School.

How did I do?

In my last blog post, I asked if you were listening to the whisper of your heart and heeding its call. I ask this question because I too have dragged my feet far too long, on multiple occasions, only to my detriment. In that post, I hinted that new whispers were calling me to unvisited frontiers of adventure and learning. The speech drops clues into where those whispers are leading me.

In the spirit of listening to my heart and practicing what I preach, I have started to create space and place for deeper human connection and joy. I have started to participate in, and host, gatherings centered around a few key areas, which I touch on in my commencement speech, namely:

1) Hugs

We need 8 good ones a day according to science. Hugs have a healing power and I have started to host monthly hug gatherings for the purpose of fostering deeper, more meaningful (and healing) human connection. If this interests you, please send me a note.

2) Singing (and dancing)

I have long had a love for Kirtan – an eastern form of devotional singing. I have participated in various singing gatherings (as an audience member) for many years; however, in the last couple of years, I started learning the harmonium and singing at home (like nobody is listening or watching). It has opened up parts of myself I didn’t know were there.

It has helped me heal, grow, and explore a musical part of myself I didn’t know existed! In the last year, I have somehow mustered up the courage to lead Kirtan circles in song (and dance). Such a thing would have been unimaginable to me just a few years ago. If Kirtan interests you, please send me a note.

I am loving it.

My heart is leading me down seemingly tangential paths of touchy-feely community building and spiritual devotion. It makes no sense and it feels freakishly wonderful – to sing, dance and hug. To fall in love over and over. To not just dream, but to do, to share, and to openly discuss in forums like the graduation commencement and this blog.

The revival tent is up, Mr. Beall. When are you coming? 🙂

Yes, my alma mater is a nourishing mother and so is my heart’s whisper.

What a dream it was for the two of them to meet in one place, at the same time, on a stage like that.

Glory to the (Inner) Guru.

Vikas Narula is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs – a software and services company specializing in the power and wisdom of human networks, connection, and crowd-sourced sentiment. He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest – a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to kids every Earth Day.

Other Recent Blog Posts:

Are You Listening To The Whispers Of Your Heart?

Would You Prefer A New Boss Over A Pay Raise?

Amazing Humans – Our Hope for Humanity

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