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An exclusive interview with Sadhguru: the revered spiritual leader muses India, travel & mediation, plus what he actually eats for breakfast

During my many travels through India—from Chandigarh (where I visited the fascinating Nek Chand Rock Garden) to Tamil Nadu in the south—I became obsessed with discovering amazing food and the most beautiful temples in India, as well as tapping into spirituality and yoga. I became aware of many, many spiritual leaders, but it wasn’t until I reached Hyderabad that I learned about Sadhguru and his organization the Isha Foundation. Born as Jagadish Vasudev in 1957, Sadhguru witnessed a handful of spiritual experiences in his 20s which led him on a journey of discovery and travel. With a shared love of travel within India, I was beyond excited to talk with the world-renowned guru ahead of his trip to the UK, here’s what he told me…

Sadhguru on his early adventures and travel

Lydia: I’m obsessed with taking adventures and journeys, many of them being solo. Can you tell me about your first solo explorations and what they meant to you?
Sadhguru: Many years ago, I decided to go on an expedition from Gopalaswami Betta to Nagarhole, through a range of forests in Karnataka, Southern India. I packed some food and set off. I climbed every tree I saw and swam in every pool of water, and in just four days, I ran out of food. After that, I just ate from the forest—mostly honey, fruits, termites and bees. Somewhere along the way, in one of the thorny areas, half of my shirt was torn away and I had to walk the rest of the way with only half a shirt. I did not have a torch either and my matchbox got wet and destroyed in the rain. 

Bright image of Sadhguru smiling with hands raised

I walked like that for 23 days and saw all kinds of wildlife nearby—tigers, elephants and buffalos—but when I finished that trip and looked back, the biggest impact on my life in those 23 days of being alone in the forest were the insects. At night, they started off with a symphony and I observed, that one set of insects would start making a noise at the same time every day on the dot, then it would stop and the next set would start. For these 23 days, I never saw a human face or a light or anything, and even now, with just the thought of those 23 days, the planet literally hums through me. If someone experiences this, their very perspective of life will change. Travel has always fascinated me. When I travel, I enjoy the terrain more than anything else. Every small outcrop, crooked tree or a rock—these are the things I notice and record in my mind. Even when I crisscrossed India on my motorcycle in my twenties, the only thing that mattered to me was the terrain—I never had any destination. I simply rode on till I hit the border, and turned around and rode in a different direction until I hit another border. These travels were probably the richest part of my life because I traveled without purpose—I simply wanted to gobble up a little more of the world.

Sadhguru on books

Lydia: Whenever I'm traveling I always have at least two books with me, what’s your favorite travel book?
Sadhguru: Unless it is literature, I do not read any other kind of books—definitely not books on spirituality because if I read a couple of pages of a book, I know the mind of the author. Once you know the mind of the author, there is no need to read the entire book. In terms of literature, I read the abridged version of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I was around eleven years old. It is a unique book and Huckleberry Finn as a character kind of overlapped with me so well.

Sadhguru sitting on a chair smiling for an exclusive new interview

Sadhguru on love & relationships 

Lydia: Do you believe in true love? How is it possible to be in love and keep our emotions in check?
Sadhguru: The mistake people often make is thinking that love is a certain type of relationship. Love is not a relationship. Relationships are different. We hold different types of relationships with different people. Love is a certain pleasantness of your emotion. If your body becomes pleasant, we call it health. If it becomes very pleasant, we call it pleasure. If your mind becomes pleasant, we call it peace. If it becomes very pleasant, we call it joy. If your emotions become pleasant, we call it love. If they become very pleasant, we call it compassion. If your very life energies become pleasant, we call it blissfulness. If it becomes very pleasant, we call it ecstasy. If your surroundings become pleasant, we call it success. Only to make the surroundings pleasant, you need the cooperation of other people. But to make your body, mind, emotions, and energy pleasant, you do not need anyone's permission. All the things that you can do and all the things that are in your control must be taken care of first. In this process, if your emotions become very pleasant, there is no need to tell anyone, "I love you" repeatedly. Instead, if your emotion is pleasant, you will naturally handle everything in a pleasant way.

Sadhguru on breakfast & healing foods

Lydia: Breakfast provides me with so much joy and plays a huge part in my travel plans, what do you love to eat for breakfast?
Sadhguru: For breakfast, I have a freshly ground neem leaf ball, a turmeric ball, sprouted methi (fenugreek), soaked groundnuts, sprouted green gram, almonds, walnuts and a piece of fruit. Neem and turmeric can do miracles for your life—you must consume these two, first thing in the morning and wait for 10-15 minutes. This will reduce the inflammatory levels in your stomach lining and also clean up all the unnecessary bacteria that may be present. Sprouted methi aids cellular cleansing in the body. Soaked groundnuts will take care of your protein requirement and they contain many other enzymes which are very vital for the body—they have all the nourishment you need for the entire day. There was a time when, for months, I lived on just groundnuts and one banana. Sprouted green gram is also high in protein, while soaked and peeled almonds and walnuts have numerous health benefits. Typically, I have a pomegranate as part of my meal. If I am going to be very physically active, such as playing a round of golf where I walk eighteen holes, I might add some carbohydrates to my meal. This could be an idli, chapati, or something made from wheat, rice, or millet to provide enough carbohydrates for my physical activity. But if my day involves more mental activity and less physical movement, such as sitting for long periods, I might not add these carbohydrates. Instead, I might drink a glass of millet porridge or something similar.

Sadhguru sitting cross legged wearing white and cream

Sadhguru on yoga

Lydia: The last time I was traveling, I was interested in finding the best places to practise yoga in India and ended up trying out radically different places spanning the country, from Soul and Surf in Varkala, to one-on-one classes in Rishikesh. Where do you recommend first-time visitors to India go for good yogic practises?
Sadhguru: What we offer at Isha is a synthesis of Bhakti, Gnana, Kriya and Karma yoga. In Yoga, we understand that fundamentally a human being can grow or reach their ultimate nature, or the Divine, or whatever you want to call it, by approaching it either through the body, the mind, emotion or inner energies. If you use your emotions and try to reach the ultimate, it is called Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion. If you use your intelligence and try to reach the ultimate, we call it Gnana Yoga, the path of intelligence. If you use your body or physical action, we call it Karma Yoga. If you transform your energies, we call this Kriya Yoga. But no one is all head, or all heart, or all hands, or all energy; you are a combination of these four dimensions. If you want to grow, you need a combination of these four paths.

Sadhguru on life

Lydia: What do you think is the meaning of life and how can we live an authentic existence?
Sadhguru: These days, when people say “my life”, they are usually talking about their job, family and home but these are life accessories. We add things to our life—including the body and the content of the mind—believing that they will enhance our life. And that is how they should function. Your own body and the arrangements of your life should not become like a wall in front of you. You may be alive but you may know nothing about life, because your entire life may pass by in just dabbling with the accessories of life. If you do not experience your aliveness, if you do not know the many dimensions of being alive, life has gone to waste. The only aspiration in your life should be to live your life in the highest possible way—whatever you see as the highest. If you do not aspire for what you hold as the highest, that is a wasted life. The most precious thing about life is life itself—not diamonds, property or money. All that is possible in each human being, every dimension that exists as you, must be experienced. Whatever you jump into, if you really put your life into it, it can become a great thing. Just show involvement in everything that you are, and then life will choose, and it is never wrong.

Sadhguru on meditation

Lydia: How does meditation benefit anyone struggling in this increasingly chaotic world?
Sadhguru: Meditation is a certain quality, not a certain act. Meditation is not something that you can do, but you can become meditative. If you cultivate your body, mind, energies and emotions to a certain level of maturity, meditation naturally happens. It is just like if you keep the soil fertile, if you give it the necessary manure and water and if the right kind of seed is there, it will grow and bloom into flowers and fruits. The main aspect of meditation is, right now your mind is the boss and you are the slave. As you become more meditative, you become the boss and your mind becomes the slave. Once you become meditative, there is a clear space between you and your body and mind. Once there is a distinct separation, this is the end of suffering because there are only two kinds of suffering you have known—physical and mental. You will dare to explore the full scope of what it means to be human only when there is no fear of suffering.

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