The Marathon Lecture

Flashback: Dr Rashi held my hand tightly and spoke in her soothing voice “Arvind! You don’t have to worry so much. It’s just that you are going to have a different life style, which will allow you to do most of the things you wanted.

” I looked deep into her slightly green and attractive eyes, and they seemed quite adept in communicating her sympathy. I asked, ‘What do you precisely mean by MOST OF THE THINGS?’ She tightened the grip on my hands and smiled back as I responded to her touch, ‘for example your cycling trips. You know I was checking photographs of your trips, how amazing! When are you taking me to that waterfall location and specially those backwaters?” We both had become an amazing doctor patient couple, especially because she was intrigued by my adventures. She suddenly rushed out of room responding to a text message, probably for some emergency, ‘Arvind, please be serious about the nature of your job. You need to work on your spine. I know you had your plans, but for the moment, you can’t continue your corporate lifestyle. I need to go now.”

In 2010, I suffered degenerated disc at L4-L5 level after having met with an accident, which caused some kind of disturbance in Thecal sac. Thecal Sac carries our nerves system and is sensitive for our mobility and the pain used to be horrible. I had to leave my prospective job at a German Aerospace MNC and moved back to home town. I remember those 3 months of complete restlessness and doctor’s predictions of partial paralysis, which necessitated a drastic change in my lifestyle. I used to wonder, why is this happening to me? I had so many negative impulses and I could see my immediate plans getting shattered right in front of my eyes. I have been a born explorer. I was merely 14 years old, when I ran from my house on an unplanned journey without any money, and ended up in a Himalayan town, some 1000 miles away from my home. I have always wanted to go out and explore endless possibilities.

I wanted to represent something. I wanted to represent an idea that nothing here is impossible. When I was a kid my father used to take me for short walks after dinners and teach me life hacks and moral ethics. He passed away when I was 10 years old, but his imprint and echoes of his talks has always been appearing in my dreams.
One night I slept with a strong dose of pain killer and I can gather fade memories of a dream and found myself surrounded by his voices.

His tall charismatic personality and ever glowing face with a lovely smile stood beside my bed. “Son, I know situations might have taken over you, but if you give up so easily, you are not justifying our extraordinary human spirit. You can’t kill that easily by giving up on yourself. He continued, “People will only believe in your ideas, only if you believe in yourself. You need to change this situation, work on your ideas, and represent possibility. It takes courage to act, to overcome your fear. If you want something badly, go all out for it; ask yourself how much your dreams mean to you. How much you mean to them? How much of pain you can endure for them? How much you can burn yourself, over and over, until you have what you wanted. How desperate, how persistent you are? Train yourself, discipline yourself, sweat it out, and challenge yourself.”

I woke up with a strong urge to test human endurance, and I declared war against the enemy within: I chose to regain my continued passion to explore; I decided to reclaim what had been lost in those 3 months. I started training myself, followed by extreme diet regime, underwent intense physiotherapy schedule, meditated in solitude and did specific yoga for strengthening my abdominal and core muscles of lower back. I focused on one thing at a time, keeping consistency as the foremost principle. I abandoned processed sugar and anything which contains additives or preservatives, which limited my diets to boiled vegetables, fruits and grains. Soon, I realised how food adulteration and junk foods has been slowly poisoning our health. This renunciation and consistency continued. While meditation grew me mentally, yoga healed me physically. Those days also gave me a deeper apprehensions and insights on spirituality, and I started to believe that our lives are definitely supposed to be purpose driven. I just couldn’t connect the dots at that moment like Steve Jobs said in a popular speech.

नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्य्कर्मणः
शरीरयात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येद अकर्मणः ||


Further, my self-command was truly revolutionised by one of the SHLOKA from epic “Bhagwad Gita’’ which purports that Karma is supreme of all and a person free from all attachment and aversion is able to control his senses through regulative principles. Gita is a magnificent literature meant to enlighten us for ultimate realities and prepares us for a substantive life driven by Karma. Impelled by Karma philosophy, I went on to follow my own knowledge of structural mechanical engineering to understand how a spine structure works- right from the hydraulic part of disc and nucleus within, to the flexion and relative motion between facet joints, understanding the stress distribution on soft tissues because of various postures. I educated myself, recovered, OUTLIED the pain, endured what was temporary and dreamed to realize my graduation days dream to deliver the world’s longest lecture .(I was student when Polish Professor made the previous record In University of Krakow). This is where a Yogi goes for absolute disintegration of his body, mind and soul from earthly affairs, and he can meditate for days and weeks. This absolute detachment is nothing but an absolute integration of soul and cosmic energy. This divinity is one of most ecstatic feelings when you are nothing but in oneness with pure form of energy.

After 4 years, in 2014 I was ready for my first endurance mission: The Marathon Lecture. It might seem like a crazy idea to few people and I have, usually, come across questions like- Why would someone in right state of mind want to do that? Just for a piece of certificate? This was nothing but my own challenge; I chose it for myself to come close to understanding ancient (Vedic) practices of marathon meditations.

The Oneness- A Meditative fruit

I started lecturing on March 01, 2014 and continued till March 07, uninterrupted for 139 Hours 42 minutes 56 seconds. Staying awake was not difficult challenge, but to maintain cognitive ability was more unwieldy issue. I needed to stay cognitively alert, because apart from gathering information I had to process it and deliver it in the form of a lecture. Other challenges were prevention of vocal cords subjected to uninterrupted friction, managing hallucinations or avoiding transient loss of awareness. That is where I credit to the munificence of meditation and yoga.

People marvelled with awe and they thought I was lecturing, but actually I was in constant meditation and in a state of oneness. I had only ONE thing in my mind- Just the lecture. I had just ONE karma to perform. I concentrated only on ONE thing and ignored all other distractions, surroundings, or bodily affairs like hunger or sleep. That was a simple act of devotion to ONE thing at a time. This is a very simple yet very powerful attribute required for success in anything we do. There are lot of things that we COULD do, but we should concentrate on things that we SHOULD do in this moment. Meditation can be simply defined as- giving up multiple things, and focusing on one thing at a time. I was supported by my colleagues, family and students who were quite excited about participating in this insane marathon, but little did they know that this was not a marathon lecture, it was my marathon learning. I concluded my lecture on March 07, 2014 and walked out to see the sun for the first time in seven days.

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