Panache Desai: ...by being visited by death, we develop the courage to live
Laura: Welcome to Nobody Told Me! I'm Laura Owens.
Jan: And I'm Jan Black.
Laura: It is such a joy to welcome our guest on this episode, bestselling author and renowned spiritual and thought leader, Panache Desai.
Jan: His latest book is called, You Are Enough: Revealing the Soul to Discover Your Power, Potential, and Possibility. Panache, thank you so much for joining us.
Panache: Thank you for having me on. It's great to be with you both.
Jan: It's great to have you here. You say, "It is essential, now, more than ever, that we look inside ourselves and embrace the truth that we are enough." I'm wondering why is that often hard to do and why is it so essential?
Panache: It's essential because I've now had the pleasure of working with people for over 20 years, consciously, from all over the world, and have had the pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life. There's one commonality that we all share that we all have to overcome, and it's this feeling of not being enough. It's the root cause of every addiction. It's the root cause of why we're not experiencing the intimacy that we want in our lives. It's the root cause of why we can't hold down a relationship. It's the root cause of why there's any dysfunction in a relationship. It's the root cause of why we're not able to earn the money that we deserve, to earn and take care of our families.
What I've discovered, in all of my work with people, is this one singular commonality. As it relates to this time, it's more important than ever because we're living in an age of radical personal empowerment. What we have to do is look to ourselves, to empower ourselves, to relate to ourselves from a deeper perspective. We have a body, but we're not our bodies. We have a mind, but we're not our mind. We have feelings, but we're not our feelings. There's this story that we have, but we're not the story.
We've created this kind of identity, this self-image, that we believe that we need to belong in the world. The only problem is, as much as we've perfected the art of pretending, trying to fit in and trying to belong, there's still no fulfillment or meaningful connection to be found. The only last remaining possibility, or area of exploration, is within ourselves.
What I've discovered in working with people, again, from all over the world, is that that's where real belonging comes from. That's where the love that we're looking for comes from. That's where the abundance, the health, and vitality that we're craving comes from. To know yourself is to know everyone. To know the depth of who you are, is to be able to create a depth of relationship, not just with yourself, but with the world at large.
Laura: What would you say to somebody who, maybe, has low self-esteem, or maybe they have done something in their past that they really regret and they just feel terrible about themselves. They say, "You know what? I could never accept myself. I know what he's saying, that sounds great, but that's just not me."
Panache: That which we're unwilling to embrace about ourselves just becomes the poison that we have to live with on a daily basis. What I would have to say to everybody is, everything that I'm sharing was born of a personal direct experience of the Divine, whatever we want to call it. In that experience, I just experienced this infinite ocean of energy with no beginning and no end, just this amazing love. It's beyond the word 'love.' I was shown very clearly that this is who we all are. Actually, it didn't matter how we lived our lives, it didn't matter what we had done, it didn't matter what religion we were born into, our race, our nationality, our gender, our choice of sexual preference. There were no prerequisites to this love. This is who we essentially are.
We've all gone through things in our lives that we feel where potential mistakes that we made, or perceived mistakes that we've made, but we're at a point now where we have to unburden ourselves. We have to realize that we're only as limited as we allow ourselves to be. If we're holding onto facets of guilt, or shame, or unworthiness, what we're doing is denying ourselves the opportunity to truly live, to truly be alive. To somebody who's struggling in that way, I would say to you that you're not broken, you don't need healing, you don't need fixing. You only ever just did the best that you could. I really mean that.
Most of us, sadly, are choosing from a place of pain. We're creating life from a place of fear. Naturally, when we choose from pain, and we choose from fear, we attract situations into our experience that aren't a reflection of who we really are. You can't hold yourself hostage for the awareness that you didn't have back then. It's all well and good, looking backward and back at yourself now from where you are now, having gone through the evolution and growth, thinking that in some way you could have done better. The truth is that you couldn't have.
There's an absolute perfection with which life is unfolding. That wound, whatever that wound is for you, becomes the window through which grace comes flooding into your life. It also becomes the space through which you get to offer your service and share the blessing that you are with the world at large.
Jan: How should we go about looking inside ourselves to find this true nature?
Panache: At the end of the book, I speak of Five Commitments. The First Commitment is committing to knowing our essential self. We are so much more than that we've been told. Who we really are is this luminous presence. We've been conditioned and programmed to believe that we're a physical body and we solely exist in the material manifest world. This is why we're struggling and suffering. The very second we begin to realize that we have this essential self, this authentic part of us that's natural to who we are, and we commit to knowing it, the more we're able to peel away all of the layers that have been superimposed over it. We're able to, once again, reunite with it.
This then allows us to move on to the Second Commitment, which is committing to a new past, present and future. We have this notion of time, that we're living inside of this thing called time. However, when we're fully present, we're not really inside of time, we're just fully available for what's happening in the moment. We realized that all there really is, is now. How we unwind this notion of the past is by recognizing that memory requires heightened emotion. For example, we don't remember an average day, we remember the hardest day that we've ever had, or the happiest day that we've ever had. What we need to focus on, for the purpose of committing to a new past, present, and future, are the hardest days that we've ever had; the days where we felt sad, the days that there was some trauma, there was something that happened. It's simply cultivating the courage to be willing to look at those parts of ourselves, to embrace them, to gather them up. What's been missing in the Western Transformational Paradigm model is this notion of integration. It's been very reductionist; it's been about getting rid of things. You have to get rid of your ego, you have to get rid of your emotions. You're not going to get rid of anything, by virtue of the fact that you're human, you're going to have all of these things. What you need to do is embrace them all. Bring them all into your heart. Then you realize that there isn't a problem with any of these things.
That then leads on to the Third Commitment, which is a commitment to inner peace. All of a sudden, you realize that the only commodity in life really is peace. We can build companies that generate billions of dollars and live this "dream life." But if we're not at peace in ourselves, we're not able to enjoy a moment of it. Source your actions and your choices from peace. Do that which contributes to your peace, especially now with everything that's happening in the world.
Then that leads to the Fourth Commitment, which is the commitment to fulfillment. Where we start from is where we'll finish. If we're embarking on a career, we're embarking on a relationship from this place of deficiency, or lack, or need, then no matter how much we show up in that relationship and we're in that relationship dynamic, we're never going to get the love that we're looking for, we're never going to get what it is that we want. We have to start from fulfillment, we have to start from, "I already am." "I already am love. I already am abundant. I already am health." Our life begins to meet us at that level of feeling. The other thing that we don't understand about life, is that our life is responding to how we feel about ourselves. That's why, when I wrote the book, it wasn't just about providing people an awareness on a mental level as to how they're not enough and how to overcome that, which is the biggest problem that we have right now in the world. It was about shifting of the level of feeling. When you feel like you're enough, then all of a sudden, your reality responds in kind.
Which then leads you to the Final Commitment, which is the commitment to unlimited possibilities. That's my favorite one. When we're finally at peace with ourselves and we've ended our opposition to being who we are, we start to work with who we are and embrace our uniqueness, two things happen. We become less reactive and we experience heightened synchronicity. That heightened synchronicity is unlimited possibilities. Through adhering to these Five Commitments, we're literally opening up to the truth of who we are and living from that expanded place instead of that limited contracted place that's based in fear.
Laura: I'd love to talk a little bit about your own journey. You wrote this fantastic book, Discovering Your Soul Signature, that was your first book. It went on to become a bestselling book. Oprah had you on the show, Oprah was a big believer and everything. You were this really well-known spiritual leader. Then you went through an experience that made you doubt the identity that you'd crafted for yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Panache: My Oprah pitch was in February of 2013. Soul Signature, my first book, came out in April of 2014. Shortly thereafter, we discovered that we were pregnant with our second set of twins. We were just riding this wave of just grace and blessings, just one amazing thing after another. Within the first five months of that pregnancy, we had a phone call that no parent ever wants to get. It was a phone call from one of the doctors at the hospital where the ultrasound was happening. They basically just said, "Mr. Desai, we're sorry to inform you that one of your twins has an issue with the heart. You need to come up here for an emergency ultrasound so we can figure out what we're dealing with."
Jan and I, my wife, immediately got on the plane and flew up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We're there for this emergency ultrasound. We were told immediately, as soon as the ultrasound did finish, that one of our babies, now Celeste, was not going to make it. Even if she did make it, she would probably not live for very long, or not enjoy any major quality of life. We went from these amazing highs to, all of a sudden, having our reality as we had known it, fundamentally shaken to its core. My wife was devastated. I just felt such a sadness on every level.
We began this journey, this medical journey, of 18 months. She subsequently was born. Within hours of being born, had her first open heart procedure, was hospitalized for 18 months, and went through four other open-heart procedures. She died for eight minutes during one of them, flatlined for eight minutes and came back, just as they were going to put her on life support, and finally received a heart transplant. Here I am, Panache Desai, ready to basically just step into this role, kind of a global role, of spiritual transformation and personal development, and was able to help everybody in the world with anything, whether it be a business issue or a personal issue. Here I am, absolutely powerless as it relates to my own daughter.
In the height of this suffering, I went down to the chapel that was in the hospital, during one of these intense moments where she was just having medical intervention after medical intervention. I just fell to my knees and I just said, "I can't do this. I can't do this anymore. This is too painful." I'm trying to keep it together, I'm trying to be strong and be available for everyone, but I'm dying. In that moment, I just started crying and sobbing. In this moment of just feeling the powerlessness, the complete powerlessness of the situation. In that moment, I finally just said, "Okay, I'm willing to accept whatever it is that's in the best interest of this child. I would like her to be here, I would like her to live. I'd like her to make it through this. But in the event that she's not meant to, I'm willing to accept that." The very moment I could surrender to the outcome of Celeste's journey, just completely let go, was the very moment that I finally was able to feel peace in my heart again.
This 18-month window initially, and now what's become a five-year window, has been an intense period of fundamental revision of everything that I deemed to be important. Everything that mattered, everything that seemingly was relevant, none of it is, honestly. Just being with my family, sharing who I am in the world in a very simple way, just making whatever difference I can, in whatever way I'm meant to, is enough for me. I don't need to be the next Deepak Chopra, or take over for Wayne Dyer, or fulfill any external metric or milestone as to what my impact is on this planet, I've been cured of all of that. I am just happy and grateful every day. When I'm sad, I just allow myself to be sad. When I'm feeling frustrated, I allow myself to feel my frustration. I am just in complete harmony with whatever's happening. I have to say that it's a wonderful way of living.
Jan: How is Celeste doing now?
Panache: She's doing great, she's the boss baby of the house. She's five. She runs my house. She's a pistol. She's great, she's happy, she's healthy. She went through a bout of rejection, but she's gotten through that now, she's through to the other side of it. She's a vivacious and very energetic five-year-old. Coming through to the other side of this, we are now close together. We've worked out whatever we had to individually, as a family and as individuals, and we've grown as a result of it. Through this period of time, You Are Enough, this next book, came into form. It was very much born as a result of the journey that I've gone through with Celeste and the message that I felt I really had to deliver into the world at this time.
Laura: I want to take one step back even further. When you were younger, you admit to valuing conformity over authenticity. I'm wondering when that changed? This was before your first book.
Panache: I basically, like all people, went through life. You go through all kinds of different phases of your life. Very quickly, you discover that everyone's pretending. Even though everyone's a magnificent being, they're pretending to show up as their limitations. That's kind of their base capacity, instead of just being the love that they are. Because everyone else is doing it, you start doing it. Of course, that's the moment that you start suffering, is the moment that you feel like you're not enough. Subsequently, went through my life trying to find some sense of belonging outside of me, I never did.
Got into university, went and studied philosophy. My grandfather, who in any moment that he had, would always tell me how fortunate I was. He came to the UK with three pounds in his pocket, five kids, and a wife, so that I could have the life that I had. He said, "What are you going to do with a Philosophy degree?" Out of respect to him, I said, "I'll take Law and Business Studies." I didn't mind the Law part because at least it was engaging. I couldn't stand the Business Studies part. Basically, I was just in this life that was just not me, I was just living a lie. I was going through the motions on behalf of everyone else. The suffering was just getting louder, and louder, and louder.
At one point, I'd gotten involved with music and was very involved in the music scene in the UK. I'd gotten to a place where nothing resonated with me anymore. I was just living an absolute fabrication of who I'd come here to be. I sat down with my mother, after a series of events, and just said to her, "Mom, I'm living a lie. I just need to go live like a monk for six months." For the first five years of my life, my grandmother had raised me in a meditation room. I basically would just pray, meditate, and engage in devotional worship every day. I wanted to get back to that feeling. I knew I needed to get back to that authentic core of who I was.
That was the moment where I disengaged from the illusion, disengaged from the promise, disengaged from all of these things that we're told that we need to be and that we need to become to be loved. I went through a very deep period of meditation. Very cathartic period, moving beyond all of the suffering that I've accumulated throughout the course of my life in that 21-year window. I then proceeded to, once again, be reunited with all of the gifts that I'd had as a child. All these things that were happening through me, started happening again.
That time became the catalyst that then has propelled me on to, now, being able to reach millions of people and support people in transforming their lives; helping them find some semblance of peace in the midst of everything that's going on in their everyday lives.
Jan: I love the way you begin your new book, You Are Enough. You begin by saying, "It doesn't matter how your life has unfolded up to this point. I want you to remember this: Every single morning you open your eyes and win the megamillion-dollar lottery of being alive." Do you really think of that every morning when you wake up?
Panache: I wake up every morning like it's Christmas morning. You can ask my wife. I'm like a kid. I'm excited and I'm happy. There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm sad, I'm going through something, and then I'll get on with being excited and being happy. The fact that I woke up is never lost on me. The fact that I have the opportunity to have another day is never lost on me. In everything that I've gone through in my life, I talk about it in the book, when I was in London in the music scene, it was a very violent time. There was a lot of violence around me, thankfully I wasn't directly involved in. I was involved a couple of times, I outlined those in the book. When death pays you a visit, you really value life.
The first time that death came to pay me a visit was in London. The second time that death came to pay me a visit was with Celeste. The one thing that we've learned from all of this is that we just don't waste our time anymore. There's nothing that's left unsaid, there's nothing that's left unexpressed, whatever needs to be shared is shared. I think that by being visited by death, we finally develop the courage to live.
I wholeheartedly stand by that. The fact that we are alive, the fact that we're waking up, the fact that we're being given the gift of another day, regardless of what happened the day before. We've got this gift of life and we can do with it whatever we want. We can continue to perpetuate the past and all the pain, the destroying, the suffering, which is all based on the fact that we're not enough. Or we can finally remember that we are enough and start to live that version of life. That's a much softer, gentler, more graceful version of being human.
Laura: From talking to some of my friends, a lot of them seem to have a really negative attitude about just starting each day with everything we're going through right now. They just feel like every day is the same; they stay in their pajamas, they're working from home, they can't go out, they feel so limited and held back from their normal routine. I'm wondering how they could really train their minds to have a grateful attitude, like you in the morning, and how they can use this quarantine time to really feel like they're enough and heal themselves?
Panache: I think this is an amazing opportunity to just become honest, just really become profoundly honest about what we're living for and what the purpose of our life is. Many of the people that are home right now, don't enjoy their jobs anyway. Also, they're now navigating the fact that they're in relationship dynamics that aren't loving, that aren't a reflection of what they want. We're all being given an amazing opportunity to take a look at how we're living and what we're living for. I think what we're being asked to do is, to choose love and our well-being over everything else.
What's going to happen is, people are going to either make the most of this time by not blaming others, by not pointing the finger at other people. They're either going to take some sense of personal responsibility and accountability for what's going on in their own lives, using this time to begin to get clear about the choices and decisions that they have to make; or they're going to miss the opportunity completely and think that something's being imposed on them. They're just going to spend all of their time being upset at how everything's being managed externally and they're going to miss the greater opportunity.
What I can say to you is, I've been doing these global Call to Calm Meditations every day. We've got thousands of people live from all over the world, tens of thousands are tuning in via replay from all over the world. If there was ever any evidence that we needed that people are ready to wake up and begin to operate from a place of being enough, that's it right there. People are literally finding a place of calm, finding a place of love inside of themselves, and being able to make choices and decisions from that place of calm and from that place of love. People get to pass through this window of time and make the most of it. Or they get to do it all over again the next time there's some kind of a crisis, or some kind of an issue, or just be right back where they started, then they'll be forced to make the choices that they didn't make now.
This is a very powerful time, as much as it's a sad time because of the loss of human life and just the sheer scale at which everything is unfolding. Every time I watch the news and I see what's happening all over the world, I just hold in my heart all of those people that have transitioned. I don't want them to have transitioned in vain. I want to honor them by making every effort that I have available to me; to be of service, to fundamentally overhaul the way I'm living, and to continue to redefine and explore what I'm living for.
Jan: Tell us more about the Call to Calm sessions that you're offering every day. What are those all about and how can people join in?
Panache: When everything first happened, I had an awareness that we would be where we are, actually, right now in January. I realized, at that point, that this particular coronavirus was very contagious and it wasn't going to be able to be mitigated in China, that it would spread all over. I was on a book tour, the book became a national bestseller. We received the signal that I was waiting for, which was the World Health Organization declaring this a global pandemic. In the moment that happened, I called Chris, who is the COO of my company. I said, "Chris, listen. We need to cancel everything through May the first, initially. We need to be available for everyone in the world right now who's going through something. I'm responsible for millions of people all over the world, I need to be available to them. This is what I would like to do, please, is every morning offer a Call to Calm."
The reason why I advocated on behalf of that is because the calmer we are, the more neutral our nervous system is, the more we can boost our immunity. I also realized the power of that collective calm. Right now, there are so many people that are in panic, that are in fear. Everything that's in them at the level of survival is being activated. The more we can get together and be this buffer in this place of calm, all over the world, the more we're able to mitigate some of these survival energies that are showing up right now in people.
That was the first thing that I instituted. We just created a page on the website panachedesai.com, it's all about support through this time of crisis. There are all of the ways in which you can be supported now in what we're going through. Those global Calls to Calm are at 9am Eastern every day. They will carry on until everything is finished in relationship to this coronavirus, and then probably beyond that as well. There are lots of other opportunities to connect and be supported as well. In the event that you can't get them live, there's a replay that goes up at 1:11pm it's in through all of my social media channels. You can go to the Facebook page, you can go to Instagram, you can re-watch it there. They've been amazingly powerful and incredibly beneficial to people all over, especially now.
Laura: I can imagine. They just seem like wonderful opportunities that we can all start our day with and put ourselves in a good space.
As you know, our show is called Nobody Told Me! At the end of each program, we always ask our guests, "What is your nobody told me lesson?" You seem to just have an endless amount that we can learn from. But what is it that nobody told you about becoming in harmony with our true selves that you wish they had, long before you started on your own journey as a spiritual leader?
Panache: Nobody told me that who I was, was enough.
Jan: Wow, wow. I wish we could all get in touch with that and keep it in mind all the time.
Laura: Especially now.
Jan: Panache, we thank you so much for joining us. Our thanks to Panache Desai. Again, his latest book is called, You Are Enough: Revealing the Soul to Discover Your Power, Potential, and Possibility. His website is panachedesai.com. I'm Jan Black.
Laura: And I'm Laura Owens.
Jan: You're listening to Nobody Told Me! Thank you so much for joining us.