The first time I met Ashok was in a meet on Natural Learning. His was a clear and loud voice connecting a lot of the dots: modernity, learning, food, health. Very soon I heard about him in an NVC workshop, and later that he was facilitating a meeting with our staff at reStore. And soon after, that he was interested in integrating a lot of different threads of work, and also integrating them all into his own life; like seeking doula support for the birth of their first child, and water-birthing their second. This is how I got interested in Ashok's journey!
We know how it all roughly unfolds up until the point of getting into an Engineering College for any middle class boy of our generation! The story begins after he joined Civil Engineering in Anna University in Chennai. He was one of those students who recognised 'learning' as something associated less with the classroom and more with the people and events outside it. This recognition motivated Ashok to attend every talk and conference held in the campus that he possibly could! One such talk that he landed in introduced him to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), an approach to inculcating self-awareness, followed by proactively changing our negative belief and behavioural patterns into more life-affirming ones.
Giving up his masters for pursuing further training in NLP in the UK, Ashok successfully trained and and along with his brothers, founded Brainobrain Kids Academy in Chennai, which soon grew its franchisee centres across the TN, India and other countries. In a conventional sense, Ashok was an achiever at the early age of 26. But the price he paid was his health. Having lost his vocal chords and being obese while still so young was not fun. No amount of conventional treatment helped.
In 2007, Ashok met a Hindu monk and Ayurved Vaidya Swami Radha Krishna Chaitanya, and decided to try out his Ayurvedic treatment. That was when he started taking a serious look at his own lifestyle and began to make changes in it. With treatment over time, his voice and his overall health was fairly restored. More importantly, something else happened alongside. Ashok was asked to spend a mere Rs.160 for his treatment. The benefit that he got out of a pittance, starkly contrasted against his approach of maximising profits from the programmes he offered. Something shifted within and Ashok decided to offer workshops inviting participants to 'Pay by Heart'. Those who could paid for the workshops fully. Those who couldn't either paid partly or didn't pay at all. But in the process, something new started to build. Relationships. One participant who could not pay, sponsored someone else who couldn't pay for himself in a future workshop (someone that he didn't even know) out of his first salary!
Ashok's new-found interest in lifestyle changes made him search for workshop venues which gave him access to healthful food. His search led him to Ashrams, Naturopathy centres and Organic Farms. One such place that he used as a venue was Navadarshanam. Ashok soon found that these places not only gave such a calming natural environment that aided self-reflection and inner work, but also housed some very powerful persons who the participants started receiving a lot of warmth and wisdom from! Ashok recalls one incident when a depressed participant, whose wife had committed suicide, interacted with Prathapji at Navadarshanam, something shifted within and opened a new door in his life. Since NLP itself is about recognising excellence in persons, systems and processes, and seeing how they can be modeled, these places only strengthened the work that Ashok had already set out to do. It was clearly the end of Ashok's offerings in big expensive Hotels, often devoid of nature, warmth or wisdom.
What I find very fascinating about Ashok's journey is that he approaches every person and process of excellence that he comes across as someone / something that can be modeled. And because of such genuine enthusiasm and sincere interest in serving life, he keeps on integrating them all into his offerings and into his own life. Look at this rich list of offerings, all of which he practices as well!
NLP & Dance Therapy
NLP & Ayurveda
NLP & NVC
NLP & Sociocracy
NLP & Health
NLP & Parenting
NLP & Education
I won't be surprised if this list will grow longer over the years to come!
Ashok lives with his partner Pria and his daughter in Bangalore, and travel together many times. Their daughter does not go to school, and learns by living, traveling and exploring.
Ashok's website: www.shinota.com
Ashok can be contacted at email@example.com