real life story of Mohsin Kazi abu dhabi hissah ec

Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you want the world to know about YOU?

My name is Mohsin Kazi. This is a challenging question to respond to…I’ve had a very eventful life. Besides this, there are many aspects to myself. There are many parts of me, but I guess I will start by saying I’m a Mindfulness Meditation Instructor. This means that I teach people the practice of mindfulness meditation which is a form of Buddhist meditation which comes from the Theravada tradition. I facilitate drum circles as well, in which I create communities of people where they can feel that they are part of something, that they belong. I do that via drums. I do this because I believe community is very important. It has been important in my life and my own journey. A loving community has played an incredible part in my story, and I truly believe that humans who feel like they belong not just because they have a job or a certain title, but that they belong because they are human beings! That is part of why I create these communities, to even in a small sense give people that feeling of belonging.

I don’t want the world to know anything in particular about me to be honest. But I’d like to reframe this question to “what do I want to do with this life that has been given to me”. There are many ways I can respond to this, one may be more personal than other responses. I think I will take this chance to answer more personally. There has been a lot of darkness in my life, a lot of trauma, a lot of negativity and depression – growing up and as a teenager. When I started my healing journey, I realized that I need a lot of kindness, compassion, and light to come to terms with the darkness that was inside me. That darkness was a part of me too, as was the light, and I really started to acknowledge that. I realized that I consistently need light in my life. Along the way I decided, I can spend my whole life seeking light or I could become the light. Why couldn’t I live a life where I become the light so that I don’t have to constantly go out to seek it? The good thing about light is that it just is – there is no good or bad light. That was my intention and it still is. There is a quote by Allama Iqbal that translates to “Oh my Lord, may my life be like that of a candle that gives light”. That is me – for myself, for others who want to share that light with me. I don’t intend to go out there and fix the world – I just want to glow and if anyone is drawn to my light they are more than welcome to come, sit with me, and share it.

Another intention of mine is the Bodhisatva prayer. In Buddhism, the Bodhisatva prayer is “May my life be of benefit to all beings”. I wish to embody this and I want to be able to live that life. In order to do that, I also need to take a lot of care of myself, which I do. In order to be of benefit to others, I need to live a life of awakening and be that light. Every endeavor that I take part in, I first question if it helps to brighten my light, and if it does then I go ahead with it.

Describe a typical day in your life.

These are not typical times that we are in, with the COVID situation. During these days of quarantine, my routine is as follows. I sleep at night by 9:30 pm tops and wake up by 5am. I’m a morning person, I function best at that time. I like waking up very early when nobody is up, and there is nothing pressing to do. It gives me a couple of hours to just be and I don’t need to engage my prefrontal cortex. I just wake up by myself without setting an alarm. The first thing that I do after I wake up is go for a run. I usually run 2-3km. The running releases dopamine and that’s why I start my day with it, as it helps me get things done throughout the day. It is the neurotransmitter of fulfillment.

When I’m back I brew my coffee – I grind my own beans and brew it. I love doing that. It is part of my morning ritual. I drink that cup of coffee very mindfully, really enjoying it, and contemplating about things like how humans love things that come from the Earth. I wonder about things and ponder over many things. I have a journal with goals, ideas, things I want to do. There are different tabs in it for different things that are important to me. There is one tab for Ariel – my dog. One called Beautiful Cooking because I want to cook beautiful things. One for budgeting, daily diary, diet, drum circle, energy, etc. Then I have what I call a Super Journal. It lists down things I want to do.

So at that time in the morning, I think about stuff. I’m at that optimal position, with the dopamine rush and serotonin spike from my coffee. My mind is working like Sherlock Holmes. I don’t engage in anything else at this time, I don’t wish to connect with the world – no emails, internet, WhatsApp. I do this till around 6:30am. Then I take part in an online Sanga with my meditation teacher, Ana Johns. We are a group of people who meditate together till 7am. 7-7:30 I listen to a lecture from my meditation training to get connected through the voice of my teachers. This helps to further center myself. After this, I take my dog out for a walk and then come back take a shower and make my breakfast.

At 9am I sit once again for meditation for 1 hour. There is a monastery that is going live these days of COVID, so you can actually meditate with the monks there. So I have been doing that.  By 10am I am in a beautiful zone. I then sit with my laptop in my work space, with another cup of coffee. I then delve into my meditation training, going through reading material, connecting with my teachers, and go through different modules.

At around 11am, I shift to the work that I do at Veritas Learning Circle – where I am the Mindfulness Instructor for kids age 4-8. I design my curriculum, take my notes, design trainings for teachers, work on a mindfulness workbook that I’m preparing for the kids, thinking of new ideas.

After lunch, around 2pm, I start to open up more to the world and connect to Facebook, Instagram, reply to messages from my friends, have my personal conversations etc. I do some reading. The last part of my day is when I do my drumming and singing – I have goals for myself! I meditate again by 5pm. By 5:30pm or so, I am tired and done with my day. I unwind at this time – spend time with my parents, talk to friends. I eat dinner by 7:30 with my parents and then come back to my room and write about my day and what I want my next day to be like. I’m reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez lately, so I read that at night and by 9:30 I go to bed!

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during your journey to where you are today?

This is a big “thinking” question as I have faced many challenges in my life. 4 years ago, when I was getting out of a massive depression that had lasted 15 years or so – I struggled with major social anxiety. I couldn’t even talk to my mom. I had massive confidence and self-esteem issues. It was a huge challenge to overcome that. The next challenge was finances, I had no money. I needed money to finance my education and crossing that hurdle was a big one too. Now, when people see me conduct drum circles in front of hundreds of people – they have no idea the struggle I went through to get to that point. I used to go to public libraries just to practice being around people. I had to learn that. It has been a really long journey.

Who would you describe as a role model and why?

Again, I have many role models. I think I generally look up to people who despite all odds are living a life of awakening. For example, the Dalai Lama in Tibet – all his temples, books, everything was burned down. He barely made it out with his own life. Now if you look at him – you never see him not smiling. He says – ‘they have taken everything away from me, my home, my temple – everything. But why should I let them take my happiness?’ he resonates peace, calm, and happiness – he sings, he dances, he isn’t bound with the shackles of this world. He is so free, so happy. That’s what I aspire to be. Another person I look up to is Frank Ostaseski, who actually helps people die. He sits with people who are on their deathbed and helps them to pass. He has written a book about the lessons he has learned from the dying and it just blows me away. What kind of heart capacity must you have to do something like this? He sits with soldiers, homeless people, rich people – all kinds. He helps them deal with their unresolved issues before they die. Abdul Sattar Edhi – I love this man! He didn’t give a damn about anything. He would stand on the road and beg for money – not for himself but to help others. He was so authentic, so real. Despite all the layers, we know when someone is authentic and we respond to that. All these people, are loved by millions because we know they are authentic. I find people impressive who even if they are hated by many for their views or opinions, they still stand strong for what they believe in. They still have that inner strength and courage to pursue their cause. I guess when it comes down to it – strength of heart is what I look for in role models.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know.

There are many things people don’t know about me. They see me now, as an outright, confident person doing shows on stage in front of hundreds of people, conducting drum circles and engaging people. I seem well put together. Most people don’t know that I’m coming from a very damaged place. My struggle with anxiety, not able to even make eye contact with people, and my journey towards being able to learn how to be the person I am today. I was not this person that people see and know today.

What is one piece of advice about how to cope with challenges/struggles you face in life that you would like to give to the world?

Question yourself. I always question myself. What do I want? Who am I? Hold on to your faith. My journey is a journey of faith. Somehow I’ve been able to keep faith through everything, and it has paid off. I’m not saying it is easy – it is very hard. But keep that faith. It is one of the most beautiful expressions of the human life. Find your mentors, your community, your tribe, find your thing. We need nourishment as human beings, not just food and drink. I pick things and people and information in my life. Not out of arrogance, but out of love. What I am consuming, the people in my life, the things I do – they either destroy me or nourish me. So pick the stuff that you want in your life – that will be most beneficial to you. Don’t complain how wrong the world is, how bad things are…think of what YOU can bring to the table. Look for the helpers, not those who don’t help. Think in terms of what you can bring to this life. Living in the solution, not the problem.

What is ONE word that you feel defines you? (It could be your profession, a personality trait, or a quality you possess).

Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gee’s is my theme song! So I guess I would use that as the best way to describe me – I’m Stayin’ Alive!