- Posted September 18, 2011 by
New York, New York
Profiling Naini Nakagawa
By Aloke Mukerjee in New York City.
Naini Nakagawa is a woman for all seasons. You can see the effervescence of life personified in her eyes and her gentleness and compassion in her demeanor. I met Naini at Greeley Park, Herald Square in midtown Manhattan and talked over coffee and water. I asked her to talk about her origins, her life and aspirations.
I come from a *Sikh family. My paternal grandparents were both doctors of Homeopathy and Sikh scholars; my maternal grandfather was a very successful business and a major philanthropist in New Delhi, India. My maternal grandmother was looked upon as a ‘saint’ in the family. She would be up at the crack of dawn and attend temple services praying for everyone in sight!
*A Sikh(English pronunciation:/ˈsiːk/or/ˈsɪk/;Punjabi:ਸਿੱਖ,sikkh[ˈsɪkkʰ]) is a follower of Sikhism. It is classified under Indian Religions, primarily originating in the 15th century in the Punjab region of Pre-Partition India. The term "Sikh" has its origin in the Sanskrit term शिष्य(śiṣya), meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष(śikṣa), meaning "instruction". A Sikh is a disciple of the Guru.
Life was a constant stream dramatic events and interactions. Valuable lessons through tests of my faith were imbibed. I spent a lot of time devoting my time in the Sikh temples, also known as *Gurudwaras.
*Gurudwaras, spread all over India, with and most beautiful one located in the midst of the Himalayan mountains. The fragrance of Himalayan eucalyptus is forever etched in depths of my soul. Never in my wildest dreams did I know that those vivid experiences were leading me to my Guru and a life of deep spirituality in the Big Apple - New York City!
*A gurudwara(Punjabi: ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ, gurduārāor , gurdwārā), meaningthe Gateway to the Guru, is a place of worship for Sikhs, the followers of Sikhism. The most well-known gurdwara of the Sikhs is the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar,Punjab, India.
My schooling began at the Maneckji Cooper School in Bombay, as Mumbai was then known, in India. It was run by the *Parsi community. The school was close to a beach, which possibly contributed to the enchantment and a sense of freedom I experience by the sight of seas and oceans. Being exposed to diverse people from all walks of life, being part of a dynamic and spiritually evolving family and simply the awareness that comes from living life has been an adventure. I would like to add that my parents shaped my belief system and provided me the foundation to face life and its adversities and savor its joys. My college life was fun, to say the least. I was drawn to the fashion industry in Bombay and started working early, learning and absorbing all of the intricacies of the fashion business.
*Parsi or Parsee refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani an community. According to tradition, the present-day Parsis descend from a group of Zoroastrians of Iran who immigrated to India during 10th century AD, due to persecution. The long presence in the region distinguishes the Parsis from the Iranis, who are more recent arrivals, and who represent the smaller of the
two Indian-Zoroastrian communities.
My innate desire to connect with my higher power remained a driving force in my life. The 2 books that impacted the shaping of my spiritual quest were the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie and to a lesser extent Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I was 11 at that time and that was the starting point of the path which eventually led me to where I am today.
Learning to meditate in my teens was probably the best thing I could have ever done in this *incarnation. My journey of self discovery, self help and introspection had begun. At 23, I stepped into the big bold world of New York and life took its usual twists and turns that the flow of life presents.
*Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature(generally a human) who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial. In its religious context the word is used to mean the descent of a god, or divine being in human form on earth.
I firmly believe that to realize one’s dreams one has to access the inherent creativity and sense of freedom which lies dormant in each of us. Without that the spark to manifest our deepest desire to grow spiritually dies a natural death. I also learned that the answer to life’s trials and adversities lie in one’s instincts and heart. Being a part of the Self Realization Fellowship has greatly influenced my life and helped me to distinguish between intellect and wisdom. I am a firm believer of the concept that true wisdom comes from meditation & guided intuition and not simply from books. I have bitten the dust several times by not following my instincts and my heart in unison, and instead following my heart's desires.
The founding of matchmyspirit.com a spiritual dating and holistic networking website has changed my life. Bringing together those who share similar spiritual beliefs and yearnings, connecting holistic businesses to network and expand has given me further impetus and drive. Teaching meditation techniques to children in New York City Libraries(NYCL) and schools has been an added outcome of my venture.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote:
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny
And that is how I strive to live my life. Acting on my beliefs.
And that's who she is.