In conversation with Charnita Arora, the founder of Perfect Life Spot, who creatively endeavours to spread smiles, hugs, love, healing, positivity and a sense of belongingness to the Universe.
Q. What is Perfect Life Spot exactly?
A. The idea behind PLS is to create a space of evolution and belongingness for everyone. It is a non-judgmental space where everyone is accepted. There formal hierarchy between the teacher and the student does not exist. Individuality and free-spirit is nurtured and encouraged. We call our studio ‘the well-being nest’, where we attempt to create an alternate home/ecosystem for every student to support them in their journey towards self-actualization. Every individual is a spectrum of possibilities; we try to initiate self-exploration and self-expression.
Q. What led to the inception of PLS?
A. Personally, I have always felt that teaching is an art where one must be very sensitive to the audience. The idea was to create a space of emotionally inclusion and comfort for all the students. I tried to imagine a perfect class room where the students could express themselves without any fear of authority/judgment; and that’s how the idea of Perfect Life Spot came into being. Self-awareness, self-acceptance, mindfulness, effective communication, conflict-resolution, time and stress-management and how to cope with the uncertainty that is life, are some of the very important life lessons that a formal curriculum does not incorporate. We create experiential-sessions on these life-skills.
Q. What is your team size? And how many students do you enroll?
A. It started as a one woman initiative but people slowly started trickling in. Now we have at least 5-6 core members present at any given time, searching and creating content for upcoming workshops.
As for students, we do not take in more than 10-12 students in a batch. Even though our enrollment rates are high, we keep the teacher to students ratio conducive for a personal connect.
Q. What are the courses that you give at PLS?
A. We have a lot of weekend-workshops like, self-acceptance, mind-management, emotional intelligence, healing your childhood, coping with stress and many more. On the weekdays, we have regular batches which cater to undergraduate English Literature guidance. All these courses seek to inculcate are assertiveness, self-acceptance and confidence.
Q. Did you ever imagine doing something like this while growing up? What did you want to do as a kid?
A. No, I never thought I’d be doing something like this; though this question is very interesting for me because I still feel like a child. I never planned to become a teacher. I was a perpetual learner. I wanted to learn about everything that is relevant to life. I wanted to understand everything about life. Interestingly, I didn’t realize it then, that the best for a teacher is to be a learner. Sharing what you learn simply reinforces your lessons and it becomes a cycle of learning, assimilating and evolving.
Q. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way?
A. When I first came back to India and started this entrepreneurial journey, I realised that most people around weren’t really used to having female entrepreneurs. Navigating through that cultural cloud was one of the first challenges. The biggest ideological challenge in the academic space came from the marks-oriented culture that is prevalent in today’s world. If a student goes back home and asks his/her parents whether he/she should sign up for an emotional well-being workshop, the parents/decision-makers would dismiss it because it won’t help their child’s marks. Significantly, we have collected and documented evidence that proves that emotional stability precedes intellectual performance, besides helping students in social-economic spaces of life. We have some remarkable student stories that were labelled “average” by formal structures; however, sustained eco-system of warmth and respect, during the sessions has raised them to the top-5 scorers of their class within a semester of guidance. This is an extremely important insight for all educationists to revise their teaching methodology to make it more sensitive and inclusive.
Q. What are your inspiration vaults?
A. The word inspiration literally means ‘the spirit within’. So I follow certain personal rituals on a daily basis to achieve that and I read a lot. I deeply admire Marshall Rosenberg’s concept of Non-Violent communication. Then, Ken Robninson’s ideas on education and creativity are very insightful. So, I am a careful consumer of ideas that can help us evolve our well-being nest.
Q. When you conduct a seminar or a class is there a specific ideating process that you follow?
A. We follow a process. We start by stating a coherent objective statement. We ask ourselves: What is the importance/relevance of this topic? What skills and values will it help in? So before we even begin, we have an idea of what we expect to accomplish from that seminar. Next, we ensure that the methodology of presenting the content is engaging and experiential. Humour is also often an important tool that we use. The intellectual reception is remarkably better when the student finds the topic useful, entertaining and relevant.
Q. Can you tell us about an overwhelming experience involving your students?
A. One of the most overwhelming experiences was during our recharge workshop with a very special student named Manpreet. Recharge workshops are our standard sessions basically for the students who are visiting us after a while and need that emotional charge revived. So, we were sitting together in a reflection circle and I asked for an introduction, something we call a ‘check-in’. Manpreet began to speak about her experience at PLS. As she spoke, I saw tears roll down her face. It gave me jitters when she said: “you won’t believe how this place has changed me”, in her tear-choked voice and then, she couldn’t speak any more. In that moment, I realized how much of a difference complete and unconditional acceptance can make in a person’s life. When we gave our students convocation last year, on the present the students wrote a very powerful sentence to describe PLS: ‘The place where we were born again.’ For me, that was a defining moment of inspiration and affirmation.
Q. After conducting all these seminars and being in touch with so many students, what is according to you the most common problems students face?
A. Unfortunately, the problem that every student struggles with is lack of faith in themselves. For most, the idea of self-worth is a highly inherited idea. It is based on the views of the people around them; on arbitrary systems of measurement. So my biggest challenge has been to make them fall in love with themselves; to make them come face to face with the gazillion opportunities the universe provides if you believe in yourself.
Q. Do the experiences of the people you come in contact with ever effect you on a personal level?
A. I have realised over the years, that everyone I meet is a part of me. I have been that person in my past, or I am that person in the present or I might become that person in the future. This is how I approach every individual. So, every inter-personal interaction helps me improve my self-knowledge. So as I connect deeply with others, my understanding of myself also grows. But on the down side, you also realise that “wow, I have seen it, I have partially experienced it and now I have to recover from it!.”
Therefore, I also maintain some daily rituals of mediation, spending time with nature, journaling and yoga to detox. Also, travelling, once in a while, works wonders for me.
Q. How would you describe your journey so far?
A. By definition, the idea behind a journey is to enjoy it. So in this particular voyage I am not thinking about the destination, and am just enjoying the moments as they come. So I would describe this as a journey of just being in the present and of emotional acceptance and fulfillment.
You may learn more about Perfect Life Spot on their website www.perfectlifespot.com and you may connect with them on their Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/PerfectLifeSpot) or email at email@example.com