Mike George, atypical yogi

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TheBritish life coach and  bestselling author has written 14 books, published in 15 languages, on self-realization and the rewards of a meditation practice.

IT IS NOT uncommon for Mike George to ask his audience at the start of a program, “Have you come for the jokes?”

I am one of hundreds who do. I like jokes, even if they’re on me (preferably if they’re cracked in my presence) and, since my first Mike George class, also if they ultimately help modern-day yogis snap out of an imagined requisite form.

Technically, a yogi is really just someone who practices any type of yoga. For as long as he walks on terra firma, there is little reason for him to believe he is in better shape than other human beings. Mike George knows better than to make his listeners feel this way.

The British life coach, international speaker, best-selling book author and inspirational teacher has written 14 books (published in 15 languages) on the challenges and rewards of self-realization— the goal of yoga practice in the form of meditation, which he espouses.

Does he look the part? That depends on how one visualizes a person steeped in spiritual study as much as in teaching it. He wears not a shaved head or a monk’s robes. In fact, he sports an often unruly mop of light brown hair and is partial to khaki slacks. He doesn’t just laugh a lot; he enjoys ribbing participants in his classes, lectures and workshops. Sometimes he cracks himself up so hard, they are drawn into the guffawing, ahead of the comprehending. He routinely plays with words, deftly coins new combinations to bring some points across.

In the middle of a class, I half-expect him to break into a song, or a dance.

But being entertaining is not all the reason that, for the last 30 years, aside from writing books, Mike George has been a corporate and community workshop facilitator with clients and sponsors in over 30 countries. Some 250,000 people have attended his courses, retreats and seminars, which have covered what are regarded as “the three key strands of the 21st century—emotional intelligence, leadership development and continuous unlearning.”

Some of his biggest corporate clients are Mitsubishi, Siemens, American Express, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Barclays Bank, Bank of Kuwait and the Middle East, GlaxoSmithKline, British Telecom, Sheraton Hotels, Unilever, Shell and Nestle.

He has coached bankers, lawyers, judges, IT experts, and government workers on self-management, personal development and, as a teacher of Raja Yoga, on reaping day-to-day benefits from a meditation practice.

His style as speaker has been described as a “unique blend of insight, wisdom and humor.” This is pretty accurate. I have zeroed in on the humor aspect to describe my personal experience only because “insight” and “wisdom” cannot be casually endorsed, since every person should determine those for himself. Thankfully, Mike George makes them sound accessible, for example:

I should “spiritualize” my talents.

Nothing happens “to” me—everything happens “for” me.

The purpose of life, simply, is to be creative.

And then, at opportune moments, he throws in undisguised gems, like so:

“It is only when you understand love, infinite and indestructible, that you will fully understand life. It is only when you know love, invisible and yet unlimited, that you will know how powerful you are.”

I am a fan. So it’s not just for the jokes that I’m catching as many of his forthcoming programs in the country as I can.

(Mike George is Philippine-bound for a series of free public talks that starts on Tuesday, Nov. 15 with an invitational dinner-chitchat on how to “Release the Self from the Chaos Within” at the Brahma Kumaris Center on Bagtikan St., Barangay San Antonio in Makati.

On Nov. 16, he will be in Cebu to speak on, “Managing with Mindfulness,” also at the BK Center, 11-2 Forest Hills, Banawa; and the next day, Nov. 17, 3:30-5:30 pm, at Onstage, Ayala Mall Cebu, for “Why Me? Why Here? Why Now?”

He flies back to Manila on Nov. 18 to give the same lecture— “Why Me? Why Here? Why Now?”— at Hive Hotel and Convention Place, Scout Tuazon cor. Madrinan Streets, Quezon City, presented by the Brahma Kumaris QC center. On Nov. 22, he will be guest speaker in the dance concert “Being Yourself,” inspired by his book of the same title, at the Power Mac Center in The Circuit Makati.

He will conduct a private weekend yoga workshop at the Center for Spiritual Learning in Tagaytay City. For details about any of the events, interested parties may call 890-7960 or 414-9421. Call 032 254-5975 or 0917 677-0120 for Cebu programs.)