WALTHAM, MA- Dhanashree Ramachandran is taking meditation to the masses. The founder and CEO of meditation startup Nous Labs, she and her team are bringing together meditation and UX technology to instill a lasting habit of meditation to a person’s busy lifestyle. Their goal is to break down the process of preparation for an immersive meditation experience for their users through their app to establish a life-long meditative practice.
Ramachandran is also the Director of Community Advancement and Public Relations for the Art of Living Massachusetts, the Boston-based branch of the Art of Living Foundation. The Art of Living Foundation is an international NGO founded in 1985 by spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The foundation has active initiatives in over 156 countries, with programs for meditation, stress management and disaster relief.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Dhanashree Ramachandran: I teach meditation because it is gratifying to witness the transformation it brings, and the impact it makes, on practitioners. I believe meditation is the answer to many big and small problems that we face today- individually and socially. Meditation offers alignment on all levels you can think of- mind and body, purpose and action, problem and solution, desire and outcome, resources and results etc.
I have seen this working every single time with equal efficiency may it be the Department of Family and Health, the World Bank, schools, universities or weekend sessions. I have been very fortunate to receive foundation of spiritual knowledge and practice of meditation at a young age. The way everything in life is so aligned with the mission of taking meditation to the masses makes me think of my life as a spiritual fairytale.
I am formally trained as a user experience designer and have worked as a consultant for some of the game changers and trendsetters like Bose, State Street and TIAA. In 2016, I decided to bring together the best practices from both the areas- meditation and user experience design to solve most common problems that keep potential meditation practitioners from meditating- lack of time and lack of knowledge of preparation for effective meditation.
As a founder and CEO of Nous Lab, I work with an extremely talented team to design meditative experiences that will help our users establish a meditative lifestyle without making big commitments or changes to their current lifestyle. What I love most about my work is that along with meditation and UX, I get to explore my third passion, progressive storytelling, like in theater. Many of the experiences that we are producing fancy a touch of theater. We want to make meditation an integral part of the world that we live in through experiences wrapped in finest entertainment elements and full of transformative interactions.
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
DR: Meditation has the power to bring the world together and Art of Living Foundation has executed that as a mission with active initiatives in over 156 countries for over 37 years. It’s been a privilege to be a part of the largest volunteer-run non-profit organization for the past 11 years.
As an Art of Living instructor, I have led several programs for youths and adults in the US and India. As the director of Community Advancement and PR, Massachusetts, I am responsible for identifying opportunities for collaborations and establishing relationships with local organizations and communities to enable a healthy and violence-free society.
Last year Boston hosted the largest meditation seminar with 1,103 participants who learnt Sudarshan Kriya and practiced meditation for peace. We are also one of the largest providers of trauma-relief support for refugees, disaster survivors and veterans in Massachusetts. With perseverance, our volunteers have managed to take stress management programs to schools in inner city and underprivileged neighborhoods.
I recently joined Global Indians for Bharat Vikas, an international non-profit with a mission to bring multi-level transformational development in India. As Chief Coordinator, Massachusetts, I am responsible for fundraising, membership drive and PR. Currently I am also leading the effort to design a web portal to connect volunteers from around the world.
I love theater, and have been associated with theater and acting since I was very young. Boston has a very active and vibrant theater community with dedicated theater groups like Stage Ensemble Theater Unit (SETU). I have worn many hats in the past six years with SETU, including acting in four major productions. I saw a need and opportunity for an educational platform for theater enthusiasts and Café@SETU was born in 2016. Café@SETU is an educational arm of SETU that is dedicated to bring educational aspects of theater to everyone who wants to learn.
INE: What are your hobbies and interests?
DR: My hobbies are writing, cooking, acting and panting.
INE: In what way do you feel you have positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?
DR: Meditation brings happiness, peace of mind and stability in life. It empowers you from within. Such empowered individuals become messengers of peace and catalysts of positive transformation. I have dedicated my life to bringing meditation to as many people as possible.
INE: Your rare talent?
DR: [The] ability to see and execute big visions.
INE: Your favorite books?
DR: “Celebrating Silence” by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Dnyaneshwari – a book by Saint Dnyaneshwar in Marathi, Bhagvadgita, Works of Aristotle, Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho.
INE: Your favorite quotes?
DR: “Presence is knowledge.” ~ Sri Sri. This quote continues to inspire to stay committed to adapting wisdom into action so it becomes the action. I have found this to be the secret behind success in teaching.
On the same lines, I find this quote by Aristotle very inspiring- “Quality is not an act. It’s a habit.”
INE: Who inspires you the most?
DR: I am more inspired by ideas than people. I have been much fortunate to be born in a family of influencers who have implemented many inspiring ideas. I am also inspired by Sri Sri’s vision of one world family. It amazes me how millions of people come together in knowledge to celebrate life and happiness. In the world fragmented by limited ideas of religion, boundaries, language and color, Sri Sri manages to continue spreading the message of love and togetherness. To me, it’s nothing less than a wonder.
INE: The one person you would like to meet and why?
DR: I have been a big fan of Aristotle’s writings and thoughts. I celebrate his birthday every year. I often wonder how it would be to meet Aristotle outside books.
INE: What are the core values that you try to live by?
DR: It has to be friendliness. I think friendship is one such relationship that promises everlasting trust, love and support. Friendliness empowers you to be truthful and open without fear of judgment. It provides perfect setting for creativity to thrive to manifest all big and small ideas into reality.