Harmony Murphy is Retail Head, Advertising UKI at Google and NDA’s monthly columnist.
Harmony’s quest for understanding leadership and mindset more deeply outside of the office environment found her spending a few weeks across Nepal and the Himalayas including trekking to Everest Base Camp and meeting with different leaders and communities along the way. Below is Harmony’s insight from spending the day in Nagi Monastery in the Kathmandu region, inhabited by a female monk (nun) community.
Firstly calling out my lack of knowledge, I was not even aware that female Monasteries existed until this was mentioned to me by a Nepalese local.
I needed to do more reading on this topic to understand their foundations and origins; but there was additionally a better way to seek insight, to physically go and spend the day at Happy Mind (Nagi Gompa, now renamed Tsungon Nangkyi Gompa). I was humbled to be invited and get to spend time with these incredibly wise women and understand more about their lives, mindsets and reaching their ambitions to enlightenment.
The monastery itself was a drive away from the center of Katmandhu away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It was situated below the impressive Tara Bir Cliff, which is sacred to the female buddha of compassion and something practiced by the nuns everyday.
I was greeted by Yangchen Lhamon, who had been at the Monastery since the tender ages of 8 years old, now 29 years old. Yangchen had felt her calling at such a young age it had been both her and her sister who wanted the opportunity to join the Monastery however only one child could be picked. Yangchen mentioned through faith, positive and pure thinking it was her, also she believed in the effects of karma from a last life. Mindset flow and cognisance very much helping to set the foundations of what I thought was a exhilarating conversation.
My first question surrounding what does Yangchen’s daily routine look like, with elements of repetition: how do she keep disciplined to fulfill tasks meaningfully?
Yangchen mentioned how they study Shedra (Tibetan word meaning “place of teaching” but specifically refers to the educational program in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries).
Yangchen’s route to focus was to meditate, to clear the mind. She was deliberate to elaborate and clear any common misperception that mediation is not about just about sitting and meditating in silence. Meditation is about being fully present wether that be in study and focus has elements of this, pure concentration, be still be focus be present in your highest form. It made me think of times spent multitasking and fractionated outputs instead of consolidated outputs delivering a higher bar.
My next question I carefully caveated with my very light knowledge of Buddhism. I did have a some-what fascination with the concept Buddha going from a Prince in a plentiful palace to facing and understanding suffering aiding his steps to enlightenment (nirvana), the klux of the question l around how do we take steps on our various enlightenment journeys in our everyday lives?
Yangchen’s answer still oscillating within my mind now… Cause and effect, if you do good, good comes to you. It is about acting from a place of good intention and seeing the good within others in each interaction, approaching all with positive intent. It is about understanding others on an individualistic basis as each being will have their work, their wounded elements, their potential that needs growing and building. She continued saying “I have been here for 21 years and am still on this path very much so, I am self-aware of certain areas within me I need to keep re-visiting.”
Yangchen’s belief being deep rooted that on a daily basis we need to accumulate a merit (or) merits, no matter how small all big it is, planting seeds that will flower around us. If you do good karma the bad with diminish. I guess to tie to an analogy would be by continuing to genuinely plant seeds of good wherever you go no matter the season makes the path to enlightenment easier.
My last question and I could have gone on and on, it was hard to stop as I felt infinite learnings, an atmosphere of peace and just wanting to simply BE in Yangchen’s presence. There is so much inner strength and passion in all that you do. Just being around you this radiates, what parting wisdom would you give to females all around the world to inspire their maintained inner strength?
“Harmony I would say continue to stay self confident and really know what you are doing, what I mean by that is continue to know your mission and purpose. If you know that and have clarity..blockers and challenges can be overcome as you know the end point” – This made me think If we can then aim to change more in ourself we can then apply this to help move our society. Yangchen also spoke on the importance of constantly checking on yourself what are you thinking, what are you going to do and be really mindful . Our thoughts and vibrations either propel us forward or hold us back, checking in with ourselves multiple times in the day helps us differentiate from our core, our ego and lead with our genuine self from a place of good.
I was astonished by the feelings, learnings and memories from Yangchen’s sharings. A big thank you to Happy Mind Monastery (Tsungon Nangkyi Gompa) who allowed me to explore, interact and absorb from such an inspirational female community. To find out more or support this community their website is here: https://monksandnuns.org/nagi-gompa-nunnery/