Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Narmada Rao, Author of OPEN UP

Today we are interviewing author, psychologist, NLP trainer and coach Narmada Rao about her new book, OPEN UP. The book is a collection of 201 thought-provoking quotes that will relate to the reader’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I like living life with a sense of purpose and passion towards that purpose. I believe that life is beyond the mundane measures that we have established. Happiness is highly over-rated and likewise, loneliness too. If one is living life with a purpose, you’ll always find the strength to go through the highs and lows of life. We don’t need to then obsessively run behind wanting to be happy. Loneliness too, is a choice. None of us can feel lonely unless utterly by choice. The world is too big a place for that. But there should always be room for solitude – to spend time with our soul so that we reflect, introspect and learn from our lives. Like Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

I have learnt that we should not be attaching our purpose to any one individual or one object. It has to be for the larger benefit of many. Only then will we be able to look beyond our fears and the cycle of death and birth. Otherwise, death of a loved one can shake us too much or birth of a new one can create an obsession of a different degree.

Art, creativity, music and dance form an important and integral part of my life. They give me the oxygen for existence. I believe that life becomes more colourful and joyful with the presence of these. A sense of healthy expression is important for every individual in any shape and form.

Describe your new book, OPEN UP, in a few sentences.
Open up, as the name suggests, is for people to find the answers or the messages that they are looking for. All they need to do is open up a random page of the book, see the message that’s on that page and find the link and relevance to their current life situation. Opening up a page is the first step; opening up your mind is the next step – to a new possibility, a new realisation, a new way of looking at things. Once you do this, life can work wonders for you. And of course, as I mentioned in the beginning of the book – “Magic is for believers.” I believe that the universe is constantly trying to communicate with us. Are we ready is the question.

Who do you think would most benefit from reading this book?
Open up is for those who like to come to their own realisations and would like to connect the dots themselves. It is for those independent thinkers who constantly look for stimulators that help them think and arrive at their solutions themselves. It is also for those who don’t like reading pages of information but would like a quick read that leaves a powerful impression. Anyone who is willing to introspect and learn will benefit immensely from this book. More than quotes, these are thought provokers. Not advice.

What first got you interested in NLP?
I had often heard about NLP from my father. Being a Psychologist, I did have a vague idea about it as we studied a minor part of it in our graduate course. However, it came back to me during a casual conversation with a friend who suggested that I take up an NLP course as it might help me deal with my asthma problem. Considering that this term kept finding its way back in my life time and again through different people in different occasions, I decided I should go ahead and see what is it all about. I never knew then, that it would have such a profound effect on my life.

What are the strengths of NLP compared to other approaches to self-improvement?
With NLP, I have been more effective as a coach and a Psychologist. Intervention time is much shorter and the impact is more powerful and lasting. If it took me multiple sessions with clients in the past, with NLP I am able to help clients achieve their breakthroughs within minutes. It is more progressive than regressive and definitely very effective.

While most techniques and approaches tell you what to do, NLP helps you understand how to do. It isn’t a generalised approach but a subjective one. So, each individual understands what is it that is not working in his or her personal style and what can they do differently. That’s what makes it work. The emphasis is not so much on the terminologies or definitions, but on the individual and their patterns. So, when you learn NLP, you learn more about yourself and how to change yourself with effortless ease and no judgments. Most other trainings that I have attended have so much of technical definitions and terminologies to remember that we forget to focus on ourselves in the process. NLP keeps it simple. Or at least, that’s definitely what I do in my trainings and what I have seen my trainers do too. 

One of the things you bring up in the book is the tendency for someone to remember one sentence someone said despite having heard paragraphs. Can you explain why this phenomenon occurs? And how can people use this phenomenon to improve their lives? 
Life is long and our memory is short. As much as we might like to remember things, there’s limited space or at least, that’s what we’d like to think, since we don’t use our mind’s capacity to its fullest. So, with the limited data space that we have, we are unconsciously constantly prioritising and reprioritising on what needs to stay in the memory and what can go to a far-away land. Hence, even though we speak tons of words and paragraphs, people usually remember what it was in a nutshell. So, why not say something powerful in a nutshell, so that people find it easy to remember as well? Besides, in an entire paragraph, not everything rings a bell with us and not everything might be relatable to our lives – but there are a few key things or sentences that stand out. That we choose to repeat to ourselves so that we remember. Just like how we don’t remember everyone we meet; we don’t register everything that we hear too. It’s only the key things. Therefore, even if you have to give a twenty-minute speech or an hour’s, see how is it possible to capture the essence of it in a powerful short sentence that can stay with people. Rather than say more and get people restless or bored, the power of concise communication is that you leave people curious and wanting for more.

Your family, friends, colleagues, anyone would be more interested in listening to you if you have the knack of saying the things in the right amount and the right manner. As much as what you say is important, how you say it makes it powerful, memorable or otherwise.

What inspired you to take what you have learned from your years of experience and compile it in a book? 
It was my father’s last wish when he read some of my writings that I should convert them into a book one day. That’s what got me started thinking about a book after his demise. He felt it’s a powerful medium to reach out to more people who may be far away too.

One of the strengths of your book is the concise yet thorough writing style. Was it difficult to distill complicated concepts into succinct bits of information?
I think I personally found it easy to keep it succinct. If I tried explaining it any further – I might have run into the problem of not knowing when to stop or how much was enough. This was easy and more enjoyable – practising “Less is powerful” and trusting that the readers will make the most relevant connections for themselves. There are no wrong answers here.

A lot of people, who want to work on improving themselves, have trouble with the initial steps. For someone who wants to use your book to make major changes in their life, is there anything people should keep in mind when getting started?

The only thing that I always recommend people to do when they want to make changes in their life is to be honest with themselves. That’s the greatest and the best gift you can give to yourself. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility. From the best that happens, and the worst, life is always offering us opportunities to reflect, learn and grow. And for that to happen, honesty with self is key. If we keep blaming others for our state, we can never change for the better.

On a similar note, what are some of the common mistakes that people make when beginning to make changes in their life?
One common mistake is to think that what happened in the past is exactly what’s going to happen in the future. If that were to be true, then life would be pointless. It  never is the case. Our past is never ever a reflection of our future unless we choose to keep regretting and stagnate where we are. If you are ready to learn and move on, life is ever willing to surprise you.

Secondly, it is important to remember to not make changes to life in a reactive manner. What I mean by that is, if someone cheats you, you can’t make a change saying ‘Now onwards I am not going to trust anyone’ – that’s just a bitter reaction. Not learning. Learning should be such that it creates an element of hope and positivity in you. ‘Yes, someone cheated. And by that I learnt what signs to watch out for and how to trust and how much.’ Here, it isn’t a reaction. It is a learning through reflection. Don’t feel sorry for yourself ever! You don’t need it. You are much more powerful than that.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I am someone who lives life in the moment. I haven’t thought through ten years yet. I feel I have to live life every moment. So, anytime I get a thought, I stop doing what I am doing and quickly make a note. Capturing a powerful thought in a powerful moment is important. If I let the moment pass, the thought may go along with it too. So, recognising that there’s a powerful learning or a thought that’s presenting itself and immediately paying heed to it and making a note of it in that moment is my goal as a writer.

One goal that I would like to have for myself is be more organized about collating and collecting my thoughts so that it is easy to get them in one place and make compilation an easy process for myself.

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
I feel very grateful to my readers for a very good response so far. Most people have said that it works like magic for them and that they are stunned how they get the exact message that they most needed to hear for that day – every time they open it. They have tried it with their friends and colleagues too and are stunned and how magically it works. Some people said they use it every day before they start their day, or they use it in their office before they start their team-meeting – where everyone opens and sees what’s the message for themselves. It’s heart-warming to listen to such encouraging words of acceptance.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
My mind is always generating ideas – constantly! Likewise, in this case too. There are quite a few. I want to write a book on positive parenting. I am currently in the process of writing something on communication for interpersonal relationships. Hoping to be done with it soon.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
It’s an easy read. It’s not going to take you too much time to read it from start to finish. But that isn’t how you might want to read it either. Since each sentence is a thought provoker, it is recommended that once your read a sentence, contemplate on it before you move to the next one. There’s no beginning, no end, no sequence to it. You can start anywhere and go anywhere with it, anytime. So, happy reading.

International Links
Buy OPEN UP for Kindle.
Buy hard copy of OPEN UP.

India Links
Buy the book on Amazon.
Buy the book on Flipkart.

More Information
Visit the author’s website.
Check out the book on Goodreads.
Like the author on Facebook.
Find the author on LinkedIn.


  1. Waiting for the next book from you. All the best! Open up will always be with me through out my life