The proof is my success
December 16, 2011
Bilanz Magazine. Interview with Tina and Regula (Click on the picture for a larger image)
Rocklegend ans Buddhist Tina Turner and the Christian and former headhunter Regula Curti talk about the power of spirituality and why more managers do yoga.
Q: Tina Turner, you are a Buddhist; why?
TT: The short version is: because it helps me to think positively and to be happy.
Q: And the long version?
TT: It was in the middle of the 60s. I was a young singer and my ex-husband was my only connection to the outside world. Besides concert halls and recording studios, I didn’t experience a lot. During recordings, the people in the studio asked about my sadness and loneliness, and advised me to take charge of my own life. Singing mantras and saying prayers is a helpful step towards finding yourself.
Q: A good advice?
TT: I forgot about it, but the sadness stayed. One day my youngest son came home with a wooden prayer chain and told me excitedly: ‘it gives you strength and makes your wishes come true.’ I was taken aback: first these sound engineers, and now my son, and all of them told me: do something, go your own way. Finally, I took the step in the unknown, in 1976, after 16 years. In the most difficult time of my life, when everything around me fell apart, I concentrated on Buddhism for four hours a day, I read, sang mantras, in spite of all the misery, I did well. I didn’t have anything yet I had everything.
Q: In the US, you were raised a Baptist. Was it a total break with your past?
TT: During my childhood, going to church on Sunday, prayer, respect for one another, were natural things. Also singing was important for me since I was young. I was brought up with a deep belief. I was always spiritual, even more so when my parents separated.
Q: Are you finished now with the Christian religion?
TT: No, up until this day I pray ‘our father’. Buddhism, though, was a new dimension in my spiritual life, it touched a different spot inside, the subconscious.
Q: Regula Curti, how did you come into contact with Tina Turner?
RC: In the 80s, I went to one of her concerts at the Hallenstadion in Zurich. Her strength and her persona touched me deeply. In 1997, after Tina moved to Küsnacht, she came to my husband. She wanted to get to know him, because he used to live in the house she wanted to rent previously. After a dinner, we both had a conversation about spirituality.
Q: You were first lieutenant in the Swiss Army and head hunter – now you teach ‘manager in Yoga’. A long journey?
RC: For five years, I worked for world’s largest recruitment agencies, Korn/Ferry International, and recruited managers from consumption good and retail industries. In the basement of our office a famous Indian Yogi, Selverajan Yesudian, gave lessons. I heard strange sounds coming from his studio. What struck me: his visitors left the building with full self-consciousness and a positive attitude.
Q: That’s where you wanted to go with your job applicants?
RC: In my work, I had the reputation of recruiting managers with social competences, charisma, and leadership. Sales curves and ebita margins were what they were taught during their studies, but my belief was, to place candidates there where they could develop their potential and grow further.
Q: Yoga is a method to achieve that?
RC: Through Yoga, despite all hectic and bustle, we can find an island of reflection and gain inner peace. Yoga is the connection between body and mind. One who draws from there, draws from a deep source of wisdom. From there came my long relationship with music. I witnessed in Executive Search that employees who played saxophone in a band in the weekends, who went salsa dancing or participated in other forms of making music, were more outgoing, resilient and sensible. That was where I wanted to join in.
Q: Does spirituality make you more successful?
TT: Take my biography for example. The work on myself gave me the strength, to rise above my destructive relationship, to discover myself, my strengths and my balance; to make clear, balanced decisions. For me, Buddhism is less a religion and more a scientific life-support or philosophy. I felt that where body and subconscious were joined, both are strengthened at the same time. My success is my proof.
Q: Are spiritual managers more successful?
RC: What does spirituality even mean? For me a spiritual person is someone who has both feet on the ground, has a responsive mind, is connected to the world and the people around, and who is dedicated to all living beings. Of course, those are valuable assets for a manager.
Q: Are Yoga and Buddhism not simply a fashion trend: after fitness, now it’s Yoga?
RC: Definitely not. The multi-tasking-society is growing stronger. It shows in my day-to-day work in the body symptoms of managers: strained necks, back aches, shortage of breath, nervousness, sleeping problems and depression. More and more mangers, doctors, teachers and entrepreneurs want to balance the pressure of quarterly reports. Before, they would be embarrassed to enter a Yoga studio, now they are confident. Companies like Google provide spaces for meditation and Yoga classes.
Q: What does that hold for the future?
RC: My father was head of research for Hoffmann-La Roche. As a daughter of a scientist, the proof of neurological effects of meditation are important. I saw the work of neuroscientist Tania Singer, before professor at Zurich University, now director of the Max-Planck Institute in Leipzig. She proved that through regular ‘training of mind’ – through meditation about love and feelings for one another – the responsible part of our brains develops accordingly. In the face of the current developments in the financial world, human capacities such as reflection and empathy must be strongly supported and developed.
Q: To what extent?
RC: Some managers have lost the ground beneath their feet in recent years. What counted was a possibly bigger bonus. It is urgent to move away from these materialistic incentives and to incorporate different aspects in the center. Matter and mind must be balanced. More company culture, team spirit, work-life balance, participatory leadership and moderation – this way we improve the success of a firm much more than through excessive bonuses, which will always lead to more catastrophes.
TT: Also for me, it is about the balance between body and mind. The contact with Buddhism has changed my life completely. I’m proud, that I took this road. That it brought me further and helped me to rise above my deepest wounds by going deeper into Buddhist practices: that is my experience. These days, I devote five to seven minutes daily to reciting prayers, the so-called chants. I noticed early on, that I was less stressed – waiting for red lights, on the streets, in recording studios.
Q: How has Buddhism influenced your career as a singer?
TT: When I broke with my past, chanting was a big help. Even though I left everything behind, my husband, children, my house, I had the feeling that I wasn’t missing anything. I felt incredibly strong. I still get goosebumps when I talk about it these days. When I had a discussion with my ex-husband it became clear: I had changed, and he couldn’t comprehend it. I felt wiser, more peaceful, more open. I could leave all the stress behind, among which a shooting in my own house. I didn’t need gold, diamonds, a roof above my head. It wasn’t easy: my ex-husband put enormous pressure on me: he needed me to remain big in the music industry.
Q: At that time, you were approximately 30 years old, a few days ago you turned 72. Did you stay with Buddhism the whole time?
TT: Always. It took forty years to become such a happy, relaxed, light person. (Laughing)
Q: Did you leave your shows and concert tours behind you forever?
TT: I have outgrown my career. I did several world tours, enjoyed worldwide success, but in the end I noticed that it wasn’t my ambition anymore, to be on stage as Tina until the end of my life. Frankly: that part started to bore me. Life as Tina was exhausting, I have to recharge my batteries.
Q: Do you have a special room for meditation in your house?
TT: In the USA, I used to meditate in my living room, but I longed for a separate room. When I came to Switzerland and rented a house, I realized my dream. I bought a four meter high Buddha statue, which I once bought in India and had stored somewhere, and I put it in the attic of the guest house. In the living house, I have a small room, overlooking the garden. In the morning, I retreat there and find my peace. My morning ritual consists since 35 years of reading prayers and singing the mantra ‘Nam Myoho Renge Kyo’ from Nichirin-Buddhism from Japan.
Q: Miss Curti, do you also advise managers to meditate for contemplation?
RC: A good manager is also characterized through clarity of mind and balancing of feelings. Everyone must find their own way, how to become a conscious, responsible example. All ancient cultures have developed their practices of meditation, Yoga, contemplation and singing or reciting, during thousands of years. Through these methods, you can decrease negative emotions, insecurity and stress.
Q: Is the demand from managers for contemplation rising?
RC: Definitely. In the last years, the participation of men in Yoga and meditation classes has risen sharply. An example is Anton Gunzinger, Professor at ETH and owner of the firm Supercomputing Systems. He is known as an innovator and pioneer around the world. Since the establishment of my Yoga center, he practices meditation, Yoga, and chanting, together with other entrepreneurs. Whole innovation and design teams from renowned furniture, jewelry and advice companies combine Yoga with creativity processes at our center. When you meet entrepreneurs from Asia or the Arabian world, the tell about their spiritual practices in a very natural way. For many of them, contemplation and meditation are part of their morning rituals, like taking a shower or brushing your teeth. It is not just about spirituality from the Far East. As a practicing Christian, I know successful managers who read the Bible on a daily basis.
Q: Steve Jobs practiced Buddhism and for that reason travelled through India and Japan. Do you see the influence of this practice on his career?
RC: The estheticism and slickness of his products remind me of the structure of Zen gardens, which he was fascinated by. The simplicity and elegance of an iPhone or an iPad are expression of his inner clarity. His corporation belongs to one of the most valuable in the world these days. This is not just the fantasy of a Yoga instructor: Walter Isaacson, who worte Job’s biography, also points to this connection. In the ‘Think Different’ advertisement campaign of Apple, Jobs didn’t just incorporate the portraits of John Lennon and Bob Dylan, but also of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Q: Miss Turner: you have retreated from the music business, but despite of this, you have joined the Beyond project. A comeback?
TT: No. When I was on tour in New Zealand a few years ago, a fan gave me the book Unity, that has a strong purple colored cover. I held on to it, because the central message fascinated me: you carry God, the higher power, within you. Whatever religion you take, whatever you pray, it always leads back to one – to yourself. Beyond is a music project for peace and tolerance. Regula introduced it to me. Beyond is an invitation, to be open towards prayers from different religions.
Q: The New York Times has named you the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Until now, nobody has linked you with spiritual music?
TT: Like I said, already as a little girl I was praying, also later, as rock star, the spiritual was important to me. When some people discover me now in a new light, I can only say: it was always a part of me. This part took me out of the dark into the light. For the new CD Children Beyond, we sang with children. My message to them was: be yourself. And don’t forget: you have a positive and a negative power within you. Meditation or singing helps you to find and reach the positive.
Thanks to Anja, Sjef & Ben for the translation!