We're talking about suffering, and I think
I wouldn't do justice and I wouldn't be authentic if
I didn't talk about some of the suffering
that I've been going through.
The last four months have been
like the craziest months of my life.
I don't know what the hell the universe is trying to teach me.
But it's been fricking painful.
In October, my parents' home caught fire.
I almost lost my mom and dad.
They were rescued by firemen on the roof.
And so the home is still being rebuilt and that was, like,
scary and painful.
And then a few weeks later, I busted my knee and I'm now
unable to run or jump.
I've been in four months of physiotherapy,
three more months to go.
That was painful.
But the hardest part is that I got…
my 19-year relationship ended.
And I know that that's a big shock to many people
in Mindvalley because me and my now ex-wife but close friend
Kristina started the company together.
So after being together for 19 years, we simply decided that
our relationship was us living someone else's illusion.
We realized that this idea that when you get married it should
be forever is a societal construct and there are certain
cases where it doesn't matter.
You can come together with someone and celebrate that time
together and create great things, and then choose
to part ways, still with love, but as friends.
I realized that my relationship was built on four pillars.
There was the pillar of love, there was the pillar
of friendship, the pillar of being co-parents, and the pillar
of being co-partners in a business.
Like we literally started Mindvalley together.
When I was a meditation teacher in 2003, Kristina was my
girlfriend doing customer support.
And we started this company together, it was the two of us.
And so we had those four pillars.
But after 19 years being together,
and we celebrate those 19 years,
we found that the pillar of love wasn't solid anymore.
And we had tried to mend it.
It turned out it wasn't meant to be, but we realized that if we
stayed together, and if that pillar completely collapsed,
it would take down the other three pillars.
So we decided to uncouple that pillar of love but become
better friends, better business partners, better parents.
So we're becoming neighbors.
She's probably, like, right now, one of my closest friends
and I am to her.
We support each other in our careers.
She's running Mindvalley's divisions in the
And she's an incredible woman and I love her dearly.
And in fact, what we found is that it was really interesting,
when we de-coupled that pillar of love, the other three pillars
just got so much stronger and our relationship became so
much better, and we became so much better.
But the scary part was having to explain that to the rest
of the world.
She has a mom who grew up in the former Soviet Union,
so very traditional.
My mom is Indian, so very traditional.
In these cultures, marriage is, like, a big thing.
And the end of a marriage is painful and
it's considered failure.
And this is why so many people, when they get a divorce,
they end up feeling lousy about themselves.
They end up feeling like they failed.
But there are other models that I think are really relevant.
And if you heard of "conscious uncoupling,"
Gwyneth Paltrow popularized it,
so we decided to do a conscious uncoupling.
And a conscious uncoupling simply means that we consciously
decide to end our marriage.
We did that by having a big party, invited 50 of our
My 11-year-old son, my 5-year-old daughter,
they were the ring unbearers.
So we took off our rings, gave it our son, he put it in a
velvet bag, I keep that ring.
It's a prized possession.
And we did it with joy.
I wanted my kids to see people lit up and celebrating
And my mom was there.
It was harder for her.
She was crying, but I wanted her to see that among my friends,
which is a different generation, it's okay.
And it doesn't mean that I failed or that she's failed or
that the family has failed, but that this is part of life.
And I value Kristina because we built so much together.
So I wanted to share that with you, guys.
And interestingly enough, Katherine Woodward Thomas,
who wrote Conscious Uncoupling, is right here in the front row.
Katherine, would you stand, please?
I just want to say, Katherine,
Conscious Uncoupling is an incredible book.
After I read it, I passed it on to many friends of mine who had
ended relationships 5, 10 years ago, and what they
realized is that the relationships had ended badly
and they were still holding on to pain, and this pain was
affecting their future relationships.
And reading that book, even though they were
already uncoupled, helped them heal that pain.
So I strongly recommend that book.
Check out Conscious Uncoupling.
It's a beautiful book and it gives you a new model
for understanding love and understanding the world.
Now, what I'd like to do, if it's okay with you,
is to play a six-minute video, because I want to bring you
even to my world.
So when we, me and Kristina, knew that we were going
to uncouple and we decided that we were going to celebrate one
last Valentine's Day together, and then on February 15 this
year take off our rings.
So on Valentine's Day, we assembled the entire company,
and we shared with them, six minutes, what was happening.
Because we wanted to make sure that our team members didn't
feel that their jobs were threatened or that their world
was going to come down, because traditionally,
when you go through a divorce, it is one of the single most
stressful events in your life.
It is so stressful that people break down, they're unable
to work, CEOs suddenly are no longer able to function
at their job, and we wanted them to know that this was okay and
we're doing a new model.
With your permission, I'd like to play that video for you.
This video is going to bring up stuff for some of you.
But again, remember, suffering is good.
So it brings up stuff, it's okay.
But the main thing is… I shared this video with Katherine and
she said, "That this is really beautiful, Vishen.
You should share this with other people because it helps show
people a new meaning schema…" Remember meaning schema?
It's how we transform.
"…a new meaning schema of love and relationship."
So this is the video of us explaining to our people for the
first time, and they were surprised, why we were going
to have our last Valentine's day.
So, thank you for stepping into that world, and thank you
Katherine, for providing two people like me a framework,
Conscious Uncoupling, that we can refer to.
I hope maybe that video might help shed the light that love is
a lot deeper and a more complex thing than what society says
it should be.
It's funny, we decide that love is when we make an oath
to someone, get the government involved, sign papers,
but really, it can be multidimensional, and all we did
was move the lever around into different areas.
But those two rules, those two rules have helped me
even as I went through this form of suffering.
The first thing I do is I ask myself,
what can I learn from this?
How can I grow?
How will this increase my rate of self-evolution?
So I started reading books on relationships and love so I can
be better for the future.
And then the second thing is how can I serve the world better.
To get my mind off what might sometimes be pain, I think
about how can I make other people happy?
While I'm working on my growth, how can I serve the world?
So I'm travelling more, I'm speaking more.
I have more free time on my hands right now.
I've decided to write a book, write a book every year,
and dedicate more time to my kids as well.
And I know what you guys are thinking as well.
You're probably wondering, Kristina mentioned in that video
that I lost my wedding ring in a strip club in Thailand.
Even though this might be appropriate, can I just clear
the air on that one?
She was with me in that strip club.
We were just exploring the streets of Pattaya.
And I know I was going really deep.
I just want to get shallow for a moment.
So we were exploring the streets of Pattaya, and we were in the
strip club and we were just curious, but it was so shady.
And I have this weird habit where when I'm nervous,
I play with my ring.
I move it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth
on my finger.
And before I could fully put it on my finger, a ping pong ball
hit me on the face.
Wait, wait, wait.
It's not what you think.
It's not what you think.
There were a group of American sailors in the bar, they had
brought ping pong balls and they were tossing it around.
This sailor stands up and says, "Hey, buddy, toss that ball back
to me," so I pick up the ping pong ball and I toss it,
not realizing that my ring goes flying with the ball.
So I go back to do my awkward, like, worried move with my ring
and I realized, "Wait, the ring is not on the finger."
So I'm like, "Oh, shit."
So I then pretend I drop a pen, Kristina's next to me,
and I'm on the ground trying to find this mysterious pen so that
she wouldn't realize I dropped the ring.
And I'm frantically going, "Where the hell did this ring
The ground is so disgusting, you wouldn't believe it.
And then all of a sudden, I see this pair of legs.
So I stand up and there's this naked stripper in front of me
holding out my ring.
And she goes, "Hello, sir, you trying to marry me?"
The ring flew off my finger, hit her on the chest while she
was in the center, and fortunately, she was cool enough
to pick it up and bring it back to me.
And I had to explain that to Kristina.
So anyway, that's the Thai strip club story.
You see why I didn't want this recorded?
So anyway, I feel, like when I get too deep and spiritual,
I just feel weird about it and I got to come back to, like,
talking about strip clubs and ping pong balls.
So thank you, everyone.
I hope you enjoyed that story.
I'm here for the next two days.
And I'll see many of you guys at the mingler tonight.
And have a wonderful Reunion.