After doing two Vipassana courses in one year, Aneesh Reddy, Co-founder and CEO of Singapore-based software-as-a-service (Saas) customer engagement firm Capillary Technologies was ecstatic. Sitting under the banyan tree at the Centre Guest House at Auroville during his New Year break, he shared the experience of the most ancient form of meditation on his LinkedIn post.
"It truly worked like magic and has been genuinely transformative - many, many years of personal and startup baggage (read mountains of negativity and anxiety) cleared up during the 11-day course. I just felt so much lighter in my head, so much more full of energy and inner peace. I don't know why it worked, but it just worked!," wrote Reddy.
He had decided to give it a try upon the recommendation of his longtime school friend Karthik Tirvarur, Investment Lead of Consumer Internet Investments (Global) at International Finance Corporation. He had enrolled for one earlier too, way back in 2016, but couldn't make it due to time constraints. Finally, he did his first Vipassana course in February 2020 at the Dhamma Nijjanna Centre in Nizamabad district in Andhra Pradesh, India. "They teach Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka where the expectation is to live the life of a monk for 10 days," he says. Once the lockdown opened up, he followed it up with another course in October.
Since then, he has made it a part of his daily routine and has been influencing others to try it. He practices 30 minutes to an hour of Vipassana six days a week. He says it has de-cluttered his mind, improving his ability to think clearly and be present in the moment. "I am probably at my best in terms of inner peace and mental health."
Under Reddy's influence, his confidant and the firm's COO Anant Choubey also did his first Vipassana course in November 2020 and was convinced of its benefits. To promote this meditation technique within their organisation, as an experiment, in December 2020, they announced an 11-day Vipassana leave. So, now, anyone who wants to participate in the Vipassana course can avail an 11-day leave that is over and above the mandated annual vacation leave policy. "We both think it is something worth spreading," he says.
He adds that the only way to get the Captains (all team members are called Captains at Capillary) to experience Vipassana is to increase the duration of regular holidays. "Startups have a fast paced environment and most folks don't get time to sit back and detox. Also, the annual leaves get over in the yearly vacation or meeting family members. Hardly, anyone takes off for themselves."
Though Reddy is clear that these leaves cannot be used for the fancy wellness and yoga retreats where one can do yoga and meditation along with other recreational activities. "There is no extra leave for the luxury yoga retreats," quips Reddy.
So, what is Vipassana? According to Dhamma.org, Vipassana means to see things as they really are. It says, "Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation." The meditation is observation-based that takes an individual through a self-exploratory journey that results in a balanced mind. Icing on the cake is that the Vipassana course is free and is not tied to any religion.
Since the announcement at the end of December 2020, four people have already taken Vipassana leave and Reddy hopes many more will go. "I would love if at least 100 Captains utilise their leaves." But, doesn't this touch with his spiritual self want him to slow down in his entrepreneurial life. He says the experience has only increased his passion for work. "It feels like going back to the early days of Capillary when it was the inner purpose that was the driver and not really material gains."
What is interesting is this isn't the only unusual leave policy Capillary has. The firm also offers one-full month paid leave to employees upon completion of four years in the firm. The condition is they can't use it for their marriage or for chilling at home. They have to use it to travel or learn something new. "That has worked quite well for us," he says. People have gone on sabbaticals, travelled to places alone, one colleague learnt playing a piano. "If people are happier, it results in better outcomes for everyone; the folks, their families and the firm," he says.