There are some people who are creative. Then there are others who are successful. But Vivek Sahni, founder and director of Kama Ayurveda, has the Midas touch. Being part of the alumni of the prestigious Parson’s School of Design in New York, he understands beauty and knows how to turn it into a success story. He’s responsible for Kama Ayurveda’s beautifully packaged (and effective) products. And his new venture Vaayu, at Bikaner house in Delhi, houses the most beautiful designs in decor, clothing and general objects d’ arts. Read on as Vivek talks about beauty, fear, confidence and life lessons.
What is beauty according to you?
Obviously as human beings we look at the face first. But when you look at a person’s face and think why its attractive, you find that it’s not just the composition of features but something else. If they have dead eyes then they’re not attractive despite the beauty. So I would think it’s the energy. If there’s someone with a thoroughly-wrinkled face but dancing eyes and great energy, they would be more attractive than a beautiful woman looking at you with disdain. So, it’s a combination of everything - skin, hair, confidence, how they stand, their air or energy.
What makes a person ugly?
For me its nothing to do with physicality - unnecessary negativity, bitterness, and hatred make a person ugly.
What are the skin and hair mistakes that people make?
Firstly, shampooing your hair everyday is really bad. Your hair becomes oily because you're washing it everyday. Your roots become weak, because of the excess sebum, which leads to hair fall. Wash it no more than twice or thrice a week. You can wet your hair in the shower everyday and scrub your it like you’re shampooing but don't use shampoo. It takes about 10 days of adjustment when your hair will feel gunky and then it will get better. And before washing you should also oil it ideally.
Secondly, using harsh cleansers and not moisturising afterwards is terrible. Most of the cleansers that people use are really harsh and strip the skin of natural oils. You may enjoy that tight feeling on your skin but after a while you get wrinkles, itchiness and scaliness. Scrubbing your face twice a week is very good as compared to chemical peels that are unnecessarily tearing on your skin. A scrub just follows the naturalprocess of shedding dead cells.
What’s your skin and hair care routine like?
I wash my hair once or twice a week and every time I oil it beforehand. I clean my face with one of my face washes or shaving foam, which is very refreshing. I use my scrub thrice a week and use the night cream night and day.
They change all the time. I’m really interested in unusual, earthy scents. Last year I was using using Molecule 02 by Escentric Molecules, which is no fragrance at all but a molecule that bursts on your skin so its smells like your skin but better. Then, Santa Maria Novella (the church in Florence) has a very nice patchouli fragrance. But what really I love is Commes Des Garçons’ series of scents called Incense. It is based on different cities and my favourite is Avignon.
How do you begin your day?
I either go straight to the gym, then come back and do my mediation and kriya that lasts half hour to 40 minutes. Or I do my meditation and kriya and then go to the gym. Next, I have fennel water (fennel seeds boiled in water), which is very good for digestion. After half an hour I drink barley water (add barley to water, bring it to a boil, simmer 40 minutes, then cool), which is very alkanising. Then I have some tea and then breakfast, which is usually vegetables and raw papaya with sea salt and lemon, because that’s also very good for digestion. In fact, if you eat a few pieces of papaya like this half an hour before every meal then it primes your stomach for food.
How are you so confident?
It’s the meditation. Taking time out for yourself everyday for half hour to 45 minutes is really important. It doesn’t matter how you do it, even running is good but without your headphones. Any practice where you're focussing on your breathing or following your rhythm. It could even be pranayama. And this changes your life. All of us are so ridden with fear - growing up all we hear is don't say that, don't be rude, don’t do that. The way are brought up is based on subliminal fear. And we become so beset by it that we don't take chances. So spending time with yourself, introspecting is extremely important.
How do you deal with fear?
It’s taken me years of practice and that’s where meditation comes in. It’s year upon year of daily practice. But more than a practice it’s self affirmation. The first self affirmation is to love yourself. What does it mean to really love yourself? If you do love yourself then you'll take care of your body. Think of you as your own child - you won’t pour cola down your child’s throat would you? Once you become conscious of the fact that you love yourself, you find that your body is being assaulted by all kinds outside elements and bad habits. After you become conscious of the physicality then you get to the psychological aspect. Start by forgiving yourself - no point in brooding over things that have happened. So basically everyday you do an affirmation that you repeat 10 times for 15 -20 days. It could be: I love myself. I forgive myself. I'm a decent person. When you start doing things like this it’s incredible how day after day, month after month, year after year you change.
Also, think of yourself as a work in progress and the purpose of life not being a new frock or shoes, but just to do the job in the best possible manner. As a film maker, runner, drug dealer, make the best possible out of your circumstances. We are all humans surrounded by circumstances that are out of our control, but make the most of your situation and enjoy that. We always live in the future or in the past. You can’t think that you will do something in the future when you have something - find a way to do it now.
What have been your biggest life lessons?
For me it’s a new thing everyday. One of the biggest learnings has been that the only limitation of what’s possible is your mind. That lovely phrase ‘free your mind’ is so relevant as the limitations are only set in your own head. Because we all have it within us to achieve whatever we want.