OVERCOMING ADVERSITY, BUILDING RESILIENCE AND FINDING YOUR PURPOSE
JANUARY 10, 2023
We are delighted to announce that Ani Naqvi will be speaking about surviving the 2004 tsunami this September. Read her story here:
In her early 30’s and like many others, Ani Naqvi began to wonder why she was here. What was the meaning of life? She had all the outside trappings of success that she had been told were important. She had purchased her own home, was earning a good salary and had realised her dream to become a BBC Broadcast Journalist. On paper life was good and she had worked hard to find her place in the world.
In 2004 Ani’s world was literally turned upside down. She looked adversity in the face and turned it into an opportunity for growth. Taking a Christmas holiday in a remote peninsula on the East Coast of Sri Lanka to visit her friend Sri, little did she know that her idyllic holiday would turn into a living hell leaving its inky imprint on her forever.
She cites her biggest achievement to date as organising the rescue effort in the hours after the tsunami once she realised, they were stranded and the scale of the disaster. They say that the true character of a person comes out in times of challenge and distress. In those hours she helped others, despite being injured herself, realising she needed to find out what had happened, organised, commandeered the only mobile phone someone had to call the BBC to get press coverage on their plight and got them to call the High Commission to send help to her group and the hundreds of others stranded on the East coast of Sri Lanka. She was only 31 at the time but grown men, women and children looked to her to lead them as she took control and was the constant source of information throughout the 48 hours before they were airlifted.
In a time and place where you think the world had ended, and everything you thought you knew has been turned inside out and you are scared, shocked and traumatised, Ani behaved and acted in a way that still makes her proud today even in the darkest moments of her inner critic berating her over the years.
The traumatic experience raised the question- “What is the reason for my existence? And why was I saved when so many others died”
As someone who was already in the throes of depression and had been a functioning depressive for several years, the perfect opportunity to slip away was before her. No one would’ve been the wiser after all almost a quarter of a million people died. At that point she believed one more would have gone unnoticed.
In the interview she told Oprah she knew she had been saved for a purpose and that we owe it to the people that didn’t make it to make the most of our lives and make it mean something.
“I told her then I didn’t know what that purpose was then, but I knew it would become clear as time would go on and that deep knowing within me took it’s time but finally came true. From that and my post tsunami survivor guilt my purpose was born”.
And surviving the tsunami, the ensuing guilt and a deep sense of knowing I was here for more kept me going through the next dark chapters of my life. “I’d like to say my transformation was quick, but it wasn’t. It took 10 years from the tsunami and a serious life-threatening health diagnosis 6 years after for the transformation to truly take place. In this period, I decided to leave my c suite executive job as the Head of Projects for the UK’s largest charity and dedicated the next 5 years of my life to a deep journey of self-discovery which took me all over the world to get treatments from and study with some of the best practitioners in their fields”.
When she got the health diagnosis a voice came to her and told her that she needed to deal with all of the emotional trauma from her childhood that she had been avoiding and that this would be a journey of 5 years and then she would be fine. The voice was right, it was a 5-year journey and it got very bad before it got better, but during that 5-year process she studied extensively. She trained in yoga teaching, gained a therapist certification and learnt to teach meditation and mindfulness. She gained further accreditations in NLP, Hypnotherapy, & Ayurveda the science of life and sister philosophy to yoga. She became fascinated by neuroscience, positive psychology and the impact of trauma on the brain. Not only did she study and do practical training, but she did the inner work going back to her childhood and examining the experiences that her shaped her early life.
Her husband walked into her life a month before her diagnosis and her father passed away the week after. It was a bizarre time in her life.
In the midst of this she realised she was a transformation expert, having survived multiple brushes with death and spending most of her life surviving to now thriving.
It became abundantly clear to Ani that she faced all these challenges in her life to grow, learn and gain insight and wisdom into the human and spiritual condition. She believes she wouldn’t be the person she is today without all of those challenges.
"I won’t lie, I sometimes had to drag my old self kicking and screaming into the future, I was mad at why these things always happened to me, why couldn’t I catch a break and why did I have to change? It was an internal battle but my wiser self-won in the end (or so I like to think)."
18 years on and she’s impacted the lives of many by supporting her clients to unlock their true potential and through that continue to honour her mission.