Interview with Raji Lukkoor


Uncustomary Book Review of Inner Pilgrimage by Raji LukkoorIt was a fall afternoon at a Starbucks not far from where I work that I met with Raji Lukkoor for the first time. While I had never met or seen her before, her positive energy and kind smile let me know it was her before any words were exchanged. After we sat down, she handed me a copy of her book Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me, which she signed “To Heather, Love Raji.”

Linking Meditation with Emotional Intelligence

Raji begins by talking about the idea of emotional intelligence, about being able to connect to oneself emotionally—a concept that a lot of people struggle with. Meditation, Raji says, chips away at some of the barriers that block emotional intelligence. Everyone is looking for something, and even as an Environmental Engineer with a wonderful family, Raji felt that there was something she couldn’t quite connect with—a void that needed to be filled.

Oprah first inspired Raji to learn about meditation. Oprah’s book club was talking about it’s latest pick: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. This is the book that led Raji to Vipassana meditation and the desire to go on the retreat her book is based on.

Once she decided she wanted to attend a Vipassana retreat, Raji chose one located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This retreat is extremely popular and always books up in advance. After getting on the waiting list, something amazing happened; she was called to fill a last minute cancellation. This was in the summer of 2008. “It was the first time away from my husband, from my children,” says Raji. With her family’s support, she went to the course “not knowing what to expect.”

Writing About the Silence

The course lasted 12 days. It didn’t take her long to realize that she wanted to write about her experience. Raji describes the art of Vipassana meditation as “spectacular” and something that anyone can do. It doesn’t cross any religious or spiritual lines and it doesn’t matter what background you come from.

“Going through the course, I knew I wanted to write about it in some shape or form,” explains Raji. “I didn’t know it was going to be a book.” Writing has always been a passion of Raji’s and she even has a background in technical writing. When she returned home from the retreat, she knew she had to share the message with the world.

Raji sat down and wrote for six straight weeks, and from this the book was born. She admits there were some gaps to fill and some details to work out about the retreat, and that it was a challenge to accurately portray the experience.

Once the book was written and all the details were sorted out, Raji sought help from editors. She reached out to many, but finally connected with one in particular. She was “the best thing that happened to me and the book,” says Raji. This editor helped her write the book proposals and even put together the biography and summary on the back of the book. Subject matter experts on Buddhism and Vipassana were contacted to see if the book fit with the general acceptable views of the teachings. This spurred the idea of including definition of terms as footnotes to better explain some of the concepts to readers.

Getting Published

From here Raji went in search of a publisher. She contemplated getting an agent, but decided that she would try it out on her own first. She looked up titles and books of works similar to her own and pulled publishing company names from them. She started contacting the ones that took email submissions first. Even though she received rejections, some of which took months to arrive, she continued sending off her submissions and even branched out into other countries; one country was India and Third Eye Publishing, an imprint of Pentagon Press. The publisher was excited to print the book and ideas were thrown around about a title that included Inner Engineering, but finally Inner Pilgrimage was chosen as the official title. Raji also played an active part in choosing the book cover and she admits that it was very much a “back and forth effort.”

Finding Connections

January 2012 Book Giveaway - Inner Pilgrimage by Raji Lukkoor

After the book was published it became time to promote it and start to penetrate the markets in India and the United States. Raji created a Facebook page, and has even begun receiving comments and responses from her readers. One man from Nepal thanked her for writing the book and described how much the book impacted him. Raji explained that this was the exact reason why she wrote the book. She has learned so much in writing this book, and tells me she is still learning. One piece of advice Raji has for aspiring writers: “don’t stop trying to get your book published, something will happen.”

Raji is looking to write more in the future. She is currently working on children’s books dealing with the environment. These books would send an environmental message to children to encourage and motivate them to care about the environment.

You can purchase Raji’s book online at Amazon or through her website, which includes further information on her biography as well as a link to her blog. You may also connect with Raji on her Facebook page.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to charity.

Heather Rae Butler

5 Comments

  1. Mariateresa Bombardieri says:

    I need to become less active to enter the world of meditation …. and at my age (67), time is approaching soon… Any advice?

    • Raji Lukkoor says:

      Hi Mariateresa,
      You’ve already taken the first step by thinking about it.
      The external world is all about “doing,” while the inner world, or as you put it–the world of meditation–is all about “being.” Meditation is essentially a non-activity.
      I would begin by becoming aware of your activities in the external world. Observe what you do. Also observe the simple things of life: smell a rose, admire the rainbow, follow the hummingbird in the backyard as it flits about from twig to twig, go for a walk, take a few deep breaths.
      The idea here is to slow down, quiet down, pay attention to what’s going on moment-to-moment, and become aware or mindful of our own mind, body, and emotions. Paradoxically, this slowing down ends up giving us more strength, more space, and more time for our activities!
      Hope this helps!
      Raji

      • Mariateresa Bombardieri says:

        Hi Raji :
        I thank you for answering and for your advice, which I believe will be helping…it’s mainly a matter of will!
        Warmly,
        Mariateresa

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