17th June 2015
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
“We arrive on to this planet empty handed. We will all soon leave empty handed. So then, how do we want to spend the time in between?”
These are the words of Nimesh “Nimo” Patel, recording artist, founder of Empty Hands Music and all-around love warrior. In a world filled with hatred, anger, injustice and violence, Nimo has taken the path less traveled, spreading a message of compassion, gratitude and kindness in action through his music.
This is his story.
A Wake-Up Call
“Whenever we offer ourselves with a pure intention, the world conspires to support you. It’s the law of nature.” ~ Nimo
By most standards, Nimo was living a charmed life. From an Ivy League education and a successful career on Wall Street to stardom as a MTV rapper, Nimo had it all. Then late one night, despair hit with the thought: “Is this it?” He realized he was not content or living in a space of gratitude and joy. Nimo questioned “where does this all go, when does it stop, where does this end?” His dark night of the soul was a turning point, one that would eventually lead him halfway around the world to the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India — and back.
When Nimo was involved in the corporate sphere and entertainment industry, he was wrapped up in ego with an external orientation of “how much of an impact am I’m going to make?” He was always coming from a space of fear and greed.
In contrast, upon arriving at the Gandhi Ashram, Nimo saw that here were people serving in small ways who were really putting their heart and soul into it. “You feel like it’s very effortless and invisible and that’s where you sense that inspiration, it’s less wrapped in ego,” he told Wake Up World. For Nimo, a seed was planted. He realized “it’s really a game of awareness with yourself,” one in which you need to be conscious of the space your coming from and to consider your intention when you serve. It’s not about ‘helping people.’ Instead, it’s about being in an environment where you can serve and work on yourself.
“It’s a long path, to reach that place where you’re okay with doing what you can do. There’s no apathy in that, there’s no lack of will, or lack determination or lack of execution. But it’s just the humility that we are nothing ultimately, we are very little, we are just a drop in the ocean. We do what we can do, and the ripples that come out of it are not to be measured or tied to, or taken credit for in a sense,” said Nimo. “I think when we do what we can do from our heart, and from the purest of intention, I think that’s when the true ripples start spreading,” he adds.
After a 10-day silent meditation retreat in Northern India, Nimo emailed his friends with the single statement: “Giving back and growing internally.” He became involved with Manav Sadhna, an NGO based in the Gandhi Ashram, which is dedicated to uplifting the underprivileged through love. Through the organization, Nimo was able to work with a group of 16 children from the surrounding slums. He developed a deep relationship with these children, becoming a big brother to each one and offering unconditional love. As observed by Robin Sukhadia of Project Ahimsa, “Whenever I would visit, I’d always notice how the kids and Nimo loved each other. You could tell that their inner transformation was inspiring them to new heights.”
With the help of dancer Mallika Sarabhai and the Darpana Academy, Nimo and the children spent several years developing a 90 minute show honoring the interconnection of all people. Christened “Ekatva” — the Sanskrit word for Oneness — the dance troupe performed several dozen shows across India. In 2012, the Ekatva group brought their message to the United States and Europe. Using the arts through heartfelt service, Nimo planted seeds of love, compassion, creativity and confidence in the lives of children who otherwise would have limited opportunities. But Nimo’s work wasn’t finished yet.
After the whirlwind of the tour, there was a strong pull of “what’s next?” But his heart whispered that he needed to ground himself in the small things once again. Eventually, through this space of emptiness, Nimo was inspired to end his seven year musical hiatus and started writing music again. A self-proclaimed “born again hip-hop artist,” instead of focusing on the external success of the ‘little me,’ the music that flowed through Nimo touched upon universal ideas like service, surrender, gratitude, kindness and unity. Before long, Nimo realized an album was coming together.
With the creation of Empty Hands Music, Nimo released an album that drives home the message of compassion, kindness, service, gratitude and joy. As a labor of love — and a gift to all — the album is available for download at no cost.
Grateful: A Love Song to the World