Born in 1946 in Mohie village in Ludhiana district, Col Gursewak Singh (retired) studied at Panjab University, Chandigarh before enrolling in the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned in the Indian army in 1969 and during his 35 years of service has participated in several conflicts including the Bangladesh War of 1971 and the Kargil War of 1999.
For someone who has been a keen student of human psychology ever since he joined the army, ‘ Colonel Guru’ (as he is popularly known) used his skills of a psychologist to take the pressure off soldiers on the front line. “We worked extensively on confidence and morale building exercises,” he says. Realising that the government often fails to provide moral support to troops when it is most needed, he began counselling soldiers on a range of combat related mental health issues and termed this phase as the “turning point” of his life.
By the time he retired from the army in 2004, Singh already knew the time to pursue his calling had arrived. He developed a unique mind-body method of destressing the human body, which he called “cosmic meditation”. With all the enthusiasm of a beginner, he began conducting workshops on stress management and personality development. Such was their impact that he soon started getting invitations for giving lectures in the United States and Canada.
Not only this, Singh is a marriage and career counsellor too. “Faulty relationships are the prime cause behind stress. While I was in the army I came across many broken marriages of soldiers, which helped me gain insight into the factors responsible for marital discord,” he says.
What makes Singh stand apart from the rest is that he prefers to conduct his workshops free of cost. Ask him why and he promptly replies, “I developed my counselling skills while I was in the army and whatever I’m today I owe to those 35 years. Hence this is my way of giving back to society.”
Having held workshops for major companies, educational institutes, the Chandigarh judicial academy and the police force, to name a few, he is content with what he has accomplished. “Both my children are married and settled and I get my pension regularly. I’ve found the most supportive partner in my wife, Bhupinder Kaur, and we’ve our own house, so why should I ask for more?” he asks.
At 68 his creativity remains undiminished, finding an outlet in writing. His first book, titled Happiness through PEG Therapy, was published just a year after his retirement. The latest addition is Stress Management: Steps to Health, Happiness And Success, which deals with lifestyle diseases in urban India and was released at the 2013 Chandigarh Book Fair.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Singh regularly participates in social service activities in his capacity as secretary of the Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Manimajra and secretary public relations of the Residents’ Welfare Association, Manimajra. Asked where he gets the energy to pull through a day packed with events, Singh says: “The answer is in the question itself. I feel energised simply because I work. Had I given up on life I wouldn’t have been able to do all the things I’m doing today. The kind of satisfaction I get when an estranged couple walks out of my office with the resolve to make their marriage work is much more than that I’d get out of taking a nap at that hour!”