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Art of Living

Chitra Parayath

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will lecture at the Arlington Street Church, Boston, on 25th April, 2002.

I talk to Jonathan Tang, who claims that practicing the 'Art of Living' has transformed and enhanced his life. "When I was introduced to Art of living by a friend, I was searching for something in life, something tangible, something I could believe in. I attended a workshop which introduced me to meditation," says Jonathan. "It has uplifted my soul and transformed my life forever." Jonathan says that he owes his professional success to the program which helped him focus on the important aspects in life. "Gone were the petty jealousies, the insecurities holding me back, I was ready to accept a whole new approach to life, one filled with positive energy and joy." When asked how he practiced the system, Jonathan replied enthusiastically "Meditation can help much, in everyday life, in every step of the way. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, during his talks, sometimes talks the participants through a meditation session and that can give you an idea of what it can do to embellish your life."

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) which has special consultative status with the United Nations. He is also the inspiration behind numerous charitable organizations focused on service and the promotion of human values. His credo: "Service is the expression of joy and love."

Ravi Shankar was born in 1956 into a religious family in Papanasma, Tamil Nadu. It was apparent to all who knew him that Ravishankar was destined to lead a spiritual life, from his early interest in spirituality and his propensity towards introspection. The definitive period of Ravi Shankar's enlightenment came about in 1982 when he began to practice and teach the Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique which eliminates stress and brings one completely into the present moment. Courses around this practice are now being taught in many countries. Millions of people around the world have experienced physical and emotional healing from these programs which eliminate stress and create a sense of belonging.

Art of Living offers courses to the public where the emphasis is on self awareness and self growth. These educational programs offer innovative tools for managing stress, resolving conflict, improving health and living life with more joy and enthusiasm. Meditation and introspection is said to aid one attain a sense of inner emptiness, leaving one open, then to dynamic oneness of creation and of love. The message of love also emphasizes a non dualistic idea of creation, where everything is a part of one divinity. These course are very structured, and are taught by trained teachers.

The Art of Living course combines the kriya with meditation and teaches how to observe the mind, to live in gratitude and to discard expectations. The workshop also provides a value-based framework to life, and tools with which to build the superstructure. The benefits of the workshop include stress reduction, a resurgence of vitality, mental clarity and joy of living. Those who attend the course routinely report relief in respiratory and spinal disorders, diabetes and heart problems. The program has been acclaimed by the World Health Organization.

Ravi Shankar has often noted that great spiritual traditions have common goals and values, encouraging people from all religions and cultural traditions to come together and celebrate love. His love, practical wisdom and wholehearted dedication to service have inspired many all over the world. Giving a whole new dimension to spirituality, infusing it with a youthful sense of celebration and joy Ravi Shankar evokes a sense of wonderment and joy in his followers.

Ravi Shankar is also associated with Ved Vigyan Mahavidyapeeth, which looks after rural education and development and seeks to revive Vedic knowledge. Founded in 1981 and accredited as a charitable non-profit institution, Ved Vignan Mahavidyapeeth (Institute of Vedic Science) provides many essential education and medical services. The only school of its kind in the area, the Institute has grown to house and serve girls and boys from many surrounding villages. All services are administered at no charge to each child through funding from supporting individuals and groups.

One of Art of Living's successful missions is the 5H program. 5H stands for Health, Hygeine, Housing, Harmony in Diversity and Human Values. The aim of the 5H program is to uplift individuals, families, communities and nations so that the finest human qualities are nurtured and the full potential of human life can be expressed throughout society.

The Art of Living Foundation sponsors the "Dollar-A-Day" program for children in the poorer regions surrounding Bangalore, India. For only a dollar a day, you can house, feed, clothe and provide education for a school-aged child.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talks at the Arlington Church in Boston on April 25.

Contact www.artofliving.org/NHMA for ticketing information.

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Jonathan Tang

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