Archive for September, 2010

Bill Herman Empowers Volunteers

We had an amazing weekend-long volunteer training with Bill Herman who directs the YES (Youth Empowerment Seminar) for schools project.The YES for schools project is a dynamic stress-relief program for teenagers taught in high schools across the country. The high school kids report more focus, peace, harmony in relationships and take more initiative. It builds their leadership skills. Bill gave us some of the experience that the children have during the program and really inspired us and built our leadership skills. It was a lot of fun and opened us up to possibilities. On Saturday night, we went for a long walk and ended up meditating together in an open field in the moonlight. That was special. One thing that stays with me is our discussion on enthusiasm and the spirit to serve. We talked about how it is such a delicate feeling that comes from within. Enthusiasm cannot be demanded. Awareness of this helps us nurture enthusiasm in ourselves and others. Bill Herman is from Chicago and used to teach photography and art in high schools and colleges. Working with IAHV, he has pioneered youth leadership and community development programs in North America, Mexico, Belize and Haiti.

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We had the pleasure of a two week long visit by senior teacher, Janael McQueen. Janael taught two Art of Meditation courses at Princeton and at Metuchen. We had knowledge and singing sessions with many groups across New Jersey including Princeton, Matawan, Bridgewater, Jersey City, South Orange and Mahwah. Janael shared her knowledge and experience as one of the first Art of Living teachers. Janael has been with Art of Living for 22 years. We were able related to her stories since they are similar to what we go through and her experience provided us guidance in overcoming difficulties.
“In meditation you get access to the quiet mind, to that something in you which can bring more energy to you, In meditation you get access to the intuitive ability which is deep within you.” ~~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Lighter and Happier

Experience with Art of Living by Maya Yajnik.
I did my first Art of Living course in Dec 2003 in North Brunswick, New Jersey and am actively involved since then. It has been an amazing, surprising experience and has exceeded my wildest expectations. I practice the breathing technique and the meditation everyday. It relieves me of lingering negative emotions like fear, anger, and irritation. It calms me down and brings clarity to my mind. It is a revelation!!! It brings such peace and joy. I have never experienced anything like it before in my life. I feel it’s a more delicate, more refined, calmer joy then any pleasure that I have ever experienced. Also, the awareness that comes with daily practice gives me insight into what’s going on inside me and around me. It helps me deal with working in the stressful corporate world, to be calm yet forceful when dealing with people and brings out some natural diplomatic skills which helps me thrive in a competitive environment without compromising on my values. I express myself much better now. My perspective on life has expanded so I deal with the inevitable ups and downs in life with more poise. Even when people irritate me or upset me in some way, I can see the issue as just an issue and maintain a sense of affection and respect for them. I used to be shy about expressing any disagreement with people and I used to cover it up while burning inside. Now I express myself, I get my point across and at the same time still care for them on a human level. I can mentally let go of the incidents in a matter of days. I see the beauty that is in each and every person. The fascinating thing is that how the inward journey deep into ourselves (that is, meditation) goes hand-in-hand with the feeling of belongingness and connectedness with everyone and everything outside. The dynamics of this is still a mystery to me.

Part of what draws me to Art of Living is a lifelong love of knowledge and a search for a deeper meaning in life. Apart from all the practical benefits, I feel a peace that comes from experiencing something deep inside and also being part of something really big and important. The vibrant and diverse Art of Living family allows me to be with different types of people of different backgrounds. There are challenges and disagreements with people but looking back these have made me grow.

I did my first Art of Living course in Dec 2003 in North Brunswick, New Jersey. The teacher, Sangeeta Jani, had such a radiant presence that I realized that there is something going on with Art of Living and that I was staying. Two months later, I did a meditation course and a silence course with Michael Fischman. I repeated the Part 1 course with Azah Mulchand. Azah encouraged me and I started helping organize courses. I was also watching the Ashtavakra Gita knowledge talks. I repeated the course yet again with Vikas and Aparna. It was a powerful experience and I was hooked.

With all the volunteering I have effectively done the Art of Living course many times and with many different teachers. Every time it has been a profound, moving and unique experience. I remember helping Chetna organize the first Art of Living course in the Metuchen Art of Living center when we moved in a few years ago. Michael Fischman came to teach it. Since then we have grown dramatically. A year ago Ketan, our teacher and center manager, gave me the responsibility of making sure that the knowledge series (Ashtavakra Gita, Bhakti Sutras etc.) happen regularly at the center. The wonderful part is seeing people grow and become such strong, wonderful human beings. It is a joy to see them shine.

Art of Living opened me up in a way I never expected. I am able to enjoy every moment and see life from a bigger perspective. I feel much lighter and happier. Our founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says “It is quite natural – the mind is not satisfied with limited joy. The desire of every mind is to go to the source where it is unlimited joy.”

About me: I grew up in Bangalore, India and did a BTech at IIT Bombay. I came to the US to study at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed an MS and PhD. I currently live in Edison, New Jersey and work at a telecommunications company.

 

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