Archive for January, 2011

Workshop on Wellness

 by the WOW2011 Team

Art of Living is organizing a unique Wellness Workshop on April 17th, 2011 in New Jersey. This workshop will bring together key speakers from ancient and modern sciences. The aim of the workshop is to increase public awareness about options available in pursuit of health and wellness. We are expecting an audience of around 1200-1500 people at this event. The topics will range from our core offerings, yoga, meditation and the Know Your Child workshop to talks on Ayurveda, Vastu Sashtra, Vedic Astrology, Diabetes, nutrition, healthy eating with a plant-based diet, organic farming, Vedic Mathematics etc.

As we all know, creating a health care infrastructure and having access to it is not enough to create a healthy and happy society. This workshop tries to fill this gap by looking at health and wellness in a holistic manner. To attain a perfect state of health one has to be not only physically fit but also mentally calm, steady and emotionally fit. To attain a perfect state of health and wellness we need to create harmonious individuals, families and communities. We need to create an environment around us which promotes good health, peace and prosperity. We need to cultivate both curative and preventative measures towards optimal physical, mental and spiritual well-being. This is not an easy state to attain in today’s fast paced world. Some well-known branches of ancient science and modern technology can come to the rescue. Please visit at WOW2011 website: http://workshoponwellness.org for more details on the event.

Many organizations and individuals are coming forward to support this event as sponsors/ partner organizations. Some of them include: prestigious NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association- http://www.ayurveda-nama.org), North East Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (http://www.nofanj.org), Vegetarian and Vegan society of New Jersey etc.

There is lot of momentum building up for this event. Please share ideas/ suggestions/ contacts by writing to info@workshoponwellness.org. Also please contact the WOW2011 Team if you would like to volunteer for this exciting project. Currently, there is a huge discount available for the WOW2011 ticket. Register for the event at: Register for WOW2011. Please write to us with your suggestions and feedback.

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My Art of Living Journey

by Sneha Shah

When I first joined Art of Living at the young age of seventeen, I admit, I was a little skeptical. I couldn’t understand how yoga, breathing and meditation could set my mind at ease. I felt that my mind was and would always be racing, uncontrollably, jumping from one thing to the next. I couldn’t focus on my studies the way I wanted to and I felt down about myself much of the time. I grew distant from others and found it difficult to connect to them, but through the Art of Living courses my life took a turn for the better. I realized that something even as simple as the breath could change my life, forever.

It’s funny how we take for granted the first thing we are given from birth; the ability to breath. After all it is always with us. We never have to worry about it suddenly disappearing. But if we take the time to acknowledge it and use it properly, it has the power to influence even our mental state! I used to think only drugs could do that, but nature has given us everything we need within ourselves. Through practicing sudarshan kriya, I was able to achieve mental clarity, happiness and redemption from stress. I awoke from my first long kriya feeling light and cleansed. I had not rested so well in years.

The kriya certainly was a catharsis, but expressing myself to others also helped me let go of the past. During another part of the course, I told my entire life story to several random strangers. I felt then, that a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Suddenly, the burdens that I had once carried around like heavy bricks seemed silly compared to others’ problems; compared to the problems of the world. I had to laugh at myself for being so emotional over nothing. I felt compassion for others, as well. It felt good to feel these positive emotions and understand that I was not alone. I believe that a sense of unity is truly formed in these courses. No one criticizes or puts others down. Although we live in a normally stressful, competitive world, Art of Living is a place where we can all help each other heal from whatever we are going through.

I am sure, some people are, like I was once, skeptical, reluctant, or even scared to give up their time to do a course, but it will not be in vain. When I reflect on my own spiritual journey, I realize how much my attitude and outlook on life has changed. Although I understand that not every day and not every moment will be perfect, I, nonetheless, feel myself desiring to be part of this world, come what may, instead of wanting to escape from it. I can see and feel the difference in myself and it amazes me. I am so grateful for this gift of a lifetime.

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by Maya Yajnik

Inspired by Prof. V. Sastry and the recent Mantra Seminar at the Art of Living center in New Jersey, I started investigating the meaning of some popular bhajans (devotional songs) that we sing at our gatherings. There is a video of a beautiful song, “Shivoham” sung by Bhanumati Narasimhan (aka Bhanudidi) in Argentina that I have heard often. The link to the video is below. I have always liked it and the meditative way in which it is sung, but I didn’t, until now, really reflect on the meaning. Now that I know the meaning, hearing it and singing it is an even more beautiful, profound and emotional experience. Here are the lyrics with my translation. Literally, “Shivoham” means “I am Shiva”. Shiva is the pure unbounded all-pervading consciousness (the transcendental self, the Absolute).

 

 

Shivoham Shivoham Shivaswarupoham
Nityoham shuddhoham buddhoham muktoham
Nityoham shuddhoham buddhoham muktoham
Shivoham Shivoham Shivaswarupoham

Shiva = the pure unbounded all-pervading consciousness (the transcendental self, the Absolute), Aham = I am, Shiva + Aham = Shivoham, swarup = the true form, nitya = eternal, shuddha = pure, buddha = intelligent, mukta = free.
“I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness). I am the unbounded consciousness. I am the very form of the unbounded consciousness.
I am eternal. I am pure. I am intelligent. I am free.
I am eternal. I am pure. I am intelligent. I am free.
I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness). I am the unbounded consciousness. I am the very form of the unbounded consciousness.”

Advaitaananda rupam-arupam
Brahmoham Brahmoham Brahmaswarupoham
Chidoham Chidoham Satchidaanandoham
Shivoham Shivoham Shivaswarupoham

Advaita = non-duality (oneness), Aananda = bliss, rupa = form, arupa = formless
Brahman = the pure unbounded all-pervading consciousness (the transcendental self, the Absolute), Chida = consciousness, Sat = Truth.
“The bliss of non-duality (oneness), that which is in all forms and yet formless.
I am Brahman (pure unbounded consciousness). I am Brahman. I am the very form of Brahman.
I am consciousness. I am consciousness. I am the bliss of consciousness which is the one Truth.
I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness). I am the unbounded consciousness. I am the very form of the unbounded consciousness.”

Jise shastra kaate na agni jalaaye,
Ghalaaye na paani na mrityu mitaaye,
Wahi aathmaa Satchidaananda mai hoon,
Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham

Jise = which, shastra = dagger, kaate = cut, na = nor, agni = fire, jalaaye = burn, ghalaaye = dissolve, paani = water, mrityu = death, mitaaye = destroy, wahi = that, aathmaa = soul, Sat = Truth, Chida = consciousness, Aananda = bliss, mai = I, hoon = am.
“That which cannot be cut by a dagger, nor burnt by fire.
That which cannot be dissolved by water, nor destroyed by death.
That very soul, the bliss of consciousness which is the truth, I am.
I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness). I am the unbounded consciousness. I am the unbounded consciousness. I am the unbounded consciousness.”

Amar aathmaa hai maranshil kaaya,
Sabhi praaniyo ke jo bhitar samaayaa,
Wahi aathmaa Satchidaananda mai hoon,
Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham

amar = immortal, aathmaa = soul, hai = is, maranshil = mortal, kaaya = body, sabhi = all, praaniyo = living beings, ke jo bhitar samaayaa = residing within
“The immortal soul, the body is mortal,
that which is inside all living beings,
that very soul, the bliss of consciousness, I am.
I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness) …”

Jo vyaapak hai kana kana he waahas jiskaa,
Nahi teeno kaalo meih he naash jiskaa,
Wahi athmaa Satchidaananda mai hoon,
Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham

vyaapak = everywhere, kana kana he waahas jiskaa = in every particle of existence, Nahi = which is not, teeno = the three, kaalo = ages, meih = in, naash = destroy
“That which is everywhere in every particle of existence,
which is not destroyed in the three ages,
that very soul, the bliss of consciousness, I am.
I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness) …”

Amar aathmaa Satchidaananda mai hoon,
Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham Shivoham
“The immortal soul, the bliss of consciousness, I am.
I am Shiva (the pure unbounded consciousness) …”

The first part is a sanskrit chant which has its origins in a famous poem composed by Sage Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. The second part (starting from Jise shastra ) is in Hindi. The meaning is very deep! It reminds me of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s profound yet practical commentary on the Ashtavakra Gita. To me, it means that the singer is identifying with his/her infinite self rather than with the temporary aspects of his/her existence. So rather than identifying with thoughts, feelings, circumstances, roles and the mortal body, which are ever-changing, the singer identifies with his/her soul which is eternal and indestructible. The experience of being one with our inner being is the bliss. Some of us, who are lucky, get a glimpse of this in meditation. We are, at our core, eternal, pure, untouched, intelligent and free.

Jan 24, 2010: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s explanation: After writing this post, I came across (thanks to Amra!) an explanation of “Shivoham” by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar which is, of course, beautiful. Here it is. Enjoy!

“”Shiva” here means that innocent, blissful, splendid, golden, beautiful.
“Shivoham” — I am Shiva. Splendid, the most innocent.
“Shiva Swarupoham” — my nature is Shiva. My form is Shiva. I am made up of a substance that is Shiva — innermost me.

“Nityoham” — I am ever present. I am always there. Body dies, disappears, but I am there.
“Nityoham Shuddhoham” — I am ever pure. Nothing can touch me. All these things come and go, but they cannot touch me, they cannot do anything to me.
“Buddhoham” — I am always enlightened.
“Shivoham Shivoham Shiva Swarupoham. Nityoham” — I am eternal. There is no end to me.

“Advaita Ananda Rupam Arupam. Shivoham Shivoham Shiva Swarupoham” — There is no two. It is me in all the forms, all over. It is me. My breath is flowing everywhere. I am the formless though I am inside a form. My spirit has no form. Though I am formless, I move in forms, in all forms in the whole world.

“Brahmoham Brahmoham Brahma Swarupoham” — I am the Brahman, the totality, the all.
“Chidoham Chidoham” — I am the consciousness. I am lively. I am full of life. I am pure energy and pure consciousness.”
~~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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