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December 21, 2004 > Art of Living

Art of Living

by Arathi Satish

December brings with it the spirit of giving-a quality that should be present all year. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, head of the Art of Living foundation, does his best every day to live such a life.

"Life is sacred. Celebrate life. Care for others and share whatever you have with those less fortunate than you. Broaden your vision, for the whole world belongs to you," the revered Ravi Shankar has said.

According to the Art of Living theory, to live life fully and freely is an art requiring skill, intuition, creativity and knowledge. Through its various programs, the foundation tries to bring these values to society by empowering individuals. The programs offer solutions to eliminate stress, create a sense of belonging and restore human values. People from different religions are encouraged to participate in the celebrations and services that are part of the "Art".

Run exclusively by volunteers, the Art of Living Foundation is an international, nonprofit organization that offers programs in more than 142 countries all over the world. In the United States alone there are 80 centers that conduct the educational, charitable and humanitarian efforts that the foundation is known for. There are 32 Art of Living centers located in California including a center in Fremont. The foundation works in conjunction with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and has accredited representatives at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna. The foundation participates in numerous committees and activities pertaining to health, education, sustainable development and conflict resolution. The Art of Living Foundation also works in formal consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values is lead by the legendary Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He has studied with many renowned spiritual masters, is a Vedic literature scholar, holds advanced degrees in modern science and was once George Harrison's mentor. Sri Sri, as he is popularly known, travels and teaches internationally. He encourages individuals to follow their chosen religion or spiritual path while honoring the path of others. His messages are simple yet filled with love, practical wisdom and compassion that continue to inspire people.

The Art of Living International Research and Health Promotion Center offers various practices that help to overcome modern day stress, anxiety and depression. The foundation welcomes input and suggestions from interested organizations. Art of Living's courses are a combination of ancient wisdom and modern science aimed at helping individuals to improve their quality of life, eliminate stress, and resolve conflict.

The foundation's teachings suggest that for every rhythm in the mind there is a corresponding rhythm in the breath and for every rhythm in the breath there is a corresponding emotion. By paying close attention to one's personal breathing pattern, the foundation believes, the individual brings its mind into the present moment where joy, clarity and peace of mind reside.

The Art of Living offers its teachings through two courses. The first half of the program concentrates on introspection and includes stretching exercises for improved circulation and relaxation. The techniques taught are meant to balances the flow of energy in the body and uses guided mediation to calm and rejuvenate on all levels. The classes stress the importance of a controlled breathing pattern.

The basis for this course is the powerful technique, Sudarshan Kriya that purifies and rejuvenates mind and body. This method links the mind-body system in a specific way, helping the body to get rid of accumulated stress and toxins while releasing negative emotions and rejuvenating the body. The foundation's research claimed that Sudarshan Kriya aids in the reduction of the stress hormone cortisol, decreases depression and anxiety and restores normal sleep patterns.

The second course is a residential as the guest relaxes for four to six days. It deals with true relaxation and encourages individuals to partake in an intensive study of their own mind. The teachings aim to relax the student and include exercises in silence, meditation, celebration and service. Specialized lessons include corporate courses, art excel courses for kids, college courses and courses for medical conditions. Service programs range from stress-reduction education programs for prisoners, medical camps, reintegrating human values in society to educating rural children.

Ravi Shankar said, "Service is the expression of joy and love. Ask yourself, 'How can I be useful to those around me and to the whole world?' then your heart starts to blossom and a completely new level of life begins."

The first half of the Art of Living Part One will be held at the Fremont Center, January 25 - 30, 2005. Weekdays: 7 - 9:30 p.m.; Sat, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For further details call Sanjana Chopra at (510)745-8281 or Prasad at (510) 894-2920. You can also send email to Fremont@artofliving.org.

Sound in Silence: Sound relaxation session at the homeless shelter on Tues., Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. Blankets will be given to the people at Tri-City Homeless Coalition, 588 Brown Road, Fremont.

 
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