The Party Begins in Argentina

Party is one word which any South American can connect to easily.. Fiesta!

After 36 hrs of flight  from Bangalore, I arrived in Argentina on the evening of 31st march which happened to be my birthday. Art Of Living makes every day a celebration, but for a lot of people here this was a perfect excuse to begin the Sri Sri Yoga Part II with a grand celebration!

Since Gurudev, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji was to visit here in september, every one was looking forward to hear about Him, some adventurous ‘Guru’ stories and each and every bit of my experience with the Master.

It is interesting that hundreds of thousands of people in Argentina who have experienced immense physical and emotional transformation  through various Art Of Living Courses, have only heard about it’s founder or seen Him only in videos!!

Since then everywhere I go, which ever car I go in, whichever volunteer groups I meet, through all the satsangs people are only eagerly waiting to know more about the Guru.

To me the whole of South America looks like one big happy family, with loving, caring people, who  always make you feel at home. Whether it was Argentina, Trinidad, Surinam, Curaçao, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, I end up meeting the nicest people everywhere.

There were challenges, but then what is knowledge for? However negative a person is he/she can shine through life if they service themselves regularly with Sudarshan Kriya.

We did have some heart rendering stories shared. In Buenos Aires, someone shared how they overcame terminal disease like HIV while in Cordoba, there was a recovery from cancer . Many youth in Salta, came out of various addictions, including drugs, while others who were contemplating suicide got the strength to change their decision and choose life.

All participants of the programme said it equipped them to handling day to day circumstances, and deal with trouble makers at work, home  and society.

Each is connected by some thread, something special has touched each life. The foundation, Knowledge, profound experiences, service  activities or the unconditional love of Gurudev. And that is why they are here…..

It is the grandest fiesta for them to see Him for the first time after waiting so long! And every party has to have grand preparations.

We are going all out for his visit. Gurudev says that the easiest way to be happy, is to bring joy in someone else’s life!

So thousands of people are busy organising and conducting marathons, cleaning the entire city (with clean your city-clean your mind project), encouraging people to write peace messages, talent competitions for children,  having regular meditations sessions at different places, along with programme for the prisoners, bringing all the NGOs engaged in service together (With ‘celebrating service’ project), conducting sadhna (spiritual practices)and satsangs  (dancing-singing mantras) everyday in all the centres (increasing the positivity of the individual and society), conducting Breath Water Sound workshops for masses (a free programme for various developing areas in towns).

Nobody wants to rest here, though the body gets tired, they are full of enthusiasm, joy, love. Doing their best to live through His teachings. Being happy ourselves and serving the society. That is the Art Of Living!

Source: www.artoflivingsecrets.com

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A-Z Reasons to do Yoga

A-Adaptability

Yoga makes me focused and energetic. The more flexible my body is, the suppler is my mind. This makes me more open to change, with an ability to adapt to situations. – Resha Desai Patel, Manager.

B-Balance

Yoga gives me the strength to strike a balance between the extremes of joy and sorrow, excitement and disappointment, attachment and apathy. – Deepti Sachdev, Teacher

C-Confidence

Yoga gives me the confidence that my body is healthy. – Mukta Behere, Writer

D-(New) Dimensions

Yoga opens up new dimensions in life. – Pallavi Joshi, Content Manager

E-Enthusiasm

Sometimes when life feels dry, yoga brings back the enthusiasm and keeps me happy. – Nikita Vasa, Social Media Marketing ethusiast.

F-Freshness

First thing in the morning, yoga gives me the freshness of an energy drink to carry through the whole day. The effect is instant, I feel extremely active. – Pritika Nair, Writer

G-Glow

Ever since I started practicing yoga regularly, my friends now compliment me that my skin has started glowing. – Alok Anand, Software Programmer

H-Harmony

Stress through the day creates disharmony in our body-mind complex. Yoga in the evening brings back the harmony. –Varun Uniyal, Business Analyst

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Knowing the Meditator in Sharmila Tagore

Re-energize yourself in 10 minutes, she says

An Indian actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Sharmila Tagore is a name that created a wave in the Indian film industry from the 60s to the 80s and still continues to do so. In a brief chat with Divya Sachdev, she shares how meditation adds value to people’s lives.

Q- What are your views about meditation?
Sharmila Tagore: 
I think it is absolutely essential today. It should be a part of our school curriculum and parental upbringing. To me meditation means calming down; it’s like being in touch with yourself amidst our daily buzz of coping with traffic hassles, work stress etc. It is the best way to stay healthy and balanced. For one’s own sanity, a little bit of meditation in the day is a must-do.

Q-Since you belong to the film industry, how do you think meditation can help the pressure-stricken film fraternity?
Sharmila Tagore: 
Every profession has some sort of pressure, the film industry is not unique in that respect. A labourer’s life has pressure, a doctor has pressure. Look at writers: they too have so much pressure. Today, pressure is universal. But in our particular field, meditation not only helps to calm down but it also helps to concentrate. It helps in memorizing lines and being relaxed in front of the camera. If your face is relaxed, you definitely look good. When you are sitting down calmly looking at a nice flower, thinking nice and happy things, it immediately makes you feel better, instead of running all the time.

Q- So it actually adds value to people from all walks of life?
Sharmila Tagore:
 Most certainly. Meditation adds value and keeps them healthy and happy, because anything you decide and do in a calm frame of mind will be a better decision, than doing it in a hurried and agitated fashion.

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Meditation: The Taste of True Freedom

It is the thirst of every human being to be free. Freedom is not luxury, it is a necessity. But when the mind gets caught up in a never-ending list of day-to-day activities, it seems like the search is forgotten. But Meditation allows you to come back to your true nature.

The quality of a saint is that they are established in their true nature. However, even they were beginners at some point in time. Their journey of self-discovery is a guiding light for other seekers. The following verses beautifully express how meditation helped these saints discover the real taste of true freedom.

#1 Meditation is being very natural, being at home; at home with yourself and at home with everything else in the universe – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Is it enough money, and a healthy body?
Is it freedom of speech, or a democracy?
Seeing people who have these, do they really feel free?

To be able to love unconditionally,
To be able to smile, whatever the challenge may be,
To be able to feel at home with whoever you see,
That I think is what true freedom really could be!

And it’s this that meditation can give you and me…

– Swami Purnachaitanya

#2 You are the one witness of everything, and are always totally free  – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

True freedom is just a happening
Where in, present moment is accepted and you see yourself witnessing
Without any resistance and letting go
All you do is sit with your eyes closed
Meditate, oh my dear one, to experience the joy of going deep within

(Based on thoughts by Swami Harish)

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Significance of Pooja

Honouring is a sign of divine love. That honouring is called Pooja. The ceremony of Pooja indicates what nature is already doing for you. The Divine worships you in so many forms. In Pooja you offer everything back to the Divine.

Flowers offered in Pooja because the flower is a symbol of love. The Divine has come to you in love through so many forms: mother, father, wife, husband, children, friends. The same love comes to you in the form of the Master to elevate you to the level of divine love, which is also your own nature. Recognizing this flowering of love from all sides of life, we offer flowers.

Fruits are offered, because the Divine offers fruits in the season. You offer grain, because nature provides you food. A candlelight and a cool camphor light are offered; in the Pooja, and it is performed with deep feeling. Through Pooja, we say to God, “Oh whatever you give to me, I give back to you”. Pooja is honour and gratefulness.

Have you ever seen children? They have small little pots and dishes. They sometimes pretend that they make toast or tea. They serve you. There will be nothing in the cup; it is all in their imagination. They play with you. Whatever you do to them, they also do. They put the doll to sleep; they feed it and bathe it. In the same way, Pooja is an expression of what the Divine is doing for you.

It is all these things together made into a big soup. When you are in deep love, you naturally want to offer something…

Usually when you love something you want to possess it. And in the process of possessing, you make the beautiful thing ugly. Pooja is contrary to that. Pooja means honour and worship, offering one’s self. You appreciate, you adore, and you recognize beauty. Worship is just the opposite of wanting to possess… Usually our relationships do not flower to this extent, instead we start demanding. Husband and wife, Master and servant, there is a demand. “I have done so much for you. Now you must do this thing for me.” Demanding is contrary to honouring. The way to preserve a relationship is to honour.

Honour the creation. Look at a tree with honour. Be grateful for its being here. It purifies the poison that we breathe out. It makes the air fresh. Have you ever thought, “These trees are mine. The sun, the moon, the water everything belongs to me. All these stars are mine. The people are mine.” When you honour the creation, you will feel this.

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The 16 Samskārās

The purpose in life is to understand who we really are and fully blossom in love. As human beings, we go through several phases in this journey of life – childhood, education, youth, professional life, marriage, parenthood etc. Almost all cultures and traditions mark and celebrate these stages in the journey of life. Our ancient Vedic tradition identifies sixteen such important events to be marked and celebrated in one’s life – these are called Shodasha Samskrārās.

Samskārās literally mean “impression” and also “to refine or purify”. Life is celebration. Celebration brings everyone together, creates enthusiasm, uplifts the spirit, brings joy and harmony in the society. Samskrārās in the Vedic tradition are celebrated by specific ceremonies which involve rituals, Homās, chanting of mantras, use of specific herbs, fruits, flowers, grains etc., obtaining blessings of elders and family. The Samskārā ceremonies bring positive impressions in the mind, bring fulfillment, success and harmony in every stage of life. Samskārās strengthen the individual, protect the body and mind. The Shodasha Samskārās also have deeper spiritual significance and are best performed by qualified pandits under the guidance of a spiritual master.

Shodasha Samskārās identifies Samskārās – rituals that begin before the birth of the individual and continue till the end of the lifespan. The Samskārās are based on ancient texts – Manu Smriti and Grihya Sutrās. A brief introduction to each of the Samskārās is presented here.

Garbhādhāna

Garbhādhāna literally means “gifting the womb”. This Samskārā is done after the couple is united in holy matrimony. This Samskārā is performed to bring love and harmony between the newlyweds. The husband and wife resolve to treat each other equally with love and mutual respect. The husband honors his new bride as Goddess Lakshmi incarnate. This Samskārā aims to cultivate good conduct, right thinking and living habits. The couple prays to the Divine to bless them with bright, intelligent and beautiful children.

Pumsavana

Children are a gift and bring great joy into our lives. Pumsavana Samskrāra is usually conducted in the third month of pregnancy. This Samskārā is performed to beget a good child.

Seemanthonnayana 

Seemathonnayana is usually performed in the fifth or seventh month of pregnancy. This is similar to baby shower. This ceremony is performed for the health and long life of the mother and the child in the womb of the mother. The vibrations of the mother and surrounding atmosphere are said to influence the child in the womb. There are many stories in the Purānās and Ithihāsa that illustrate this. During this period, it is good for the pregnant woman to be happy, contented and peaceful.Typically relatives pamper the pregnant woman with gifts of sweets, savories and bangles.

Jātakarma

Jātakarma is performed to welcome the newborn child into the world reminding it of its divine nature on this journey of life. The baby is first bathed and cleaned and then fed a small mixture of honey, ghee and gold by the father. The father also whispers a mantra in the child’s right ear reminding it of its divine nature. This Samskārā also seeks the blessings of intelligence, health and long life for the child.

Nāmakarana

Our name is an important part of the identity in this word. In the Vedic tradition names are chosen carefully based on several factors. Nāmakarana is an ancient Vedic ceremony for naming the child and is usually performed on 11th day after birth with poojās, chanting and singing. Five names are chosen for the child – based on the birth star of the child (nakshatranāma), the birth month (māsanāma), family deity (Kuladevata Nāma), popular name (loukika nāma) through which the child is known, and name based on grandparents of the child. All relatives and friends bless the child with long life, intelligence and good life. There is a feast at the end of the Nāmakarana ceremony.

Karnavedha

Wearing earrings is a common practice in many ancient cultures. The ear lobes have an important acupressure point. Neurologists in the west have done research linking the earlobes to two hemispheres of the brain.
Piercing ears is believed to help in developing intelligence and enhancing immunity against respiratory infections. Often in India when prostrating to Lord Ganesha, we gently tug at our ear lobes while doing sit-ups. This ancient practice is now being taught as a very popular yoga technique in the west to enhance intelligence and awareness in children.

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Women And Enlightenment

Enlightenment is a state where one is totally at ease with oneself. It is a state of relaxed awareness; an inner state transcending limited identities of faith, nationality or gender and beyond outer behavior. All spiritual practices like yoga, mediation, facilitate the journey to enlightenment. Adi Shankara beautifully describes this in the verses of the atmashtakam: “I am not the body, breath, mind, intellect, ego or memory – I am the ever pure consciousness whose nature is bliss, I am that innocence and benevolence.” Friendliness, compassion, contentment, an attitude of sharing and caring – all these are the qualities of one who is in their nature, centered.

When we think ‘women’, soft, gentle, emotional, caring and sharing are the qualities that usually come to our mind. The emotional tendency of women allows them to be naturally more sensitive, a quality that plays a great role in understanding oneself and others. For example, a mother is sensitive to the child’s needs. A newborn child has no communication skills. It is dependant on the mother’s sensitivity. She is capable of an understanding beyond words, a mastery of the language of the heart. Enlightenment is also a realm where words have no access, but sensitivity has.

The innate sensitivity of women, when combined with sensibility and wisdom, facilitates moving into the space of the Self.

Enlightenment is a state of being where we are balanced. Women, playing so many roles, are constantly engaged in this balancing act. However, what is the difference between a woman who is spiritual and one who has not experienced that silent space yet? In the balancing game, one gets stress while the other gets bliss. The choice is ours.

A mother, from the time of pregnancy, to child- birth, undergoes considerable discomfort physically, yet is unmindful and full of care and unconditional love for the child. When this sense of belongingness extends to the universal family, that enlightened state of the seers becomes visible in her.

There are many women who have attained this state. Like flowers in the forest that go unnoticed, these women blossom not for recognition, but because it is in their nature. They lead contented and happy lives and spread it too.

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