Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Stories, Art of Living Wisdom.

Today is the first day of “Sharad Navartri” also called as “Maha Navaratri (the Great Navratri). Today is the beginning of the most auspicious nine days period.

Navaratri has two meanings – “New Night” and “Nine Nights”. ‘Nav” means either New or Nine and ‘Ratri’ means nights.

Now, why these nine days are called nights? ‘Ratri’ or night relieves you and puts you to sleep. No animal needs to worry at night. Whether happy or unhappy everybody goes to sleep. Night is when our body gets rested and the spirit gets rejuvenated. The word “Ratri” is made up of “ra” and “tri”. Here “ra” means giving solace and “tri” means three types. Solace from three types of problems in life – physical, ethereal and causal. Every night during very deep sleep, for a few moments when all mental activity has ceased, the spirit merges with its source and gets rejuvenated. So these auspicious nine days of Navratri are meant for renewal of the life force energy and removal of all obstacles from life.

It takes nine months for a child to be born. The child rests in the womb during this period. Similarly during the nine days of Navaratri you get back to the Self. Dip into yourself and then you come out with more creativity, more clarity, more energy and become victorious in life. You get relief from all the negative forces like craving and aversion, dullness and inertia, lust and obsession, ignorance  and doubts  – get relief from all these. Get renewed by connecting with the source within.

During Navratri the seeker gets back to the true Source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one’s own being.

Gurudev says, “Just as the nature celebrates when spring comes, the Spirit celebrates when Navaratri comes.”

There are two aspects of Divinity, ‘Shiva and ‘Shakti’. Shiva is the un-manifest and Shakti is the manifest form of the same consciousness. The whole creation is a primordial dance of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the very basis of creation and Shakti is the creation itself. All creative impulses originate from Shakti. During Navratri we honour and worship this ‘Shakti’, the power behind creation, maintenance and emancipation of the universe.

We all are floating in the effulgence of one scintillating, unseen, vibrant cosmic energy of the Divine Mother or the Devi. The Devi (Mother Divine) is called Shodashakala (The One with all 16 Divine qualities or attributes). It means that she possess all divine and noble qualities, and lacks nothing.  If you see the Devi, on one side she is so beautiful and full of love, compassion and grace, but on the other side she is also Maa Kali (one of Her more terrifying and violent manifestations). She is graceful and serene in one form, but at the same time in another form she is terrifying and fearsome.

Goddess Lakshmi is very calm and graceful while Goddess Durga is very terrifying and awe-inspiring. The all-bestowing Goddess Lakshmi rides the harmless owl (the mount) and in another form the vanquisher of evil and ignorance, Goddess Durga rides the fierce lion.

You can see all the opposite aspects of Divinity coming together in the Devi. The world created by the Devi is also made up of opposites and it is sustained by opposites.

In the Durga Saptashati it is said,

“Ya Devi Sarva-bhutesu Bhranti-rupena Samsthitha Namastasyei Namastasyei Namastasyei Namo Namaha.….”

Oh Mother Divine, you are present in all beings as peace and as disturbance; as knowledge and as delusion. I adore you, I bow down to you again and again!

During these nine days of Navratri we will be honouring different aspects of Mother Divine called as the Nava Durgas or Nava Shaktis. Nava Durga are the nine aspects of Durga Shakti which act like a shield to ward off all negativities.

The First Avatara of Goddess Durga is Shailputri 

Shailaputri : Among the Nine Durgas, Maa Shailputri is considered to be the first manifestation of Goddess Durga.  She carries the trishul and the lotus in her hands. Her vehicle is the Bull, Nandi. Her worship takes place on the first day of Navaratri. “Shaila” means stone, “putri” means daughter.

Praying to her brings strength like a stone. It brings commitment. When the mind is wavering, chanting the name of this Devi helps the mind to be centred and committed. It gives us strength, courage, and composure.

Shailaputri

नमो देव्यै महादेव्यै शिवायै सततं नमः 

नमः प्रकृत्यै भद्रायै नियताः प्रणताः स्म ताम् ॥१॥
Namo Devyai Mahaa-Devyai Shivaayai Satatam Namah |
Namah Prakrtyai Bhadraayai Niyataah Prannataah Sma Taam ||1||

1.1: Salutations to the Devi, to the Mahadevi; Salutations Always to Her Who is One with Shiva (the Auspicious One).
1.2: Salutations to Her Who is the Auspicious (being One with Shiva) Primordial Source of Creation and Controller of Everything; We Bow Always to Her.

रौद्रायै नमो नित्यायै गौर्यै धात्र्यै नमो नमः 
ज्योत्स्नायै चेन्दुरूपिण्यै सुखायै सततं नमः ॥२॥

Raudraayai Namo Nityaayai Gauryai Dhaatryai Namo Namah |
Jyotsnaayai Ce[a-I]ndu-Ruupinnyai Sukhaayai Satatam Namah ||2||

2.1: Salutations to the Terrible, Salutations to the Eternal, the Shining One and the Supporter of the Universe.
2.2: Salutations Always to Her, Who has a Cool Brightness like the Moonlit Night, And the Radiant Form of the Moon, and Who is Joy Herself.

कल्याण्यै प्रणता वृद्धयै सिद्धयै कुर्मो नमो नमः 
नैर्ऋत्यै भूभृतां लक्ष्म्यै शर्वाण्यै ते नमो नमः ॥३॥

Kalyaannyai Prannataa Vrddhayai Siddhayai Kurmo Namo Namah |
Nairrtyai Bhuubhrtaam Lakssmyai Sharvaannyai Te Namo Namah ||3||

3.1: We Bow to Her Who is the Source of Welfare, Who is Great, Fulfilled and Abides as the Universe,
3.2: Salutations to Her Who is the Destroyer as well as the Prosperity which Supports the Earth and Who is the Consort of Shiva (in the Divine Play of Creation, Sustenance and Destruction).

 

Keep watching this space …More to come

Sanjay Sabnis

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom.

Medical findings about Sudarshan Kriya:

A world conference on science, consciousness and spirituality held in New Delhi noted the key findings of research conducted on the Sudarshan Kriya. Below is a simplified synopsis:

1. Less depression, more elation

Dr Richard Brown from the USA has postulated that Kriya contributes to a state of alert calmness through its effect on the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is crucial in social bonding, empathy and love; it is the centre of our gut instincts and is crucial to our ability to perceive, observe and make complex decisions. Impaired vagal activity is found in people with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, violent adults, post traumatic stress disorder, early Alzheimer’s and obesity.

2. Sleep like a baby

`Stephen Porges suggested that the different rhythms of breath in Kriya stimulates different fibers of the vagus nerve. This makes SKY unique and likely to have a much wider range of effects. Interestingly, brain wave rhythms during and after Kriya are similar to those of babies.

3. Think Positive 

Dr Fahri Saatcioglu from Oslo did a 6-week study on the effect of Kriya on the relaxation response and feeling of wellness on 109 subjects. 56 of them went through the Art of Living course and performed Kriya daily for 6 weeks. The other 53 relaxed in an armchair for 15 minutes daily for the same period. 6 weeks later, a significant increase in the experience of wellness in the Kriya group was noted as compared to the ‘armchair’ group. There was a sharp decrease in anxiety, depression and stress and a marked increase in optimistic thinking in the Kriya group.

4. Live longer

Dr Neeta Singh from New Delhi studied the effects of Kriya on the genes that affect stress related pathways of the human body. She found an increase in vital antioxidant enzymes that are responsible for a longer life span and better protection against cancer.

5. Healthy heart, skin and blood pressure 

Dr Stephen Larsen from the USA studied neurophysiological responses before, during and after Kriya. The tests run were EEG (recorded at 19 cortical sites), EKG, heart rate variability, galvanic skin response, hand skin temperature, pulse plethysmography and blood pressure. He found that Kriya practices produced significant changes in ALL physiological measures. It appears that over a period of time, the practitioner’s health becomes more robust, flexible and able to deal with the challenges of stress. This explains why regular practice of Kriya is very important.

6. Decreased work-related stress

Dr Vedamurthachar from Bangalore studied the effect of the AOL Course on occupational stress and anxiety among 60 software engineers. At the end of a month, the 30 engineers who took the AOL course showed a sharp reduction in anxiety and improvement in stress coping skills as compared with the 30 controls.

7. Sudarshan Kriya and vegetarian meals for good health

E G Lyulyakina from Russia studied the oral micro flora of SKY practitioners. She found that the number of microorganisms in lacto vegetarians were 2-3 times less than that in ‘non strict’ vegetarians. She concluded that practice of Kriya and a vegetarian diet reduces the microbial content of the mouth.

8. Fight Cholesterol

Dr Chiplonkar from Pune studied the lifestyle, behavioral and health aspects of 105 adults before and after undergoing the part I Art of Living Course. She found that majority of micronutrients showed a positive correlation with sattvic foods. After the practice of Kriya for 2 months, she found a significant reduction in anxiety, sharp increase in antioxidant capacity, reduction in triglycerides and a marginal reduction in oxidative stress.

9. Beneficial for cancer patients

Arielle Warner in USA studied the psycho spiritual benefits of Kriya were studied in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The subjects were evaluated 2 weeks before the Art of Living Course, 8 days after the Course and after 5 weeks of regular practice. A significant improvement in quality of life, spiritual well being, positive states of mind and perceived stress was observed after the AOL course and was maintained 5 weeks later.

10. Sudarshan Kriya rules over other similar yoga tools

Dr Janis Carter from Australia compared the effects of different modalities like Iyengar and Desikachar yoga, Qi Gong, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and a multi-component yoga intervention (MCYI) in treating Australian Vietnam war veterans with long standing Post traumatic Stress disorder. She found that the interventions that used many tools of yoga viz. Sudarshan Kriya and MCYI showed the greatest efficacy.

11. Psychoanalytical healing

Dr Patricia Gerberg from USA discussed the effects of doing the Art of Living Kriya program in a patient undergoing psychoanalysis since a long time. She found Kriya useful in healing negative past impressions and the `dissociation’ that rendered the patient unable to connect with others and with his own feelings.

It has come to almost everyone’s experience that Sudarshan Kriya is not just a physical breathing exercise. There is much more to it. Technique is one thing. Practicing it with faith, honor, respect and gratitude lends grace to the technique.  Being aware of the supreme power that is governing every molecule in the universe multiplies the efficacy of the technique.  There is absolutely nothing wrong in having an intellectual curiosity.  Spirituality is not opposed to science, rather it complements. There are examples of eminent scientists like Einstein who recognized spirituality in science. In fact spirituality is the conscience of science.  But I have realized, in life it is impossible to understand everything at the intellectual level. Life is a mystery to be lived, not understood. When something is beyond our comprehension, it is wise to drop questioning and start wondering. In my sixteen years into Art of Living, I have had multitude occasions just to wonder because there was no logical explanation available. Two people come to the course; learn Sudarshan Kriya along with other things. They have the same problem of hypertension for the same number of years and they both are almost the same age. While one gets completely cured within two sessions of Sudarshan Kriya, baffling his doctors, the other goes on battling the disorder despite regular practice. How do we account for it scientifically? What was lacking in the other person? Faith, trust, improper practice or was it just his karma? We have seen in Art of Living family people overcoming difficulties , be it health, relationships, finance or any other that was bogging him/ her just by being regular in sadhana, seva and satsang that burn the seeds of karma.  Sri Sri RaviShankar has said recently that “Grace has the ability to change anything at anytime”. It is just a matter of time and having infinite patience with the belief that the best is going to happen to me and whatever happens happens for the best. The mind becomes free. We are miserable only when we not in knowledge.
If only we give the divine a chance to work for us! To my understanding, it is keeping the intellectual curiosity alive; doing what needs to be done and at the same time to drop the intellect and be in the space of surrender for the divine to do the needful is the trick to reap the benefit. It is a journey from the head to the heart.

Once we have caught the hang of it, it is time to spread the message. What could be more fulfilling than sharing joy, love, knowledge, life itself with our fellow beings! Sudarshan Kriya taught in the Happiness course opens up all the channels in our being that was hitherto undiscovered. As i walk on the path, it is new discovery every moment into the wonderful recesses of my own mind. I cannot stop wondering at myself with a witness consciousness! A self development program unparalleled.

Self discovery

Sudarshan Kriya yoga practice leads one to a wonderland of self discovery. A spirit of inquiry is kindled. Once it is kindled, it is kindled forever. Over a period of time, I have developed ‘witness consciousness’ to a large extent which helps me to be blissfully detached and at the same time give my all to what needs to be done.

An experience cannot be explained effectively in words. The only way to know how a pudding tastes is to eat it!
Knowledge is contradictory, truth is contradictory and life is a mystery!

A Guru is but an excuse for us to realize this. It is foolish to bind Him in relationships who are just an embodiment of Guru Principle.

The Guru principle or Guru Tatva is like an ocean. Some like to watch the ocean standing on the shore. Some like to walk in, get their feet wet and come back to the shore. The really blessed ones dive deep and will not stop till they gather all the pearls of wisdom the ocean has to offer.

This may take a second, minutes, hours, years or several life times/ epochs. So what!!!! Waiting with infinite patience and love itself makes life a true celebration.

 

Jai Guru Dev,

Leela Ramesh

 

Do Read Sudarshan Kriya … Transforming Lives -1

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom.

“Su means good, Darshan means vision, Kriya means action. Sudarshan Kriya means, by doing which action we get a vision of who we really are”.

I was intently listening to the Art of Living teacher before embarking on my first experience of Sudarshan Kriya some sixteen years ago. Who am I? …was a question I was fiddling with, not really making any effort to start a journey of inquiry?  I bumped into infinity by chance!

People shared their experiences. I feel very hungry.  I am craving jalebis. I want to kiss my children this moment. I felt light as though I am flying. I saw Kailash Mountain and Lord Shiva meditating. Electric current passing through my whole body. My fingers became stiff, could not move, but now I am fine. Feeling fresh as though I slept for 10 hours! Well, I was too dazed to speak but I must have shared something like I am so relaxed!  The whole package, with Sudarshan Kriya at the core, turned my life around.  The wall I had built around myself started to crumble and I was no longer afraid to reveal myself. I accepted myself first unconditionally with all my imperfections. I fell in love with myself! My heart sang, I am unique, I am beautiful, I am a masterpiece (Master’s piece, pun intended). I began to feel completely protected. I would look into the mirror every morning and marvel at my image.

A Bollywood song would come to my mind ‘ main wohi  , darpan wohi , na Jane ye kyan ho gaya, ke sab Kuch  lage naya naya’ ( I am the same, the mirror is the same. I do not know what has happened. Everything looks new)
The voice of the teacher reverberated in my ears every morning as I practised the Sudarshan Kriya. “There is rhythm in nature. Sun rises and sets at a particular time. Seasons come and go. So also there is a rhythm in our body, thoughts and emotions. By doing Sudarshan Kriya we are setting a rhythm so that we are relaxed and stress free”.

I noticed the fact that our emotions are linked to our breathing pattern. By changing the pattern we could change our emotions! If negative thoughts and emotions can be reversed by just following a rhythmic breathing practice for a few minutes on a daily basis, I was all for it.  I remembered the great poet John Milton’s words “Mind maketh heaven or hell”. My biggest enemy was nowhere outside. I recognized if I handled my mind, life will be a celebration. I became more aware of my body, breath, mind, intellect, memory and ego that was responsible for all the drama that was happening in my life. The teacher had explained ” as children, we lived in harmony with nature. As we grew up we lost the innocence and naturalness. It is like having all the musical instruments but not in tune. What do you hear if you play an orchestra? Just discordant notes. If all the musical instruments are perfectly tuned, just imagine how melodious the music would be to the ears?  Sudarshan Kriya is setting the tune so that we experience beautiful music of our own being”. The course impacted me so much that I dropped the old Leela and welcomed the new Leela joyously. I was reborn!

sudarshan_kriya_2010

My home became an ashram!

At the end of the course, I came to know that the organizers were looking for a venue to conduct courses.  I looked at my husband who was also equally touched by the course. “Shall we offer our home?”
The saga of Sudarshan Kriya courses started in our home. We moved all our furniture to corridors and made the hall free for Art of Living activities. Just as Sri Sri says, when something is started with good intention, all the necessary facilities will just present it. White sheets were brought in and spread across the hall. Volunteers came in to heat milk to be given after the Sudarshan Kriya.  I would sit through every course never tiring of repetition.
While answering a question by the teacher in one of the courses ‘ what is that one thing you want in your life’, I said “To sit in your chair and teach this course “. It was clear to me that if there was something worthwhile doing in this lifetime, it was teaching people how to be happy, stress free and calm. Gradually tapering off all other activities, I involved myself in sadhana, seva, satsang while attending higher courses that paved my way to be His instrument. My intuition became very sharp. I often got visions of Gurudev although I had still not taken His Darshan.

I gatecrashed to touch His feet!

While in Bangalore on vacation, I registered for Sahaj Samadhi meditation course with Bhanu Didi. On the last day of the course, we were informed Gurudev was arriving in Bangalore. It was pouring heavily. My mother and I hired a taxi and went to airport. Lot of people had already gathered at the Arrivals. While He was still inside, I implored the security to let me in so that I can meet Him properly. He refused. I pushed the glass door and touched His feet just before He got lost in the crowd.  When I stood up, I saw such compassion on His face that I had not seen on anybody’s face before.

It was my destiny…to be His instrument. As I write this episode on 15 th of August. 2014, I complete 14 years as an Art of Living teacher.  On this Independence Day, he made me free by placing a Sudarshan Kriya tape in my humble hands and telling me gently but firmly to teach well. Motherhood and teaching Art of Living courses have made me a complete person.  In fact, being an art of living teacher is to be a mother to the whole world.  God has given me one beautiful biological daughter but my Guru has blessed me to make the people of this world my children! What bliss! And what responsibility!

Sudarshan Kriya…transforming lives
One needs to be really fortunate to get Sudarshan Kriya. I know many people who have been striving for years to take time out to attend the program. I also know people who say they don’t need the program as they are already happy. I know many who have attended the program but not practising. Also there are people who got back to practicing after a gap. Guruji has said “There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who have done the course and those who will do the course”. He wants everyone to be stress free.

The kind of transformation one experiences after starting to practice Sudarshan Kriya varies from person to person.  It could be health related, outlook towards life, relationships, understanding one’s own self and many others.  It is very individual and personal. It is a wrong notion that one has to become a follower if one attends the program.  Sri Sri just wants everyone to smile. He wants to increase the happiness quotient by giving happiness program to people. If people flock around Him, it is out of choice, as an expression of gratitude and love for the invaluable knowledge that they have received. If people serve in the organization by promoting Art of Living programs, it’s but to share with others.

It is human nature to share something good. Don’t we tell other people dear to us to go watch a nice movie that we have enjoyed? Don’t we talk about a new restaurant that has opened in our area that serves yummy food? Happiness multiplies when we share. When we share such mundane things as movies and restaurants, why not share the experience of Sudarshan Kriya that transforms life? It is also human nature to doubt the positive. Although there is no reason to doubt the efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya, some of us being human question its effect. For intellectuals, there is a lot of scientific research papers available on how Sudarshan Kriya works. But then, the simple explanation that Sudarshan Kriya works like a vacuum cleaner sucking out all kinds of accumulated garbage from every cell of our body should be sufficient enough to prompt us to practice it for a few minutes every day. My personal experience is that my observation, perception and expression is improving a lot which helps me lead a better quality of life.

 

More to come…

– Leela Ramesh