Art of Living Courses, Art of Living Experiences, Yoga and Meditation.

Being a full time sevak with the Art of Living Foundation, coordinating its Rural Development Programs, my travel schedule is very hectic. My recent trips have been to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh & Uttranchal, all in a span of 40 days. As I was finally taking my early morning flight from Delhi to Bangalore Ashram (my home and workplace), I opened my laptop to review the long list of proposals that I had to review, my pending office appointments and the 300 odd unanswered mails I had in my outbox. As the flight took off, I looked outside to draw inspiration from the clear blue skies emitting the first rays of the morning sun (one of the reasons why I take the early morning flights),  but could not see anything but clouds. I then tried to close my eyes to meditate, but could not think of anything but the tasks that I needed to complete once I reach my office.

On reaching Bangalore Airport, I booked a cab to the Ashram. As I reached Ashram, it was little past breakfast time. I left my bags in my room and called up office saying that I will reach office after in an hours time. My mind was bogged down by the continuous pressure of work. I thought to myself, let me do my sadhna before breakfast, but the mind completely rejected the thought saying, “BOSS you have a lot of work to do and your team expects you in office after such a long gap. As I sat on the breakfast table, Suresh Babu, a divine angel sent by Gurudev came by my table and asked me “ Have you also come for the Week Iong Guru Poornima Art of Silence Program that has started today”. I replied to Suresh Babu “Wish I could join”, to which he replied back “ You have just missed the Long Kriya and that there is another long kriya happening in the evening for some people who came late”.  I took this as a divine call and quickly went to the admin office to register for the course. A part of me was saying, “You fool, you have so much work” but another part of me was persistently saying “Work will happen, first clear the clutter in your mind”. You are a Sadhak first, and if your mind starts finding excuses for not doing your sadhna, then its time to tame it, and what better tool then a 7 days Art of Silence Program at the ashram.


I was 20 minutes late for the first session. The first words I heard of Vasanti Ji, our Silence program teacher was “ We all are Fakirs who have come here to meet our beloved  & fakirs don’t carry mobiles and fancy bags. They just carry a cloth on which they sit or lie down & a bottle of water. Luckily for you fakirs, food and stay will not be an issue here in the ashram”.

In the evening we were supposed to inform every one that we will not be reachable for the next 7 days. When I told my family and team about my plans they could not understand the rational behind being in silence for 7 days. I think my mother was the only one who could understand me. I did not bother to explain any one and was eagerly waiting to become void, to let my mind and thoughts turn into ashes, to once again experience the bliss within me.

From the second day our silence with hollow and empty meditations began. This is when I realised that when the mouth shuts, the mind becomes double active. I was sitting in hollow and empty meditation and my mind was setting up a Food Processing & Ginger oil extraction unit for rural farmers in Assam. Our teacher told us to surrender all our thoughts & desires at the feet of the divine, and as I surrendered, one thought, a new thought of buying a piece of land to set up a model organic farm came up in my mind. My mind travelled the whole of India searching for a place to set up a model organic farm while my body was sitting in the meditation hall, in chin mudra, with eyes closed. Before I realised the game my mind was playing, the hollow and empty meditation in Poojya Gurudev’s voice got over and I felt completely hopeless for wasting a meditation session in thinking about things that did not even exist that very moment.

The third day was no better either. Its only that the mind graduated from setting up a model organic farm for rural farmers, to how good it will be to have such retreats closer to the Himalayas. My mind went on a spree of setting up a meditation and retreat centre with a 280 degree view of the Himalayas. I started travelling to Uttrakhand, Himachal, Gangtok, Bhutan in search for a land, with absolutely no ticket. It went to the extent of even designing the meditation room with glass windows overlooking the Himalayan ranges. My mind was running like a horse without reins and I was trying to ride the horse, to direct it this way or that. By the time I was over with my hallucinations, I realised that yet another hollow and empty meditation was over and I was feeling hollow and empty. My mind had fully substituted my mouth and was doing all the talking. I felt like a mad man. The only difference was that a mad person talks aloud to himself and I was talking to myself.  Every day in the night we used to have recorded knowledge sessions of Gurudev and  Gurudev on the first day said that “Have a tool gate in your mind and keep on checking the thoughts that are coming and going”. I started making tool gates in my mind but the moment I closed one , the other opened, then the other opened and after a certain point of time I couldn’t even count the number of tool gates I had in my mind.

As I look back I realised that we all are unconsciously doing this our whole life. We have completely forgotten that the process of talking can begin or end “at will”. We are so habituated to talking that we even talk in our sleep, all 24 hours of the day talking is automatic. We keep on talking and rehearsing. Before talking to someone we rehearse the dialogue internally and then after the conversation is over we repeat over and over all that happened- what I said and what you said and then what I said. We gradually forget what we are losing by talking unnecessarily. Externally we might be gaining something but internally we are losing contact with the self. We are getting closer to people but we are getting further away from the self. And the more adept we become in this game, the more difficult it becomes for us to go into silence.

 From the fourth day, I started understanding the tricks of our mind. I started to become a witness to my thoughts and was not trying to enforce any orders, as I started beginning to realise that one word was giving rise to another, to another and a thousand others, because all things were connected. On day 4 after the afternoon session, as I became truly helpless with my hopeless mind, I remember kneeling down before Gurudev’s photograph that was kept in the room. As I touched my head to the flowers kept near his picture, tears started rolling down my eyes. I was by then completely fed up of my chattering mind and prayed with all my heart requesting him to show me the way. I no more wanted to be in the valley of thoughts but on the lofty peaks where thoughts could not reach, in a space where there is only unbroken silence. On the fourth night, Gurudev said something that completely pierced my mind. He said “Thoughts are like clouds, they come and go. If your focus is on the clouds then you will never be able to see the infinite sky beyond it. Hold on to the blue sky you see between the clouds and after some time the clouds will automatically vanish”. That very moment I closed my eyes and was transported to a realm unknown to my mind. When I got up it was 11.15 pm and the night watchman was silently sitting outside the door. He was instructed by someone not to disturb me and to lock the room only after I left.

The next three days were one of the the most memorable days of my life. Gradually and very faintly I started to hear the footsteps of silence. I felt like a bird that had just been set free from the cage of the mind and now had nothing between its wings and the infinite sky. I can’t truly describe this experience as silence can only be felt and not explained. During my evening walks to the Ganpati Mandap at the Ved Agama, I began to listen to the winds stirring the trees. I begin to listen to the dry leaves fall. Sitting by the lake side I could hear the small waves in the water touching each other and could hear birds sing the glory of the sun set which they were witnessing. As I began to understand the silence within me, I began to realise that this silence is the principle of all the existence.  It is in this silence that everything in this creation exists. It is in this silence that a seed grows and becomes a tree, that sun rises and sets. It is in this silence that the 5 elements mix with each other in different permutations and combinations, creating everything we see around us. When we can learn how to listen to the silence, the void within, then there is nothing more to learn, because it is from that void where all the learning happens.


I feel that all the Gurus and all religions aim at only one thing; and that is to break this chattering within. Whether we call it yoga or meditation or repetition of mantras, the aim is to break the constant internal flow of words so that we can truly listen to ourself. If the internal dialogue stops even for a moment, we find the whole expanse of space opening within us; all that was yet unknown begins to be known. He who was a total stranger, with whom we were not acquainted at all, becomes our very own. The last two days of the course I felt as if I was sitting at the feet of my Guru. In the presence of a Guru there is nothing to say and everything to hear. We just listen and sit quietly.

Its been 4 days since I have come out of my silence, but can feel that a part of me is still in silence. This was my 13th Art of Silence Program, but it felt like my first. I feel Like I am just beginning to understand the true glory of silence.

Jai Gurudev

Deepak Sharma

Full Time Faculty with Art of Living

Pic Courtesy : Buddha Doodles & Deepak Sharma

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

Activity of mind is necessary for existence. In our day-to-day life cannot move with an inactive mind. However the mind gets so engrossed in the activity that it forgets the very purpose of this activity and blindly gets caught-up in the unceasing cycle of mental activity. Mind gets tired with this unending mental activity.

Secondly every moment the mind perceives the world around it through the five senses. Every perception gives rise to some thoughts and emotions. Some are pleasant and some unpleasant. These perceptions along with associated thoughts and emotions get stored in memory as impressions. Stronger the associated emotions stronger are these impressions. Thus we collect millions of impressions with passage of time. Some impressions are strong, some are not so strong. These past impressions in the mind colour our perception of present moment. Unless the mind is free from all past impressions it will never be able to perceive the present moment ‘as it is’. Unless the mind is free from all past impressions it will never be able to perceive the Truth ‘as it is’.

Tired mind and too many impressions in the mind cause:

  • Loss of enthusiasm & energy
  • Excessive stress
  • Confusion
  • Distraction
  • Lack of focus
  • and finally, derangement of the mind.

Nature has given some inbuilt mechanisms like sleep and dreams to erase or dilute some of the impressions. However present day hectic and stressful life demands something more. Meditation is the solution for all these problems of the mind.

Meditation is a delicate art of doing ‘nothing’ on the level of thoughts and yet having completely restful and alert mind. A meditative mind is silent and at the same time an alert mind. Meditation gives mind the deep rest it yearns for and at the same time it cleanses the mind of unhealthy impressions. It improves perception as well as improves communication and expression. It energizes and rejuvenates the mind in all aspects. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Meditation brings inner peace, gives energy to cope up with difficult situations and unites the hearts and minds of people.”

Meditation is a skill which needs to be mastered. The easiest and most effective way to learn meditation is to learn it from a Guru who has mastered the art of meditation. In a very subtle way the meditative mind of a Guru gently guides the mind of a disciple on the path of meditation. On this path the communication between a Guru and disciple is almost non-verbal. The few words the Guru utters, to guide the disciple into meditation, are there only to communicate something which is beyond words.

8th AUGUST 2015 is a special day for meditation and all the meditators. It is a golden opportunity for the uninitiated ones to learn meditation. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji will be conducting online guided meditation for the whole world from Russia. This event “The Planet Meditates” aims to bring together over 100,000 people meditating at the same time all over the world, and also setting a Guiness Record! It is an opportunity to experience meditation with the Master as well as opportunity to participate in a World Record event. It is said that when 1000’s of minds meditate together it has leaves a positive impact on the whole planet.

Don’t forget to become a part of this historic opportunity by registering on .The event is scheduled on 8th August 2015 at 2:00pm GMT / 7:30pm IST.  Log on to or the Sri Sri App on your mobile to join the LIVE online meditation with Sri Sri.


Sanjay Sabnis

About Art of Living, Others.

Powerful were his missiles

More powerful were his words

Most powerful were his thoughts and dreams…. to transform India into a prosperous nation

Avul Pakeer Jainulbadeen Abdul Kalam.

Former President, eminent scientist, researcher, author and humanitarian Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam breathed his last on 27th July’15 bringing an end to a selfless life dedicated to empowering his fellow countrymen especially youth and children.

Dr. Kalam is mainly credited for the vision 2020 roadmap to enable India to be an economic and intellectual superpower and put an end to poverty and illiteracy.  Dr. Kalam has been conferred upon with many awards and honor including Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration along with India’s highest civilian honor Bharata Ratna along with 43 honorary doctorates. He has also received international honors and PhDs from USA, UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Canada. As many as 6 biographies have been written on him while he authored as many as 17 books meshing serious thought ideology with his experiences as a scientist, researcher, teacher and a political leader with a strong undercurrent of humanism and patriotism.


Born into a fisherman’s house in Rameshwaram, Tamilnadu in 1931, He had a strong spiritual and interfaith influence courtesy to his three close friends in his childhood — Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. Dr. Kalam’s deep interest in ancient Indian wisdom, heritage and spirituality had its seeds sown in childhood.

After graduating from Madras Institute of Technology, Dr. Kalam joined DRDO as a scientist and designed a small helicopter for Indian Army.  He later moved on to ISRO to give wings to the space aspirations of India. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam spent four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was intimately involved in India’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the “Missile Man of India” for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. Nurtured the mentorship of Satish Dhawan, Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. Brahm Prakash, Kalam and his team went on to design many satellites and launch vehicles starting with SLV-II (Rohini). He also directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under his directorship. He played an integral role convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects. He went on to make many special ballistic missiles for India, which included Prithvi, Agni.  India owes its development as a nuclear nation to his organizational and technical support for Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

Every mission of him wasn’t a success. There were poking failures which stuck sore thumb out. Every time he failed, the media and the scientific groups criticized him. But Dr. Kalam came back strongly. During the Agni and Prithvi missile, the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns, he gave a fitting reply by proving them wrong with successful completions. In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the “Kalam-Raju Stent”. Dr. Kalam, strongly believed as a scientist and thinker about using science and technology to take inventions to people across the social and economic barriers of people and bring across difference in the lifestyle and perception.

Dr. Kalam set a target of interacting with 100,000 students during the two years after his resignation from the post of scientific adviser in 1999. He mainly identified himself with the youth and the teenagers of the country and strongly believed in the power of knowledge empowerment and intellectual thinking.  He would insist on the power of dreaming and innovation and the ability to bring out the transformation – both in the self and society. His words came in with a remarkable sense of power often sprinkled with witty humor and unmistakable commitment to bring about a transformation and change in the status quo. Post his thumping victory and assuming his office as the 11th President of India, He travelled across the length and breadth of India and interacted with lakhs of students. He would often take ideas and align their thoughts about becoming responsible, innovative, committed to make India a knowledge superpower and a developed nation by 2020. He strongly urged the student fraternity to think, read, question, work towards a new beginning. Probably no youth leader have inspired the youngsters in the country so much as He did at his age.

Dr. Kalam took an active interest in other developments in the field of science and technology, including a research programme for developing bio-implants. He also supported Open Source technology over proprietary solutions, predicting that the use of free software on a large scale would bring the benefits of information technology to more people. He had the knack of making the impossible look possible and he actually made it possible for ordinary people to dream they could be anybody. And he believed in making India an in-house superpower. The designer of state of the art technologies and path breaking innovations never pursued a PHD from the abroad.

Often when we talk about winner not doing different things but doing things differently, Dr. Kalam is a striking example.

Once, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam rejected the suggestion to put broken glass on the wall of a building that needed protection. Dr. Kalam refused broken glass on walls of DRDO in view of bird safety highlighting his deep rooted sensitivity. Be it a young kid from the corner of India or a scientific advisor to the Prime Minister, He listened with precious attention and unmistakable submission and conviction. Always known to have carried minimal security and changing the status quo, Dr. Kalam sessions were filled with dynamism. He is reported to have rushed into the crowd to stop power cuts from disturbing his interactions and refused to have sit on Presidential chairs on his interactions with kids.

President Kalam has given up all his life savings and salaries to a trust he founded named PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) walking the talk of keeping rural development close to his heart. And when he led, he led by example. He was patient for his autographs and clicking pictures. He was known to have written Thank You cards by himself and also dialed and congratulated people himself reflecting his humility and his simple nature. A famous story on the internet reports that –“ When a subordinate of President Kalam at DRDO couldn’t take his children to an exhibition due to work pressure, He surprised his subordinate and took the children instead” reflecting his care and concern for his subordinates and people.  He never preached belongingness, sensitivity and innocence but lived it in every moment of life.

Dr. Kalam was deeply spiritual. He took interest in Tamil poetry and played the veena. Kamal endorsed Carnatic devotional music and a strong advocator of ancient Hindu culture. He used to read Bhagavad Gita and was a strict vegetarian. Many of his speeches quoted remarkable quotes from the Gita, Vedas, Upanishads and other Indian texts.  A strong advocate of Indian soul with a global outlook, Kalam represented a true Indian at his heart.




Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has lauded Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as a man of humor and his deep care for society.

“He led a remarkable life: a scientist, artist and philosopher. Holding the highest office, he was still approachable by one and all” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar added.  On hearing that  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was traveling to Sri Lanka to meet Prabhakaran, President Kalam offered to join him in resolving the conflict, going beyond protocol. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also recollects that he was an avid lover and proponent of Indian classical music.

He said that Dr. Kalam once suggested that he and Sri Sri play the Veena together and his favorite song was “Endaro Mahanubhavulu” which means “there are many great souls and I adore them all”.

Dr. Kalam was present on the prestigious occasion of the Silver Jubilee where he addressed the gathering. Here’s his speech from the occasion of Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 2006 



-Surya Tej Borra

Surya Tej Borra is a volunteer with the Art of Living Foundation. A graduate from the prestigious BITS Pilani, he works with Google. His interests include Cinema, writing, travelling, cooking & music.