About Art of Living, Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sudarshan Kriya, World Culture Festival, Yoga and Meditation.

Bangalore: In 2013, when Alman Timofeev won the World Karate Championship again, he achieved a feat very few sportsmen in the world had. He became a World Champion at the age of 35.

 

So what gave the Russian sportsman the edge over competitors half his age, given that the sport of Karate demands high speed and agility?

 

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Timofeev says it was ‘Sudarshan Kriya‘ and meditation which helped him clinch the World title in a no-holds-barred chat with us at the International Art of Living Center in Bangalore.

 

“It was a huge challenge for me,” Timofeev says. “Breaking through that first stage of preparations for the fight, with the help of Sudarshan Kriya and meditation, was the spiritual turning point of my life.”

 

“I can say for sure, without the practices, it would not have happened,” he says.

The two-time World Karate champion says, “Now I am confident that whatever happens, everything will be ok and is taken care of”.

 

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Timofeev’s journey as a professional martial artist has been one full of dizzying highs and scary lows. In 1997, he won the World Karate Champion title at the age of 19, one of the youngest Russians to win it, Timofeev says.

 

But in 2000, he was suddenly dropped from the championships.”After that, I stopped competing professionally and got fully involved in training youngsters,” he says. But after 13 years, he would fight back and his decision came from a spiritual encounter.

 

In 2013, his mother asked him to attend the Art of Living Happiness workshop, hoping that he might find peace and stability to help him strengthen his professional game.

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“The practices had a very profound effect on me. Actually, it was only during the course, that I decided to fight for the championship again. Before that, I was not even sure about going to the championship,” says Timofeev, who is in Bangalore to train the judges of the Asian Karate Championships.

 

Calling his second win a “miracle”, Timofeev says, it was far more difficult for him to prepare for a professional title again, versus someone who had been fighting professionally, especially because he was not getting any younger.

 

“It is difficult to describe, how I became a champion for the second time, but that for me was a miracle. I was training a lot- three times a week, I would run 10 km, swim 2 km10 and skii a lot. I would spend time in the gym too, while practicing Karate daily at least 3 hours a day without fail.” In addition, “I would do my home practices of Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation which supported me tremendously,” he says.

 

Timofeev believes, it is very important for sportsmen and athletes to adopt spiritual practices like Sudarshan Kriya and meditation into their daily routine.

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“It gives you peace of mind and calmness inside. If you have fear (of losing) for example, there is a rush of adrenaline and sportsmen burn out quickly. The fire rises quickly and it dies quickly.

 

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“Kriya and meditation are very powerful tools for being very relaxed and for calming oneself and performing well for a sustainable period of time,” he adds. His message to all those who want to take up rigorous sports like martial arts professionally, which requires immense mental strength and centeredness, is-“Just meditate”.

 

“You definitely have to try and meditate. You need your own experience. Then you will observe the difference before and after you have learned the practices. This is something that words cannot fully describe,” Timofeev says.

 

Even though Timofeev’s association with the Art of Living and its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is not very old, he believes he shares a deep connection with him on a spiritual level.  “Since I was 15, I have been training others and I realized an important thing- it is impossible to become a champion if you just want to become a champion. But if you come to the training and enjoy it, then this is the way to be a champion.

 

“And when I heard that from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as well, it resonated so deeply with me. From that moment, I feel that connection with him. I understand his teaching of not being attached to the goal from my point of view,” he says.

 

Timofeev will be back in India in March to be a part of the 3.5 million-strong gathering at the World Cultural Festival as part of the Russian contingent, of the 155 countries participating in the historic event.

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“Yes, I am coming. I think, such a huge event will bring about a change in the world for sure. We all wish peace in the world and that is what this event stands for and of course I will come to be a part of it.”

 

3.5 million people like Timofeev, who believe in the power of meditation and peace in transforming the world, will meet in New Delhi between 11 and 13 March for the world’s largest peace meditation and cultural extravaganza.

Jai Gurudev

Ruchira Roy

 

About Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, World Culture Festival.

In the age of digital connectivity where everyone is connected to everyone else with the push of a button, the initial reaction to a world culture festival that brings millions of people together in one place to celebrate different cultures was ambivalent to me. A television broadcast would reach millions more with lesser effort, was my first thought. Why all this fuss? Why fly people from the Far East, far west, places in between and then herd them all into one place in India?

Then the probing and analytical side of my mind took over and surprised me. Here’s what I found: I Googled the phrase ‘celebration of diversity’ with a few key word variations. I learnt that the United Nation has sanctioned a day to celebrate and honour the world’s cultural diversity. I was impressed with the goals and ambitions set out by this great organization but found that the magnitude and reach of their programs were rather local, scanty and scattered. The United Nation’s programs were global in intention but lacked a global stage to present the differences it aimed to unite and celebrate. And then I searched for events that brought large numbers of people together in celebration. The search results ranged from the world renowned Kumbh Mela to large musical concerts to political rallies to papal parades. These congregations were huge, no doubt they brought over a million denizens of our planet together in one single place, but they were either religious, political or purely musical in nature – far from diverse – far from celebrating diversity.

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We celebrate the earth, we celebrate seasons, we celebrate love, new year, harvest, graduation, art and even food and drinks, but we have no significant way to commemorate and celebrate the different cultures of our world! This eye opening fact was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. We don’t have a unified forum or a global stage to present the colourful melange of world cultures. Like a mosaic that is created by assembling small and different pieces together, we could present a unified world by assembling a variety of people and culture in one place.

The Republic Day Parade in India is an example of national diversity. Similarly, the opening ceremony of the Olympics offers a stage for different countries and its people in one place – although the predominant competitive mood soon leads only the winning countries into celebration and leaves the rest a bit paler in comparison. Most global events induce a nationalistic feeling or a fierce sense of competition. Somehow, intentionally or unintentionally, they are inherently designed to divide us over our differences. They leave us with a sense of ‘us’ versus ‘the-rest-of-the-world sentiment’. In addition, political issues that make daily headlines reinforce our differences and further polarize us.

No wonder our religious, national and racial identities are stronger than our alliance as humans. We are ingrained to unite over superficial human attributes like colour of hair, eyes, place of birth, mother tongue and so on, while we overlook human emotions and values that are universal. You would agree that the basis of most regional and global conflicts is this very parochial sense of belonging.

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Just like language, culture can bind or divide. That is why the world needs an event like the World Culture Festival 2016 – to unite our cultural differences. When 155 countries, a hundred or more languages and cultural performances take the same stage, it instils a sense of belonging and oneness that would transcend national borders, languages, religions and physical appearances. Diverse congregations like the World Cultural Festival could potentially soften inter-religious strife that has over the last few decades led to the loss of innumerable human lives.

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Beyond all of the above reasons, why the world needs the world cultural festival, the fact that World Culture Festival 2016 will be hosted in the capital city of India seems befitting in many ways. India is a land of many colours and diversity. The world cultural festival gives India a chance to demonstrate its key essence – unity in diversity. The world culture festival is organized and managed by the Art of Living and its volunteers to mark the organization’s thirty five years of service to humanity. As the founder of the organization, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar quoted, ‘ …harmony in diversity makes life colourful, vibrant and joyful. The world cultural festival will be the largest interfaith gathering for peace!’

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Jai Gurudev !

Uma Muthuraaman

For More details Do check The World Culture Festival

Art of Living Courses, Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

In a humorous yet profound way, Rishi Vidyadharji gave numerous precious tips to walk on the path of happiness and freedom.

Some of the things told by Rishiji were so subtle that those might be bit difficult to understand for someone who is a novice to ‘Art of living’ or has no exposure to Ayurveda and Patanjali Yoga Sutras’. However if these precious knowledge bits are not shared here, this series of articles will be incomplete.

Ayurveda, Patanjali Yoga Sutras & Sadhana

Rishiji revealed the underlying connection between the ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras’, ‘Ayurveda’ and the daily practices (Sadhana ) as taught in the Art of Living’s ‘Happiness Course’.

The ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras’ deal with the mind, different modulations of the mind (Chitta-vritti), and the ways to overcome these modulations (Chitta-vritti nirodah).  ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras’ tell that Yoga is nothing but overcoming the different modulations of the mind – Yogas chitta-vritti-nirodhah.

Maharshi Patanjali has enumerated five different modulations of mind. These five modulations are:

  1. Pramana (Proof): Mind wants proof for everything. Proof is connected to logic. Logic is very limited in its purview. Logic is applicable only in the field of known. All profound things in life are beyond logic. Love is beyond logic. Existence is beyond logic. The ‘Self’ is beyond any logic or proof.
  2. Viparyaya (Wrong knowledge): Vipryaya is looking at situations/ people through colored glasses of past experiences, concepts, ideas and feelings. Thinking that a rope lying on the road is a snake is Vipryaya. Vipryaya gives wrong understanding of the truth (Mithya Gyana).
  3. Vikalpa (Mere words having no reality): It is a sort of hallucination or fantasy. These are only words in mind with no associated reality. All our imagination is nothing but Vikalpa.
  4. Smruti (Memory): Smruti means remembering the past experiences.
  5. Nidra (Sleep): Nidra is deep sleep.

Mind is caught up any one of the above five modulations or a combination of these modulations. There is no sixth modulation. A mind devoid of any of above modulations is a mind which is dissolved in the ‘Self’. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means to unite or to integrate. ‘Yoga’ means to unite with the ‘Self’.

 

As explained by Rishiji, “Happiness is a result of moving towards the ‘Self’ and unhappiness is result of moving away from the ‘Self”. So, Yoga or uniting with the ‘Self’ results in unblemished pure happiness.

 

The literal translation of word ‘Ayurveda’ means ‘the science of life’. It is an ancient Indian system of natural and holistic way of healthy living. Ayurveda says that overall health depends upon balance of the tri-doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) in the body. Ayurveda also tells that the root cause of many diseases lies in toxins created in the body due to undigested food. These toxins are called as ‘Aama’. ‘Aama’ is a result of low digestive fire (Agni-mandya).

 

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Rishi Vidyadharji beautifully explained how the Vata, Pitta, Kapha and Aama affect the different modulations of mind (Chitta-Vritti) and vice versa. Food we eat directly affects the balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha as well as creation of Aama. Thus food, body and the mind all are related to each other.

 

Rishiji also revealed the subtle connection between Sadhana, modulations of the mind and Vata, Pitta, Kapha & Aama.

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Warm-up, stretching exercises and Asanas: These help to overcome the inertia, dullness and lethargy (Tamao-guna ).

 

Three Stage Pranayama: Three stage Pranayama helps to overcome Rajo-guna or excessive activity of the mind. It helps to balance the tri-doshas. (Balancing of Vata, Pitta & Kapha )

 

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  • First stage of Pranayama – First stage of Pranayama directs the subtle life force energy (Prana) to lower parts of body below naval region. First stage Pranayama balances the Vata-dosha. Even though Vata affects all the body parts, the primary seat or domain of the Vata is in the lower part of the body. Vata is responsible for movement on a gross as well as subtle level in the body. On subtle level Vata is associated with movement of the mind in the past and future. During first stage of pranayama, if you are able to observe your mind (without interference) you will see that, during this period the mind is mostly concerned about security related issues (i.e. future) or otherwise brooding over some past incidence. When the mind gets caught up in the past or future, it is looking at the reality through colored glasses of past experiences or future anxieties. This is nothing but the modulation of mind called as ‘Viparyaya’. First stage of Pranayama is helpful for bringing the mind in present moment and for overcoming the vritti of ‘Viparyaya’.
  • Second stage of Pranayama – Second stage pranayama directs Prana to the abdomen and lungs. Second stage of Pranayama balances the Pittadosha. The primary seat or location of Pitta in the body is in the middle portion of body.  On a subtle level Pitta is associated with anger, thirst, jealousy, hatred or in-short all our cravings and aversions. During second stage of Pranayama, you will see that your mind is busy either thinking about some person or situation you like or dislike. This is the time when mind gets caught up in thinking about matters close to the heart. Cravings, aversions, likes & dislikes are mere words in mind and have no physical existence as such. Being caught up in cravings and aversions, likes and dislikes is nothing but modulation of mind called as ‘Vikalpa’. Second stage pranayama is useful for overcoming ‘Vikalpa’.
  • Third stage of Pranayama – The third stage of Pranayama directs Prana to throat and head. Third stage balances the Kapha-dosha. The primary seat of Kapha in the body is in the throat, head and sinuses or upper part of body. On gross level Kapha is associated with inertia or heaviness. On subtle level Kapha is associated with attachment, greed, possessiveness and the tendency of the memory to hold on to negativity. Third stage of Pranayama reduces this attachment and tendency of mind to hold on to negativity. It helps us to overcome the modulation of mind called ‘Smruti’.

Bhastrika Pranayama: Prana flows through the subtle energy channels (or Nadis) in the body. These channels get clogged due to ‘Aama’ or the toxins created by undigested food. Accumulation of ‘Aama’ reduces the natural energy flow in the body leading to many diseases. Bhastrika Pranayama clears these subtle energy channels to increase the flow of Prana. On the level of mind, ‘Aama’ is responsible for creation of doubts (Samshaya). A doubting mind wants proofs for everything. Doubting mind gets caught up in the modulation of mind called as ‘Pramana’. Bhastrika Pranayama helps to liberate the mind from clutches of doubts (Samshaya). Bhastrika Pranayama increases Prana level and helps us to get established in Satava guna.

 

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Sudarshan Kriya®: Sudarshan Kriya is a powerful yet simple rhythmic breathing technique that incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath, harmonizing the body, mind and the emotions. Sudarshan Kriya cleanses the whole body-mind complex, releases deep rooted stresses and rejuvenates each and every cell of the body. It makes the person more natural, free and happy. Regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya followed by Meditation helps us to get established easily in the fourth state of consciousness called as Turiya-avastha or the state of being one with the ‘Self’. This is the state of pure bliss and happiness.

 

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I realized that the ‘Sadhana’, as taught in Art of Living’s Happiness Course is designed so beautifully that it takes care of physical, mental and spiritual health of the individual. It pulls the individual out from ‘Tamo guna’ and ‘Rajo guna’ and helps him to get established in ‘Satva guna’. It balances the ‘tri-doshas’ in the body resulting in both physical and mental well-being. It cleanses the toxins (Aama) from the body thereby reducing the chances of future ailments. It increases the Prana level in body, making the individual more confident. It releases the mind from the clutches of five modulations (Chitta-Vritti) of the mind. Sudarshan Kriya releases the deep rooted stresses, rejuvenates each and every cell of the body and harmonizes the different levels of existence. Sudarshan Kriya with Meditation helps one to get established in the ‘Self’ and helps to realize one’s true potential. With this knowledge, my commitment towards my own ‘Sadhana’ grew manyfold. I once again realized that this is the most precious gift given by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji to humanity. My heart was filled with love and gratitude for everything I received during these seven days of bliss with Rishi Vidyadharji

II Jai Guru Dev I|

Sanjay Sabnis

Pursuit of Happiness – 1

Pursuit of Happiness – 2 

Pursuit of Happiness – 3