I’m teaching an Art of Living Part 1 course in Mumbai this week, and two more next week. Formerly called the Basic course, it holds a special place in my heart.
AOL now offers a huge assortment of programs — courses for children, college students, corporates, prisoners, villagers, slumdwellers — and each module has been very successful in its own right. Yet the bedrock of Guruji’s knowledge is the Part 1 course; for many it has been the healing balm that washed away years of pain or trauma, for others it has healed apparently incurable diseases, and for many more it has been the ideal gateway to a more spiritual, effective and harmonious way of life.
For the past fourteen years, I have had the privilege of teaching this program to people from all walks of life in over 30 countries, covering most racial, religious, ethnic, economic and social demographics. It never ceases to amaze me how much each of them finds in common, and how the course works across the board. I have even taught healers, swamis, yoga teachers, musicians and artists — deeply spiritual, highly evolved and refined beings — each of whom has marveled at how Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) has cognized the deepest truths into a simple, six-day experiential workshop.
The Sudarshan Kriya itself is like a beautiful poem; its rhythms seem familiar yet esoteric, the experience sometimes excruciating but always enlightening, a feeling of being totally spent yet craving more. Its like listening to a wondrous dhrupad recital — the tones sometimes pinning you with their raw physicality, sometimes lulling you into meditation, sounding faintly familiar yet just out of reach, and always that sense of a higher power, a presence that seems to hover protectively close by.
And ah, how powerful our own breath is! It energises our body, calms our mind, soothes our emotions, and offers insights into our true nature. Is it too subtle? Do we sound too simplistic when we teach it? Perhaps. But one’s own experience always bears testimony to the efficacy of this premise.
Most humbling is the trust that people place in you as a teacher, going through every process and technique with unflagging enthusiasm, apparently sure that this is going to work. And most fulfilling is the glow, the peace on every face on the last day; they know that its impossible to describe what they have experienced, or what has touched their lives.
The course is also an introduction to meditation (“the best gift you can give yourself”) and to the experience of encountering a living, enlightened being, a true Master. That itself is worth the price of admission.
Actually, no, it’s priceless!
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