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Meditation improves Math scores

WASHINGTON, March 22: A new study has shown that the Transcendental Meditation technique may be an effective approach to improve math and English academic achievement in low-performing students. The study was conducted at a California public middle school with 189 students who were below proficiency level in English and math. Change in academic achievement was evaluated using the California Standards Tests (CST).

Students who practiced the Transcendental Meditation program showed significant increases in math and English scale scores and performance level scores over a one-year period. Forty-one percent of the meditating students showed a gain of at least one performance level in math compared to 15.0 pc of the non-meditating controls.

Among the students with the lowest levels of academic performance, "below basic" and "far below basic," the meditating students showed a significant improvement in overall academic achievement compared to controls, which showed a slight gain.

"This initial research, showing the benefits of the Quiet Time/Transcendental Meditation program on academic achievement, holds promise for public education" said Sanford Nidich, lead author and professor of education at Maharishi University of Management.

"The findings suggest that there is an easy-to-implement, value-added educational program which can help low-performing minority students begin to close the achievement gap," added Nidich.

The study has been published in the journal Education.

Free yoga to unemployed in USA

By Deepak Arora

NEVADA, Dec 29: Due to current high unemployment rates across USA, some yoga studios have reportedly started offering free or discounted yoga classes to the unemployed.

When the national unemployment rate is around 10 percent, it is believed that yoga will help reduce stress, bring calmness, improve concentration and make the unemployed feel good about themselves. Many such people had stopped going to yoga studios thinking it as a “luxury” in tougher times.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, welcoming the gesture of yoga studios, said that it was a “step in the right direction” and urged other yoga establishments across USA to offer this generosity. Although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline handed down from one guru to next, for everybody to share and benefit from. As yoga was based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner, unemployed persons thus would be able to approach the situation in a calmer perspective.

Studios in New York, Ohio, California, Illinois, etc., which offer such classes, reportedly go by the word given by these unemployed instead of asking for any unemployment proof.

Announcement of "Yoga on High" in Columbus (Ohio) about 90-minutes "Free Yoga Classes for the Unemployed" says: “There’s never a better time to take care of yourself and to expand your perspective than when you’ve lost your job. Come for breathing, stretching, strengthening, relaxing and contemplation”.

US Army adopts mindfulness meditation

WASHINGTON, Aug 5: In an unusual departure from traditional prescriptions for coping with high stress, the United States Army is recommending something more eclectic to its soldiers in Iraq — mindfulness mediation.

According to Major Victor Won, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, mindfulness is a simple but ancient approach to living that western medicine has begun to recognise as a powerful tool for dealing with stress, illness and other medical or psychological conditions, and it could help soldiers in any circumstance.

Quoting the definition of the term used in the book Wherever You Go, There You Are, by popular mediation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, he said, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way or maintaining the awareness on purpose, in the present moment.”

Major Won said it would be more effective for soldiers to learn and train in mindfulness prior to deployment, as the practice will offer soldiers a means to cope with their mental stress before getting into a high-stress environment.

University of Pennsylvania researchers, with the Army's support, were said to be examining the effects of meditation as a means to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Major Won said, “Many psychotherapists around the world have applied mindfulness, treating various psychological diagnoses such as PTSD, depression and even personality disorders.” It was “through finding peace within and clarity that you see that you are not the thoughts or the emotions that bind you and take you away into suffering,” he added.

Meditation technique for a beginner

MeditationNEW DELHI, July 7: In the fast and busy pace of life, we tend to lose focus on the more essential things. And because of the earthly needs that we are trying to meet, we tend to neglect the importance of internal peace. The lack of internal peace makes a person feel confused, exhausted and unfulfilled no matter how much achievements he earned. This is the primary concern of meditation. It allows the person to watch the flow of his thoughts as he retires to the dictates of his senses. And more significantly, it provides new energy in the monotony of the daily routine.

Meditation is something that needs to be a part of our everyday routine. In its simplest form, there is satisfaction and renewal of spirit to a more vigorous and active one. With the little time that meditation requires, you learn more about yourself. This understanding can even lead you to promising achievements especially in the field of socialization. While you learn to focus and concentrate, meditation gives a clearer sense of direction.

For beginners, here is a simple meditation technique that will nurture your consciousness to the realms that go beyond the scientific domain. This is the way out to convolution and exhaustion. In the continuous process of meditation, observe how it changes your life, perception and purpose.

The first step in this meditation technique is to find a quiet and comfortable place to reflect on. Sit in a comfortable position. You can cross-leg in a carpet or sit in a chair. The exact position of meditation doesn’t matter, as long as this makes you feel relaxed and focused. Then gently close your eyes. This is an essential technique of shutting yourself from the world. Closing the eyes directs the attention to the internal awareness, the main goal of meditation. It is because the sense of seeing greatly consumes the energy which in turn takes away the sense of focus. In other techniques, there are also open-eyed meditations. However, the efficacy of those can be low compared to closed-eyed meditations.

Relax. This is another important factor when meditating. Watch the space and the darkness. Put your attention to the flow of your thoughts that passes your mind. Watch how these thoughts rise and fall. This time, your subconscious becomes more vibrant and aware.

Repeat the mantra. This will keep you focused. An effective mantra that goes along the internal consciousness is the Sanskrit Sloka, amaram hum madhuram hum. This means "I am immortal, I am blissful". The space which you are looking into is reigned by the Knower. The Knower of the space is characterized by immortality and bliss.

After the meditation, rub your two hands and give warmth to your face. This will help you return to your other activities. Do this meditation for at least ten minutes, twice a day. Preferably, at the start and in the end of the day recharge your spirit through meditation. This is also helpful to alleviate your worries and get you ready to more challenges of life.

Focus on bigger issues like Naxalism: Sri Sri

By Deepak Arora

Sri Sri Ravi ShankarBANGALORE, June 5: “Let us forget this one bullet. There are many more bullets being fired in the Red Corridor. We want a peaceful resolution to the biggest problem that the country is facing,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar after the DGP of Karnataka, Ajay Kumar Singh said that the gunshot which went in the direction of Sri Sri’s convoy on Sunday, May 30, had been from neighbouring farm house owner Mahadev Prasad shooting at wild dogs who had strayed into his farm.

“We are satisfied with the police investigations. They have put an end to all sorts of speculations and stories.” Sri Sri stated.

“It was said that we did this to get Z class security. I dismiss this because although I am entitled to it, I do not want it as it will restrict me. Secondly, there are no internal feuds here. People of all castes, from the dalits to the brahmins and from all nationalities are here at the ashram. This place is an example of international integration. People also said that this was our publicity stunt. I don’t need this kind of cheap publicity.

Yesterday, 17 Maoists had come to the ashram and I have pleaded with them to go and talk to their top brass and accept the olive branch that our home minister has offered. I have requested them to go with the message of peace and find a new light for our country.”

Bid on life of Sri Sri Ravishankar; Guruji safe

Sri Sri RavishankarBANGALORE, May 30: An unidentified gunman made an attempt on the life of Sri Sri Ravishankar, Art of Living founder, on the premises of his ashram here on Sunday evening. The assailant missed the target and injured one Vinay, who was standing near the Guruji, police said. He was injured on the thigh.

The incident occurred after the culmination of a mega Satsang on the Art of Living campus on Kanakapura Road, in which about 8,000 people participated. Police said the Guruji was safe.

Police suspect the miscreant used a .22 revolver. However, neither the weapon nor the assailant was traced until midnight.

Karnataka Home Minister V.S. Acharya told reporters that security at the ashram had been tightened and Inspector-General (Central range) Kamal Pant had been asked to rush to the spot. The Minister, however, denied that anyone was injured in the incident.

The Talaghattapura police have closed all the gates of the ashram complex and are frisking and screening all visitors.

After the incident, the 54-year-old Guruji said: “I am absolutely safe.”

Ashram spokesperson Charu said that the incident took place around 6.15 p.m. She said the Guruji was undeterred by the incident and returned at 7 p.m. to address his followers.

Sri Lanka to give India Maha Bodhi tree sapling

COLOMBO, May 1: To mark the 2,600th Buddha Jayanti, Sri Lanka will present India a sapling of the Maha Bodhi tree, under which Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a sacred fig tree at Anuradhapura town and is said to be a sapling of the historical Bodhi tree. It is the oldest recorded tree in the world.

According to a statement by the government, a 10-member Indian delegation is currently at Anuradhapura to receive the sapling. It will be planted in the new Buddha Udyana being created in Patna to commemorate 2,600 years of the Sambuddha Jayanthi.

The delegation is expected to brief the Sri Lankan government on the Sambuddha Jayanthi celebrations to be held there for a whole year.

Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha paid a courtesy call on the newly appointed Prime Minister, D.M. Jayaratne.

“The High Commissioner noted the close and friendly relations between India and Sri Lanka,” the Indian mission said in a statement.

Art of Living enters Guinness Records

BANGALORE, March 31: Antarnaad, a grand Hindustani classical musical symphony hosted by the Art of Living foundation in Pune on January 12, 2010 was awarded an entry into the Guinness Book of World records.

The citation issued by the Guinness World Records Ltd, reads, “The record for the largest simultaneous sing-along was organised by The Art of Living Foundation (India) and involved 104,637 participants singing ‘Vande Mataram’, India’s national song, at Antarnaad in Pune, India on 12 January 2010”.

A copy of the citation is attached as well as a video excerpt of the event.

The aim of Antarnaad was to showcase the vast, masterful repertoire of Hindustani classical music as well as to provide a platform to bring to the fore the talent of the exponents of this ancient Indian art.

Stating that classical music and spirituality are among the most definitive and unique offerings India can make to the world, AOL founder and humanitarian, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had said at the event, “Spirituality and music together can uplift people, get them out of depression and help them start a new life with enthusiasm. For a stress-free life, you have to embrace both these facets (spirituality and music).”

Musicians from across the country, celebrity singers like Shankar Mahadevan and renowned names like Pt Rajan & Sajan Misra were also part of this historic event.

The Art of Living had earlier entered the Guinness Book of World Records with 1200 Mohiniattam dancers performing together on one stage in Kerala in 2006 and for its historic sitar concert titled Brahm Naad in New Delhi in Nov 2008, which brought together 1094 sitar exponents on one stage, in aid of the Bihar Relief and rehabilitation.

Mysticism -- a way to reach God

NEW DELHI, Feb 18: Gobind Sadan’s living interfaith community on the southern fringe of New Delhi was the setting today for the valedictory session of a unique two-day conference on “Mysticism in World Religions.”

It has been jointly organized by Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion and Civilizations at Jamia Millia Islamia and the Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, under the auspices of Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj Memorial Trust.

After the academic sessions, the participants travelled to Gobind Sadan to see first hand the living interfaith example developed by Baba Virsa Singh.

Welcoming the delegates on behalf of Gobind Sadan, Rai Singh, IAS (Retired), President of Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj Memorial Trust, said “Usually people all over the world do not understand mysticism. In some countries, even the mystic experiences and activities were banned. In my opinion, mysticism is simply a belief that one can reach closer to God by deep contemplation and meditation. Though scientific outlook and school of thought may not approve of the mystic predictions and results, the fact remains that God being Almighty, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient is capable of doing anything in the entire universe.

He said "Gobind Sadan, founded by His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj, is a ‘house without walls,’ and is a living example that a cross-section of society irrespective of color, caste, creed, sex, origin, and language can live together in perfect harmony, realizing their individual goals and at the same time fulfilling their societal obligations, and thus ushering in a new era of communal harmony, common brotherhood, and all-over prosperity and development.”

The inaugural session was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia University, Dr. Najeeb Jung, who said, “Mysticism has gained credence because there is a purpose behind it.”

The Chief Guest was Dr. S. A. Ali, founder member of Hamdard University, who has been studying mysticism for seven decades.

Ralph Singh, Chairman of the Committee on Interfaith Education of the North American Interfaith Network gave the keynote address on “The Forgotten Path: Accessing the Mystical within our Religious Traditions.”

During the conference, eighteen scholars from USA, Turkey, Russia, and India shared their profound reflections on the mystical path in their respective religious traditions.

These ranged from a provocative presentation by Karma Lekshe Tsomo on Buddhist perspectives on “Knowing the Unknowable” to an extensive survey of the history of Sufi philosophy by Dr. Azad Faruqi, Director of the Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion and Civilizations at Jamia Millia.

Art of Living’s historic music symphony in Pune

2750 classical vocalists enthral an estimated audience of 2 lakh

PUNE, Jan 12: Art of Living hosted a historic symphony- Antarnaad - in Pune on Tuesday, bringing over 2750 Indian classical vocalists together on one platform, to write a new chapter in the history of music.

Conceived by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual and humanitarian leader and Founder, Art of Living, the aim of Antarnaad was to showcase the vast repertoire of Hindustani classical music as well as to provide a platform for the exponents of this ancient Indian art.

Stating that classical music and spirituality are among the most definitive and unique offerings India can make to the world, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, “Spirituality and music together can uplift people, get them out of depression and help them start a new life with enthusiasm. For a stress-free life, you have to embrace both these facets (spirituality and music).”

Musicians from across the country, celebrity singers like Shankar Mahadevan and renowned names like Pt Rajan & Sajan Misra were also part of this event.

Shankar Mahadevan said, “These days, we hear that Hindustani Classical music is on a decline. But looking at this crowd, would you believe this?” He went onto sing a bandish based on the supreme Raga Shankara, accompanied by the vocalists.

Dy CM of Maharashtra, Shri Chaggan Bhujbal said, “It is a matter of pride for Maharashtra to have this symphony in the cradle of Hindustani classical music. When these people sing together, it sounds like a plea for peace and non-violence.”

Singing exquisite compositions, based on ancient ragas in the Gandharva Veda, namely, Shree, Purya Dhanashree, Des, Basant Bahar, Chandrakaus, Shankara, Kalavati, Janasammohini and Bhoop, the singers enthralled an estimated live audience of 2 lakh people.

Present at the event, were numerous dignatories, politicians, celebrities, businessmen and corporate heads including Shri Chaggan Bhujbal, Dy CM Maharashtra, Shri Gopinath Munde, Dy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Shri Narayan Rane, Revenue Minister Maharashtra, Shri R R Patil Home minister, Maharashtra, among others.

Antarnaad is the grandest in the Art of Living tradition of showcasing ancient Indian arts on one platform. The Art of Living had earlier entered the Guinness Book of World Records with 1200 Mohiniattam dancers performing together on one stage in Kerala in 2006 and for its historic sitar concert titled Brahmnaad in New Delhi in Nov 2008, which brought together over 1000 sitar exponents, in aid of the Bihar Relief and rehabilitation.

Muslims can sing the Vande Mataram; Ulemas soften stand after meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri SriNEW DELHI, Nov 9: In a significant development, Darul-Uloom and the Ulemas of Deoband, have changed their 12-year-old stand on Vande Mataram to bring the Hindu-Muslim communities closer. This development took place yesterday after a one-hour long meeting between the Ulema and Spiritual & humanitarian leader- His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living.

Present at the meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, were Honourable Maulana Margub Urrrehman of Darul-Uloom, Darul Iftah in charge Mufti Habibur Rehman, who issued the fatwa 12 years ago, Mufti Ehsaan Qasmi and Usman Mansoorpuri of the Jamiat Ulema e Hind.

Ulema said that they do not have any objection to the National song and have left it upto the conscience of Muslims who should decide for themselves whether they want to sing the song or not.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Sri Sri said, “I told them that Vande doesn’t just mean puja or prayer but also means thanksgiving. The first lines of Vande Mataram are not objectionable in any way. This issue should not be given more importance. The Country is above all and there should be no rift between the Hindu and Muslims.”

Quoting a Supreme Court judgement, Sri Sri also said that no one should be pressurized to sing Vande Mataram.

After this, Maulana Khalik Madrasi of Darul Uloom said that the 12-year-old fatwa on Vande Mataram cannot be recalled now. However Darul-Uloom will not stop anyone from singing the Vande Mataram.

In continuation of His efforts to bring people together, Sri Sri also urged everyone not to rake up issues that can provoke sentiments of either community and said, “It is important to maintain communication links to avoid misunderstandings. Through peaceful talk and dialogue we can solve any issue and transform any situation. We have to have a progressive outlook.”

Dalai Lama donates Rs 20 lakh for Tawang hospital building

Dalai LamaTAWANG, Nov 9: Tibetan Spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama on Monday inaugurated a district hospital in Tawang and donated Rs 20 lakh for its building on the second day of his visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

The Dalai Lama inaugurated the Kahndo-Dowa Songma Tawang district hospital and consecrated a Buddhist statue at its entrance.

Later he visited the Yid-Ta-G-Choezin ground where he planted saplings and also distributed some of them among the thousands of devotees assembled there.

Addressing the devotees, the 74-year-old Tibetan monk asked the younger generation to join monasteries to carry forward Buddha's message of peace.

"Buddhist culture and tradition have to be preserved at every cost," he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Dorjee Kandu urged the people to preserve the Buddhist culture in this part of the country.

The Dalai Lama, who arrived in Tawang on Sunday on a four-day visit, had rebuffed China for objecting to his trip to Arunachal Pradesh and expressed surprise over its claims to Tawang, a revered seat of Buddhism.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is on a tour of this remote north-eastern state after a gap of six years. It also marks 50 years of his escape from Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule there.

The Nobel Laureate has characterised his "emotional" visit to Tawang, which has strong ties to Tibet, as non-political.

International Conference on Ethics & Business

IAHV’s conference in the European Parliament in times of scams and hawala rackets

(Left to Right) Ms. Kim, winner of Ethics in Business Award; Swami Pragyapad, International Faculty the Art of Living; Ms. Brigitte Mohan, winner of Outstanding Individual Award BRUSSELS, Nov 7: An eclectic mix of business, political and religious leaders gathered together at the European Parliament in Brussels on November 5 and 6 to attend the 2009 Conference on Ethics in Business: Corporate Culture Spirituality, at the annual International Business and Leadership Symposium.

The two-day conference was hosted by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV). IAHV, a volunteer based, charitable NGO, dedicated to the development and promotion of human values in society, was founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Geneva in 1997. The 2009 Conference is the sixth to be held in the series and the fourth to be held at the European Parliament.

This year’s conference examined the means required to shape a sustainable future; and the role of human values and ethics as well as the need to reconsider leadership styles and strategies in the face of the ongoing global economic crisis.

Panelists at the conference (L to R): Mr. Grand Rabbi Marc Raphaël Guedj, Director of Fondation Racines et Sources; Günter Verheugen, Vice‐President of the European Commission; Mr. Nirj Deva, Member of European Parliament, U.K.; Ms. Erika Mann Member of European Parliament, Germany; Prof. Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands; on Brigitte Mohn, member of the executive Board, Bertelsmann Foundation; Swami Pragyapad, International Faculty, The Art of Living.Attending the conference were eminent personalities such as Dr. Lalit Khaitan, Chairman and Managing Director, Radico Khaitan, Mr. Nirj Deva, Member of European Parliament, U.K., Dr. Jean Joseph Boillot, Co-Chairman Euro India Economic and Business Group, Professor Ruud Lubbers, Former PM The Netherlands; Earth Charter Commissioner, Mr. Jan Meuhfeit, Chairman Europe Microsoft Corporation, Mr. Guenter Verheugen, Vice-President European Commission-Commission for Enterprise and Industry, and Mr. Gopal Ramanathan, Global Head, Transaction Services, KPMG among others.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Mr. Nirj Deva also Chair of the Conference Advisory Committee spoke about rediscovering the virtue of responsibility. “If we cannot rise to this challenge of acting responsibly, a virtue so intimately linked with our human dignity, then our civilization is doomed and with it our ability to provide for the most vulnerable among us.”

In his speech, Mr. Lalit Khaitan remarked that ancient oriental philosophy which emphasizes the development of the individual and society has an answer to corporate failures caused by compromises on ethics and human values. Ethics cannot be just emotional reactions, but have to refer to reason and be linked to the ability to discern the truth.

Reverend. Prof. Dr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, Secretary General, Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community highlighted the need for good ethics. He said, “Ethics needs anthropology. It needs to be linked to the question “who are we as human beings?” Good ethics is only possible through the conscious spiritual effort of human beings. For this we need education.”

IAHV presented the 2009 Ethics in Business Award to the Sungjoo Corporation from the Republic of Korea in the Outstanding Corporation category, for its exceptional commitment to social responsibility. It was received by its founder Mrs. Sung-Joo-Kim voted by Asiaweek as one of the seven most powerful women in Asia and by Wall Street Journal as one of the top 50 Women to Watch.

Accepting the award she said, “In Korea there is a widespread culture of bribing – I proved it is possible to do business ethically, without bribing. It made my business 10 times, sometimes 100 times more difficult, sometimes impossible, but I did not give up.”

The Outstanding Individual award was conferred on Brigitte Mohn, member of the executive Board, Bertelsmann Foundation, for her exceptional work in health sector reforms as well as being a role model for ethical leadership.

Peace is not just absence of conflict: Sri Sri

Sri Sri addresses Israeli Presidential Conference; to meet Palestine leaders

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with President of Israel Shimon Peres at the Second Israeli Presidential Conference on October 21, 2009JERUSALEM, October 21: Spiritual leader His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressed the second Israeli Presidential Conference 2009 in Jerusalem. Titled ‘Facing Tomorrow’, global leaders discussed issues like leadership concerns in Israel and Palestine, continuing ecological deterioration, political instability in the Middle East, the economic crisis and Iran’s push to acquire nuclear weapons at the conference.

“The youth need vision and mission to resolve the conflict in the region and I am optimistic that patience and perseverance will bring peace,” said Sri Sri during his address. Other panelists of the session were Shimon Peres, the Israeli President; Jimmy Wales the Founder for Wikipedia; Andre Azoulay, Counsellor of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco; Cecilia Attias, President of Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women; Guma Aguiar, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The session was moderated by reputed talk show host Dan Shilon.

The conference was opened by President Shimon Peres, and began with a video message from President Barack Obama. Also present were Prime Minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, President of Croatia, President of Slovania, President of Macedonia, Former Prime Minister of Spain, President of Ukraine, Europe ministers from China, ambassadors and representatives from the UN, research scientists, engineers, IT professionals, entrepreneurs and Nobel laureates.

Sri Sri’s brand of yoga & meditation found great appeal amongst Israelis. Israel’s TV & Radio 2 stated, “No doubt the most colourful and interesting talk was by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar”.

During his four-day tour to the country, Sri Sri also addressed students at the Hebrew University, members of the Business Forum in Tel Aviv University, and religious leaders in Jerusalem. He also met participants at the Art of Living’s breathing and meditation workshop in Jerusalem. He will visit Palestine and meet Palestinian leaders.

At the TA University, Sri Sri threw light on issues such as bringing about peace, terrorism, ethics in business, problems of the youth. He said, “peace is not just absence of conflict. It is a positive inner emotion. Peace and prosperity go together. If there is peace, there is more prosperity. The whole world today is interested in having peace in the Middle East.”

The Art of Living Foundation has been working actively in Israel since 2003, when Sri Sri visited Israel and took the message of peace to religious leaders of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze communities. Following his visit, Art of Living workshops and Trauma Care Programmes have been conducted in affected areas including the Gaza strip, West Bank area, Jerusalem, Tulkarem, Haifa and Sderot.

Yoga: New 'Om' of good sex life!

NEW DELHI: In yoga studios of suburban Delhi, there's a new asana for sexuality, which is bringing a revolution in the lives of men and women. Delhi-based yoga expert Mini Shastri advises Surya Namaskar every morning for a sacred sexual connection.

" Surya Namaskar is a combination of 12 different poses, back bends, forward bends. While doing the namaskar you contract and expand your nerves to the pelvic girdle, which is your sexual core. This stimulates your sexual hormones and helps you achieve a new sexual equilibrium. While kundalini yoga is also beneficial for a better sex life. For instance, vrkasana or the scorpio pose helps your reproductive organs.''

AWAKE YOUR SENSUAL BEING

Ellen Barrett's book Sexy Yoga, is designed to open up seven chakras (energy centers) that involve sexuality: root, sacral and heart. "Yoga means union or yoke in Sanskrit, and it focuses on bringing the body into harmony with the mind and spirit. The awareness of sexuality through yoga is deeper and more intimate. Yoga is about discovering the joys of elegant sexuality,'' says Barrett.

Why are more people rediscovering the yogic position on sexuality?

"Yoga helps you in creating a balance. Kundalini yoga helps you create bio-energy, It activates your sex hormones. There's a spiritual connection between yoga, sex and celibacy on the other. Yoga helps you achieve your needs, you can be celibate or satisfied sexually through yoga, it helps you supress or express sexual desire. Kundalini yoga is a bio-science of sexuality and psychology. It can rejuvenate through breathing exercises, which enhance consciousness, with bio-magnetic awareness, you can use your charms sexually. We have higher forms of prayananam ,'' says Kundalini yoga expert, Meena Nanda, who teaches dynamic life management for well-being.

DO WE REALLY NEED NUDE YOGA?

Perhaps, some people are taking yoga for sensuality a bit too far. Like New York-based ashtanga yoga teacher Aaron Star is the founder of Hot Nude Yoga, which combines ashtanga and vinyasa yoga session.

"The students discover breathing techniques that will help you to relax and bliss out. The practice involves the classic stretching postures and breathing exercises, coordinated with chanting and meditation to stimulate the release of so-called kundalini energy. It uses the energy of sex to raise the kundalini energy to the higher chakras. It is a good idea to be a regular practitioner of ordinary yoga before you embark on yoga for sex,'' says Star.

MUDRAS FOR SEXUAL HEALING

Sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari believes, yoga is the perfect for emotional, sexual and spiritual well-being.

"There are certain asanas that enhance physical intimacy -- bhramari prayanam , chanting of Om with eyes and ears closed reduces anxiety, helps in contracting and expanding sexual nerves. While vajrasana helps in erectile dysfunctions, vajroli and ashwini mudra can help pregnant women pursue a healthy sex life after delivery. These mudras help the pelvic muscles. I also advise surya namaskar to those who have endrocrine imbalance. If you follow these excercises, yoga can really improve your sex life.''

Teachers’ training programme at Yoga Institute

NEW DELHI: A city-based 90-year-old yoga centre, has formulated an experience-based training programme for teachers from Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh with a view to educated them about the ancient system of exercises to control body and mind.

“A national project for introducing Yoga in schools has been initiated through training teachers in 690 districts across India in all the states,” Hansaben Jayadev Yogendra, Director, Yoga Institute in suburban Santacruz, said.

This Yoga educational programme for teachers has begun at the Institute, together with many leading institutes from the country including the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, under the Union ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of AYUSH, she said.

“This is a major project as teachers are the second most organised unit next to the army and they have deep potential to change the lives of children,” Hansaben said.

“Our comprehensive teachers’ training course empowers humans to discover their inner energies and potential, control wild emotions, concentrate thoughts and direct energies creatively,” Institute President, Dr Jayadeva Yogendra said.

Around 23 teachers from Gujarat, who successfully completed a month long training in Yoga, were awarded certificates by the institute yesterday.

“It helps people function more efficiently in personal and professional life, maintain cordial relations with fellow beings and express creativity in multiple ways,” Mr. Yogendra said.

It is vital to spread the message of Yoga to children as approximately one third of the world’s population comprises youngsters less than 25 years, he said.

Yoga has the potential of developing the integrated personality and can also rescue the younger generation from the problems faced by them due to growing modernization and westernisation of lifestyle, Mr. Yogendra added.

Combat Swine flu with Yoga

NEW DELHI, Aug 13: The universe exists in perfect balance. It exists inside the body, as well as outside the body. And whenever this balance is disrupted, disease breaks out.

All the diseases of the world exist in nature. They might live in the air, or in the water or in a living being. But they are all around. Certain bacteria live under the surface of your skin. Some live inside your stomach. Some actually help the body. And some help nature to decompose your body once it is dead. So the first thing to understand is that there is no perfectly safe place which is completely 100 per cent free of microbes, unless it is inside a laboratory. And man cannot live his whole life inside a lab.

Death is certain for all of us, and as long as we’re alive we have to make efforts to be healthy, and also accept death gracefully when it comes. Some face it earlier, and some face it later. But death is the ultimate jump into the unknown which has to be faced by everyone, today or tomorrow. If you don’t accept this simple fact, you will end up panicking in a fraction of a second. And panic has never helped anyone in life. Staying calm, cool and aware is the first step.

If your body is weak, and your immune system is not strong enough to fight the microbes you need to take constructive steps to make your entire system strong. I don’t mean just your biceps or triceps, but your glandular system, your respiratory system, your digestive system and your circulatory system.

Every single system in your body has to be strengthened in order for your immune system to be made stronger. When your body is functioning optimally, your immune response is much faster and efficient. The immune response is your body’s reaction to an invading microbe. They say a smile improves your immune system. And though there may not be scientific proof for it, I can assure you the opposite - a depressed person will definitely have a weak immune system.

So Yoga not only works on all your systems including your immune system. It keeps you calm, relaxed and alert - all the qualities which are required to meet the challenges of life properly. A man who is happy, healthy, unafraid of death, calm in the face of uncertainty cannot be harmed by any virus or bacteria as his ability to fight the disease will be much greater than any of us.

Yoga can do miracles. But it is you who has to have the presence of mind to put it into action and see the results. Yoga is an experimental science, where you perform experiments on yourself. Never look to anyone for answers. Trust only in your self.

Practice Vipreetkarni Kriya, Kapalbhati daily for 15 - 20 minutes to improve your immune system and fight the Swine flu when your body is exposed to it.

Around 7,000 pilgrims leave for Amarnath shrine

SRINAGAR, June 21: Around 7,000 pilgrims on Sunday left Baltal base camp here on a pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine even as the traditional Pahalgam route continued to remain closed owing to snow clearance work.

The pilgrims began the 16-km arduous journey around 5 am, a spokesman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said.

"Work on road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari, the first halting station en route to the cave is through, while snow clearance work on the track upwards is going on a war-footing basis," Deputy Commissioner of Anantnag, Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, who is also the Yatra Officer, said.

Mr. Ahmad asked the Pahalgam Development Authority to speed up their efforts and get the track cleared on a priority basis so that the traditional route could be opened soon.

The SASB will review status of the route on June 25 before allowing pilgrims to proceed along the route.

Meanwhile, Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda ordered deployment of two rescue operation teams at Sheshnag and Panjtarni en route the shrine.

The two teams, comprising 10 members each, would be provided with necessary rescue equipment and logistics by armed police and would work under the supervision of senior police officers on Yatra duty.

Sri Sri appeals for peace in Punjab

BANGALORE, May 25, 2009: Art of Living founder and humanitarian, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has appealed for peace in Punjab.

“What has happened in Austria is deeply regrettable. One act of violence cannot be corrected by another act of violence. Sikhs have always been known for their religious acceptance. I appeal to them to stay calm and united in this hour of grief”, he said.

Krishna the Teacher - I

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Lord KrishnaThough the Gita accepts the belief in avatara as the Divine limiting Himself for a purpose on earth, it also lays stress on the eternal avatara, the God in man.

The two views are not incompatible with each other. The teacher, interested in the spiritual illumination of the human race, speaks from the depths of the Divine in him.

Krishna's avatara is an illustration of the Spirit in us, the Divine hidden in gloom. According to the Bhagavata Purana, "at midnight, in the thickest darkness, the Dweller in every heart revealed Himself in the divine Devaki, for the Lord is the self hidden in the hearts of all beings."

The meaning of the birth of Krishna is the fact of redemption in the dark night. A sudden flash, an illumination and life is seen fresh and new. When the Divine birth takes place within us, the scales fall from our eyes, the bolts of the prison open.

The Lord abides in the heart of every creature and when the veil of that secret sanctuary is withdrawn, we hear the Divine voice, receive the Divine light, act in the Divine power. The incarnation of Krishna is not so much the conversion of Godhead into flesh as the taking up of manhood into God.

The teacher slowly guides his pupil. The pupil, Arjuna, is the type of the struggling soul who has not yet received the saving truth.

He is fighting with the forces of darkness, falsehood, limitation and mortality which bar the way to the higher world. The rider in the chariot of the body is Arjuna but Krishna has to guide the journey Every individual is a pupil.

With faith, God becomes the guide. As for the validity of the teaching, it is of little moment whether Krishna is a figure of history or God descended into man, for the realities of the spirit are the same now as they were thousands of years ago.

The Five Points of Yoga

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, June 13: The Yogi sees life as a triangle; the body undergoes birth, growth, change, decay and death. The growth period reaches a plateau at about 18 to 20 years. In the first years of life, the "youthful period", the rate of cell rejuvenation (anabolic) exceeds the rate of cell decay (catabolic). The body then maintains equilibrium from the age of 20 until around 35, when the decaying or catabolic process begins to take precedence. The body machine starts its decline, resulting in "old age" with its accompanying ills and despairs.

However, the yogis say that were not born merely to be subject to pain, suffering, disease and death. There is a far greater purpose to life. But, the spiritual investigation of life's purpose requires keen intellect and strong will, products of a healthy body and mind.

For this reason, the ancient sages developed an integral system to retard the decaying process, and keep the physical and mental faculties strong. This system of Yoga is simple, natural programme involving five main principles:

1. Proper Exercise
2. Proper Breathing
3. Proper Relaxation
4. Proper Diet
5. Positive Thinking and Meditation

Yoga is life of self-discipline based on the tenets of "simple living and high thinking". The body is seen as a temple or vehicle for the soul, and has specific requirements which must be fulfilled for it to function smoothly. The body is very much like an automobile which too requires the five things: a lubricating system, a battery, a cooling system, fuel and a responsible driver behind the wheels.

Now let us look at the human needs:

Proper Exercise acts as a lubricating routine to the joints, muscles ligaments, tendons, and other parts of the body by increasing circulation and flexibility. Yogic Asanas are designed not only to develop the body but also the mental faculties and the spiritual capacities.

Proper Breathing aids the body in connecting to its battery, the solar plexus, where tremendous potential energy is stored. When tapped through specific Yoga breathing techniques (Pranayama), this energy is released for physical and mental rejuvenation. The most important thing about good breathing is the Prana, or subtle energy of the vital breath. Control of the Prana leads to control of the mind. Pranayama thus means the control of the vital energy. All diseases of the body can be destroyed at the root by controlling and regulating the Prana.

Proper Relaxation cools down the system, as does the radiator of a car. When the body and mind are continually overworked, their efficiency diminishes. Relaxation is Nature's way of recharging the body.

Proper Diet provides the correct fuel for the body. Optimum utilization of food, air water, and sunlight is essential. The Yogic diet is a vegetarian one, consisting of pure, simple, natural foods which are easily digested and promote health. Simple meals aid the digestion and assimilation of foods. Nutritional requirements fall under five categories: protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins. All natural foods (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains) have, in varying quantities, different proportions of these essential nutrients. A healthy motto is: "eat to live, not live to eat". A Yogic diet will help you attain a high standard of health, keen intellect and serenity of mind.

Positive Thinking and Meditation puts you in control. The intellect is purified. The lower nature is brought under conscious control through steadiness and concentration of mind.

Meditation is an experience that cannot be described. One cannot learn to meditate, anymore than one can learn to sleep. One falls into both states. If you meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to face life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation is the most powerful mental and nerve tonic. It opens the door to intuitive knowledge and realms of eternal bliss. The mind becomes calm and steady.

AUM

By Suresh Rateria

God’s symbol, according to Patanjali, is the syllable AUM. This sound is divine: it stands in praise of divine fulfillment. AUM is the universal sound (sabda brahman). Philosophically, it is regarded as the seed of all words. No word can be uttered without the symbolic sound of these three letters, a, u, and m. AUM represents communion with God, the Soul and with the Universe.AUM is known as pranava, or exalted praise of God. God is worshipped by repeating or chanting AUM, because sound vibration is the subtlest and highest expression of nature. AUM repeated with the feeling and awareness of its meaning, overcomes obstacles of Self – Realisation.

The Sanskrit word Aum, according to Sri Vinoba Bhave, conveys the concept of omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotent. The symbol AUM is composed of three syllables, namely the letter A, U, M and when written has a crescent and a dot on its top. A few of the various interpretations given to it are mentioned here to convey its meaning.

The letter A symbolizes the conscious or waking state (jagrata avastha), the letter U the dream state (svapana avastha) and the letter M the dreamless sleep state (susupta avastha) of the mind and spirit. The entire symbol, together with the crescent and the dot, stands for the fourth state (turiya avastha), which combines all these states and transcends them. This is the state of Samadhi.

The three letters also represent the dimensions of length, breadth and depth, while the entire symbol represents Divinity, which is beyond the limitation of shape and form.

The three letters A,U and M symbolizes the absence of desire, fear and anger, while the whole symbol stands for the perfect man (asthita prajna), one whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine.

They also depict the three stages yogic discipline, namely, asana, pranayama and pratyahara. The entire symbol represents Samadhi, the goal for which the three stages are the steps.

They also represent the triad of Divinity, namely, Brahma - the Creator, Vishnu - the Maintainer, and Shiva – the Destroyer of the universe. The whole symbol is said to represent Brahman from which the universe emanates.

Meditation leads to peace of mind

By Prem Sehgal

In this present environment of the world, greed and selfishness have overpowered the body, mind and intellect of man. As a result of this, he has lost the peace of mind resulting in various physical and mental problems. The solution of this problem lies only in religion and spiritualism. To achieve success in this field, control of mind, concentration and meditation are the best means. Mind torments man in the field of his day-to-day life and the worldly problems. What is mind after all? It is only a bundle of thoughts. According to the saints, the mind is like water, basically pure and divine but is made impure or coloured by our good or bad actions.

For concentration and meditation, control of mind is the first requisite. Logic and studies alone will not suffice. It requires continuous practice to bring the mind under discipline. As we are deeply engrossed in our busy living and are torn asunder by various desires and attachments, it is but natural that our mind remains restless and wanders away from one object to another. But it is possible to bring it under control during meditation by utilizing the major part of the mind for concentration and some of it as a watchful eye. It is natural with the mind to run wild with other thoughts, but watchful eye would be able to bring it back again and again and keep it disciplined.

If we are travelling in a train with a robber, knowing fully well his evil designs, it would be imperative for us to remain very careful and vigilant from this companion, apart from the act of travelling with him. There is a beautiful simile of the man walking with a cup full of milk in his hand. As the milk from the overfilled cup is bound to fall down, if the person is not careful and cautious, he has got to keep a watchful eye on the cup of milk over and above the act of walking. This constant watchful eye can play an important part in stopping the mind from fruitless wandering during the period of meditation. It is not an easy task but at the same time not impossible. With practice and effort, it can work wonder.

In the Bhagwat Geeta, the importance and practice of Meditation or the Yoga of Meditation have been very well explained by Lord Krishna during his discourses to Arjuna. In Chapter VI of the Bhagwat Geeta, the importance and practice of Meditation have been exhaustively explained by the Lord for the benefit of the humanity irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Now, the important question of the seeker would be to know what is the technique of meditation and how to practise it.

As explained in the Bhagwat Geeta, it is important that the place of meditation should be neat and clean since extrernal conditions have a direct bearing on the mind. In a clean place, there is more chance for the seeker to maintain a cleaner mental condition. The meditator is asked to sit steady in his seat of meditation. The body should not move at short intervals nor swing either forward or backward and the seeker should sit steady.

In order to get established in a firm posture it would be advisable to sit in any comfortable seat with the vertebral column erect, fingers interlocked and hands kept in front. The next step would be to choose a holy Mantra (or name of one's chosen Diety) or the Mantra given by your Satguru. It could be even OM or Ram suiting the individual. One has to chant and concentrate on this holy mantra or syllable with all sincerity and faith fixing your attention on the tip of your nose or between the eye-brows.

During this period of practice, the mind as per its habit, would start wandering away from its point of concentration because the mind is by nature restless and unsteady. During this practice, even though the seeker has brought his sense organs to a large extent under his control, still the mind disturbed by the memories of the past experiences would shoot out in search of its sense objects. These wanderings of the mind may be due to the memories of the past. But Lord Krishna categorically says that whatever be the reasons because of which the restless and the unsteady mind wanders away, the seeker is not to despair but should understand that it is the very nature of the mind to wander and that the process of meditation is only to stop this wandering.

The seeker is advised to bring back the mind that has rushed out into its self-appointed dissimilar channels of thinking. This withdrawal of the mind may be successful to some extent by sheer will power but ere long the seeker will find that the mind has rushed out again to another fancied line of thinking. Very rarely does the seeker realizes that the mind means "the flow of thought". Therefore, in the technique of meditation when the mind is withdrawn from the sense objects, this process of withdrawal is to be complemented by a conscious effort by the meditator in applying the same mind at once in the contemplation of the Self or God.

Krishna here wants to remove all misunderstandings from the heart of the meditators and explains to them the effects and benefits of such meditation. Through the steady and regular meditation, the scriptures promise only inner purification. Agitations in the mind are its impurities. A purified mind is that which has no agitations and when the mind has thus become pure and steady, the consciousness looking at the steady reflection of itself comes to rediscover its own real nature. It is this stage which is our true goal of life.

Overcoming desires lead to spiritual bliss

By Prem Sehgal

Of all the ills of this mundane life, desire alone is the source of terrible grief to man. According to the Vedas, the sharp edge of a sword, the dazzling light of thunderbolt, even the red hot iron are not so harmful as the heart rooted in desire. The desire in one's life ends only when the life comes to an end. The thin line that separates desires and necessity is difficult to draw. However, one should restrict one's desire only up to the level of necessities, if one wants to have a peaceful spiritual life. All physical, mental and intellectual energies are spent in fulfilling the desires by all means available. This ultimately lowers the level of consciousness.

All ideas and thoughts originate in the mind and the cravings of desire must have a mental support for the desire to create a permanent abode in the vital being. As desires get fulfilled, more desires get accumulated in the mind till the man loses the capacity to discriminate between the right and wrong. Later, there is an intense craving to satisfy all desires by piling up wrong doings. Eventually, desires turn into g reed resulting in disastrous consequences.

The greed for money, wealth, popularity and name is seen in the human race alone and arises primarily as an ingredient to feel the ego. The very belief that all these would give a feeling of happiness, comfort and security are all hallucinations. But this realization either does not come or at all when it comes, it is too late to extricate oneself out of the abyss. Desire, says the Gita, is the deadliest enemy of man. However, suppressing one's desire or yielding to it is not the way to get rid of desire. Each time a desire is suppressed; it tends to hide itself into the subconscious mind and returns with renewed force at a subsequent opportunity to fulfill the same.

The only positive way to come out of the vicious grip of desires is to raise oneself from the lower order of consciousness to a higher order. This brings forth the inherent divinity of man which helps to realize that a particular desire must be resisted. Later, all desires are weakened till he becomes a master of his will and is able to renunciate worldly desires from his very being or nature. When we have passed beyond enjoying, then we shall have bliss.

According to the Indian Rishis of yore, success in the spiritual path cannot be achieved without the help of a Satguru. The grace of the Guru can work wonders to make the path smoother. Thus the search of a Satguru is a must if one really wants to tread the path of divinity and realize peace eternal, so essential in this age of greed and selfishness. God is seen only when the mind is peaceful and tranquil. Swami Ramakrishna said: "When the ocean of mind is made turbulent by the winds of desires, it cannot reflect God and God vision".

 

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