Tuesday, September 7, 2010

M Rajaque Rahman, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Masters Degree in Communications
Art of Living instructor, Former Journalist

I was born in a devout but liberal Muslim family in Imphal, the capital city of the North Eastern Indian state of Manipur in 1971. I had my initial education in Imphal and in the year 1992 I graduated in journalism from Bangalore University. Two years later, I obtained a Master of Science Degree in Communications from the same university. In the same year, I joined The Economic Times, India’s Number One business newspaper as a trainee journalist and rose to handle the entire Editorial Desk of its southern editions by the time I left it to take a assignment abroad in 2002. In the year 2005, I ended my very rewarding and fulfilling career in journalism to respond to the calling of my life and to get involved full time with the Art of Living.

The headache that turned my life around

The dotcom boom lured me out of a very rewarding and fulfilling stint at a top media house. When the bubble went bust, I was hunting for my second job within a year. And when 9/11 happened, along with the twin tower, my dreams of being part of the team that was to launch a top US magazine in India also came crashing down.

The joblessness, however, did not give me too much of a headache, but my migraine did. Instead of doing the rounds of prospective employers, I was visiting doctor after doctor to find a cure for my migraine which was almost becoming chronic. After uncountable number of tests and strips of medicines, I was still struggling to learn to live with my migraine. More than the lure of the lucre, it was the traumatic attacks that made me end my seven-year marriage with my maiden job.

Little did I know that the art of living with migraine would be taught at the Art of Living workshop. One of the doctors threw his arms up, suggesting that I give Sudarshan Kriya of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a try. My immediate reaction was, how could I learn a technique cognized by a white robed, long haired Hindu guru. My orthodox and ignorant upbringing convinced me that it would be nothing sort of blasphemy to learn such yogic techniques. All attempts by my friends to reason me out failed and I preferred to live with my migraine than commit ‘blasphemy’ until I couldn't take the headache anymore.

After eight months of dithering and fighting my migraine, I decided to heed the advice the doctor, reasoning out myself that my religion permits me to do even ‘un-Islamic things’ if they were meant to sustain my life. I enrolled for the course in Bangalore. It was a case of love-at-first-sight. I found the workshop revolutionary in its content and approach. And by the end of the six-day workshop, I was already married to it even as I kept waiting for the ‘un-Islamic things’ to come! To cut a long story short, there was nothing in the workshop that conflicted with the tenets of my religion. Instead I learnt skills that could help me go deeper in my faith.

I wanted to bring this knowledge to more people

The concepts like accepting people and situations as they are or not seeing intention behind other people’s mistake are also the essence of the many hadiths (sayings of the prophet) the neighborhood moulvi taught when I was a kid. More importantly, they no more remained mere concepts; the workshop imparted techniques to integrate them into my daily life.

After a few advanced courses, I was convinced that this is what I was looking for in life. I wanted to become an instructor and take this knowledge to more people, particularly to those who are mired in ignorance and misconceptions and deprived of the immense benefit the Art of Living offer.

When my boss at a business magazine in the Gulf refused to give me leave to attend the training to become an Art of Living instructor, I decided to give up the job and get involved full time with the Art of Living. This spontaneous move ruffled too many feathers back home. My mother and my siblings, all educated and liberal, could not comprehend the calling of my life. They simply presumed I was renouncing the world, and my faith, to spend the rest of my life with a Hindu guru. They even feared that I might be terminally ill and was not telling them the truth.

All explanations and reasoning fell on deaf ears. It was difficult to go against my own family, but I did not lose heart, as I knew that they would come around. Charity and service run deep in the family and I knew they would not stand in the way once they cared to understand what I was up to.

Slowly and gradually, they started to notice the depth that the Art of Living was adding to my life and they soften up. And when they heard the stories of transformation and solace people experienced after learning the Art of Living from me during my recent trip to a few Muslim villages in Assam, they shed their prejudice. Suddenly, the truth that true art of living transcends the man-made barriers of caste, creed, nationality and religion dawn on them and they started taking pride in what I am doing.

Oh, I forgot to mention about my migraine. No wonder! It’s has been nine years since my last migraine attack and my first Sudarshan Kriya!

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