Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beatriz V. Goyoaga Art of Living Experience

Journalist, Foreign Correspondent, Former Competitive Horse Rider

I am a journalist from Spain and a citizen of the world. My dad was the General Attorney Public for the Spanish army, and my mum a lady of noble birth. My partner was an Italian Marquis, and also world champion in horse show jumping. I worked in Latin America as a foreign correspondent and headed a press office with 14 major publications, specialized in politics and economics.  I learned also seven languages. For 25 years I was a successful competition horse rider. Since the dawn of my life God has blessed me with a fascinating life.

Adventures around the world

I started looking for something more in life since I was seventeen.  I left my parental home to live in England, then in France, Germany, the USA and Argentina.. There was something in me that told me that life was more than fun, work, challenges, gin & tonic and sex.

For my 40th birthday I started a trip around the globe of 355 days interviewing queens and bedouins, beggars and terrorists. I climbed mount Everest twice, lived in the North Pole with the reindeer farmers, crossed Africa on the back of a truck as well as Siberia,  I sailed the Antarctic to the south pole on an ice breaker and traveled through the burning desserts of Arabia and the Yemen.  I worked in war torn countries like Afghanistan and Lebanon, In all these years I met and interviewed amazing people like Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, George Bush, the Dalia Lama,  Her Royal Highness Queen of England and many more.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, means as much to me as having met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, having heard my name from his lips and  being able to serve his wonderful foundation.

Sri Sri visits Argentina 2008
Meeting with Guruji

Finally I met Guruji in a crowded conference hall at the most respected theater of Argentina. My husband would always take me to these places, and I would always go to sleep for I was not interested in spirituality. However, on this occasion I did not sleep but rather I was woken up! Literally,  that day I started a new life. At the end of the conference it was announced that people could go and meet the Sri Sri, I quickly said "What for, Let's go and have a drink". I repented for years to come.

Nevertheless we were touched enough to take the Art of Living course for stress management.  I wept and laughed and felt that life was a dream of love. Of course it took me about a year to fully accept this gentle, long haired person I did not know.  My left brain used to say,  "I am a catholic I need no Indian Master". I even put his photograph in a drawer, face down, so I need not see him when opening the drawer. But my heart said something else. I felt soft when I thought of him and a smile would appear on my face.

Teaching Art of Living to thousands

I had done 26 courses in little over a year. I then became a teacher. Since then I have taught tens of thousands,  from people in prisons to heads of governments, doctors,  deans of universities, CEO's, housewives and thousands of students.

I have encountered strong opposition from my family in Spain and suffered in silence the destitution. But nothing will make me change my mind or life style. I know now that I have come to this world to serve and spread this knowledge. Nothing absolutely nothing is more important than bringing the Knowledge Guruji has put together to uplift the human spirit from sorrow and desperation to freedom and serenity. In all of these years he has never asked me to do any thing, never demanded or questioned any thing. He allows me to flow, work in freedom and expand.

These days I am capable of crossing the globe just to spend a few hours in the presence of Sri silence. Sri Sri's love and presence is amazing. I recharge my batteries to go on another tour of helping Latin Americans switch from crime to peace, from complains to gratitude and from stress to freedom.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nakul Dhawan - Art of Living Experience

Engineer, Art of Living Teacher

Why I did not want to do the Art of Living Course

The simple reason I did not want to join the Art of Living was that it was my mom who asked me to. It was considered against the teenage code of conduct to listen to mom, especially if it was good advice. I had just cracked the engineering entrance, seemed as weird as youngsters are supposed to be, had a healthy circle of smart and directionless friends and no remote intention of finding a deeper purpose to life. No way was mom going to force me out of my paradise.

As such stories often end, I was forced to attend the course.

But I liked it a lot.

I grew more and more inclined to Guruji’s talks and found both depth and simplicity in his words. What drew me was that even though not all of what he said was very evident to me at the time, it still had the ring of truth in it.

 “Wake up and see, there is no misery in this world.”


There are aspects to this world that can easily drive you to despair, suspicion, mistrust, fear etc. And everybody, for some strange reason, was showing me all that can go wrong in life. Such perspectives only served to make me more and more timid. But here was somebody telling me in his tender voice that there is no misery in this world. It was just beautiful!

After I finished my engineering course, I started working at a multinational corporation in Bangalore and started visiting the ashram on weekends. This was a phase when, because I was living outside the protection of my family, I had to learn to be independent. I had to lead life on my own. There was nobody I could immediately turn to for advice. So far, I had just been following the current. I had never really taken charge of my life. Playtime was over.

It was during this time that I found Guruji’s knowledge invaluable. I can say, after all these years, that whatever challenges one can face in life – relationships, facing unpleasantness or hostility, betrayal, personal loss, confusion about life’s direction and other mind games, Guruji ‘s knowledge preemptively educates you about all this. The refinement of thought in our ancient texts, whose names even I would probably never have heard otherwise, I had the privilege of contemplating over.

After a few years, I took the Teachers Training Program. Teaching the Art of Living courses, where people come from various backgrounds and experiences, gives a panoramic view of our society that is just not available in the papers or on TV. Our service projects are spread over such diverse fields of activity, that they offer innumerable opportunities to learn as well as contribute. I got interested in our education initiatives and have been involved with children and parenting workshops.

I quit my job to join Art of Living full time after working for six years. The day I sent my farewell mail, a number of seniors at office came and confided, “We also wanted to do something like when we were your age. All the best.” I have since been living at the beautiful International Campus at Bangalore and have been loving it. There are hundreds of other people, many of them youngsters like me, here who are growing and learning under Guruji’s love and guidance.

I never thought it was possible but its playtime again. Muhuhuhuhahahaha (looks at the mirror smugly)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Manikya Vikram - Art of Living Course Experience

Water Treatment Professional, Art of Living Teacher, Chennai

In mid-80's, my boss, Shri. K.N. Koushik attended a course in an Ashram on Kanakapura Road, Bangalore and came back thoroughly impressed. Shri. Koushik wanted me to attend the course. Of course, I did not. I had not even bothered to find out the details. It was many years later, in Dec 2003 that I got to do the course at Chennai. It was the Art of Living course. Well, I guess, all in good time!

Before I go further, let me share a little about my self. I have lived a very happy & healthy life. As a student, a responsible husband and father - I have kept my life very simple and happy. I'm not at all a religious kind of person.

Vishalakshi Mantap, Art of Living International Center, Bangalore, India

It was a simple SMS that sent me & Pavani to a "Satsang" with Sri Sri Ravishankarji in the Anna University, Chennai on 30-Nov-2003. We were both overwhelmed by the personality of Sri Sri. His simplicity inspired me the most. He made spirituality & religion very simple for me. That was the first time in my life I meditated. My experience with meditation that Guruji led that huge gathering or around 20,000 was very relaxing. Suddenly spirituality began to make a lot of sense to me. Incidentally, I quit all my addictions. I did have a couple of serious addictions. It was not at all difficult with regular practice of "Sudarshana Kriya" that I learnt in the Art of Living course.

It is only natural that both me & Pavani got into volunteering in the Art of Living. Eventually, both of us are Art of Living teachers. I wish more people would join in and spread the good around the world.

Philip C MacKenzie - Art of Living YES !+ Experience

Environmental Engineer, Musician, YES !+ Teacher

YES!+ is the most empowering thing I have ever experienced in my life and I highly recommend it to anyone regardless of your beliefs, religion, race or feelings. It doesn't even matter if you're working towards developing yourself into a stronger, more professional, and more empowered individual because it's going to happen automatically if you commit to this program. All 6 classes are strictly mandatory for a reason.

My experience with Art of Living and the YES!+ program is very simple: In 2005, I was considering dropping out of Dalhousie Engineering because I hated everything about it including the students, the courses and the
professors. All I wanted to do was play music and nothing else. My grades were horrible. I took the Art of Living course once during my winter exam period (I had 6 exams) and from that point on I started getting incredible grades in every single class and kept such an unshakable smile on my face every day.

I kept taking Art of Living courses every 4-6 months and when YES!+ was first offered I took it immediately and repeated the course every so often. I graduated with both a Diploma in Industrial Engineering and a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Engineering with specializations in Environmental Science, Law and Ethics. My goal was to begin work in the Renewable Energy Sector and continue with multiple music projects. I am now 2 years out of University and I am already running my own division at Scotian Renewables Incorporated in my city of choice. On the side, I have composed and produced three records with local musicians, our music is featured regularly on CBC Radio 1, 2 and 3. And this is only the beginning.
Experiences from YES+ Winter Break at the Art of Living International Center, Bangalore

I'm 25 years old now, and I teach this course voluntarily in the evenings, so that others can experience what I have, and achieve their life goals before they turn 30 so they can move on to something else.

All I can say is that this course is so completely different than anything else I have done, it is unpredictable, challenging, makes me feel fulfilled physically, emotionally, and mentally. The Art of Living isn't anything complicated, it's simple, and it just happens to be shockingly effective.

YES!+ is entirely worth the time commitment. At no point did I feel this course was something I needed in my life, I just did it, and my life went from "acceptable" to "incredible". Now, only after 5 years, everything I put my mind to becomes effortless.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rajita Kulkarni Bagga Art of Living Experience

Art of Living Teacher, Apex Teacher, TLEX Teacher

I am born in an illustrious family. My paternal grandmother had a very deep knowledge of our ancient scriptures and was very spiritual. All her four brothers have made milestone contributions to the Indian economic, scientific , cultural and social landscape. My entire extended family of uncles, aunts ,cousins are doctors, engineers, doctorates in niche subjects, architects, serving in the Indian armed forces at senior positions like air vice marshal and  brigadier general ,civil servants, industrialists, scientists & social entrepreneurs. My parents themselves were representative of the emerging intellectual middle class of a free India and professionals with the Indian Government.  From a very young age, the values of hard work, excellence, innovation, contribution to the society, appreciation of our rich heritage & spirituality were inculcated in me. 

Meeting with Sri Sri Ravishankar

I was a conscientious and hardworking student.  It may feel strange but even as a child I knew that I was born for a purpose different than normal kids! I had the best of everything, but there was a sense of thirst, a certain quest for life. I used to actually feel a funny pit in my stomach all the time- a remembrance that I need to put my life to a bigger use.  

I graduated a top of the class student, with many academic laurels. As a young 21 year old MBA , I joined Citibank as a Assistant Manager. Life was exciting, with new found confidence, independence, exposure to the best minds in the industry and lot of fun. Yet there was that pit in the stomach reminding me of my real goal !!  In 1993 by mere chance ,a family friend of ours invited us to a satsang with his Guruji- Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji. I went for the satsang and that was the beginning of the most miraculous phase of my life. Little did I know how my life would start getting gradually and effortlessly steered in a direction to serve a higher purpose! 

Art of Living course experience 

I took the Art of Living course soon thereafter.  It was a fantastic experience. I felt my whole being was glowing with a new found radiance ! In a amazing turn of events , I got married almost immediately and my husband also took the course.  Within a month of this, we got a chance to visit the Art of Living International  Headquarters in Bangalore to participate in the Advance level course (Art of Silence course). The day we arrived in the ashram, the most amazing thing happened! I realized that I did not have the pit in my stomach anymore!  I couldn’t believe it.  That’s it. I knew I had reached home!

Almost miraculously we both got transferred from Mumbai ( where we were living) to Bangalore within a week of finishing the Art of Silence course (Advanced course) ! There began my journey with this most amazing organization called the Art of Living Foundation, with its luminous teachers & selfless volunteers. All spread across around the world in more than 150 countries. A true global family. I had heard of the  term “ the world is your oyster”, it became a real life experience for me with my Art of Living world family.

Professional Excellence and Spiritual progress

I continued to prosper and progress as a banker, getting promoted from one role to the next and at the same time taking joyous strides along the path of spirituality.

For the past decade and a half of my association with Art of Living, I have seen Guruji  work tirelessly  day after day, to make this world  a stress free & violence free place . I have seen him travel from town to town and country to country sharing his message of love and peace, teaching people  how to live happy & healthy lives and giving hope of a better tomorrow to the world
Whether it’s the corporate world or simple village folk, youth or children, prisoners or terminally ill patients, the thought leaders of society or first generation literates, the Art of Living Foundation has a solution for every person and any national challenge.

I have been personally a part of the symposiums held by the Ethics in Business Leadership  International Association for Human Values ( a sister organization of the Art of Living Foundation) at the European Parliament for the past six years. I have seen how senior policy makers, corporate CEOs, parliamentarians and bureaucrats ,inspired by Sri Sri's vision and knowledge have taken steps to integrate ethical governance in their fields.

I have also had the honour of working with one of the largest free schools that the foundation runs on the outskirts of Bangalore. One of the over 100 free schools that it runs in India, this school in the past two and half decades has brought free education to more than 25,000 children. 80 % of these children have been first generation literates in their families and are today employed in government jobs etc. This is a lasting contribution towards building a strong future for our nation.

My own life has beautifully unfolded to me, revealing many untapped qualities and limitless potential. There is a sense of oneness with the world, a sense of universal brotherhood that I feel. I don’t feel a stranger in any part of the world and feel perfectly at home in any situation with any kind of people. I have become fearless and have a great joy and enthusiasm in anything I do. I see myself giving more, loving more and living more.  All this has only happened because of the incredible breathing techniques that  I have been practicing ,Gurujis  precious knowledge and the unconditional love that I have got from the entire Art of Living family .Over these past years, me and my husband  Ajay Bagga, rose to a great positions of seniority in our professional fields winning many awards for excellence & gaining considerable recognition as an experts in our fields.

Art of Living Foundation - building a better world

Today I am a certified instructor of the Art of Living Part 1 course, the Achieving Personal Excellence ( APEX) workshop , The TLEX ( Transformational Leadership for Excellence( TLEX) workshop and Sahaj Samadhi (Art of Meditation) course.  I am deeply associated with the many service projects of the foundation, serve on its boards and feel humbled to witness, how one individuals desire to leave a better world for our future generations, is transforming the living reality of millions of people around the world.

If it was not for Sri Sri, thousands of children wouldn’t have had education, conflict ridden places wouldn’t have had peace, disaster hit people wouldn’t have got relief and rehabilitation and millions of people around the world wouldn’t have know a better ,happier ,stress free way to live life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shalin Desai Art of Living Experience

Art of Living Course Teacher, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Teacher

I was born in Baroda, India and am now living in Indianapolis with my wife, working in supplier management for a Fortune 200 company. In the years since I have been in the Art of Living, I have had the opportunity of traveling and spending time with Sri Sri on a number of occasions. Those moments have been the best moments of my life.

Path to unbridled joy and love

I did my first Art of Living course when I was 17 years old, in my high school. Just a year ago, my mother had gotten into severe depression and the same person who was always bubbling with enthusiasm suddenly seemed to have lost the drive in her life (which eventually affected the whole family as well). Completely helpless looking at my mom’s situation, I used to pray to God to get my mom out of this. We had consulted many doctors, but it kept on getting worse. Later I figured out most of the medications were treating just the symptoms, not the actual disease. Then my mom’s sister got her into doing the “Art of Living” course, which she insisted would kick the depression out of her. And that’s EXACTLY what happened!!!! Within few months, she was completely out of it and there was a new zest for life in her.

Seeing this amazing transformation, I and my brother also ended up in the Art of Living course soon. I just loved the course and started practicing my breathing exercises everyday as I saw a noticeable change in my concentration and focus. Then Sri Sri had come to a neighboring town and there were lots of people going from my town to see him there. I had heard about him a lot and also decided to join the troupe. It was love at first sight. There was something in his presence that just made me feel so much at home and the word “Unconditional Love” didn’t remain an intellectual concept anymore, it became an experience. During my next trip to see Sri Sri, he asked me what I was doing in my life and told me to become an Art of Living Teacher after completing studies. I was still 19 years old and at that time it seemed very “cool”. But now, after years of teaching the Art of Living course, I realize the incredible value of this. It is in fact an honor to be an instructor for the Art of Living Course and to be part of such a noble cause.

How miracles became a part of life!

I have always been happy with my life, but the Art of Living added a new dimension to it. Suddenly, life became a celebration; at the same time adding depth to my life. After pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, I moved to the US to pursue further studies. I completed my studies and promptly did my teachers training course. Life was good, but it became even better now!!!! Many “coincidences” started happening in life. At first they seemed like “coincidences”, but then I realized that there is much more than what meets the eye. Like when I wanted to go for my Teachers Training Course. That year, over the thanksgiving weekend, I really had this desire for going for my training course happening in the Canadian Ashram over the December end – January beginning time frame. I had no vacation left (in fact I was already one week over the permitted vacation time that year), we had a very important launch at work early next year, so all of us were asked to work through the Christmas break. Suddenly, out of the nowhere next Monday, my boss asks me go to India to take care of some business in early January and he nonchalantly tells me “Hey Shalin, why don’t you take two weeks off and spend some time with your family in India”. Those two weeks were the exact two weeks of my Teacher Training Course. He even offered to buy two economy class tickets to India instead of a business class ticket, so my wife could also accompany me!!!

Sri Sri – the guiding Light

What has inspired me about this path is that it is full of celebration. The highest knowledge is given in such a simple form that any layman can understand. He gives such profound knowledge, yet has a child-like innocence.

As part of my work, once, I had to travel to 4 countries (with 4 different time zones) in 3 weeks without any break. After these three grueling weeks, I had to take some time off just to recuperate. It is mind boggling to see how Guruji does that throughout the year, day-after-day and has been doing this for years. I don’t understand how it would be humanely possible. Yet, he is always smiling and wherever he goes, people’s faces light up with a smile. I often tell people that every business school in the world should study Sri Sri. How one man’s vision can inspire millions of people around the world is just prodigious.

I had traveled with him to Mexico few years ago and spent practically the whole time with him during the trip. My wife thinks I am a workaholic, but I was amazed and astonished by the number of things Guruji would accomplish in a single day. Here is a man addressing emails from more than 100 countries, radio and TV interviews, public talk, meeting course graduates, board members, dictating an article for a newspaper, etc. And all this with a smile…not an iota of tension. It was like a dance flowing from one action to another. He could relate to Mexicans who are completely alien to Indian culture, many of them not being even able to understand English, because he spoke the language of the heart. In between all this, he would take care of those who would be travelling with him and ask if we were doing fine, if we were comfortable in our rooms, etc. What really touched me was how accepting he is with people coming with all different kind of problems and questions. He exemplifies the point of “Accept the People as they are”. He indeed does!!!