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The Sound of Silence



I am just back, rejuvenated and refreshed from my favorite Meditation Retreat at the Art of Living International Center in Bangalore.

The experience of deep silence and stillness is not easy to capture in words, and yet not wanting to give up easily, I am trying to share it here.

As the flute flowed melodiously during the evening satsang, it seemed no different from the human body. Air was being blown through the hollow and empty flute and beautiful music was flowing out. Three things came together to create this music: Knowledge of the music, the mastery over the blowing of air and the knowledge of the apertures to be opened and closed. The manner in which the air is blown, its smoothness, force, transition, intensity, the practice and the knowledge all come together to create the music.

 The human body, made up of the five elements and five senses, is also like a beautiful flute with its five apertures. It is a much more complex system than the flute; however the fundamental principles to create music remain the same. A mastery of the body and mind are needed to bring out the harmonious and melodious music, inherent in us.

Every time I do The Advanced Meditation Course of the Art of Living, I find myself acquiring greater skills to gain this mastery. These skills help us to wade through life’s transient events and give us the experience that in its essence Life is indeed Celebration, Joy and Love.

The same message was echoed as I watched Nature and its hollow and emptiness. Hollow and Empty and yet playing the most beautiful music in the chirping of the birds, the distant sound of the children, the chanting of the Vedas, the flow of the water, the sound of the trees swaying… A silent symphony played by sounds of silence and wonder.

 As I became one with the swaying of the trees, the blueness of the water, the vastness of the sky, the heat of the Sun, the solidity of the Earth underneath my feet, a silence dawned. The moment stood still and I was alive like never before.

A deep impact has been made. There is a playfulness in me that is enlivened, a calmness and an understanding that does not allow the situations to overwhelm me. There is also a new dawn of creativity and an enthusiasm to live every moment in its fullness. Living has become exhilarating after I heard the Sound of Silence.

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Art of Living : Find and eliminate Muda


An Indian hotel group ‑‑ supposedly the Taj Group — invited a Japanese consultant, Mr Masai Imai, to hold a workshop for its managers. The hotel managers were skeptical: our hotel is doing excellent business; this Japanese guy has no exposure to the Indian hotel business; what exactly are we going to learn from him?

In the conference room at 9 am sharp, Mr Masai was introduced to them. He turned out to be an unimpressive personality, who spoke as if he was first formulating each sentence in Japanese and then translating it into clumsy English.

“Good morning. Let us start work. I am told this is a workshop, but I see neither work nor shop. So let us go where work is happening. Let us start with the first room on the first floor.”

Mr Masai, followed by the participants, proceeded to that room, chosen at random. It happened to be the laundry room of the hotel. Mr Masai entered and stood at the window, “Beautiful view,” he said.

The staff knew that. They did not need a Japanese consultant to tell them this. “A room with such a beautiful view is being wasted as a laundry room. Shift the laundry to the basement and convert this into a guest room.”

Wow! How come nobody had thought about that? The General Manager said, “Yes, it can be done.” “Then let us do it.” Mr Masai said.

“Yes sir, I will make a note of it. And we will include it in the report on the workshop”

“Excuse me, but there is nothing to make a note of. We will do it, right now.” Mr Masai said.

“Right now?”

“Yes, you decide on a room in the basement and shift these things out of this room right now. It should take a few hours, right?”

“Yes.”
“Then we will come back here tonight. By then all these things will have been shifted out and the room will be ready with the furniture, furnishings etc. Then from tomorrow you can start earning the extra eight thousand rupees that you charge for a room night.”

The next destination was the pantry. The group entered. Inside were two huge sinks full of plates, waiting to be washed. Mr Masai immediately removed his jacket and started washing the plates.

“Sir, please, what are you doing?” asked the General Manager

“I am washing the plates”

“But sir, the staff is here to do that.”

Mr Masai continued washing, “I think sink is for washing plates. There are stands to keep the plates. These plates should therefore be in the stands.”

After finishing, Mr Masai asked, “How many plates do you have?”

“We have plenty, so that there should never be any shortage,” said the General Manager

“We have a word in Japanese: ‘Muda’. Muda means delay, muda means unnecessary spending. We must learn to avoid both. If you have plenty of plates, there will be delay in cleaning them up. The first step in correcting this situation is to remove all the excess plates.”

“Certainly, we will say this in the report.”

No wasting time in writing a report. That is another example of muda. We must pack the extra plates in a box right now and send them to whichever other hotel might require them.

Now, for the rest of this workshop, we will find out where all this muda is hidden and remove it, one part at a time”

After this, at every spot and session, the staff eagerly awaited to find out muda and learn how to avoid it.

Let us do this exercise after reading this blog — find out delay, waste of time and unnecessary spending in our own lives and learn ways to avoid them. Muda is waste. Wasting time, effort or energy means a wasted opportunity to be more productive. Yoga, meditation and Sudarshan Kriya increase the awareness levels so that it become easier to identify and destroy the Muda in business and personal life.

 
 

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Declutter your life


Life is simplified when there is one center; one reason, one motivation, one direction and purpose ~Jean Fleming

How many of us find ourselves overwhelmed by the hoards of things we have piled in our houses? Most of the things are of little use but still occupy a major space in our houses just because of the sentimental value we attach to these things. Not just our homes,we have cluttered our workplaces,our actions , our thoughts and our life with so much of junk. Yes, Junk- of little use or no use at all!

What is clutter? Clutter is a confused or disorderly state or collection that reduce effectiveness. According to Karen Kingston ,”Clutter is stuck energy. The word “clutter” derives from the Middle English word “clotter,” which means to coagulate – and that’s about as stuck as you can get.”

The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life.

Decluttering might seem as an intimidating process to some. So I suggest to take small steps towards decluttering your life. Remember, small daily steps lead to big achievements overtime.Here I have listed five simple steps to declutter your life :

1. Declutter your home Do you waste time searching frantically for important documents, lost keys, misplaced things? Do you wonder where to keep the new clothes you just bought in the already stuffed closet? Do you feel at times that you need a bigger place because your things don’t seem to fit in? Do you keep piling on stuff that you don’t use at all ?

Unfortunately,for most of us the answer to these questions is ‘Yes!’ Keeping your home tidy and organised may sound like a lot of work but actually it’s one of the best ways to obtain peace of mind and a calmer outlook. And a little time devoted everyday towards organising your house will work wonders!

Don’t tackle the whole house at once.Start small.Focus on clearing one area,shelf or drawer before moving on to the next.

Most of the times, the clutter consists of things which are of little use but great emotional significance or things which we think would be useful sometime in future. It’s very difficult to let go of things on which you have spent your hard-earned money.But remember, if you do not use it or need it, it’s clutter, and it needs to go.In a nutshell,use it up,wear it out,make it do – or do without!

William Morris has stated it beautifully: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

2. Declutter your workplace Look around your workplace and you will most likely see items and papers that can be cleared away. It doesn’t help your image if someone walks in your cabin and sees clutter piled up at your desk. It’s easy to let stuff pile up and get out of hand.

Workplace clutter is irritating because it interferes with your work and also causes unwanted & unnecessary stress.Once a week,sort through your drawers,shelves and briefcase. Discard whatever is outdated and irrelevant.Store the documents with appropriate labels so that you can easily find them when needed.

Always remember the words of Albert Einstein: “Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

3. Declutter your speech Many times we speak things which we regret later. We waste precious time in unnecessary gossip , derive pleasure in criticising others or hurl abuses when angry. This only adds to mental stress and negativity. Identify such tendencies and let go of them.

4. Declutter your actions Often, we complicate our lives with unnecessary tasks & commitments.List and priortise your tasks. Priortise what is urgent and needs to be tackled immediately. Learn to say ‘No’ to unnecessary commitments.

5. Declutter your mind  Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter.Harbouring negative emotions of anger and frustration only add to the mental stress. Spend time in silent contemplation and observe your thoughts. Let go of the bad memories of the past & worries of the future and move on.

Meditate daily to stay focussed and for a calm, peaceful mind.It’s the simplest yet the most profound method for a blissful you!

Source – Life Positive

In the words of Jackie French Koller : “There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” This is so true both in materialistic and spiritual aspects.

Eliminate and cut back on whatever doesn’t add meaning to your life.To sum up, I will quote a simple mantra by Art of Living’s Rishi Nityapragya ji, ” Observe, filter ,surrender…”

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Art of Living Wisdom, Yoga and Meditation

 

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Towards Infinity…My baby steps


When I decided to do the Art of Living course more than  ten years back, I wasn’t looking for any spectacular transformation/miracle to happen overnight. And it didn’t.

But what did happen was the continuous practice or Sadhana and the gradual transformation – in all aspects of life – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Having attended numerous “Personality Development & Public Speaking” workshops, I was obviously cynical about how different this Art of living course would be – after all they also promised same things – confidence, self-motivation, stress management, pep talks(knowledge), etc.

I remember, as a gawky rebellious teenager enrolling for theArt of Livingcourse – my parents were very very hopeful – they thought finally I was going to sober down.. Did I ? Well, that’s for another post 😉

But when I came back from the course that evening, I vividly remember that I was floating somewhere. My parents had this doubtful look on their face – “err…”  😉

Most of you would recall your 1st experience of The Sudarshan Kriya – that powerful breathing technique which works on your 7 levels of existence.. It was addictive, mind-blowing (literally!), epitome of peace experienced. I was not sure which ‘Aandhi’ had hit me but I was smiling ear to ear J I knew my life had changed.

And what remained with me was this “experience” – of The Sudarshan Kriya. What brought me back again and again to the various higher level courses was also just just that – “the experience”.

I realized this was it!

Reminds of Buddha’s four easy steps to enlightenment:

Kayanupassana, Vednanupassana, Chittanupassana and Dhammanupassana.

Observe the body, the sensations, the flow of mind and nature of truth.

Buddha’s disciples were intellectual prosperous people. (no, am not making any comparisons here 😉

That’s why he never spoke about topics like – ‘God’, ‘where does the Atman go after death’, ‘beginning of the universe’ & such subjects. He kept it simple and at the experiential level.

The above four steps towards ‘Nirvana’ come as one’s own experience – through Sadhana.

He is stressing on the personal experience. When we move beyond the intellectual understanding of things , into the “experiential” understanding, a whole new world opens up.

All the “Personality Development Workshops” had told me to overcome lethargy, be confident and not to get angry. But nobody had ever told me, HOW?

Having crossed 84 lakh births and finally taken a human form, I firmly believe it would be a waste if you cannot experience the Sudarshan Kriya in your lifetime J

In glory of my Gurudev, HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, who is the grace behind the experience.

Guru of Joy!!!

The author – Deepika also blogs at http://dimpsdawns.blogspot.com She would like to know all your experiences – of the 1st Sudarshan Kriya J Don’t forget to leave the comment.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Art of Living Wisdom, Yoga and Meditation

 

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Finding the real you :)


“To be beautiful is to be yourself”

“If you need be accepted by others, you have to accept yourself”

Does looks matter? This is a question that we all face at some point in time. When our priorities change in life, often looks take a back seat and by the time we again consider it important, it is beyond repair!

For your information ,. I am 36 years with two children … With every baby, I gained about 4kgs forever … I never bothered really until it crossed beyond what was acceptable to myself

Not that I m fat … a little overweight! But that indeed did affect my self esteem!

Life is a garden of flowers with thorns & fragrance

It was the time I have achieved some control over my mind through Art of Living. Yet my looks continued to dominate my body. Whoever says size does not matter? When the size has to do your own body, it does matter!!

At some point in time I started trying to get back my previous body! I tried a lot of things to get it back.. But phew, nothing worked!

One day Art Of Living announced Yogathon…. with a challenge to do 108 Surya Namaskaar… Well, I can be obstinate when I am convinced of something. I readily took up the challenge!

I started with 75 Surya Namaskaars and gradually increased the numbers. Now I am doing complete 108 rounds! As a result … My belly fat has disappeared!! I feel light …. I feel as if I am flying …

I don’t have to write here about my weight … But the change that made in me…what I am today, I was not yesterday!

The Beautiful Me – Inner and Outer Beauty Personified

Yeah… You just read it, SIZE DOESMATTER!! When it comes to your looks and your

self-esteem! (Size Matters – humorous spoof was published earlier on this blog)

Along with Surya namaskaar, I been doing very regular with Sudarshan Kriya too… Together, they were causing some changes in me!

I remember in my early days of Art of Living, I was told by so many people that everything will be the same and yet, something will change! I always wondered, ‘Arey Bhai what will change?’

Well, I followed the Patanjali Yoga sutras … Kept doing the kriya and finally I have started looking beautiful …Naah I am not complimenting myself.. But its men & women of all ages keep saying so …

Well, and I believe so! I started loving myself! To love one’s own self is the first thing we must do…. Yes, of course without encouraging our ego!

It boosted my morale… I knew that now all what I do is not perfect … I do make mistakes … But for me. my health, my body, my spirit must remain positive and nothing should bother me….

I kept that smile…sometimes even faked when there was none .. I haven’t hurt myself or cried for so many years now! And yes I am still emotional and compassionate.

To cut it short, Surya Namaskaar takes care of body, Sudarshan Kriya takes care of soul …. When both combines it makes you a beautiful soul in a beautiful body … That’s what others see … and you feel wanted and valuable, FINALLY !

The Surya Namskar Lady a they call me after the event

I am a living example that there’s something inside you which changes with Art of Living…and when you are happy about yourself, it shows up the BEAUTIFUL YOU to the world 🙂

 

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Nadhopasana – an easy way to reach the Self


Can anyone attain liberation without Nadhopasana ?? – Sings the muscial Saint Swami Thyagaraja (One of Trinity in South Indian Carnatic Music)

The word Nadhopasana, coming from Sanskrit lanuage, is made up of two words Naadha –and Upasana.

Upasana means sitting near or being with. Naadha Upasana means being with the Naadham.

Naadha is the primodial vibration that controls the entire Universe. In every sound that we hear, we can observe a certain Naadha. In the rotation of the Earth, the Naadha associated is called as the Omkara Pranava (The AUM). This sound Aum has been used in all religions. We can not claim that Aum belong only to the Hindus. The Christians, Jews, Parsis as well as Muslims use different dimensions of this very same Aum.

Similarly, the expansion and contraction of this Universe has an associated Naadha. Even our inner most self has a Naadha associated with it.

In the year 2010, at Pune, The Art Of Living Foundation had organized an event named “AntarNaad” which means Inner Naadha. At Chennai, in the year 2011, Naadha Vaibhavam (meaning Celebration of Naadha) was organized by Art of Living. Way back in 2008, a thousand Sitarists & string musicians played on one platform for the first time in the world, in the Brahm Naad concert for world peace. The superlative performance held in New Delhi brought Art of Living in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Why is Naadha very important

This question will dawn on many of the minds of who are reading this. There are basically seven Swarams (notes) in Indian music. These seven swaras are associated with the seven chakras (Energy Centers) of our body. Similarly, each energy center has a syllable associated with it. Hence, when we associate ourselves with Naadhopasana, these seven energy centers of our body get tuned leading to greater spiriutal and material well being.

During the soul-stirring symphony AntarNaad, Poojya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (can be followed on @SriSriSpeaks on Twitter) explained that, each of the seven swaras is associated with a particular animal. Namely, Sa – Peacock, Ri – Rishab (Bull), Ga- Goat, Ma – Gounch Pakshi , Pa – Kokila , Da – Horse, Ni – Elephant. Gurudev added that, only human beings have the capability to sound all the seven swaras.

Even if you are not able to sing or play instruments, its advisable to listen to good music. A great quality of the Naadha is that even if you do not play or sing yourself, listening to the music produces the same effect. Thus all the seven chakras get tuned, leading to a meditative mood. Deep meditation releases stress from the body and mind, and makes us more calm, joyful and focused.  Poojya Gurudev hence, has made Satsangs an integral part of the Art of Living. It is my understanding that Naadhopasana happens in satsangs and that is why we feel so expanded and uplifted during and after satsangs.

If we start giving more time to satsangs, we can easily attain more sattva and Nadhopasana will start happening naturally within us.

Aravind Soundararajan

 

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Size Matters….


Preface:

Those who belong to this unique club, personalize it yourself – Think of you as “I” wherever used in this blog. This Biographical account is a Matter of FAT…Ooopss Matter of FACT. Take offense at your own risk – remember you will be ticking off a 100 kg+ mass.

Body (No Pun intended)

I am a guy (all my friends vouch for it) whose weight in Kgs almost matches (or exceeds) number of friends I have on Facebook (over 5K).

The website of Art of Living founded by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar ji popularly known as the Guru of Joy says, it is spread over 152 countries. I also have have matching number to claim some fame – I have 152 kgs of force acting on me towards the centre of the earth.

I cannot but help be reminded of that skeleton hanging from the hook in the Biology lab, when I see some skinny friends who call themselves fit – Baaahhhh.

People as skinny as a skeleton do not look healthy

As I grew up they also reminded me of those skimpy clothes that move around on FTV. I always thought it was just those 2-3 pieces of rags moving on stage till some one said there are humans inside it. I love when these people give me those very adorable admiring looks 😉 **Blush…blush**

I had this “Fats-Challenged” Size Zero poor soul who tried to poke fun about that lovely little paunch. Reader, tell me if a paunch smaller than that Hill where Sumeru Mantap is situated is a Paunch especially an on a lovely chiselled physical structure?

Is a pot belly really not healthy?

I challenged her if she has as much muscles in her entire body? (a friendly Doctor – Swami Hardik of my club asks me to refer it as Muscle, I have to agree that it is medically appropriate too). And she wears clothes that are as costly (if not more) though she just was wearing 1/10th of what I was wearing.

And here is an open challenge. I can hug anyone single handedly. Those Size-zeroes need to assemble ten of them in a Sam-Gachatvam circle to get around me. So who is more enviroment friendly? What a single person like me can do, needs 10 to do. HUGs… and I tell you, when we Hug, it indeed is a real HUG they get!!!

A hug is good for health and happiness also...

Some advantage (those skinny ones call it is unfair and envy me for this) – I never suffer from what some Not-Obese starlets refer to as “food-martyrdom” I mean I dont belong to those folks who say (or atleast think) Oh! No I should not have eaten that extra topping of cheeze on my Pizza, or Which devil had taken over me that I ate that slab of chocolate.

As my Guruji …err Gurudev (after an earlier blog by Aparazzi, I have to say Gurudev, BTW! she very nearly belongs to my club and empathises with my feelings here) HH Sri Sri Ravishankar ji of Art of Living Foundation says – Serve to your capacity and a bit more. I follow it to the “T”. I serve … to the brink of the capacity of my plate and more… Very Obedient follower, Am I not?

Too much food is not good for your health

Why I am popular with the kids. Kids never have to worry about getting bruised by the bones when they sit on your lap, like they do when they sit on laps of say Sumathi or Ashwin. What they experience is a royally cushioned unbeatable comfort on my lap – and as a bonus a reclining cushion (others call it a paunch)

Suresh is happy with himself

Another  reason why I love every gram of my bulk because my Obesity acts as a “Friend Filter” – Do I need to be friend with someone who cannot ACCEPT ME AS I AM?”

I am mortally scared of Tattooing (rather getting Tattooed) On a trip abroad, while everyone in the team was being forced by the gracious host (yes, Size Zero guy) to get a body Tattoo done at his cost, I was excused – because I had a large body surface to Tattoo (read – the host to dig his pocket into an abyss)

And now, instead of fighting my bulge (did it for so many years successfully – fighting it I mean) I decided to indulge. Only way to fight bulge is to indulge 😉

Another great part – I get tailored dresses not those run-of-the-mill stuff that you guyz/gals pick up as Readymade from local shop.Trying to find clothes to fit me is like a treasure hunt for my wife 😉

Evolution from Laptop to Belly-Top – Now how many of you have this luxuy?

Spiritual knowledge also makes one creative..

I could go on and on about why being Obese or fat is a virtue, but Editors don’t allow the luxury with Words that I take with my weight. So signing off…. with my LAST (BUT ONE) WORD! (I always keep a reserve of Capacity + More)

I can eat what I want, when I want and how muchever I want (the very reason I got here in the first place)

And Final Final Advantage of being FAAATTTTT!!!! Beat this…

Long Love Obesity!!

PS: Copyrights of the Pictures/Video with Respective Owners – If in violation please let us know and we would promptly take it off. (However, read the preface – you will do it at risk of offending a 100kg+ bulk)

 
19 Comments

Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Others, Yoga and Meditation

 

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