-- Bill Herman
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
-- Bill Herman
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Q: What do you enjoy about being a teacher?
|Sangeeta Jani at Art of Living center, Metuchen, NJ|
To read the rest of the interview, visit Interview with Sangeeta Jani.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Watch an introductory video to the book here.
Order a copy of 'Stumbling Into Infinity.'
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I'm a month into my Psychiatry rotation and I've had the great pleasure of meeting many wonderful kids. One, in particular, I’ll always remember. One day, he said to me:
“I’ll give you a guitar lesson if you teach me how to meditate again today.”
That’s probably not a line out of a typical psychotherapy session. Perhaps it was typical for us since I am a complete novice when it comes to psychotherapy. It really does take time to know what to say to someone without knowing the person. This particular kiddo was tough because he had layers upon layers of anxiety and trauma. So many layers that he could not function in society and tried to end his life many times. This boy had been on medication for nearly two weeks and the meds definitely helped stabilize his mood: he no longer wished to end his life. After a few sessions with him, I wasn’t sure what I could do to be of further help. We had talked at length, established rapport, but it felt like a dead end.
“Let’s try something different. Let’s meditate together,” I offered. We observed our breath and then I guided him through a 10-minute meditation, something he had never done before. As the next patient came in right after we finished, I didn’t get a chance to speak with him about his experience, but I sensed he appreciated it.
The next day he told me he wanted to play a song for me on his guitar, something he had been practicing since our last session together. He proceeded to play a brilliant Spanish classic and my jaw dropped. He was alive. This was his spirit playing. We then meditated again, upon his request, and this time we had a few minutes to reflect. He said that he had never experienced so much peace and so little anxiety.
Later that day, for the first time, he played his guitar for all the kids on the entire hospital ward and smiled so much that I thought he might injure his face. It was as if he suddenly became this uncontainable ball of light. His radiance, in turn, opened up other children on the unit that day. Some started to sing for no reason, some started to draw, some kids who had held grudges started to talk to one another. A different form of psychotherapy was at work.
He inspired me to learn guitar, I inspired him to learn meditation. Neither of us saw this coming.
In his new book “Life at 100%”, Guruji says that, “true success is smiling even when everything falls apart.” It's easy to smile when things are going our way. But, where does our inner peace and happiness go when life becomes more challenging? And, how often do we help people to smile in our own life? In those moments of smiling, my little hero forgot about his thoughts; he forgot about his broken life. He was free, at least for a little while, of his anxiety and trauma – emotions that had once shackled him to his room and kept him fearful of people. Now he was smiling and had ignited a smile on the faces of all the kids around him.
This child gave me so many gifts that day - so many experiences. Looking for ways to brighten someone's day and actually following through is sacred. This is The Art of Living. It's helping to bring people to their capacity. What is it that we can offer people around us and what is it that we can learn from them? As Guruji says so sweetly, it's really asking yourself these two questions every moment of your life… how much love have you spread?…what knowledge have you gained?
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I had a liberal upbringing. My parents are possibly two of the most generous and open-minded individuals I have ever met. They placed no restrictions whatsoever on either of us (I have a younger sister). We got pretty much everything we asked for. Except of course, there was this one occasion when I was 7 years old and had accompanied my Dad to the grocery store. I asked him if we could get a TV for the house. Well, this was in the early 80s when TVs were still considered a luxury. So you can possibly guess his response. A firm and gentle NO.
My sister and I were good students. We learned classical music and dance, performed at various events, and were fairly good daughters, if you discount the occasional tantrum, fuss or outburst. As I completed high school and joined junior college (in India, you join college at age 16), I found a great bunch of friends. We shared a common love for music, films, art and humor. Boring college lectures, surprise birthday parties, New Year celebrations, art films and rock music, walks along the beach, night-long conversations on philosophy and life, dreams and ambitions - these were the highlights of my junior college years. Soon after, I joined an engineering college. New friends, bigger parties, overnight treks... and life went on. Then I graduated from college and started working as a software developer. Everything continued as before. I went out with friends, watched one film after another, read many books, indulged in the quintessential existential brooding that seemed to be a hallmark of people my age.
It was all wonderful and exciting and adventurous and yet at the age of 25, I felt like I had come to a full stop. Until then, life had been a series of events, people, places and experiences for me but suddenly it seemed that there had to be a deeper idea to it. Certain incidents in the past couple of years made me wonder if I really knew myself. I felt at conflict with my own self and with certain others in my life. I found myself thinking - Is there any purpose to all this? Who am I? Is there a meaning to these incidents and situations and people?
Suffices to say that the Art of Living Course came at the right time to me. I attended an Art of Living Course, then a couple of Art of Silence Courses, and then the Art of Meditation Course. A year after my first course, I met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of Art of Living Foundation. Even before I met him, I had seen many videos of his. To me, he always came across as someone familiar, someone who I had known since a very long time. And when I finally met him, it felt like a true homecoming.
I had had no experience with Gurus or spiritual masters while growing up. Yet, it was a matter of few months before I came to see Sri Sri as my personal Guru. There was zero deliberation or thinking involved. It's interesting how some of the major decisions in my life were not decisions at all; they just came to be in the most natural way possible. Some things you simply know without having even a single thought.
I conduct the Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) for teenagers, and on one course, I remember talking about Sri Sri to the young participants. I said, "To me, Sri Sri or Guruji is a person who makes me feel like I can do anything. In his presence, I feel strong, complete, powerful. I feel like there is no limit to what I can achieve and accomplish. When I am around him, all my doubts and concerns disappear."
There is so much more I can say about Guruji and how he has truly brought out the best in me on so many levels. Intellectual maturity, a broader sense of perspective about the self and the world, a desire to learn and share... and most of all, a sense of abundance and fullness. Today, I feel like I lack nothing and I want nothing. Moment to moment, my life is full and complete. To Guruji, I owe this precious realization and many many others.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
“We don’t breathe to live, we breathe to enliven,” the yoga instructor whispered softly as she walked by my mat.
Do we have to philosophize at this moment? Can't you see I'm crumpled over attempting a seated forward bend?!
That I identified with this mental chit-chat in that moment was nothing new. I completely missed the infinite depth of the pose itself, the present moment. I wasn’t even aware of the stretch.
I’ve been practicing the Sudarshan Kriya and Sahaj Samadhi meditation for a while and the level of mental clarity that has arisen is astounding. However, just as at the yoga studio, there are still moments throughout the day that I identify with my mental chatter, my reaction to the present moment, resisting what is.
What's been most noticeable, however, has been how these practices bring into full perspective many of the negative tendencies that I have accumulated over time. The practices bring the magnifying glass to new locations in the mind each day, focusing that ray of light into a beam which burns the tendency to a crisp. What negative mental tendency shall I burn today? I don't actually ask myself that, it just happens.
But, there are definitely still those moments in which I feel like a complete space cadet and not present. For example, a few weeks ago, I was driving home in rush hour from a long day at the hospital with my car windows down and the A/C broken. It was 95 degrees out, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and sweating, and my attention was drifting towards all the interesting people on the sidewalk who were walking, running, skateboarding, or talking, all the while vaguely aware that there was a mental script running about the events of the day at the hospital and about these people I was observing.
I was also on the cell phone, apparently.
What a joke I thought as I hung up. Here I am always talking about how I've become so focused and how important it is to give 100% to the present moment. I felt more like a pie chart with my attention divided up into 100 different slices.
I must also admit that there have been many times recently where I feel like my mind is lost in the world. It's as if my thoughts and desires are like little bullets of glue which attach themselves to people, objects, and situations – to the world. Dispassion? It's getting there...
Out of these moments of entanglement and confusion, however, has arisen a sneaky new awareness. My concepts about the types of experiences I ought to be having and the experiences that are best for me are in jeopardy now. Concepts of right and wrong are being crushed left and right by blocks of awareness falling from the sky. Sound painful? Yes, but growing pains are always something to look forward to, something from which we become bigger and more powerful. Running in either direction, hiding from this scary new awareness, I still sometimes feel lost in the transition from one state of mind to another, and unsure about what is happening.
But, the amazing thing though is that you have to lose yourself to find yourself. You have to have been lost at some point to know you’re going in the right direction. What a strange game life is. If we are owned and held captive by our mental tendencies, our desires or thoughts, then we’re not living in the present moment. That is the only place where we can find ourselves.
I’m so grateful for these moments of confusion and frustration. I’m so grateful to Sri Sri for giving me the gift of the Sudarshan Kriya and Sahaj Samadhi meditation, which have helped accelerate my awareness - my perception, observation, and expression - of how to deal with the entangling and confusing aspects of life. On some level, I have always heard these words, but the many moments of confusion and entanglement have raised the volume: Hey Rob, guess what? I’m doing this to help you step out of your story, out of your personal dilemma! I’m intensifying these feelings for you so that you don’t look to the world to make you happy!
I promise you I’m not schizophrenic.
Well, to the average person I’d seem crazy. But, the good news is that there is relief in recognizing that nothing outside of yourself can give you lasting and complete happiness, as Sri Sri often remarks. By seeing of all this drama pass, like a cloud, a part of yourself which was unconscious, is now conscious. That's the power of Sudarshan Kriya and Sahaj Samadhi meditation.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I have been practising Sudarshan Kriya and meditation for more than six years now, and yet the efficacy of these techniques never fails to amaze me. There is a good reason why we refer to these techniques as "spiritual practices," meaning they are not theories or hypotheses waiting to be proved. Instead, they are tried and tested methods that have been used since centuries to relax the mind, refresh the system and dive to the source of thought.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Just a word concerning the logistics of the event – can you imagine putting together an event of this magnitude? As I had previously mentioned, over 2.5 million attended this event, however, only 10,000 of this 2.5 million stayed at the Bangalore Ashram. This ashram was only equipped to hold 3,000. Yet, it all seemed to just magically work out. Perhaps the biggest miracle of all was that only a few people of the 10,000 got sick. Can you imagine how many buses were needed to transport 10,000 people from the ashram to Jakkur for the Silver Jubilee three day celebration? Can you imagine the amount of vegetables that needed to be cut and scraped? Can you imagine all the traffic at Jakkur? Can you imagine sifting through millions to find a seat at the Silver Jubilee celebration? Can you imagine setting up millions of chairs for people to sit on? Can you imagine innumerable massive projection TV’s spread across acres and acres of land to televise what was happening on the stage (the size of a football field)? Can you imagine the amount of wire this would have necessitated? Can you imagine chanting “OHHHHMMMM” and how unbelievable the resonance of 2.5 million voices sounded together? Can you imagine all of the love and peace that emanated from this one spot on the earth?
You can go as deep as you’d like with this stuff. Whether you’d like to do these breathing/meditation techniques purely for the health benefits (mental and physical), to touch upon spirituality, or to just learn about some very cool ancient philosophies, they will undoubtedly have a very positive impact on your life.