Before getting into the course details, let me give some background information. Dr.Stephen covey in his ‘seven habits of highly effective people’ talks about four important dimensions for human development. They are physical, mental, spiritual and emotional (social) dimensions. He had arrived at these dimensions based on his thirty years of research in the human development, psychology and character building. In order to have an ‘inclusive’ growth, human beings need to develop themselves in all four dimensions. In his book Dr. Covey strongly advocates for having a strong character in order to be effective. This character centric growth will result in ‘effective’ human beings, who are happy, fulfilled and they are the ones who make significant contributions to the society they live.
In the ‘art-of-living’ course I got an opportunity to explore all four dimensions. Basically it is a six day course spanning about twenty hours and consists of yoga, breathing techniques, meditation and loads of activities. The learning mainly happens through various activities which is more of ‘learning-by-doing’ way. In all the above mentioned techniques controlling and focusing the breath is a very important aspect. The breathing is an important activity, because it differentiates between the living and non-living beings. By focusing on breath, more amount of oxygen (or ‘prana’) is filled inside the body which results in more amount of positive energy in the body. This result in a stress free, relaxed, focused and fulfilled life.
The highlight of the course is ‘sudharshan kriya yoga (SKY)’, which is invented Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of art of living foundation. The SKY is a special breathing technique, which is all about breathing in different rhythms. There is quiet some amount of medical research done on SKY and it is scientifically proven that is helps to cure lots of diseases in a natural way. I am yet to read the technical papers on SKY and they are available in the URL: http://www.artofliving.org/ under the ‘research’ tab. I won’t say much about SKY because it needs to be ‘experienced’ rather than writing about it. But I would say it’s really worth experiencing it and I am sure it is going to have a profound impact. I also got a chance to visit the art of living international centre at Kanakpura road and it’s really a serene, green and beautiful place (see the picture below).
I was able to see lots of foreign nationals living in the ashram, which once again proves the intellectual wealth our country has. The western world has built un-measurable amount of materialistic wealth in terms of infrastructure, scientific innovations, multi national corporations and strong economies. At the same time the western way of living cannot answer questions like ‘What is the purpose of life?’ ‘What is the reason behind human beings existence?’ ‘How to attain perpetual happiness?’ ‘What is consciousness?’ At the same time as far as individuals are concerned, everyone needs a happy fulfilled life which the materialistic wealth cannot provide beyond certain extent. So it is very vital for us to think beyond materialism and find a true purpose of life. Courses like ‘art of living’ helps to find that ultimate purpose and goal of life.
Overall this course has given excellent experience for me. I would strongly suggest readers to go through this course and experience the SKY.