Sunday, April 5, 2009

Art of Living - Part 2 - My Experience

|| राधे राधे गोविन्द राधे || राधे राधे गोपाल राधे ||

What happened to me? Why am I chanting bhajans? Don't be afraid... I have not gone insane :) But seriously! this is what I was singing as I drove the snow washed roads on my way back from the Art of Living Part 2 course this evening. My car stereo system stopped working and today for the first time, it did not bother me! The cracking windshield wipers gave me company and played along as I sang the song.

I had my own apprehensions as I signed myself up for the course. To add to it all, my project got over couple of days before the day of Part 2... I had almost made up my mind to not go for the course. I was calling up and emailing friends, colleagues, project managers, anyone possible who could help me find a project. I had a feeling of helplessness and desperation run through me. My mind was not at peace at all.
My teachers Nitadi and Medhadi forced me into the course saying it is just a matter of 2 days. Instead of spending time crying about the whole situation, you can attend this course which you have anyway registered for. So I finally decided to go for it.

So, here I am back from the course today. I had a GREAT time... believe me. If I am given a chance, I will do it again. I sang, I danced, I met most beautiful people who have given their lives to others service, heard people talk of their experiences and of course, I went into silence as part of the session... for 3 days!!!

Day one... I wanted to run away. You know, for some people their own company can be awkward. I am one of them. But like S.S. Ravi Shankar (Guruji) says, if you don't like your own company how can anyone else like you as company? :) I wonder, how they do?

Not talking, being all by yourself? I thought it would be easy for me. I was living all by myself for 6 months after Navin had to go away for project. But little I knew, I was wrong. It was not easy at all. I needed some distraction to help me go through that silence when I was at home. TV, books, friends, gym, cooking or something else. The moment I did not have those distractions, I felt weak, I cried. That was another reason I moved with a friend to another apartment.

But the days to follow in the course were absolutely peaceful and worth every word unspoken, every breath taken, every thought read. I cannot express myself in words because I know I will not do justice if I put it into words.
Meditation was the toughest part of all. So many thoughts, so many distractions, human mind is so vast and so restless. But as days passed by, I was able to decide what thoughts I want in my mind. That was the coolest part! I used to lie down and just be aware of what is happening around and soon I realized it was more than 1-2 hours since I had closed my eyes.

One funny incident - We just finished one meditation session and were asked to lie down if we felt like. I loved this part of the session where we could simply lie down and do nothing :P Soon I heard people gather for Satsang; this is where everyone sang and danced to music. After Satsang, people started dispersing to go home. I did not wear a watch and did not have a cell phone either so I could never tell what time it was. I wondered why the hell are people going home? What about dinner?!!! Let me tell you, the last 3 days I have had the most delicious food ever. EVER! I never knew vegetarian food could taste that good. Everyday, I waited for the lunch and dinner times. Specially dinner, because it included a desert and sometimes even two deserts.
Now, here I was waiting for dinner. I ran to the dinning area just to see whats going on. Slowly I whispered to one of the participants. 'Did everyone have dinner?' A small secret... this was the time I broke my silence :P I did not even realize I did, until the person responded with hand gestures that dinner was done! What? No way. I ran to my teacher who was talking to a bunch of people. I had to interrupt and wrote her a note saying, can I have some dinner, I was sleeping then. And then I ran back to the dining hall.
I knew it was very late then and may be 3 hrs since the food was served. Normally, I would never have asked for food. I am a shy person and going to organizers for food specially when it was my mistake that I was not following the instructions, would have been humiliating. But at the moment I was hungry and food was what I wanted :) Come what may! hehe. I am glad I went back to the storage area and had dinner. They had carrot cake that day which was awesome!

Btw, talking of Satsang, it reminds me of the time where people started dancing like it was a party! One of the Art of Living teacher started doing a rap dance step. haha... what fun!

Each one of us were asked to write a letter to oneself, whatever we felt like, whatever advice we may want to give to ourselves or anything we felt like writing. I will share that here. That should tell what I felt about the whole thing.

"You are"... and that is all you have, now and forever. Respect your existence and love your presence. Your body will become earth one day but you will continue to be. Stress and anxiety are only some of the many emotions you have experienced. Let them not take any portion of your existence on earth hereafter. Calm your mind in such times and always be happy and content. You have some of the most beautiful moments and experiences to witness. Embrace every moment wholeheartedly and with a smile. Come what may. Jai Guru Dev!

I met different kinds of people; some old, some not so old, some young, Indians, non-Indians. I loved the experiences everybody shared. I specially loved the one by a girl who told her experience during meditation. She was pregnant and told how she and her baby enjoyed every moment. Whenever she felt sleepy, or lost in some other thought, she felt her baby kick her and got her right back into meditation. I thought that was very sweet and touching.

We were showed some of Guruji's inspirational talk videos. I liked this one - In anything we do, we may face hardships and challenges but those are simply to test our convictions. If you believe in something, it will happen. No matter what.

So now... do I believe in Yoga and Meditation? Personally, I feel yoga, pranayams and meditation has taught me to stay grounded, calm and more human. I believe and trust in what has helped millions of people worldwide and for thousands of years in history. At the end of the course, we participants referred to the inspirational talks, the courses, and the meditations as the Guruji Stuff! It got the YO element to it. Even in these modern times, if people can adhere to and take advantage of the many benefits the Vedas and the scriptures have to offer, in simple form like this, it is great.

Art of living organization has helped me meet people who believe in peace and togetherness. I have met some people whom I love and respect because of their devotion, nature and service. I would have never come across so many people anytime in my lifetime. I thank the organization and S.S. Ravi Shankar to have given me that opportunity.