Dushyant Savadia, an international Art of Living teacher, recently took the Art of Living courses to the Jamaican prisons! He met the Director of Correction facilities in Jamaica and within 15 minutes they agreed to have the courses in two of the main prisons in Jamaica. The inmates loved Dushyantji and the course. Below are some of the pictures from the course and their experiences. It is heart warming to see how the lives of these people are touched by something as simple yet profound as their own breath!
Dushyant Savadia teaching the Art of Living course to Prison inmates in Jamaica
Art of Living course in Jamaican prison
Yoga, Pranayama from the Art of Living course in Jamaican prison
Dushyant Savadia with prison inmate
Sharing from the inmates
“This course had been a great help to me as to say. I thought it was all but a joke at first until I made myself a part of it and the truth is I learnt a lot and I am grateful for the experience”. – Tommy
“Very good to me. In 12 years this is the best thing in my life. I would like this to continue for next seven months until I leave this institution. It has made me a better man going out to the society back. It will be good for my kids and wife also. I was going to a doctor and was supposed to get an ultrasound. Since this program everything is gone. I sleep better and eat better”. – Leon
“I found this class so amazing it help me a lot to control my temper. It helps me breathe properly cause I have asthma and it is fun also with the teachers as they teach a lot things to us so it is helpful and amazing to me”. – Swight
“I feel as though I am alive for the first time in my life”. – Paul
“Makes me feel like a changed person, makes me feel like doing this everyday. It cuts my temper down. Best thing ever happened to me. It frees my lungs and joints in my body. Makes me happy when we do it, like in school again. I love it” – Jessie
“This 6 days course was special to me personally it’s a life time experience for me, it changes my breathing systems and also my mind functions and it makes me think and act positive and also reduces my bad temperament. Thanks a lot to both of you and your team”. – John
“Well, I am not going to tell any lie, I love it and I don’t mind doing it again”. – Daniel
“This program has done so much for me I must say as it taught me to be stress free. I am confident in my anger management, I hope to see them again”. – Ricardo
This thanksgiving weekend, I was on a road trip with other friends to the Grand Canyon, Arizona. This is my first time to the Canyons and it was an amazing sight to see the splendor of nature. The vast land sculptured by the flow of the almost extinct majestic rivers of the lore! The perfect ridges along the edges on the giant piece of land were like the scars of an age old warrior who lived to tell his survival story against the mighty waters. We watched a beautiful sunset along the south rim of the canyons. The colors of the rock was just amazing. The shadows of the giant rocks falling on each other as though . Pure bliss! Here is a picture of international Art of Living teacher, Dushyant Savadia, standing at int eh grand canyon at the time of sunset. It was taken by my iPhone5 in the panoramic mode.
Dushyant Savadia in the Grand Canyons’s south rim at the time of sunset!
Let me just stop there because this post is not to describe the beauty of the canyons :(. I noticed something when I was there seeing my friends walk to the edge of the cliffs in the south rim. I had a fear of heights! This was stopping me from getting to edge of cliffs whereas few of my friends were sitting at the edge with their legs handing down to more than thousand feet drop! I just couldn’t imagine getting there, leave alone sitting and looking down.
Have you witnessed this before – one person walking confidently towards the edge of a cliff or the edge of a tall building whereas some people just stand back at a safe point and shouting instructions and warnings to them? Well, I was one of those shouting instructions, at least to start with. My mind would start imagining different ways I could slip and fall down the cliff. Here are some of the funny ones – strong wind would just hit me alone and I would fall face down; My right shoe would slip on me and I would be falling from the edge like in the movies, etc.
If you watch someone with a fear of heights walking along the edge, you can see them suffering from one of these – freezing sensation of being stuck –
STUCK – cant move back or forward,
Heart beats getting harder and louder
A sudden feeling that you are going to fall down right now
Mind not ready to assimilate any instructions – You will look down when you are told to not look down!
I saw these either in me or in another friend of mine. These were stopping me to get to the edge. This is when my breathing techniques and teaching came in handy. I had to calm my mind to take in any instructions. Otherwise it is caught up in the whirlwind caused by fear. I consciously closed my eyes and started to slow down my breathing to calm myself down. I started to do until my mind started to listen to my intellect to calm itself. Once the breathing came back to normal, I started to notice the sensations in my heart region. This the region where emotions like love, fear, hate arise. I calmed my heart beat with deep breath in and out. This stopped the shivering inside me. Then I told myself that I would go to the edge – one step at a time. I imagined myself at the edge and how I would enjoy it. Then I opened my eyes and started walking towards it. Went as far I can and joined my friends there. It was a wonderful experience to be there.
Our breath has got so much power over our body and mind. If only we know how to harness it, it can help us in any situations we face. If you have the fear of heights, try using your breath to calm you down and then start telling your mind that you can do it and take it step by step.
Just for your eyes only – I still had the jitters when I recollected the height of the grand canyon and me walking towards it while writing this post!
I had written a post about how the outer environment affects our inner world in the previous post and promised to speak more about how our breath can help us. Well, here is how it can help us! You can read the previous post here.
Recently, I was involved in a altercation with someone and it turned into a heated argument. We both were going head on head with each other about our opinions and what had happened until I noticed something. I was feeling so hot! My head, face, palms and chest were so hot and it was suffocating! The moment I noticed it, I started to let go of the argument and started taking my awareness inside me to observe all these sensations in the body. This helped me cool down a bit.
Have you been in a situation like this before? What has helped you to come out of it? What helped me to control my emotion at that time was my BREATH.
Angry : breath becomes Fast and Shallow
Sad : breath becomes long and deep
Every emotion in the body – anger, sadness, joy, etc. has a corresponding rhythm in the body. If we notice our breath when we are angry it is shallow, fast and hot. Yes, our breath can be of various temperature! When we are sad, we sigh – which is long, deep and our exhalation is longer than our inhalation. When in joy or happy – it is long, deep and inhalation is longer than exhalation. Like smelling something really nice or delicious! These emotions trigger these different patterns of breathing in our body. This is done automatically by the body with out any intervention from us.Now here is the best part – We can use the breath to control the emotions too! When I heard this for the first time, I was like – “REALLY? I am not sure about that!”. But this was until I experienced it myself. Breathing in a particular pattern can induce a corresponding emotion. So instead of being overwhelmed by our emotions, we can transform those using specific breathing techniques. You can listen to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explaining in the video.
This is the not the first time we have heard this. We have been doing this for a long time. Have you heard people asking you to take deep breath in and out when you were excited or angry? This is to come out of anger by using your own breath. When you take long deep breaths, the breath induces a sense of calmness or happiness which acts against your anger and helps you snap out it! This the secret behind the technique.
Now we need the skill to know which breath to use when and how. This is where the Art of Living course has helped me. These techniques are taught in such a superb way in this course that anyone can learn and practice it. You learn something called the Sudarshan Kriya in the course which helps you de – stress and release the built up emotions that are hidden deep in your body. You also learn pranayamas – techniques to control your breath, in the course. They teach you the link between the body, breath, mind and emotions that will help you manage your emotions next time. You do a lot of yoga and meditation in the 20 hour course spanning across 4 days which helps you to release the tensions in the body and mind. This is what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says about Sudarshan Kriya –
The Sudarshan Kriya incorporates specific natural rhythms of breath which harmonize the rhythms of the body and emotions and bring them in tune with the rhythms of nature. The breath connects the body and mind. Just as emotions affect our patterns of breathing, we can bring about changes in our mental and behavioral patterns by altering the rhythms of our breath. It flushes our anger, anxiety and worry; leaving the mind completely relaxed and energized.
It is natural for the mind to get caught up in emotions. The duet of the breath and emotions has been there since we came into this world. But we dont have to be stuck in emotions the whole time and lead a life dictated by emotions. When we learn these techniques, it helps us to dance better to this duet. More importantly, it helps us to control the duet! So the next time you are caught up in any emotion, take a deep breath, SMILE and remember – YOU ARE IN CONTROL!
There was a kingdom which had a king and he was aided by a wise prime minister. The king ruled the kingdom with the help of a government which took care of all the administration. Most of the time the country was governed by the administrative body. Whenever something unusual needs to be decided, the king is advised by the prime minister and then makes a decision. But unfortunately, the king is always confused by the amount of information brought to him by the administration. His another problem was his attachement to and his identification to the kingdom. As a result, the king often does not properly listen to the wise prime minister and kingdom ends up in trouble due to the king’s bad decision. The kingdom had a GOD which kept on witnessing these events but did nothing!
The above story is not so different from what happens in everyone’s life every day. Do you find the inner meaning in this story? The kingdom is our BODY while EGO is the king. Our INTELLECT is the wise prime minister. The intellect is wise because it has access to memory and it knows which events in the past have been good or bad for the body. The governing administrative entity is our own MIND. The mind takes care of all the activities this body does. But when something unusual needs to be done, the Ego steps in and consults with the intellect on how to act. Though the ego gets the right answer, it is flooded with inputs from the mind through the five senses.
The ego can work in two ways from here – either agree with the intellect or surrender to the emotions stirred by the mind. Lets take a small deviation and see what are the inputs from the mind to the intellect. When we breath we take in Prana or Life force and this prana when in contact with the state of mind, emotions or Rasas(in Sanskrit) are experienced in the mind. Emotions like Anger, Sadness, Joy, Wonder, etc. At this point the ego has to decide whether to accept this Rasa that is being experienced by the body. If the ego, after consulting with the body, does not support the Rasa, then it will be changed by the act of will power. If the ego supports the Rasa, then the intellect can not do anything and is forced by the ego to accept the Rasa. At this time the ego thinks that it is enjoying the Rasa and then we exclaim “I am feeling great“! So far example, when you are eating an ice cream, the tongue send the signal to the mind that it likes it. So an emotion is triggered in the mind. The ego consults its intellect whether to accept it or not. Though the intellect keeps telling “The last time you had ice cream you had a cold. Do not eat it!”, the ego is flooded with a joyful feeling from the mind. Then the ego decides to overcome the intellect and starts to enjoy the ice cream thinking – “I really love eating ice cream!”.
The GOD who kept watching this entire event but did nothing is the SELF. It just witnesses.
This is the general flow of energy from the outside world into our inner world and how we think we are enjoying the world! Fascinating isn’t it? I will discuss about how to control this whole flow of energy and emotions from the outer to the inner by just using our own Breath in a next post. Keep watching!
CNN’s Richard Quest goes to Bangalore, INDIA to soak into the Spiritual bliss and vibes of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at his ashram. An interesting video from the program on the man they call “Guruji” and about the Art of Living Foundation. Here Sri Sri talks about the secrets of breath, how the breath is linked to the mind based on the rhythms and emotions. Richard Quest takes the Basic Art of Living course and I think he likes it 🙂 He says that he is positively sure that he was floating when he was taking the Ayurveda treatment! Ha ha!
I love the part where Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talks about how even though the knowledge in the Art of Living has got its roots in Hinduism but he has made it secular in a sense that people from all religions have no problem understanding or following it. He also says that only secular spiritualism can unite people from all over the world. This is awesome!
Richard takes part in the silver jubilee celebration of the Art of Living foundation. He sits with Sri Sri on the stage with 3800 more other dignitaries and enjoys the satsang – music and dance.
The last words of Richard is really touching. He says – “As human beings, we are driven to explore;explain the inexplicable. Our intelligence means that at times we are doomed to suffer in a turmoil, despair, disillusionment but answers are forth coming. Whatever our religious beliefs are, spirituality is rooted in ideals of human nature. Being a better person. Breathing exercises, meditation and breath – they all help us open our mind;take stock of who we are. Put Life back into perspective. And lets face it, most of us could do a little but of that! Between you and me, it has just begun!”