Exclusive Interview with Mr. Ravi Kumar from The Art of Living Foundation
An exclusive Interview with Mr. Ravi Kumar – Corporate Teacher the Art of Living Foundation. To learn more about him,t Here
Interviewed By: Danteshwari Bhaskar
Q1. How Art of Living Spiritual and Physical yoga help those in search of relief from the stresses and strains of life?
Ans: Stress and strain are part of life. Art of Living practices help us cope with stress and teach us to witness the events happening around us without getting bogged down by them. Art of living practices help in keeping our mind calm and composed and give us the strength to take the right action when confronted with a problem. Normally we do not act, but react to situations. Reaction is always followed by a feeling of regret. It gives you space to look into it, think about it and take correct action with regard to what you need to do. That is how Art of Living practices help.
Q.2 What is that Westerners expect from yogic practitioners?
Ans: Today, Westerners are giving more importance to yoga because they are able to get connected to the inner consciousness, happiness, and joy. The materialistic and individualistic society of the West creates more insecurities because individuals are lonely and lead isolated lives.The people there need a lot of space to overcome their mental blocks, fears and pre-conceived notions. The Art of Living practices help Westerners to experience the joy that is hidden in them. This is what they expect from yoga. Today, Yoga schools are mushrooming in the west and Westerners show a lot of discipline in learning Yoga and practicing it.
Q.3.Can yoga practiced in Art of Living make a person feel peaceful and at ease with himself or herself?
Ans: First, understand that every man is at peace within himself or herself. Nobody can shake this. People are basically happy and contented inside. The Sudershan Kriya that we teach in Art of Living, takes a person inwards and leads him to question the reason for his existence. Having tasted the peace, the nectar, you try to hold on to it or express it in your life. This feeling cannot be explained – it has to be experienced. In the first part of the basic course, people experience this feeling and later on, it becomes a part of life.
Q.4 Can happiness be attained by practicing it?
Ans: I will put it this way. Suppose I toss a coin – I want heads and you say you want tails. Suppose the coin is showing tails and you want to pick it up. The coin you are picking up has heads also attached to it. You cannot leave heads and just have the tails. So happiness and unhappiness, or joy and a little misery in life, you cannot separate them. It is part of existence. So in the Art of Living you start seeing happiness when happiness is available when there is misery you start working on it. You learn to accept what is there every moment. This is what you achieve in Art of Living. But if you say that I am totally out of misery in life, I am out of my emotional imbalances in life, it might not be right in most cases. We need to reach a stage where we start talking to ourselves. How many do that, to our minds? Once we start talking to our minds we are able to control, withstand, and find ways to overcome the misery. Yes, majority of the time, you can definitely be happy. You have a choice to be happy even in misery. You have the choice. It is there.
Q.5. Can you tell us more about Sudershan Kriya?
Ans: Sudershan Kriya is basically a breathing rhythm. It is a technique which has been developed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar way back in 1982 after a ten day silence in Shimoga. There are so many yoga practices, so many schools of thought, but this is something that is apt for the society at this juncture of life, at this juncture of the conscious and at this time. It is a simple and easy process. One needs to practice 20 to 25 minutes a day. It is a breathing rhythm which helps people understand their ego, mind, memory and intellect. It rejuvenates the body and you get immense energy to act and work in your day-to-day life. You also get immense joy in your own office, at your work place, mingling with people. Sudershan Kriya makes people lead a natural and stress free life.
natural and stress free life.
Q.6.How has Sri Sri Ravi Shankar been able to reach the hearts of the Westerners practicing yoga?
Ans: It is not only the Westerners, it is everybody. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar leads such a natural life. When he walks, he carries only his consciousness. He is always at the heart level, mingling with people, where people start seeing their own reflection in him. That’s how they connect to that magnetic force of consciousness; that’s how they are benefited. In his presence, they feel at home. People feel at ease, people feel so comfortable. He creates the space for people to experience the joy. That’s how people get attached to him and the beauty of the Art of Living program is that it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with human kindness, compassion, caring, sharing, belonging that is spoken of in every religion. But when it comes to expressing it, there are certain hurdles. But Art of Living is a way of life, which expresses that. That is why people get attracted to him so much.
Q.7. What kind of spiritual ecstasy can one attain by staying at the Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore?
Ans: Whether you stay in the ashram or not, people are always in ecstasy when they practice Art of Living every day. Ecstasy with absolute control in one’s self. They learn to live naturally, devoid of artificial trappings. But the ashram is a place where you find the peace and tranquility that you seek. One finds this even when the Master is absent. When you walk in, there is energy. Everybody is at peace and joyous. So when people stay for a day or two at Ashram, they totally get relaxed, rejuvenated, recharged. It is like the vehicles getting serviced periodically. We also get our fridge serviced and air conditioners. So once in six months, when you go to the ashram you get charged. Normally, we store, so much negativity, so much stress because of the way of life we live outside. The whole body becomes light, mind becomes light, and we are calm and composed as all the toxins and stresses are out of our body when we adopt these practices. You get enthused to live your life.
Q.8. As a yoga teacher can tell us why Westerners are more inclined towards yoga, whereas Indians are oriented towards Western relief practices such as aerobics, going to the gym, swimming and playing games and squeezing squeeze balls?
Ans: Ok, to a certain extent your question is valid. Lots of people are showing an inclination for aerobics, gym, and swimming. But still, every corporate house in India has realized the value of yoga and meditation. There is so much demand for yoga teachers and meditation and Art of Living programs all over the corporate world in India. So aerobics and things like that keep the body fit, but yoga and meditation is inner transformation (IT). Inner transformation cannot happen with aerobics, or swimming, or going to a gym. They may strengthen the muscles, but strengthening the mind and strengthening the inner consciousness from within can happen through meditation and Art of Living programs. It is not that Westerners are not going to the gym. Westerners are going to the gym and practicing; we have taken it as a way of life; it is there. Lots of doctors are giving importance to walking and gym. Yoga can, to a certain extent, be a substitute to walking or gym because in yoga also the body gets toned when you do surya – namaskars and other asanas. It is equivalent to going to a gym. Meditation is something you need to go inside for peace. You benefit physically when you go to gym. However, if you are talking about the quality of relaxation, then yoga and meditation is a must.
Q.9. Can you comment on what East can offer to West and what the West can offer to us?
Ans: What we have experienced is when it comes to discipline, probably we can learn a lot from them. What the Westerners can pick up from us is more of expression, caring, sharing and belonging.There are 2 things, which you get in India: the warmth of the climate and the warmth of the people. But, we cannot say that there is a vast difference between us.
Q.10. Finally, what do you have to say about the growing Western cultural trends in India?
Ans: Yes there is a lot of outside influence because of Globalization but Art of Living is addressing these issues too. We have also been conducting rock Satsangs to get youngsters into the fold. We have programs called “Yes Plus” and “Yes for youngsters” between the ages of 16 and 21 so that they experience inner transformation and emerge as better and happier citizens.