Deepali Patel is a significant drop in the wave of spirituality that is fast spreading peace and joy. Deepali, young Mumbai girl, first did the Art of Living Course in 1999 while working at the Taj. "It opened up a whole new world for me. I found the kriya and the knowledge very beautiful. I realized that I didn't need to lead life with negative emotions or become a victim of my emotions. I found a way to come out of the mundane and live a deeper life. "
She also found that her focusing ability had increased greatly and her skill in handling her co-workers improved considerably. “However, I began to lose satisfaction in my job. I wanted to do something more, so I decided to work in a grassroots project in the Dharavi slum."
Deepali became a teacher in 2002. "Guruji sent me to the North-East and I became a full-time teacher, teaching in Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam." There she, along with three other women, organized a visit for Guruji despite terrorist threats and conducted YLTP (youth leadership training programs). From the North-east of India she went straight to Africa in 2005 and France in 2006.
She teaches in countries including Cameroon, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea. She has introduced organic farming in Cameroon through the YLTP, conducted peace reconciliation programs in the Ivory Coast and cleaning programs in Guinea.
"I realized that without Kriya and spirituality, no change would have been possible in Africa. Over there, malaria kills more than AIDS because of its recurring nature.Amazingly enough, people stopped contracting malaria after doing the course and throughout my stay, I was never infected. My experience is that the immunity improves greatly with the practice of Kriya. Another transformation that the Kriya brought about was the ability to connect directly to their heart, all the barriers fell apart and there was a sense of belongingness and things happen from that space."
She has witnessed some of the inexplicable effects of the Sudarshan Kriya. “During the civil strife in Ivory Coast, none of the people who did the Art of Living Course were harmed.”
In the Ivory Coast, there was disharmony among the Deula and Guere tribes over land and economic issues. Deepali and her team conducted a YLTP for around 30 members from both tribes after which they pledged peace.
“Initially people were skeptical of us and the courses. They constantly called me ‘the white one’. Eventually they became comfortable. These countries have seen immense trauma. Many shared that they had lost their purpose for living. The techniques taught in the course have helped them regain their joie de vivre. We also conducted a program in Bouke in Ivory Coast, which is known to be the headquarters of the rebels. Here even government officials were afraid for our safety but the locals welcomed us.”
"The first time I went to Cameroon, I stayed in a temple. It was really hard to organize a YLTP there because other NGOs used to pay the youth, and here we were, asking them to take responsibility and work for others. But we slowly gained their confidence and conducted the course with 30 youth. Seeing this, the neighboring MP volunteered to finance the YLTP. After the course, we began some projects. We cleaned the campus, bridges and roads and soon the European Union gave the villagers a grant.After a while we decided to start a zero plastic initiative and soon a few markets became plastic free. We educated people to use local materials like banana leaves."
Deepali believes that this love and sense of belongingness is the only way that the world can change. "It is a gift to be able to take this knowledge forward to bring a change in humanity. Throughout my career, I didn't have any maternal instincts, but with the Art of Living, both qualities of softness and strength have developed. I remember bringing over 30 kids on a four-day journey from Nagaland to the ashram and throughout I was there for them, almost like a mother. I couldn't have done that if not for Guruji."
“For me, it is an honor and a privilege to be an Art of Living teacher. The past 15 years have been the most fulfilling years of my life. The Art of Living touches the very core of human beings and you instantly become a part of their world, their lives,” shares Deepali, reflecting upon incidences where children in Ivory Coast have been named after her. “ I truly feel what Guruji means when he says ‘One World Family’. This gives me a deep sense of inner security and freedom.
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Writer: Harshini Vakkalanka, Graphics: Gurudatt Anveker