Changing the world by degrees
Melbourne: Victoria University in Australia has embarked on a new initiative for Peace. With over 50,000 students, it delivers courses, research and engagement activities that are locally relevant and globally significant. And none more so than their latest offering - a new way to deal with the recent episodes of violence and attacks on Indian students.
While others chant the old mantras of extra police and more money spent on security, a new chant is reverberating around the University corridors. The Art of Living foundation and its founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, hasn’t just appealed to the student community to practice ‘ahimsa’ - non—violence, He has also provided the tools to practice it with.
Victoria University students, mainly from the International community, were the first to pilot a revolutionary program called Youth Empowerment & Skills (YES Plus) for short, conducted by the Art of living Foundation.They spent five days complementing their academic studies with more ‘intimate’ knowledge and practical life skills – like how to use their breath to save their minds from current stresses and also eliminate old ones!
“No where in formal education are we taught how to deal with negative thoughts, emotions and feelings,” explains Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living, “Dealing with feelings of fear, anger, injustice or desire for revenge directly through the mind is more difficult – through the breath it is easier.”
The participants reported positively. ‘These techniques cooled my anger,’ said Mohamed and “I learnt how to control my stress,” said another (Hassan). “I feel much happier knowing I can control my emotions” said Venkata. “I would recommend this to every student very strongly” says Abdul Kadir.
The course was introduced into the faculty by Deputy Vice Chancellor John Mcullum following discussions with Art of Living volunteers on the debilitating effects of stress, the root cause of violence and so many other problems across society. It was agreed students should be given the opportunity to learn these new skills and other institutions and organisations are observing results with the view to introducing the courses more widely across the educational spectrum.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living founder, is an honorary speaker at the Parliament of World Religions being hosted in Melbourne this December.
The Art of Living Foundation is a not-for-profit, educational and humanitarian NGO with a presence in over 140 countries. It aims to uplift humanity by globalising spirituality and bringing peace at the level of the individual, society, nation and the world as a whole. Founded in 1982 by Indian spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, it is one of the largest volunteer-based organizations in the world, and works in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.