Manal Karrara : Journey of laughter & service
Manal Karrara is infectious with a ready laughter and sparkling smile. Co-ordinating The Art of Living programs and service activities of Egypt is no mean feat. Fired by her passion to serve, Manal wears the mantle of a peace warrior very easily.
“When someone told me, ‘We will teach you how to breathe’, it was the funniest thing I had ever heard in my life. I thought, that is something inbuilt in us, how can anyone teach us to breathe?” shares 28-year-old Manal Karrara, laughing as she remembers how she came to the Art of Living course.
She had difficulty with concentration due to the medical condition of her brain and had to use oxygen regulators for survival. After a friend told her about the benefits of yoga, Manal who lives in Egypt, visited The Art of Living International Center there. She fell in love with the course when she experienced the Sudarshan Kriya (a unique, rhythmic breathing pattern which is the cornerstone of all The Art of Living courses).
“When I did Sudarshan Kriya, the effects were so amazing that the doctor was shocked and told me that I don’t need any more oxygen regulators for my brain,” happily explains Manal. Amazed by the effects of the Sudarshan Kriya, Manal had the urge to go deeper and thus began her journey.
From 16 to 2,000
“When I see the transformation happening
in the world through the projects Guruji has
initiated, especially Iraq, it really touches me.
It makes me feel closer to the quest of finding
the purpose of my life.”
Her stint with seva (service) began with organizing Art of Living Programs. This was a challenge in Egypt, a few years ago, as there was ban on yoga and Muslims were not allowed to practice it. However, Manal who is a Muslim herself, was so inspired that she convinced the embassy about the benefits of the course. Willing to deal with risks, Manal organized one such program. “I was so happy that in spite of the ban, 16 people showed up,” she says. “The Art of Living chapter in Egypt then had just 50 people. Today we are more than 2,000 people with two instructors.”
Another memorable instance for her is how she met Sri Sri. “I was supposed to visit my parents in Italy but I forgot to sign an important document and my visa got rejected. The next week I got a call from my Art of Living teacher asking me if I would like to go to the Indian ashram. I immediately said yes! I still don’t know why I did that,” recalls Manal. “Those days ashram was really small,” she says. “I did my advance course there and met Guruji. I felt an instant connection with him.”
Based in Egypt, Manal Karrara, who became the country coordinator in 2004 and a teacher in 2006, has traveled to neighboring countries to take Art of Living Programs. As a part of her seva, she conducts Breath-Water-Sound workshops, translates special Arabic Courses from English to Arabic and makes sure she brings peace and harmony to the lives of more and more people by conducting these programs. She has also represented Art of Living in many international events such as Arab Youth Forum by the League of Arab state, Inter faith dialogues, Master Peace festivals, Egyptian and Tunisian Women after the Revolution meeting by UNIFEM.
What inspires you to do seva? “Art of Living has given me a good platform to fulfill my purpose of serving people and making this place a better place to live in,” says Manal smiling gratefully. “Also when I see the transformation happening in the world through the projects Guruji has initiated, especially Iraq, it really touches me. It makes me feel closer to the quest of finding the purpose of my life.”
Peace meditation during revolution
“It is so amazing to see how Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has inspired millions across the world. I still remember during the Egyptian revolution, like few other Egyptians, I visited Tahrir square to support the revolution. When I was at home I called some of The Art of Living volunteers in Egyptian cities to meditate everyday for peace and harmony. The call for peace meditation spread like a wave and we had people joining us from all over the world,” she shared with pride. “Like every wave in the ocean adds to the beauty of the ocean, similarly every smiling person adds to the beauty of this world. Am glad to be a part of Guruji’s vision to bring smile to every face on this planet,” concluded Manal smiling.