Interview with Mala Sundareshan

Stress today has become a part of a child's life too. Children often find themselves at crossroads when it comes to dealing with peer-pressure, handling emotions, expectations of their parents and the ever-increasing competition. Meet Mala Sundareshan, who travels around the globe teaching children the art of dealing with their minds and helping them make life a perpetual party

Q: Today, stress has become a part of a child's life. How do these programs help in tackling the issue?

A: Stress is very common among children today. Neither at home nor at school are we taught how to handle our mind and eliminate stress. If you notice, even counselors work only on the level of the mind, to solve the peripheral problems and don't go at the root cause of stress. Through breath and the breathing techniques like the Sudarshan Kriya, clarity and calmness of mind is achieved where the root cause of the stress gets eliminated. Unlike adults, children are blessed because they don't carry much emotional baggage. These techniques therefore have a profound and far-reaching impact on a child's mind and health.

Q: Nowadays so many workshops, personality development programs are available for the children. What is special about the programs you teach?

A: In today's world, there is a huge gap between education, academics & life. Many a times children including teens & young adults don't know how to handle life. They don't have a clear vision of the future and lack clarity of mind. Our programs give children just the right platform to develop focus, enhance their ability to take decisions and make clear choices in life. The techniques equip them with life skills and helps them to improve concentration, memory and physical stamina. Most of us don't understand the mechanics of the mind & how our breath influences the vast repository called the mind. It is therefore important to be aware of this fascinating relation between the breath and mind. Through the unique and specially designed techniques developed under the guidance of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, children participating in the programs discover their true potential and talents as well as understand the humane side of their personalities.

Q: What is the impact of these kinds of stress –elimination workshops on children?

A: The change that happens through these programs is tremendous. A shy child overcomes his shyness and become brave and outspoken, an aggressive child, for example, he/she becomes soft. There is change in almost all children- in many cases the change is immediate, while for others it gradually blooms and children go back home enriched in values, self-belief, sensitivity, confidence, full of focus and a broader vision of life.

Q: What do you think is the biggest problem kids are facing today? And how do you plan to focus on those during these programs?

A: The biggest problem that children face today is a lack of goals and aspirations. They are easily distracted and their desires and wants keep changing from time to time and so do the goals. There is this attitude among children that, 'ok I don't need to work hard because I have another option.' For eg: There are plenty of children and youngsters who want to play cricket but few have that one- pointed vision to stick through. The Art of Living programs for kids takes care that these children learn the value of hard work to achieve success in life.

Q. Today, parents say that "in our times, we were not like this...today's kids are really spoilt". So how do you handle this in your program?

A: I wouldn't fully say that kids are spoilt, but definitely exposure to external media is much higher nowadays. Basically, children are happy and joyous from within and if they are not like that, it means it is due to some stress. There is some kind of expectation, either from their parents, their friends, teachers and even themselves that is bringing them down. We need to eliminate that root cause of stress. This is done through breath and the different breathing techniques in the programs we teach. The kids become more innocent, joyful, and are still updated in the same environment as they were in.

Q: What is it that drives you to travel around and teach kids- isn't schools meant to do that exactly?

A: I have played cricket for India and captained Karnataka for 20 years. One day, I was dropped from the Indian team. It was a very tough time for me. All the teachers, coaches only tell you how to reach the top but no one teaches you how to handle failure. I myself went through a lot of stress and pain and when I did my Art of Living program, I learnt how to smile through situations. That is when I decided that it is important for all to know how to heal from within. This was the driving force to take this to children all across.

Today, many schools are becoming aware of the value of teaching human values, but efforts in that direction are less. Schools are looking at this kind of education The Art of Living has tremendous knowledge and experience in the field of personality development and developing human values in children and youth, and make sure that kids learn from their core subjects. Our programs are designed such that they can be made an integral part of the school curriculum as well and it is already being offered in many schools.

Q. You have taught children in India and in other pars of the world as well. What similarities and differences do you see between children abroad and children in India.

A: The issues are same everywhere-peer pressure, attractions, facing failure, expectations from parents and themselves as well. These are similar across the world, but the difference lies in their ability to express. For example, an Indian child would not sit and talk about his liking and attraction for a person of the opposite sex, but children of other countries are very open. The breathing techniques, yoga and meditation touches the bottom of the issues - the mind, emotions and how to handle these issues in a balanced way.

Q: You will be teaching the Colours of Joy in the Bangalore Ashram from 31st May where children from other countries are also expected to take part. Tell us more about the highlights of the program.

A: 'Colours of Joy' is a one-week youth and child development program fostering excellence among today's generation, to be held in the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It will include programs such as ART Excel, Yes + and Part 2 courses, all designed to let generation next bloom into more confident, and happy individuals. We will have children from other countries as well and this will therefore offer every child the unique opportunity to interact, share and experience different cultures, mind-sets, meet new people and handle different kinds of situations.

The one lesson children will take from this workshop is to be happy and to know that happiness is not dependent on anything. They will be taught to see life in equanimity and to accept challenges and learn from different experiences. Colours of Joy will therefore give them Exposure and Experience.

For more details on Summer Workshops taken by Mala write to aeyesadmin@vvki.net or call 9379806397

Team MSN She