It’s no more a big deal to find the world make a beeline to Bangalore for its IT – Information Technology. But this group of 35 odd people from the Islamic world is making a big deal out of it. For they have come to Bangalore to find a different IT. They have come all the way to write a program of ‘Inner Transformation’ - first for themselves and then for people back home!
Meet a diverse group from the Islamic world – from countries as far flung as Morocco, to Palestine to Iraq to Pakistan, who are currently undergoing training to become Art of Living instructors at the Art of Living International Centre in Bangalore. Talk to them and you will realise that they are writing an error-free Inner Transformation program.
“The war and the ongoing violence took me to a point where I felt as if I would collapse any minute. I so often had suicidal thoughts. I had become heartless; no relation mattered to me. Then I was introduced to the Art of Living by a friend in 2000. Thanks to it, now I feel more optimistic, balanced, and ready for anything in life. It has made me go deep within my faith and now I feel so safe and beautiful from within,” narrates Yusuf Majid, a 50-year-old from Lebanon.
“Now I want to take this skill of managing life to my people. Make them experience what I have and give them a chance to make this beautiful change - in their lives and in that of others,” he adds.
It's rare to find somebody who says he feels safe and beautiful from within, given the times we live in, but it becomes even more precious when one hears it from someone who comes from a place which has seen so much violence, strife and unrest for the past many years.
Yusuf isn’t alone. Each of these participants has a tryst powerful enough to transform themselves and people around. “I came to the ashram for the first time in 2006 and that was the most beautiful month of my life. The Art of Living has taught me how to take care of myself as well as others. We are so unaware of the importance of our own breath and how it can help us reach a stage where there is absolute clarity and focus,” says Mariam, a Member of Parliament and ex-advisor to the Iraqi prime minister.
It was sheer curiosity about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ‘Health through Breath’ programme that drew her to the Art of Living. Today she is on to it, “hook, line and sinker”. Soon after the introductory programme, she followed it up with advanced courses and soon after did the teacher’s training programme.
“I was so fired up by the experience and Sri Sri’s vision of a violence-free, stress-free world that I took on myself of teaching the Art of Living programme to top politicians in Iraq which was a huge success”. Her story moved the then Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, so much that he invited Sri Sri to Iraq in 2007.
Interestingly, all of them see the feeling of inner transformation they are experiencing as a remedy for many of maladies that ail the world. “Only when I am in harmony, I will be able to create harmony around myself. The Art of Living has helped me to experientially understand the feeling of harmony. Sri Sri has made us understand that there is no ‘You’ and ‘Me’. It is all a ‘We’,” says Farida from Pakistan.
“We need more people who understand this and come together to work towards creating a harmonious society. Now I aim to reach out to the thousands who are in dire need of this wisdom,” she adds.
In addition to preparing themselves for what they call a huge responsibility to humanity, they are also living it up at the ashram. “It was a big surprise when Guruji called us on stage and asked us to sing. And the applause from the crowd who cheered loudly was even a bigger surprise. We felt welcomed and one with the people,” reveals Wafa, from Oman.
“I like the atmosphere and the energy of this place. There are people from diverse backgrounds, yet there is a spirit of belongingness and so much positivity,” says Farida. “I gel well with everyone. It is like a one big family for me,” she explains.
“I just love this place. It is my home. This experience has been so refreshing and rejuvenating. Inshallah, we will definitely come back with more people soon,” promises Yusuf. “For, this is IT!” he adds with a smile!