Regina appears to be a place of cool headed and warm hearted people. Usually in big cities, people are cold hearted and hot headed. In smaller cities, there is togetherness, people get together. We have to keep this culture of spreading warmth.
A violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory and sorrow-free soul is the birthright of every individual. This is what The Art of Living Foundation is all about; creating a sense of togetherness. We all belong to one human family.
The way we worship may be different, the way we celebrate in life may be different, our language and our ways may be different, but we all belong to one human family. When we forget this, mankind moves towards disaster.
See what is happening around the world today? There is violence in class rooms. People feel unsafe even when they send their children to school. The idea, A Billion Acts of Non-Violence for Each Act of Violence, came to me when I heard that there are 10 million acts of violence in one year in the United States alone. We have to change this situation; turn it around. For each act of violence, we have to compensate with a hundred acts of non-violence.
When I heard about the unfortunate event in Connecticut, I thought, I have to travel around and talk to everybody to take oaths, promises to see how we all can reduce violence together. What do you all say?
We have these problems all over the world; depression, domestic violence, and societal violence. This is because we have forgotten to connect with ourselves, and connect with everybody around us. This is the only thing which makes our life worth living.
Life is worth living only when there is love. Just imagine life without love, compassion and a sense of belongingness. Mankind would go into depression. We need to create this sense of celebration and togetherness in communities and families. We started our program (A Billion Acts of Non-Violence for Each Act of Violence) on this note. It has really touched places where it was most needed; in prisons, schools and classrooms. I’m quite happy that so many volunteers around the world have plunged into action for this program.
The Art of Living is based upon five principles:
1. Opposite values are complementary: In life, not everything goes the way we want, sometimes, things go wrong. We need to accept it, learn from it, and move on. We need to keep equanimity in the mind, whether the situation is pleasant or unpleasant. This is one of the basic principles that I suggest mankind must have.
We should not lose our sense of wisdom and discrimination in any situation.
How can we do that?
We have designed a number of breathing techniques and exercises by which the mind can be rid of stress, and live in the present moment.
2. Accept people and situations as they are: Things are not going to change, if we don’t accept them, right? When you accept, at least, you become more focused. Then, you will help the change to happen.
3. Don’t see intentions behind other people’s mistakes: Even in the worst criminal, you will find a victim crying for help deep inside. When you can see this, you have compassion and not hatred.
4. Don’t be a football of others opinions
5. Live in the present moment
These are some very basic principles, which I feel are so essential to bring harmony within oneself, and the family, isn’t it? This is because in the family we want everything to go the way we think is right. However, this does not happen all the time. We always have to accommodate the viewpoints of others. The breath is an important tool to achieve this. For every emotion, there is a particular rhythm in breath.
In the ancient days, this knowledge was kept as a highly guarded secret. It was given only to royalty and some special people. I thought this should be made available to the entire population, just like cell phones. We need to educate everyone on how to handle their mind; this is needed. And we have been doing this for 32 years.
Today, let us all take this to our heart, to create a violence free society.
We need to integrate this knowledge of non-violence in our culture, sports, business, and in our faith based programs. They all need to have this. We all need to learn how to calm our minds when we are agitated.
Now you might say, ‘Yes, I know this in my head, but how to bring it practically into my day to day life. I know it is bad to get upset, annoyed or depressed. How should I not do it?’ This is where meditation and breathing techniques come in handy. They are the tools that help you calm your mind, and you feel happy from within. When you are happy, you can only do what is good for everybody.
Those who are unhappy, can only do something which is bad for themselves, and for everybody. This is what happens. Whether they have the intention or not, if someone is unhappy, they are bound to do things that are not life supporting. This is my observation. Happiness is our true nature. We need to create waves of happiness. It doesn’t come just by affluence.
Questions & Answers
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Gurudev, when I want to excel in a field, I am subjected to a lot of stress, like at work. I have continuous stress that I can’t escape because of which I don’t sleep well. How to get peace?
Sri Sri: Do you know what stress is? Too much to do, too little time, and no energy, that is called stress.
So, either you increase your energy, or reduce your work load. You obviously can’t reduce your work load, or increase the time, but you can increase your energy levels. If your energy level is higher, then you can do the job easily.
All these breathing techniques help to increase the energy levels. Just do ten minutes of pranayama breathing in the morning, and then you can go and do any work. When you come back from work, do another ten minutes.
Gurudev, what can we do to improve our energy levels in winter?
Sri Sri: In winter, you can definitely do some pranayama, some breathing exercises. They say there is so much energy in the body that it is enough to supply electricity to the all of New York for six months, without interruption. To bring up that energy, we just need to do pranayama; Bhastrika.
Do you know we have a secret in our thumb?
Have you noticed, people all over the world tend to hide their thumb in the armpits or pockets when it is cold? It is a natural tendency. Your body feels warmer when you keep your thumbs warm; not totally, about 60 per cent.
Children are born with Aadi Mudra (thumb folded in, touching the bottom of the little finger and four fingers folded above, in a fist position). If you observe a baby from the time it is born to the age of three, it does all the yoga asanas. You don’t need a yoga instructor; you simply have to watch a child.
Have you seen how a new born baby sleeps? It sleeps in Chin Mudra (forefinger gently touching the thumb and three fingers perpendicular to the thumb). In this mudra, the consciousness is alert and the prana, the life-force, moves to the heart region. Children sleep in Chin Mudra or Chinmayee Mudra (forefinger gently touching the thumb and three fingers curled in to touch the palm).
The Aadi Mudra would help you when you are very cold. Do some breathing in this position.
In the cold season, don’t just sit by yourself in your virtual world, with your lap-top and computers. Come out of your homes, sit together with 20-40 people, sing and celebrate. Then there is no way you will feel low or depressed. I think that is needed. It is what people did in the ancient times. They would have a bonfire, sit around, talk, and gossip.
The cold weather is very good for meditation too. The mind becomes very still since nature is also still.
People used to go to the Himalayas for meditation because nature is silent and calm. The entropy is coming down, mistakes don’t happen. The mind becomes very calm, it feels very good from inside.
Why are we born? We eat, drink, sleep, and watch television; we are in and out of relationships. What is the life?
Sri Sri: This is a very important question. One who knows the answer will not give it to you. Anyone who gives you the answer does not know it. Do you know why? That is because this very question is like a vehicle, which will take you home. It is the fuel for your life. When you keep asking again and again, ‘What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life?’ Then all those things that are irrelevant will fall off, and things become clearer for you to move forward. So, it is better that I don’t give you the answer, but it is a very important question.
This very question sets you on the real journey of life. Before that, you only exist, whereas this question puts you on the spiritual track.
Do dreams become clearer when you improve your food and you do breathing and meditation?
Sri Sri: Yes. The quality of dreams definitely improves.
Why can’t we remember our dreams sometimes? Is it the quality of our food, or are we not meditating?
Sri Sri: We don’t need to remember all the dreams. It is good that we don’t remember them. Then, we are more in the present moment. A dream is a dream, it is gone.
We see a lot of children with allergies and run down immune systems. Little children don’t have stress. Is there anything in our life-styles which we can change to help them?
Sri Sri: Sure. Don’t put children in front of televisions and video games for a long time. Their little brains get bombarded with impressions for too long. It affects their eye-sight; brings in Attention Deficiency Syndrome, and other things.
So, children should not spend too much time in front of the TV, maybe a maximum of an hour per day. Right now, the moment they wake up, the TV is switched on, they sit and watch cartoons. They go to school, come back, again they sit in front of cartoons. They have dinner in front of cartoons. Am I right?
We should avoid this for our children. This is my opinion, and many child physiologists also agree.
Gurudev, are you saying children should not play video games?
Sri Sri: I don’t say that they should never play any video games.
There are many brain teaser games that children should play. I would suggest we avoid the violent video games.Their little mind does not know the difference between the virtual world and the real world. In the virtual world when they keep shooting, people get up again. So, they think people will get up again if they shoot in the real world, like in the virtual world.
Many crimes happen because their thought process becomes blurred between the virtual and real world.
I am all for games. Children should learn games. I am not against children playing video games or watching TV, but not for too long periods; only for an hour per day.