Indian Spiritual Leader Here Sunday

21 Apr 2010

The spiritual leader who was named one of the five most powerful people in India by Forbes in 2009 will visit Cincinnati for the first time on Sunday, bearing the message that meditation can help create a violence-free and stress-free America. His name is Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which might sound familiar, but he's unrelated to the famous sitar player (Gurudev is an Indian honorific). This Gurudev Ravi Shankar is a 53-year-old three-time Nobel Peace Prize finalist who's on a nine-city tour of North America sponsored by the Art of Living Foundation, an international not-for-profit educational and humanitarian organization he founded in 1981. The foundation's Cincinnati chapter, founded by Sonal Shanker, 36, of Sharon-ville about four years ago, and its Cleveland chapter asked Shankar to visit those cities, where many residents have been hit hard by the recession. "We need the stress elimination techniques that the foundation talks about," says Shanker, an information architect for IBM who leads local workshops that teach breathing techniques to relieve stress. "I call it universal health care for the mind." The 4½ -hour event Sunday at the Duke Energy Convention Center will include breathing techniques, simple yoga exercises that can be done from a chair (no yoga mat required), group meditation, a question-and-answer session with Shankar and musical performances. The event is open to people of all religions, backgrounds and ages, though it's not recommended for young children because of its length, Shanker says. She expects 1,000-1,200 people to attend. "It really is about getting the community to come together to talk about creating a violence- and stress-free Cincinnati," she says.