Shankar Calls for a Violence-Free, Stress-Free Milwaukee

21 Apr 2010

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was born Ravi Shankar, but received the "Gurudev" title of honor by his followers. This symbolizes their devotion and distinguishes him from the sitar-playing Ravi Shankar who collaborated with George Harrison in the '70s. Shankar is the spiritual leader of the Art of Living Foundation, an organization dedicated to stress relief and "societal disease and violence." Shankar is currently on a United States' tour themed "Creating a Violence-Free, Stress-Free Society." He will stop in Milwaukee on Friday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Midwest Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave. Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation as well as the International Association for Human Values. These organizations are two of the largest volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization in the world. After the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center towers, the Art of the Living Foundation offered free courses in stress reduction to New Yorkers. The group has run relief programs in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and assisted with Hurricane Katrina victims. Shankar is reported as being able to recite the Bhagavad Gita, ancient Hindu scripture comprised of approximately 700 verses, at the age of four. He received a college degree at the age of 17. Shankars' teachings of love, practical wisdom, meditation and service are aimed to promote harmony among people, and encourage individuals to lead a more fulfilled and meaningful life. He also promotes peace. "Violence is a result of stress that people cannot manage. Doing breathing and meditation helps to relieve stress. Stress is unavoidable because there's so much pressure, and too much to do in too little time," he says. According to Shankar, meditation plays a key role in relieving stress and achieving peace. However, because people most people are extremely busy, finding the time to meditate seems daunting if not impossible. "It only takes a few minutes to meditate. Ten minutes," says Shankar. "I call it 'mental hygeine.' Noboday says, 'I don't have time for dental hygiene.'" Shankar -- who has meditated for 45 years twice a day, 30 minutes per session -- says meditation not only relieves stress, but also invokes creativity. "And meditation keeps you sane," he says. According to Shankar, every emotion has a corresponding rhythm in the breath and regulating breath might help relieve personal suffering. Shankar claims he lives completely stress-free and recommends meditation for people of all ages -- particularly veterans -- and all religious backgrounds. Mediatation, he says, is a spiritual practice, not a religious one. "Spirituality is beyond religion. So meditation is not in conflict with any religion," he says. "It doesn't interfere with any religious faith. It helps people go deep and have a smile on their face. It improves vibrations, makes our lives more harmonious and creates so much love for ourselves." Shankar's only request during his upcoming lecture in Milwaukee is that the audience does not come with expectation. "Come without expectation and let yourself be surprised," he says.