Sustaining the Spirit of Life

Art of Living’s Interventions for Positive People

“If all of us can take on this project to educate the youth, to educate youngsters about healthy living, positive thinking and a stigma-free, inhibition-free attitude towards people, we would have taken a big step.” Gurudev at the Faith in Action Conference on HIV/AIDS in 2008

The Art of Living is committed to helping people live a stress-free and healthy life. The programs help those individuals who are challenged by diseases. HIV/AIDS is a growing challenge of our times. As thousands across the globe fall prey to the disease through ignorance, lack of education or an incorrect lifestyle, The Art of Living has committed itself to helping the world meet this challenge. The approach is two-pronged: supporting positive people to live a healthier life while also spreading awareness and educating people on the precautionary measures.

Healthier Life for HIV/AIDS Positive People

“I did the HIV course. The course gave me spiritual experiences beyond anything I can express in words. I have been living with HIV for about 15 years, and thanks to Gurudev, I am fine and healthy.” - David M

Gurudev has specially designed a course for HIV people which focuses on simple, breath techniques which eliminate stress and support immune function for enhanced health and a better quality of life. The course structure understands the needs of positive people. The stress-elimination techniques help eliminate the depression, anxiety and fatigue which are born from living with the disease. The cornerstone of the program is the Sudarshan Kriya which is a powerful breathing technique that utilizes specific rhythms of the breath to cleanse the body and mind, improve cognitive function, strengthen the respiratory system, increase energy and stamina, enhance immune function, improve cardiovascular health and restore harmony to the entire system.

Ways to deal with depression are given special focus, as the rate of depression among patients is twice as common when compared to a group of unaffected persons. It is understood that stress, poor mental and physical health and a sense of isolation from the community contribute to the spread of HIV infection. The Art of Living HIV Course addresses all these aspects through yoga, breath techniques, meditation and nutrition guides. Participants have said that the techniques are simple to learn and practice and have expressed comfort as these non-invasive techniques carry no side effects and complement any existing medical regimen. “Practice of The Art of Living techniques dissolves the side-effects of the medicines I take. It eliminates anxiety and nausea and gives me more energy,” shares a positive person, Michael B.

In an Art of Living pilot research study, individuals living with HIV-1 infection participated in an extended Art of Living HIV course. Results of that study were determined by in-depth self-report questionnaires.

Participants reported:

Condition Percent Reporting Improvement:
Swollen Lymph Nodes 71%
Chronic Pain 83%
Digestive Problems 88%
Shortness of Breath 77%
Low Energy 50%
Lack of Inner Peace 100%
Diminished Mental Clarity/Alertness 63%

Participants also reported a reduction in fear, depression, and loneliness. Interestingly, The techniques of the Art of Living HIV course significantly reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. This is beneficial for those living with HIV-1 as reducing cortisol levels can improve immune system function.

Through its network of volunteers, the Art of Living has initiated several programs which support positive people and their families. For instance, the chapter in Ethiopia supports HIV/Aids orphans and assists in their education. Children in Zimbabwe who have lost both parents to AIDS are being supported by the Perth chapter of the Art of Living through the Mai Tafara project.

Spreading Awareness for a Healthy Society

Based on the premise that education is empowerment, The Art of Living imparts AIDS education at its programs, especially those for the youth. The Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES), taught by the Art of Living, reaches out to thousands of youth across the globe. A special session is dedicated on HIV/AIDS education as part of Art of Living’s commitment towards AIDS prevention.

Medical camps are a regular feature of The Art of Living’s community development initiative. In villages across India and Africa, especially, The Art of Living provides AIDS education as part of the health check-up. The Art of Living also entered into a partnership with UNAIDS through which state-level intervention programmes were held in India through November 2008 to March 2010. This project aimed at ensuring that AIDS education reached the inner rural areas of the country.

Mobilizing people to stand up against AIDS is another area of service. For the first time in India, Hindu leaders in India came together to deliberate on how faith leaders can play a role in spreading the message of AIDS prevention and control. The ‘Faith in Action’ Conference, held in partnership with the Art of Living and UNAIDS, saw leaders across a broad spectrum strategise on an action plan. The special emphasis was on including HIV/AIDS education when giving discourses to the masses in the different corners of the country.

The Art of Living also participated in the XVII International Aids Conference in Mexico in August 2008. The effectiveness of the Sudarshan Kriya in helping positive people lead a healthier life was highlighted.

Through intervention programs and support for positive people and spreading awareness to a cross section of the global society, the Art of Living is helping in fighting against one of the biggest threats of our times.