I’ve been in the software industry for over 10 years now. As my experience in the industry was growing so was stress. Having good work life balance by tackling stress is regarded as the true success these days. I was aware that Yoga is the best option for good health and Meditation is the best for Mind. Although I was very much interested since long, I couldn’t take time out for Yoga and Meditation. This is one of my regrets now because one hour a day for these adds value and enriches our life.
Over years I came to know about several Meditation programs like the below:
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living – More details below
- Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi’s Sahaja Yoga Meditation – I had attended a session and loved the concept and kriya.
- Brahma Kumari’s Raja Yoga – My maternal uncle did it in Mount Abu and there was instant noticeable transformation in him.
- Vipassana Meditation – A free in-house course followed and revered by many people including celebrities like Rajkumar Hirani, Arvind Kejriwal etc.
- Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Yoga – One of my colleagues attended recently and was mighty impressed. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu follows and recommends for all.
- Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga followed by many celebrities.
- a1000 yoga followed by many corporates.
and many more….
In fact having too many options confused me in deciding the best one. It was another reason for procrastination. One of the organisations that I had worked for had arranged for Sahaja Yoga Meditation session and I was very much impressed with it. However couldn’t continue, partly because of my laziness and lack of commitment in those days.
Some years ago, we had a very friendly colleague and elder lady around 40 years but very active despite spending four hours daily on commute. I could notice a special glow and charm in her face and she never had any traces of dullness. Upon asking the reason she mentioned and gave some intro about Art of Living program and highly recommended it for us. Again I was not motivated enough in those days to take up the course.
After hitting 30+ age, I realized big time the importance of Yoga and Meditation and thus was looking for an immediate opportunity.
Last year I got to know about Vipassana Meditation from a colleague who was having great words for it. After exploring details was blown away with the concept of In-house course for 10 days locking you in the ashram from the entire world and that they would not allow to speak for 10 days. All these for free ! I was thrilled by the programme and immediately registered for it although getting a long leave at office was difficult. However after getting the confirmation on the seat, I had to drop because of having a too young kid and wife being new to the city. I was scared of the thought that staying away from them for 10 days by being completely unreachable might be risky and would affect my concentration in the course. I’m still trying to find some slot and go for it.
Few months back, I had an internal drive to do all the things that I wanted to do no matter what. So I enrolled for a Piano course, Online Master’s Programme and then it hit me that I was still neglecting Yoga and Meditation and so wanted to try some course. Looked for Isha Yoga but there was no near by center, Vipassana was also not possible because of the heavy work load and new responsibilities at office. a1000 yoga was one of the options. Then I got to know about Art of Living Sudarshan Kriya course and I immediately enrolled for it. I thoroughly enjoyed the course of 3 days.
- Excellent introduction to Pranayamams.
- Got to know about Surya Namaskar here and wow its so simple and amazing that everyone should do it daily. Its an exciting way to start your day, flex your muscles and stretch your body in the most subtle way. I really love it !
- The most soughted ‘Sudarshan Kriya’ which is the USP and proprietary format of doing meditation. Sri Sri Ravishankar ji had invented it long ago. I was blown away by the invention that its so simple yet powerful. First time realized that rhythmic control of breathe can also get you heavily tired and interestingly you would cherish it after that. Its an amazing technique which gives numerous benefits like distorted mind gets calmness, good sleep, improved concentration and many more as per the individual. To conclude its worth the hype and must to know and practice technique. Its the major highlight of the program.
- Highly motivated and devoted trainers and the pleasure they get by sharing knowledge. I could see the same glow and energy in the trainers as I saw in the first lady who mentioned this course to me.
- Good gyan on how to lead a better life. There will be lot of insights, thought process, interaction about several aspects of life. These discussions are quite well placed to effectively relax oneself during several activities.
- Some interesting group activities which range from running, jogging, interaction, dance…and what not ? You would get to know many people from youngsters to the elders.
- The trainers advised good food habits to stay healthy. You are what you eat, which is very true. We were advised to strictly stay away from Non-Vegetarian diet, processed food, caffeine, aerated drinks like Coke, smoking, alcohol etc for the duration of the course. Recommended diet was leafy vegetables and fruits. They also gave the guidance on the timings of the food and the kriyas. It was mentioned that once we practice the techniques well, body would inform us on what suits and what doesn’t. Right after the course, I had tried Non-veg with a family obligation and immediately my body responded negative.
- At the end of the course the members were asked to share the experiences. I could see many good words and great experiences about the course from all the participants including me. These were genuine and not a made up feedback as I had known those people by the third day. There were lot of positive vibes across all the corners. And to mention I was blown away by the no. of repeaters on Sunday as the hall was jam packed by then. Such is the receiving from people and its hard to ignore the significance and what this course can do.
- At the end of the Art of Living course many ayurvedic in-house products are introduced, ranging from face wash, acne control to solutions for all major health problems, material like books, audio cds, combo packs etc. Interestingly after I got to know about Shakti drops I couldn’t control my laughter as they are touted to give instant energy. Although my mind was looking for logic I had shut it down for a while and purchased several products just to try and was satisfied with Face Wash and Sri Sri Ravishankar’s books. However couldn’t come to a conclusion yet on Shakti drops and the audio cd pack.
- There’s commercial orientation although cited that many charity programs are being organised with the funds. The Sudarshan Kriya program was charged Rs 1500 for 3 days and life time membership. Repetition of the course is free. Possibly its the win-win situation here because repetition gives more clarity on the course for the participants and the organisation can have a lively environment for the new members. Also with life time membership, the person can attend satsangs (group meditation activities) any where in the world.
- I also got to know from one of the batch members that the advanced courses are little expensive and there is another alternative in the form of Vipassana which is a non-profit free knowledge sharing organisation and leave the donation part to the participant’s discretion after the end of the course and that too without any force. He had done all the courses under Vipassana and was recommending them for me. Wish similar thing was in place for Art of Living ! It will be great if the organisation is turned into a non-profit as its already one of the leading volunteer based org in world. If the course is free or at nominal fee, it would bring more people into the course and definitely majority would be impressed with the techniques and feel contented after the course. Most of them would prefer the other products from the org and they can be sold commercially and could serve as the funding resource.
- Also I felt there were many marketing techniques used. Homework assignments comprised things like the participant need to speak to five people about the course. He should not share the secrets of the course like Sudarshan Kriya as these are meant to be practiced under the guidance of a guru. It was mentioned that the power of the technique will diminish if its shared with others. Although I was instructing my mind to understand it, it was pondering me with many queries like why so much of push ?
- There are too many programs like Advanced Meditation, In house programs, course by age…numerous that the new entrants would get very confused with the number and can’t get the difference easily. Its high time the courses are merged or presented in a simplified format.
On the whole I liked the course immensely. It was worth the money and time. I got introduced to good people, great yoga and meditation techniques which could be life changing as they are very powerful. I personally experienced a calm and serene mind after the course. Even my family members who are my critics mentioned that they could see lot of freshness and glow in my face in just three days and also after a long third day session.
Except for the commercial orientation I haven’t seen any flaws in a rather positive knowledge sharing and a devoted wellness organisation.
Highly recommended for all !