About Art of Living From Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

- Michael Fischman

Michael Fischman has studied extensively for the last twelve years with personal development leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Mr. Fischman is one of the founding members of the Art of Living Foundation and is the president of the Self Management Seminar, the Foundation's corporate training division. He also serves as the Director of Training in the US-coordinating the work of 110 teachers, and 260 assistant teachers. A former advertising executive with Ogilvy and Mather, Fischman currently travels across the USA and around the world teaching personal development seminars that offer tools that bring greater peace, energy, awareness, and joy to daily life. Past clients include the World Bank, the National Air and Space Administration (NASA), the United Nations, Ronald MacDonald House at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York, Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, various drug rehabilitation clinics, rotary clubs, and prisons. He is currently teaching in the Middle East where he has conducted course for the Royal Air Force of Oman, Bank Muscat, and the Times of Oman.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a renowned humanitarian and a spiritual inspiration to millions of people of all faiths, cultures, and traditions. Sri Sri’s universal message of peace, love, service, and human values has attracted the attention of world leaders and international humanitarian organizations. He is the founder of numerous humanitarian service organizations, including the Art of Living Foundation, an NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC of the U.N., and the International Association for Human Values, headquartered in Geneva.

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Many of us practice meditation or some form of self-development. But we often notice that there is a gap between our inner experiences and our outer worldly activities. In meditation, we may experience peace, but in the world, we are either distressed about the past or anxious about the future.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a renowned spiritual master and humanitarian in theVedic tradition from Bangalore, India, can be of help. With a practice called Sudarshan Kriya, he guides us to go beyond the surface of our thoughts and emotions, and experience the essence of our true Self.

Sudarshan means right vision; kriya means purifying action. This Eastern approach to emotional purification is different from the approach of Western psychology. Psychologists are able to help us identify our emotions but fail to get us to the very core of our nature.

Sudarshan Kriya takes us beyond our thoughts and emotions, and allows us totally experience our feelings. One doesn’t experience an emotional “seminar high.” Instead there is a feeling of being more even and natural, centered in one’s Self. Practioners report that they feel renewed physically, mentally, emotionally, and elevated spiritually.

Meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a remarkable experience. He is the epitome of an enlightened master. The following interview took place during his recent visit to California.

Michael Fischman: Is enlightenment really possible for the average person?

Sri Sri: Ravi Shankar Yes, a big yes. Enlightenment is very possible for the ordinary individual. Actually, it is easier than for someone who thinks that they are special. You see, when someone things they are special, their ego becomes involved. “I am a great teacher,” or “I am a great writer,” that is only ego. Whenever someone is ordinary, simple, innocent and natural, that is enlightenment. Enlightenment is your very nature. It is in you already, in seed form. When you drop all the tensions and hang-ups and become natural, then it is right in your hand. We simply need to let go of the old patterns that are in the mind, just drop them. Then you see that something in you flowers and dawns. It is beautiful.

Michael Fischman: During the Art of Living Basic Course there is a lot of focus on the breath. Why is that?

Sri Sri: Our breath plays a very important role in our life. The breath is the connecting link between the inner world of the mind and the outer world of the body and environment. You see, there are seven levels of existence: body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and the Being. Meditation works by bringing an effect from the level of Being to the mind. With the breath we bring this effect to the physical level as well.

Michael Fischman: How did this knowledge come about?

Sri Sri: The past several years, I have taught meditation and yoga to thousands of people all over the world. I noticed that there was something the people did not catch. They had very good experiences during meditation but on the level of the heart, joy and love did not seem to manifest and open up fully. When I began to give the Art of Living course and introduced people to Sudarshan Kriya, then there was a big difference. In a very short amount of time, people would open up.

Michael Fischman: How does the Sudarshan Kriya work?

Sri Sri: There is a rhythm in nature. Seasons come and go. In your own body, there is a rhythm too. You feel hungry at a certain time and sleepy at a certain time. The body has a particular rhythm. Life has a particular rhythm. Similarly, your breath also goes in a particular pattern. Your emotions move in a particular rhythm, as well as your thoughts. All these rhythms arise from your Being, which has its own rhythm. In Sudarshan Kriya we get into the rhythm of our Being and see how Being is permeating our emotions, our thoughts, our breath, and our bodies. Soon, every cell of the body becomes so alive and releases all the toxins and negative emotions it has stored from times past. Once again, we are able to smile from our hearts.

Michael Fischman: What effect does this practice have on relationships and the way we feel inside?

Sri Sri: However you try to hide what you feel, it definitely reflects on your face and in your actions. So, when you feel good, naturally your relationships will be good. Trying to work on the surface, or just the relationship aspect without feeling good deep inside doesn’t seem to work. People who are trying to be what they are not become unnatural and create much more tension and stress. That is why one must go deep into the source of one’s nature, one’s Being and come from there. You see, I don’t say that you will never get upset again in life. You may still get upset but the quality of your life will not be the same. You will not get so caught up in your emotions for long periods of time. People have found that after they do the Sudarshan Kriya, they are able to come back to themselves very quickly.

Michael Fischman: What is the true meaning of life?

Sri Sri: Ah . . . this you better find out for yourself. Don’t ask the meaning from me. It’s like asking me to chew your candy for you. It is not possible. Be with this question. I can tell you one thing, you are very fortunate that this question arises in your mind. One in a million people will get this question. It is a very sincere question. It means you have started your journey toward the light. Be with this question, and don’t be in such a hurry for a ready-made answer from somebody. Go deep into yourself and you will find out.

To learn more about the teachings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living Foundation in your area, please visit our website: http://www.artofliving.org

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