You are a Free Bird – A talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

If you are not crazy, you will never find God. Become crazy! Becoming crazy means coming out of your bondages.  Become free. “Vimuktoham”. “I am free”. Feel the freedom.
You are like a free bird. You are fully open. Feel that you are flying like a bird. Fly. This is something which you have to experience within yourself. There is nothing else. If you consider yourself as bonded, you will remain bound here. There should be nothing on your head. This is the meaning of surrender.
What is surrender? Not having anything in your head. If you are traveling in a train, once you get on that train, you put all your things down. You do not carry your things on your head or hold it in your hands. The moment you board a plane, you put your things under the seat or above, you may even go off to sleep.
Experience freedom. When will you experience freedom? After you die?  Become free now, Become contented. There is something in you which says “I have to do this. I have to achieve”. Sometimes, sit at ease thinking ‘I have nothing to do now”. When you sit formeditation you should not even talk. Do not practice this on the dining table, “ I have nothing
to say. Let the food enter my mouth”. This cannot happen. We apply all our principles according to our convenience. If you are told to get up early in the morning and come for meditation, do not say, “I have nothing more to do. I am fine”. The problem with knowledge is that, everything can be interpreted wrongly.
“Naturalness, love, faith, acceptance” these are the four legs of the chair you are seated upon. Even if one among them is cut, your chair begins to shake. You begin to fall.
You say to someone close to you “If you want anything I am there for you’. You should become capable of saying this to everyone. “if you need me I am there for you”. That is called seva.
“I am there for you”, do not be afraid to utter these words because you fear that you will be used by people. Nothing of that sort will happen. You are afraid of opening your fists. We say, “open your fists. The whole sky will be in your hands”. What is there with you, that you have to hold your fists?  You have nothing with you. Be natural. Be with love. Do service. Celebrate all your life.

From Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

via Talks By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar http://talksbysrisriravishankar.blogspot.com/2015/02/you-are-free-bird-talk-by-sri-sri-ravi.html

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How to be more compassionate in 6 easy ways

Compassion is one of the subtle yet profound feelings in the world. This simple human emotion springs out of love and each one of us is born with it. Whether you smile at people with kindness or accept yourself at the end of a bad day, it is a sign of compassion which is hidden deep down in our hearts otherwise.

It is believed that compassion can elevate your happiness, help you build loving relationships, and aid in developing deeper connections with people around you. Researches also enumerate its other benefits like boosting health and longevity, acting as an antidote to depression, making you less self-critical and more self-confident as well as more resilient.

Sages of ancient lore even regarded the feeling essential to spiritual progress. In the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, it is recommended to have compassion towards the sorrowful in order to keep the mind peaceful and united with the Self. In the Ashtavakra Gita, it is proclaimed to be one of the five elixirs for attaining freedom.

Now, you may wonder how to be compassionate to live a better life. Studies show that stress is the main factor that makes compassion hard to practice.

Well, worry not, with some slight tweaks and the right perspective, you can start inculcating the habit of being compassionate and enjoy a more profound way of living.

Compassion is not making somebody a culprit and then saying, “Okay, I forgive you.” That’s not compassion. Your forgiveness should be such that the person who is being forgiven does not even know that you are forgiving them. They shouldn’t even feel guilty for a mistake. That is the right type of forgiveness.

~ Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

 

How to develop compassion?

1

Start with self-compassion

It always begins with the self. You being compassionate to others while being harsh on yourself won’t make you a kind person. Studies show how you treat yourself greatly affects how we treat others. So, the first step towards a kinder self is to be kind to yourself.

Start by not carrying any guilt.

As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “A mistake happens through you when you are not conscious, when you are in ignorance. So, you are not responsible, it is the ignorance that was responsible.”

Instead, accept yourself, relax, and gain awareness. With awareness, you can dwell in knowledge and this will help you avoid making mistakes.

2

De-stress with yoga

Yoga is a time-tested, backed-by-science way to reduce stress. Reducing stress increases your energy levels and brings you to your natural self – a state full of compassion and love. Studies also show practicing any form of mindfulness makes one more compassionate. So, remember to add a handful of mindfulness in your yoga practice.

3

Give room to the person

We all come with different backgrounds, experiences, and emotional baggage. A persistently harsh boss is definitely an outcome of his / her past experiences. Whether you meet someone harsh or someone in need, remember they could be a victim of circumstances. The thought will instantly make you compassionate towards a person.

4

Do random acts of kindness

Include kind actions in your routine. Be it a kind smile, helping your colleague; try to include such kind gestures in your life consciously. Eventually, it will become a habit. You can also reach out to people in need. Donate to an NGO or volunteer at one.

5

Be in the right company

One tends to catch on the qualities of the company they keep. Company of the wise and compassionate instills similar values in you. So, make a conscious effort to be in their company.

6

Know that you already have it

To inculcate a virtue, you must assume that you already have it. But, for the virtue of compassion, you can even skip assuming and rather be confident that you possess it. Studies show that children as young as two years old exhibit qualities of altruism.

This shows that you were born kind-hearted. As life went by, you simply unlearnt your godly attribute. However, with a few practices and change in perspective, you can return to your innate state of compassion and love.

(With inputs from Prashant Lalchandani, faculty, Art of Living)

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How to be more compassionate in 6 easy ways

Compassion is one of the subtle yet profound feelings in the world. This simple human emotion springs out of love and each one of us is born with it. Whether you smile at people with kindness or accept yourself at the end of a bad day, it is a sign of compassion which is hidden deep down in our hearts otherwise.

It is believed that compassion can elevate your happiness, help you build loving relationships, and aid in developing deeper connections with people around you. Researches also enumerate its other benefits like boosting health and longevity, acting as an antidote to depression, making you less self-critical and more self-confident as well as more resilient.

Sages of ancient lore even regarded the feeling essential to spiritual progress. In the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, it is recommended to have compassion towards the sorrowful in order to keep the mind peaceful and united with the Self. In the Ashtavakra Gita, it is proclaimed to be one of the five elixirs for attaining freedom.

Now, you may wonder how to be compassionate to live a better life. Studies show that stress is the main factor that makes compassion hard to practice.

Well, worry not, with some slight tweaks and the right perspective, you can start inculcating the habit of being compassionate and enjoy a more profound way of living.

Compassion is not making somebody a culprit and then saying, “Okay, I forgive you.” That’s not compassion. Your forgiveness should be such that the person who is being forgiven does not even know that you are forgiving them. They shouldn’t even feel guilty for a mistake. That is the right type of forgiveness.

~ Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

 

How to develop compassion?

1

Start with self-compassion

It always begins with the self. You being compassionate to others while being harsh on yourself won’t make you a kind person. Studies show how you treat yourself greatly affects how we treat others. So, the first step towards a kinder self is to be kind to yourself.

Start by not carrying any guilt.

As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “A mistake happens through you when you are not conscious, when you are in ignorance. So, you are not responsible, it is the ignorance that was responsible.”

Instead, accept yourself, relax, and gain awareness. With awareness, you can dwell in knowledge and this will help you avoid making mistakes.

2

De-stress with yoga

Yoga is a time-tested, backed-by-science way to reduce stress. Reducing stress increases your energy levels and brings you to your natural self – a state full of compassion and love. Studies also show practicing any form of mindfulness makes one more compassionate. So, remember to add a handful of mindfulness in your yoga practice.

3

Give room to the person

We all come with different backgrounds, experiences, and emotional baggage. A persistently harsh boss is definitely an outcome of his / her past experiences. Whether you meet someone harsh or someone in need, remember they could be a victim of circumstances. The thought will instantly make you compassionate towards a person.

4

Do random acts of kindness

Include kind actions in your routine. Be it a kind smile, helping your colleague; try to include such kind gestures in your life consciously. Eventually, it will become a habit. You can also reach out to people in need. Donate to an NGO or volunteer at one.

5

Be in the right company

One tends to catch on the qualities of the company they keep. Company of the wise and compassionate instills similar values in you. So, make a conscious effort to be in their company.

6

Know that you already have it

To inculcate a virtue, you must assume that you already have it. But, for the virtue of compassion, you can even skip assuming and rather be confident that you possess it. Studies show that children as young as two years old exhibit qualities of altruism.

This shows that you were born kind-hearted. As life went by, you simply unlearnt your godly attribute. However, with a few practices and change in perspective, you can return to your innate state of compassion and love.

(With inputs from Prashant Lalchandani, faculty, Art of Living)

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Why should you choose village yoga

Yoga is said to be the union of the body, mind and the breath. Though there are a prescribed set of asanas that take you through that journey – the principles of yoga can be applied across any activity and any situation.

“Yoga is not just exercise and asanas. It is the emotional integration and spiritual elevation with a touch of mystic element, which gives you a glimpse of something beyond all imagination.”

~ Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

For instance: mimicking the everyday work of a villager from rural India. Activities like filling water from a well, grinding grain or tilling the earth stretches their arms and waist as they breathe accordingly in rhythm. Not only is the green environment conducive to wellness, the chores the average village woman performs in her home or the farmer performs manually in the fields keeps them fit physically.

A day in the life of a villager is a lesson in yogic postures for every yoga enthusiast. You could change your daily yoga routine and try some village yoga instead. Though this could sound simple and perhaps very easy, try doing some of the postures repeatedly for a few minutes. You will definitely know better!

These simple village yoga asanas have many benefits. These postures are simple enough for anyone to do them. Though the complexity level is low, these postures are extremely effective:  

  1. A complete body workout, the postures stretch the muscles and flex the body.

  2. The poses are good extensions for the arms and the hamstrings. e.g.: simple action like washing clothes is a great arm workout while squatting to milk the cow does wonders for the hamstrings.

  3. Like all yoga asanas, this set also serves to calm the mind and bring it to the present.

You could follow this village yoga sequence

Some of the postures you could try

  1. Sweeping with a broomstick / mopping the floor

  2. Grinding wheat in a stone flour mill

  3. Washing clothes with your hands

  4. Pulling a bucket of water from the well

  5. Sowing seeds in a field

  6. Tending to the cow and milking it

  7. Churning buttermilk

There are some things you could do to deepen your experience

Bring your complete awareness to your breath, observe its rhythm and try matching it with the action you’re doing. 

  1. Cultivate total body awareness, pay attention to the set of muscles that are being used in the action. Is your arm flexing? Is there some strain on your lower back? Are you feeling a pull in your hamstrings?

  2. Drop your judgements about the posture. It doesn’t matter how the posture is looking. What is more important is the change happening inside of you.  

  3. Do village yoga in a group, if possible. It’s more fun and energetic that way.

  4. Remember to complete the sequence with some breath work and meditation.

Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits. Yet, it is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Sri Sri Yoga teacher. In the case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher. Find a Sri Sri Yoga Program at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on programs or share feedback? Write to us at info@srisriyoga.in.

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Why should you choose village yoga

Yoga is said to be the union of the body, mind and the breath. Though there are a prescribed set of asanas that take you through that journey – the principles of yoga can be applied across any activity and any situation.

“Yoga is not just exercise and asanas. It is the emotional integration and spiritual elevation with a touch of mystic element, which gives you a glimpse of something beyond all imagination.”

~ Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

For instance: mimicking the everyday work of a villager from rural India. Activities like filling water from a well, grinding grain or tilling the earth stretches their arms and waist as they breathe accordingly in rhythm. Not only is the green environment conducive to wellness, the chores the average village woman performs in her home or the farmer performs manually in the fields keeps them fit physically.

A day in the life of a villager is a lesson in yogic postures for every yoga enthusiast. You could change your daily yoga routine and try some village yoga instead. Though this could sound simple and perhaps very easy, try doing some of the postures repeatedly for a few minutes. You will definitely know better!

These simple village yoga asanas have many benefits. These postures are simple enough for anyone to do them. Though the complexity level is low, these postures are extremely effective:  

  1. A complete body workout, the postures stretch the muscles and flex the body.

  2. The poses are good extensions for the arms and the hamstrings. e.g.: simple action like washing clothes is a great arm workout while squatting to milk the cow does wonders for the hamstrings.

  3. Like all yoga asanas, this set also serves to calm the mind and bring it to the present.

You could follow this village yoga sequence

Some of the postures you could try

  1. Sweeping with a broomstick / mopping the floor

  2. Grinding wheat in a stone flour mill

  3. Washing clothes with your hands

  4. Pulling a bucket of water from the well

  5. Sowing seeds in a field

  6. Tending to the cow and milking it

  7. Churning buttermilk

There are some things you could do to deepen your experience

Bring your complete awareness to your breath, observe its rhythm and try matching it with the action you’re doing. 

  1. Cultivate total body awareness, pay attention to the set of muscles that are being used in the action. Is your arm flexing? Is there some strain on your lower back? Are you feeling a pull in your hamstrings?

  2. Drop your judgements about the posture. It doesn’t matter how the posture is looking. What is more important is the change happening inside of you.  

  3. Do village yoga in a group, if possible. It’s more fun and energetic that way.

  4. Remember to complete the sequence with some breath work and meditation.

Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits. Yet, it is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Sri Sri Yoga teacher. In the case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher. Find a Sri Sri Yoga Program at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on programs or share feedback? Write to us at info@srisriyoga.in.

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Power-packed yoga plank poses for stronger arms, spine

Plank exercises usually fall under the beginner’s yoga pose and have multiple benefits. For beginners, the yoga plank pose and its variations are strongly recommended to help build stamina and core body strength for practicing the advanced yoga poses. Plank pose forms an essential part of Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) too.

Initially, it may be difficult to hold the plank poses, but with practice it can do wonders in helping you build bodily as well as mental strength. The basic plank exercise, along with its variations, is a good workout for your spine too. Its regular practice, by holding the breath for few seconds to minutes, also helps tone the nervous system.

Basic plank pose (Dandasana)

Dandasana is the basic plank posture. The name comes from the Sanskrit word danda which means “stick” or “staff” and asana which means “posture” or “seat.” It is also called as Kumbhakasana (koom-bahk-ash-uh-nuh). The word kumbhak means breath retention and asana means pose.

​Benefits

  • Tones all the core muscles, including the abdomen, chest, and lower back

  • Strengthens the arms, wrist, and shoulders

  • Prepares the body for more challenging arm yoga poses

  • Strengthens spine muscles, lengthens it

  • Improves posture

How to do it?

  • Lie down on your stomach

  • Bring your hands towards your shoulders, keeping your palms on the ground

  • Now, as you breathe in, push up your body forming a straight line. The arms are perpendicular to the ground and shoulders are right over your wrists, while the body is parallel to the floor

  • Hold the pose and continue breathing

  • As you exhale, come back to a sitting position and relax 

Contraindications

Plank pose should not be practiced if one is suffering from injury in the arms or wrists, legs, including the upper leg at the thighs. Anyone suffering from low or high blood pressure should avoid this pose as a lot of pressure is felt at the chest while balancing in the pose.

Types of plank exercises

You can do the plank pose sequence, which means doing the basic plank pose and then getting into its variations. This will give your body muscles a nice warm-up for other yoga poses. (And its benefits will make you fall in love with yoga.)

Upwards Plank Pose (Poorvottanasana) 

Poorvottanasana refers to the flow of pranic subtle energies in the eastern frontal side. Poorva means east, uttana means maximum stretch and asana means pose.

Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Vasistha is the name of one of the most revered saints who was also one of the Saptarishis or Seven Seers. Vasistha means wealthy and asana means pose.

Dolphin Plank Pose (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana is an intermediate level rejuvenating yoga posture that helps tones the abdominal muscles. It is a variation of the Dolphin Pose.

 

Yoga makes the body flexible and also adds strength to it. It also calms the mind and uplifts the mood. Practicing these simple exercises and yoga poses can help strengthen your arms and hands and prepare you to practice advanced yoga poses.

Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Sri Sri Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher. Find a Sri Sri Yoga course at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on courses or share feedback? Write to us at info@srisriyoga.in

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Tired of Seva? Here is Some Knowledge for Kick Start

“After some time it will all seem so effortless to you, as if it is your very nature.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Gurudev, one has to make some effort in order to gain something in this world. Even on the spiritual path, one has to engage in seva and sadhana in order to make progress. Until I become enlightened, even seva is like some work for me and I seem to be tired. What do I do?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, when you get tired, just relax and meditate. You will go deeper into meditation then. We need to make meditation a part of our lifestyle.
When you feel tired doing seva, relax and meditate for a while. When you become bored of meditating, then get up and do some seva. When you grow tired of both, then read or listen to knowledge. There are so many options given to you here. Why is it so? It is because we know that initially it all feels like you have to strive and put in efforts to get something. Over a period of time, you yourself will realize by your own experience that in the beginning it does take some efforts. And you should make some efforts in the beginning as well. After some time it will all seem so effortless to you, as if it is your very nature.
Just do one thing: for one whole week, do not do any sadhana, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shared do not do any meditation at all and see what happens to you. See what the state of your mind is. When you sit somewhere by yourself, you will automatically go into meditation. Then you will realize, “Oh, this comes so naturally. It is my very nature”.

via Talks By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar http://talksbysrisriravishankar.blogspot.com/2015/11/tired-of-seva-here-is-some-knowledge.html

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The Shadow of the Self

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares:

When you love something, you have a sense of belongingness with it. You can only love something, because it is belongs to you. If it is not yours, you cannot love it. Love is the shadow of the Self. The bigger the Self, the bigger the shadow, and the bigger the love. When the love is cast over the entire creation, then you are the Big Self. That is the Lordship. When the Lordship dawns on the Self, there is perennial celebration.

More talks of Wisdom from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

via Talks By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar http://talksbysrisriravishankar.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-shadow-of-self.html

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Who Is A Sakha?

“Sakha is your reliable self.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar shares:
There are three things: the Self, the senses, and the object, or the world. And there are three words: sukha, pleasure; dukha, sorrow; and sakha, companion. These have one thing in common: “kha,” which means “senses.”

The Self through the senses experiences the world. When the senses are with the Self that is pleasure (sukha), because the Self is the source of all joy or pleasure. When the senses are away from the Self (dukha) — in the mud, lost in an object — that is misery. Mud, misery, mind — they are very close.
Self — Senses (“Kha”) — World

— Joy (Sukha) Sorrow (Dukha) —

Self is the nature of joy. In any pleasant experience, you close your eyes; you smell a nice flower, or you taste or touch something. So sukha is that which takes you to the Self. Dukha is that which takes you away from the Self. Sorrow simply means that you are caught up in an object, which goes on changing, instead of focussing on the Self.

All the sense objects are just a diving board to take you back to the Self.
Sa-kha, companion, means: “He is the senses.” Sakha is one who has become your senses, who is your senses. If you are my senses, it means I get Knowledge through you; you are my sixth sense. As I trust my mind, so I trust you. A friend could be just an object of the senses, but a sakha has become the very senses.

The sakha is the companion who is there in both the experiences of dukha and of sukha. It means one who leads you back to the Self. If you are stuck in an object, that wisdom which pulls you back to the Self is sakha.

Knowledge is your companion and your companion is Knowledge. And the Master is nothing but the embodiment of Knowledge. So sakha means, “He is my senses, I see the world through that wisdom, through Him.”

If your sense is the Divine, then you see the whole world through the Divinity.

Your head will be in the mud in a few years;
Don’t put mud in your head while you are still alive.

via Talks By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar http://talksbysrisriravishankar.blogspot.com/2015/11/who-is-sakha.html

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The Importance of a Guru on the Path of Yoga

Like a flower bud, human life has the potential to blossom fully. The blossoming of human potential to fullness is yoga. 

~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Present Education System in India: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Thought


 “A true winner is one who smiles through all life’s challenges.” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : “You know, management courses these days are adopting more and more informal ways of teaching. This approach is being emphasized everywhere, and I hope that soon the world over, everyone realizes the need for changing the methodology of teaching.”

“I would like to share some good news with you. The World Bank has invited The Art of Living foundation to design their courses for their employees.”
“Our courses have been welcomed and well received everywhere. The Harvard Business School too has appreciated our courses. In fact, the Stanford University has placed our course as a Credit Course. That means that when a student completes The Art of Living Course, they get marks for that.”
“Universities like Stanford, Cornell, etc., are rapidly recognizing and adopting The Art of Living Courses. But this is still a small number and we have a long way to go.”
“We have so many IITs and IIMs still struggling in our own country. In the world over, the situation is the same for so many educational institutions. In fact, if you check the list of the top 50 educational institutions of the world, you will find that many of them are in China.”
“So, we have a long way to go and promote a value-based education to the students, which develops a person in a complete manner. Education should not just be informative, but also develops a person with emotional intelligence and spiritual quotient as well. That work is still pending, but today the doors are opening.”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Guruji has set up (421) schools all over the country (across 21 states) to provide a healthy, holistic, value-based education, with emphasis on sharing and caring.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar states that education without inspiration is useless. “No matter how educated you are it will be of no value if it doesn’t leave you inspired.”
His vision is that through value based education the young generation will feel inspired to shoulder greater responsibilities and become the spearheads for the much needed social and political change our country requires.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has always encouraged people to take the best from each culture. “So, take punctuality from the Germans, take etiquette from the Brits, take an eye for detail from the Japanese and so on. Open your horizons for learning. Each and everyone can teach you something valuable.”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar points out that “Education teaches taking up of responsibility. When you become responsible you stop complaining and take positive action to alter the situation. Taking up responsibilities leads to increased learning and enhanced leadership skills.”

via Talks By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar http://talksbysrisriravishankar.blogspot.com/2015/07/present-education-system-in-india-sri.html

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