In between breaths

Posted on: Thursday, April 4, 2013


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Praveen Mehta ji is a well-known international faculty of Art of Living Foundation and an accomplished singer and musician with various awards and honours to his credit. He used to perform Indian classical music all over India and abroad. However, he always had a deep desire to attain more knowledge about serving humanity and met his Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to realise his true calling. The inner depths of his spirituality and music exude forth in his dynamic personality as a much sought after art of living teacher.

He spoke to Suva co-ordinator about the program.

Chan: What are your first impressions of Fiji as a place and a community?

Mehta ji: Fiji is really an amazing place ... very alive, with warm and friendly people, open-minded and enthusiastic, and of course one cannot forget that bula smile. What is more, the wonderful nature around the island makes this a really vibrant community.

Chan: Do people need relaxation techniques in such a beautiful place? Perhaps they will end up getting too relaxed!

Mehta ji: Tendencies of the mind do not depend so much on place — we get used to even the most beautiful place, and then boredom starts. This is the moment we get depressed or we get stressed in looking for something more. Eventually we become a seeker. It's incredible to see the thirst for knowledge Fiji people have! Knowledge on how to be healthy, happy and joyful, on how to deal with the mind and the emotions, knowledge about life.

The quality of our life depends more on our mind's perception than on the external environment we live in. For sure, a beautiful and harmonious place helps, but despite these good things, small insignificant things creep in and can make us stressed, affecting our health and our happiness in life.

Moreover, some social problems in the country such as non-communicable diseases eg diabetes, high blood pressure and tension, stress-related illness, unhealthy lifestyles, violence, drugs, and the challenges at times of living together in harmony for a better Fiji with different cultures and nationalities can really stress daily living thus the need for urgent solutions starting from the very core of education and uplifting of the individual.

Chan: How exactly do you teach participants to handle stress, be it at work, or at home to be able to sustain a dynamic lifestyle, without losing our enthusiasm?

Mehta ji: During the course, we teach a range of techniques to handle different kinds of situation, the most important aspect being the breath. You see, breath connects the mind and the body. When we are stressed our breath changes, when we are relaxed, our breath is more smooth and long. So the techniques we teach use this connection by using breathing techniques we can overcome stress, and learn to remain calm even in the most challenging situations!

Chan: Why is breath so important?

Mehta ji: We are breathing every moment and most of us are unaware of our breath. The breath is the connecting link between the inner world of silence and the outer world of activity. By learning to work with breath, we can learn to control our mind and thought.

See the first thing we did when we came to the world was a deep breathe in and the last act we will do is we breathe out. Between these two acts lies our whole life.

As I mentioned for every emotion we have different breathing patterns. Normally this relationship is a one-way street. Breath is tangible than mind. Mind is harder to control but through breath you can easily manage your emotion and thought. It is very beneficial, very useful.

Chan: So the art of living courses are not only for when we have some trouble handling stress?

Mehta ji: No, the program has something for everyone. Say, you're a media person. You're healthy and happy, but still for the big competitions, you get a little nervous, and do not perform at your peak. It would be great to learn how to handle those "big moments", right? The same goes for anyone who has to perform at a high level; students in exams, business people at presentations and so on.

Chan: Tell us something about yourself. Where are you from?

Mehta ji: I'm from a little, beautiful city Udaipur in India where I lived with my family till the age of eighteen studying scientific subjects as well as classical music and violin.

Later I joined world renowned folk art research institute at Udaipur where I had the chance to be a successful research officer for 13 years travelling all around and living a sparkling and yet mundane life, running after success and more and more recognition.

Despite all the good things, something was missing in my life till I encountered the art of living in the year 1997 and the precious life-wisdom it opened up for me.

Chan: How exactly did you get interested in the art of living?

Mehta ji: I started 15 years ago with the Part One course without knowing anything. I just had an intuition that breathing techniques and meditation were something fitting me... after the first day I practised Sudarshan Kriya® — the core breathing technique of the art of living — I realised a new meaning of my life. I had this strong will of devoting my life and becoming a teacher of this precious technique in order to spread to other managers this knowledge about life, about how to keep the awareness of being a human being in our professional and personal daily life living a more meaningful and healthy life.

Then I started by being active in Art of Living India as a volunteer contributing with my job skills and this gave me strength and fulfilment. In the meanwhile I learned more about the techniques and about the social projects led by art of living. More and more there was clarity in my mind. This is the way in which I'm ready to contribute to the betterment of the world. Then I dropped my job and now I'm full time dedicated to teaching and spreading this divine knowledge to every human being.

Chan: By now, you have conducted many courses: What benefits have these programs brought your participants?

Mehta ji: First of all it brings the mind into the present moment and allows the body to get rid of stress, strains, tensions and toxins. After the course participants feel more energetic, enthusiastic and dynamic in activity. Also there is harmony in relationships because they are more aware of themselves.

Medical research has shown that by practising Sudarshan Kriya® regularly it reduces cortisol (the "stress hormone"), blood lactate levels and cholesterol levels. It also Increases prolactin (the wellbeing hormone"), relieving depression and anxiety. Sudarshan Kriya® increases anti-oxidant enzyme levels and improved immune system. It creates a meditative state of "restful alertness", with increased alpha and beta brain activity.

Chan: What is Sudarshan Kriya®?

Mehta ji: Su means proper. Darshan means vision and kriya means purifying action. So Sudarshan Kriya® is purifying action that gives proper vision of self. We get a proper vision of who we really are.

This unique breathing practice is a potent energiser. Every cell becomes fully oxygenated and flooded with new life. Negative emotions that have been stored as toxins in the body are easily uprooted and flushed out. Tension, frustrations and anger are released and anxiety, depression and lethargy are washed away.

After the practice one is left calm and cantered with a clearer vision of the world and oneself. A sense of joy in the moment prevails where once again we can smile from our hearts. And when we feel good about ourselves, love flows naturally in all our relationships with others.

Chan: How does Sudarshan Kriya help in curing illnesses?

Mehta ji: Sudarshan Kriya helps in preventing many illnesses.

A professor who is working on genes in Oslo University, Norway says that there are 300 genes which are responsible for hypertension, cancer, heart problem, diabetes and all this, and pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya suppress these 300 genes. So, if one keeps practising these techniques there is less and less chance for getting these illnesses.

Chan: Tell us about your foundation/ organisation?

Mehta ji: The Art of Living Foundation is a non-profit educational, charitable, and humanitarian foundation. More than 30 million people in over 152 countries have benefited from the various programs since 1982.

Source: Fijitimes

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