Breathe your way to happiness

Posted on: Thursday, June 13, 2013

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WHO would have thought that breathing, which comes naturally to everyone, has to be taught? But, after I stumbled upon breathing courses offered by a non-governmental organisation, The Art of Living Foundation, I decided to become a full-time teacher of breathing techniques that promote stress-free living.
The organisation, which was founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 1982, has found its way to 152 countries.Before I get to the part on how I became a teacher of this wonderful technique, let me talk a bit about myself.
I was born and bred in Muar. I left my hometown to go to Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur before furthering my studies at Lewis University near Chicago in the United States where I pursued my masters in economics.I led a hectic lifestyle in the US. And, because I did not speak English fluently at the time, I faced many challenges.
There were only four Chinese people on campus at the time, and they were not Malaysian Chinese.
Because I didn't want to rely on my family for financial support, I worked at the campus cafeteria, library and security department. I would hold two jobs at a time, despite my tight study schedule.And, when it was time for me to do my internship, I found work as an assistant to the Justice of Peace in a Catholic organisation.
I told them I was a Buddhist, but the organisation, which was a non-governmental organisation, was willing to give me a job. My duties included designing postcards and fighting for people's rights, among other things.In 2000, I was involved in a horrible car accident. The vehicle was completely wrecked. I am lucky I am still alive today, and I am not disfigured or missing a limb. That accident turned out to be the turning point of my life. I returned to my hometown after the accident. My perception of life had changed. I didn't want to be stressed out all the time.
I also went to India where I met my guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and learnt about the Art of Living.
I spent two months in India before I returned to Johor Baru.
There are not many teachers who conduct these breathing courses. They are all volunteers. But I decided to go into it full-time because I do not want people to lead mechanical lives, like how I was living my life in the past.There are now about 30 centres all over Malaysia that conduct such courses. I believe there are three centres in Johor Baru.Not many people know about these courses because we do not advertise. We are a NGO and do not have the funds to advertise. There are many benefits to breathing right. Have you noticed that when you are sad or upset, your breathing becomes long and deep? And, when you are angry, your breath is short and quick?
If you have undergone the courses, you will be able to control your breaths and, very soon, you will feel calm. Breathing in the correct way can make you happy, relaxed and energised.
Shanon Lee, 41, is a member of the Art of Living. He travels regularly to teach breathing courses for stress relief.


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