Wellington, February 13,2024
The Art of Living Foundation held an interactive session at the Indian High Commission premises in Wellington on February 9.
Rekha Khunteta, senior international faculty from the Art of Living Foundation and representative of Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, engaged the audience on matters of health and happiness, rooted in the ancient Vedic traditions of India.
As per its website, the Art of Living Foundation is a non-profit, educational and humanitarian organisation founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose programmes are guided by his philosophy: “Unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace.”
The defining practice of Art of Living is the Sudarshan Kriya, a breathing technique “which helps people find relief from stress and discover inner reservoirs of energy and inner silence in daily life.”
Before introducing Rekha, host Kulbhushan Joshi enlightened the audience on the life of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar via a short video telecast.
Hailing from Rajasthan in India and currently based in Fiji, Rekha began the session by providing some context and perspective to the practice of yoga. She traced the origin of yoga to “age-old masters who designed a few things on the level of the body, mind and spirit…… true gurus who were witnesses to past, present and future.”
She added: “The technique that His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is giving the world is called the Sudarshan Kriya.”
Describing it as a “rhythmic breathing technique,” Rekha said the Sudarshan Kriya was a way of sustaining mental and physical health through breath control.
She drew a distinction between knowledge and the application of knowledge.
Art of Living was a programme that taught us how to apply ancient techniques to our daily lives, she noted.
The discourse ended with the reminder that joyfulness originated within the individual and spread to the many. “If you can be healthy, peaceful and joyful, the society around you will be healthy, peaceful and joyful. The first step begins with ourselves.”
Taking questions from the floor, Rekha said spirituality was often misunderstood. “It does not involve renunciation.”
She mentioned breathing as an example of something we did in the normal course. “But just giving a rhythm to it makes a big difference….. You don’t have to leave anything. Just bringing modifications to day-to-day life was enough.”
The discourse concluded with a round of meditation.
Earlier, Indian High Commission Second Secretary (Press, Info and Culture) Durga Dass recalled his chance meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Mumbai airport about 25 years ago. “I was in my early 30s and wanted to have a photo taken along with him. He readily agreed. I was struck by his personality,” Dass recollected, adding, “I felt fortunate to be in his presence and receive his energy.”
Dass wrapped up by reminiscing about his early exposure to an Art of Living discourse that he heard when he was posted to Pakistan some two decades ago.
He was drawn to the phrase Art of Living. As he got older, the realisation grew that living life well was indeed an art.
Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington