Monday, June 14, 2010

YES+ - We participated, We played, We learned and We had fun

For a long time I had been asking my good buddies Anoop and Shraddha that I want to write about their efforts in making YES+ happen and appreciate their efforts in energizing the YES+ team. They always told me to do the course and then you can write and my excuse was, when you teach by yourselves, I will think about doing it. 

YES+ as it is advertised is the Art of Living Course (basic course, part-1) but designed and modified with youth in mind. Since I wear the old timer hat with the Art of Living organization and I have done quite a few part-1 or basic courses, I did not feel the need to the YES+ course. Basically, what is the point in drinking the same medicine in a new bottle  So, I was pretty reluctant to enroll myself and whenever the course was announced I was thinking of my excuses. Finally the time came last week and I was enrolled into it without me actually wanting to do so and at the end of 6 grueling days and 28hrs later, I am glad I did it and I am proud to call myself a YES+ graduate. 

The course is a complete package in itself, it has the seva, the sadhana and the satsang (for the purists, I mean company of the good). There are more practicals than theory, the processes/events in the course stir up emotions in you and at the same time you are given the tool to handle it. It brought out the leaders in us and at the same time taught us the very important lesson of life "TO HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE GAME". It was physically demanding (not as much as advertised though). Other courses try to teach the lessons and this course makes you learn the lesson. All done in a fun filled and happy environment. I wouldn't sugar coat and say it was all goody goody, on the weekdays, sessions were long and tiring but definitely not boring. I can't say anymore without giving out the course itself.   

For a good course we need 3 things, good venue, good participation and good teachers. This course had it all, everybody gave their 100% and no holding back. The teachers truly led us from the front, they always were there before us and had the place ready for us to start. Some of us knew that they were teaching for the first time but none of us could say they were novice.   

In the end I felt the course is advertised in a wrong way, it has parts and elements from the other courses like any other course taught under Art of Living umbrella but in the core it is completely different. In short, it is not the part-1 course targeted towards people in the age group 18-30, it is a course that anybody can do as long they are willing to be physically a bit active.  

If the above writing did not convince you to come join the upcoming YES+ course, then here is the carrot. There is a very important meditation that they teach during the course that is not taught in any other Art of Living course.  

The post wont be complete without thanking behind the scene volunteers who got us food every day. Special thanks to Bawa and Dinesh for designing this course. 

Anoop and Shraddha, you guys rocked. Keep the good times rolling.      

Friday, June 04, 2010

Part-2 Course at the Texas Ashram

After a big push from my wife, I finally enrolled and completed the part-2 course during Memorial day weekend. It was a 4 day course held at the beautiful and scenic Texas ashram. This was my second course but after a long break.

The teacher Commander Suresh, whom we used to call Commander-ji had flown all the way from India to meet his daughter and grand kids and in the middle of his vacation he decided to teach the course for us. He was a gem, one in a million. He took personal interest in each and every one of us. I liked his schedule driven approach towards the course. He used to come up with a schedule for the day to the minute and worked hard towards maintaining it, too bad we students could not keep up with his schedule. His preparation towards the course is another thing worth mentioning, he had the audio for the meditations on his ipod and couple of sets of tapes. He was so sweet, I almost wanted to call him grandpa. His devotion to the master is another story onto itself. He advised us to continue our sadhana on a regular basis and said you will see a benefit but at the same warned us not to attach expectations to the sadhana. He said even if you stop doing sadhana for a week it is almost like starting all over. He was very approachable and non judgemental, this is the first time during my time in Art of Living that I havs spoken to a teacher during the course about my concerns, I wasn't alone either. At the begining of every meditaion he would make sure he could completly see each and every participant and insisted on people to change their postions so that he can have a visual.    

The course itself was a roller coaster ride. On day 1 I was completely miserable and was feeling very tired and sleepy, by the end of day 1 I had a throbbing head ache on my right side. At the end of the satsang on day 1 I went to my room and crashed only to wake up at 4:30AM next day. Day 2 was better then day 1 but by end of the day left side of my head was throbbing away but the intensity was milder than previous day. It was on day 3 morning during one of the meditations, something flipped and I was energized and went on a complete high. By the end of the day 3 I was on cloud nine only to be brought down in night by some weird dreams. Next day morning I was sad again that my high is gone but the sadhana in the morning gave it back to me.

The days I was feeling tired, my mind was thinking may be its the heat outside that was making me drained, or may be I didn't sleep well previous night or I didn't have enough for lunch and so on. At one point I started thinking, I am probably wasting my time here and should have stayed home and played wii and saved some money also. But something in me kept me pushing and I simply followed the teachers instructions without questioning and now that I have completed, I feel it was well worth the money, the time and everything else. If I think back the duration of the course was exact for me, if it had been even a day shorter I would have come out with a negative thought and not on a postive high.    

I went to the course with lots of questions on my mind and I came back with all of them resolved. Another observation was on the meditation in the course, start of the course the meditations were more like sleep sessions or day dreaming time for me but by the end there was a complete 180 degree phase shift in the meditations. On the 3 days of the course we got three specific messages from "THE MAN" himself.

On the way back I got the wonderful opportunity to drive commander-ji back to airport and that in itself was a experience. When I appreciated him on his time sense during the course, he said the sign of a true leader is to be ahead of the rest and report 15mins before the expected time, this he said he learnt while he was in Indian Navy. He said you need love and discipline to progress on this path and not just quote guruji and create chaos and think we are enjoying it.

Thanks to Selva, Yamuna, Prakash, Uncle and Aunty and a bunch of other volunteers, all the cottages were well kept and the food was amazing. We didn't feel a pinch while staying at the Ashram.

One last thing I have to mention is the co-ordination among us 4 room mates, they all were just truly wonderful, using the bathrooms in a sequence went like clock work. Each one honored others timing very well.

A beautiful experience in the end.