Friday, May 04, 2012

Deepening Roots

Arjun Adapalli’s experiences from the recently concluded Deepening Roots workshop. 

This past weekend, I had attended the Deepening Roots course along with 7 other participants. The course was taught by Lashanda Greene, who was a wonderful person and a great teacher! I really didn't know what to expect from this course at first. I had been thinking for a while about keeping a healthier diet and taking care of my health, but I wasn't very much into gardening, and I didn't know if I would really have much to take away from this course, since gardening was one of the main focuses. Aravind Krishnan the coordinator, was insisting that I sign up for the course. This weekend wasn't too ridiculously busy so I decided to take it anyway.

In retrospect, I'm glad I took the course. We learned a lot about the harmful chemicals that are put into the food that we eat on an everyday basis, due to the current system of food production. Even though I already knew a bit about the issues prior to taking the course (and so did many other participants), I still learned many things about the environmental issues associated with the food industry that I didn't know beforehand. We also focused on the effects of certain foods on our body, and how they affect things like the pH and energy levels in our body. Lashanda gave us great suggestions on what foods to look out for, and she even taught us some tasty and simple vegan recipes. We had a "raw veggie" feast at the end of the first day, which was surprisingly really good. And after taking the course, I find myself feeling less interested in eating oily junk foods and taking multiple visits to the salad bar during lunch. The contrast in how i feel between eating raw veggies and eating junk food is even more clear, thanks to this course.

And as for the gardening aspect of it, even though I'm not super interested in gardening, it was very interesting to learn the different strategies of gardening. It really isn't as simple as throwing seeds in the dirt and watering, there's a lot more to it than one may think. And who knows, maybe I'll start working with the garden that my parents have at our place, and grow some of my own food to consume.

I hope this incredibly long posting has made it clear to you all that I really valued this experience. I definitely recommend taking this course if you have a desire to improve your health and change the way you eat!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Introduction to Art of Living session at Austin Recovery’s Buda campus

On Thursday January 19th 2012, we had the very first ‘Introduction to Art of Living' session facilitated at Austin Recovery's Buda campus. About 20 people (a good mix of youth to senior citizens)  undergoing rehabilitation from Alcohol/Drug addiction participated in the 1 hour session and reported immense stress relief.

A game of 'Seven Up' served as a perfect ice-breaker, it was followed by a  couple of simple breathing techniques and a few minutes of meditation, during which the participants experienced a state of joy. The highly interactive session that followed the meditation involved participants bringing out the knowledge about the natural tendencies of the mind (chewing on negativity via thoughts about regrettable experiences from the past and thoughts about future anxiety), the 4 sources of life energy and descriptions of various experiences of 'present moment awareness'.

Towards the end of the session, most participants shared that they felt very relaxed with a feeling of lightness within and higher energy level. One of the participants shared that he felt bliss rising from within and another participant brought out the knowledge that if joy is felt from within utilizing these simple techniques and there is no point in seeking it through attachments to external means (alcohol/drugs).

The snapshot of innocence, so palpable through the sharing, and the inner beauty, so palpable through the smiles around, was a sight to behold and will stay in my memory for a long time.

The sketch below was drawn by one of the rehab program participants, which beautifully conveys the crossing the barrier of despair and the kindling of human values.


At the end of the session, the participants recommended Austin Recovery's staff members to schedule an ‘Introduction to Art of Living' session every Thursday to help with their rehab. One participant who was spending his last day on the rehabilitation program promised to seek special permission from the staff in order to allow him to attend next week's session.

-Sanjeev Mathur

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My experiences with Art of Living YesPlus

Last weekend (Dec 17th 2011) I attended the course YesPlus guided by Art of Living teachers " the wonderful Annalies" and " the spirited Shyam". It was a great experience for me personally after a long time, I got involved with a big group and shared joy, love, peace and happiness with everyone. The moment, I entered the room, I left my "ego" near the door steps and entered with complete openness. Occasionally while the course was in progress, the "ego" some  how sneaked into the room and tried to make me who I am. But, I guess, with the commitment I had towards the program and my determination towards being open, helped me to squeeze the "ego" and throw it out again.

Its always amazing to me, how people from different age groups, cultures, ethnic groups etc. were able to come together and be so friendly and have fun together. Almost all of them left their ego's and mingled very well with the group with no barriers in their minds or body. There was a little hesitation initially, but Annalies and Shyam really helped to take away those hesitations and made feel like we belong to each other. The whole process in the span of 4 days was very influencing.

I am an introvert by nature (atleast that's what I think) and I was amazed to know that, I am actually an extrovert. Of course, I have observed it in two different phases of my life time. "at work" and "outside of work". When I am at work, I am an extrovert and outside of work, I become introvert. That could be a big reason why I have lot of colleagues and very limited friends. The beleif that I had about me being introvert actually made me not able to make more friends which is sad.

While I am talking about this experience, it would be incomplete, if I don't talk about my personal team ("The Warriors"). Nikki, Rashmi and Ambika along with me were always together and encouraged each other in every aspect of the program. They are the best team you can ever get (this includes my whole 14 yrs of professional experience). Each and everyone has their own skills, capabilities and desire to get the best experience and gave 100%. As a team, we worked together and were together all around and helped each other to have the best fun in our lifetimes. I sincerely wish, I get a chance to team up with them again and work in the same way.

If there is one thing, that I have learned and understood in this program, of course there are many, but one thing that stands out is "to accept a person who the person is (AS-IS) with no added masala (judgement) to it". When I look into someone's eyes, which I don;t normally do, I feel so relaxed, energized and get the feeling that, they really belong to me.

Another thing which I also shared with my group is that, I did this course 10 yrs back at Bangalore Ashram and due to personal and professional commitments, I lost touch with it and didn't practice it. Now, after 10 yrs, what I gained is "Anxiety, Frustration, Panic, Anger, Stress, Disappointment etc etc" and realized, if I could have continuted my practice and did advanced courses, I wouldn't be in this position with all these psycological challenges. On the other hand, the whole practice is not asking me to spend hours, instead just few minites (around half hour) only and I didnot allot time for this important activity that rezunivates my mind and body. I am NOT regretting for what happened so far, but I am glad that, atleast now, I have realized the importance of it and hoping that, I could keep up with the practice and realize the benefits it provides.

"Isn't it good to have a calm, anger free, no frustration, peaceful and joyful mind"

After thinking for a while, here are my commitments....
1. Practice for the next 40 days without missing even a day. If I miss, I will start my count again from day 1
2. Say "Ram-Ram" (bye-bye) to meat based diet, which includes Chicken :(
3. Make atleast 1 new friend every week
4. Help people who are really in need and make them smile
5. Once a week, attend the long practice