Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Enrolled in the Art of Living Course

After having experimented with weight loss diets, wines and women-well at least the first two are true-I have set sail to learn the Art of Living. I used to think that I was doing it quite successfully; living that is. Having then spoken to a dear ex-boss whom I have come to know of as a dear friend, I realised that living and living a full life were as different as black tea and green tea. While Green tea is, IMHO, a better tea for better health, I used the tea example to highlight the stark contrast in the different kinds of living.  With a graduation at Landmark Forum under my belt, I decided to give the Art of Living course a go too, primarily for its much acclaimed Sudarshan Kriya

The course runs about a week, starting today from 19:30 to 22:30. I am fervently hoping I manage to stay awake and don't have a nervous breakdown in those three hours. People who know me know for a fact that when in full flow, I can give any woman a run for her money in the talking 19 to dozen department. I may have a few inhibitions, and as a sweetheart numerously declared, "Pre- Assumptions" about this course. I am my father's child after all, and the apple does not fall far from the tree!

However, regardless of my aspersions, I have recognised this amazing ability of humans to dive head-along into an endeavour without bias or pre-conceived notions, if they want it to happen. I have resolved to go in there with a clean slate and document my learning each day to help others decide if it is the way they want to live. And since I am doing this for the betterment of humankind, the least that YOU can do is read my notes! Off to day one, cheerios!

Day 1

Well, as I have mentioned before, I went to this course without giving it a lot of thought or harbouring a lot of expectations. There are very few people I blindly follow; my hyper inquisitive and analytical mind can only adhere to a belief if my microscopic brain finds sense, science, reason and justification. It believes everything has a reason, and as they say, miracles are things which the science of today cannot explain- miracles are not in any way inexplicable. 

Coming back to the follow blindly list, one of them is Aruna Panangipally. She is a great judge of character, and is a better mentor. Having spent time with her on a professional note- she was my boss- I realised that if she felt AOL would do me good, it would. With that in mind, and as usual, nothing else, I went for day one.

A motley group of 11 participants, two teachers, and two volunteers- an affable middle aged woman who gushed how AOL had helped her, and a cute millenial with a smile to die for was what waited for me in the hall. Like any other  healthy practice- and they say that this AOL part 1 course is a cleansing exercise - we were asked to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, over the counter drugs, caffeine and non-vegetarian food. While my conflicted mind generally agrees with other restrictions, I don't wholly agree with non- veg restriction, and I will write a complete article defending my stand. Of course the preparatin matters, yada, yada, but that's another article. 

We were asked to introduce ourselves to EVERY member of the gang in AOL's unique way. Name, state that I am yours, and a two word phrase which I forgot! Sheesh, if only all these self help endeavours would help better my memory!

The seven layers of existence were then discussed, or atleast I think this was said. They layers I can remember are Body, Breath, Mind, Intellect, Ego, well 5/7 ain't bad!

The four Energisers were discussed, they being Food, Sleep, Knowledge, Breathing. What there re-enforced is the fact that for sedentary lifestyled people like us, 6.5 hours of sleep is adequate. While differents schools of thought might beg to differ, for me,6-7 hours of sleep works, and validation from outside only helps re-enforce that!

An interactive session, a process as they say was tried. Two people were to face eac other and one had to praise the other, while the other had to demean the other. It was interesting to see how demeaning people you didn't know was funny at first, but felt de-energising nonetheless and praising and listening to mostly false praise from a stranger was kinda uplifting.  
The right way to breathe- bloat stomach while inhaling was discussed. they also correctly mentions how the medics exclaimed we weren't breathing to our full capacity- 30 % only- and how more efficient breathing made famour thru pranayama would help solve medical problems, and save the world! While some were breathing correctly, many, including me ruefully agree that in times of stress or physically exertion, this voluntary stomach out when inhaling ujjai breathing would go for a toss. And that would be one of my personal objectives of the course; learning to breathe right at all times.  

The sessions was rounded of with some basis loosening exercises and shavasan. Our assignments were to deeply ponder over two questions:
1. What makes you happy?
2. When are you going to be happy?

I reminded myself not to set the popular answer in my head, and to beware of saying things I knew the instructors wanted to hear. I will be honest. As theose guys said, AOL won't teach you a radical new way of life; there may be things you know of, and are practicising. Guess they will set us on the path of instilling discipline or something. Tomorrow, they teach the Sudarshan Kriya, amongst other things. They asked us to be enthusiastic about the course, and be open. Enthusiastic and open, I shall be. Signing out till tomorrow.



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