Bad experiences, failures , disappointments and disillusionment in life lead to stress and ultimately to poor physical and mental health.
Why do they lead to stress? They do so because we don’t know how to control our mind, how to control our emotions so as to be able to have a say on our thoughts, words and actions. We don’t have the skill to filter what we hear , what thoughts we let pass by, what thoughts we entertain and absorb to become words and actions.
We are human beings exposed to different environments, starting with the immediate environment of family, then school, kith and kin, peers, colleagues and so on.
These environments have been instrumental in making us what we are today….each of us…but they are only instruments not the root-cause., which is the identity crises – a projection of the human ego leading to a ‘self-image’.
It’s easily said than done – “Drop your self-image.” The techniques are given – but there are times in life when even these don’t work. I mean – one has to struggle through these times and survive . And, the most difficult situations are those that are deep-rooted ; having taken their roots in the subtlest layers of the mental and emotional realms at a tender age.
A child starts laying foundations for its self-image between 6 and 8 years of age, depending on the subtle stimuli given by the environment in his tender years. This self-image is like a safety-shell for the child just like a tortoise shell is to the tortoise. But, if, even before the shell is formed, and, even before the child is convinced of its own defences and not needing a shell , this shell is forcibly broken by the mishandling, insensitivity, lack of tact, lack of understanding of parents, family members, friends and the school environment. Then that child desperately tries to hold on to its self-image but it’s only a facade, not its true identity.
Such a child grows up to be an adult and apparently may lead a normal life. Out of sight, out of mind. But when the flashback happens; when the individual goes back to the same surroundings that he or she had spent his or her childhood in and is thrown into interaction with the same people who had been instrumental in the child’s shaping such a childhood,the mind retracts into the same state of mind that it had been in as a child, and, the same patterns of thought, word, action and reaction surface themselves, to create havoc.
But,, if by the Grace of the Supreme that sees, hears, understands everyone and everything, if such an individual has been , to a great extent, healed over a period of time by breathing techniques, meditation and Sudarshan Kriya, the individual , when thrown into the same situation, becomes aware but helpless and just remains a witness to what is happening outside and how he or she is reacting within and manifesting the same reaction in his or her own thought, word, action. This is similar to that situation in which a tortoise may feel partly insecure due to the fact that its shell has been partly broken . The open side of the shell makes the tortoise susceptible to danger.
This is the story of an individual who has been healed but not completely. But when the healing becomes total by the shower of Grace or by the cycle of karma or sins that are a factor leading to his or her experiences, an outer- shell or shield of Infinite Strength and Grace is formed around the self-image shell . This is a natural phenomenon that happens by the regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya followed by meditation. But, if one discontinues the Sudarshan Kriya, depending on how long one had been doing the practice, the shell may remain intact and protect the individual from external factors leading to mental and emotional stress. After a certain time, the shell gives way to again expose one to such external threats – threats as he or she had perceived some persons and situations in life to be .
So, don’t ever forcibly break the still-forming self-image of any child. If the child is handled with a lot of sensitivity and care, sometimes during teenage, the shell (self-image) will break by itself, or, the child will shed it himself or herself, for, such a child wouldn’t need a self-image.
One who doesn’t have a self-image doesn’t have problems in life. The earlier generations accepted themselves and others are they were which was possible only because life was so simple . Their desires , successes and failures did not matter as much to them as they do to most of us nowadays. They lived a simple life finding fulfilment in small joys, kept their body and mind fit and strong by more of physical work leading to a natural rhythm of breath and a natural balance between body and mind ,and , hence less of mental exercise . They were able to confront their disappointments, failures and sorrows and get out of them before these could finish their love for life, before these could kill the zest in them, before these could kill the love and peace within.
But, today, the scenario is different. The wider the exposure, the more unwieldy the desires, the more disappointing the failures because of a wide gap between what one can desire and whether it is achievable. It’s okay to say “ The sky is the limit” , but practically , in life, the one who desires something also must know how much he can achieve…is he wishing for something far beyond what he can reach or is he wishing for something just a little more than what he can achieve? That makes all the difference.
This inability to understand oneself, one’s desires, one’s capabilities and what and how one must achieve what one desires is because of one’s Ego, when it become a projection of one’s self image.
Our life-car runs out of fuel many a time, or, is fast running out of fuel but we don’t realize it…we realize it only when the fuel light goes red…i.e. some external trigger s of people and situations warn us .
What do we do?
And then we need to do re-fuelling by learning Sudarshan Kriya and practising it regularly to be keep our life-cars running at its optimum efficiency, with the optimum mileage. Once bittern, twice shy”. So, when with experience we learn that our life-car should never run out of fuel, so we get convinced to do the regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya.
Sudarshan Kriya can be learnt only from the age of eighteen or so. Now what about the unnecessary muck that forms a clutter in the mind and emotions of a child and a teenager due to his or her experiences at home, in the family, with peers at school, etc.?There is only one way to handle this. And that is to be able to handle one’s mind and emotions from an age when one starts the ‘ detour’.That’s why a little bit of breathing practice which controls the mind should be started at the age of 8 years of age.
The earlier we learn how to cleanse our mind , thoughts and emotions, the earlier will manifest our optimum potential…the god-given gifts. And besides, the negative emotions can lead to depression, suicidal tendencies , crime, terrorism and what not, all the result of deep-rooted imbalances or rather dis-balanced energy.
So why wait for the illnesses to manifest become contagious and pave way for the world of unnecessary hate, crime, rape, bloodshed, war, mental disorders?
In the Art of Living, we have courses for children between 8 to 15 years. It is called the ART EXCEL Program.
And we have Youth Empowerment Programs (YES) for youth . We have basic and advance courses for all in general starting from the age of 18 ( The Happiness Program & the Part II or Advance Meditation Course)which are highly beneficial for people from all fields, be it homemakers,or,be it professionals.
We also conduct rehabilitation courses for trauma relief during natural calamities or post-war situation.
We have corporate courses customized to the requirement, so also we run courses in jails which have brought about a transformation in many .
WE also conduct rural development programs and train youth in the villages to assist in improving the living conditions in villages.
Our programs are as varied as the requirements in different places at different times and for different purposes.
Our Sri Sri Yoga courses along with the other courses have paved the way to an improved quality of life, to a happier and more fulfilling life, to a stress-free or less stress-ridden life to millions all over the world.
Along with the courses, the knowledge videos and the books of knowledge published by the Art of Living go a long way in keeping one steady and moving on the path.
I can say that every since I came to the Art of Living in 1996, not many changes have happened in people around me or in the life situations I find around me, but, certainly, a change for the better , has happened in my outlook on life, in the way I handle life-situation, be it joys and sorrows, or be it successes and failures. I can’t claim to have become perfect but I have improved markedly for earlier I had been desperate to change the world, now, when I am in a negative situation, an alarm rings within – I change what I can and leave the rest for the Supreme Power, to sort things out. People and situations do affect me still; but, I am able to get out of these much sooner than I could have otherwise.
And it is a balanced individual who can take stress in life as launch-pad for progress and every time a new situation crops us, he realizes that people and situations don’t give stress, its our mind which perceives people and situations in a pattern it is used to and thus internalizes then to stress.
O Lord! Please bless me with unshakable faith and indefatigable strength of mind to confront those people and situations that still disturb me and dislocate me to move me out of my centre. Please bless me so that I am regular with my spiritual practices without a single day’s break till I drop dead.
Sudarshan Kriya is the life-jacket for me to remain floating in this ocean of samsara or world-consciousness.